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Comment: Re:It's not an attempt to "game the system"... (Score 1) 172

by Eric Green (#47726695) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Orson Scott Card is proof that ideology doesn't stop you from winning Hugos. All that is necessary is to write something interesting and mind-blowing. Writing formulatic space operas that are basically 1950's Don Pendleton manly war-fighting men set in space rather than in the wilds of darkest Africa or Southeast Asia is not the sort of thing that gathers awards, those have been done so many times that they're mind candy, something entertaining if in a certain mood but hardly mind blowing. Neither are fifteen page dissertations on why Libertarianism is the only proper ideology for running a space station. Nobody wants an ideological tract when they read science fiction, they want to have their mind blown. Orson Scott Card's later books haven't won Hugos not because of his right wing ideology, but, rather, because they've been boring, having nothing new to offer over his earlier fiction that did win awards. Which is a shame, because his 80's output was ridiculously good, then he got full of himself and his output got boring.

I liked Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as a work of fiction, and probably would have nominated it for an award that year if I hadn't been 2 years old at the time. L. Neil Smith's work, on the other hand, read like Libertarian tracts with cardboard characters and stereotypical plots, I read a couple of them and was, like, "meh", even though at the time I considered myself somewhat Libertarian and liked a number of other Prometheus Award winners. But ideology is *boring*. In the end, what I want when I read science fiction is something that's going to make me say "wow!", with a story that isn't predictable and characters that seem like real (if perhaps quirky) people and ideas that make me go "Hmm." Heinlein managed that for me, as do writers like Vernor Vinge, Ken MacLeod, and Neal Stephenson. Too many other "Libertarian" or "right-wing" authors don't. If you're going to turn it into an ideological tract with cardboard characters spouting ideological talking points, or just another by-the-numbers space opera where manly men of the finest cardboard kill lots of mooks while spouting pretentious jargon... YAWN.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

Comment: Re:Presbyopia (Score 1) 550

by Eric Green (#47528799) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

This is pretty much my calculation. I don't swap glasses, I use progressive bifocals (the newer ones which have multiple focus zones rather than being totally continuous so that you can pretty much always have your workpiece in focus). Even if my vision without glasses was 20-20, I'd still need progressive bifocals, since I need multiple focal points to deal with my daily work (focus point for viewing computer monitor, focus point for viewing iDevice in my hand, focus point for viewing the speedometer in my car, focus point for dealing with tiny screws in computer cases, etc.). Given that, what's the point? I still end up needing glasses, I just add a bit of needless risk to the equation too.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Comment: Re:Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47485313) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes


You make it sound like starving people are getting fat too.

If they are becoming obese, the particular individual has a surplus of caloric intake, if only for this year or month. This is not to say that they have proper nutrition. So I am not at all clear that the fact that there is obesity in the third world is confounding evidence.

Comment: Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47480445) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes
For most of the existence of mankind and indeed all of mankind's progenitors, having too much food was a rare problem and being hungry all of the time was a fact of life. We are not necessarily well-evolved to handle it. So, no surprise that we eat to repletion and are still hungry. You don't really have any reason to look at it as an illness caused by anything other than too much food.

Comment: Re: If you pay... (Score 2) 15


The last time I had a professional video produced, I paid $5000 for a one-minute commercial, and those were rock-bottom prices from hungry people who wanted it for their own portfolio. I doubt I could get that today. $8000 for the entire conference is really volunteer work on Gary's part.

Someone's got to pay for it. One alternative would be to get a corporate sponsor and give them a keynote, which is what so many conferences do, but that would be abandoning our editorial independence. Having Gary fund his own operation through Kickstarter without burdening the conference is what we're doing. We're really lucky we could get that.

Comment: Re:One hell of a slashvertisement! (Score 2) 15

I think TAPR's policy is that the presentations be freely redistributable, but I don't know what they and Gary have discussed. I am one of the speakers and have always made sure that my own talk would be freely redistributable. I wouldn't really want it to be modifiable except for translation and quotes, since it's a work of opinion. Nobody should get the right to modify the video in such a way as to make my opinion seem like it's anything other than what it is.

Comment: Re:If you pay... (Score 2) 15

Yes. I put in $100, and I am asking other people to put in money to sponsor these programs so that everyone, including people who did not put in any money at all, can see them for free. If you look at the 150+ videos, you can see that Gary's pretty good at this (and he brought a really professional-seeming cameraman to Hamvention, too) and the programs are interesting. Even if at least four of them feature yours truly :-) He filmed every one of the talks at the TAPR DCC last year (and has filmed for the past 5 years) and it costs him about $8000 to drive there from North Carolina to Austin, Texas; to bring his equipment and to keep it maintained, to stay in a motel, to run a multi-camera shoot for every talk in the conference, and to get some fair compensation for his time in editing (and he does a really good job at that).

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne