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Comment: Re:So is this because... (Score 1) 186

by downhole (#44710123) Attached to: Tor Usage More Than Doubles In August

I mostly agree, but on the barriers to people standing for office - yes, there are huge barriers to prominent, powerful spots like President, Senators, etc. But there are lots of lower-level slots that are reportedly much easier to get. State-level Representatives and Senators in most areas, less prominent city-level positions in bigger cities, even some Federal Representative seats. If you want to stand a chance at running for one of the higher-level positions, you generally have to win elections for and serve in lower-level positions for a while. If you do well there and are able to amass some supporters, then you have a shot at running for a higher-level office. Repeat that a few times, and you're in the running for the really powerful positions. It doesn't sound all that bad when you think about it that way - do you really want some guy off the street with no experience in governing anything to be the next President? (uh, no comment about Obama...)

Comment: Re:Forget $200k... (Score 1) 473

by downhole (#43999115) Attached to: The $200,000 Software Developer

The nice part about being a software developer - you can learn it by yourself for free (well, you need a semi-modern computer and an internet connection, but if you're eating and have a roof over your head, that usually isn't much more). So get to it already. Make an application or website or whatever that does something, keep it open-source, and release it to the world. Any popular language/platform will do, and it helps if it's useful to somebody or even popular. Employers like people who can get things done a lot better than the like people who complain that the world won't hand them everything on a silver platter.

Comment: Re:The Free Staters chose my town as the test bed (Score 1) 701

by downhole (#43966185) Attached to: The Free State Project, One Decade Later

You're using the presidential elections of 1916 to determine politics? I'm pretty sure that the policies of both parties have swung wildly in the last 100 years. It's going to take a lot more detailed information to disprove the pretty clear idea that the modern-day Left has taken over California generally and San Francisco especially over the course of the last few decades.


Journal: Why off-planet colonies are not realistic

Journal by downhole

I seem to post stuff like this fairly frequently in space travel-related stories, so I thought I'd just write it all up here. Summary - Yes, it would probably be a nice thing to have a truly self-sufficient human civilization on another planet so that we are insulated against any catastrophe that might happen to the Earth, but such a colony is basically not possible to create now.

Comment: Re:My BitCoin story (As if you care) (Score 1) 339

by downhole (#43046059) Attached to: Bitcoin Hits New All-time High of $32

This actually is more interesting than all of the wild theoretical arguments about whether bitcoin is destined to go down in flames or take over the world. Who knows? For now, it is what it is, and it's interesting that you've found good uses for it - I hadn't heard of Gunbroker auctions accepting bitcoins yet. That said, I wouldn't keep any amount of money in Bitcoins right now that I wasn't willing to lose.

Comment: Re:State sponsored (Score 2) 77

by downhole (#43029077) Attached to: Stuxnet's Earliest Known Version Discovered and Analyzed

I think the fallacy with this is that the techniques required to do this sort of attack are out there for anybody to discover. No matter what the US or any other country does, somebody will use it eventually. We (presuming it's the US) just have the level of technical know-how and resources to get it done sooner than most other countries. Somebody somewhere will use it against us in 20-30 years whether we use it now or not, so why not use it now and get some benefit from it while we're still the only ones that can do it? Especially if it allows us to stop something very dangerous from happening without directly killing people or staging massive raids or invasions.

Comment: Re:Not as big a worry now (Score 1) 77

by downhole (#43028997) Attached to: Stuxnet's Earliest Known Version Discovered and Analyzed

As I understand it, 20% is the absolute minimum concentration where it is possible to create a critical mass, and thus a nuclear detonation. I'm guessing that getting an actual detonation at that concentration level requires a ton of advanced warhead design/engineering and boosting techniques, and is still probably pretty low-yield. Probably nobody would actually bother doing it because it's much easier and more reliable to just keep on refining until you get to 90%+ where you can skip a lot of the tricky stuff and get higher yields and lighter, smaller weapons.

Comment: Work (Score 1) 266

by downhole (#42788931) Attached to: For personal printing, not work, I usually use ...

I do all of what little printing I need at work. Enormous color laser printer with every option under the sun, being maintained by professionals on contract beats the crap out of a cheap, slow inkjet with expensive cartridges that dry out or run out all the time, not to mention flaky 50MB drivers. Even keeping a cheap laser printer at home doesn't seem worth the trouble when my printing demand is around a few dozen pages a year. If I didn't work at an office with nice printers, I'd go to Kinkos (or whatever they call it these days) and print there. A few pennies a page there is still a better deal then keeping my own printer going.

I stopped feeling any guilt about it when I noticed how many of my co-workers will routinely print out hundreds of pages of useless garbage at a time. I'm sure my printing needs cost them less then the toilet paper I use.

Comment: Re:Unfortunately it's extremely common (Score 1) 473

by downhole (#42744237) Attached to: Hacker Faces 105 Years In Prison After Blackmailing 350+ Women

Or maybe because he did it to hundreds of strangers over the internet instead of to one person who he was already in a relationship with. Doing it to your partner is generally wrong, but probably not the place for a legal solution except in the most extreme cases. This most definitely needs a legal solution.

Comment: Re:waste of money (Score 2) 1130

by downhole (#42732351) Attached to: Machine Gun Fire From Military Helicopters Flying Over Downtown Miami

I'd say completely out of the question. They would have to completely conquer all of continental Europe first, because it would be insane to devote most of your military capability somewhere halfway across the world while powerful enemies are sitting right next door. The US would go all-in on that fight too, because we know perfectly well that the Soviet conquest of Europe would tilt the odds way in their favor for a more direct conflict with the US. Then, they would need complete control over both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the skies above them, and the skies above the US coasts, since ground forces on ships are highly vulnerable to sea and air attack. Meaning essentially the complete destruction of the US and all allied navies, and the bulk of the Air Force as well, which they have zero credible capability of doing. I don't think the Soviet Navy ever had any ambition for doing anything beyond closing the Atlantic to bulk shipping from the US to Europe in the event of a major war in Western Europe, and even doing that is far from certain.

Only after doing all of those nearly impossible things without triggering a nuclear war (also probably impossible) would they have a chance at trying to land troops in the continental US and dealing with the millions of small arms in civilian hands... after the Army throws everything they've got at them, of course.

Comment: Re:Government goes with lowest cost (Score 1) 215

by downhole (#42398773) Attached to: Lockheed, SpaceX Trade Barbs

I'm inclined to disagree with that. I'm sure there's quite a bit of waste, corruption, and featherbedding in the cost of these jets, but there's also a ton of revolutionary technology in them too. The kind of stuff that's so new and untested that you can't estimate costs or anticipate problems properly. That makes for ridiculous costs, but also aircraft that nobody else can match. I'm sure we could do much, much cheaper if we set out to build a F-16 style jet using all old tech, optimized for manufacturing efficiency.

That's what SpaceX did, as far as I can tell. None of their technology is all that advanced, but they've done a lot of revolutionary stuff as far as design and manufacturing for efficiency and low cost. Thus, they're doing the same stuff everyone else is, only for a tenth of the cost. And bypassing all of the red tape involved with designing under government contracts probably helps too.

Comment: Re:Why is this posted AC? (Score 1) 307

by downhole (#42389837) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Typing Advice For a Guinness World Record Attempt?

I think it matters because you create an identity for yourself. If I reply to your post and you reply back, then I know that it's the same person, and not some other guy who thought it would be funny to pretend to be you. If you reply to my post and some other guy also does, posting as AC, how do I know which one is you? How do I even know if what you are saying is true? With an account, I can click on your name and read all of your previous posts. As an AC, you could be pretending to be somebody else or making the whole thing up entirely.

And of course, it's good for the site, because having an identity gives people an incentive to post quality stuff and not post incoherent nonsense and flames.

I've mostly stopped replying to ACs who reply to my posts, because in my experience, 90% of AC replies are nonsensical flames. If there's anything with less of a point to it than having an internet discussion with someone whose reply to your post is a nonsensical attack, it's having that discussion with an AC, where you don't even know if it's the same person, or if they will see your reply at all.

"Freedom is still the most radical idea of all." -- Nathaniel Branden