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Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 211

by ppanon (#47860083) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

I went through a couple of iterations of that post and hemmed and hawed about which way to go on the efficiency front, because there are pros and cons. As 0123456 points out, if you're trying to put things into orbit cheaply, a simpler and less efficient design can bring about big cost savings. On the other hand, as you point out, efficiency is really important if you want more delta-v to reach higher orbits.

Nasa was probably very focused on engine efficiency for two reasons 1) if you want to reach escape velocity for planetary missions, heck even geo-synch, then you need more efficient engines or more stages [with more chances one will fail] and 2) the US Armed Forces had a big hand in the design envelope of NASA launch equipment - most notably in the winged design of the shuttle to allow for high speed re-entry maneuvers - and the military wants efficiency because high delta-v is necessary to outrun/outfight hostiles.

Use of the shuttle for U.S. launches was mandated because the military wanted the private sector to help subsidize the super-expensive shuttle launch infrastructure. As competition from Ariane and Russia made that less viable to the point that the policy had to be abandoned, then US competition opened up for providing vehicles that better matched commercial needs, rather than military ones. It had nothing to do with public vs. private sector efficiency and everything to do with military requirements being imposed on all launches (including the majority of launches that had no need for those "requirements") and established players playing politics for legislative capture under the guise of national security.

Which is yet another reason why you should always be really suspicious whenever someone uses national security as rationale for black budgets and secrecy. It's really easy to abuse national security as a pretext for covering nefarious activities.

Comment: Re:No miracles (Score 1) 211

by ppanon (#47804181) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

When you're throwing engines away every time, and they make up a large fraction of the cost of a launch, a low-cost engine that burns 10% more fuel can be a massive win.

That depends on what orbit you're trying to reach and how much delta-V it requires. If you're trying to launch commercial satellites into low earth orbit or replenish the ISS (also in LEO), then you can throw fuel at the problem. When you try to reach geo-synch or past it, then efficiency is a must.

What SpaceX have done so far is pick the low to medium-height hanging fruit. Good for them. What's their capability for launching good sized comm-satellites into geo-synch? or Voyager/Galileo type interplanetary probes?

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 4, Insightful) 211

by ppanon (#47795751) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

As someone pointed out, the physics of building rocket engines hasn't significantly changed in the last 60 years. That's why the F1 engine is still the most powerful rocket we've ever designed. What has changed are manufacturing techniques like sintering laser 3D printing techniques and computer modeling to allow us to build F1 engines that are slightly more powerful and a lot cheaper than what was built for Apollo. And yet somehow we don't build them. Why? Because there's no demand for it.

There has been a lot of demand for faster, more agile, and more fuel efficient aviation - from combat aircraft for wars to civil aviation in the face of rising fuel prices. That pressure isn't as significant for the launch market because: a) there are only so many safe, useful orbits for satellites where they aren't going to interfere with eachother (in terms of signal transmission - which is what many are used for) and a lot of them are already in use; b) fuel costs are a small portion of launch costs.

So the moral of the story is a) development happens according to demand and changing requirements/conditions and b) supply-side economics is BS - consumption is limited by demand.

Comment: Re:If anyone actually cared... (Score 1) 710

by ppanon (#47454715) Attached to: People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use
Yeah but with laser sintering 3D printing, it becomes much easier to build parts on demand. So I think it will take some time, but the parts distribution problem will be solved soon. Not only that but you could buy the planned-obsolescence object take it apart and scan the parts, and replace them with longer-lasting parts as they break down from wear-and-tear. The only question is, if you've bought a patent-protected part and it breaks down because it was made cheaply, can you manufacture your own replacement because you have purchased the original (poorly-made) part, implying a patent licence for that part (and potential replacements) in that machine. What you need is a legislative change to allow that, which is likely to be the tough part because everybody with entrenched interests will fight it.

Comment: Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (Score 1) 212

by ppanon (#47184803) Attached to: Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

Exactly. Note that there is a scientific study that indicates this appears to be the case with trolls in Internet commenting systems. So it's not exactly a big leap of faith to expect that PvP adherents, displaying similar aggressive behaviour for the "fun" of being aggressive and controlling, have similar tendencies. The big question, as the AC above indicates, is whether trolling, PvP, and violent video games act as an outlet for those urges and help control them or whether they feed and exacerbate them.

A decade ago, I had fun playing Quake III Arena death matches with other members of the development team, and I'm anti-sadistic, not at all Machiavellian, and pretty average when it comes to psychopathic behaviour. It was pretty easy to discern between the game and real life and treat it as an entertaining sport. So I think that even with the more realistic graphics in contemporary games, it's quite possible for normal people to make that distinction. The real question is whether psychopaths would prefer not to make that distinction, pretend the game is real, and in doing so aggravate their condition?

Mass and serial killers often have a history of serious animal abuse, which later escalates into even more serious human-oriented behaviour. So while enjoying bullying through virtualized violence in video games likely isn't a sufficient condition for the escalation of psychopathic behaviour to physical violence, it may prove to be a useful warning sign or even a catalyst in conjunction with other factors. Another significant factor for instance maybe whether the community of enthusiasts tends to and reinforces a distancing, demeaning, psychopathic attitude towards other players and "newbs", or maintains a more sportive approach. The recent Isla Vista shooting by the former PUA and PUAhate adherent Elliot Rodger seems to indicate this is a good candidate for a co-factor.

Comment: Re:Russia (Score 1) 417

by ppanon (#47184519) Attached to: Canada Poised To Buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 JSFs

That's already the case in summer and it's only going to get worse with Climate Change. Having to switch between water, ice, water, land for your supply lines for 1/3 of the year isn't really good for transporting large quantities of supplies (or you can run ships from port to port around what's left of the shrinking ice cap during those months). As you pointed out, the "permafrost" now thaws during the summer, and that is going to cause an issue for heavy transports in supply lines once they hit the mainland. I suppose the oil companies may build a service road if they wind up needing to build a pipeline North because they don't get permission to go in any of the other populated directions. If that existed then the Russians could use it.

For all the issues with Siberian permafrost, there is still a railway that goes across it (the Trans-Siberian), and you can move a lot of materiel on that. It was, after all, a major supply line for allied hardware being sent to Russia to help take on the Germans in WWII. There's no reason why that couldn't be used to send a lot of stuff in the other direction. The major issue is that it would be pretty easy to bomb with modern airplanes and cruise missiles, however I would think that would go double for any supply route and depots on the Arctic ice cap.

If Russia invaded Canada, then the NATO defence pact would come into effect, so they may as well go through Alaska and take control of the oil fields there while they're at it. But as someone else pointed out there isn't much road infrastructure across Alaska so it would be easier to just go around it and debark in Hyder.

Comment: Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (Score 5, Insightful) 212

by ppanon (#47092807) Attached to: Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths
Neuro plasticity indicates that what you repeatedly perform becomes a more entrenched behaviour as those neural paths become strengthened. That would seem to indicate that it would exacrebate natural tendencies. If you naturally are repelled by psychopathic behaviour, then performing it could strengthen that revulsion. If on the other hand you have psychopathic tendencies....

Comment: Re:Bullet, meet foot (Score 1) 575

by ppanon (#46759457) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

It's Microsoft trying to get a 30% cut of every software purchase for the Windows 8.1 platform. Now I'll grant you that Apple and Google do the same thing on their mobile platforms, but they didn't have established sales ecosystems to trample on. It's questionable what service they provide to users and developers for that 30% cut.

Anyways Microsoft tax now has a new meaning (although you're free to also talk about Apple tax and Google tax too). The interesting thing is that there are competing App Stores such as Amazon and Samsung for the Android platform but they all take the same cut - 30%. That vaguely smells like oligopolistic collusion to me.

Comment: Re:Poor poor bigot (Score 1) 1116

by ppanon (#46744711) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law
Now there can be problems with the standing requirements for legal challenge, and that's when you get into issues of national secrecy Catch-22s, such as with the Patriot Act, where the people who are being harmed aren't allowed to demand access to any evidence that would show that they are being harmed. But that's quite different from allowing everybody with an axe to grind free rein to butt into the business of other people who they otherwise would have no dealings with.

Comment: Re:Poor poor bigot (Score 1) 1116

by ppanon (#46744691) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

Now suppose everyone but a trucking company supports this law but it makes them late for their deliveries so they pay a governor a lot of campaign contributions and then take the law to court claiming it unconstitutionally impedes their right to travel and participate in commerce.

That's the thing you see, they would have to buy off the governor and the judge. They could try judge shopping by carefuly choosing the jurisdiction in which the case is tried. In the end whether a law is popular shouldn't matter, but whether it follows established constitutional precedent does.

But even if the scenario played out as you said, the difference is that anybody who had had a child injured due to an incident where a car didn't stop for school bus would have had standing to appeal the ruling striking down the school bus law. If nobody can prove standing by showing that they were actually harmed (as opposed to not being allowed to promote their bigotry) then yes the state by default gets the chance to look at the ruling on prop 8 and say: the judge is right and the prop is garbage so no point throwing good money after bad.

Prop 8 was bought and paid for by religious fundamentalists who were upset that other people that they don't like might have the chance to be happy. There was plenty of precedent that indicated that piece of toilet paper shouldn't get the time of day at any jurisdictional level.

Comment: Re:Poor poor bigot (Score 1) 1116

by ppanon (#46718959) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

Ok, one more time for the slow among us. The Sjpreme[sic] court's take on it is not impkrtant[sic].

Of course the Supreme Court's take is important. The Constitution of the USA is the supreme law of the land and the Supreme Court provides a verification check that all laws are consistent with and do not violate the Constitution.

While the people may be capable of using referendums to pass laws that violate the constitution, if the state believes that that law violates the constitution then why should the state be forced to waste court and legal resources defending a law that they know is going to be eventually stuck down? Since when are conservatives in favour of useless waste of government resources? Oh I guess it's OK when those wasted resources are spent defending their pet bigotries.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."