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Comment Re:RISK vs CHANCE (Score 1) 182

The mitigation plan for most of these terrible events is "be somewhere else when it happens". Some humans need to leave the Earth and live elsewhere as the ultimate insurance plan against mega-disasters. Mars. The Moon. Space habitats in the Asteroid Belt. Ceres, or Ganymede, or Titan, or all of these.

Comment Re:Risk Assessment (Score 1) 182

The "chance" is perhaps one in 15,000 per year (but we can't be sure, since it's pretty rare; the Barringer Meteor Crater, the Younger Dryas, Tunguska, Chelyabinsk are examples within the last 100,000 years) but the level of damage can be anywhere from "ouch!" to "civilization-ending". So I think it's not worth getting panicked about, but definitely something to work on the long-range plans for. The risk is low, but non-zero.

Comment Re: We've been to Mars already (Score 1) 149

A Mars probe - or a space probe to any other place - has to be designed with sensors to detect what you're looking for. That means that you can ONLY find the stuff you EXPECTED to find - or not find it at all, which the first Mars lander did. A person on the scene can try other things and build new sensors in near-real-time. In order to discover the truly unknown, we have to GO THERE for ourselves, or at least be close enough to learn from our mistakes.

A Phobos base makes perfect sense; minimal gravity, someplace to park material until we're ready for it. An actual space station would be better, because we could spin it for artificial "gravity", but perhaps we can cannibalize Phobos for that later on.

Comment Re:Of course the Air Force didn't adopt it (Score 1) 320

A Predator or Reaper has a small number of missiles and bombs. UAVs are excellent SURVEILLANCE assets, but they're limited in firepower. Use them to do long term watching for the target, with one or two weapons to kill it. Then fly home. UAVs are for a few high-value targets.

An A10 can't stay onstation as long - but the weapons load can be as much as the weight of the rest of the aircraft. Sort of like the old AD1 "Skyraider" in that regard. A10s are for massed infantry and vehicles.

Comment Re:I may have missed it but (Score 2) 320

I have a number of devices that contain electric motors. There's a vacuum cleaner, a blender, a mixer... It would probably be possible to create a "multi-purpose household appliance" that would do every possible task with just one electric motor.

But the fact is that a device that does several different tasks does NONE of them well. My carpet shampooer isn't a vacuum cleaner, and there is no "multi-mission floor care device" that is both a carpet shampooer and a vacuum cleaner, even when they are superficially similar.

A USAF air-superiority fighter isn't going to do a great job as a ground attack aircraft. A ground attack aircraft isn't going to be a great interceptor. Hell, there aren't even any good fighter-interceptors. And the F-35 apparently sucks at ALL of these jobs.

The notion of "One Aircraft To Rule Them All" is an utter fantasy.

Comment Re:Possible solution? (Score 1) 165

No, although drones big enough to fly out of line-of-sight must have SOME way to inform the operator where they are, and GPS is pretty darned cheap these days. It would take less processing power to retain its flight track over an hour or so than it would to record HD video, which many of them already can do.

But my suggestion is that when the drone detect the "Go away" signal, it reverse course until the signal is no longer detectable. The "Go away" transmitter should be pretty low-powered and aimed up; properly implemented, it shouldn't really block vast areas of terrain. And the signal would itself be line-of-sight.

Comment Re:10 Years? an eternity (Score 1) 263

Voting machines are used AT LEAST 4 times every 4 years; primary for the presidential, general for the presidential, primary for the intermediate Congressional/Senate elections, general for same.

Now find me a district that never has a runoff, or a special election, or a school board or referendum election. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that a majority of all districts have at least one of these every cycle.

But the only voting technology that never goes obsolete are PAPER ballots. I sell and install scanners and document management systems, and I'm very comfortable recommending electronic systems. But for voting, only paper is good enough.

Comment PAPER BALLOTS (Score 1) 263

There are NO secure and verifiable electronic voting systems. All of them have flaws, back doors, defects, and vulnerabilities. The only even vaguely secure voting system is PAPER ballots. Every voter should mark a PAPER ballot. (If somebody wants to design a voting machine that then prints out a PAPER ballot to be verified by the voter, I suppose that would be OK.)

Paper ballots, unlike electronic ballots, can be re-counted. They can be examined for signs of tampering. Once the ballot is marked, it can be scanned and electronically counted. After the election has been certified, THEN the ballots can be destroyed.

And every poll worker must be required to certify that EVERY ballot has been sent in to the County Board of Elections; any "boxes of ballots" that appear the next day, a la Al Franken, should earn a LONG jail term for the poll worker responsible.

Comment Possible solution? (Score 2) 165

How about a two-part solution?

First, design a "Go Away!" transmitter. These could be deployed in security areas, wildfire areas, and where ever they are needed. Might use normal WiFi bands with a digital code.

Second, require that all drones be equipped with a receiver for these "Go Away!" transmitters. Reception of such a signal would cause the drone to reverse course and fly away until the signal was no longer received.

Comment Re:Future news (Score 1) 403

Even where there are laws and procedures in place to prevent this, it STILL happens. Examples: Any Hollyweird "celebrity" who goes into the hospital has an excellent chance that his/her patient records and photographs may be leaked to the press, by the hospital staff themselves. And even though the person sometimes goes to jail for it, it's still happening!

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.