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Comment Re:Fuck insurance companies (Score 1) 100

Lloyds did manage to get into significant financial trouble in the mid 1990s leading (surprise) a lawsuit and eventually to a substantial restructuring of its business practices.


from the wikipedia article:

The 'recruit to dilute' fraud allegations were heard in court in 2000 in the case Sir William Jaffray & Ors v. The Society of Lloyd's (see first instance judgment) and the appeal was heard in 2002. On each occasion the allegation that there had been a policy of "recruit to dilute" was rejected; however, at first instance the judge described the Names as "the innocent victims [...] of staggering incompetence" and at appeal the court found (see appeal judgment) that representations that Lloyd's had a rigorous auditing system were false ([item 376 of the judgment:] [...] the answer to the question [...] whether there was in existence a rigorous system of auditing which involved the making of a reasonable estimate of outstanding liabilities, including unknown and unnoted losses, is no. Moreover, the answer would be no even if the word 'rigorous' were removed.)

Comment Re:yes (Score 1) 729

"get with the modern world, loser"

In my experience, the modern world -- like reality -- is highly overrated.

And then there's the problem that the game is rigged. You're gonna lose no matter what you do. The best you can do probably is to lose without too much grief, pain, and aggravation. (But getting back on topic, it's not clear to me that systemd minimizes any of those things).

Comment Re:Mars isn't going anywhere. (Score 1) 173

I'm not a big fan of man in space with current technology. But I feel compelled to point out that artificial satellites including the ISS cope with pretty much the selfsame temperature ranges that will be experienced on the moon without all that much difficulty. The longest lived active satellite seems to be Oscar-7 which has been in orbit for something like 40 years and is apparently still functional when its solar cells are in sunlight. (The battery died in 1981).

That said, what possible point is there to a lunar colony? The South Pole is much more accessible and i don't see long lines of people demanding to be allowed to homestead a place where the all time record high temperature is 10F (-12.3C) even though there is actually breathable air at the South Pole.

Comment Re:Yeah, and? (Score 1) 56

I actually agree with much of that. Assuming you can find suitable material, the problems of getting it back to near earth cheaply are probably tractable. Especially if you are patient and use "free" solar radiation for your energy sources. But getting the payload near Earth with an optimum velocity vector may turn out to be a tricky problem that'll take a long time to work out.

"If they're shaped and sized properly you can have a stable reentry with minimal ablative burnoff and remain relatively intact after impact (too small and they'll burnup too much; too large and they'll explode too much on impact)"

That, however is, I think, vastly oversimplified. You also need to worry about differential heating causing your payload to break up into roughly a zillion pieces which then burn up. I believe that's the fate of most reasonable sized objects encountering the Earth. And you need for the thing to come down where you can recover it (i.e. not over the 73% of the planet covered by ocean). And not on top of somebody's cow, house, car or kid. On top of which, if your asset lands in someone's peach orchard, it will probably turn out to be his or her asset after the courts adjucate. And there's the issue of liability if something goes wrong and the damn thing explodes (e.g. and flattens a county or two.

I think all those problems can eventually be solved, but the obvious solutions involve expending a lot of non-free energy (e.g. reaction mass, transport vehicles) and the less obvious ones are likely to take a very long time to perfect.

Comment Re:Yeah, and? (Score 1) 56

Your argument would be a lot stronger if you could point to some meteorites showing veins of gold, or platinum, or rare earths or indeed anything. As far as I know there aren't any. But I'm not an expert on meteorites

Yes nickel-iron meteorites are enhanced in some heavy elements. e.g. Indium. But it appears, nowhere near as much as the most concentrated terrestrial ores. My $2000-3000 value includes about $100 worth of heavy metals Gold, Platium Group, etc. The rest is the value of the nickel and iron.

Comment Re:Yeah, and? (Score 1) 56

Well, yeah. Someday .. Maybe. But sixty years into the space age, progress is slow. So space mining may well not happen for centuries. Moreover, my cocktail napkin says that the ore value of a 1000kg chunk of typical nickel-iron meteorite is probably around USD $2000-$3000 at current prices. (The curiousity value is much higher, so the first few might fetch a LOT of bucks). AFAICS, at the moment we couldn't even get 1000kg down from earth orbit in an orderly fashion for $20000-$30000 much less the $200-$300 per tonne that would be needed to make commercial exploitation practical

Moreover, the idea that there even are veins of material in asteroids enhanced in various elements is less than certain. It seems to me that most of the differentiating processes that result in "loads" with high concentrations of minerals on Earth probably wouldn't be present in asteroids. And certainly not for the same timespan. But maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe there are other concentrating processes that work on low gravity rocks.

And maybe this thing might have some utility right here on Earth.

Comment Re:But... but.... SANDBOXING! (Score 2) 342

If you don't allow Javascript, you do lose some stuff like spellchecking most (all?) mapping services. OTOH, the idea that I can trust web sites I know nothing about to download and run safely obscure little programs on my computer has always struck me as demented.

One thing about Snowden's recommendations though. There does need to be some balance between security and pragmatism. If, for example, all your financial information is on your hard drive (and its backups -- you Do have backups, right?) and you are squashed like a bug in a freeway crash, your executor is going to have one hell of a problem probating your estate if he or she doesn't know your password(s).

Comment Re: why not? (Score 0) 45

Well yes. There's a lot written. But there are a horrendous number of loose ends in ALL of them. If I understand correctly, they can't even get a computer model to actually assemble a moon of the correct size in the right place after a modelled collision. Given the ... ahem ... flexibility ... computer modelling, that in itself is a pretty huge difficulty.

Which volatile elements are you thinking of? The two very light gases -- Hydrogen and Helium -- are gone as significant atmospheric components. Is that a surprise? Why? The next most massive volatiles -- ammonia, methane, water are still around? Or were you thinking about the moon? I vaguely recall that there is an issue with the volatile gases there not matching expectations, but I don't recall (if I ever knew) the details..

Comment Re:why not? (Score 2) 45

"Earth and the Moon have different compositions"

As I understand it, the composition of the two bodies is quite similar. In fact that's the primary reason that the collision theory was formulated. In the collision theory, they moon is composed primarily of material blasted from the Earth by the collision. see

Comment Re:Why either - or? (Score 1) 45

"Why couldn't it have been a combination of water from the proto earth and asteroids and comets later on?"

Seems like substantial water contributions from comets would almost certainly have to be the case unless we somehow totally misunderstand the nature and composition of comets or assume that they somehow avoid ever impacting the Earth.

Comment why not? (Score 2, Interesting) 45

Thanks to plate tectonics, We don't have much direct information on the early stages of the the Earth's history. But I've never understood why it was assumed that (much of) the Earth's water hasn't been there since our planet coalesced. Of course, I've also never understood the necessity to invoke an improbable planetary collision to explain the moon. It's not like binary pairs of large objects are rare in the universe.

And even if the water did come entirely from cometary impacts after formation, why would that preclude lots of other watery planets? Are comets assumed to be rare in other planetary systems? Why?

Comment Re:God's truth wins again (Score 0) 45

OTOH, Genesis also says that the stars and planets weren't created until the third day (Genesis 1:14). That doesn't jibe with the rather abundant evidence that he/she/it left laying around about the age and evolutionary course of the Universe.

Nothing against the Genesis creation story. On the whole, it's not all that bad a fit to Astronomy, Geology, Paleontology. For a collection of what seems to be complete nonsense, try the Great Flood as described in Genesis chapters 6 thru 9.

Let me suggest that if you wish to believe in God, that's certainly your option. But if you wish to believe that the Bible is literally true and completely accurate, you must seriously consider the notion that God was a totally incompetent copy editor who managed to bungle the task of making the description of creation, etc match the physical evidence.

Comment Re:LXTerminal (Score 1) 352

The architecture of terminal emulators is pretty bizarre once you get past the surface. Mostly it amounts to some pretty capable PC keyboard/screen variant emulating a less capable and kind of weird device that was probably designed three or four decades ago and hasn't been built in this century. Last I checked Amazon carried one -- count them, one -- model of terminal,

Terminal emulators differ in memory usage, speed, navigation, which keys are passed to the applications, character support, clipboard support, and a dozen other things that might affect a specific user. Then there are the terminal profiles used to map the keyboard onto the imaginary terminal. My 10 year old Linux PC with Slackware 12.1 came with 2615 profiles. which is really about 2614 more than it needs. Which to choose ...

It's usually possible to fix many (not all) terminal peculiarities like HOME and END keys not working. But it's not especially fun to do so.

So, IMHO, the best terminal emulator is the first one you find that does what you need.

Comment Re:Use a larger monitor. (Score 1) 197

I'd also suggest that the OP probably is smart enough to figure out on his/her own that a larger monitor might help. Probably lacks either the cash or the room for a big screen. Or both

Reading glasses might help, and they're cheap. (At least in the US). But they tend to focus uncomfortably close to the screen

One thing that might help in some cases is selecting all the text of interest (Edit, Select all). That sometimes helps with the preposterous low contrast color schemes that many web site designers seem to think are stylish. (My belief is that most web page designer are to some extent insane). At least it will probably convert white backgrounds to some dark(er) color.

Also, many monitors used to have contrast/intensity controls. Can they be adjusted? Does that introduce other problems?

Comment Three anecdotes. (Score 2) 258

Just a few of the many things I've encountered in 60 years of driving that are going to be a problem for computers.

1. GPS? My wife and I bought a new GPS on sale at a local mall a few years ago. First thing we did when we got in the car was to program the thing to take us home. We hit GO. It thought a while and then told us that home was 2700 odd miles away and that the trip might take a while. Guess what? GPSen don't work in parking garages. It apparently thought it was still in Sunnyvale where last it was turned off, and it was contemplating a trip across the continent.

2. A couple of days ago I was using that same GPS to navigate through a rural area in Vermont. Seeking the shortest route, it put me on a (dirt) road that ran about a half mile, turned a corner, and ended in someone's barn. Care to try your hand at a program to recognize and deal with that situation?

3. Many years ago while traveling up the (dirt) road to an obscure National Monument out West, I came around a corner and found myself in a large herd of sheep. Couldn't see the road. Or the ditches. Or anything but sheep. What now Kit?

Not that cars a few decades from now won't be able to deal with thousands of situations like that. But it'll take a while I think.

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."