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Comment Depends on what you mean by "camping", and where (Score 4, Interesting) 144

I have an off-grid cabin on a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere. It's not a survival campsite, but it's quite remote. I can work from there if I need to, and I sometimes do. I have rainwater collection, solar power with plenty of storage, and line of sight to a cell tower on another peak several miles away. Full 4G data from all providers - but only once you're up on the peak, not on the way in. This is a reliable and comfortable way to work from a wilderness location. But this kind of system does not work for survival camping, especially moving between locations. Reliability requires a fixed location with line of sight data service, and a fixed solar installation. If your priority is primitive camping, I don't think this can be achieved effectively. But if your priority is to experience isolated wilderness while definitely staying connected, a small cabin (even a primitively constructed shelter) at a carefully chosen location can work just fine.

Comment Re:Did NOT rule the program constitutional. (Score 1) 150

What happened to the legal standard that new laws cannot be applied ex post facto?

I don't understand how that relates to this situation. A prohibited ex post facto law is one which criminalizes or imposes a penalty for an act which occurred before the law was enacted. For example, a new law which raises your taxes for last year and makes you pay the difference now. Or a law which makes it a crime to have previously consumed alcohol before the law was passed. This does not seem related to the case at hand.

Comment Re:Did NOT rule the program constitutional. (Score 1) 150

Wut?!?!

Per the decision:

The preliminary injunction entered by the district court is hereby vacated and the case remanded for such further proceedings as may be appropriate.

It doesn't overturn the previous finding that the program is unconstitutional - it makes it like that finding never existed in the first place.

That's not what that means. The appellate court vacated the preliminary injunction, they did not reverse a legal determination on constitutionality. As one of the other commenters noted, I actually oversimplified the ruling - they didn't even determine that the plaintiff definitely can't pursue the case, they just determined that he can't get a preliminary injunction because there aren't enough facts to support his standing yet.

Comment Re:Did NOT rule the program constitutional. (Score 1) 150

"The appellate court explicitly did NOT "overturn" the district court's substantive finding that the program is unconstitutional. This ruling is procedural, and unrelated to the merits of the legal arguments about constitutionality of the NSA program."

+1 for that part of your comment.

"The court instead found that this particular plaintiff does not have standing to challenge the program in court."

-1 for that part of your comment. They didn't rule that he didn't have standing (well, 1 of the 3 judges did, but the majority did not), or that the trial can't proceed. They simply said that there's not enough evidence of standing shown in the pre-trial phase for an preliminary injunction (which they say requires a higher bar than the standing requirement needed to proceed with the trial). The trial can proceed, where more evidence can be obtained and presented.

BTW - the latest empytwheel.net post highlights some brand new evidence showing that the plaintiff has standing.

You're right. I oversimplified it. They found that, based on the record as it stands currently, there is not adequate evidence to show standing - but there might be later after more discovery. The case is not dismissed, the preliminary injunction is just denied.

Comment Did NOT rule the program constitutional. (Score 4, Informative) 150

The appellate court explicitly did NOT "overturn" the district court's substantive finding that the program is unconstitutional. This ruling is procedural, and unrelated to the merits of the legal arguments about constitutionality of the NSA program. The court instead found that this particular plaintiff does not have standing to challenge the program in court. It's a very problematic ruling, raises a lot of issues, and in my opinion should be reversed - but it certainly does not overturn the lower court's finding that the program is unconstitutional as a matter of law.

Comment Re:Yeah we'll just do that in software? (Score 1) 86

"web-scale data centers are designed to cope with hardware failures". So.... it's OK if you use my motherboard design and they randomly fail, because you should just make up for that in software or hardware redundancy? Um, no.

That's exactly what it means, and how it works. When you have tens of thousands of nodes, some of them WILL eventually fail during operation, no matter how good the hardware is. Thus, the software must be designed to accommodate hardware failures and seamlessly continue operation without interruption or data loss. If you already have to design the software to handle that anyway, then there is not much incentive to go to great lengths to improve hardware reliability. Whether the failure rate is 1:100000 or 1:1000 annually, the result is the same on the software side. But if the less reliable hardware is dramatically cheaper (which it is), then it makes more sense to use the cheap hardware and replace it more often.

Comment Legal failure; politically misguided. (Score 4, Insightful) 69

This lawsuit is a legal mess, destined to fail. In fact, it already did fail and they're just trying futilely to revive it. All applicable statutes of limitations passed years ago. You can't wait decades to file a lawsuit. Equally as importantly, "The Marshall Islands" as a political subdivision does not have standing to sue for injuries that occurred to specific people and property there. Those people and property owners would have to sue, not their regional government. Finally, the decisions which were made and the actions taken were political decisions made by the United States in exercise of its sovereign authority - and you can't sue for that. It seems that the plaintiffs know this, which is why they are now trying to frame the lawsuit as a claim to enforce the NPT. The problem with that is, yet again, a lack of standing on several levels, and an inaccurate interpretation of the treaty itself. First, there is no cause of action through which any individual or entity can force the government to comply with or enforce a treaty. International relations are solely the sovereign domain of the federal government, and they can decide to abide by (or disregard) treaties as our elected officials see fit. Second, the treaty is not being violated. It does not require disarmament, nor is there a mandatory timeline for any particular disarmament-related activity. It says the signatories will negotiate towards an agreement regarding disarmament. That's not an enforceable mandate in any meaningful sense. Why? Because the signatories never actually had any intention of disarming, so they made an agreement that didn't require them to disarm. A third party can't come in and force them to abide by a deal they didn't make in the first place. Look, the Marshallese got screwed. There was a discriminatory component to that. It wouldn't happen the same way today. But the bottom line is that we needed a place to test weapons of mass destruction, and the Marshall Islands were the best choice available. So the US did what they had to do to make the program work. They should have provided market-based compensation for the taking of land, and they should have relocated everyone out of the zone of danger, turning the entire area into a restricted military installation before blowing it up repeatedly. There should have been no injuries and no uncompensated loss of property. But the reasonable conclusion to take away from those events is not that nuclear weapons should be eliminated, or that the tests shouldn't have been conducted at that location. They served a critical purpose for national security, and anyone who says otherwise is a revisionist with an agenda.

Comment Questionable engineering decisions. (Score 2) 75

Ever since their first widespread implementations in the mid 20th century, turbopumps have been powered by rocket propellants - either the same stuff they are pumping (F1 engine in the Saturn V), or a separate propellant dedicated to powering the pumps (Space Shuttle Main Engines). There are excellent reasons for this, and not many good reasons to use batteries and motors instead. Rocket propellant pumps require truly massive amounts of power to move thousands of gallons per minute of propellants at thousands of PSI pressure. The SSME turbopumps require over 70,000 horsepower per engine. Like all other rocket hardware, size and weight are extreme concerns. Power-to-weight ratio is the single most critical design goal. Rocket engines themselves burn the propellants they do specifically because those chemical combinations are the absolute best we have for producing the maximum amount of thermo-mechanical energy from the least mass, no-compromise. Using the same types of propellants to drive the turbopumps also provides the maximum achievable power to weight ratio. The SSME turbopumps produce over 100HP per pound, which is insanely high. No known electric motor technology can even reach that order of magnitude in power density, even considering only the actual motor itself! There is no legitimate contest in performance between a gas-driven turbopump and any other technology besides nuclear, and that's that. To make such a large compromise in power to weight ratio by using electric pumps is very odd. Yes, gas-driven turbopumps are really hard. They are the hardest part of building a large liquid rocket engine. But those challenges were first solved over 60 years ago, and avoiding a tough engineering exercise is no excuse for making a giant compromise in performance. The extra mass of that electric drive system could be replaced with propellant or cargo.

Comment Murder-suicide? (Score 5, Insightful) 400

So if two listing, burning ships strap themselves together, do they float better? Or do they just sink faster? It seems to me that if your browser market-share is dropping and you're losing relevance, the best move is probably not to attach yourself to a search engine whose market share and relevance were lost years ago.

Comment Re: Old saying (Score 4, Interesting) 249

Because it would be meaningless to "compensate" for the time difference between clocks moving and accelerating differently. Time literally moves at different rates in different reference frames. The clocks are correct; the problem is that the concept of similtaneity is fundamentally flawed.

Comment Re:Things once thought impossible... (Score 2) 350

1. Powered Flight 2. Bending Light 3. Traveling Greater than 300mph 4. Transparent Aluminum 5. Artificial Diamonds

All of these "Feats" of human ingenuity were once thought to be impossible by the physics standards of the day.

Physics and our understanding of it, continues to evolve every moment we live.

To say the words "It Cannot Be Done" after seeing all we have done already... Is kind of foolish.

We will learn how to accomplish this feat, or one very similar that accomplishes the same goal, Eventually...

That, is the power of Consciousness My Friends.

All hail the thinking, reasoning, Problem Solving, Human Consciousness!

Hold up there, turbo. Transparent aluminum? Surely you're not serious. And don't post a link to something about aluminum oxide or other ceramics.

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