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Comment: Cynical of promises.... (Score 3, Insightful) 69

I'm skeptical of anyone who thinks they can fund a complex lunar exploration mission as a kickstarter project.

All that I foresee coming out of this is a multi-year "consulting study", using the dreams and hopes of space enthusiasts to pay for it. In another words, one space consultant gets a paid multi-year sabatical, with a short assignment report on the Moon at the end as the only result.

But maybe I'm just a cynic when it comes to kickstarter projects and their promises....

Comment: Re:Buyer Beware (Score 1) 472

by wired_parrot (#48410409) Attached to: Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Kickstarter is best described as a donation.

Kickstarter is best described as panhandling. In a donation, there is still an explicit agreement that the donated funds will go to a certain use. Kickstarter startups are more like a beggar on the street corner - you may give money with the intention for the beggar to buy food, but if he goes off to the liquor store to buy a bottle of booze instead, one shouldn't be surprised.

Comment: Re:Lol. (Score 1) 696

by wired_parrot (#48370187) Attached to: US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

You could even buy them new books, computers, teacher's salaries, decent heating systems, lunch.

Why the number of things a student could more likely benefit from is just amazing!

Yes, and meanwhile a school in Philadelphia has to make do with a $160 budget, while they're debating blowing $100k per school for this system. Also keep in mind that the costs mentioned cover only the installation costs. Because this system requires a dedicated connection to the police, I assume they'll need to pay for a dedicated line, as well as the yearly maintenance costs and costs associated with false alarms.

+ - HBO developing Asimov's Foundation trilogy as tv series->

Submitted by wired_parrot
wired_parrot (768394) writes "Jonathan Nolan, writer of Interstellar and The Dark Knight, and producer of the "Person of Interest", is teaming up with HBO to bring to screen a new series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series of books. This would be the first adaptation of the Hugo award winning series of novels to the screen."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Uh, simple (Score 2) 246

by wired_parrot (#48359789) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

Yep. Being a pioneer is all about finding new and interesting ways to die ... or the old ways in new settings.

In all the examples you cited, the pioneers in question didn't set out on a one-way trip to die - they fully intended to live. The explorers who first went to the South Pole, Everest, and other terrestrial extremes all planned on a return trip. In fact, I'd say it was their will to live that drove them on. Most had family and children, and when faced with adversity did all they could to live and return to their loved ones. Shackleton did not intend to die in the South Pole, and thus he was driven to push his men to extremes to overcome his challenges. It was his will to live to drove him on.

If you send a group of people to Mars who signed up to what is essentially a suicide mission, will they show the same will to live that will drive to overcome the first life-or-death challenge they face, or will they just cross their arms and accept their fate? Someone psychologically ready to die is the last person you want in such a trip, or as your crewmate.

Comment: Legalize it, but regulate it (Score 1) 588

by wired_parrot (#48318889) Attached to: Marijuana Legalized In Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC

I'm all in favour of legalizing marijuana, but I also believe that it needs to be properly regulated while doing so. Smoking weed needs to be controlled in the same way that smoking tobacco currently is. Legal limits for driving under the influence of marijuana needs to be clearly established, and part of the tax revenue from marijuana sales put into safety campaigns against driving while stoned.

This would be of benefit to the marijuana industry as well - establishing proper controls in its use will ensure that it is used in a responsible manner, and avoid a backlash from prohibitionists. All it will take is the image of a toddler killed by a stoned driver to incite the prohibitionists and undo legalization efforts - it would be better for the marijuana industry to seize the initiative now, and establish an image of responsible and controlled adult use.

Comment: Re:This is silly (Score 1) 720

It may be good for the economy. It may not be so good for the people who can no longer support themselves because they just lost their minimum wage job to a robot. It may not be good for the people who then get mugged by said hungry person either.!

Automating a job reduces the unit cost of producing that particular good, which is good for all workers. The reduce costs of goods means the purchasing power of every worker increases and therefore their real wages rise. The challenge for the workers made redundant is retraining them into a new economic role, but properly retrained there is no reason they should not be able to support themselves. Historically, since the industrial revolution the net effect of efficiency gains and automation has been economic growth and real wage gains.

Comment: Creating a czar only creates problems (Score 1) 384

I've seen this happen at a lot of large bureaucracies, including my own company - problem arises, and CEO feels compelled to appoint a special "czar" to deal with the problem. This only creates additional problems:

- Being appointed directly by the executive, the czar is not responsible to anyone
- The special czar will be appointed without any additional budget, and thus has no power
- Being outside of the conventional hierarchy, no one reports to him, and thus will find difficulty obtaining cooperation from other groups
- Responsibility for the problem will already be clearly defined in the existing hierarchy - appointing a czar will only confuse existing responsibilities and create conflict with the group responsible for the problem.

I foresee the same problems arising here if an "Ebola czar" is created.

+ - Warner Brothers announce slew of DC comics movies->

Submitted by wired_parrot
wired_parrot (768394) writes "After being criticized for being slow to respond to Marvel's string of blockbuster superhero movies, Warner Brothers finally announced their plan for DC comic universe movie franchise. Yesterday at their annual shareholder meeting, WB announced 10 DC comics movies. The studio has unveiled an ambitious schedule that features two Justice League films, plus standalone titles for Wonder Woman, Flash, Shazam (Captain Marvel), Green Lantern, Cyborg and even Aquaman. Also announced were plans for 3 Lego movies and a three-part Harry Potter spinoff."
Link to Original Source

+ - Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon May Hide Subsurface Ocean->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "With its heavily cratered, geologically dead surface, Saturn's moon Mimas was considered to be scientifically boring. But appearances can be deceiving. Using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, new research shows something strange inside Mimas that is causing the moon to sway as it orbits around the ringed gas giant. Computer models point to two possibilities. First is that Mimas, which is about 250 miles in diameter, has an oblong or football-shaped core, a clue that the moon may have formed inside Saturn’s ice rings. The second option is that Mimas has a global ocean located 16 miles to 19 miles beneath its icy crust."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Reasonable (Score 1) 144

by wired_parrot (#48140271) Attached to: Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

Before this ruling Google ignored that line and treated everyone to the joy of living forever with the consequences of their actions without ever being able to make good. After this ruling, Google are forced to apply some basis for allowing some people to move on.

The problem is European politicians abdicated their responsibility to set clear guidelines for this ruling and left it up to Google to determine who does or doesn't live with the consequences of their actions. If the courts or legislators had set clear standards for applying this rule - such as specifying a period of time, say 7 years, after which records are to be forgotten, I'd be fine with it. As it is, this enormous power is in the hands of individual search companies, each applying their own differing standards. There's no clear framework for the victim of a crime to appeal against a criminal who wants to be forgotten, for example. These are decisions to be made by the courts and by the people through their legislators, not by a private company.

+ - First man to walk in space reveals how mission nearly ended in disaster->

Submitted by wired_parrot
wired_parrot (768394) writes "Nearly fifty years after the first spacewalk by soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, he's given a rare interview to the BBC revealing how the mission very nearly ended in disaster. Minutes after he stepped into space, Leonov realised his suit had inflated like a balloon, preventing him from getting back inside. Later on, the cosmonauts narrowly avoided being obliterated in a huge fireball when oxygen levels soared inside the craft. And on the way back to Earth, the crew was exposed to enormous G-forces, landing hundreds of kilometres off target in a remote corner of Siberia populated by wolves and bears."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Practice colony in Antarctica first? (Score 1) 269

by wired_parrot (#48103603) Attached to: MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

And despite all those advantages in Antarctica, we've only be able to establish seasonal colonies in the continent, and those have been entirely dependent on re-supply from outside for almost all their basic needs. And in Antarctica resupply is a infinitesimal fraction of a cost of what it would be in Mars.

Prove to me that we can establish a permanent, self-sufficient settlement in Antarctica first, and then we can consider Mars.

Comment: Plane + car, not flying car (Score 4, Insightful) 151

by wired_parrot (#48098783) Attached to: The flying car I'd like in my garage first:

Flying cars are a terrible compromise by design. They're woefully underperforming as airplanes, and have terrible handling as cars. The additional mechanical complication of having a car and airplane in the same design means additional points of failure and reduced reliability. And finally, they're more expensive than buying a separate car and plane. The Terrafugia sells for more than a quarter of a million. One could buy a Cessna and a luxury sports car for a lot less, and still have money leftover for round-trip fare to the local airport on a daily basis for that price.

So, no, I'd rather have a separate car and plane rather than plunking money on a poor compromise.

Comment: Re:The water wars are coming (Score 3, Interesting) 151

by wired_parrot (#48038933) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Not to be too contrarian, but before we declare this an unmitigated disaster, shouldn't the cost of the destruction of the Aral sea be measured against the benefits of provided by the water that used to flow into it?

The soviet scientists involved with the water diversion were aware that the Aral sea would eventually dry up. In fact, the decline in sea level was observable from the very beginning. It is true the lake drying up was an intended and foreseen consequence.

However, what was unforeseen were the ecological consequences of the lake drying up, that has turned the dry lake bed into a salt desert where dust storms kicking up toxic sediments are a common occurrence. Without a large body of water to moderate the weather, nearby communities now experience hotter summers and colder winters. In effect, one desert has been traded for another.

And while diverting water for agricultural uses might be beneficial, most of the canals used for the diversion are not properly lined, experiencing significant water wastage during transport. And most of this water is being used for water-intensive crops like cotton and rice. Were good irrigation practices used, and if more suitable crops that required less water were used instead, it is likely only a fraction of the water would be needed. It also has to be kept in mind that the economic benefits agricultural irrigation has brought has to be balanced the economic loss resulting from the loss of fishery in the area,loss of tourism (some of the villages were once seaside resorts), and economic hardship resulting from the ecological changes to the landscape

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein