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Comment Re:Load of Crap! (Score 1) 219

Usually with these mining scenarios, you go from super high grade (ore) scenarios to poorer and poorer ones

Not always the case. Up by the small mining town of Tower, Minnesota, is a mine. To science geeks, the mine is notable for detecting neutrinos fired from Fermilab (near Chicago) in a long-running physics experiment.

It's rather rich in hematite, with high grade ore, some so high grade a magnet will stick to it.

The mine closed down decades ago. Ores nearer to the surface, even low grade ores such as taconite, were preferred due to lower costs to extract. Open pits are cheaper than deep mines.

Economics leads to some "weird" solutions. Some ores aren't considered viable, even if they are high grade, because other ores are cheaper. The reverse is also true - oil sands and shale are now viable because the cost of oil has risen, even though oil sands/shale are poorer producers.

Comment Re:Thank You Captain Obvious (Score 1) 391

47 million on food stamps, average welfare spending per poor household is HIGHER than median income

Lets do a back of the napkin check for that.

Median household income is $50k (roughly) in the US. Assume all 47 million on food stamps are poor. (Seems fair enough). Assume average household size in the US is 2.6, and that poor people are similar (some poor with kids, some elderly single poor, should average out.)

So that's 18 million households in poverty. At $50k per household, that's 18 * 50 billion in spending. Or .9 trillion.

Seems doable. So I dug up what appears to be your source of the information, and find it's roughly $60k of spending per poor household, and a hair over a trillion total spent.

[Just an aside - this is why back of the napkin estimates can be pretty accurate - I probably screwed up on some of the estimates, but it's close enough that the errors somewhat balance out.]

To break down the spending, a third of that is healthcare. The elderly poor are probably eating up a big chunk of that, as well as poor kids. About a quarter of that is "state contributions to federal welfare", which I assume is the state's share of the cost of federal welfare programs. (Not sure how the state contribution works - is it mostly medicare/caid, or SNAP, or housing assistance, etc?). $245 billion goes to direct cash aid and foodstamps, or roughly $13,600 per household. Another $90 billion, or $5,000 per household, goes to housing programs. $70 billion is other social programs, which seems vague (are Pell grants counted, even if they don't go to the poor? Does it count unemployment payments?).

Comment Re:Glad they're reliable (Score 2) 120

To put it politely, the quality of USB chargers and powered hub wall warts is excitingly variable. If you are trying to run an ARM SoC, a USB ethernet controller, and possibly a couple of other downstream devices, all with just a +5 rail of potentially erratic specs, that isn't good for reliability. By going with the USB socket, they opened the field to every last dollar-store iCharger knockoff and its creative interpretation of what +5vDC looks like...

Agreed. I picked up a microUSB "travel charger" for my Pi. Claims 1000 ma. It doesn't give the USB enough power to find a network with a wireless dongle.

A kindle keyboard charger at 850 ma powers up the network every time. So does feeding the Pi off a USB hub.

So, lesson learned. Weird issues -> check the power adapter.

Comment Re:the good news: (Score 1) 79

What? You dont get them for the articles?

You can get compilations of the Playboy Interviews in book form.

They are worth the read.

Ironically, for all the jokes about getting those types of magazines for the articles, some of them had really decent articles and short fiction.

Comment Re:No Death Penalty (Score 1) 379

From Wikipedia: On returning to the house after the fire in the company of fireman Ron Franks, Willingham said that he had been over earlier and poured flammable British Sterling cologne in the hallway from the bathroom to the bedroom in which the twins had died, because they had loved its smell when they were alive.[9]

You would have found him guilty because he poured cologne on the remains of the house after the fire?

Comment Re:Cost vs injury (Score 4, Insightful) 499

No, what is needed are not cameras. What is needed are some combination of:

One thing you missed: Better traffic lights.

Traffic lights do contribute to delays of traffic flow. They slow down traffic, and the contribute to useless delays, as anyone who has sat at a long red light, waiting for cross traffic that doesn't exist.

I'd argue that any large country (I'm looking at you, US) has an incentive to improve traffic light. Right now, the most common intelligent traffic light has ground loops to detect when cars are at the intersection. In this day and age, couldn't we do better?

Imagine a traffic light that could "see" traffic approaching from a distance. It could also see traffic backed up to the light. Instead of turning red when a car or two is approaching and the cross traffic is non-existent, it could remain green. Instead of turning green when traffic is backed up to the light, it could let other traffic, which is clear to continue, go.

Just imagine the time and fuel savings!

And finally, I'd have to say, in this day and age, sometimes intelligence is overrated (even though this negates the above). As a young adult, the traffic lights in my town sensibly shifted to blinking yellow and red at late hours when the traffic was light. The most common through traffic would get blinking yellows. The underused cross streets would get a blinking red. Then, years later, they replaced the traffic lights with a more modern type that would detect when a car was waiting and change the light. This was useless in a small town - approaching from a cross street would result in a longer delay (as the other light would go through a yellow/red change), and if you were on the main street when a car had to cross, you'd have to wait for the red/green change for just one vehicle.

Really, considering how much time Americans spend on the road, and how much time is lost, small improvements result in a big gain in time not lost and gas not burned.

Comment Re:Cute idea, but... (Score 1) 144

When I first read this, I thought it was heating the engine block and then injecting water that flashes to stream, driving the power stroke. (So basically a two cycle engine - when the piston is at the top of the cylinder, water is injected, it flashes to steam, that drives the piston down, and when the piston comes back up on the second stroke, an exhaust valve allows the steam to escape. The exhaust valve closes at the top of the stroke, and the process is repeated.

That would "consume" water, but would avoid the messy oil/water extraction step. (It's basically a 6 stroke Crowler engine missing the first four strokes.)

This is a lot more complicated, and the vagueness of the claims makes me think they do not have a working prototype. They are making vague claims of efficiency as well (15%+ efficiency).

I think I'll come and sit in the skeptic's corner with you.

Comment Re:No Death Penalty (Score 4, Informative) 379

Could you please link to a single person who was exonerated after being executed in the U.S. in the last 20 years or so (when DNA evidence became popular)? Thanks!

There's been no exonerations that I recall in the past 20 years. There has been a few executions where (IMO) there's a case for reasonable doubt.

For example, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for the deaths of his three children in a fire. The justice system claimed the fire was due to arson. Five years after his execution, a state-ordered investigation concluded that "a finding a arson could not be sustained".

The trial was also notable for using Iron Maiden and Led Zepplin posters as evidence of Cameron's mental state.

I'm not sure if he was innocent or guilty. He appears to have had quite a few run-ins with the law. But the interpretation of the evidence and trial appears deeply flawed, and I am not comfortable executing people based on such evidence.

Maybe you are.

Comment Re:PETA agrees! (Score 2) 409

Hitler regarded himself as a vegetarian...

Although according to his cook, he liked squab. So that's like being a vegetarian who eats fish and chicken.

I will point out that strictly by the numbers, it's likely more meat eaters commit cheat, lie, break promises, and commit sex crimes. Of course, strictly by the numbers, the population of meat eaters is greater than that of vegetarians, but why not have fun with misleading statistics? ;)

Comment Re:Not allowed! (Score 3, Insightful) 107

Anyway, vegan since 15+ years and lacto-ovo-vegetarian since about 25 year here but European and I think Peta is lame and have never understood this nudity crap.

Vegan, American, and still think PETA is lame.

To put it in perspective for non-vegs, think of the most inane, zealous type of individual who supports the same political views as you do. The sort of individual who does more damage to your beliefs than the most ardent opponent. That's PETA in a nutshell.

Comment Re:Cycle tracks (Score 1) 201

Look, I pedal to work on the few days a year when it seems likely that I won't arrive drenched in either rain, sweat or blood, but let's not pretend that it's a realistic transport panacea.

A countless amount of people manage to ride the bus everyday to and from work. That almost always includes a walk to or from a bus stop.

If these individuals manage to walk without any issue, I don't see why they can't replace that leg of a trip with a bicycle (electric or otherwise).

Comment Re:Display information (Score 3, Interesting) 146

Googling "digital photo frames hacks" I find the following suggestions as well:

  • Put recipes on it, store in the kitchen.
  • Store pictures of art you like.
  • Store poems you like.
  • Scan manuals you use frequently.
  • Two images, the first saying "breath in", the second saying "breath out", in slideshow mode with the shortest delay possible. ;)

Comment Re:Biking is better (Score 1) 342

Riding a recumbent fixes this. Stop riding an out of date bicycle. I can ride 2X the distance in comfort on my recumbent than the best trained regular bike guy can.

I've done 160 miles on a regular bike. No pain the next day.

I'm waiting for your 320 miles. ;)

In all seriousness, recumbents are pretty neat. They are a tad spendy though when compared to what I ride. Also I never understood the avoidance of underseat steering that most 'bent riders have.

Comment Re:Babylon 5 (Score 1) 409

There you go. You may want to read Horatio Hornblower some time to see why all of Weber's space ships have sails.

Admittedly, Honor Harrington is Horatio Hornblower in Spaaaace!, and consciously so (among other things, check the initials), but Weber at least does some attempt at explaining about why there'd be ships of the line (actually ships of the wall - 3D combat) in space.

I'd give him credit for that. Is it obvious about what he's paying homage to? Yes. Heck, know anything about history and you can pick out the analogies. But is it a decent read? I think so, but YMMV.

I also do like the fact that Weber tends to have "gender-blind casting". It feels as if he almost roles a die each time when it comes to picking a character's gender. It's refreshing.

Is Weber excellent? No. He's not a grand master of SF by any means. But I find his stories readable, which is more than I can say for a lot of writers.

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