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Comment Re:Fold a shirt in 10 minutes? (Score 1) 139

I think studies show that women spend nearly as much time on domestic chores as ever.

Yes, washing without a machine was a long and laborious task, but it may shock you to learn that people didn't wash 1-2 full changes of clothes a day in the time before the washing machine.

Bunkum. I'm old enough to remember my mom leaning over the bath scrubbing clothes on a washboard for a family with five children. Her first automatic washing machine was a godsend. Now with families getting smaller I have my doubts about your studies.

Comment Re:Can't wait to get one in my watch. (Score 1) 154

Yeah, I was thinking more in terms of 'end user does something stupid, now somebody gets to collect the plutonium dust' type problems. I suppose that the major advantage is that people are somewhat less likely to do dumb things to electronics that they'd need to cut open their abdomens to get at.

It's really the end-user/disposal problem that makes me nervous about nuclear batteries, not the 'will the engineers screw it up?' aspect. 'Sealed sources', containing various isotopes neatly packaged as radiation sources, are even simpler to implement than nuclear batteries; and generally aren't an engineering problem; but the DoE has gone to a lot of trouble hunting down 'orphan sources' that have left responsible supervision for one reason or another; and it's hardly unheard of for those to end up in some 3rd world junkyard being crowbared open by people who have no idea what a mistake they are making.

Pacemakers have the advantage of a more or less automatic paper trail(since the diagnosis of cardiac abnormality and implantation surgery tend not to be handled in cash and off the books) and people don't tend to cut through their own bodies in order to do stupid things to their gadgets; but I'd be rather pessimistic about the possibility of sound lifecycle management for nuclear batteries in broader application.

It's too bad; because they'd be extremely useful for a variety of low power off-grid stuff; but when people can't even be bothered to separate their trash from their recyclables; it's hard to be optimistic about their safe disposal of nuclear batteries.

Comment Re:Another spam ad (Score 1, Informative) 84

I am not a shill and I have a Tap because a friend of my had an Echo and I loved it, mostly b/c I use Prime Music a ton and my young kids can easily interact w/the device to play what they want. Several of my friends have purchased the devices after using mine.

I mean, popular? No, not nearly as much as Amazon may like you to believe; however, they are pretty great devices for what they are and I think the recognition software is world's better than Siri (which, IMO, is completely and utterly useless and I never use on my Mac or phone).

By all means, be skeptical, however it doesn't mean they're not being used by people and they're not any good.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 278

At a population level, farming is close to automated. When ~2% of the population is farming and the rest of us aren't starving you know that we've wrung serious gains in efficiency out of the process.

As with many areas, though, it gets harder to justify once you pick off the low hanging fruit. If you absolutely must have your tech demo, robotics can probably provide something that at least doesn't have any visible humans except when techs are on site dealing with failures; but you'd have to be replacing some pretty expensive farmers to have it make any sense.

Comment Re:wait... (Score 1) 87

My understanding is that, outside of the worst areas(the reactor complex itself and some areas that were most heavily exposed to fallout during the accident) the level of ionizing radiation isn't particularly high. The main area of concern is that some of the more persistent isotopes in the soil could become a serious problem if people were to live there or grow food there. Alpha emitters, in particular, are essentially harmless unless taken internally; but quite nasty if they are(and some of them have the unpleasant property of being chemically similiar to biologically relevant elements in safer areas of the periodic table).

It is true that radiation is bad for semiconductors(though worse for ones where details matter, like microchips; and merely accelerated aging for things like PV panels) but if you take care to avoid disturbing the soil too much, it's not as though the whole place is bathed in gamma rays.

Comment Re:Restricted zone (Score 1) 87

I don't know if the design calls for this; but it wouldn't be rocket surgery to lay out a PV generating facility such that it doesn't disturb the soil much(possibly some posts driven into the earth if there is a risk of high winds) mostly just a frame laid on top; raised walkways between all the areas that will need to be serviced periodically; and a parking lot where you can check people coming in and out.

You certainly don't want people coming home from work coated with strontium; but, especially at scale, it's probably cheaper to take a few protective measures than it is to buy real estate that somebody actually wants. As 'brownfield' sites go, the zone of alienation is pretty seriously brown.

Comment Re:Fold a shirt in 10 minutes? (Score 5, Insightful) 139

I don't understand the idea of making kids do chores.

YOU chose to have them and they didn't get a say in it - why should they have to work for you?

Because they are not your customers and you are not their servant. They are your children who have to learn that they are not the center of the universe, that the world does not owe them a living, and that there's no way you'll get by in this life without working. Chores are the first act of learning to be a good citizen.

Comment Re:Fold a shirt in 10 minutes? (Score 3, Insightful) 139

This single task robot has nothing better to do. It is silly to spend money to make it faster just so it can have more idle time.

A washing machine has a single task and nothing better to do. So does a tumble drier. Modern appliances speed up and simplify the task of cooking and performing laundry. Labor-saving devices in the home liberated women from a life of domestic servitude. It has been one of the most significant social and economic changes of our time. Nothing "silly" about it.

Comment Re:Just switch to Natural Gas (Score 2, Insightful) 147

The UK switched to gas years ago. It was Thatcher and her successor John Major who phased out the British coal industry since it was uneconomical. Odd that in America the preservation of coal is seen as a conservative ideal, whereas in the UK it was the left that was trying to keep it alive in the interests of the workers. I guess the definition of conservative in America must require anything that beats the crap out of the environment whether it pays its way or not.

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