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Comment Re:Constitutional crisis (Score 1) 1430

Roughly half the population approves of Trump(*).
...
(*) You can extend the vote results to cover the entire country because it's a large enough sample.

Ahem. The largest block of voters in the country is the one that did not give approval to either Trump or Clinton. They each received the explicit support of less than 30% of the eligible voters, rather than the nearly 50% which you imply.

Garbage about it being our "civic duty" to support one of the awful candidates offered to us, it should at least be acknowledged that the other 40+% of us exist, even if you approve of the republocrat/demopublican duopoly and don't think we deserve any actual political power.

Even among those who voted for Trump or Clinton, many (most? this election was worse than usual) were holding their noses while they did it, and hardly "approve" of either one. If you do a survey asking people whether they'd prefer to be hanged or drowned, you'll get an answer - that doesn't mean that people "approve" of the winner, though...

Comment Re:rail gun will take over (Score 1) 303

The 100 / shot is for the dumb loads.

Again, that's a bogus number. It doesn't fully account for the substantial wear-and-tear on the very expensive gun and its power supply, which is certainly more than $100 per shot.

In terms of the overheating issues (which is what wears the rail down)

No. It's not "overheating" in the ordinary sense; it's erosion which occurs for each and every shot individually, regardless of how much time the rails are given to cool down in between.

There is a tremendous electrical current passing from one rail, through the projectile, to the other rail. If the projectile fits tightly against the rails, erosion occurs because of the tremendous friction forces generated by two solid surfaces sliding past each other at hypersonic speeds. If it doesn't fit tightly, then the current must jump the gap via electrical arcing which creates a plasma far hotter than the boiling point of any known metal. Either way, the heat builds up to damaging levels basically instantaneously; the thermal conductivity of the parts involved is just too low to prevent that even with active cooling.

The DOD has made real progress in mitigating these issues, otherwise they wouldn't continue the program. (Early hypersonic railguns had to replace the rails after every full power shot.) Nevertheless, the erosion must still be significant; the rails will have to be replaced fairly often: the Navy is aiming for (but has not yet achieved) a rail life of 1000 shots (but not necessarily full-power ones). Given how hard it is to make rails that can withstand multiple shots in the first place, as well as their sheer size and connection to high-voltage electrical equipment, you can bet that replacing them isn't cheap.

That's just the rails, anyway; capacitors, switches, and voltage converters don't last forever under such extreme and intermittent loads, either.

Comment Re:rail gun will take over (Score 1) 303

These only costs less than $100 / shot.

Not a chance. The real cost per shot must not only account for the ammunition expended and fuel burned, but also for the wear-and-tear on the very expensive gun and power supply.

Also, the Navy plans to use guided projectiles in their railguns just like they tried to for the conventional gun on the Zumwalt, at a price of at least $25,000 per round. (That's just a pre-production estimate, and could well prove inaccurate just like the $80,000 estimate did for the LRLAP.)

The proven advantages of railguns are higher projectile speed (which in turn increases range and makes them harder to evade or intercept) and safer ammunition storage (since the dawn of naval explosives, many ships have been lost to a chain reaction in their ammunition stores). Any costs savings are purely theoretical, and (as with any brand-new technology) should not be trusted until at least one system has been successfully mass-produced and deployed operationally.

Comment Re:Want to know why we don't have flying cars yet? (Score 1) 303

There are certainly instances of price gouging for medical goods whose R&D is long since paid for (like the Epipen). But, do you have any specific evidence to offer that such cases are really a major component of MediCare's overall costs? Have you calculated or looked up how much the MediCare program would save if all such corruption were eliminated?

Comment Re:Hit, miss or don't know? (Score 1) 303

This is the military equivalent of claiming that long-distance communication is impossible without a smartphone. Just because big, vulnerable attack/surveillance drones like the Reaper are trendy right now doesn't mean that there are no other options. Otherwise, how did people manage to hit anything before drones were invented?

A few troops on the ground, concealed in elevated locations, can often do the job with the aide of some binoculars and a radio. Or, spy satellites can be trained on the target. Or, small (as in too small to carry bombs or missiles), stealthy drones can be used which are much more difficult to detect or target, and cheaper to replace if they are shot down. Or, an aircraft (maybe even just a balloon) can be flown directly over the attacking ship, high enough to see over the horizon, without actually getting within weapons range of the target. Or, a manned submarine or stealth aircraft can be moved closer to the target, such that it can safely observe, but cannot actually attack without revealing its position.

Of those options, the first (ground observers) is actually still the preferred method in many cases, even when aerial surveillance is available. Being on the ground nearby often gives a better perspective - especially if the purpose of the strike is to aid those same troops.

Comment Re:Different use (Score 1) 303

Drones are good for smaller, precise stuff ... I believe that these are supposed to have more penetrating power

Drones can be built smaller than manned aircraft, but they certainly don't have to be.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone is still kind of small, but it can carry two 500 lb bombs, giving it explosive power equivalent to a 10 round LRLAP salvo. A full-size strike fighter can carry over ten times as much, and a heavy bomber even more. Combined with the fact that the Circular Error Probable for modern laser- or GPS- guided bombs is more like 10m than 50m, it would not be difficult to design a strike drone whose destructive power would put the Zumwalt's gun to shame.

... and generally would be pretty difficult to shoot down versus a drone.

This is true: a drone - or even a glide bomb dropped from many kilometers away - is a much larger, slower moving target than many small, supersonic LRLAP shells. Also, a ship can afford to carry the extra weight of active defences like CIWS batteries.

Comment Re:Want to know why we don't have flying cars yet? (Score 1) 303

Actually, for pharma companies selling drugs for 1000x times or more it takes to produce them.

Are you accounting for the cost of researching dozens of dead-end candidate drugs before finding something that seems to work, running expensive, time-consuming (time is money) and dangerous clinical trials to find out that some of those which work have unacceptable side-effects, and finally going to market with the small percentage that make it all the way through the process to FDA approval?

I'm not saying that pharma companies always price things fairly, but claims of "1000x" on an industry-wide level are a gross exaggeration - cynical anti-capitalist propaganda targeting the ignorant. The industry's profits are nowhere even vaguely close to being that high. If you want to make accusations, keep them factual; it's not like it's hard to cite real evidence of corruption and greed...

Comment Re:Some backroom chatter is necessary for democrac (Score 1) 304

Ok, so... did you read what you linked? You do know that it includes statements saying the guy you're arguing with is right.

Isara's concern, above, was about the legislature being forced to televise meetings that it doesn't want to. kenh incorrectly implied that the proposed law has nothing to do with that.

If the legislature was actually comfortable with recordings of every public meeting being freely available, they wouldn't have imposed a sweeping (and probably unconstitutional) ban on some of their most important uses:

No television signal generated by the Assembly shall be used for any political or commercial purpose, including, but not limited to, any campaign for elective public office or any campaign supporting or opposing a ballot proposition submitted to the electors.

Have you ever been to visit your representative? ... The argument here is typical of the petty politics of my state.

You're rambling in this paragraph. I can't tell what your point really is, or who you're criticizing. The provisions of Prop 54 relating to the recordings of public meetings make up a majority of its non-boilerplate text, and I don't see what's "petty" about wanting their existence acknowledged.

Comment Re:In the Apple Store... (Score 2) 212

...because you have these foreign interfaces which only Apple is adopting.

Again, this is not true. DisplayPort has been pushed by other companies (NVIDIA, AMD, Dell, probably others) for years now; they just don't subscribe to Apple's "all or nothing" approach. My household has multiple DisplayPort systems, none of which include any Apple components. DisplayPort is favored by the computer industry because it's royalty-free and technically superior. Momentum and home theatre equipment are what keep HDMI alive.

Likewise, USB-C is not "foregin"; it's the official next-generation USB connector, which will eventually be used everywhere. It started appearing on high-end Android (not Apple!) phones last year.

USB-C does not replace or supercede or do what HDMI and Ethernet connectors do, however.

Although the MacBook Pro does not implement this feature (and thus should indeed have included an HDMI port), USB-C is actually electrically compatible with HDMI, just like it is with DisplayPort. It is intended to eliminate the need for separate dedicated video ports in the interest of compactness (crucial for phones) and simplicity.

A fast, reliable, wired Ethernet port is always a good thing to have, but is unfortunately incompatible with Apple's endless quest for "thin". I don't personally think that a "Pro" laptop actually ought to prioritize "thin" over functionality - but then, I don't buy Macs anyway...

Comment Re:A good bill is bad if the wrong person proposes (Score 1) 304

if every meeting is public and recorded

Prop 54 does not make every meeting public. It just says that if a meeting is open to the public, then it must also be recorded and posted online, with no bizarre, unconstitutional restrictions on what people can do with the video.

Comment Re:Some backroom chatter is necessary for democrac (Score 1) 304

You might try spending 30 seconds looking up Prop 54 on Google before becoming "pretty sure". It does more than one thing:

Key Changes That Would Happen if Proposition 54 Passes: ... The legislature would have to ensure that all of its public meetings were recorded, with videos posted on the Internet within 24 hours.

Comment Re:Yes please (Score 4, Informative) 304

there are a good number of things I can think of where a 72 hour waiting period might be inappropriate such as disaster relief

The author(s) of Prop 54 agree. From the text of the proposed law (section 3, part c; emphasis mine):

To give us, the people, and our representatives the necessary time to carefully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the final version of a bill before a vote by imposing a 72-hour public notice period between the time that the final version is made available to the Legislature and the public, and the time that a vote is taken, except in cases of a true emergency declared by the Governor.

Comment Re:What is "small"? (Score 1) 112

As I said to the AC above, "multiple orbits" is not the same as "multiple orbital planes". The launch you reference did nothing which could not have been done by pretty much any launch system with a restartable engine on the upper stage.

All of the satellites on that launch for which I was able to find orbital parameters have the same inclination (98 degrees). I'm sure they have approximately the same longitude of the ascending node, as well.

Comment Re:Long term plan (Score 1) 93

LM-5 (25T to LEO) orbits satellite, while SpaceX Falcon 9 ( 10T to LEO) explodes on launch pad.

1) China - like every launch provider - has their own launch failures. When it happens they do their best to fix the problem and move on, just like SpaceX does.

2) The latest Falcon 9 is way more powerful than the original, and has an expendable LEO capacity of 22.8 tons, not 10. It's also got a reusable first stage...

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