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Comment Re:Let me guess... (Score 1, Informative) 474

That's the thing that kind of bugs me is that Global Climate change gets all of the attention at the expense, it seems, over other issues. For example, coal fired power plants.

Coal-fired power-stations DO contribute to global warming. The down-wind mercury levels, whilst elevated, aren't high enough cause the well-known chronic toxity effects (google 'minimata' for the gory details), but they could (collectively) lead to TEOCAWKI. Which would be bad.

Comment Re:"Privacy" in a crowd (Score 1) 209

This is the bit I don't get:

Every moment he has his Windows Mobile smartphone with him, they know where he is, and who's nearby.'

Really? How does that work? Have the people who happen to be nearby all have to have signed up for the trial, or is their presence somehow automagically detected and uploaded? Hey, if you want to sign away YOUR privacy, feel free (though I'd rather you didn't) It doesn't give you the right to sign away my privacy at the same time!!

Does this mean I should be avoiding people who use Windows Mobile smartphones? Oh wait, the universe already took care of that for me.

Comment Re:Thank goodness (Score 1) 870

it would be so much cheaper to build the probes needed to colonize it from lunar materials.

Take ten seconds to think about a steel plant. Have you ever seen a steel plant? Now, consider the mass of such a plant. Consider the cost of moving it up the gravity well from earth and then back down onto the moon. Realise that you're talking about several orders of magnitude more mass than /every launch ever made from earth, combined/. Think for a moment about all the other industrial processes required to turn steel into spaceships. (Another clue, spaceships have other ingredients apart from metal.) Oh yeah, and you'll need masses of cheap energy and a couple of thousand people to run the plant, plus concomitant life support, facilities, plumbing, training that takes. Finally, note that there's no iron ore on the moon. Congratulations! you have now achieved a small glimmer of understanding of why why your comment was utter drivel.

Comment Re:Thank goodness (Score 1) 870

Your ISS comment is just shortsighted and ignorant. The ISS is providing scientific data and increasing human experience in space exploration.

Apart from work on pysiological adaption to weightlessness, can you cite a few papers on worthwhile original research carried out on ISS? (hint - no, you can't.)

The ISS will be a platform for future missions,...

That's the sort of fatuous reasoning that convinced Dubya that returning to the moon would enable some sort of "way station" where a weary crew bound for Mars can pull over, take a comfort break, refuel, let the kids stretch their legs and so on. It's nonsense.

Comment Re:Priorities, Priorities, Priorities (Score 1) 870

You're right, except that there is no such market beyond the handful of people willing to drop a few tens of millions on a Soyuz to ISS, or a few hundred thousand on a Branson/Rutan "Suicide Special". Certainly nothing like enough to cover developing and flight-testing human-rated flight hardware on top of Delta and show a profit.

Glad to see the "asteroid mining" trolls have finally shut up & gone away though :>

Comment Re:I'm not suprised (Score 1) 870

It's not hard to predict that expectations for the poor sap who takes over after Dubya - which was always going to be a poisoned chalice - were always going to be impossibly high. Sadly, his almost Sheen-like naturalness at playing the part of the President means that many people's expectations are even higher (cos everyone knows that how well someone governs is directly proportional to their backstory, tone of voice, oratorical ability and so forth. That's worked really well for us in the past, hasn't it. Personally if we're all agricultural peasants in four years time, or radioactive mutants, or living a fascist theocracy, he'll have succeeded in my book.

Comment Re:Results (Score 1) 870

It's true to say that a major factor in the premature curtailment of the orginally planned series of Apollo missions was the entirely rational fear that the more missions launched, the greater the probability of a total loss of missions and crew, and that this would lead to a complete loss of public support for NASA.

Comment Re:Results (Score 1) 870

As a moment's reflection would indicate, this is such a blindingly obvious idea that the fact it's not happening must mean it was considered and discarded for a good reason (or, as is actually the case, a whole passel of very good reasons.) Unless you're one of those cosy groups of people who think NASA and JPL are staffed entirely by drooling halfwits, or in league with the CIA invasion force of UN black-helicopter-flying lizard creatures, of course, which is always a possibility on Slashdot... :)

Comment Re:Cut taxes, then (Score 1) 870

What most people who use the "technological spin-offs" argument in debates about resourcing of space activities fail to grasp that the same sort of (unpredictable) spin-offs would result from spending the money on any other massive technological or engineering project. Taking that as a given, wouldn't it be better to spend the funds in a direction where the *primary* result of the expenditure is of more utility? (Say, as an example, a massive expansion of renewal energy generation capacity and associated technologies and engineering.)

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