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Comment Various physicists (Score 5, Interesting) 139

"Various physicists have discovered solutions to Einstein’s field equations that contain loops that return to the same point in space and time."

What a lazy bit of reporting! Mr. Kurt Friedrich Gödel first discovered the Einstein's general relativity allowed for closed timelike curves. He presented a paper describing this solution to Einstein as a birthday present, while they were both working at the IAS. It grieves me when Gödel is not given the recognition he is certainly due.

Comment Re:the solution: (Score 1) 651

"I am making a legal argument, [...]"

I'm not asking you to convince me that the Constitution says what you think it says. Maybe it even does. "Alexander Hamilton thought it was a great idea" is not a convincing argument for me here.

I'm asking you to convince me that what it is is the way it should be. The USA pays a huge cost for the amount of private gun ownership it has, relative to other countries. Most gun-related injuries are a) accidents, b) suicide attempts, and c) the result of domestic disputes. Very few gun injuries are at all like the script most gun-owners imagine, of them valiantly protecting their home and their loved ones from burglaries our assaults by criminals. No one on the pro-gun-ownership side of the argument seems willing to concede these clear and demonstrable facts.

I don't believe private gun ownership is deterring tyranny. I don't believe private gun ownership is deterring terrorism. I don't believe gun ownership is deterring a land invasion by a foreign aggressor. I don't believe private gun ownership is deterring illegal immigration. I don't believe private gun ownership is even much deterring garden-variety crime in America.

I do believe private gun ownership is causing an insane amount of injury and death, and distorting our politics in unhealthy ways. As a citizen and a taxpayer, I don't see why I should have to shoulder any part of the cost so that other guys can go out to a gun range on saturdays and shoot up the place, whatever their fantasies or rationalizations may be.

It reminds me about arguments for and against mandatory motorcycle helmet use. No one has convinced me that, even if they are within their rights, that its a very smart thing to do, for the individual or for society collectively.

Comment Re:the solution: (Score 3, Insightful) 651

[...] "Arms" doesn't mean "hunting rifles." It means "arms." [...]

We have to make the laws that are reasonable to our time. The Constitution allowed slavery, for instance, and no vote for women. There are lots of things that we can look at now and say need (or needed) to be changed from the original document, with the perspective of the passing of 200 years.

Make arguments, please, that are really arguments, rather than hiding behind a document. Does it make sense now for individuals to buy and sell full-auto weapons? "Assault rifles"? Flamethrowers? Surface-to-air missles? What are the real distinctions?

Comment Re:left (Score 1) 730

I had exactly the same reaction. It seems like an odd omission given "We've worked on this a long long time" (misquoting Mr. Cook here) and the vaunted Design capabilities of Apple.

I can probably just as well get by with the righties version, but I have to say I feel oddly discounted by this. I'm hoping they offer a lefties version in a follow-up announcement.

Comment Re:"float down on Europa's atmosphere" (Score 1) 79

It's possible that the Draper plan could work, but there are lots of risks and uncertainties. Getting individual chipsats onto Europa's surface successfully and functioning is a big uncertainty. That they would have enough power to do some bit of science, and then transmit a result back to orbit successfully, is another. How are the chipsats going to be powered? Your average commercial 9-volt battery is not going to work on the surface of Europa.

The environment on Europa IS very cold and the radiation levels are high. When Juno was sent to Jupiter, all (or most) of the electronics was put inside a giant vault to provide it with some rad shielding. Naked or minimally-shielded chipsats aren't going to fare well. Europa Clipper is not going to orbit Europa at all, but rather Jupiter itself, to avoid the worst of the rad effects.

NASA encourages lots of planning and mission development but often doesn't commit to actually building or executing the missions that seem most innovative because the ratio of risk to expense is too high (look, for instance, at the Titan Mare Explorer.)

Comment Re:Camera gun (Score 1) 765

But Monroe and Madison did not and could not envision our twenty-first century military. What Madison is stipulating in Federalist 46, explicitly, is a federal army that would be limited in size (e.g. head count) to the degree that, when adding up the number of privately held firearms, the private citizens, constituted together as a militia, would outweigh it. He goes so far as to do the math.

Compare that to the firebombing of Tokyo or Dresden, say. The number of personal firearms is not in any way indicative of superior force. You could have armed every man, woman and child in Dresden with N firearms, and the outcome would have been the same. At this point, Curtis Lemay is already long dead, and military technology has far exceeded his contributions. The US military is developing and testing beam weaponry, autonomous killing drones, all manner of new technologies that private citizens have no access to or knowledge of.

So citizenry bearing personal arms is no longer an effective deterrent to a US or foreign assault. That's my argument and you're free to dispute it, but the intention in the Federalist Papers is clear.

Comment Out of your minds (Score 1) 139

Let me just say, I'm certain that I don't want to have to choose every component of my phone, at any level of granularity less than "the whole phone", and then assemble it, do maintenance on it, troubleshoot why some piece of third-party software isn't working with my particular mix of phone parts.

You're imagining a system where everything 'just works' for a gigantic ecosystem that somehow increases your choices and simultaneously decreases the cost to get exactly the options YOU want. It's not going to happen.

Comment Re:Why are we giving people like Cody any attentio (Score 0) 207

There is a clear difference between being "anti-gun control" and distributing plans and the ability to make guns to every corner of the internet. Maybe he should spend a night in the Winchester House before he gets too blase (too late for that!) about all the people who will be killed with the designs he's propagated.

Comment My perception - (Score 1) 405

My perception in having visited Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Grenoble, Firenze is that a fair amount of the road pollution comes not from cars but from Vespas and similar scooters and small-engine motorcycles. Lots of people living within these cities rely on such vehicles, and just judging from my nose, they are big contributors to smog. I realize that it's often the most economical means of getting around for students and other younger people. Also for cities that were laid out before the internal combustion engine was invented, the convenience of a Vespa is hard to overstate. But there seems to be not much interest in engineering them to be very clean.

Comment I'm thinking of a word - (Score 5, Funny) 263

I'm thinking of a word for a kind of system where, I don't know, someone makes rules for how large chunks of assets are managed, traded, stored. This word would mean that some PEOPLE, some kind of official-sounding types of PEOPLE, would "check up" on these places, these places that handle and store and manage other people's money, or assets, stuff. They would be checking up to make sure that the people who run those places, those people, wouldn't be, knowingly or unknowingly, doing things with other people's money that they shouldn't be doing. Maybe there could be a kind of system, say, where those people doing those things, are encouraged or made to do some things, to prove, that they have the money and things that they are supposed to have, and doing the things, those things that they are supposed to do, and not doing those things that they are not supposed to be doing, to those other people's money, and assets and stuff. And that they're honest, about what they say that they're doing, and that they're not doing. Who would be doing all that checking, and what would that process be, and who would be subject to it. If only there were one simple word for all of that.

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982