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Comment Re:Butterfly Ballot not Supreme Court decided 2000 (Score 2) 634

Everything that you say is correct; however, it's a risky proposition for the Republican party to focus on it, because it papers over the dire straits in which the party finds itself.

I'm not American, so this is an outsider's perspective. I think that the Republican party does focus on the truth that Bush won the election over Gore and that he won it fare-and-square. In doing that, they ignore the more salient truth: since 1992, the Republican party has won the popular vote for president exactly once.

That is a sign of a party out-of-step with the country they want to govern.

Comment Re:Obligatory reading (Score 4, Informative) 419

the 24,000 [year] half life

TFA refers to Pu238, which is quite active. It has a half life of about 88 years. It is an energetic alpha emitter, which is not dangerous outside the body because the skin absorbs the emission and you can wash Pu238 off pretty easily. However, once it's inside you, virtually all of the alpha emissions will be absorbed by your body unless/until you can excrete it. A good fraction of any amount ingested will eventually emit energetic radiation that you will absorb. A disaster could be bad.

Having said all that, including Pu238 in a spacecraft is a problem we have solved before, so it's not all that crazy.

Comment Re:I was wondering the same thing... (Score 1) 461

The appliance-type cookers can have a glass lid, and the pot-on-the-stove versions (always?) have a metal lid. I think that the appliance-type ones have all the pressure release valves and knobs in the pot rather than the lid which puts a glass top in play. I'm not sure about that because I've never owned an appliance-type cooker. They aren't as versatile because you can't quickly depressurize by using cold water on the lid or base.

Comment Re:Go nuclear (Score 1) 91

Including water, a SLOWPOKE reactor weighs on the order of 100 tonnes. If you could harvest water on Mars, you could probably land one on the surface with existing vehicles.

Even with water, it could be in play to get that reactor to low earth orbit in one launch and later attach a transfer vehicle in orbit. That reactor is in the ~1 MWe range.

Comment Re:Legally questionable, doomed to fail! (Score 4, Insightful) 427

Ultimately, this is an example of government not charging a high enough fee for use of a common public resource. There are lots of examples of this. Usually governments do this in order to provide the resource equally to all people, which is a noble and understandable goal. The downside risk is a tragedy of the commons, where common resources are used to depletion because there is no signal to the users that they are causing harm by depleting it.

In our economic system, we use price as a scarcity signal for buyers and sellers. Price is a ham-fisted signal that is only marginally better than rationing but without using it at all, or by using it poorly, government has opened the door for a private company to create a market in something valuable - parking turnover. Should this application take off (a big "if") government's only practical response is to raise the price of parking to the point that turnover is so high that you can usually find a parking spot quickly without paying somebody to leave. That will be a really high price which will obliterate the goal of providing access to parking for people regardless of their economic situation.

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Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson