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Comment idea fail (Score 4, Insightful) 75

Wow! Hijacking a well known metric for a completely unrelated application just to draw a weak metaphor between the original phenomena being measured and this other unrelated event. Who could have ever thought up something so clever? Maybe next he'll invent a "jump to conclusions mat"! After that maybe he'll propose "dollars" as a new term meaning "lines of code" so that when he's introducing himself to unsuspecting women on the bus he can talk about how much "money" he has made.


Comment Re:In perspective (Score 4, Insightful) 380

Nova did a program about the Columbia investigation. After running through the possibilities, the team finally sat down and worked out the expected velocities and forces involved with an impact with the foam debris. Nobody believed that foam could do any real damage so they finally tracked down a spare wing section and shot a piece of foam at it. The video is pretty damning and now it all seems so obvious. However, I got the impression that beforehand even the engineers had put this one in the acceptible risk column.

Comment Re:Super desalination? (Score 1) 292

I understand that one of the current problems with desalination filtering is that the salt left behind clogs up the filter fairly quickly. Hopefully researchers will test to know for sure, but this may well suffer from the same problem. The other problem is that the water wants to be with the salt - ie. it's an energetically stable state. You have to put in some energy (usually via pressure) to get it through a filter and away from the salt. Compare that to simply filtering out fine particulates that might settle out on their own given enough time. I would imagine a more practical use might be in prepping water for chip (read IC) fab plants where the water used must be extremely pure. I'm just guessing here - it may still not meet the requirements with filtration alone.

Comment Re:Going to the moon, with what money?? (Score 5, Insightful) 602

Since it's Gingrich proposing this government funded government housing project on the moon, I suppose he'd be the first one we ship off to this socialist moon utopia you describe...

If perhaps Gingrich wants moon exploration to be handled by private enterprise, maybe he should put his money where is mouth is and go start an actual business, like what Romney did (sort of), instead of applying for a fat cat government job, er, running for President.

Comment Re:Better than Windoze (Score 4, Insightful) 176

You seem to be in a situation where PEBKAC - it's corrupting the text of your post. Of course what you meant to say is that the Open Source model does not guarantee security but simply allows interested parties to audit for and fix security problems independent of any single company or other rights holding restricting access to the source. Generally we find that the Open Source model has worked well for Linux and has been effective at addressing security concerns. The question is sometimes not whether problems exist, but whether or not they are found and corrected.

Speaking of security on Windows - if that post of yours isn't a case where PEBKAC, you might want to install some anti virus software - looks like someone might have pwnd your machine.

Comment Re:If libertarians had there way (Score 2) 388

We see in practice that this sort of damage is extremely difficult to prove, takes years to resolve in court, and is too easily written off as part of the 'cost of doing business' in most cases. In the meantime the damage is still being done to the environment and to the health of the people living in it. In West Virginia, many people affected by the coal industry are dying before they see any resolution in court. If you have acid rain falling on your head, how do you know which of the thousands of factories are responsible? Does everyone affected by the acid rain have to sew every factory operator. In such a system, the only people who win are the lawyers.

What's needed is a system that prevents the damage from being done in the first place. You could certainly argue that court awarded damages could be made high enough to deter bad practices, but that would just encourage frivolous lawsuits and every more acrimony about "environmental activists" undermining profits.

Just to play devil's advocate, if Libertarians really believe the courts could address environmental abuse, why aren't they supporting reforms to the existing court system? It seems to me that every time an issue like this comes up they're almost invariably on the side of pollutersm railing against 'activist judges' and 'environMENTALists.' They give me little hope that such a system would work any better in the great Libertarian utopia.

I'd like to offer an example of responsible environmental protection. I went on a whale watching cruise out of Boston a couple years back and they mentioned that shipping lanes had recently been rerouted to bypass whale feeding areas. Research showed that the whales only gather in certain areas. Rerouting the shipping lanes is yet another case of 'big' government and environmentalists interfering in business, but the fact is that fewer ships hitting whales means less damage to vessels and fewer disruptions to shipping. It's a win-win: safer whales and smoother more effective business operations. This sort of win-win arrangement could never have happened if someone had to go to the courts and try to prove damage. Who's the victim that could even present the lawsuit in this case? Businesses would never make the change on their own - even if the shipping lanes were managed privately - because no company or trade association would ever justify the cost of an "environmental study" to determine the best routes. Maybe they'd do it to pay lip service to good stewardships or as part of a "green" pr campaign, but never because they actually intend to do it properly or take the results seriously.

The fact is that for many years the US had a very Libertarian approach to the environment and many other areas. Regulation and other government interferance only came about because under those laissez-faire policies we had the biggest abuse of the environment the Nation has ever seen. The existing systems have done far better and the question should be how to make them better, not whether or not we should return to an era of policies that clearly didn't work. In some cases, the current system has motivated individual landowners to implement environmental solutions themselves. There was a case a while back of ranchers setting up turtle crossings under roads to keep the government from stepping in and marking the lands as protected. If individuals can solve the problem better than the government - show what they've done and allow independent confirmation of the results - then so much the better for everyone. You can't tell me though that the same results would have been acheived with a glut of lawsuits and fines.

Comment Re:Standard arguments (Score 2) 284

You missed a few:


The electric grid can't handle any more load and there's too much government regulation preventing us from upgrading it.

Using electricity in this country means burning coal and obviously it's much harder to mine coal and haul it by train across the country than it would be to extract oil from unstable countries, move it around the globe in a boat, refine it, then truck it to filling stations, and then for me to personally go get it every week or three. Oil is just so much simpler.

I have a gas guzzler now. Nobody's going to tell me that I don't already have the best thing on or off* the road.

I need a vehicle I can use for my weekend trips to the mountains / lakes. We only have my truck, my wife's car, my daughter's sports car, my son's car, the RV and the jeep. If I get an electric car I just won't have anything for the weekend trips.

* off road refers to that time I drove through my neighbor's lawn to run over his campaign posters


Comment Re:All on one chip (Score 1) 211

Well, Rasberry Pi could be described as a proof of concept for the whole SoC as a PC substitute idea. At least for the Windows world, the popular software is only offered as precompiled binaries for x86 based platforms. It may be a while before there's a critical mass of ARM based offerings to attract serious commercial attention. Windows 8 may change this but I think it's still too early to tell.

I think upgradability is possibly not the main advantage of desktops though it's certainly a key factor for many people. I'd argue that a sizeable number of PC's, if not the majority, will never get an upgrade that requires opening the case (so, I'm excluding new peripherals). That's why there's a market for things like onboard (ie. on the mobo) audio, NIC, and others including sometimes GPU.

Comment Re:Thanks a bunch (Score 1) 113

Hmm. 5-6 years. I'm guessing that's enough time, given the corporate turnover rate, for anyone who could be held responsible for entrusting such data to Symantec to pack their bags and pass the buck. For anyone who's left, how's it go again? Something like, "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment." I wonder if there's an equivalent today regarding security and trusting your data to third parties. Clearly, having management learn something other than "VPN equals security" and "large corporations are trustworthy" would be asking too much.

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