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Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 285

by necro81 (#47573413) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Why? As long as there are 3 or more, why care about anything but price and selection? If you can find what you want, then it's just about price, no? At least, it is for me.

Because I rather like having vibrant communities sprinkled with local businesses - places where people go and interact - and a local economy not predicated solely on the whims of the Fortune 500. The end-game of what you are advocating is that everyone stays home and buys everything online or, if they opt for brick-and-mortar, their only option are big-box stores: nondescript cookie-cutter islands of mega-commerce in a sea of blacktop parking lots. I don't want that to be the dominant model, even if it means I sometimes pay a smidgen more. That smidgen more "buys" me a community I want to live in, and neighbors that can afford to live there. There's a place for big-box stores and online commerce giants - I have made purchases at Target, Amazon, and Home Depot in the last month - but I worry about me and everyone else being screwed by hegemony.

Comment: Depends on definitions (Score 1) 222

by necro81 (#47566911) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?
I had to replace the screen on a broken smartphone in the last year. To get the screen free required a nearly total disassembly of the phone itself, followed naturally enough by a nearly complete (re)assembly. Most people would consider say that smartphones are a subset of computers; one can quibble as to whether "repair == assembly."

If the intent of the question is more along the lines of "When did you last purchase components for a desktop computer and put them all together yourself (i.e., sticking processor into socket, RAM into the mobo, etc.)?" Then the answer is: not in a decade, since that was when I last had a personal machine that was a desktop that required such assembly.

As a middle ground, I changed some of the components of my personal laptop (new HDD, more RAM, new battery, replaced a finicky flex cable). That was to years ago.

Comment: Yet another step (Score 2) 119

by necro81 (#47566459) Attached to: The Milky Way Is Much Less Massive Than Previous Thought
Starting from the Earth getting kicked out from the center of the universe to the present hypothesis that visible matter is just a tiny fraction of all the stuff in the universe, having the mass of the Milky Way reduced is just another step in what Carl Sagan called The Great Demotions. Hopefully by now humanity is getting used to it.

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 155

by necro81 (#47564663) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

It all could have been one movie it they followed the book

that's what I'm looking forward to once the third film is out: the fan-edit that removes anything extraneous (i.e., not explicitly in the book). Take out all of that, cut each chase sequence roughly in half, and you will end up with ONE tightly paced movie about 2:45 in length that is an entertaining adaptation.

Comment: Re:Radicalization (Score 3, Informative) 840

by necro81 (#47557345) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Show me another country in the region that has a single Jew or Christian in office.

You mean like Lebanon, Israel's neighbor to the north?

From Wikipedia:
"High-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Eastern Orthodox....

"Lebanon's national legislature is the unicameral Parliament of Lebanon. Its 128 seats are divided equally between Christians and Muslims, proportionately between the 18 different denominations and proportionately between its 26 regions."

I wouldn't say that government-by-religious-and-ethnic-quota is necessarily a great way to go, but it does provide diversity.

+ - Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Gaza's only power plant (see this profile at IEEE Spectrum — duct tape and bailing wire not included) has been knocked offline following an Israeli strike. Reports vary, but it appears that Israeli tank shells caused a fuel bunker at the plant to explode. Gaza, already short on electricity despite imports from Israel and Egpyt, now faces widening blackouts."

Comment: Re:I'm worried about a hurdle nobody's mentioned. (Score 1) 117

by necro81 (#47551167) Attached to: Stanford Team Creates Stable Lithium Anode Using Honeycomb Film

What kind of ridiculous regulations do you think they'll try to impose on devices that contain a multi-kilogram slab of Widely-Known Drug Precursor?

I would argue that none are really needed - it's a self-limiting problem. Any meth-head dumb enough to try to crack open an enormous battery pack and pull out a metallic lithium anode is likely to end up extra crispy.

Comment: Re:Cost Seems Low (Score 2) 218

by necro81 (#47515689) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

After all, prior to constructing the LHC, Europe didn't have that expertise either and yet all those devices got built just the same.

I disagree: there is a decades-long history of building similar, though simpler, devices in Europe and the United States. Sure, there was a lot of invention involves and new challenges to tackle, but a lot of the fundamental technologies already existed. More importantly, there was a substantial population of people who had experience in designing such (earlier) technologies, manufacturing them, getting them to work, and maintaining them. China does not have that kind of depth.

Comment: Re:Cost Seems Low (Score 3, Informative) 218

by necro81 (#47514831) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC
The cost of the LHC has been estimated at $9 billion. I know there are different labor costs between Europe and China, but there are lots of costs that can't easily be brought down. The tunnel's gonna need a whole lot of concrete, steel, etc. - global commodities whose cost doesn't vary that much by geography. The LHC is packed to the gills with custom components: everything from the the superconducting magnets to the RF generators to the detectors to the massive computing systems to sift through all the subatomic debris. Even assuming China has the technical expertise to create that custom componentry (a question I can't answer - I simply don't know)...

does it pass even casual scrutiny to think that China can make a collider of twice the size at one-third the cost?

Comment: No concentrators. Really? (Score 3, Interesting) 110

The summary states "if scaled up, this setup will not require complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight". But the video itself says that all of their testing was done with light at 10x normal solar intensity. In other words - you still need concentrated sunlight, you won't be able to set this beaker out in the bright sunshine and expect it to start boiling. The authors contrast it with solar power towers that concentrate sunlight to 100x or 1000x, but it still sounds like you'd need concentration of some sort.

Comment: Re:Nevada is the only candidate (Score 1) 172

by necro81 (#47500093) Attached to: California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory

Nevada is the only is the sole source ( as in only ) of Lithium in the United States

Yes, because moving lithium ore by rail from Nevada to California, or Texas, or any other candidate location would totally kill the economics of the endeavor. Nothing precludes Tesla from importing the lithium by sea, for that matter. They'll probably need to, in order to have enough for full production. The price of lithium is just one cost, and for a sophisticated manufactured product like a battery pack, not even the biggest cost.

Comment: Re:What are the other 99% supposed to do? (Score 5, Insightful) 172

by necro81 (#47500021) Attached to: California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory

How many factory workers were middle class, during this heyday of which you speak

A surprisingly large number. Going back to the early days of the model T, Ford (the person) recognized that if he paid his people better than the usual factory wages, he would 1) have lower employee turnover, 2) short-circuit squabbles with the nascent labor unions, 3) increased productivity and throughput (see 1 and 2), and most importantly 4) be creating a population that could actually buy the product he was trying to produce.

More recently, during the heyday that the GP spoke of (1940s through 1970s, then declining through the early 2000s), an auto worker could expect a modest, but stable, middle-class lifestyle from his (it was mostly men) factory job. It was blue-collar, didn't require a college degree, and could support a family on a single income. The large tracts of modest homes that made up Detroit are a testament to this fact. The decline in manufacturing around Detroit has directly led to the general poverty of the city, the depopulation, the urban blight (whole blocks of abandoned homes), and eventual bankruptcy of the city.

If you can get it, the same can be said for an automotive job today, or building airplanes for Boeing. Or, until their decline, the textile industries in the American southeast or the lumber industries in northern states. There are fewer guarantees with a manufacturing job today - it may not be lifelong employment, and your prospects during retirement look less secure. Still, they are decent jobs for decent people, and (right or wrong) the kinds of jobs that cities and states climb over each other to get.

Comment: Re:Texas? (Score 5, Insightful) 172

by necro81 (#47499543) Attached to: California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory

I mean, it makes perfect sense to reward a state that makes it as difficult as possible to sell a vehicle with Tesla's sales model.

It makes perfect (business) sense to locate it in a state with depressed wages, huge amounts of available land, little-to-no zoning restrictions, lax environmental regulations, and politicians that are at least a buy-able as the rest. Hell, if it's good enough for the oil and gas industry...

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".