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Comment: Wonders (Score 1) 78

by coolmoose25 (#47415747) Attached to: Buzz Aldrin Pressures Obama For New Space Exploration Initiative
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

by coolmoose25 (#47327541) Attached to: New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel
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...

Comment: Abortion then? (Score 1) 1198

by coolmoose25 (#46880765) Attached to: Oklahoma Botched an Execution With Untested Lethal Injection Drugs
I'd like to know how many people who are advocating AGAINST capital punishment on this forum are FOR abortions including late-term and partial birth abortions. My wife, who changed her views after we got married pointed out to me that being against capital punishment was inconsistent with being for abortion. I thought about it and realized she was right. So I changed my stance. I'm now PRO Capital Punishment. But if your view is inconsistent (Against CP and For Abortion) then ask yourself this: "If I'm against a person who committed terrible crimes being executed, then why am I for allowing an innocent life to be terminated just because it isn't breathing air at the moment, but would if delivered to term or near term?"

Comment: Basic Got Me My Career (Score 4, Interesting) 224

by coolmoose25 (#46869277) Attached to: 50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal
I started working on computers in the early 80's... The first one I used was a TI 99 4a. It had tape drives and a TV set as a monitor, and a horrific keypad (note: not keyboard). Then my brother got a PC Jr. and I started hacking with that and then went off to college. As an engineering major, I learned FORTRAN on punched cards. I hated it! Swore I'd never have a job where I used computers.

Then my brother got the family to chip in and buy me a Tandy 1000a. It came with DOS, Deskmate, and Basic. I started programming in Basic using the concepts I had learned in FORTRAN. By the end, I think I had dumped about $5,000 into that computer. Printers, memory upgrades, floppy upgrades, hard drive, monitor, etc. And still was able to do amazing things with Basic and with BAT files.

My first job was with Arthur Andersen. COBOL. Batch COBOL. 2.5 years of it. Learned it in 6 weeks, and spent the rest of my career there either coding it or writing tech specs for it.

Went to work at an insurance company coding SqlWindows, a now obscure 4th gen programming language. But hey, it was Windows programming. Spent 10 years there in a variety of roles.

After that I set up my own web development shop... Wrote classic ASP which is essentially Basic for the web. And then went to work at another insurance company, writing, you guessed it, Microsoft Granted, was a far cry from the original basic, and probably would have been better off learning C#. But that was Microsoft's strategy with .Net - recycle old VB programmers and old C programmers using the CLR. At the end of the day, not much difference between C# and Now I don't code anymore, I'm a VP at that insurance company. But I owe a lot of my career for having a tool like Basic available to me in my formative years. Sure, it teaches you some bad coding habits. But just like anything else, you learn from that, and others, and classes (and objects for those who like puns). Those who say that you can't be a good programmer after having learned basic are either elitist snobs or idiots. Sometimes you have to do it wrong first to see how doing it right makes all the difference. So Happy Birthday Basic - I love ya' baby.

Comment: Re:Extradition from Sweden is easier (Score 2) 377

by coolmoose25 (#46237817) Attached to: Assange's Lawyers: Follow Swedish Law, Interrogate Him In the UK
"How could anyone reasonably expect him to willfully submit to that? It seems highly likely he would end up rotting in a US jail for life, unheard and unseen."

You are obviously not from the US so let me explain this to you. Our Constitution guarantees a right to a speedy trial. If JA wants a speedy trial, he'll get one, and will not "rot in a US jail for life" unless he was convicted and given a life sentence (Which in the US translates to roughly 10 years depending on your age and the leniency of your parole board)

What you are actually thinking about is Guantanomo, where I will agree we have imprisoned enemy combatants (ie. Prisoners of War) who are not subject to the Constitutional projections that would be extended to JA, like any other US resident...

Comment: Re:At least it wasn't an Aztek (Score 1) 94

by coolmoose25 (#46104247) Attached to: Slashdot PT Cruiser Spotted In the Wild
I bought a PT Cruiser for my daughter when she was in high school. It is a convertible. Her requirement was "convertible." It was by far the cheapest available. Bought it new for $17,500. It was the last one they had in Connecticut. Other than me breaking the seat belt buckle, which caused the airbag system to fail, and a crankcase sensor that needed to be replaced, it has been uber reliable and trouble free. Never stranded anyone, ever. Has 60,000 miles on it now, and have only done brakes, tires and oil changes. Maybe I got the only good one.

We call it the "Barbie Car" because it looks like one, especially when you drop the top and the roll bar sticks out like a barbie car handle. A friend said that every time he sees it, a little piece of him dies in side. It is a very maligned car. Yet it's basically a Neon with different side panels. And she won the category of "coolest car" in her high school year book. All in all, money well spent.

(and one more "perk"... it is a 2008 bought in 2009, right before Chrysler went belly up. So it has an unlimited powertrain warranty. I plan on keeping that car until the only thing that is left is the engine and transmission. Hopefully I'll bankrupt Chrysler with engine/transmission replacements through 2035)

Comment: Creationism is the tip of the iceberg (Score 1) 544

by coolmoose25 (#46090657) Attached to: Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching
It's just one school issue... not all of them. For instance, I live in the northeast. No creationism taught here. OTOH, the liberal nirvana of the People's Republic of Connecticut goes too far the other way. Take US History as an example. Non-exceptional students get taught US History in two blocks. The first block, the era of small government in the US is taught in 8th grade. It is taught largely as a fairy tale. I've read the book, cover to cover. It's slanted in too many ways to mention. It has ridiculous sidebars - with extraneous and/or irrelevant topics in US History put there to be "politically correct."

Meanwhile, the era of big government, Reconstruction through Today is taught in 11th grade. The focus of this book is things like the robber barrons, with little to no acknowledgement of the standard of living those "robber barrons" brought to the US. It shimmies right up to the notion that WWII for the US was started because the US cut off exports of oil and steel to Japan, instead of the fact that the Japanese bombed pearl harbor. The book glosses over the battles in the Pacific, and instead concentrates on the internment of Japanese Americans and the "questionable" decision to nuke Japan.

I insisted that both of my daughters take AP US History in high school so that they learn the entire history in one year, one devoid of this kind of historical revisionism that our school system foists on our children. Sadly, most of the students get the slanted version, and think that its reality. I doubt Slate will do an article on that, or the hundreds of other things I saw happen on my 9 years on the local board of education.

Comment:, - Beware! (Score 1) 129

by coolmoose25 (#45539167) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Review Sites Do You Consult For IT Equipment?
OTOH, Tom's does monthly reviews of CPU's and Graphic Cards... WRT these reviews, they often stop at around the $300 mark, especially in CPU. They will explicitly say that buying a CPU higher than their highest recommended CPU is governed by the law of diminishing returns, and that essentially you should only go to a more expensive CPU if you are "compensating for a shortcoming" shall we say? I'm often building fairly low end machines, and Tom's does a fair job at giving such configurations a fair shake. Their system builder marathons always have a $500-600 entry and they will show you performance per dollar. Often, I start with one of those configurations, and sometimes tweak their CPU choice as often I'm using embedded graphics rather than discreet. This is for a typical user in my house who is just surfing the web, using Office, etc. I've also built a fairly high end machine for my daughter that was purpose built to do video editing and post production. Tom's gaming recommendations helped there enormously, as high end gaming and video editing are similar in their graphics needs. Still, for about $1000 I built a machine that is as high as the spec recommended by her video production teacher. And I did that about 6 months before she took the class. When I let him know the specs on her machine, he just smiled and said she'd have no problems, except that she'll be spoiled when doing work at home compared to the anemic computers they had in school. So provided that you really read the articles and you make common sense adjustments, you can save thousands of dollars over time. And all of this wonderful advice comes free of charge. Amazing.

Comment: Re:Anecdotes aren't statistics (Score 2) 453

by coolmoose25 (#45492517) Attached to: Imagining the Post-Antibiotic Future
Here's another one... My brother had a cut on his foot. He dressed the wound daily, with a topical antibiotic and new bandage. Long story short, he was dead within a week. Sepsis kills more people in the US than any other disease. Take antibiotics away, watch that number skyrocket. It will finally be too hard to ignore, as is happening today.

Comment: Apple vs. Other Devices (Score 4, Insightful) 240

by coolmoose25 (#45471959) Attached to: Not All USB Power Is Created Equal
I'm an Apple Abhorrent... I don't use any of their products, not even an Ipod. I'm an Android/Windows guy. But my daughter decided she had to have an iPhone and bought it with her own money. I have one of those little plugs you put in a cigarette lighter in the car. My car has two up front, one that is ignition keyed, the other is always on. The dongle is in the one that is always on. And I have a standard USB cable to charge phones and other devices from it. It charges all of my Android phones fine. It charges the GPS fine. It charges pads like the Galaxy Tab and the Nexus fine. It won't charge my daughter's iPhone, even with her white Apple USB cord. To this situation, my daughter tells me that the little dongle I have is a POS. I smiled and was reminded, yet again, why I won't buy Apple products.

Comment: Re:Blockbuster failed like Sears (Score 1) 385

by coolmoose25 (#45414309) Attached to: How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix
Don't count Sears out. They own K-Mart now, and they do have a flawed but fairly comprehensive website. They need to capitalize on their strengths, which is NOT apparel. That is their bugaboo... they ceded apparel when they did the "Go Goolagong" campaign.

So what are their strengths? Tools and Appliances. Bedding. Automotive. They can win in those spaces easily if they concentrate on them. My tractor and snow blower are both Craftsman. Sure, Craftsman is crap lots of people will say. Well I say it isn't. At the low end, $1100-$1800 for a tractor, and $650-$1200 for a snow blower, they are selling the SAME product that you will get anywhere else regardless of name brand (including Deere, which doesn't make its own low end stuff anymore, but still charges you like they do). I replaced my circa 1970's Craftsman tractor with a 2000's model that has a hydrostatic drive, cast iron axles, and a B&S engine. It is bulletproof so long as you change the oil. The hydrostatic drive is sealed, and never needs new fluid. Will it die in 10 years? Maybe. Will it die in 15 years? Probably. But I paid $1200 for it, so about $100 a year. My snowblower has been rock solid too, with the notable exception of last year, when it would not run when wet. In the spring, I figured out what had happened... A mouse had taken up residence in the cowl and had chewed almost all the way through the ignition wire. The replacement part for that was readily available from Sears, and I installed it myself. Runs like a champ now, and frankly, that wasn't a quality issue and would have happened to any other brand of snowblower I bought. So I'm a big fan of Craftsman power equipment and their tools because parts are readily available. When you buy the whatever brand from Home Cheapo, not so much. And in the end, all these are built by one of two manufacturers and are rebranded for each store.

When your battery dies on a Sunday, where do you go to get it fixed? Sears is open, and they have your battery, and its overpriced but is decent quality. I've taken to replacing them myself now that my family has a whole fleet of cars, but if I only owned one or two, I would just go to Sears and get the battery done there. Tires? Some of the best prices on tires. Competitive with Walmart even. I bounce between Walmart, Sears, and Firestone for tires. Again, Sears has a strength here.

I know I'm coming off as a fanboi here, but I would NOT like Sears to disappear. I've bought a lot of stuff from them - Appliances I often buy at their scratch and dent warehouse... My fridge sits in an alcove, you can't see the right side at all, and only the top half of the left. So when my fridge died, I bought one with a huge gouge down the right side. I can't see it. And the thing has water, ice, all the bells and whistles, and I paid like $600 for it. Again, drifting into fanboi-dom, but I want Sears to survive.

Comment: Re:Furloughed workers (Score 1) 346

by coolmoose25 (#45372273) Attached to: "War Room" Notes Describe IT Chaos At
Okay... I've had it with the "you should spend less money on the military" as the answer to the US problems, while talking about how we spend too much and tax too little... Let me guess. You're from Europe?

It takes a lot of hutzpah to say something like that when you've lived and slept under the blanket of security the US has provided to you for decades. Yes, perhaps we SHOULD spend less on the military - lets start by closing all US bases in Europe. Europeans are so much smarter than us, why would the US need bases there? After over 60 years since the end of WWII, can't Europe take care of itself?

Well, maybe not, considering the fact that you let the Balkans burn down while hurrumphing that "someone" should do something. It took Bill Clinton to bomb them into peace. And that was in your own back yard.

Again, I think you're right and have a point. Lets NOT deploy a missile shield in Europe. The Russians will be happy. And when Iran finally gets its nuke and can lob it in to Geneva... well no great loss, right?

We can learn from your outstanding economic wisdom. It's not like there are any problems with government spending in Europe... right? Oh, hold on... is Greece and France still in Europe, or is it just the Germans now?

So we are agreed... The US should go home. We'll let you all handle that whole IslamoFacism thing... and you can make sure China doesn't take over the world... and Putin will sell you all the gas you need... no worries there. Have fun... if you need us, just send an email to We'll get back to you real soon.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.