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Comment Re:Remember the NASA Wind Turbines? (Score 1) 178

Current blades are trucked in one piece (per blade) which is impressive to see. Three of them were parked on I-5 outside of Patterson, California a few months ago. There are a lot of net videos and photos which convey the scale.

Even at the current size they can't get through many highway interchanges and local intersections. The larger ones won't be able to ship in one piece at all.

Comment Remember the NASA Wind Turbines? (Score 4, Interesting) 178

NASA Wind Turbines approached this scale in the '80's. Unfortunately, this was a previously-unexplored area of aerodynamics for NASA, and they had mechanical stress and noise problems (including subsonics) and were all demolished. I think there was one near Vallejo, CA being taken down when I got to Pixar in '87, and one in Boone, NC, which famously rattled windows and doors.

The art has since improved. I took a ride to the top of the turbine at Grouse Mountain, that was fun! That's the only one I have heard of where you can actually get to see it from the top.

Comment Starting out with the wrong assumptions (Score 2) 165

This is starting out with the wrong assumptions.

Design a brick system that can be produced with 3-D printers, and will hold together when fabricated within the tolerances of an SLA printer. Forget FDM, it's too low precision and SLA is already achieving an equal or lower cost of manufacture compared with FDM.

LEGO is manufactured to astonishingly high precision, but I am not convinced that this is the only way to make a brick system.

Comment Re:No comparison (Score 1) 132

Blue Origin will eventually have a two-stage rocket that can reach orbit (although they are planning on a much smaller payload than SpaceX for their first iteration). When the booster of that rocket lands without damage, they will duplicate what SpaceX has recently done, although in smaller scale.

Blue Origin to SpaceX at present is a sort of bicycle-to-automobile comparison if you account for the tremendous difference in energy and the application. So, I think there really is an intrinsic difference between the two of them.

If you want to say there's no intrinsic difference, then we need to look at Orbital's Stargazer and Pegasus, which have been carrying small payloads to orbit for years, and there's only been one Stargazer all of that time so there is no question that it's reusable. The only difference is that Stargazer lands horizontally.

We can then look at the B-52 and X-15 combination, in which both stages were reusable, a human was the payload, and we're going back to the late 1950's.

Comment Re:Intellectual sleight of hand. (Score 1) 298

See what you just did there?

"a PROPER marketplace with a PROPER government is NOT..."

No, no, I have it all wrong, you say.

" involved in the marketplace to assure the soundness of the transactions...enforce contract law, stamp-out fraud, squash involuntary transactions...make sure the marketplace is essentially 'safe' and fair..."

Gosh, then you restate exactly what I said. Markets exist because governments create the conditions for their existence. You list a few conditions that you believe are essentially right for markets, but these are not natural laws, they are your value statements about what makes a "good" market, presumably one likely to benefit you. Even the values have to be defined and are culturally bound. Sound transactions. Enforcement of laws. Fraud. Involuntary transactions. Safe. Fair.

These, too, are social quantities, socially defined. What do you think governing bodies do all day as they debate? They argue about what these things mean and how they ought to be encoded as policy. And however they're encoded, someone is getting their way and someone else is not.

By the time you have a market, governments (read: societies) have already picked winners.

"Safe" is not a natural quantity that can be measured. Neither is "fair." All are matters of social deliberation and social construction. All are arguments won (or lost) by someone. All are winners already picked.

Claiming that your own preferences are somehow objective and right doesn't make it so. Nature doesn't make markets. People do.

Comment Ideological sleight of hand. (Score 2) 298

The market is not a natural entity, it exists because government creates and enforces the conditions to enable it to exist.

Picking a market is *still* the government picking winners and losers. It is picking whomever does well when the market does well under the market conditions that the government preserves.

Governments pick. That's what they do. What's why they were created in the first place. The only question is who gets picked.

Comment Nonsense. We had much better than we have now. (Score 1) 311

Even in print journalism, the quality difference between 30 years ago and today is huge. Today's newspapers would have been yesterday's tabloids, in most local markets.

The problem is basic human nature. Before people needed some basic facts about life:

- Weather
- Sports results
- Local events
- Job listings
- Legal announcements
- General news about the world

For historical reasons, these came to be gathered together in one place, the newspaper, about which several good social histories have been written. But as a result of the specialized labor and production involved (half a century ago, not just anyone could "make" print in their own homes) it was a professionalized sphere that had to serve a single, large regional audience with one bundle of print, so it had to be reasonably even-handed. There was a kind of obvious supply/demand synergy. The economies of scale were there to make it viable, if the information was presented at a reasonable level of quality and without prejudice or bias that would result in fragmenting the demand base.

Now people get get everything but the "news" part of this package for free. So now you have to ask people to pay only for "reporting" and not for those other "facts." But at the same time, there are endless sources of free reporting as well. And most of those are of lower quality (by which we really mean biased). So we're asking people to pay solely for material that they are *less* likely to agree with than its *free* alternative.

Most people aren't willing to pay for content that they disagree with when they can select for free only content that they agree with, and that agrees with them. Most people aren't willing to pay to be challenged.

So market conditions and human nature have conspired to make high-quality journalism untenable. It's no longer bundled with other facts that people are willing to pay for as well and that are available only through newsprint or television viewership, and as a result, there are no longer ready-made regional audiences of scale that will support it, and that at the same time drive a necessary professionalization and objectivity. Instead, you have to market just on the value of the prose alone and pick up subscribers where you can find them, which means that you have to segment the market according to interests and prejudices and play to their biases to get them interested, and then, because it's easy to chuck out content that reflects existing interests, prejudices, and biases (as opposed to professionalized reporting, which is research-oriented and often surprising), you're also competing with people that essentially do it for free as "bloggers" and so on.

This is not unconnected with difficulties in politics that we are experiencing. Once research-oriented, regionally-minded print goes away in favor of alacarte, self-selected consumption from the entire global market free and paid, people become more and more different as they consume media over time (and more and more intensely bound to their prejudices and narrow interests) rather than more and more the same (for having all read the same newspaper across a large region for years).

A combined reading of Michael Schudson's "Discovering the News" and Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities" gives a good sense for how this all comes together, and the problems for democracy and nationhood that we (and everyone) face(s) now in a post-news era.

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Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson