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Comment: Re:Wait what, there's a registration fee? (Score 1) 246

by whodunit (#48358869) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project
You raise a very good point. TFA is simply elucidating what everyone already knows: there's absolutely no chance that the Mars One project seriously intends to launch a payload, much less people - to anywhere, much less Mars. A manned Mars mission is a blatant impossibility for NASA as-is, given a host of technological, political and monetary barriers... but even their eggheads have churned out some rough sketches with a lot of whitespace labeled "work this out later." It's the preliminary brainstorming that proceeds the engineering: before engineers could build the LM, someone had to decide that lunar-orbit rezvendous was the way to go.

The fact that the Mars One project hasn't even done this much says everything. (TFA's commentor tells Slashdot nothing new, but does help inform the less technically-inclined.) In light of this, the Mars One projects Serious Statements have always sounded like a novel way to make people start thinking about space; to consider a Mars mission "seriously" instead as just another airy, easily-dismissed "someday we'll have flying cars" fantasy. The "suicide mission" aspect is both sensationalist and a way to force people to comtemplate the inherent human risks in space exploration. I personally have no problem with this and I wish them luck with their interesting promotion of space exploration. However, the parent post asks a very, very good question:

If they're not going to Mars with that money - or even producing preliminary brainstorms - what the heck ARE they doing with it?

Comment: Re:Misleading summary (Score 1) 219

by whodunit (#48317049) Attached to: Is Public Debate of Trade Agreements Against the Public Interest?

before pistols were practical for anything more than honor duels.

This is false. According to NYPD data, 81% of police shootings take place at a range of under nine feet. Even for law enforcement officers, who are trained, wary, and expecting trouble, conflict escalates quickly and at very close range. For civilians it's even worse (there's far less data available, but the commonly-cited stat is 6 feet.) This is a social reality rather than a technological one; most of the famous Wild West gunfights, if you look them up, took place over a card table. As defensive weapons go, the pistols of the 1700s were more than sufficient at a range of 6-9 feet. For that matter, so is a cavalry saber. The saber - a common weapon of the period - cannot jam, fail to return to battery, double-feed, or be pushed out of battery by contact, like modern pistols. Pistols require a direct hit on the CNS or heart to achieve rapid incapacitation whereas a saber can inflict grevious wounds to extremities that will achieve much the same effect - to say nothing of the torso. The Second Amendment adresses "arms;" comparing only "fire"arms between an era where they were not nearly as dominant a weapon is fallacious and mislesding.

Hell, the long-guns generally weren't even rifles, they were smoothbore, muzzle-loading muskets, and only suitable for mass-volley.

The extremely high ratio of true German-style hunting rifles in the 13 colonies, as compared to mainland Europe, is a well-known fact that has been storied in song and legend. Hardly any account of the Revolution fails to mention the impressive accuracy of the rebels - and their rifles. Regardless, muskets were more common because their accuracy was just fine for shooting a nosy bear - or uninvited guest - at 10 or 20 yards. As useful as the saber was, even a terrible smoothbore musket has a longer reach. And aside from that - they were relatively cheap.

Each weapon was individually produced by a gunsmithing shop, and all parts had to be custom worked to make the weapon function. As a consequence, each weapon was very, very expensive and required service that was itself expensive.

Quite false. The advent of the flint-lock allowed for high reliability, enough to make the musket a primary weapon (unlike the old match-lock) and rather cheap and efficient manufacture (unlike the complex, spring-wound and delicate wheel-lock.) Otherwise entire armies could never have been equipped. A breech-loading rifle design was available in that era, capable of much greater fire rates than muzzleloaders, but no nation could afford to equip an entire army with them. Muskets were, by definition, affordable weapons. In addition, the traveling garb of the period (long coats for protection from the elements while walking or on horseback) allowed for easy concealment of suprisingly bulky weaponry.

The rest of your flawed reasoning and fallacious statements are quite contemporary in nature and reflect a debate I'm sure every Slashdot reader is familiar with, so there's little reason to discuss it. Your poor grasp of history, however, is aggrevating.

Comment: Re:FUBAR Deluxe (Score 2) 308

by whodunit (#48238971) Attached to: US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors
The United States Army does not punish people by sending them to the "Russian Front." Nor do they have Commisars, nor do they machine-gun anyone trying to retreat. This is nonsense.

There are no shortage of desk jobs in the US military. For every fighting man in the field there are three forklift drivers involved in moving the tons of supplies he consumes, and a desk jockey to do the paperwork for each.

We ar fighting in an age where entire warships can be disabled by computer failures and many enemies are slain by remote controlled drones. We can no longer afford to shut our best and brightest out of the military based on rumors, fear-mongering, pig-headed tradition or machismo.

Comment: Re:Maybe it's time... (Score 1) 331

by whodunit (#48198381) Attached to: 3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

Our druglords buy uncontrolled firearms (both "regular" and high-power) in the USA, and use them here. So, yes, I do have basis for complaining on the status quo.

Multiple American media outlets made this claim loudly and regularly until the "Fast and Furious" scandal you mentioned broke, which revealed that guns were only crossing the border because the BATFE wanted them to - they specifically forbade gun dealers who were reporting the obvious straw purchasers from refusing them sales so they could carry out their "tracking" scheme. Furthermore, the drugs that fuel the violence and corruption in Mexico come up from South America, and South American manufactured weapons - to say nothing of foreign-manufactured AK-47s and similar weapons - often come with them. Between Central/South America and the United States, which one do you think has a more porous border (by land and sea,) less effective law enforcement and more corrupt local governments?

Comment: Re:May I suggest RTFA? (Score 1) 334

by whodunit (#48184913) Attached to: No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade
Having an ample sample size to work with vis a vis idiotic comments, (viz. slashdot) I have been able to apply basic pattern recogniton to your prior comment in order to swiftly categorize it. Based on this most recent reply, which characterizes my prior assesment (which was supported by argument) as an "ad hominem" statement, I submit that my analysis withstands scrutiny.

Comment: Re:May I suggest RTFA? (Score 1) 334

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? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

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.

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.

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