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Comment Re:Two words (Score 1) 325

Two words: Desalination plant.
Extremely useful in Germany, or the Netherlands, or *cough* *cough* Switzerland.

If only those countries had neighboring countries into which to sell excess power, or to which to sell water. Sadly, they are island nations, right?

Comment Re:I thought the secondary payload (Score 1) 51

And of course, no one is inspired by the idea of building autonomous robots to explore an alien world. That stuff is just mundane.

Once the robot is built, your job is done.

You don't build autonomous robots in order that you may explore an alien world, you build autonomous robots in order that the autonomous robots may explore an alien world.

Once you launch the things into space, you might as well be watching "Duck Dynasty" or some other form of reality television.

Comment I really wonder how other employers/employees... (Score 1) 77

I really wonder how other employers/employees are going to take this.

The Seattle areas top ten employers all make heavy use of contractors:

1. Boeing
2. Microsoft
3. University of Washington
4. Amazon
5. Weyerhaueser
6. Group Health Cooperative
7. Fred Meyer
8. Bank of America
9. Qwest Communications
10. Nordstrom

Good luck with the lawsuits guys! You're going to be getting it from both side, if this passes!

Side A: The employers who provide all your jobs, and don't want to have to give up contract workers
Side B: The contract workers for those employers, who wonder why Uber contractors deserve your intervention, but they don't

Comment You *do* realize, right... (Score 1) 77

And Workman's compensation suffers an economic loss when employees are falsely called independent contractors.

You *do* realize, right... Workman's Comp is not supposed to be a profit center for the state, and that because contractors who do not pay into it can not make claims against it, you're only counting a lack of revenue from taxes as them suffering a loss, and they aren't suffering an actual loss in terms of having to pay out funds that they did not collect in the first place?

I know that many states treat it as a slush fund they can borrow against, and (effectively) never pay back what they;ve borrowed out of it, in the same way the federal government borrows from the social security trust fund. But it's not actually *supposed* to work that way.

Comment Re:I thought the secondary payload (Score 1) 51

What inspired engineers before space?

Science fiction for some of it. The rest was patriotism and the existence of the Cold War with Russia fueling a need for better tech than the Russians had, so that we could kill them before they killed us.

You probably do not remember Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the U.N. in 1960, shouting "We will bury you!".

Comment There's a similar problem... (Score 1) 325

No, they can't. Production of some things (especially steel) is best done at constant rates and temperatures. Starting back up invokes a huge cost.

There's a similar problem for industrial/solar grade silicon, such as that used in solar panels. If you shut the power off during production, you get this huge lump of useless, impure glass, and it's typically easier just to build a new furnace next to the old one, because if you shut off the power, that furnace is basically dead: buy a new one.

There are a lot of electricity dependent industrial processes which are continuous flow, and they've been designed that way to eke out another 10% efficiency, with the downside being 100% risk if you lose power during processing.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 2, Insightful) 72

Those things aren't armed, so short of someone using one of those drones for a kamikaze strike (which i'd imagine would be p. hard given that the thing is flying relatively high and there are armed soldiers in the room), there isn't much one can do.
You can get shot down, but that's about it.

The MQ-9 typically carries an ordnance load-out of some kind, even when operating in an observer role; it's just that when it's operating in an observer role, it carries less ordnance, not zero.

Typically, if the analysts get alerted, and while watching the feed, decide that they need to go "weapons hot", there is a military pilot or two in the room with the civilian pilots to handle laser-painting the targets, or the dropping of ordnance on them.

Comment Re:Soft Power (Score 2) 365

And when Europe decides to ignore a whole lot of American drug patents in return?

The reason the WTO exists is to try and avoid tit-for-tat trade wars like what you're suggesting. Ultimately they make everyone poorer.

The US has an uncompetitive tax system for corporations. It's not even about the rate, it's about the fact that they're double taxed on worldwide income, something no other country does. Instead of coming up with creative ways to try and "punish" people who develop life saving drugs for getting sick of American tax exceptionalism, why not find ways to make them want to stay?

Comment Re:What idiocy (Score 1) 311

To which I ask, what's your point? I accept that risk in the name of freedom. You can have freedom or the illusion of safety, which would you prefer?

The idea that guns lead to freedom is based on a simple assumption: an overly oppressive government could be overthrown through some sort of armed uprising. This is a fantasy. Nobody in America has any chance of overthrowing or resisting their local government through force of arms. If you attempted it alone, you'd be immediately killed by armed police and written off as just another guy with mental problems. If you tried to coordinate a group bigger than 10 people you'd be detected and classified as some sort of domestic terrorists, and most likely end up in a firefight with a much larger, better armed and better armoured group than yourself (US police have access to ex-military equipment from Iraq, right).

But there are literally no scenarios in which a government passes a law, a bunch of people start shooting up police stations or senate buildings, and that government says, "oh ok, I guess that was kind of oppressive, we'll repeal the law" and everything goes back to being peaches and cream.

So it's a false choice. Guns do not equate to freedom and the cultural link between the two is an American-specific phenomenon.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken