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Comment: Barrage balloons. (Score 1) 113

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477733) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150?

Try flying some small helium party-style balloons on kevlar fishing line tethers, creating a forest of near-invisible strings.

Copter drones don't fly well with the blades wrapped in string.

(Indeed, I hear full-sized helicopers don't work all that well with a few hundred turns of 75-pound test line wrapped around that pitch control mechanism at the hub, either.)

This might not work against those with the bumpers all around. But the ones with the blades unguarded would have quite a time getting through.

Comment: Land not suitable (Score 1) 44

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477703) Attached to: Interviews: The Hampton Creek Team Answers Your Questions

Livestock require 8-20x more land per gram of protein produced than plant based protein sources. Switching entirely to plant based foods would allow returning >90% of that land to its natural state and growing crops only on the most suitable 10%.

Much of the land of the continental US is unsuitable for growing any crop suitable for human consumption, due to things like lack of water. The western range, for instance: Attempting to farm it would be an ecological disaster. Cattle, on the other hand, can make a fine living off it (at a rather low density - like four acres per cow) and ARE suitable for human consumption (and tasty!) when raised on what they chose to eat.

In fact, NOT raising range cattle on range land is ALSO an ecological disaster. US range land has a substantial infestation of invasive grass species that were accidentally introduced by European settlement. The native animals tend to avoid eating it, so it has an extra selective advantage over the native grasses and tends to squeeze them out. Cattle, on the other hand, prefer it - to the point of eating it almost exclusively when it's available. Thus they keep it under control. Meanwhile, any non-cattle attempt to eradicate it would amount to total defoliation, reseeding with native plants, crossing your fingers that the invasive species was wiped out, and repeating whenever it reappears.

Comment: Also, chickens can't be free range and organic (Score 1) 44

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477667) Attached to: Interviews: The Hampton Creek Team Answers Your Questions

Wait, is organic and free range supposed to be a better, that is tastier, product or just better for the environment?

While we're at it: If a chicken is free range it isn't organic. A free-range chicken eats wild bugs, and you can't certify that all the wild bugs that flew in ate an organic diet themselves.

My wife raises chickens, studies the issues extensively, and has a lot to say about free range, organic feed, organic chicken regimes, etc. They amount to animal cruelty. Some of the high points:
  - Free range means the chickens are exposed to predators and avian diseases spread by smaller birds.
  - Organic regimes forbid antibiotics and often vaccinations. A bird that catches some disease will either be dispatched to save the rest of the flock, or left to suffer and recover on its own without assistance - perhaps crippled - and meanwhile expose the rest of the flock. A number of poultry diseases are endemic among wild birds or prevalent in the enviornment. Young chicks are subject to coccidiosis and many of the survivors then live with damaged digestive systems. (Non-organic chicks are usually fed a coccidiostat in their early-weeks feed until their immune systems develop, or given a dose of antibiotic if the disease appears in the flock.) Marek's Disease, caused by a herpes family virus, is common. It produces partial paralysis, blindness, lymphoma, immune suppression, tumors, atherosclerosis, and a range of other painful and debilitating symptoms. Non-organc chicks are vaccinated against it. And so on.
  - Free range means the chickens are in large groups rather than individual cages with a handful of birds in each. Chickens can keep track of the ranking of no more than about a hundred other individuals, so life in a larger group is a constant series of battles to reestablish dominance. In small group cages, on the other hand, the heirarchy is worked out quickly and peace generally prevails (or relative peace, depending on breed). This is partiularly a problem with commercial egg-laying breeds, which are noted for intra-species violence and cannabalism.
  - Free range chickens are allowed to leave the barn in the day. But only the few who set up their teritory near the door actually get to leave. The rest are still effectively confined to the buildng in a mass of interacting birds.
  - Commercial feeds from big-name animal feed suppliers are tightly quality controlled and well tuned to the birds nutritional neefd an their taste preferences (so they'll enjoy eating it and thus eat as much as they should). Organic feeds are noted for dangerously poor nutritional qualities, from bad formulation choices, variation between batches, and the use of ingredients that quickly lose their nutritional qualities during storage. With their high metabolism, an under- or mal-nourished chicken will becomes a damaged and debilitated chicken in just a few days.v

I could go on...

Comment: -457 farenheit is nothing to sneeze at. (Score 4, Insightful) 140

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477215) Attached to: Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet

What the material is doing (or is claimed to do, anyway) is to re-radiate incident radiation at a wavelength that can pass through through the atmosphere back out to space without being absorbed (i.e. it won't heat up the atmosphere).

More importantly: If the wavelength were one that was absorbed by the atmosphere, it is also one where the atmosphere radiates heat back toward the paint.

If your frequency slot is one with "absorption", you "see" the temperature of the atmosphere - a bit cooler than the surface of the (greenhouse-effect boosted) planet, but not by enough to be exciting.

If your slot is one that is essentially fully transparent, you "see" the cosmic background (except for the tiny part of the sky that shows the sun's or moon's disk). That's about 2.7 degrees K, call it -457 Fahrenheit. Liquid helium is substantially warmer at -452.2.

The slow radiation of heat at the sky is almost completely overwhelmed by conductive and other transfers of heat into the paint, of course. Of the 530ish degrees F difference from room temperature, only nine are left.

But that's nothing to sneeze at. The inside of my well-insulated desert house gets up to about 85 in the day without air conditioning. If I could drop that by nine degrees it would be a relatively comfortable 76. (It would likely actually drop more, because the lower temperature of the surface would slow the heating and tend to even the daily cycle of temperature out further.) 85 or more is debilitating. 76, with drastically low humidity (dew point typically about 35), is actually comfy.

Comment: Not zero cost. (digression on my sig line) (Score 1) 29

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48465363) Attached to: NASA To Deploy Four Spacecraft To Study Magnetic Reconnection

Make a basic income available to everyone (funded by the Fed, not the taxpayer, at zero cost).

The point is that it's not zero cost. Every penny of money "funded by the Fed" comes from your and my pockets - sometimes with a big multiplier - by paths that are not as obvious, but just as costly, as a tax bill.

The biggest one is inflation: If the Fed just prints money, it dilutes the rest of the money. Your wages go down (though the numbers don't change.) Got retirement savings? They go down, too. Your investments go down - but the numbers make it look like they wen't up, and the government taxes the fake "gain". Everything you buy gets more expensive.

Comment: Fusion power applications? (Score 1) 29

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48462139) Attached to: NASA To Deploy Four Spacecraft To Study Magnetic Reconnection

It will be interesting to see whether this research on the phenomenon in the large scale produces insights useful at the smaller scale of fusion plasma confinement.

In case it's not clear, magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon of magnetic field/plasma interaction. (Without the plasma and its currents (or extreme accelerations like those around black holes) the magnetic field wouldn't be simultaneously twisted up and bent around so it can reconnect differently.

I see two ways this might apply to plasma confinement in fusion systems:
  * It may give insight into the details of plasma instabilities and lead to ways to suppress them - enough for a practical reactor.
  * It might lead to a way to use the phenomenon deliberately, to produce a (probably pulsed) past-breakeven plasma confinement, along the lines of Dense Plasma Focus.

Comment: More than half were minority owned, too. (Score 1) 1088

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48461993) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

The hit is taken by the store owners and their landlords. [Insurance usually has escape clauses for riots.]

Just heard on the news that more than half of the stores destroyed last night in Fergusun were minority owned, too. (I think it was actually "black owned" but I'm not sure.)

IMHO the main point of the burning is so that, once the stores have been looted, the evidence of who did it is largely destroyed. Video survelience tapes, fingerprints, serial number records, ...

Comment: Re:I just don't understand (Score 1) 1088

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456227) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

To heck with the local charges - why the hell hasn't Holder's Justice Department filed federal civil rights charges against the officer?

They're working on it.

They generally hold off on those until the state's criminal justice aparatus has had a chance to product the verdict they want. They'll file once the state system has "failed". Like maybe this week or next.

Comment: No. The store owners take the hit. (Score 1) 1088

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456185) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Black Friday starts tonight. Insurance companies to take the hit.

No. The hit is taken by the store owners and their landlords. Insurance policies generally exclude damage during riots, along with other civil insurrections and wars.

The net result of rioting that involves looting and/or store trashing is stores that move out or go out of business. Lots of little family businesses are bankrupted, while the big box store chains look at all the red ink and don't reopen. (That's why the Koreans were on the roofs of their stores with guns during the Rodney King post-verdict activities in Los Angeles.)

Think there's a shortage of decent-paying (or paying at all) jobs in Ferguson? Just wait... (This is what happened to Oakland, California, which is mopping up the last holdouts tonight "in sympathy with Ferguson".)

Comment: Re:The "Protesters" (Score 1) 1088

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456149) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Lenovo's stupid touchpad destroys the posting, just as it's being posted, once again:

They're not interested in any kind of justice. They're only interested in revenge.

And loot.

Christmas is coming up, after all. Time to do a little shopping. You can afford a lot more stuff when you apply the five-finger discount.

Assuming you don't get captured or shot, of course. But so far the cops are just standing back and letting the looters go at it. The hundred forty plus shots reported (at last count) are all attributed to the "protestors". (No word on whether any are from those defending themselves their families, or their property from looters and vandals.)

Comment: Re:The "Protesters" (Score 1) 1088

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456131) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

They're not interested in any kind of justice. They're only interested in revenge.

And loot.

Christmas is coming up, after all. Time to do a little shopping. You can afford a lot more stuff when you apply the five-finger discount.
attributed to the "protestors". (No word on whether any are from those defending themselves their families, or their property from looters and vandals.)

Comment: My take is tech makes radios sound like noise. (Score 5, Insightful) 306

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48453589) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

I also subscribe to the "great filter" theory. About 25 years after the radio was invented, we were busy gassing each other in trenches, followed closely by a global pandemic, then mass genocide, then teetering on the edge of nuclear war. That's not a very wide window for aliens to notice our presence, if they rely on artificial radio waves to detect intelligent life.

My take is that technological improvements make radio sound like noise after a few decades. Early radios systems are very simple things which have signals (CW, AM, FM, ...) that are very distinct from electrical and thermal noise. Their signals were both drastically different from, and drastically stronger than, the background, enabling simple detectors to separate a signal's information from all that chaff.

Modern radios (such as spread spectrum systems, especially OFDM) squeeze nearly the Shannon Limit out of precious bandwidth (and also be frugal with transmit power) by using nearly all of it to carry information. This makes them virtually indistinguishable from a celestial object with a little extra heat (buried among things like stars, which have a LOT of heat).

It was only about 120 years from when Hertz and Tesla started making easily detectable radio waves to the Analog Television Shutdown, a significant milepost in the decommissioning of easily detectable radio signatures. I expect that, within anther few decades, the Earth will be emitting very little that might be recognizable as a radio signature of intelligent life, unless we expend a bunch of energy sending such a signature deliberately.

So my solution to the mystery expressed in the Drake Equation is that L (the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space) is short, not due to the falls of civilizations, but to economic incentives to use the aether only in ways that are no longer noticeable at a distance.

Comment: Oh, for a successor to Open Moko (Score 3, Interesting) 54

I'm still waiting for a truly open-source, unlocked, user-controllable phone. Like a successor to Open Moko. (Building a closed platform on a base of open software doesn't cut it.)

Is anything out there or in the works?

(It's particularly acute for me just now: My decade-old feature phone started to flake out last week.)

Comment: I installed ubuntu 14.04 on my BBBs (Score 1) 575

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48421087) Attached to: Debian Votes Against Mandating Non-systemd Compatibility

I don't see why your BeagleBone black example is systemd's fault. It has a convoluted way of managing network interfaces because it uses connman, a network-management daemon from Intel that is not part of systemd.

I installed ubuntu 14.04 on my BBBs. (Had to upgrade the kernel a little later because the 3.13.0 kernel wasn't ported to arm-on-bone in time to go out with the original 14.04 distribution and the 2.whatever they shipped didn't handle a class of USB device I needed, but it's fine now at 3.13.6-bone8.)

Changing to a specified, fixed, IP address was just a matter of editing /etc/network/interfaces, which was commented well enough (in combination with the man page on my ubuntu laptop) to make it easy.

(Main problem was that DeviceTree overlays weren't supported by 3.13.0-6, so I had to hack the boot-time base device tree to reconfigure for the onboard device functionality I wanted, rather than just overlaying the deltas during or just after the boot procerss.)

There are never any bugs you haven't found yet.

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