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Comment Re:Complete overreaction, TSA style (Score 1) 148

I'm a glider pilot too, and I think the FAA & DoI are being completely reasonable. The margin of error for these fire fighting aircraft is very small; they do their drops at 140kts and 300' (source). How much time do you think the pilots have to see and avoid something the size of a drone at those speeds? Even if they decided to hit it, it's still an unnecessary distraction from them doing their job.

Comment Re:Pointless law (Score 1) 293

I have never said I do it all the time, just that, like you, I have.

I used to be a field technician and would use my phone while driving every day.

I could, but I don't.

Sounds like a regular and ongoing thing to me.
Here's a tip: people on the internet don't know you, they only know what you post and most don't read very carefully. Speak plainly and stick to the point. Use paragraphs when appropriate.

And regardless of the problem, the fact remains that these laws simply make it worse not better; which was my entire point.

If personal responsibility was no issue, I might be inclined to agree with you. As it is, you sound like you're trying to assign blame to someone else; in this case "it's not my fault that I am distracted in the car, the government shouldn't have MADE me look in my lap." I claim that the irresponsible drivers aren't being MADE to do anything, they either think they're not doing anything dangerous, they don't care, or they're just not thinking about the danger they're putting other people in. The fact is that we're simply not good at multitasking, and the comparison between texting while driving and drunk driving is well-earned.

Now I'm no expert, so I did a quick search. It looks like this was probably the earliest study into this issue, which supports your claim. There is more discussion about that study though, and a later study seems to contradict it.

Now that you've managed to have your little emotional outburst to my admission I have texted and drive before, perhaps you can argue on that point, or do you have nothing to offer other than anecdotes and hyperbole?

First you offered anecdotes about how your own driving changed after the passing of this law, expressed anger at the size of the fine, and suggested applying existing laws about careless driving; all without any comment regarding the actual danger of distracted driving. Your entire first post comes off as an indignant rant about a law you disagree with.

Then you blithely admitted that you continue to drive in a dangerous (your word, not mine) manner. You claimed "Everyone is still doing this. Everyone."

Now you claim the problem is with irresponsible drivers and hint that you're not part of the problem, and you try to shift the burden of proof to me, when you've given no arguments of substance yourself.

I'm touchy on this issue because it's personal to me. I'm not upset at you for your "admission [you] have texted and drive before"; I'm upset because you switched to a "much more dangerous" activity and made no indication that you are give a damn about the people you are putting in very real danger. As long as motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death, some kind of effort must be made to improve the situation; people must be held accountable for their actions; ergo, punish those who needlessly endanger others. If you have some better solution please present it, the world will thank you.

Comment Re:Pointless law (Score 1) 293

I could, but I don't. I suspect in reality you've been guilty of this before as well (since nearly everyone has), I just have the courage to admit it. It's ok, anonymous coward, we understand. Everyone is still doing this. Everyone. Look at your own stats. Your stupid law has done nothing for this problem other than make it worse. Crotch watching is far more dangerous than using your phone freely. So the next time you get the urge to meet reality with an idiotic emotional response and pointless law, try critical thought... It might just work out better. And please, pass it along.

OK, I'll post as something other than AC. You're wrong saying "Everyone is still doing this."

I've texted while driving before, but it was never a routine thing. I stopped completely after my cousin was killed by some asshat who didn't see the red light. It's been more than 5 years since I, or anyone in immediate family, texted while driving.

In a different incident, my dad's friend and colleague spent a full year in the hospital because another asshat ran a stop sign while texting.

Now I find myself trying to very discreetly answer something important in a way that requires my eyes to be off the road. Much more dangerous.

Yet you continue to do what, by your own admission, is dangerous.

I have lots of choice words for you that I'll keep to myself, because they won't sink in. Let me say this instead: I sincerely hope you never have to get the call my cousin's parents got, or the visit from police with their heads lowered that his wife got. I also hope that you are never the person who drifts out of your lane, fails to see the red light, or the bicycle on the shoulder, or the pedestrian stepping out from behind cars.

Comment None by Choice (Score 1) 352

I'm quite surprised that so many people chose the same option. In my adult life I've only met a handful of people who avoid caffeine in their daily routines, and IIRC, I'm the only computer programmer who does so.

Plain and simple, I don't like how I feel after consuming caffeine; the buzz is annoying, and I just don't feel right afterwards. Second to that is what I hear when talking to everyone else (ie: normal people), "I need coffee to wake up" or "I get such a headache when I skip my morning coffee." None of that sounds the least bit appealing to me.

Now, I'm not opposed to caffeine on occasion (eg: going on a long drive, need to pull an all-nighter). My problem is that every time I do it, I end up feeling bad during the times I'd normally have fallen asleep, and just as bad the whole next day. More power to you if you can drink ten cups per day, but no thanks.

Comment Re:Good thing this isn't a democracy (Score 1) 585

A republic means that an individual has rights, in spite of what removal of those rights might mean to the benefit of the whole.

A republic is simply a country with elected representatives in its government. There is no guarantee of individual rights in a given country simply because it is a "republic".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Comment Re:Potato gun (Score 1) 251

I didn't think I had a story here, thanks for reminding me of my potato cannons!

In my intro to electronics course we had taken the flash circuits from disposable cameras and hacked them to trigger via a photocell.

I had another idea: take the ~300v from the flash capacitor, dump it through a car ignition coil then through a spark plug, and I'd get a much more reliable spark than could be had by a piezo grill igniter. My best guess is that I had a few hundred thousand volts at the spark plug. I put everything in a small plastic Radio Shack project box, put a button on each side, and wired the buttons in series to prevent accidental discharges.

It worked very well: in ~5 years of use I think I went through two C cells and it only failed to work when the first battery died. Whenever I'd show off my handiwork, my audience was invariably more intimidated by the sound of the circuit charging up than the actual potato cannon :)

Comment Re:Actual *real pilots* discussion on another foru (Score 1) 268

Sure, and how much does it cost to store the thing, to have it launched, and do whatever else has to be done with a glider? I know powered aircraft are often white elephants in that respect.

Much less than a powered aircraft. Gliders generally disassemble and are stored in trailers; maintenance is limited to the annual inspection, washing/waxing, repairs, replacement of wear components, periodic repacking of your parachute if you wear one, um... I'm sure I'm missing something. One of the big expenses is just non-existent: there's no powerplant to maintain! Launching fees vary widely, but they start at ~$5 for a winch launch. Flights can be as short as 5 minutes or upwards of 5 hours, depending on conditions, endurance, and skill. Insurance isn't free, but it's certainly not prohibitively expensive.

I don't have a day a week to train so I could legally (under the sort of regime being proposed) fly my model aircraft. And they'd cost that same $10k-$20k once all the proposed equipment to do things like respect NOTAMs and restricted areas is put in. Because no one would make such equipment for hobbyists, they'd make it for the commercial market.

Most of the FAA's regulations actually make sense, and the licensing requirements for different categories of aircraft / licenses call for different levels of training - flying an ultralight doesn't even require a license (but the pilots are still responsible for following the rules). I would suspect that a drone rating would be a simple knowledge test, and there would be no practical exam since so much of a drone's flight is automated - it might even be something you could self-study for. Obtaining the required number of flight hours, and otherwise preparing for the practical is what constitutes the lion's share of the time/money needed to get a private/light sport/recreational license - you need to know, for example, what causes stalls and how to recover from them. I suspect the exam would cover things like airspace definitions and rules, right-of-way rules, etc.

Comment Re:Actual *real pilots* discussion on another foru (Score 1) 268

On the contrary, a lot of people want draconian restrictions like mandatory licensing and restrictions on sale of such vehicles.

Perhaps I misspoke. I should have said that I've not heard from anyone who wants this, and I have talked about it with other pilots.

except relatively wealthy ones with a ton of time, like yourself

Your assumptions are showing.

While there are wealthy pilots, most of us are of modest means. My (small) car is paid off so I spend the equivalent of its payment on my hobby during the on season, and that amount will go down once I finish my license. I won't need to buy my own glider outright, but if I do decide to do so, there are perfectly adequate specimens for sale in the $10k-$20k range.

As for time, I fly one day per week - sometimes two, sometimes zero. On the days I do fly, I still have time to mow the lawn, cook dinner, work on household projects, and even watch a movie with family.

Comment Re:Actual *real pilots* discussion on another foru (Score 1) 268

Student pilot here, you're wrong. I fly for a hobby and will never earn a living doing it so I have no fear of lost income, but drones are scary because they could kill me. The thought of a quadcopter popping up in front of my flight path on short final is scary indeed - there's already plenty to think about without worrying about that.

Like anything, flying is a calculated risk and I accept the odds, the recent proliferation of cheap drones just makes it a bit riskier. It's not so scary that I'm going to stop, but I would like some kind of formalized rule to mitigate it. Nobody wants draconian restrictions like mandatory licensing, but Joe Sixpack oughtn't try to take a close-up video of my landing without discussing it with me beforehand (link).

OP is correct, there is no good solution apparent.

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