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Comment Re:Commercial Spaceflight (Score 1) 152

This all kind of hinges on the cost to LEO I suspect. Given the prices people pay for space tourism, I have been wondering what sort of improvements might make Lunar orbit tourism a thing instead. It's only a 3-day ride, and I suspect passage around the dark side of the moon would still be an incredible thing given that, what, about 30 people maximum have ever been there?

Comment Re:The really sad thing... (Score 1) 152

With enough money and a few years lead time, I suspect the Falcon-9 could probably get us orbiting the moon, and that there's enough talent in private space to also supply a suitable landing vehicle for a spacewalk.

The real trick is to plan to do something which gets us enough buy-in that we actually go there, and do something which keeps us in-space as a permanent - and ideally profitable (or break-even) endeavour.

Comment Re:Where will this end? (Score 0) 986

Seriously? There are already at least 2 published standards that can be used with little concern over being cracked any time soon when used properly. Theres absolutely no indication that SMIME or PGP are broken when using the proper algorithm and key sizes.

I think the point is that encryption is useless against someone that can say, "give us the key or we'll dissappear you."

Yeah that Snowden guy - totally dead now don't you know?

Bradley Manning? Also dead. They killed him last week I think.

Wait, neither of those people, who are guilty of really serious breaches are dead? That's just them trying to lull you into a false sense of security!

Comment Re:Where will this end? (Score 1) 986

Or you know: just share GPG keys and do it that way?

The idea that it was ever remotely possible to talk to people without leaving some trace of it is a bit of absurd fiction perpetrated by the early internet when it was always possible, but no one cared to do it because the only people talking were university students in the US.

Or maybe spend less time worrying about what the elected government will do to you, and more about what all those armies of large companies and advertisers who have always had your data and have kind of a big vested interest in manipulating the legal debate of the nation?

Comment Re:Not happy with this (Score 1) 93

More importantly, if you can do this with natural upwellings, its the same sort of infrastructure and engineering requirements as you'd need to tap geothermal vents for power directly (which is destructive, but the vents are temporary - i.e. decadal - things anyway so provided we did keep it low in proportion of vents, it would be sustainable).

Comment Re:A partial success (Score 2) 73

Didn't NASA have reaction wheels go on another probe as well? The one we're sending to explore Ceres I think had reaction wheel issues as well and had to be reconfigured to run its mission on thrusters as well.

It certainly seems like this is probably going to be a big engineering challenge into the future since super-steady stargazing probes are hardly going out of fashion. Though I suppose the better issue is "can we make some of this stuff replaceable/repairable cost effectively?"

Comment Re:Competition, not regulation (Score 1) 637

Citation needed.

Well no, I explained why - it dilutes the risk pool. But take a glance over the history of insurance article on wikipedia and notice that the trend at every conceivable juncture was to expand the risk pool (but to try and drop bad risks). Architects of social welfare schemes obviously realized that when you are still responsible for a bad risk, the best answer is to include everyone.

the best possible insurance scheme for a country is single-payer, where everyone is part of the same risk pool

If this were really true, why stop at insurance industry? Why not leverage the awesome economy of scale by getting rid of the petty competition between Coca-Cola and Pepsi? Ford and GM? This was, actually, attempted already — to miserable results.

The numbers speak for themselves: the overhead of Medicare is about 6%. The overhead of a private health insurance company is closer to 20%. The insurance industry - particularly medical insurance - does not work like any other product. It's non-optional for the users, they have no negotiating power at the time they need it, and everyone will need it. Which means you can't simply boot people off of it consequence free since doing so usually kills them.

You are right in that size does matter for insurance companies. But only to a point. A company with 200 mln customers is not appreciably more efficient, than one with 100 mln. Having such companies compete with each other is much better for all the 300 mln, than to force them all into a single 300 mln-customer monopoly — governed charlie rangels and nansy pelosies to boot.

Competition requires innovation, innovation has to operate within the constraints of physical reality. Insurance is not a technological enterprise by and large, there's no new inventions which mean someone can gain a competitive advantage - you can't sink money into R&D and come up with a cheaper, better product. The only things you can do are figure out new ways to drop people from insurance - ideally after they need it. Which is exactly what US health insurance companies have been innovating on.

Comment Re:CAPTCHAs and Foldit (Score 1) 145

IRL's approach seems to be: have gamers to do something they don't want (tagging photos), in order to get something they want (games). Which seems reeeally close to what ReCAPTCHA is doing (read unscannable words, so you can sign up for accounts). (Although tagging disaster areas will need more training than reading mungled text.)

And then there's FoldIt, which challenges players with folding proteins into a minimum energy state. This is key to understanding how proteins work, and important for understanding diseases and creating new medicine. In FoldIt, though, the work (folding proteins) is the game, and training comes as a set of tutorial levels. People can play solo for high score, or try to improve on the solution of others.

Just open up a website with a decent client (like FoldIt did) and I think you'd find tons of people would happily volunteer time to help out with a natural disaster. The problem at the moment is there's no medium to do that - the idea that we somehow need to trick or force people into it is skipping the all important "how much time would people volunteer given the chance?" step. FoldIt is a triumph in that regard, but the main thing is it's pretty straight-forward - they didn't think they needed to trick people into it.

Comment Re:In the real world... (Score 4, Insightful) 145

Kill virtual humans, of course. Or zombies or aliens if that's your preference.

The real idiocy here is the presumption that vast numbers of gamers would willingly spend ANY of their time doing anything that benefits anyone other than themselves.

Says someone posting in the comments section of a website.

Comment Build your own (Score 5, Interesting) 296

When I was travelling around Europe, for getting through airports I sewed my own leg-webbing for my phone and it's accessories out of black canvas. It wound up being very low profile since I wear black cargo pants normally, but was much easier to take off quickly in airports (and kept everything spread out for X-ray scanners) and allowed me to keep my phone much higher and closer to my belt (which was great for making sure I had my phone on me and keeping it easy to keep an eye on).

Carrying a tablet the same way could probably be done pretty discreetly - a 7" tablet would easily fit along the space of one's thigh without standing out at all. But I seriously doubt you'll find anything to buy - break out the sewing the machine and see what you come up with is my recommendation.

Comment Re:Competition, not regulation (Score 2) 637

No it's because the results of an unlikely occurrence are still far more catastrophic then the gain any single individual can obtain by not holding insurance.

The main thing for-profit insurance does is increase costs for consumers. It was pretty quickly recognized early on that the best possible insurance scheme for a country is single-payer, where everyone is part of the same risk pool since that's the greatest possible dilution of risk (it also means the government is strongly incentivised to keep its citizens healthy - companies dumping toxic waste into the local environment is no longer "not my problem").

Comment Why not a robotic probe? (Score 1) 86

You know I'd rather just send a robot. Because we've never actually done that before.

The enterprise of landing a rover on Europa - which is a literal one-way journey - is still something NASA isn't entirely sure about how to do effectively. And in that case we don't need to land food, oxygen and other life-support gear. And once you get there, we'd like to do something useful - but there's kilometers of ice we need to get through first.

I'm all for high-stakes missions to Mars, but that's extending our reach in a way which is achievable and would advance our technology and enthusiasm. When we can't do Mars even if we wanted to just yet, Europa is just lunacy.

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