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Comment Re:Cost of access is key. (Score 1) 315

"Number of people times the years they stay equals the amount of food you need. Etc. p.p."

The amount of calories is probably well established, 2200 KCal/day per person give or take. But how do you design a fully self-contained environment which can provided the needed calories to support a (hopefully) growing population? How much would you need in terms of materials and energy to make such a system work?

Comment Re: Getting a car repair (Score 2) 442

You sound like you've never heard of the independent mechanic that as far as I can tell

You sound even worse. An independent has to specialize in a topic, like transmissions. Would you trust him to work on the cars computer system? A dealership say Ford, has to be able to work on all aspects of fords, same with gm, chyrsler and Toyota. And stand behind their repair.

You absolutely proved him correct when you claim an independent has to specialize in a topic as narrow as transmissions. Most independent mechanics I have used have been able to work on a wide range of automobiles. There has been some very specialized work, such as with more rare hybrids like the 05-07 accord hybrid, where I have had to use a dealer in the past. But I have only had one car repair in 20 years that needed a dealer. And if dealers did not exist, the market would compensate for those rare cases in their absence.

It is funny you stand up for dealers because of their repair services, when generally that is the department people like the least at dealerships. I thought it was general knowledge to never go to a dealership for service unless your car was under warranty. They are overpriced and refuse to use after market parts.

Comment Re:Cost of access is key. (Score 2) 315

In other words, you can't cheat gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. No one seems to listen, but my initial assessment is that the shear amount of energy required to launch a viable space colony is going to be prohibitive. I have never seen a detailed mass and energy budget for a colony. When exploring the New World you know how far to go, how many supplies to take with you, you had tools you could use to extract resources to support a colony etc. And even then colonies failed.

Thought experiment:
What is required to set up a viable colony? How many tons of food? How much equipment is required to build shelters? How much equipment must be sent up to extract needed resources? How many people must be sent up to have a viable gene pool? How much throw weight is required? How much energy? What is the overall costs in terms of global GDP?

We have a lot of people here, let's sketch some of this out. Simplifying assumption, that booster efficiency will increase by 25%.

Go ahead, give it a shot.. But in my case my gut tells me it will be huge.

Comment Not the first full recovery from space (Score 1) 121

SpaceShip One touched space and all elements were recovered and flew to space again.

BO's demonstration is more publicity than practical rocketry. It doesn't look like the aerodynamic elements of BO's current rocket are suitable for recovery after orbital injection, just after a straight up-down space tourism flight with no potential for orbit, just like SpaceShip One (and Two). They can't put an object in space and have it stay in orbit. They can just take dudes up for a short and expensive view and a little time in zero gee.

It's going to be real history when SpaceX recovers the first stage after an orbital injection, in that it will completely change the economics of getting to space and staying there.

Comment Re:That doesn't work (Score 4, Interesting) 363

Tax rates can be negative if the money comes somewhere else.

And there you have your answer. Tax something that cannot leave the country, like land. Tax the income of employees and management who physically live in your country. Tax sales of products that occur in your country. There are plenty of things to tax which make far more sense than corporate taxes.

Comment Re:Look at the bean counters for your answer (Score 3, Insightful) 167

After spending time as both a full time employee (FTE) and consultant, I find the dynamic can quite often be the opposite of what you describe.

To an employee, you are a paycheck / insurance / vacation-time /etc. If they do a great job they will get the same paycheck as if they do a mediocre job. Maybe they will get an extra 1% raise. As long as they don't royally fuck up, they will not get fired. As Peter Gibbons put it, an employee relationship will "only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired."

To a contractor, you are a gold mine. They can make enough in 4-5 months to match what an FTE gets in a year, even counting benefits. And their ability to get more of these gigs in the future is mostly dependent on making each client happy. If they do a great job, instead of a 1% raise they get another 1000 billable hours at $225 each. This is quite the motivation to do a great job.

Both your scenario and my scenario happen. Finding a great employee and a great consultant are both rare and incredibly valuable.

Comment Re:I sent my comment (Score 2) 55

When a judge rules against you though you just ignore it and carry on business as usually.

What are you talking about? From what I read in the links, the judge ruled that the government did not properly provide a public notice and comment period before enacting the extension. The judge gave the government six months to apply the extension again, but with a public notice and comment period. The government has now done that, the comments were overwhelmingly in favor of the extension, and now the extension will be applied again.

No one is bypassing any rules. A mistake in process was made, and it has now been fixed. This is our judicial system and lawmaking system working well together to enact important changes.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 107

Shmoozing with other execs, both within their company and outside it, is a very large part of the job description.

Yes. From a sane viewpoint this is called cronyism, but in the current business environment this is called "networking".

I remember the moment in my 30's when I matured from someone who thought he was above politics to someone who realized no one is. I had been in the corporate world long enough to know that being capable of creating the best technical solution to a problem is not nearly as important as being able to persuade a company to enact those solutions. Not even close to as important.

Since then I have made sure that my career growth is as much on the business side as it is on the technical side of my industry. If I really felt my goal was to provide the most positive impact on companies I worked for, I needed to stop stubbornly thinking that being technically competent was my primary skill set. It is perfectly fine for an employee to decide they just don't want to venture from the technical aspect of their career, but that is a conscious decision to not be a significant decision maker.

Technically competent people do not enact change (or at least very rarely do). Those with the business acumen to shape policy within their organization enact change. Those people may or may not also be technically competent, but that is of secondary importance.

Comment Re:Mars isn't going anywhere. (Score 0) 173

Along the same lines, we should establish a permanent Moon base first. The Moon is much, much, much closer to Earth than Mars [...]

You know that were are building these capabilities to get the hell as far away from the rest of you dolts as we possibly can manage to get, right?

"Closer to Earth" is about as much as a feature as "random" is a feature on an iPod Shuffle, which has a perfectly good audio feedback mechanism that could have been used in place of a screen for feedback, without compromising the ability to actually select what you wanted to have played.

Which is to say: not a feature.

"Sometimes insanity is the only alternative" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.