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Comment Re: meh (Score 1) 376

but what are the chances of finding a good vintage of scotch to go with all of this breaded goodness they are going to be having up there?

Alcohol is definitely going to space. Ballantine's zero-gravity glass is made in cooperation with something called the Open Space Agency, which also has a design for an automated Dobsonian telescope. Ardbeg is going to space. And a vacuum still is an old science-fiction trope.

Comment Re:Everybody should be prepared to die. (Score 3, Funny) 376

Out of several tens of billions of humans, only a fraction have not yet died, and of those who died, only a small percent of disputed cases indicate recovery.

On the contrary, I have never died before and rumors that I would do so are spread by fact-checkers of the liberal press and corrupt global warming scientists.

Comment Some Artistic License (Score 1) 376

I like the part in the SpaceX video where the rocket lands, and the door opens on magnificent desolation. This is artistic license. Obviously the material for a habitat would precede the arrival of people.

But yes, a first-try planetary colony won't necessarily work. Getting there is dangerous, and once you're there being able to continue to provide the population with air, water, food, shelter, and energy is going to have significant risks of lethal failures.

Comment Keeps the annoying part, loses the useful parts! (Score 1) 92

As far as I could tell, the main reason people were annoyed about Google Glass (besides the ostentatious bragging of wearing $1500 glasses) was that somebody wearing them could be taking your picture at any time, without obviously holding up a camera or a phone or wearing a lapel-pin camera or having a pen-sized camera in their shirt pocket or something clipped to their backpack straps or whatever else. These glasses still do that, just not as well as a cheap camera or phone.

But the display inside the glasses, which made Google Glass more useful than a camera thing, isn't in these, and it's also missing the potential Google functionality of doing face recognition and telling you the name of the person you're looking at, which you forgot. Sure, somebody wearing Google Glasses could look like they're looking at you but really be watching cat videos or talking to somebody else, but cellphone headsets had given us those a decade earlier, and now there's Pokemon Go or whatever follows it.

Also, social views of always-connected cameras are changing, as a result of Black Lives Matter and other episodes of people recording cops behaving badly and the near-ubiquity of cellphone video. Yes, there are privacy tradeoffs we need to figure out (e.g. secure recording for your pictures doesn't have to also mean that Google or Apple iCloud has access to your data.)

Comment Obama Should But Won't - Will Merkel/EU/others? (Score 1) 375

Of course Obama should pardon Snowden, but we all know that ain't gonna happen. The real question is whether some EU country like Germany or some other country besides Russia will offer Snowden asylum. So far, none of them have had the guts, even Ecuador which is giving Julian Assange some slack, though most Latin American governments are too tightly tied to the US to offer protection against kidnapping as well as against official extradition or look-the-other-way rendition.

Russia's currently some protection for Snowden, but only while he's politically useful to Putin, and Putin's still in power. If anything happens to Putin, or to Snowden's usefulness (e.g. Putin wants to do a favor for President Trump), he's in trouble.

Comment Possible (Score 3, Interesting) 185

First, I'm sure there's lots of Open Source being used in Google's implementation - just not where we can see.

There is a speech recognizer from CMU that might be a good starting point. I haven't heard about plain-language software, though. There is additional rocket science to be done. Not insurmountable given things we've already done.

Training with millions of people? Actually, that's the part that community development is good at.

Comment Mature technology like solar and wind... (Score 1) 246

Solar and wind can't survive without subsidies, government mandates and market intervention giving them priority on the grid. Per unit of energy produced, they receive outrageously lavish subsidies, and their preferential treatment is pushing all reliable generators out of the market, not just nuclear. It is the pinnacle of hypocrisy to criticize nuclear, which receives virtually no help. Nuclear advocates don’t even want subsidies; they want a fair marketplace and rational technology-neutral regulation. Go ahead: eliminate all subsidies. Technologies with real potential don’t need subsidies, only an environment free of insurmountable obstacles.

Why should nuclear bear the considerable cost of integrating unreliable and destabilizing energy sources into the grid? Shifting the cost onto a competing clean energy source is extremely unfair, and nuclear itself is far from mature. Conventional reactors don't even scratch the surface of the design space, and the nuclear supply chain and construction industries have wasted away. If ever there were a technology deserving of subsidies, this is it. In terms of fuel efficiency and waste production, the potential improvements are more than a hundred-fold, and these can be realized in a LFTR, with unparalleled economics, safety, and a minimal environmental footprint.

After decades of intense investment, renewables still contribute very little in terms of useful energy or avoided CO2 emissions. What they have achieved is sharply increasing energy costs wherever deployed. Proponents trumpet their supposed low cost, but experience tells another story. Germany has some of the highest electricity rates, and far from decarbonizing, they are constructing new coal plants. Even the Germans are correcting course now, and people should confirm the facts and reflect on them. Sadly, when faced with facts and reason, the human instinct is to doubled down on stupid, so it will require effort.

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