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Comment: Re:Trollolololol! (Score 1) 146

by blackanvil (#46750827) Attached to: The Best Way To Watch the "Blood Moon" Tonight
Or, better yet, if enough people were actually interested in this sort of thing, we could get the day after such a late-night event a holiday, so we could all guiltlessly stay up late and party with other interested friends, then sleep in in the morning without having to worry about work or school. Also, imagine if we could get people to turn off their lights enough that you don't have to go out into the country to be able to see this sort of event clearly.

Comment: Missionaries. (Score 1) 351

by blackanvil (#46708661) Attached to: Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them
I wonder how much of this is caused by the inevitable invasion by missionaries, injecting memes into the local population that conflict with the indigenous culture and cause conflict, confusion, and the other symptoms of Christianity. Not to mention the purely physical diseases they bring with them. I know they mean well, but everything I've read about post-missionary contact of isolated tribes shows an increase in depression, aggression, and lowered quality of life.

Comment: Re:Canadian driving (Score 1) 723

by blackanvil (#46111841) Attached to: Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

How the fuck were they supposed to prepare? Purchase more snow management equipment on short notice? Maintain a large fleet of trucks for the rare occasions that stuff like this happens?

I do wonder if they could have rented some snow/ice gear from areas not expecting snow for a few days but which had the equipment and supplies on hand. Wouldn't even have had to be government-owned equipment, there's plenty of companies around that keep plows and salters/sanders ready for snow, who contract out to remove snow and ice from driveways and parking lots, private roads and similar. Yes, it would have cost quite a bit -- fuel for the trip from the snowbelt to Atlanta and back, hotels, logistics to make sure salt and sand made it down, time and materials for the vehicles, but if it's only once every 3-5 years, it should be doable with a few calls and cash in hand.

Comment: Re:Not scarce, no rare (Score 1) 96

by blackanvil (#46101963) Attached to: Device Mines Precious Phosphorus From Sewage
When the natural deposits are gone, we'll mine the garbage dumps where lots of it ends up as bones, sewage sludge, and so on. And, while it would be energy intensive, there are undersea deposits yet untouched, and ultimately the seas themselves can be filtered for phosphorous -- it's where all the runoff, most of the bird guano, and all the sealife-sequestered phosphorus ends up anyway.

Comment: Re:KISS (Score 1) 267

by blackanvil (#46101387) Attached to: The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space
And it has also been repeatedly commented that the work that a robot (rover) on Mars can do in a year could be done by a trained human in a week, with better ability to adjust to conditions and potentially discover things that hadn't been planned for. Is the expense worth it? Is the risk of contaminating Mars with Earth's biotics too great? Can human even survive the radiation and other dangers of the trip? These all appear to be questions that future generations will have to decide for themselves, as mine isn't going anywhere outside of LEO.

Comment: Re:Current Space Superpower (Score 1) 250

by blackanvil (#45861343) Attached to: China: The Next Space Superpower

They've got something on the moon and can get people into orbit this year. The US is years away from being able to put anyone in orbit without buying a ticket on a Russian rocket.

Only because our political class has decided it's not worth the risk. After two space shuttle failures, the writing was on the wall, and Congress collectively decided "Hell, if we're going to get the blame every time a rocket fails and someone dies, let's outsource that." The Soyuz and Atlas lines in their current incarnations are roughly equivalent in capacity (5,500 vs 5,900kg to LEO respectively), if we really wanted to all it would take is some extra QA (last Atlas failure was in 2007, and even so the payload made orbit, just lower than desired), a life-support capsule and re-entry system (old hat, we've had designs for those since the 60s) and the will to accept responsibility for any failure. There's also the systems currently launching cargo (Dragon, Cygnus/Antares) that are known to be able to make it up there, just not certified to carry humans yet. If we had a sudden need, say relationships with Russia go south, I believe we would pick the most reliable, certify it safe enough for human travel, and go for it.

That said, why would our government want to go that route unless it had to? So long as they can outsource, currently to the Russians, probably eventually to private companies such as SpaceX, they don't want the responsibility, the blame when things go wrong, or the negative feedback that luddites always throw at the space programs as it is.

Comment: More of a niche tool than an always-on one (Score 1) 195

by blackanvil (#45850713) Attached to: Coming Soon: Prescription Lenses For Google Glass
I've been interested in Glass for it's potential utility as a "POV" camera for documenting what I do in the workshop (knifemaking, blacksmithing, etc). I don't view it as a "everyday all the time" tool, but it is one I'd like in my toolbox, and since I wear corrective glasses, incorporating lenses is a step in the right direction. I wonder if they'll offer a "safety glasses" version (side shields and heavy frame construction, they already have the extra-durable lens material mentioned in the survey.)

Comment: Re:So, next piece of equipment for molecular gastr (Score 1) 165

by blackanvil (#45830461) Attached to: What Would French Fries Taste Like If You Made Them On Jupiter?

I'm eagerly awaiting Alton Brown's commandeering of a playground roundabout with deep fryers lashed to the bars and an '01 Kia minivan's power wheel providing the input power.

But how to distribute the AC power - rotors and brushes?

Just use a portable generator -- you're going to want something to counterbalance the frying assembly anyway.

Comment: Bots in data centers (Score 1) 56

by blackanvil (#45739655) Attached to: One-Armed UBR-1 Points the Way To Cheaper Robots
I've long wanted something like this, a telepresence bot with a camera, an arm, a few tools in reach, and a supply of cables for use in telco data centers. No more calling remote hands or trudging over to equinix, just sign out a robot, steer it to the cage, do the troubleshooting, then send it back. Sadly, I doubt it'll ever happen, the temptation of engineers to sign out robots and running jousting competitions in the aisles would just be too tempting.

Comment: Cryptonomicon (Score 1) 233

by blackanvil (#44661461) Attached to: The Register: 4 Ways the Guardian Could Have Protected Snowden
I'm reminded, in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, that the sultan of a fictional country declared that there, at least, there would be no monitoring, government interference, or strongarm tactics on the local Internet infrastructure. While I didn't learn of underwater-tapping submarines until the christening of the Jimmy Carter in 2004, I felt it was a bit of a stretch to assume that any transcontinental underwater cable wasn't tapped and monitored. Still, it seems it's better than the modern world, where I have yet to hear any country declare that here, at least, your communications, data, files, and so on are safe, even at an official level. I probably wouldn't believe it if one did declare itself a data haven, but still, it might help restore some belief in humanity if every single government wasn't essentially declaring war on its own citizens in the name of security. I don't see how this can end well.

Ma Bell is a mean mother!