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Submission + - How to View the SpaceX Falcon 9 Return to Flight at Vandenberg Air Force Base (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: Silicon Valley folks should, sometime, take the opportunity to view a launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Lompoc is 4-5 hours from the Bay, 2.5 hours from LA if there's ever no traffic. An upcoming SpaceX launch is notable because it's their return to flight, months after their last attempt blew up on the pad during a pre-launch test. Read how to view the launch.

Comment Re:Then fix the problem (Score 1) 311

Economy of scale you goose - the "blind" bit seems spot on but the "seer" no so much. Learn about the topic before attempting to lecture the reader - if you want nukes you want them BIG so that you have shitloads of steam in one location and can get every lats little bit of energy out. The reactors themselves don't need to be big (eg. pebble bed) so long as you have a few of them within reach of your turbines.

I stated nothing to imply the size of the reactors. But since you bring it up the era of the large (gigawatt scale) nuclear reactor is likely to come to an end soon. Big reactors allow the costs of development, licensing, and so forth to be recovered more quickly. If we see a sensible change in the licensing process we can build medium sized (200 - 500 MW scale) or small (50 - 200 MW scale) reactors built on an assembly line. We already build things of this size, cost, complexity, and need for safety in things like passenger aircraft. Each aircraft is much like the other, allowing for a spreading of the cost of the development, but each is licensed separately although in a much more streamlined manner since the people licensing it know what they are dealing with from the start.

We can do the same with nuclear power plants. Make them in small enough sections to move by train or barge and stack the pieces on site like Lego blocks. The foundation and other large concrete structures would obviously be poured on site. I saw a very interesting presentation on YouTube where a nuclear engineer proposed placing something like five 200MW small modular reactors on a site with four 250MW turbines. This would make a nice gigawatt scale power plant with room to grown incrementally with additional turbines and reactors. I may not have the power ratings exact but the goal was to optimize the output with as low of cost as possible. It just happens that those sizes of reactors and turbines gave the best results.

That open hostility you imagine was not there that day was it?

The people working on the reactor were largely union members, during a mid-term election year. His presence there was likely very reluctant but necessary to avoid open hostility in closing an already started nuclear reactor, leaving these people without jobs.

And none denied either. The energy environment since 2010 has meant nobody has tried to put anything up for approval.

Seems rather pointless to submit an application when you know it will be denied, no? The people in the nuclear power industry know who their friends are. Many license applications were cancelled during the Obama administration even though they met initial approval under Bush. The price of natural gas certainly played a part, the downturn in the economy played a part.

The Democrats do not like nuclear power, but they do like unions. They'll do what ever they can to stop a nuclear power plant from being built but once started, and union workers hired, they will support it until the point when those union workers go away and they operators want to actually power it up. We saw this with Yucca Mountain. The Democrats loved the idea of digging a big hole in a mountain but when it came time to use the hole for what it was intended to be used for, storing spent nuclear reactor fuel, the Democrats stood in the way of it being licensed as a nuclear material storage site.

If the Democrats love nuclear power so much then why not allow the use of Yucca Mountain for storing nuclear material? If they didn't want the nuclear material there then why approve its construction?

We'll get nuclear power when the Pelosi and Reid Democrats die off or are otherwise removed from power.

On a side note, am I the only one to notice that US Senators tend to only leave office feet first?

Comment Re:fast, efficient code? (Score 1) 33

I've been a perl programmer for decades, and the number of hours I've spent debugging issues with automatic type conversion are in the single digits, and the number of problems I've encountered with string-to-numeric conversion is literally zero

How nice for you. You must not be writing very interesting or complex software.

On more complex software you tend to use an object system that does additional type-checking for you (usually "Moose", "MooX" or possibly "Mouse"... like I said about lack of standardization...).

But I'm completely serious about this point: the perl culture has never been fanatic about the way it does things, and there are any number of issues where it was decided that things were too loose and needed to be tightened up: string-to-number conversions are emphatically *not one of them*. They don't even throw a warning, not even running with "use warnings" on (you heard of strict and warnings, right? In your 20 years of experience?).

There's something profoundly weird about the strong-typing-or-death fanatics... they've got a bad case of obsessive compulsive disorder and using a string as a number drives them up the wall, even though it *never* causes any problems. Verily, not even you in your 20 years of experience can cite a case where it caused any problems for you.

Comment Re:Not skeptical enough (Score 1) 311

Call me when the military volunteers their budgets be cut to help offset climate change because it's more effective.

I believe the US Navy gave this call a long time ago.

The US Navy wanted some nuclear powered ships but Congress crapped on them with more oil fired power plants. Now the Navy has to support these ships with oilers to bring them fuel. The US Navy has been experimenting with a hydrocarbon synthesis project that can turn seawater into jet fuel. If this technology could be brought into wide use the US Navy could fuel the aircraft on board their nuclear powered ships with fuel produced on the ship.

The US Navy would likely still have a class of ships called an "oiler" but those ships would instead of carry fuel oil from port to port they'd be producing it on board while en route. Since purification of the seawater is part of the process to produce the hydrocarbon fuel it would be conceivable for these ships to have large stores of fresh water as well, for the purposes of providing drinking water to other ships and to ports in times of emergency.

Of course the US Navy has a primary concern of keeping their ships supplied so that the crews are happy and healthy but if this also allows for reduction in CO2 added to the atmosphere then I'd hope that support for technology like this fuel synthesis would be widespread.

Comment Re:fast, efficient code? (Score 2) 33

My understanding is that it used to be the fastest dynamic language around, but some others have caught up to it-- it's not something I care about really, I just know it's fast enough I don't need to think about the issue.

I more interested in the fact that it's unicode support is better than almost every other language.

Comment Re:fast, efficient code? (Score 3, Informative) 33

Perl has a much weaker type system, allowing expressions like (3 + "3"). That affects both efficiency and correctness of programs.

I've been a perl programmer for decades, and the number of hours I've spent debugging issues with automatic type conversion are in the single digits, and the number of problems I've encountered with string-to-numeric conversion is literally zero, and if you were burned by something like that in production, I'd ask you why you weren't writing tests.

There are indeed some odd issues you need to deal with when working with perl5, but they almost all revolve around a lack of standardization. There's something profoundly weird about perl critics, they continuously just *make shit up* to fit their narrative...

Comment Re: Less politics (Score 1) 109

Eich resigned because of external pressure on the Mozilla organization. I hear that one of the lobbying activities against him was when the dating site "OK Cupid" started informing Firefox users who accessed the site of Eich's activities and that they should download a browser made by people who don't nominate someone with gender discrimination issues to be their CEO. At the time, 8% of OK Cupid customers were there to arrange same-gender meetings.

They felt he was the public face of the company.

Russ Nelson published a piece on what he theorized was the economic motivation of Blacks to be lazy, and was booted off of the Open Source Initiative board. He wasn't thinking about how it would be perceived. A modified version of the piece is still online, but not the version that got him in trouble. In general, executives are seen as the public faces of their organizations even in the case of Nelson, who was not the chairman of the board, but was simply a member of the executive board. In Nelson's case, it wasn't that he made publicity appearances and press releases, it was that he was one of the people with the power to direct the company (and thus a more real face of the company than soneone who just does PR), and folks did not trust that someone who wrote what he did would behave as they would like in that position.

Comment Re:What's the big deal? (Score 2, Insightful) 221

Playboy departed the nude photo market due to the vast and unending supply of photos and video of all manner of naked people doing sexual things which one can access via the Internet.

However, one can make a case that a good deal of the past content of Playboy was about objectifying women and to some extent the publication still is about that.

It was a dumb decision. Several people just weren't thinking. They're embarrassed now. They learned, and won't do it again.

Comment Re: Better up the Military Budget (Score 1) 311

If the hydrocarbons are produced from the CO2 in the air then their is no net increase in the CO2 in the environment. This is what the Navy wants to do, use nuclear power to draw CO2 from the seawater (which dissolves in the water from the air) and create hydrogen from electrolysis, put them together and out comes hydrocarbons and oxygen.

Taxing fossil fuels will do nothing. There is already ample incentive to move from fossil fuels. What we need is someone interested in actually solving the problem. The Navy has shown us a solution, one that does not require economy killing taxes or ripping up our hydrocarbon based infrastructure.

Effectively we've already solved the problem, we just need people that want to see the solution implemented.

Comment Re: Less politics (Score 1) 109

It was only 1967 when the United States Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia, a miscegenation case. Preventing blacks and whites from marrying, as the State of Virginia (and many others) did with laws on its books until it was forced to remove them in 1967, is an issue of racism, nothing else. One doesn't have to be thin skinned to be disgusted by racism.

Why should I feel any different about gender discrminiation? Texas had a law on the book making homosexual relations illegal in 1998, and two men were arrested for it and similarly to Loving, helped to strike it down in the courts. Marriage discrimination is yet another legal wall erected by the prejudiced. Doesn't take a thin skin at all to oppose it and its supporters.

Comment Re: Less politics (Score 1) 109

Because you are an end-user and not an investor in these companies, you might actually think the public face of the companies is a logo or a trademark rather than a human being. Perhaps you think the public face of McDonalds is Ronald McDonald! Or that Sprint's used to be that actor who portrayed a technician. But this naiveté is not shared by the people who are the target audience for the public face that the CEO's appearances and quotations produce. AMD has people to handle the guy who once plugged one of their CPUs into a motherboard. The public face nurtured by the CEO is reserved for investors and business relationships, government, and corporate citizenship. These are all areas in which a decision made outside of the company can have great impact on the company. And so, if you go on the company site, you will see the CEO quoted in the press releases related to those items. At trade shows, you will see these CEOs as keynotes. I am heading for CES in January, where many CEOs you've never heard of who run large tech companies will be speaking, and there will be full halls of their eager target audiences.

Don't you think it might be self-centered to assume someone's not the public face of the company because you don't know who they are?

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