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Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by butalearner (#48162607) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

A better idea is to tax wealth.

That will just encourage people to have no assets at all and go into debt.

You're right, everyone would absolutely hate money. Just imagine all those hapless, unintentionally rich folk, begging people to take their money and their property.

Game shows would become horror reality shows:

Announcer: "And behind door number 3...a new car!"
Contestant: "Noooooooooooo!"

There would be a whole new way to punish unruly employees:

Employer: "I heard you set another sales record this month."
Employee: "I'm sorry, sir, I tried not to. I really tried..."
Employer: "That was your third mistake this year, Bob. You know what this means."
Employee: "Please, sir, no, you can't do this...I've already been promoted once. I have a family!"
Employer: "I'm sorry, I really am, but the rules are clear on this matter."
Employee: "Wait, please, I'll only come in for one hour a day, I swear!"
Employer: "It's too late for that...sir."
New Employer: "Nooooo!"

Comment: Re:Don't reuse passwords, folks. (Score 1) 29

It's convenient to back up and/or share unimportant files, for example I use it to pass ebooks between my reading devices and back up my NaNoWriMo novel as I'm writing it. They have two-factor authentication nowadays, so with encryption it could be fairly well private and secure.

Comment: Re:Yesterday's news... (Score 1) 269

by butalearner (#48103927) Attached to: MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

What "science and technology" are behind Mars One?

I know you're trolling, but it's really a pretty impressive list. The technology for the communications system, for example, already exists and is in use around Earth and Mars, though they plan to bolster that. We have spacesuits that would work on Mars as-is, though they'll probably want to create Mars-specific ones that reduce the bulkiness and make it more flexible (we're already doing this, by the way, look up NASA's Z-2 suit and Dava Newman's Bio-Suit). We have done lots In-Situ Resource Utilization tests in simulated environments on Earth, and one that extracts oxygen from the atmosphere is likely heading to Mars on the next lander or rover. They'll need to make sure that technology scales up and they have enough easily accessible source material, but that's what the unmanned launch is meant to do. It calls for the as-yet un-launched Falcon Heavy and modified, human-rated Dragon crafts, but SpaceX is on their way to developing their own versions of it. Bigelow Aerospace has created expandable space habitats including one attached to the ISS, I don't see why they couldn't do so for the Mars One food production habitats. I don't think Mars One had a lot of info on how they might grow food, but if you check out the report, it has a pretty fascinating proposal for that aspect, i.e. what crops to grow, how it might fit in the proposed space, and how it affects resource usage. And we're growing lettuce on the ISS using hydroponics right now. And so on.

Sure, the reality TV funding plan is something of a joke and there are plenty of technological hurdles to overcome, but what's important is that Mars One has a starting point and is apparently paying people to execute it and independent researchers are looking at them seriously, pointing out issues, refining the plan, and suggesting improvements. This report might have found lots of problems, but it is nevertheless a very strong step toward fixing them or creating something better.

Comment: Re:How can you (Score 2) 171

by butalearner (#48074591) Attached to: Apple Sapphire Glass Supplier GT Advanced Files For Bankruptcy

What I don't understand is how to burn through 578 million dollars in 10 months.

Bankruptcy does NOT mean you have $0 in your checking account. It simply means that your liabilities exceed your assets, your business prospects are unlikely to change that, and your creditors are unwilling to take a voluntary haircut.

Thank you, geez these comments are preposterous. It's a pretty simple situation: they took a huge pre-payment and it became a short term loan. I just read that they were starting to build up production capacity, probably using that pre-payment, that they will no longer need. But even if they didn't, that big of a liability plus a big hit in stock price (35% drop even before they declared bankrupcy) when everyone found out Apple dropped them...that's a pretty massive hit to the balance sheet. They'd hit almost $20/share earlier this year, now they're trading at just around $1. If I wasn't poor...

Comment: Re:Ridiculous (Score 3, Interesting) 139

by butalearner (#48073105) Attached to: NASA Asks Boeing, SpaceX To Stop Work On Next-Gen Space Taxi

You forgot: "and was the most technically difficult proposal and submitted by the contractor with the least experience of any kind". Sierra Nevada has no substantial grounds for complaint, their solution may have been competitive on price, but contrary to popular belief these types of contracts are NOT awarded solely on the basis of costs. Technical factors also play a huge role.

I agree that it's not as obviously gamed as everyone says. Sierra Nevada might not have much experience as a prime on big contracts like this, but their Dream Chaser proposal had Lockheed Martin and Aerojet and other heavy hitters as subs, and I guarantee you they put their own political connections to as much use as Boeing did. I'm as cynical as the next guy when it comes to politics, but there is certainly more to it here.

Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 1) 651

by butalearner (#48045935) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

And the only way to completely eliminate the "threat" of someone making their own guns is to then ban making anything at home, or even in a workplace without government supervision. Is that what you want?

I didn't imply that we needed to eliminate the threat at all, only that it gives them more time to think about it after a completely benign situation. Consider this alternative scenario: a psychopath murders a bunch of children with a rifle modified with a huge, 3D-printed ammo clip before lawmakers realized that could even happen. Situations like that are how far more restrictive laws get put into place, regardless of how poorly they work, how invasive they are to our privacy, etc.

Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 1) 651

by butalearner (#48045767) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

Gun control advocates should be very pleased, because now governments have a much more urgent reason to think about how the law might work with 3D-printed weapons.

I honestly don't mean this insultingly, but that response shows that you have completely missed the point. The law won't work with 3D printers, or even just cheap CNC machines - Not now, not ever.

For the law to patch this "loophole" requires nothing less than a complete ban on 3D printers, while artificially keeping the price of CNCs and similar technology much too high for the average Joe's garage workshop.

You and the previous response (and many other responses) say the same thing, but it is not really a given that a law won't work, and that is not the only way to address it. I am personally not smart enough to think of a great way for the law to work, but that's not to say there isn't one. In fact, the "answer" may be far milder than you and many other people fear, like just making it illegal to manufacture parts for assault rifles, just like it's illegal to make drugs or bombs. Of course it doesn't and it won't stop a sufficiently motivated person from doing it, but that is true of any unlawful activity. Just because most drivers drive too fast doesn't mean we shouldn't have speed limits.

Yes, the law absolutely needs to come to terms what it means to live in a world where anyone can manufacture any sufficiently small physical object on a whim. "Shut... Down... EVERYTHING!" ain't it.

Agreed, and neither is, "Anything Goes." We may not agree where it is, but there is a reasonable meeting point in the center. Admittedly, lawmakers will probably go too draconian at first. I'm cynical enough to imagine a situation where they demand 3D printers have an NSA backdoor or something. Still, I'm also optimistic enough to claim we'll eventually end up with something better.

Comment: Re:Capture it (Score 1) 54

by butalearner (#48041067) Attached to: Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon

Otherwise, Earth's gravity would be pulling it away.

Orbital mechanics is fun. Pretend you're in a spacecraft in the exact same orbit as the ISS, except offset such that it is always 100 meters in front of you. What happens when you apply an instantaneous delta-v directly toward it? Answer: you will now be orbiting slower than the ISS, and after you get a little closer, the ISS will pull away from you.

What we're probably looking at here (I don't know, I haven't checked) is more like a slow gravity assist maneuver. The Earth's gravity is changing the angular momentum of the asteroid's orbit relative to the Sun ever so slightly that it will eventually pull away from Earth.

Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 4, Interesting) 651

by butalearner (#48038331) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

More importantly, he does what he does to point out absurdity.

He thinks he is pointing out absurdity of gun control laws, but that's because he is (or appears to be, I don't actually know him) emotionally invested into getting rid of all gun control laws. Objectively, though, he's pointing out pretty valuable information regarding future illegal weapons manufacturing. Gun control advocates should be very pleased, because now governments have a much more urgent reason to think about how the law might work with 3D-printed weapons. He's the gray hat hacker of gun control.

Comment: Re:uhh (Score 2) 549

by butalearner (#48036963) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

The kind that doesn't give legitimate world-changers a free pass when they start with the crazy talk.

Let me emphasize the relevant portion of the summary:

How fast could we do it? Within a century, once the spacecraft reusability problem is solved.

The question was not how fast will we do it, he's answering how fast could we do it. We could put people on Mars in four years if we had the political will to do it. We don't, so we won't do it until China either threatens to do it or actually goes through with it first. As for launching a hundred thousand missions, that is impossible as long as we can't reuse spacecraft, which is mostly addressed by the last point (assuming the reusability problem is solved very thoroughly, e.g. only easily-replaceable fuel made of very common elements is not reused, and the used components are very easily refurbished).

Comment: Re:Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Score 1) 173

by butalearner (#47986621) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

...what corners they cut without compromising reliability...

The trouble with that claim is it takes a bunch of launches to measure reliability. Orbital Sciences' Taurus XL had five successful missions right out of the gate before it dropped a billion dollars worth of satellites in the ocean when it failed three of the next four. Every successful launch is something to be celebrated, to be sure, but it'll take many more successes before they can claim their launch system is reliable.

Secondly, cheap wages are only a small part of lauch costs. This is not some software they are building. I am not an expert, but I would imagine that most of the cost (most of the 75 million dollars) went into engineering, materials, and high tech parts. And material cost, especially for high end exotic stuff that goes into rockets - costs the same worldwide, including India.

Engineering, materials, and high tech parts = paying people to do or create these things. The vast majority of space and military programs go to people all up and down the supply chain. A $200,000 rad-hardened flight computer (i.e. the RAD750 on the Curiosity rover) doesn't cost $200,000 in parts: they're paying that company for the development and testing that went into it.

Comment: Re:they will defeat themselves (Score 4, Informative) 981

by butalearner (#47930559) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

The only problem is we still need their damn oil. Please, Elon Musk, save us from dependence on these assholes' oil. The sooner we can find a replacement for middle eastern oil and/or their oil runs out, the better.

Just to give some numbers, here is where we (the U.S.) got our oil in 2013:

U.S.: 2,720 million barrels
Canada: 1,147 million barrels
Saudi Arabia: 485 million barrels (OPEC)
Mexico: 335 million barrels
Venezuela: 294 million barrels (OPEC)
Russia: 168 million barrels
Columbia: 142 million barrels
Iraq: 124 million barrels (OPEC)
Kuwait: 119 million barrels (OPEC)
Nigeria: 103 million barrels (OPEC)
Ecuador: 86 million barrels (OPEC)
Angola: 79 million barrels (OPEC)
Brazil: 55 million barrels
U.K.: 54 million barrels
Other OPEC: 67 million barrels
Other non-OPEC: 338 million barrels

Ignoring the type of oil (pretty sure we're exporting natural gas like a fiend right now due to fracking), we need to cut 21% to get away from OPEC altogether, or 12% just to get away from the Middle East. In the U.S., 47% of oil goes to gasoline, 20% to diesel and other fuel oil, 13% to liquefied petroleum gases like propane and such, and 8% for jet fuel. All this info is from eia.gov, by the way.

So it while it is still an enormous problem, it's not insurmountable. In fact, it's inevitable. We won't go cold turkey, but we will almost certainly keep chipping away at that deficit with continued efficiency improvements on cars and other vehicles, growing emphasis placed on fuel efficiency, and continued improvements in domestic oil production and refining. Ideally the cleaner improvements will come fast enough that we don't have to rely on the latter, but it'll happen sooner or later.

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