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Comment Re:Consortium (Score 2) 149

What I am most curious about is who is part of that consortium.

According to this it's Bank of America Merrill Lynch and BMO Capital Markets. It's telling how little the commpany is being sold for. The company is basically being sold for the value of it's current assets ($2.6 billion in cash reserves, patent portfolio, software, etc.). Seems like the buyer has no intention to turn the company around and get profits out in the future.

Comment Re:Early cable (Score 1) 410

I kind of wish they would bring back the "dial-up" concept. Something like you pay $20/month for an ADSL WAN connection that will only route to other connections in the local calling area. You then have to go out and purchase Internet/TV/VOIP from a company or companies on top of that.

The better option would be if municipalities were to create open access networks (dark fiber to the home to whoever wants it). But seeing as how that's unlikely to happen in most places a government regulated high-speed "dial-up" connection might be an acceptable alternative.

Comment Re:Radioactive ooze! (Score 1) 198

Another factor to take into consideration is the scope of a potential disaster. If Indian Point was to melt down and create an exclusion zone a little smaller than Chernobyl it would mean the evacuation of 8 million people in New York and closure of one of the World's biggest financial centers. Now the odds are incredibly small that this could happen but it's worth weighing this vs going with coal which causes a larger constant amount of damage every year. Assuming of course you must pick between nuclear and coal.

Comment Re:a tragedy all around (Score 1) 184

I'm not sure how much of a choice the crew had

There was no mention of future employment on the Bounty for departing crew, the third mate testified, nor did the captain offer to pay expenses home.

So the crew would probably have lost a job they love.

They trusted the skipper almost without question.

Further more they had no reason to doubt that the captain was doing anything too reckless when they made the decision to stay. However, halfway into the voyage

Around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 27, about 300 miles east of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the captain made his move: Instead of continuing with his original plan to stay east of the storm, he ordered the crew to change course. He wanted to pilot the ship northwest of Sandy to harness its winds. Turning more westerly, the boat crossed the path of the oncoming hurricane.

I think a lot of labour laws get passed because of incidents like this. People on the job don't speak up because they fear loosing their job and what their being asked to do doesn't seem (at the time) all that risky and they also trust their boss who has way more experience. However, if you pass a law saying that workers must wear a safety harness, must follow air traffic controllers orders or can not sail into the path of a hurricane then it seems to jar people to their senses. Bosses are reluctant to order employees to do something illegal and employees are reluctant to follow an illegal order.

In a perfect world we'd just have a set of guidelines to follow. However, in reality it seems that people ignore guidelines and a law is the only way to get them to realize that something is a really stupid idea.

Comment Re:a tragedy all around (Score 1) 184

Just because a bunch of people who took a risk died doesn't mean we need to make laws to stop it in the future.

Except in this case it was the captain who took the risk doing minimal maintenance on the ship and trying to "use" the hurricane winds rather then going east around the storm. It's not like the captain held a meeting, explained the situation and took a vote before changing course.

This reminds me of the B-25 that crashed into the Empire State Building killing the pilot and 13 other people. The pilot was advised by the airport of zero visibility but chose to try and land anyway. If I remember right a law was passed after this accident saying that a pilot could no longer choose to ignore an air traffic controller.

Comment Re:Really, really bad (Score 2) 134

I would add that a futher compounding factor is that nuclear power is too expensive. Originally the promise when it was first being developed was power too cheap to be metered. You would just pay a flat monthly fee. If nuclear had turned out to be significantly cheaper than all other power sources than it would be much easier to regulate additional expensive safety features, inspections, etc.

Comment Re:Nuclear power apologists keep missing the point (Score 1) 206

Nuclear is scarier in the same way that people are more afraid of airplane crashes then car crashes. It's the big spectacular events that scare us the most, even if they are extremely rare. Nuclear also has a real public relations problem. You can't tour a plant. You might even get detained by police for taking a picture of one. The whole issue of what to do with the waste hasn't been worked out (sure it's mostly politics but the fact is it hasn't been taken care of). The average person doesn't have a Geiger counter so it's impossible to know if they are leaking radiation or not. It also doesn't help that in most countries environmental regulation is handled by one department and nuclear power is handled by a separate often very secretive branch. If nuke plants held once a month community tours with free BBQ hamburgers and let people buy a subsidized Geiger counter on their way out through the gift shop things might be different.

Comment Re:Close them all (Score 1) 206

Since fission nuclear power, if done for safely and accounted for properly, is insanely expensive to begin with

The funny thing is that when nuclear power was first being developed in the 1950s there was talk of unmetered billing. The electricity from nuclear would be so cheap that you would just be charged a flat rate each month.

Slightly off topic. We've all heard how as soon as fusion is developed it will solve all our energy problems but is it going to be any better? I've heard the design of a fusion reactor will be very similar to a fission reactor. There will be a nuclear core that generates heat and drives steam turbines. A cement containment building to contain any leaks or explosions. The core will be radioactive so you need specially trained workers and procedures. From a cost/operating standpoint it sounds a lot like a fission plant.

I should mention there are a few big pluses to fusion though.

  • The containment vessel becomes much more radioactive then fission waste. However it will only take about 200 years to decay to safe levels making finding a safe disposal site easier
  • An radiation that escapes from the plant should decay to background levels by the time it reaches the fence around the perimeter of the plant
  • Uranium fuel currently accounts for about 30% of the cost of running a fission plant. So there is that savings. Although until a fusion plant is actually built we won't know if there are any additional costs that fission didn't have

Comment Re:Waste of money (Score 1) 364

At the moment it seems interstellar travel will require humans to live onboard a space ship for a very very long time. A good baby step might be to develop manufacturing technology that can create almost any part needed as well as recycle old parts. This technology could also be very useful on space stations as well as remote locations on earth.

Comment Re:If you want Bill Gates to be Steve Jobs (Score 1) 337

A wise old businessman once told me how companies are like people. They are born with lots of energy and enthusiasm, go through growing pains and assuming they live long enough hit the prime of their life. Then, like people companies eventually grow old and get hardening of the arteries before finally dying.

Comment Re:Protect RIAA/MPAA profits act. (Score 3, Informative) 162

Abolishing imaginary property is exactly what we should be doing.

They're not advocating abolishing IP. They propose getting rid of Patents and Copyright and replacing it with private contracts between a buyer and seller. With added laws to enforce fair use saying things like a seller can't stop a buyer from loaning or renting.

One interesting quote in the book

If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one. But since we have had a patent system for a long time, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge, to recommend abolishing it.

So whatever we do we should do it slowly and monitor the impact it is having.

Comment Re:Protect RIAA/MPAA profits act. (Score 2) 162

They have to invent imaginary persons (corporations), and imaginary objects (intellectual property), both which defy the laws of physics in their favor but never in the favor of consumers.

You can't seriously be advocating abolishing corporations and IP. You probably take it for granted that the computer you're using was created by a bunch of investors who pooled millions of dollars through a corporation and funded the very expensive CPU development knowing that their investment would be protected by patents. They used very complicated software to design the CPU which is protected by copyright. They marketed the CPU under a brand name protected by a trademark so consumers wouldn't get ripped off buying a fake hunk of plastic.

Corporations, patents and copyright have a lot of problems (particularly in the US as laws have slowly changed over the last few decades) but getting rid of them is like getting rid of our legal system because our drug laws don't make sense.

Comment Re:Nuclear power arguments (Score 4, Interesting) 664

coal is actually WORSE than nuclear in both radiation output and toxic byproducts that need disposal

For a properly functioning power plant Coal puts out about 100 times the radiation of Nuclear. However even if you live near a coal plant it will only up your anual background radiation does by about 0.5%.

The coal industry will put out about 101 PBq of radiation for the years 1937-2040. By comparision Fukushima has spit out about 130-150 PBq of iodine-131 and Chernobyl was about 1760 PBq.

Having said all that I think neither are great solutions and we should really be investing more money in alternatives.

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