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Comment: Re:May I suggest RTFA? (Score 1) 203

by whodunit (#48183131) Attached to: No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade
You're an idiot. WWII-vintage firearms eventually wear out, and the SMLE is no exception. Even if you could source replacement springs and firing pins, there's no replacement barrels easily available - and once the rifling is finally shot out of them, their accuracy goes right to hell.

The civilian market is flooded with powerful, reliable, accurate bolt-action rifles every bit as good, if not better, than the SMLE/Enfield. The Remington 700, which served as the basis for two different US Army sniper rifles, was originally purchased off the shelf for use by snipers in Vietnam. If someone was looking to make money via a rigged competition, they picked a spectacularly poor target for replacement: something with a vast number of cheap, cost-effective and already extant competitors, to re-equip a very small rural force who will probably keep using the same rifles for fifty or sixty years until they shoot THOSE barrels out, too.

Comment: Re:$1.1 Trillion over 54 years... (Score 1) 540

by whodunit (#47878901) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion
The US has had plenty of trade - and even signed free trade agreements - with the government of Mexico for decades upon decades. It has gained us a massive and endemic influx of poor immigrants, violent drug gangs/drug trade incursions/violence and related evils. I am not aware of any abundance of "pro US" sentiment in Mexico, especially from their government; despite their eagerness to accept law enforcement training and other aid from us. Just because trade with Cuba would be good for Cuba, it does not follow that it will be good for us. The United States government has a responsibility and duty to its own citizens welfare and interests, and nobody else's.

Comment: Orbital Vehicle? (Score 1) 53

by whodunit (#47728153) Attached to: NASA's Space Launch System Searches For a Mission
Why don't we bring back Big Gemeni?

The teal dear: essentially an American Soyouz capsule, with a recoverable "capsule" put into orbit by a fully disposable launch system. Nobody seems to know just what the hell the SLS's orbital vehicle will be, or look like - a brief perusal of the wiki articles makes it look more like a desperate attempt to keep as much of the old shuttle program infastructure and supply chain alive as possible (big suprise.) Be it porkbarreling or SpaceX that wins out on the boost vehicle, what will be the orbital vehicle?

There's wide consensus that the Shuttle program was a costly underperformer, but despite its failures it did give us tremendous amounts of data and experience with recoverable, re-usable spacecraft. If we combined a rather large vehicle meant to return with a shuttle-type profile (ceramic heat shield and glide control) with a fully disposable launch and orbital engine system (instead of keeping a costly chunk of it on the vehicle and having to lug it about, like the orbiter's main engine) you could get the best of both worlds - a vehicle larger than what parachute landings and albative heat shields allow for, but small enough to fit on top of a disposable booster (and inside a fairing) and allow for a true launch escape system rather than the very dicey launch setup the shuttles used.

Comment: Re:In general geoengineering makes it worse (Score 1) 174

How much energy will be required to power mag-lev rails that cross the vast distances of the American midwest/breadbasket, and all the branch lines required to provide service to the largely distributed population of the US? I'm not saying it's infeasible, but "high speed rail" gets thrown around a lot as some kind of magic bullet, as well as characterizing the most energy-dense, easily-utilizable energy source available as a "bad habit" that we're "addicted to," as if it's only willpower and not the stark realities of changing an entire nation's power and transit architecture that stymie us.

Comment: Something that works (Score 0) 174

As an evil seal-clubbing conservative, the issue of AGW has never been whether it's happening (it is,) or what's causing it (its us.) It's all about what we're supposed to do about it. This is where all the politics and shady buisness comes into it; the oft-exaggerated consequences, the billions of federal dollars poured into startup grants and tax credits for alternative energy (which will, at BEST, slightly supplement the existing grid) and above all, insane proposed laws and penalties that would beggar entire economies: all to affect a laughably insignificant reduction in emissions even as China and third-world slash/burn farmers (who have no choice, lest they starve,) keep pumping carbon into the air at a tremendous rate.

It is refreshing to see some scientists recognizing that a practical, significant counter to global warming that is feasible within the economic and political world we live in will require bigger thinking and more drastic measures. This is of course anathema to the enviromentalist movements behind much of the AGW awareness push, who view enviromental quality as an end unto itself, people be damned.

Comment: Re:Not Surprising (Score 1) 160

by whodunit (#47687983) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA
Exactly. NASA should be free to pursue science for science's sake, to do the big, amazing things like landing a big rover on Mars with a sky-crane. Private contractors shoud be utilized to do what the private sector does best; iterative improvements in cost-effective service delivery; i.e. routine booster launches, ISS supply deliveries, etc. SpaceX rockets for cost efficiency to put more NASA science in orbit for your dollar spent!

Unfortunately, this isn't happening. Its JPL and SpaceX that are breaking new ground making all the significant progress in space technologies while the government races to shut them down because of district-based porkbarreling and similar bullshit. I don't think NASA can ever become what it once was; a military/civilian/industrial complex with funding and drive provided by the macropolitical situation. Now space is a vauled economic and strategic commodity; anyone with interest in it (the Air Force and private buisnesses both) will find and develop their own reliable access, with or without NASA. I doubt there are many more Elon Musk's out there willing to fight costly political and PR battles to get NASA using their systems when so many other clients, intelligent ones with cash and launch-ready payloads are lining up - and unlike NASA their coffers and need for services aren't declining steadily.

Comment: Chill (Score 1) 315

by whodunit (#47628309) Attached to: Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science
I remember being fascinated by the initial reports of the EmDrive years ago, and I was very, very frustrated that so-called "scientists" preferred to sneer at it and declare it impossible rather than pursuing such a fascinating possibility with, you know, those things they call experiments. I thought that's what scientists did - explore new things, chase the frontier - and that the potential to learn something new, the potential that there was a previously overlooked mystery right under their noses, would be unbearably exciting for them.

How hard is it to build one of these damn things, strap it to a lab bench, and test it? And then test it in a vacuum, underwater, upside down, in a house, with a mouse, with green eggs and ham, etc? Isn't that what scientists are paid to do? Test things? Over and over, under every conceivable scenario? The test these fellows did is great and all, but it should have been done years ago. If the EmDrive and its permutation(s) are bullshit, then why wasn't it killed and buried years ago, with the inescapable power of repeatable experiments and test results? We spend millions trying to detect cosmic particles that aren't there, and then spend MORE millions to NOT detect those cosmic particles to a greater degree of accuracy, but nobody can be fucking arsed to strap a microwave gizmo to a lab bench, flip a switch, and see if this is a world-shaking breakthrough or just another sad data mistake? Thanks for nothing, poindexters.

Comment: Trash (Score 0) 172

by whodunit (#47510915) Attached to: Firefox 31 Released
As I watch Firefox download the update, I contemplate how useless it is. With a fresh install, no add-ons enabled and javascript/flash/etc. all updated and working properly, Firefox still crashes more than Malaysian airliners. If Chrome's devs could pull their heads out of their asses just long enough to implement a tab bar that wasn't a total pile of shit, I'd be using Chrome right now. As for the Android version, it is quantitative worse than the Android default browser. Chrome has it beat hands-down for mobile. Farewell, Firefox. We hardly knew ye.

Comment: Rubbish (Score 1) 454

by whodunit (#47509785) Attached to: MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures
The relevant passage from TFA is thus:

What performance characteristics make a rocket defense effective? To successfully intercept an artillery rocket of the type Hamas has been firing, an Iron Dome interceptor must destroy the warhead on the front end of the rocket. If the Iron Dome interceptor instead hits the back end of the target rocket, it will merely damage the expended rocket motor tube, basically an empty pipe, and have essentially no effect on the outcome of the engagement. The pieces of the rocket will still fall in the defended area; the warhead will almost certainly go on to the ground and explode."

tl;dr: Terminal intercept is hard. This is something we already know. For boost-phase or midcourse intercepts, however, destroying the rocket booster is more than enough to screw up the warhead's ballistic trajectory, bringing it down well short of the mark (entire cities) where they explode harmlessly in the wilderness. Unfortunately, after a half-hour of searching Google, I was unable to find any concrete data or information on the common intercept profiles of Iron Dome launches, the interceptor missiles capabilities, or likewise. One of the best civilian sources (i.e. people who sell technical information on military weapons to journalists, like Janes,), has a sparse article long on general information and completely lacking hard data or numbers. This indicates to me that the data is simply highly classified and not being published, which makes perfect sense for a new defense system currently being employed against attackers who are actively adapting to it.

This means that, in addition to the ratio of boost-phase/midcourse/terminal intercepts Postol is making very free assumptions about the interceptor's warhead weight, their blast profile, the composition, density and thickness of their fragmentation jackets, density of the resulting fragmentation cloud, the exact range, detonation parameters and capabilities of the proximity fusing systems and the position of the Iron Dome batteries vis-a-vis the launch sites. If interceptors are indeed making frequent "tail chases," this would imply the rockets are flying over the batteries on their way to their targets, and the rockets are in fact performing mid-course intercepts - if they were located near the target area, intercepts would much more frequently be coming in from the front quarter. The latter is highly undesirable because (as Postel notes) its much harder to guarantee a "hard kill" of a warhead as opposed to simply shooting down the entire vehicle, but also because the combined closing speed of front-quarter intercepts drastically reduces the interception window, and thus accurate intercepts. The more time the interceptor has to track the target, compute solutions and make course-corrections, the better its chances of getting as close to the mark as possible.

Finally - and this should go without saying - Postel's entire argument is predicated on (apparently) a handful of contrail pictures with no context, frame-of-reference, or further data, this appears to constitute his "proof." If he has, in truth, analyzed gazillions of contrail images, then he should be presenting his portfolio of images, each one with as much contextual data as is available, along with his analysis. This is what actual, paid military analysts who know what they're doing would do, and indeed what most scientists know to do - document, document, document. If Postel wishes to idly theorize, then by all means, let him theorize: but to post such drivel as an actual argument is an insult to anybody with half a fucking brain.

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev