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Comment: Government again sells security to highest bidder (Score 3, Interesting) 91

That started with Reagan, who was happy to buy Saudi Oil rather than try and change the USA's energy picture. Sure. No security issue there.

So now we're selling our chip-making infrastructure. But what's one more attack vector? We're already dependent on chips made in China and software coded in India. I guess having our supplies cut off by Abu Dhabi couldn't be much worse.

It's all about moneyed interests. Countries are an illusion designed to keep the little people from revolting, which will continue to work until there's not enough affordable oil to keep cheap food, entertainment and drugs coming down the pipeline. After that, all bets are off.

Comment: Let's cut to the chase here, shall we? (Score 1) 838

by gestalt_n_pepper (#48161985) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right


Political power. Economic Power. Personal Power.

Transnational, trans-generational money is the biggest power on the planet right now. Within that, there are factions, rivalries and competitions, but like a bacteria colony, collective decisions happen which benefit the colony and completely disregard everyone else.

If you want a real, effective, democratic capitalist society, that benefits the largest amount of people, you put limits on power at the top, which means limits on the amount of money any one person, or organization is allowed to possess, or control.

The founding fathers assumed that government was corruptible, and put in checks and balances. This didn't go far enough. Everybody is corruptible. Everybody. That includes businesses and individuals. The damage they can do can be limited by checks and balances. In the case of individuals and organization, it can be limited by putting an upper bound on the wealth of individuals via taxation and the size and scope of commercial organizations. Antitrust laws were an excellent first step - if only they were enforced, which they would be, had the legislature and individuals responsible for regulation not been purchased by the wealthy.

Comment: Re:Thus proving Elon Musk is an idiot (Score 1) 549

I was under the impression that living in low to zero G for extended periods of time was exceedingly bad for human health
Indeed it is. Of course, I never suggested such a thing, since I was under the impression that rotation can provide the same effect as gravity.

Radiation protection on a planet that lacks a magnetic field or significant atmosphere is a rather interesting problem. I suppose they'd do it the old fashioned way by putting some rock between themselves and radiation. Caves, either natural or artificial.

If only there were some sort of large floating iron-rich rocks in space that could be nudged gently into the Lagrange points by low power rockets to shield habitable environments from radiation. We could call them "asteroids." But where would we find such mythical objects in a zero G environment?

Apparently, your grasp of both physics, costs and logistics rivals Elon Musk's.

Comment: Thus proving Elon Musk is an idiot (Score 1) 549

Not that a colony of a million in space is a bad idea, but Mars?

Mars is *far* away, has almost no resources, the trip is long and requires a great deal of fuel. Moreover, if there's a problem, there's no nearby fail safe place to exit to.

Near Earth orbit, in contrast, is close by, near resources like water and oxygen and mined metals, requires little fuel and if there's a major problem in your environment, you can drop down to Earth and try again.

The basic logistics favor the Earth's LaGrange points, without the unnecessary addition of a trip to Mars.

Comment: Health is cheaper, less painful. (Score 2) 478

The reason for the diets, supplements and exercise aren't to extend life, but to enhance life's quality.

You can be 75 and a cripple, in pain and bankrupted by health care costs or...

You can be be 75, run marathons, be fairly pain free and pay relatively little for health care.

I know people in both situations. To some degree, it's your choice.

Comment: Complacent or more realistic priorities? (Score 1) 275

When you're in your 20s, you feel like you have time to play with fun stuff like code.

When you're in your late 50s, and the cancer has come and gone, and your parents have died, and getting up and moving is a daily exercise in pain, and your wife has started having strokes and you're both in fear of the next one, and your cat/dog of 20 years is going to die of old age soon and so are you, probably in the next 20-30 years, believe you me, new software falls WAY down the list of important things to think about. Try mortality. Try meaning. Try the poignancy of life.

Code can be fun, sure, but it's not *important* at all.

Comment: Re:Business (Score 5, Insightful) 275

Yeah, here's the thing about being complacent.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Software isn't always better because it's new. Procedures either. I'm not about to have anybody use Ruby, just because some 20-something new hire things it's cool. And while I like Agile, I know that it works only because the team meets every day, forces them to track real progress vs estimates, measures what's happening in real time and basically keeps their eye on the ball. Stuff I was doing about a decade before the word, "agile" existed.

So, color me unimpressed by Powershell, Agile, objective C, json and Azure. These technologies are neat and sometimes useful, but ONLY if they solve a problem and/or IMPROVE something - a test many new technologies fail, pathetically (e.g. 100 lines of powershell to do what one line of "NET USE xxxx" does).

Comment: Re:Assuming we find a hydrocarbon energy substitut (Score 1) 326

by gestalt_n_pepper (#47946143) Attached to: New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

No. Coal is not going away. Oil isn't going away. Natural gas isn't going away. There's never been an issue with the total quantity of hydrocarbons. What we're running out of are hydrocarbons that are:

1) Inexpensive enough to run an interdependent web of supply chains utterly dependent on *cheap* transportation fuel.

2) Have a high enough net energy return to justify both their production AND enough left over to run an industrial scale civilization of the current size.

Capitalism dictates that you go for the resource that gives you the most bang for the buck first in order to maximize profit. We've done that. It's downhill from here. I suggest you google "oil" and "EROEI" to get the figures.

The fact that population growth isn't local doesn't invalidate anything. If African countries can manage resource diversion to their population, they will. Your lack of control and/or responsibility also changes nothing. This looks unlikely today due to the military power imbalance. After 20 to 50 years of Chinese occupation and development, however, I wouldn't make that bet at all.

Comment: Assuming we find a hydrocarbon energy substitute (Score 5, Insightful) 326

by gestalt_n_pepper (#47939483) Attached to: New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

One that's as cheap, energy dense and as easy to handle at room temperature as oil, coal, natural gas and so on.

If we *don't* do this, then I'm fairly sure that after we hit 11 billion by 2100, we'll be lucky to hit 50 million by 2200. Fewer, if we try and solve our resource problems by throwing nukes at one another, which sounds likely.

Like all species, we simply consume resources until the population crashes. What we've been so far with technology is "lucky." There's always been another *cheap* and *easy* resource to exploit. Short of a breakthrough in battery technology and thorium reactors (or fusion) that's not going to happen again.

Comment: Re:Racism is still alive! (Score 1) 221

by gestalt_n_pepper (#47931569) Attached to: Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

WHY is the Chinese. We're being out-competed. The Chinese are providing technology to a number of African countries in exchange for resources (e.g. Coltan in Congo. Oil from Nigeria) and they're not insisting on human rights or democracy to provide it. Right now, the USA has the closest thing to an Ebola cure, which means that the Chinese are at a disadvantage.

This won't last, of course, and may result in a significant worldwide plague. Whether this is an unforeseen consequence of a planned feature is left as an exercise for the reader.

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI