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Comment Landmines for peace (Score 4, Interesting) 233 233

Out of all of the weapon-specific hysteria (and there has been a lot of it--white phosphorus, thermobaric bombs, depleted uranium, etc.), the anti-landmine one might be the most dangerous.

Obviously, they do have a good point, what with the disasters in Indochina and elsewhere. However, those were cases of non-self destructing anti-personnel landmines placed in third world nations. The situation is / would be quite a bit different with anti-tank mines, self-deactivating or remote-deactivating mines, and/or mines placed in developed nations that have the resources to keep people out and clear the minefields later on as needed.

Why is this all worth mentioning? One word: Ukraine. In a situation where one side in a conflict desperately wants to fortify their defenses but doesn't want to risk alarming the other side (or giving them a plausible pretext to feign alarm), landmines are one of the few stationary weapons available that can thwart or at least seriously slow down an invasion. Instead of all this deeply worrying Cold War-type bravado of military exercises and NATO rapid response plans in Eastern Europe, just mine the fuck out of their borders. Putin could act huffy and offended if he wants, but people will realize it is a clearly not an aggressive action.

Comment "Some folks" ? (Score 1) 884 884

Errr, what else would it be? Electric engines are already fantastic: they offer great performance, don't have to deal with nearly as much heat stress, and there's no need to screw around with a delicate transmission.

OTOH, batteries are currently very expensive, bulky, can't recharge quickly (nor do we yet have the infrastructure to allow swapping at gas stations) and have a limited lifespan. The cheap, energy dense, durable, fast-charging battery has always been the holy grail here.

Comment Cheap hydrogen (Score 1) 884 884

No. The most efficient source of hydrogen is thermal electrolysis powered by a breeder nuclear reactor, or (if the local geology permits) perhaps geothermal power. No CO2 required.

We'd have to get over the initial tech investment first though, and (in the case of nuclear) convince the general public not to go apeshit.

Comment Re:Intercourse. (Score 1) 103 103

Yeah, that is plausible but I'm hoping for something more dramatic. It would be great if DNA analysis finally ruled out Polynesian trans-Pacific but confirms direct Melanesian contact.

Just another talking point to bring up next time Mormons come to my door. "You found those Nephites yet?" (For a very long time they have tried to square the circle by arguing the Polynesians are the lost tribe of Israel, but obviously not the darker Melanesians because dark skin is the mark of Cain.)

Comment Life imitating art (Score 1) 70 70

I don't think I was alone in thinking the Lone Gunmen series was nearly unwatchable due to an over-reliance on goofy humor, but I'll be goddamned if the pilot wasn't, um, worth rewatching.

This is the elephant in the room that, unfortunately, I don't think anyone is going to have the balls to revist. A TV show about conspiracy theories... began (in March 2001) by showing the main characters just barely managing to prevent an airliner from crashing into the World Trade Center, thus foiling a plot to boost arm sales by provoking a war. The climax is with them pulling back on the stick as hard as they can, just barely missing the top of one of the towers.

But it's all for northing, isn't it? One of the most chilling pieces of television ever produced, but they can't ever refer back to that episode again. Not with the godawful Truthers and out of respect to the victim's families and everything. I sometimes wonder if that isn't why they never again ventured outside of goofball comedy territory, because they nowhere left to turn after September.

Comment Re:Misleading (Score 1) 250 250

We have dozens of high profile examples of the GPL's copyleft provisions in practice, and a good number of open source projects (not the least of which is the Linux kernel) are for all intents and purposes permanently GPL, with no possibility of a fork due to the sheer number of contributors involved.

And let me just briefly add on to this--my point is the above state of affairs is something we can all discuss and debate like reasonable adults. I think it's a good thing. I can understand and to a degree respect people who argue that it's a bad thing (and I certainly wouldn't disparage them if they ultimately choose a permissive license.) However, I do not and will not respect people who try to pretend that the GPL has had no positive effects whatsoever (or that it is somehow unenforcible) with all of the overwhelming, explicit evidence to the contrary.

Comment Misleading (Score 1) 250 250

To an extent you make a valid point, but it's still extremely misleading to claim that "the GPL doesn't prevent proprietary forks". In a very large number of cases it can--if a company goes bust and another group picks up development, there is no longer any way to make a proprietary fork, because the entity that owned the original codebase are no longer around to consent to a non-GPL re-license. Similarly, any project that has more than one major contributor (even a now-inactive past contributor) is virtually immune to an attempted proprietary fork. This has huge ramifications. This is why so much of Android is/was GPL (though they're trying like mad to replace GPL components with Apache), this is why Linksys was forced to open source on their WRT router firmware, this is why Red Hat is open source, etc.

Finally, even in the case of a single entity controlling 100% of the code that goes into a project, the GPL does indeed prevent proprietary forks by third parties (such as NeXtSTEP, the proprietary fork of BSD Unix that eventually became Apple's OS X.) I happen to think this is a good thing--some people argue it's bad, and to a point I can respect that point of view. But what you cannot do is try to imply that the GPL simply fails at what it sets out to do and is therefore just a bit of unnecessary complication layered on top of what is ultimately a permissive license. It is not. We have dozens of high profile examples of the GPL's copyleft provisions in practice, and a good number of open source projects (not the least of which is the Linux kernel) are for all intents and purposes permanently GPL, with no possibility of a fork due to the sheer number of contributors involved.

Comment Troll Alert (Score 2) 250 250

This is a copy/paste of this post: http://slashdot.org/comments.p...

He didn't respond to my response to it, but *someone* did mod my reply to it down. This post really is worthless-- a disingenuous and half-hearted hit piece on the GPL , crammed full of vaguely reasonable-sounding disclaimers "I'm glad for RMS" and praise for GCC so that people will take it more seriously.

My original reply is given below. I acknowledge there is probably room for valid and reasonable debate on many of these points, but if you begin the debate by posting A/C and then modding down anyone who points out the massive effects the GPL has had... well, that's not a debate. It's a troll.

------

I'm not sure what you expect to prove by listing a bunch of non-sequitur aphorisms. We have the facts in front of us, and it is very easy to imagine how the alternate universe would work by substituting "BSD" in place of "Linux". Does "Red Hat BSD" give away virtually their entire operating system for free, including modification and rebranding? No. No they fucking do not, and you cannot be taken seriously if you try to claim otherwise. I'm not talking about a minor permissive-licensed project (such as the kind that Apple or Google have been known to support) that doesn't affect the bottom line; we are talking about a software company open sourcing the lion's share of the code they write for their main/only product. There isn't a large, for-profit corporation in the world that does that kind of thing without some kind of legal compulsion. (Or perhaps you'd like to point out a sizable BSD-based for-profit distro that doesn't try to close source? They've had decades to come out with one.) So, admitting the absurdity of "Red Hat BSD" is step one.

Step two is admitting that while there are a number of decent home-grown options today, corporate-originated apps and sometimes core components are still very commonplace in your average distro and 10+ years ago they were even more prominent and important, particularly for business and other semi-technical users. Without corporate contributions, particularly from Linux-centric businesses like RHAT, Linux would be a pale shadow of what it is today, not just because it's hard to find full time volunteers but also because the whole thing needed a sustained kickstart before it reached a level where it was useful and appealing to people who weren't already hardcore Unix enthusiasts.

And... that's it. Admit those two things, and it's self-evidently true that the GPL was and is critical to Linux's success. This isn't philosophy any more; this is proven history. BSD gave us Apple's unholy reincarnation. GPL gave us Red Hat, Canonical, Novell, IBM, and dozens of other companies paying hundreds of developers to work on Linux full time, and every step along the way made perfect logical sense. There is no mystery as to why it happened this way.

If you want to argue otherwise, you're going to have to do a lot better than what you wrote there. For starters, you could try referring to reality once in a while.

Comment Re:Am I the only one who is depressed, not inspire (Score 1) 248 248

There's no fiscally sound plan based on the world current supply/demand for asteroid mining. The $10 billion (and let's not pretend that this figure won't go WAY up due to unforeseen cost overruns) would be better spent developing, let's say, the fusion technology that would cause He3 to be in-demand.Or if we absolutely have to have manned space flight so that we can inspire people, let's focus on making a shuttle replacement (that doesn't suck) instead of re-inventing the Saturn V just so we can mothball it again in 10 years when the next economic meltdown happens.

In other words, while I am all for getting off of this rock, I am a little worried that simply re-visiting old nostalgia is going to 1. Not have as much impact as it did the first time around, in the 60s, 2. Not give us as much spillover technological advances, because it's shit we've done already, and 3. Give the fiscal conservatives more ammunition.

Comment Re:Am I the only one who is depressed, not inspire (Score 1) 248 248

The psychological/inspirational aspect is important, but it's insanity to base an entire space program around that. Building a permanent moon base just as an exercise in "we can do it" is sheer insanity, and the He3 arguments pointedly ignore the lack of demand and cost-effectiveness. You know what happens when we build a moon base? We have a moon base. Until the next financial crisis comes around and congress cuts the funding. Build a giant white elephant and you get a giant white elephant that fiscal conservatives point to and laugh at for the next 100 years. Why not try and prove them wrong by actually venturing into new territory instead?

Focus instead on *new* tech, and you might actually get the spillover effects people on here keep talking about. And if you really want a challenge? Try building self-sustaining settlements in the arctic or antarctic, or in the middle of ordinary deserts. This is orders of magnitude simpler (and cheaper) than trying to build permanent settlements on other worlds, but it's still really hard.

Comment Am I the only one who is depressed, not inspired? (Score 1) 248 248

Why stop at the moon? Let's see if someone can travel around the world in less than 80 days! Let's build a railroad that could stretch all the way from the east coast to the west coast! Let's try to reach the top of Mount Everest!

It doesn't impress me in any way, shape or form to listen to people debate about whether or not we can afford to re-invent 50 year old technology so that we can do the exact same thing.

Build a goddamned space elevator. Or a mass driver. Or let's have some talk about the progress in nanotech and biotech that might lead to a plausible mechanism of terraforming. Not this nostalgic shit. It is painful to watch.

Comment Bill Hicks said it best (Score 5, Insightful) 351 351

Kill yourselves.

Seriously, no, this isn't a joke. If you aren't advertising a truly new product or service (this is maybe 0.1% of advertising), you are filling the world with bile and garbage.

Nice that we get "free" ad-supported stuff in the meantime, but holy fuck do we (as a society) pay for it.

Comment Re:Sounds good. (Score 1) 79 79

The neighbors it threatened to bomb (but not with nuclear weapons) have repeatedly tried to wipe it off of the face of the earth. If you are talking about Iran in particular, they are still spending hundreds of millions of dollars on proxy armies to fight Israel, and some of these proxy forces openly carry flags showing mushroom clouds with words of the Qur'an in them. Israel had a peaceful partnership with Iran for decades before their revolution. There is no conceivable grievance, no conceivable motivation they have for bombing them except as self-defense. The most you could argue is that such a bombing (again, non-nuclear. No one has ever openly argued for a nuclear strike) would be a bad idea, but there is no reason at all that even the most unappologetically hawkish Israeli would advocate such a wasteful, risky thing except as self defense. I don't see how you could argue that there would be a subsequent plan to, for example, invade Iran and steal their resources.

Their religion-based marriage system is fucked up, but civil partnership is already available and (as in most western liberal democracies) there is a fairly widespread movement to legalize it. Your claims of an interracial marriage ban is, of course, an outright lie rooted in the insane and obscene tendency of demented ultra-progressives to define religions as races.

Comment Re:Crazy? (Score 1) 183 183

It pains me a little to see so many geeks apparently failing to notice the high durability forms of plastic used in products all around them. Consider that plastic is more popular than metal for semiautomatic pistol lowers, and it's not just because it's cheaper--it's extremely durable and not slippery at all. And how on earth can you assume that asphalt isn't flammable, brittle, and melty?

Plastic is a more uniformed structure while asphalt is more jumbled. This jumbled makes it more complex and backups its own downsides.

Then mix an aggregate into the plastic. We already do this on a smaller scale with glass and carbon fibers, and the result is so incredibly durable that the manufacturers call it "fiberglass" or "carbon fiber" to avoid drawing attention to the fact that it's actually 90%+ plastic. With current fabrication techniques it's probably not cost effective to build a carbon fiber road, but there's no reason we couldn't blend various kinds of rock aggregate into the plastic and figure out what works best.

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.

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