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Comment Re:Morons are running the USA (Score 1) 649

Let's just assume all of your low-hanging fruit is real, and wholly unnecessary.

Those ten programs together are only $18.8M, or about 5 millionths of the federal budget.

You have scooped one bucket of water out of an Olympic swimming pool.

Meanwhile, the US spends more on its military than the rest of the top 10 combined, with five out of that next group of nine being our good friends United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, and South Korea. Yet, the proposed budget will increase military spending.

Comment Regulatory Capture? (Score 1) 38

The two Virginia lawmakers who sponsored the bill, Ron Villanueva and Bill DeSteph, teamed up with Starship Technologies, an Estonian-based ground delivery robotics company, to draft the legislation. Robots operating under the new law won't be able to exceed 10 miles per hour or weigh over 50 pounds,

I can't help wondering if Starship Technologies' robots coincidentally have a top speed of 10 miles per hour, and their competitors have more capable robots that weigh substantially more than 50 pounds.

Comment Re:baseball pitcher.. (Score 1) 61

Don't worry: it's still an painfully useless analogy if you are familiar with baseball. You really aren't missing anything.

Major League Baseball (MLB) rule 2.04 specifies that " the distance between the pitcher’s plate and home base (the rear point of home plate) shall be 60 feet, 6 inches" (18.44 meters).

MLB rule 3.01 specifies that the ball be "not less than nine nor more than 9 1/4 inches in circumference". That is 72.64–74.68 mm in diameter, let's split it down the middle and use 73.66 mm.

The MLB definition of a strike includes "a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which: [...] is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone".

A United States quarter is 24.26 mm in diameter.

Thus, the difficulty of aligning the transceivers is similar to the difficulty of throwing a ball of 73.66 mm diameter through a hole of 97.88 mm diameter from a distance of 18.44 meters.

There, now anyone in the world should have a good idea of how difficult it is. ;-)

Comment Re:Time to take nuclear seriously.... (Score 1) 234

My view? Nuclear is a good stopgap to reduce the amount of air pollution released while we get our energy sector heading in a direction more viable in the long term.

I used to share this view. Now I see nuclear as just too expensive. A nuclear plant in my state shut down a few years ago because it wasn't cost-competitive with burning fracked natural gas. As the R&D is done to make nuclear safer and cheaper, it has to chase continuing cost reductions for solar and wind. Improvements to the grid (which are a good idea anyway), and storage are probably a better use of resources. Distributed production and storage of electricity could make for a more resilient energy infrastructure.

Waste reprocessing needs improvement.

Reprocessing is not done mostly because making new fuel from raw uranium is cheaper. With solar becoming cheaper than coal, reprocessing may never become economically viable. We should look into whether building some fast reactors to "burn" existing spent fuel stockpiles is the best way to deal with them. (Expensive electricity, but there is value in reducing the radioactivity of the waste.)

The leaky barrels buried under the western US are kind of a bummer...

Bummer indeed, but those barrels mostly originate from weapons production, not power production.

Comment Re:Pascal, by chance? (Score 1) 241

a new Advance Placement course "will be offered in more than 2,000 U.S. classrooms this fall...the largest course launch in the history of the AP exam."

Are they still teaching Pascal for AP Comp Sci, by chance?

AP Comp Sci replaced Pascal with C++ in 1998 and C++ with Java in 2004.

...and don't tell me to get off your lawn, kiddo--I graduated high school before AP Computer Science was even a thing.

Comment Re:Theory vs. Practice (Score 1) 391

I will add that with the today screen width, 8 spaces tab is really not an issue.

It's not just a matter of screen real estate. At least one study (see the book "Code Complete") found that test subjects scored lower on code comprehension when indent widths were smaller than 2 or greater than 4 spaces.

Comment Re:Mostly... (Score 1) 178

The records have to be absolutely 100% completely free of dust or any other particles, otherwise the laser will read them as if they were the actual groove, leading to a lot of unwanted noise. A normal pickup pushes aside most of the dust.

It's a neat idea, but it's much worse than a decent pickup on a normal turntable.

Five lasers, but no vacuum to suck dust particles off the surface just before it passes under them?

Comment Re:I'd rent em space (Score 1) 87

I'd rent them space for a drone recharging station/rest stop especially if it got me preferred delivery or a discount on delivery.

This was one of my first thoughts when I heard they were exploring drone-based delivery. A drone perch would make delivered packages less visible and less accessible to anyone who might wish to intercept them, compared to just dropping them on the porch.

Comment Re:Passerine drones could be solar (Score 1) 87

Instead of tying perching drones to fixed recharging stations, why couldn't idle drones just roost on a roof or other sunny spot, spread solar wings, and recharge while waiting for the next assignment? During bad weather, they could hide under eaves or other protected places.

Solar panels would reduce the usable payload.

Expensive drones need to be earning a return on the investment by delivering packages, not sitting around waiting to recharge.

Cheap mains electricity is available 24/7 in the vast majority of areas where package delivery drones would operate.

Comment Re:Prevent? No. Stop? Yes. (Score 1) 1144

You guys aren't thinking straight. Almost everyone is posting a knee jerk "no" answer to this question. But we could have a system that hears and locks on to gunfire and respond in many ways to stop the shooting from becoming a mass shooting. It could shoot back, chuck a flash bang at the shooter, or blind the shooter with lasers.

Literally blinding means some innocent person will be blinded when (not if!) the system registers a false positive.

Dazzlingly bright spotlights might render the shooter unable to aim effectively.

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