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Comment Oh, Com'on Robin (Score 4, Insightful) 123

The very best thing you could have done with that particular posting of Eric's would have been to ignore it, and run the story about that nice woman without mentioning it. She can stand on her own and nobody but Eric should be held to account for what he said.

Comment Re:Why are we not funding this? (Score 1) 107

Why are we not funding this?

Because there's ethical concerns to doing the sort of thing that is necessary to eliminate cancer and other nasty genetic disorders, and to reduce the rate of other genetic predispositions such as heart disease, diabetes, and violent crime, and the way to bring mankind to new levels of health and strength and intellect. I think the primary ethical concern is "they might look down on us".

Comment Re:This is not in the least surprising (Score 1) 105

There've been lots of studies finding "psychological differences between the sexes". But when you look into them the statistical correlations are usually terribly weak, barely above statistical significance. And you have to question how much you can trust them anyway. Remember that metastudy that showed that half of all psychological studies can't be reproduced? I downloaded their study data. Every topic related to gender differences was in the "couldn't be reproduced" category. Now, of course that's a tiny fraction of all research that they attempted to reproduce. There surely are psychological differences, even ones that aren't pure upbringing/society related. But its important not to overplay the amount or degree of them.

Comment Re:The Brains of Men and Women Aren't Really Diff. (Score -1, Troll) 105

Now we just need the followup study that finds that the women who's brains looked more male were more interested in in things like programming, while the men who's brains looked more female were more interested in things like complaining that somebody on the internet said something sexist.

Comment Re:Tested in the courts (Score 1) 118

We should change the patent system so that it works more like how you imagine it works, namely that patent examiners only do some simple sanity checks, and that validity only gets established through court challenges. But that's not the patent system we have right now.

Those systems exist in other countries, and they're uniformly terrible. Remember all those stories about someone patenting the wheel in Australia? That was a registration-only system.
They're also much more expensive for people accused of infringement, since the trials are much more involved, with having to first examine every aspect of patentability.

Comment Re:Tested in the courts (Score 1) 118

The USPTO can (and does) award patents for almost anything. The patent examiners aren't experts in every field and if they receive advice that an item, method, or process is unique and non-obvious, they will award a patent.

Nope, they're experts in their own field. The USPTO is divided up into several thousand art groups, and Examiners only review applications that are in their field. You don't have chemists examining crypto any more than you have computer scientists looking at a new drug formulation.

Comment Re:Don't hold your breath (Score 1) 212

That's part of the problem. Generally when one takes a complex system and focuses in a narrow-minded approach toward optimizing just one aspect they end up blowing it on other aspects. For example, an equally well reasoned but precisely opposite argument to OTRAG is Big Dumb Booster concept, where rather than trying to mass-produce many small rockets, you make singular giant rockets because when you compare the economies of giant rockets to those of small rockets, the giant rockets usually win.

OTRAG has some good concepts, but again I think they went too far. Not only are they pushing their propellant costs way up - which to be fair, is by design, accepting the fact that propellant is only a very small fraction of total costs - but they're also pushing up every last part of the handling costs, which unfortunately is not so small of a fraction of the total costs. And they're incurring a lot of size-related costs - load capacity of the pad and tower, environmental impacts on the surrounding area, etc - without gaining the typical size-related economies of scale, as OTRAG's extreme size only yields proportionally small payloads. It has almost no potential to optimize costs further, as they're willfully making propellant a significant fraction of total costs and the design basically throws away any potential for economic reuse. And with numerous heavy steel stages and the first stages having to separate at low altitude due to the low performance, it's basically a bomber ;) And with all of those stages clustered together they're really putting themselves at risk for cascading failures - stage separations are one of the riskiest parts of rocketry as-is, and cluster elements can interact in unexpected ways even when you only have a few of them.

So no, I'm not a big OTRAG fan, I think the design goes too far. I think SpaceX hit the right balancing point in this regard - enough of a degree of mass production to keep production streamlined (dozens of tanks and hundreds of engines per year), but not so much that you have to have huge numbers of stages and crazy-low performance (aka crazy-huge mass). They did this sort of balancing act in a lot of regards. For example, in rocketry there's often been a conflict between structural tanks (which can bear all of the loads during launch) and balloon tanks (which rely on internal pressure not to collapse). Balloon tanks have much better performance (meaning that they save you a lot of mass and thrust requirement - aka money), but they're a pain when it comes to handling because you have to keep them pressurized at all times after construction, even during transport, and if you have to do repairs, it's expensive. SpaceX uses a sort of semi-balloon tank design - their tanks are strong enough unpressurized to hold themselves up, but not to bear the forces of launch - they require internal pressure for that. So you can transport and handle them without hassle, but they still get excellent payload fractions - to the point that that if they were to launch their first stages without upper stages or payloads on them, they'd nearly be SSTOs. And the design is of course aided by their use of aluminum-lithium alloy - which normally is expensive to work in a reliable manner (it doesn't take well to being melted), but the friction stir seam welding system they use is really near ideally suited for it.

Just like in life, rocketry is about balance. OTRAG is more Kerbal-ish ;)

Comment Re:Refugees? Not so much. (Score 1) 238

RCP8,5 is 0,53-0,98m by 2100... which is only about 84 years from now. With the rise at 2100 predicted at around 0,9-1,8cm/yr over the 2100-2116 period (minus the current 0,32-0,36mm/yr) the total would be something like 0,62m-1,21m (2' to 4') - basically, a typical person sitting, kneeling, or similar. The amount of rise however does vary to some degree based on location, and some isolated areas (like Baffin Bay) are even expected to get a drop (about 5% of the worlds' oceans). The northeastern US and northeastern Canada are projected to get a particularly large rise, so a statue there could be in a more upright position or built to a larger scale - the waters off of New York are projected to rise a median value of 0,3 meters in just the 2081-2100 period alone. New York's 2100 RCP8,5 range is about 0,5 to 1,2m - adjusting to 2116 would put it at 0,6-1,5m (on top of the pedestal of course, which would be about 1,3 meters tall).

RCP8,5 is of course the "business as usual" line... which has been the best bet thusfar. The "if we make huge efforts" RCP2,6 prediction is about half of the RCP8,5 predictions. There could be some other object on each statue to denote the RCP2,6 line.

Comment Re:Tested in the courts (Score 1) 118

Employ? Who says anything about employment?

Implement a "public forum" where all applications are published and input from the broad public can be gathered - if someone knows prior art, or is able to point out triviality of the patent (e.g. "[doing an extremely common thing] over the Internet" ) they can post it and the USPTO clerk will just reject the application without further ado.

Comment Re:Refugees? Not so much. (Score 2) 238

Huh? It says right in the summary: "Moody's family eventually moved to Springdale to live with him and work for Tyson and other poultry companies based in Arkansas". Is "working for Tyson" slang for "running from climate change" that I've never heard of?

Too bad I'm not a sculptor, I'd love to launch a climate change-related kickstarter which both sides could get behind. I'd offer to - if I could raise the expenses - make life-sized bronze statues of the world's most prominent climate-change deniers and install them on popular beaches around the world where permission could be gotten. Each statue would be on a pedestal on which is engraved one of their more prominent quotes denying climate change. The proportions of the statues would be such that at low tide the base of the pedestal is at sea height, while at high tide the top of the pedestal is at sea height, and the total height of the person matches up to the projected sea level rise over the next century.

Hence, if those denying climate change are right, a century forth they're left with a statue on their beach mocking all of the Chicken Littles. If those arguing that it's real are correct, they get to gloat as they watch the statue sink a bit further beneath the waves every year for the rest of their lives and a cautionary dive site for future generations.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long