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Comment Re:What is with the UK and all this surveillance a (Score 1) 398

My big concern is that the world is full of dumbasses. A dumbass cop will try to force some stubborn dumbass to move. The stubborn dumbass will sit there with the beam in his eye until the damage is permanent while the dumbass cop will keeps on pointing the beam. I believe that the technical term for this phenomenon is dumbass positive feedback.

Comment Re:This seems pitifully useless... (Score 2) 398

Unless the laser is a tightly focused dot(in which case it won't be much use against a crowd) its intensity will vary rapidly with distance. In order to not be a complete toy at operationally useful ranges, it will very likely be downright dangerous at closer ones. Luckily, cops are technical experts and models of restraint, so that won't prove to be a problem.

The parent is technically wrong. The parent doesn't understand Gaussian beams. If a laser is tightly focused, the far-field divergence is large. The larger the focus, the less the divergence. A visible beam collimated to 5 cm diameter or so will stay collimated for over a kilometer.

Comment Re:The REAL Roadmap (Score 3, Insightful) 128

That's the roadmap summary. Here's the detailed roadmap:

1. Adopt a plan.
2. Make the plan more ambitious at the insistence of the President and Congress.
3. Receive 30% of the required funding from congress, 25% of which is non mission-critical pork.
4. Overrun lowball funding by a factor of 3.
5. Congress cuts off funding before real accomplishments can be met.
6. Repeat

Comment Re:Read the writing on the wall (Score 1) 233

It has nothing to do with climate change. Satellites in Earth orbit that study climate change can get plenty of power from solar panels and will eventually de-orbit. Nobody wants to release Pu when these satellites de-orbit. The Pu is reserved for missions to the outer planets where there is not enough sunlight to power the spacecraft.

Comment Re:I would think the answer is obvious... (Score 1) 185

I agree with your premise that China would hurt itself as much as it hurts us if they try to screw with their T-bond holdings. A default would be extreme. If the Chinese wanted to "teach us a lesson" they could dump a bunch of treasuries on the market. This would cause bond prices to go down, interest rates to go up, and if they dumped enough bonds, the dollar would also drop. In order for them to really make a painful impact, they would need to sell a lot of bonds into a market that's already depressed by previous sales, causing them to loose a lot of money. Furthermore, they wouldn't benefit from the higher interest rates since they wouldn't be holding near as many T-bonds. Finally, their economy is driven by cheap exports. If the dollar tanks, their economy goes down the tubes.

The only scenario where we come close to a default is armed conflict. In that case, we would probably pay interest into an escrow account in order to provide leverage for eventual peace negotiations and secure our credit rating.

Comment Re:Easy: follow the money... (Score 1) 185

The link in previous post doesn't have a lot of specifics, but I suspect that the UK debt is largely held by individual investors and banks. Also, whatever the UK has for a central bank probably needs to sit on some large and liquid dollar investments in order to help regulate the monetary supply and keep the currency stable.

Comment This who space thing doesn't make sense (Score 1) 482

At first I thought that the OP wanted to continue exponential growth by moving people into space. However, there's no place in the solar system that can sustain human life with anywhere near the efficiency of Earth. The resources in terms of energy to move a large portion of the population into space would be enormous, and I don't see how this endeavor could possibly be self-sustaining. It seems that the space option would only aggravate the problem. Then I though that perhaps the OP is suggesting a kind of Logan's Run type approach--we could use space as a means of disposing of excess population. However, there are other solutions for the Logan's Run strategy with far greater energy efficiency and without the problem of generating copious space junk in LEO.

Comment Re:Impossible really means nobody knows how (Score 1) 245

That's more-or-less how I see it. On the security side, no matter how good the encryption and overall infrastructure, you always need to worry about the dumbass in the middle attack, i.e., social networking. In the case or organized crime, they are vulnerable to the same tactics that are used to dismantle "brick and mortar" crime organizations. Do some good detective work, catch someone in the organization who knows enough and is ready to rat everyone else out for some leniency, and you can take the botnet down along with the bad guys.

Comment Big Ego Problem (Score 4, Funny) 504

I have heard this idea before. It assumes that all the climate researchers are somehow in collusion on a vast conspiracy. The problem with your idea is that the top tier universities are full of egotistical bastards who would gladly screw their peers in order to demonstrate that they are smarter than everyone else. These professors tend to do pretty well with grant money and anything that enhances their fame just ensures that the money keeps coming, even though this may be at the expense of others.

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