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Comment Re:less than a third of the cost (Score 1) 176

... SpaceX can probably save the government hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars which could be used towards additional capabilities in space...

Or left in the taxpayer's pockets for THEM to use as they see fit - which would probably do a LOT more for them and the economy - including private space missions.

Comment Carbon fiber stiff-airfoil sailboats. (Score 1) 176

Knowing Musk, that means he's going to build a flotilla of fully autonomous fusion powered Nimitz class aircraft carriers constructed entirely from carbon fiber. They'll probably haul the booster up with carbon nanotube wires and preserve it in amber, then transform into robots and fly back to fucking Cybertron.

Actually I COULD see Musk building a carbon fiber hulled, wind driven,Knowing Musk, that means he's going to build a flotilla of fully autonomous fusion powered Nimitz class aircraft carriers constructed entirely from carbon fiber. They'll probably haul the booster up with carbon nanotube wires and preserve it in amber, then transform into robots and fly back to fucking Cy

Actually I COULD see Musk building a carbon fiber hulled, wind driven, solar powered, cargo ship.

I doubt he'd bother doing such a vessel as a recovery ship for this project, though, since he's just planning to land a couple to test that the control systems are working adequately before he starts bringing them in on land. Even if it made sense to build one to use it twice, by the time it was done its mission would have already been completed.

Comment Re:Here's how that works. (Score 1) 172

... calculate the probability of a single event (asteroid arrival) in a period of 50 years that strikes a population-dense area.

Not a single event. One or more.

(By the way: I was just explaining how the poster's formula worked, not vouching for its correctness for the problem. Nevertheless, it strikes me as a reasonable quick approximation, given the uncertainty of the single 13-year n=26 sample of meteor arrivals.)

Comment Re:it would be OK if..... (Score 2) 410

in other words, net neutrality would remain, but content providers could pay to BOOST the speed at which the internet provider customers received their content

Which only lasts until the next increment in consumer connection speed is rolled out. Then the companies that pay get to use it, but - SURPRISE! - nobody else does.

If this proposal had gone into effect before broadband became common you'd be hooked to on your, say, 5 Mbps DSL line, trying to watch videos at 56 kbps.

Comment And wrong battleground. (Score 1) 410

The problem here isn't differentiated services - which can be valuable to a lot of us. The problem is that here in the US we have effective ISP monopolies or duopolies in nearly every region.

The other part of the problem is that the net neutrality advocates have been fighting on the wrong battleground.

As you point out: The prblem isn't some packets getting preferences over others: Sometimes that makes things BETTER for users. The problem is companies using their ability to configure this to give their own (and affiliates') carried-by-ISPs services an advantage, or artificially DISadvatntge packets of other providers unless an extra toll is paid, to the disadvantage of their customers.

The FCC is not the place to fight that battle. The correct venues are the Department of Justice's Antitrust division (is giving content the ISP's affiliate provides an advantage over that of others an illegal "tying"?), the FTC (is penalizing others' packets a consumer fraud, providing something less than what is understood to be "internet service"?) and perhaps congress.

I don't see how this can reasonably be resolved short of breaking up media conglomerates to separate information transport from providing "content" and other information service beyond information transport. Allowing them to be combined into a single company is a recipie for conflict-of-interest, at the cost of the consumer.

Comment Here's how that works. (Score 1) 172

My math isn't very strong; can you explain the (1-0.3*0.03)^10 part?

You mean (1-0.3*0.03)^100? (You lost a digit.) Let's walk it:

0.3 land fraction = probability a given meteor hits over land (assuming equal likelyhood it hits any given area).
0.3 * 0.03 Multiply by the fraction of land that's urban to get the probability it hits over urban land.
1- 0.3*0.03 Convert to the probability it misses all urban land. (P(hit) + P(miss) = 1 (certainty)).
(1-0.3*0.03)^100 We get a hundred of 'em in 50 years (assuming 2000-2013 is typical). Raise to the hundredth power to get the jackpot probably that they ALL miss.
1-(1-0.3*0.03)^100 Convert to the probabiltiy that at least one doesn't miss.

Comment Grandparent had it right. (Score 2) 81

The word you are looking for is "preventive".

No, it's not. The usage you're complaining about is perfectly valid.

"Preventative" has been in use since 1666 as an alternate pronunciation and spelling for "preventive".

In some regions (including where I grew up - almost in the center of the region natively speaking the "radio accent", which has been the de facto standard speech for the U.S. since the advent of commercial broadcasting) it is the preferred form.

If you want to be a spelling NAZI, you should avoid being provincial about it. Check the online dictionaries before correcting others, to distinguish between being helpful and imposing your local speech on others.

Unlike French ("a dead language spoken by millions"), American English does not have a regulatory body prescribing an official standard (though some educators have tried, since at least Daniel Webster). It grows and changes by usage. Dictionaries play a game of catch up and try to document how it's realy used.

(Yes, I know how it grates on your nerves when someone uses a different spelling or pronunciation than you're used to. I feel the same way when my wife pronounces "legacy" as if she was talking about a ledge. But apparently that's actually the first pronunciation listed in The Oxford.)

Comment Re:Kansas City Hyatt Regency Skywalk (Score 1) 183

(Slashdot timed out on me and I lost the start of my post.)

As built the skywalk was so overloaded that eventual collapse was possible even without any load. Naturally when it did fail it would be at a time when both the upper and lower skywalks were heavily loaded with people, and the floor crowded below. 114 died, 216 were injured - many seriously.

Of course loads on things like bridges and skyways vary a lot. You can expect them to go in times of high load, which happens to be when there are a lot of people around to be injured or killed.

Comment Re:Kansas City Hyatt Regency Skywalk (Score 1) 183

n this case it failed when there was a celebration in progress. The ground floor level was crammed with dancing people and the crowd had overflowed onto the skywalks. Pogo dancing was current at the time, and apparently the failure occurred when people on the bridges, synchronized by the live music, were jumping up and down in unison. (It's the inverse of the way soldiers are required NOT to march in step when crossing a bridge.)

Thus you can expect such structures to go when there are a lot of people around to get hurt.

(Interestingly, a crowd of people is MUCH more of a load, even without synchronized jumping, than vehicular traffic. San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was reported to have had its greatest load ever during its anneversary, a few years back. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic and the public invited to hike over it. Normally the bridge span has a substantial arc. This stretched the springy cables and broght the span down until it was flat.

During the planning the load on the bridge had been anticipated and computed to be safe. But there were plenty of boats standing by to try to save people if the deck DID collapse, and the people had been warned of the possibility and asked not to dance or walk in step.

Comment The courts are a different branch and not elected. (Score 1) 818

then why the recent decision ... that allowed individuals to contribute directly to *all* candidates, with no overall cap on contributions?

Because it'a a SUPREME COURT decision. We have three branches of government and only two are elected.

The supremes are appointed, for life (subject only to impeachment for high crimes, like the president). They have no re-election issues and can vote their mind without affecting their own tenure.

The court has repeatedly struck down campaign spending restrictions, because they're limits, not just on free speech, but on the POLITICAL speech that is the reason it is an enumerated right in the first place.

But it takes a while for a law to produce enough damage to give someone standing to challenge it, and to bring it to the supremes, and then they rule narrowly. Then, once a piece is struck down, Congress just turns around and does another version of it to evade the details of that decision, and the cycle starts over.

There are under 700 people that hit the max last time around, do you seriously think that decision will benefit the grass roots? Sounds to me like it's aimed squarely at giving the oligarchs more influence.

Of course it's the rich are the first who are bit and who have the resources to bring the suit. That's part of why the limits end up off the rich (like Soros) first, while they're still hobbling everybody else.

It isn't just the limits themselves that are an issue. There's all the reporting requirements, publication requirements, time limits, and maze of details that make compliance hard.

It's hard for candidates: They need a substantial political machine right off the bat. Getting dinged for campaign finance violations is costly, may involve jail time, DOES involve court time, and produces publicity that tarnishes the candidate's image and hurts his chances in future elections. This gives the professional politicians, especially incumbents with the machine in place, a massive advantage over any grass-roots upstarts trying to replace them.

And it can bring on reprisals against donors - including carreer-killing or physical retaliation. Who contributed to what political campaigns is public record and searchable online. This is an invitation to people with opposing views to exert social pressure or take revenge. (Within the last couple weeks we saw the CEO of Netscape forced to resign by just such pressure, as a result of the McCain-Feingold reporting of a past political contribution to a "politically-incorrect" campaign.)

It's the exact opposite of a secret ballot, which is secret to prevent such reprisals so the vote can be cast in safety. Why should financial support be any different? Why would publishing the amount and beneficiary of each contributor's political contributions be any less of a bias on the political system than publishing the way each voter voted?

Further, risking a job is far more of a hardship for a little guy living hand-to-mouth than a rich executive with millions in the bank and a golden parachute. So it's another force to suppress grass-roots opinion in favor of those who are independently wealthy or well-off.

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In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from handbooks) are to be treated as variables.