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Comment: I had a few calls from these scammers (Score 1) 174

The first call I had from a scammer claiming to help me with a virus I strung along for a while. I told him I had six computers running Windows, I just needed him to tell me which one he was calling about. I don't remember how he reacted to that but I do remember him asking me to write down a very long number to verify something. After I started to run out of space on the scrap of paper I was scribbling this number onto I stopped him and asked him what this number was for. At that point he got frustrated and hung up.

Another call was much shorter. I got a call and the caller said that my computers were not responding to updates from Microsoft. I told him it would be odd for them to respond since none of my computers ran a Microsoft operating system (which was a lie). He was stunned into silence for a second, laughed out loud, then hung up.

My mom was taken by one of these guys. She let them remote control the computer for a bit but they were asking for money to help her out. She told them her sons helped her with the computer and didn't want to spend any money fixing it. It may have been coincidence but a week after that call the computer started to act funny. Out of an abundance of caution my brother and I wiped the drive and installed Ubuntu.

Last Christmas my brothers, sisters, and I got her an iPad. She loves it. She gets her e-mail, surfs the web, plays Candy Crush, and can do FaceTime with her grandkids. The only thing she uses the Ubuntu computer for now is to act as a print server since the printer does not do AirPrint natively, now she can print her coupons and recipes from the iPad.

They won't scam Mom again and I can't wait for them to call me again just so I can play with their heads.

Comment: Re:Dumps, you say? From the anus? (Score 3, Interesting) 523

by blindseer (#48487003) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

I've seen some people, that might be considered conspiracy theorists, that believe this is the intent. If it is possible to remove children from foundational documents like the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Federalist Papers then it would be much easier to convince children to be quiet and obey Dear Leader.

I'm not saying it is a very convincing argument but I've seen it made many times now.

Comment: WAMSR (Score 1) 138

by blindseer (#48483067) Attached to: Shale: Good For Gas, Oil...and Nuclear Waste Disposal?

Instead of trying to find new ways to store nuclear waste for thousands of years we should be looking for ways to burn this stuff for energy, medical isotopes, and other useful things. One technology that comes to mind is the Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor. The people from MIT that are working on this claim WAMSR can destroy spent fuel from conventional uranium fueled reactors while also producing electricity and/or industrial heat.

There are two things that destroy radioactive waste, time and neutron bombardment. Setting this stuff aside for millennia means building structures to store the stuff and then maintaining them until the stuff is no longer a danger. Burning this so called "waste" in a reactor means getting rid of it for good while also generating valuable heat, electricity, and medical isotopes.

I believe anyone that claims we need to store radioactive material is ignorant, misinformed, or has something to sell. I think these people have something to sell.

Comment: Re:There is no such thing as a "safe" fission reac (Score 2) 218

by blindseer (#48173777) Attached to: Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

If it is burning, how do you put it out?

You are confusing fluorine with fluoride. A fluoride will not burn because it has already reached a state with a potential lower than that it would have with water or air.

With that said most every LFTR design I've seen does have fluorine as a gas at some point in the process but that is in the chemical processing of the fuel while outside the reactor. There is little to no fluorine in the reactor vessel.

There would not be a fire because the stuff in a LFTR does not burn. If there were things burning then the answer is to use water.

both uranium and fluorine are very toxic elements.

Uranium tetrafluoride is an insoluble salt, no more toxic than sand. Saying uranium and fluorine are very toxic is like saying sodium and chlorine are very toxic. Sodium and chlorine alone are very bad but combined they create a substance vital to life. I suppose you think we should ban the use of table salt because of the toxic materials it is made of.

What's the worst case for LFTR?

The worst case is you douse it with water for hours, maybe days, until it cools off. After it's cool you send in people with jackhammers and tractors to haul away the pieces for recycling. The mangled mess would no doubt contain radioactive material but since fission would have been stopped for days at this point the pile of scrap would be about as radioactive as a typical granite counter top. The workers would have to wear protective gear for the dust because heavy metal poisoning is a risk, just like for people that mine for gold or coal.

Perhaps I am mistaken, perhaps I exaggerated a bit, but regardless a LFTR simply cannot burn or react with water like you describe.

Comment: Re:Both yes, but as Fusion-Fission hybrid (Score 2) 218

by blindseer (#48173629) Attached to: Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

What's not to love? You get the cost and complexity of having both a fission and fusion reactor but no more useful work done than if the reactor did just one or the other.

I thought of how one might build a fission/fusion hybrid reactor and realized just how complex such a device would have to be to work. Everything inside the reactor would be very hot, bombarded by neutrons and gamma rays, and have to be precise and powerful enough to maintain confinement of a fusion reaction. I suspect that at some point someone will build such a hybrid reactor just because the idea is so compelling. I just think that it would never be as profitable as a much simpler device that did only fission or fusion.

A similar idea to a hybrid fission/fusion reactor are accelerator moderated fission reactors. Both ideas solve two problems inherent with fission reactors. One problem is the initial source of neutrons, the other is the problem of too many neutrons. With a fusor or particle accelerator providing the neutrons the neutron flow can be moderated by how much power is supplied to the neutron source. What many people have found out is that there are much easier ways to solve these problems.

A lack of neutrons in the fission reactor can be solved with enriching the fuel and/or control rods. Too many neutrons can be solved with control rods too, the control rods might be of a different material but it is still control rods, or by simply allowing the fissile material to heat up and expand to a lower density. Once a fission reactor gets going it naturally tends to produce enough neutrons on its own that a constant neutron source is unnecessary.

I could be wrong, maybe there is some detail I missed that makes my assumptions incorrect. I just don't see hybrid reactors as feasible outside of a research setting.

Comment: Re:Fission = bad, but not super-bad (Score 2) 218

by blindseer (#48173303) Attached to: Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

Because thorium might end up being cheaper and easier than uranium. The reason we were able to go from the speed of a horse to beyond the speed of sound is because we were able to find cheap and plentiful energy in coal and petroleum. As energy gets cheaper the more things become feasible.

Why is it that people don't have flying cars? We certainly have the technology for everyone to have their own personal aircraft. The limitation is the price of energy. It just costs too much to fly a helicopter for a person with an average income. But if energy were to be one tenth of what it is now then we'd be flying to get groceries instead of driving.

I believe we need to investigate every possible energy source. Solar power may last us for a billion years but I doubt it will ever be able to do so at a price as cheap as what thorium could do.

We don't burn coal because we want to live in a smog filled world. We burn coal because it gives us energy cheap enough that we can enjoy air conditioning while sitting in front of a computer. We are going to keep burning coal until something cheaper comes around. We do that because cold beer and hot pizza means more to us than some theoretical future where Florida is under water from melting the polar ice caps.

So, why thorium? Because beer, pizza, and Miami.

Comment: A steaming pile of unscientific fearmongering (Score 1, Insightful) 119

by blindseer (#47980329) Attached to: Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects

Radiation == bad, got that. What I didn't see in the article is any mention of baseline data. What was the radiation level in the area before the reactors blew their tops? What naturally occurring radioactive material was in the leaves fed to the butterflies? How much radiation did that produce? What is the rate of naturally occurring mutations in the butterflies without the radioactive cesium in their diet?

I've got even more questions about this study but they didn't seem concerned with actually collecting data, they wanted to tell us that radioactive stuff can cause mutations. We knew that, but they neglected to state how much of a real effect this has on the environment.

This "study" would probably be good for a "B" grade in a high school science fair. This does not look like something worth publishing in a scientific journal.

A few more quick thoughts. We can detect radioactive cesium in the grass miles from Fukushima. We can also detect the radio transmissions from a space probe that has left our solar system. Just because we can detect it does not mean it has any real effect on our lives.

Nuclear power is the greenest energy source we have in carbon output per kWh produced, even better than solar and wind. Yet we hear people scream, "What about the radiation!" I thought that if we don't reduce our carbon output now every coastal city will be under water in a decade. Seems to me that a few mutated butterflies is a pretty good trade-off to having the Statue of Liberty up to her neck in sea water.

The risk of having radioactive cesium getting blown miles from a nuclear reactor accident is something inherent to solid fueled/water cooled reactors. If we use liquid fueled/gas cooled nuclear reactors we remove that risk. Molten salt reactors simply cannot melt down and blow up like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Not only do MSRs not blow up they eat radioactive waste from current solid fueled reactors.

To get rid of the scary radioactive stuff we need more nuclear reactors, not fewer. We just need the right kind of reactors.

Comment: Re:What's Changed (Score 1) 135

by blindseer (#47591279) Attached to: If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

I've heard an argument similar to this one to abolish the minimum wage. Pay people based on what they produce, not how many hours they work. Which is precisely how some businesses have gotten around mandates like minimum wage and Obamacare, every "employee" is an independent contractor and they get paid on units produced or other similar metric.

This does not work well for all industries. Some kinds of work just does not translate well to anything other than an hourly wage. Just about everything can translate to better work resulting in better pay.

Comment: Bad idea (Score 3, Interesting) 180

by blindseer (#47591235) Attached to: How Many Members of Congress Does It Take To Pass a $400MM CS Bill?

When I was in school the "computer" class was not much more than learning to type. We got to play with AppleWorks and some sort of graphics program, the best one could get with 8 bits of color.

I recall a conversation I had with a co-worker about how we need more and better computers in schools or our children will be somehow educationally stunted. I pointed out how the Apple ProDos and Microsoft DOS systems we used reflected the Windows 7, Mac OSX, and Linux systems we use today. Elementary school children don't need fancy computers. I wonder if they need computers at all. I'm sure that skills like typing will be important, I took that in high school. Students will need to understand that computers do what they are told, not what you want them to do, but that is true of many things. Mathematics, physics, and chemistry have similar rules. I could argue that law has similar rigor, words mean things. If the law does not mean what you want it to mean then change the law. Perhaps that is a rant for another time.

Point is that computers are an important part of modern life. Computer technology is still changing fast, whether it is faster or slower now than when I was in grade school is debatable. Rather than teach "computers" to children perhaps we need to find a way to work computers into every subject. Art class should have a portion where students work in PhotoShop, just like they have sections on clay, paint, or colored pencils. Shop class should have a portion on CNC milling. Mathematics has all kinds of options to work in computing. Chemistry and physics classes can work in computers to run simulations and compare to real world experimentation, or do some statistical analysis on data collected in experiments.

I believe that teaching "computer science" at too young of an age is a bad idea. It will do little to prepare children for life as an adult. I suspect most implementations of "computer science" at anything other than college or trade school levels will be twisted into something that is not "computer science". It will be much like what I had in school, an excuse to play with expensive toys and the only real skills derived from it will be learning how to type. It doesn't have to be that way but I believe that is how it will end up because real computer scientists rarely choose to teach, they make more money doing something else. Much of the issues with teachers not getting paid enough has to do with the government funded education system we have now.

Comment: Re: Red Bull (Score 2) 511

I'd say the real gateway drug is milk. Every drug user drank milk, but that wasn't good enough so they went to alcohol.

The whole "gateway" drug idea is a farce. No one moves from one drug to another automatically like there is some progression laid out in the laws of the universe. Alcohol, marijuana, and opiates all work on different receptors in the body. Any drug can be a gateway to another if one seeks to get high and builds up tolerances to every drug they try.

Comment: Re:The only good thing (Score 1) 511

I recall getting the "drugs are bad" slide show in grade school. Among the images were examples of how dirty and poisonous the illegal drugs were. They gave images of how clean the drugs were from hospitals and pharmacies, since they could not say all drugs were bad.

This gave rise to a few questions in my mind. Questions I kept to myself because, while I was curious, I was too timid to outright question what were were told. The first question that came to mind, why would drug dealers put the crap that was shown in the slides into the drugs they sell? I thought that if they were really putting this stuff into the drugs they people buying it would end up dead, and not give them money, or they'd go find drugs from a competing dealer that didn't give them stuff that made them sick. Even at a young age I understood some basic economics. Illegal drugs aren't free from the rules of supply and demand.

Then it came to the images of the clean drugs that came from the pharmacies. If the drug dealers were selling this dangerous stuff then why not get the drugs from the pharmacies. At that age I didn't understand all the legal barriers to get the drugs, or it was not yet explained to me. Of course that is what people are doing. These dealers will buy pills from people with prescriptions to sell it to people that don't, or they rob the pharmacies of the good stuff.

This was about the time that people were trading dirty needles to inject their drugs because the government decided that allowing pharmacies to sell clean needles without a prescription was somehow encouraging drug use. What happened is that people, like my sister with diabetes, had a hard time finding clean needles while the druggies were using dirty ones. Because of this blood born infections went up in both populations. Poor diabetics had to re-use needles because getting clean was got more expensive, and drug addicts were re-using needles because getting clean ones was now illegal.

Yes, my teachers lied to me. The drugs were not killing people, government policies were. The reason these drugs are dangerous is because they were made illegal. They were not made illegal because they were dangerous.

This continued stack of lies being given to children is just one of many reasons why I oppose government funded education. I could rant on public education for a long time but this is not the time and place.

Comment: Re:Vote (Score 1) 200

I don't see how gerrymandering has anything to do with it. Gerrymandering only works if the people vote with their party instead of with their brain. Present yourself as a better candidate than those picked by their party leaders and you are sure to win.

If only that were true. Sadly too many people do vote with their party instead of their brain.

Comment: Re:Desired lethality? (Score 1) 140

by blindseer (#47536531) Attached to: The Army Is 3D Printing Warheads

Have you seen the movie The Big Red One? If you haven't then you should. There is a conversation in that movie about the distinction between killing and murder. Sometimes the people in the different color uniform are acting like animals, these animals are killed, not murdered. Is killing a rabid dog murder? No, because only innocent people can be murdered. All people can be killed. Enemy combatants are not murdered, they are killed before they can murder.

Comment: Re:Bq? (Score 1) 190

Yes, it is important. POTUS was able to name the one American that died on an airplane shot down over disputed territory only hours after it happened. Our modern society has access to information in detail and speed that is mind boggling. If Fukushima was the disaster that people claim it was then it would seem to me that we should be able to know the names, ages, places of residence, and specific cause of death of every person that died from that disaster. If someone cannot so much as give a name then it sounds like rumor to me.

An example is that we know the names of the people that died in the collapse of the towers on 9/11. If I had to I should be able to find the name of a single person that died then and there. Fukushima is another disaster that occurred in a developed nation, with news crews in the vicinity within hours (if not minutes) and remained there for years. Someone knows who was working on that site. If someone developed radiation poisoning from this accident then someone knows and someone went to the news. They may have gone to the news because they'd get piles of cash for the scoop, or they may have gone to the news out of concern for public health. If someone, just one, died from radiation that can be attributed to Fukushima then we should know that person's name.

TLDR: Pics (or names) or it didn't happen.

Comment: Re:Didn't you Know? (Score 2) 342

The DoE was created to fund research into alternatives to foreign oil. What has happened to our reliance on foreign energy since the DoE has been created? I'll give you a hint, it hasn't gone down.

I've been reading articles and watching YouTube videos on alternative energy for years. I've seen a common complaint from people that want to do research in energy, the Department of Energy will not approve their research. These people are not asking for money, they have private investors. What they need is permission from the government to spend their own money. This is because the government has placed restrictions on certain materials and technologies. I'm not talking about restriction on researching the best means by which we can dissolve mountain sides in radioactive acids to find the best means to kill off endangered species and conjure their tortured souls to turn generators. I'm talking about being able to mine rare earth elements so they can be turned into alloys that can make windmills more efficient. These people want to be able to dig up dirt, take out the interesting stuff, then put the dirt back and plant trees on top.

The Department of Energy won't let these people turn worthless dirt into vast piles of energy because they might dig up some thorium. Thorium is mildly radioactive, kind of like how potassium is mildly radioactive. We don't ban potassium mining. We ban rare earth mining because someone decades ago theorized it may be possible to maybe, possibly, if you work real hard at it, use thorium to make a nuclear weapon. No one has actually made a thorium bomb but in theory they are possible. But since thorium exists everywhere that the materials we need to make better magnets we can't dig it up ourselves. So, we buy it from China. Now China is doing all the research on rare earth metals. They get to find the best ways to get this valuable material from the ground and turn it into better windmills, aircraft, ships, cars, light bulbs, and all kinds of interesting ways we can reduce our dependence on foreign energy.

The Department of Energy has become the problem. Any way we can reduce their funding sounds good to me. With less money perhaps they won't be getting in the way of people that are doing the real research.

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