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Comment: Re:Land of the free (Score 1) 558

by rjh (#48628395) Attached to: Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

So, the NJ State Senate Majority Leader admits that New Jersey's law, which would make smart guns mandatory within three years of the first commercially-available smart gun being sold anywhere in the United States, can be reversed... if only the NRA will agree to stop obstructing the sale of smart guns within the United States, which they do specifically because of the New Jersey law?

I don't see the problem. The NRA is obstructing a law that goes against their stated interests, and New Jersey is promising to reverse that law if only the NRA will stop obstructing what that law regulates?

For the NRA's stated position, see here. Particularly:

NRA does not oppose new technological developments in firearms; however, we are opposed to government mandates that require the use of expensive, unreliable features, such as rigging a firearm so that it could not fire unless it received an electronic signal from an electronic bracelet worn by the firearm's lawful owner (as was brought up in Holder's recent testimony).

That's their stated policy, right there.

Comment: Re:The Batman, Theater Attack Comparison (Score 1) 558

by rjh (#48628111) Attached to: Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

Not quite. Courts have been willing to hold businesses liable for damages due to foreseeable criminal acts, yes, but so far no court has been willing to hold businesses liable for damages due to acts of war levied by a foreign state.

That's a pretty big jump to make, incidentally.

The risk is not that the courts might hold the theater chain responsible -- the courts wouldn't, on the grounds that the theater chain isn't responsible for protecting their clientele against acts of war from a foreign nation-state. The risk is that the lawsuit would be filed and it would cost the theater $20 million or more just to get the courts to dismiss all charges.

That $20 million is probably considerably more than they would make from screening The Interview, so the logical business case is to not screen it.

It's sad, but ... the real problem is not that the courts might hold the theater liable: it's that in our current system, getting sued is, in itself, its own punishment.

Comment: Re:Land of the free (Score 1) 558

by rjh (#48627973) Attached to: Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

The NRA does not object to smart gun technologies, and believes that people who wish to be allowed to buy them should be allowed to buy them.

The NRA objects to smart guns becoming mandatory, because the technology for smart guns is nowhere near mature.

The number one desired trait in a firearm, moreso than caliber or capacity or anything else, is reliability. The reason why Glocks are so popular isn't because of caliber, capacity, or aesthetics -- all of which other firearms do better. It's because a Glock is as reliable as gravity. If you chamber a round and pull the trigger, it goes boom. If you don't pull the trigger, it won't.

I have personally seen a Glock get thrown into a bucket of wet, goopy mud and left there for fifteen minutes just so the mud had the opportunity to permeate the whole of the firearm. At the end of the fifteen minutes the owner pulled the Glock out, shook it precisely three times to dislodge mud from the barrel, and fired one hundred seventy rounds through it in the space of about five minutes, just one magazine after another after another... just to prove the weapon was reliable.

Do you believe the current crop of smart gun technologies are equally reliable? The ones I've had the chance to play around with definitely aren't. They can't even agree on whether they need to fail safe or fail deadly.

Comment: Re:Wildly premature question (Score 1) 81

by Bruce Perens (#48620117) Attached to: SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

If we look at jet aircraft, wear depends on the airframe and the engines, and the airframe seems to be the number of pressurize/depressurize cycles as well as the running hours. Engines get swapped out routinely but when the airframe has enough stress it's time to retire the aircraft lest it suffer catastrophic failure. Rockets are different in scale (much greater stresses) but we can expect the failure points due to age to be those two, with the addition of one main rocket-specific failure point: cryogenic tanks.

How long each will be reliable can be established using ground-based environmental testing. Nobody has the numbers for Falcon 9R yet.

Weight vs. reusable life will become a design decision in rocket design.

Comment: Re:Cosmic Rays (Score 2) 56

by dougmc (#48596685) Attached to: Raspberry Pi In Space

The reason they use older laptops is not because of the density of the chips but simply because they're known commodities -- any quirks they have have already been figured out and they get the job done. Getting anything certified (for mission critical purposes) is a very time consuming process, and once it's done ... the item is no longer state of the art, that's just the nature of the beast.

The Raspberry Pis don't have to go through the same certification process, though of course if they were expected to only work "for eight seconds" I think NASA would have told the people sending them up that to pick something older. I'm guessing that NASA knows a bit about the radiation environment up there and advises people who send up experiments appropriately.

And as others have said ... humans are living in the same environment for months at a time -- it can't be *that* bad.

Comment: Re:Cosmic Rays (Score 2) 56

by dougmc (#48595801) Attached to: Raspberry Pi In Space

The ISS is well below the Van Allen radiation belts and well within the Earth's magnetic field (which deflects many of the charged particles headed towards the Earth) so the level of cosmic radiation it gets is not *that* high, and the metal of the ISS blocks most of of that.

And if a Raspberry Pi does get its registers corrupted by cosmic rays ... it's not a tragedy. Nobody dies -- it's not mission critical.

In any event, they use pretty standard (but old -- last I heard, they still ran Windows 95) laptops on the ISS and they work fine. It would be interesting to know how much more often they experience failures and errors on the ISS due to radiation compared to how much they experience here, but I don't know if anybody has measured that. (My guess is that NASA has, though I wouldn't know where to look for the data.)

Comment: Re:US Centric? (Score 3, Insightful) 167

by _Sharp'r_ (#48510663) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

Ever read mainstream news reporting about a topic you were very familiar with? Perhaps something related to technology, or a local issue you were in the middle of?

Most people have had that experience. The more you know about something, the less the story seems to be accurate.

Yeah, all the rest of the news stories are about that accurate also, people just mostly don't notice.

Think about it.... it's mostly some j-school grad who asked a couple people some questions to get quotes, then threw the "story" together. Usually they're lucky if they understood what they were told, let alone can explain it in a manner which actually enlightens their audience.

My best luck as been with subject matter experts who blog on news topics related to their subject. So I get my economics news and analysis from economics professors (not the pet ones in the NY Times), my legal news from law professors and judges who blog, my technical news from a technical site focused on that part of the industry, etc...

Even then you have to be willing to read multiple viewpoints to try and see a bigger picture than one voice is going to paint for you.

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48474393) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Operating systems for gaming computers? I suppose your Playstation and your Wii and your Steam Machine run windows and WINE doesn't exist? Dude, don't confuse a monopoly with having a big market share.

De Beers managed to get to 85-90% of the world market for diamonds, not quite an actual monopoly... but as the diamondmarket is international, couldn't get all the governments to protect their market position by granting an actual monopoly and requiring their customers to purchase only their products. Guess what their market % is now? 40%? Lower? I guess they didn't have a natural monopoly after all.... market forces and all that.

Monsanto? No need to even go there in terms of IP. There are hundreds of seed companies farmers can buy from. Yeah, Monsanto is one of the biggest (at around 35% of the corn and soybean market share, just below DuPont) because many of their customers like their product combinations (pest control + seeds that resist it), but if another company came along tomorrow offering a better deal, how long would their market share last? One season, two? You're reading too much anti-GM propaganda and not looking at the actual facts.

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48468459) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Show me a monopoly in the United States that isn't enforced by the government and you might be able to start to make a point here.

The reality is that power company monopolies exist most everywhere in the U.S. today because the government legally requires things to be that way.

Companies have no power to enforce a monopoly without the government making laws giving them a monopoly. Even if a capitalist managed to achieve a local monopoly on something, the only thing keeping their competitors away is if the barriers to entry are larger than the potential profit.

You can claim that there are some natural monopolies, but if these are actually natural monopolies, then why would it require a law to prevent anyone from competing with them?

Comment: Re:Simple answer. (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48466535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

When you have government price controls (see for example, your local public utility commission), the natural result is that the company they've setup as a monopoly has only an incentive to deliver the worst possible service they can get away with, spending the least possible on everything, and pocket the rest.

It works that way in every industry it's been tried, so there shouldn't be a big surprise it works that way in the local electricity market. The real question is why do we keep having our government set things like this up... oh, that's right, most people are ignorant of basic economics and public choice theory.

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48466475) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Why do people keep conflating complete government control of an industry, to the point where the government outright decides who your local power company is and exactly how much they charge you, with capitalism? You could make a good case for calling that model socialism, or communism, or even fascism, but it's the exact opposite of any sort of market-based capitalism...

Sure, when the people in government decide to take complete control of an industry, the people in the industry become reduced to working their government masters for their own benefit, but the issue there isn't a lack of government power.

Ever heard of a public utilities commission? They're the ones who approve rates, expansion, rules for how the power company functions, etc...

Comment: Re:Environmentalists is why we still pump carbon (Score 2) 652

by _Sharp'r_ (#48459423) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Fukushima and Chernobyl are deadly enough reminders.

Would it surprise you to learn that the deaths from producing renewables is orders of magnitude higher than the deaths from all the reactor meltdowns combined?

If so, do a little research and prepare to be surprised.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov