Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:What's old is new again. (Score 1) 320

Mod parent up. The F111 is the perfect example of why you DON'T try and build a plane to take on more than one, maybe two, roles. Why did we build both the F16 and the F15 at essentially the same time? Two different roles. The F15 was originally designed to be a deep interdiction plane to shoot down Russian bombers. F16's are not meant to do that. They are supposed to provide in theater air superiority. So the 16 has one engine, the 15 has two. Not to mention the 16 is cheaper. The F14 was of the same era, but designed around the all important tail hook. Add the A-10's and you've got yourself a great air force (AF, Navy, Marines) and nobody's gonna stop you.

Today, we killed the A-10 to feed the F35 machine, a plane that essentially tries to be one aircraft for everyone. But that is even harder to do today, because all our planes have to have INTERNAL bomb bays for stealth now, which means that you lose flexibility on all those planes. Some of the 35's will be VSTAL, some will be Air Force fighters, some try to be Marine attack aircraft. The end result? They can't do any of them really well. At least the Air Force was able to hedge its bets with the F22 - the greatest fighter plane ever made. But they got too few of them as they are so expensive.

The bottom line is our military must work out what planes they need for what roles, share the components of those planes only when it makes sense to do so, and stop thinking about the export market. Let Lockheed Martin and Boeing figure that stuff out. Let our military spec the planes they need, and pay the contractors to build what they want. If you do that, no one will challenge the US from the air.

Comment Re:*Sigh*...I miss the simple cars of yesteryear.. (Score 3, Insightful) 56

I think you are romanticizing the past. Will you get rid of automatic chokes, electronic ignition too? I'm old enough to remember cars in those days. My 1972 Buick Le Sabre Estate Wagon had a very intricate starting procedure. You had to push the gas pedal all the way to the floor to set the choke. Then pump the gas pedal 2-3 times to prime the carb. Then you had to "crack" the gas pedal just the right amount. THEN you could turn the ignition key. Assuming the car turned over, it MIGHT start. Then, if it did not, you pumped the gas pedal one more time in case there was not enough fuel yet. Don't do it twice though. If you did, the engine was now "flooded" and you had to wait 15 minutes to try again. It's also possible that the one extra pump of the pedal flooded it. If you were lucky, the car started on the first try, but more likely it took 2, maybe 3 turns of the key to get the thing to start.

Today, you get in, turn the key enough to engage the starter. I you let it go, the car continues to crank until started. At least that's what my Expedition does. Anyway, it starts every time unless the battery is dead, or there is some other big problem. Sure, your old car was easy to work on. That's just another way of saying that it was always broken by today's standards.

Comment Re:Why not go back to consumer sorting. (Score 2) 371

I live in the Hartford CT area and we have Trash to Energy AND single stream recycling. First - Trash to Energy. The poster above was correct about it not being much of a net energy gain. They burn it in an oil fired plant. Cardboard, food waste, etc. all gets burned. The big thing isn't the energy as much as it is that we don't need a dump anymore except for the ash, which is compact and easy to dispose of. The main garbage dump in Hartford was closed years ago. So overall, a good option to lower the volume of landfilled items and that is the main benefit.

As for single stream, we used to sort it, but now use a large single stream bin. A great improvement all around. Here's why: I toured the recycling center with my daughter's elementary school class. I watched the trucks pull in. This was in the "sort it" days. So a guy would pick up your bin, throw the cardboard with the cardboard, the plastic with the plastic (by type), the glass with the glass, etc. The truck had an opening for each. Anyway, the truck pulls into the recycling center, and the back opens, and the dumper rises, and all of it gets mixed together! I finally asked why, and they didn't have a good answer. So what was the point? It was totally inefficient in that the sorting process the guy did at every house was essentially a useless exercise. And he knew it too, so those sorts were not particularly well done. Bottom line, single stream makes far more sense - sort it at the recycling facility. Don't pay a guy to do it at the curb. Have a truck pick up a big bin automatically.

Finally, the financial end of this... When we went to single stream, we got a garbage can (95gal) and a recycle can (95gal). We found we were producing more garbage than recycling. So I sent my brother in law, who was living with us to go purchase another garbage can. They explained to him that they would like to sell him a recycling can instead. The town made money on the recycling, and garbage cost them. So he came home empty handed. I told him to go down and buy the extra garbage can - I didn't care what it cost the TOWN... I cared about keeping the garbage out of the recycling. So I sent him back and reluctantly they sold him another garbage can.

Roll the clock forward, and the town does what government does best. Since they made money on recycling, they announced that anyone who had more than one garbage can would be issued a new recycle bin and they would be taking the extra garbage can that I had paid for away. And recycling would only pick up every other week. And if I wanted to keep my extra garbage can, I had to pay a $150 a year subscription for it. So, they did what made economic sense for them at my expense.

Of course, my solution to this was simple. I had the same number of cans, it's just one went from Garbage Green to Recycle Blue. So I threw my garbage in the recycle bins. Problem solved for me. And probably part of the reason recycling is more expensive now because of short sighted government workers wishing things were different and turning me into a profit center!

Comment Re: Seems reasonable (Score 2) 119

That, and we must never forget that as much as we may applaud the insurance company in this particular story for calling out poor practices, the primary purpose of a modern insurance company is to take your money and give you nothing in return. Everybody needs to be very aware of that, and be untrusting in all your dealings with anyone in the insurance business.

As in all industries, there are the good and the bad. I would posit that you are speaking about "bad" insurance companies, not good ones. Not every insurance company dreams of giving you "nothing in return" for your premium dollars. Quite the contrary, if insurance companies never paid any claims, there would be no need for them, and their premiums would dry up immediately. The primary purpose of an insurance is to transfer risk... in effect, pooling it and transferring the risk from one entity to several/many. Believe it or not, this enables many things. Even things like the Ansari X-Prize. The organization awarding the prize didn't have the money to pay the prize, they only had about half of it. They used that to buy an insurance policy, which paid the claim when the prize was won. Regardless, most insurance companies invest in their claim handling capabilities as it is a competitive advantage to have good claim paying history. Doubt it? Compare "The General" auto insurance claims paying vs. USAA or Amica. The latter pride themselves on claim paying. Personally, I have a policy for my house, that recently paid a claim and paid on items I never expected them to reimburse me for. Their claim handler went out of her way to make sure I got far more money than I had anticipated. The bottom line is that its easy to pick on insurance companies, but if you do your research and buy policies from reputable companies, you'll likely have a great experience with them when you have to file a claim. If you go for the cut rate, "The General" type companies, well you got what you paid for.

Comment Re:because there are no repercussions. (Score 1) 271

It is easy to leave a bank. Just turn off your direct deposit and take out all your money. You don't have to visit the bank to do that... you can take all your money out via a check, leave a buck or two just to make sure it clears, and you're out. Oh yes, the bank will not like this. They will charge your account a service fee. And there won't be any money in the account to cover the service fee. And so they will charge you an overdraw fee. But at the end of the statement period, many banks will see your negative balance, and then deposit a "credit to avoid account closure"... they will do this forever. And each month, they will mail you a statement, that probably cost them several dollars to create, and then pay postage to mail it to you. And each month, you get this piece of paper saying that your account balance is 0.00. And you get to see their computers dutifully charge the fees, and then post the credit. And all of it costs them money. I have an account that has been like this for about 10 years now. I just throw the envelope away now, but it always brings a smile to my face to see that they are essentially wasting all their own money and will never ever recoup it. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Comment Vilify the Police (Score 0) 515

This is what it has come to. The cop used to be your friend, right? But now he's not. Well, the cops didn't change, we did. In the old days a copy could say "Stop or I'll shoot" and if you didn't stop, he shot you in the back... Look at "It's a Wonderful Life"... Bert the cop does that to George (but misses)... no question back in the day, the cops could say "get on the ground" and you'd get on the ground. Now, we don't... we won't... go ahead, shoot me... you'll do time in prison Mr. Cop... you'll go down for 2nd Degree Murder. Watch "Cops" and see people who think they'll negotiate their way out of being dumped on the ground and cuffed. And it's all on the cop to make sure he is polite, doesn't use excessive force (which will be decided later, possibly by a jury) and that when someone spits in his face, he doesn't retaliate... Just put that as an additional charge that the prosecutor will drop in exchange for a plea.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we're asking cops to do everything all the time now... In addition to protecting us, and bringing in the bad guys, and finding them, we want them to use kid gloves and we've tied their hands over and over again. So we are getting exactly what WE deserve, a bitter police force, who feels that the people are not behind them, and thus they move from serving and protecting us to serving and protecting themselves. Congratulations everyone... you got the police force you deserve. You don't like it? Well further tying their hands, throwing them in jail, etc. is just gonna make it worse. Rock on, morons.

Comment Re:But DC is different,no? (Score 3, Interesting) 588

Actually, what they are trying to do is find out if you are an addict and are going to be using at work. The rationale is that if you can't stop using any given drug for the 30 days it takes to clear your system, then you cannot control your additiction... different drugs have different times that they remain detectable in the body. But none more than 30 days. So if you can't quit using during your job search, then you can't quit period, and thus are an addict. I, on the other hand, don't much care if you've used mary jane in the past 30 days, so when a candidate flunked his test for being "dilute" twice, my HR people recommended that I didn't hire him. I asked if they were mandating that, and they said no. So I hired him. OTOH, the company I work for today doesn't test. A woman had to be let go because used sharps (needles) started showing up in the ladies room... she was using heroin WHILE AT WORK. So go figure...

Comment Re:Nonsense. Again. (Score 1) 432

I lost track, were you talking about GMO foods or anthropogenic global climate change? Ironic isn't it? To hear the anti-GMO crowd cry about how they aren't allowed to dissent, while I suspect there is a strong correlation between those folks and those who believe in anthropogenic global climate changes crying out "settled science!"

Comment Re:Reading a synopsis of the novel ... (Score 1) 267

WAY more went wrong on Apollo 13 went wrong than one thing... yes - there was one root cause of the other problems, but there were a multitude of problems that were only revealed because of the that root cause problem. You're putting a huge number of things like O2 depletion, main engine malfunction, CO2 scrubbers, Electrical power disruption, water production, etc. into that one event - which was a tank exploding - at the root

Comment Re:It's OK to attack mythology and superstition... (Score 1) 266

I'm a Christian. I was raised Christian but ended up becoming an agnostic. Then I saw a Nova about the Shroud of Turin, and started researching it. It turns out the information on the shroud is a 2D hologram of 3D information. It is encoded onto the cloth, but the cloth is not painted. Something turned the cloth a different color without the use of pigments. Fast forward through all the options and it turns out the most logical explanation is a burst of radiation. And tracing back the path of that radiation, you'd have to conclude the radiation came from within the body that was covered by the shroud. So what was the source of the radiation? I believe it was the energy from the resurrection.

The essence of being a Christian is that you have to believe that a guy died on a cross, was stone cold dead, not sleeping, not in "suspended animation", not hibernating, but dead dead dead. And then 3 days later, he came back to life. According to Jesus, it's best if you just accept it on faith. But as an engineer, I needed the proof... so even though I'm a doubting Thomas, I have come to believe that he is risen. And I have a much higher than normal IQ, and am not easily impressed with magic tricks, tarot cards, and psychics...

Comment Wonders (Score 1) 78

The other day, I googled the 7 Wonders of the World... we talk about them from time to time, and marvel at them, but the list is far from agreed... there are the 7 wonders of the ancient world, and newer wonders often mentioned such as the Taj Mahal. There is a list of wonders put forth by civil engineers, and the Golden Gate bridge is on that list.

What I found most interesting is that human footprints on another world isn't even considered. And when I think of wonders, I have to believe that walking on the moon makes all other human wonders pale in comparison. I, too, was absolutely enthralled by the space program and the Apollo missions. I've watched Apollo 13 like 20 times. I was too young to remember the first moon landing and Armstrong's first steps. I do remember being in kindergarten and being hustled into a cafeteria so the entire school could watch a moon landing on a 19 inch black and white television. I remember building a model Saturn V rocket with my dad, with all the stages were removable. For one of the launches, I dutifully discarded the stages as the rocket took off, and I remember thinking the mission was doomed to failure, having seen 90% of the rocket gone in the first 10 minutes. How could they have made such a mistake I thought...

Anyway, fast forward to today, and I have several friends who are convinced the moon landings were faked and have an elaborate conspiracy theory supporting their assertion. My daughter even explained to me that the cameras wouldn't have worked in space (she just got done with a photography course where they posited this theory). Historians claim that the whole thing was just a cold war artifact. Lots of people make the argument that the money would have been better spent on social programs (as if we had just added the Apollo funding to the supertanker of money already spent on such programs would have just made the difference, and we'd be living in a utopia now if only our swaggering leaders had just thought of the children!)

Rarely mentioned is the fact that having humans walk on another world is perhaps the greatest achievement mankind has ever accomplished. It is more often written off as a publicity stunt. Lost is the inspiration a generation got from that endeavor. And that generation is getting old now and the state of the world and the indifference to the achievement discourages me and others of that time no end.

Getting off this pale blue world is a thing our society should value highly, as like it or not, the longevity of our species depends on it. And while we are currently in the wooden sailing ship stage of our ability to explore space, that should in no way discourage us to continue to push those boundaries. Humans should walk on Mars. We should capture and study asteroids. We should send probes to Europa in search of life. We should do these things, as Jack said, not because they are easy but because they are hard.

Meanwhile, Nasa's funding is abysmal in comparison to all of our other spending. A tiny fraction of our budget, seemingly shrinking every year. I am depressed.

Comment Ammonia is nasty stuff (Score 2) 380

Most people are familiar with the Ammonia that you buy in a store... but it is not Anhydrous Ammonia... it is diluted in water, and even so, you don't want to take a big whiff of the stuff, it will knock you on your butt. Anhydrous Ammonia is pure Ammonia... It requires hazmat suits to transfer that substance from container to container (fuel pump to fuel tank in a car?). It's possible that you could distribute a more dilute formula to "gas" stations, but the effect would be dropping lots of water on the roads as you used the fuel. Do we have enough fresh water for this? Perhaps. Not to mention that the more dilute you make it, the more of it you will have to cart around per mile. Anyway, it is much more likely to cause accidents than gasoline. Don't believe me? Ask a farmer how much he likes using the stuff...

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department