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Comment Re:He's missing the point. (Score 4, Insightful) 133

It would be nice if people could learn to think in terms of threats that fell somewhere between "safe to ignore" and "extinction level event". Or could distinguish between "extreme and expensive" responses and "effective" ones.

9/11 could have been prevented by simple, conservative and inexpensive countermeasures. After 9/11 politicians droned on about how "9/11 changed everything," but the cold sober fact was that it in fact changed nothing. It just showed that some of the things sensible people had already been telling us to do (like reinforcing cockpit doors or getting agencies to work together despite institutional rivalries) really did need to be done. Instead "9/11 changed everything" became the rallying cry for every pet scheme that had heretofore been correctly dismissed as too expensive, hare-brained, or just plain dumb.

Which doesn't change the fact that something needed to be done. Here's the lesson I think we should take into this infrastructure debate: we should take sensible and conservative steps to secure infrastructure against terrorism now, before events put foolish ones on the table.

Comment Re:Good but... (Score 1) 114

Or... what if anytime anyone called a residential number, a nickel was transferred from the caller's account to the callee's account.

That wouldn't stop anyone from making a call where an actual person is likely to be involved; the labor costs for a three minute conversation would swamp that. But it would discourage people from robocalling a hundred thousand people in order to turn up a handful of suckers.

And the public wouldn't have to pay a regulator to try to track down these boiler room operations.

Comment Re:Agrument in favor of modularity (Score 1) 86

I don't have to do anything. Even stored under ideal circumstances li-ion batteries lose capacity.

What matter is capacity relative to demand. In a phone like the Droid Maxx from a few years ago with plenty of surplus battery the phone will still be usable four years later. But something like a Samsung Galaxy S6 barely has enough battery to make it through the day when brand new and is pretty much unusable two years later even under ideal conditions.

Comment Re:There's a lot more iron much closer... (Score 4, Informative) 290

And there's some twenty million tons of gold dissolved in the Earth's oceans. Jules Verne made it the source of Captain Nemo's incredible wealth.

To put twenty million tons of gold in perspective, all the gold that has ever been mined by humans totals up to about 180 thousand tons. To put in another perspective: sure, it's gold, but at a concentration of thirteen billionths of a gram per liter of seawater it's worthless unless you have unlimited time and energy to extract it.

That's the problem with asteroid mining in general. Until the cost of changing an object's momentum goes down drastically it's not worth doing. If Pysche were a 1000 kg block of pure, refined platinum (market price: $34 million) you'd be hard-pressed to retrieve it and return it to Earth at a profit. Which is not to say asteroid mining is a bad idea; but first things first: you've got to reduce the price of interplanetary propulsion by a couple orders of magnitudes. One thing that never happens in a sci-fi asteroid mining scenario is the hero worrying about running out of gas. Propulsion in stories is always practically limitless and free of charge. Real propulsion will never be that good, but it could get good enough.

Comment Re:Not impulsive at all (Score 1) 1453

The last one (calling publications that he doesn't like "failing" or "fake news") could be a calculating move. By delegitimizing anyone who reports bad things about him, he could:

- Shut out reporters working for organizations he deems "Fake News." (He's already said that some news organizations will be left out of the White House Press Corps and refused to take a question from a CNN reporter, calling CNN "Fake News".)
- Try to pressure other organizations to fall in line lest they be labeled fake as well. (He went on to call NBC "fake news" for unflattering coverage of him. The implication clearly being "fall in line or you're fake.")
- Fulfill his campaign promise to "open up libel laws." (Not that there are Federal libel laws, but he could have Federal legislation passed that would let him sue news organizations.)
- Only allow positive press coverage of him. Anything else is "libel" and illegal.

Now, this doesn't mean him calling CNN and NBC "fake news" is calculating, but his own statements and actions don't point to a very pro-free-press version of Donald Trump.

Comment Re:already exceeding expectations (Score 4, Interesting) 1453

Technically speaking, about 3 million more people voted for Hillary than Donald. It's just that, thanks to our electoral college system, those votes were divided up such that he won.

(Not saying his not a legitimate President because of that fact. We can argue about whether or not the electoral college should be changed going forward, but those were the rules going in and should be respected as such.)

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