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Comment Re:Rockets are too expensive (Score 5, Interesting) 259

And a space elevator, of course, would only cost about a Trillion, and there's this little problem of it hitting something (we'd have to make Earth Orbit absolutely pristine and keep it that way) and there's a problem with the kinetic energy if it falls down. Sort of like having many atom bombs go off.

Maybe someday. But right now making rockets as cheap as they can be is a better idea. It's only $200K to fuel up a Falcon 9. We don't get the whole thing back in working order yet, but that would be a lot easier than making a space elevator.

Comment No Dragon 2 Soft Landing Yet (Score 5, Informative) 259

Dragon 2 isn't built yet. The escape test was a boilerplate capsule more like a Dragon 1 than 2. Dragon 2 has not demonstrated a soft landing, because it's not built yet. That was the Falcon 9 first stage.

Also, you can't get Dragon 2 down to the Moon and back up on it's own. Not enough delta-V. You would need to have Dragon ride on top of something that can hold enough fuel. Like a larger version of the Apollo Service Module.

The Command/Service module was originally intended to land on the moon and return without the LEM, before NASA bought the LEM concept, and was overpowered for the mission it got. Dragon is larger and heavier, but a lunar landing one would probably look a lot like an Apollo Command and Service module, and legs.

And yeah, Orion: I'm Not on Board. Big expensive obsolete rocket with no mission that makes sense.

But good luck getting Elon Musk to focus on the practical and eminently desirable target of the Moon. He isn't interested. It's only Mars for Elon.

I try not to watch all of the Mars Colonial Transport speculation. Falcon 9 and Dragon are great, and they're here, and we could do so much with them.

Comment Re:Less than public transit? (Score 1) 274

That way the founders and investors could get out with their cash and Wall St. (read - your 401(k)) would be left holding the bag.

Only if the managers of your 401(k) were idiots.

After all, the Fed is pumping so much printed money into the system something has to soak up all that extra cash.

The Fed doesn't just "print money", either figurative or literally (the Treasury does the literal printing). It has several methods for adding money to the economy, all of which are quite reversible.

Comment Re: In other news (Score 1) 145

I've worked professionally with most source control systems for decades. I'm afraid to say that the only remaining features which Subversion does better than git are the ability to check out only one directory of an upstream repository, rather than needing to check out the entire repository, and the inability to delete content from the upstream repository.

The ability to delete content is from experience a vital component, because developers can and will accidentally pollute the central repository with undesired content. This content ranges from bulky binary files, core dumps, and security sensitive content which they should not have submitted.

And Subversion's centralized control comes at a real price. It makes forking and doing an independent set of work, with local commits, effectively impossible.

Comment Re:Duh? (Score 2) 214

I'm a DEV, too. My *account* is a limited account. But (depending on the project), I can launch Visual Studio with Admin rights. Some projects are just fine without them, so I don't use them. Other projects require admin rights, so I launch either through Shift-Right-click on the icon and select "Run as Admin" or I create a second shortcut and set the Admin flag. I get the UAC prompt when I launch it, but that's usually only once per dev session, so it isn't *that* annoying. But only Visual Studio is running as admin, the rest of my system (i.e. my browser) is still "protected" by using a limited account.

Comment Re:Duh? (Score 1) 214

I don't see how it's a pain. It's much less of a pain than cleaning an infected system. I haven't had an Admin account as my normal account since the XP days. If I'm prompted to enter an admin password and it wasn't something I was intentionally doing, I know something's up --- immediate shutdown (full, not just a restart) and scan my system on boot up.

Comment Re:"Police found Purinton 80 miles away at Applebe (Score 1) 1039

1) The Founding Fathers, almost all of whom were British subjects, saw firsthand what happens when only the government has firearms. They can use those weapons to quell public outcry over anything, claiming the people were "rioting" or were "a threat to peace and order" because the people can't effectively fight back. If you read The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison and Jay all say the same basic thing: citizens who have weapons are more fully able to defend themselves from the government.

That may sound odd to Europeans

It also sounds odd to the current U.S. Supreme Court, which affirmed in D.C. vs Heller the right to bear arms for self-defense. A later court finding (People v. Aguilar) summarized the majority opinion:

In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court undertook its first-ever "in-depth examination" of the second amendment's meaning Id. at 635. After a lengthy historical discussion, the Court ultimately concluded that the second amendment "guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation" (id. at 592); that "central to" this right is "the inherent right of self-defense" (id. at 628); that "the home" is "where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute" (id. at 628); and that, "above all other interests," the second amendment elevates "the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home" (id. at 635). Based on this understanding, the Court held that a District of Columbia law banning handgun possession in the home violated the second amendment. Id. at 635.

So at this point they've basically decided it's a self-defense thing. The idea that the Second Amendment is to facilitate armed insurrection to overthrow a tyrannical government (a.k.a. the so-called "Second Amendment solution") has no current legal basis. The dissenting opinion went with the "well-regulated militia" idea:

The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature's authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.

Here are the first six drafts of the Second Amendment and the final version:

  • The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
  • A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

If they had C-SPAN back then, we would have more insight into what motivated these careful rephrasings, comma deletions, etc. At least some are known to have been introduced by Senate scribes inadvertently modifying punctuation, and introducing subtle changes in meaning. (Thank God somebody removed that "religiously scrupulous" crap.) But the Second Amendment is just badly written. we're forced to read through the Federalist Papers and other contemporary writings to figure out what these guys were thinking when they wrote it.

Two things you need to keep in mind when you read all this stuff. First of all, these were being defined as restrictions on the federal government, and only the federal government. The courts affirmed this model during the first half of the 19th century. Northern and Southern states had very different appetites for democracy in general, for obvious reasons, so the Constitution followed an "If you like your authoritarianism, you can keep it" model. The federal government was not allowed to restrict speech in any way, but if your state wanted to violate those same individual liberties, go right ahead. In most Southern states, speaking ill of slavery was a hanging offense.

Second, we have to seriously reexamine this attitude we have toward the Constitution. The older it gets, the more revered it becomes, and at this point, most Americans think of it as an appendix to the Bible. People are seriously arguing that the Bill of Rights are ordained by God. Back when it was written, things were more casual. Everyone agreed their founding document sucked, then simply crumpled it up and wrote another one. No one was in a mood to do this a third time, so the Constitution has a nice section describing how to modify it. (And nowhere does it say "and if things don't work out, start shootin'.") There seems no reason to think that they intended the document to be unalterable by future generations centuries afterward- that would be absurd. But modifying the Constitution at this point is politically impossible and will remain so. We have worshipped the document so much that we no longer control it- which is exactly what its authors tried to prevent.

Comment Re:There might be light but it is not the big pict (Score 1) 156

> . One has more trouble eating a pound of butter than a pound of sugar

While you have a point, your question might be somewhat misleading. A pound of sugar has roughly 1300 calories. a pound of fat roughly 1800. And you might be surprised by the amount of fat in many popular foods.

Comment Re:There might be light but it is not the big pict (Score 1) 156

There are many single, and poor, parents who are quite stressed for time. A 7-11 sandwich, a bottle of soda, and a bag of chips is just the sort of meal that many parents can afford the _time_ for when they're on the run to work, day care, and ordinary medical or educational meetings for their family.

Comment Re:"Research Projects" (Score 1) 74

The problem is that all these attempts to interest kids in STEM are so earnest and dull.

What we should be doing is tempting them with mad science. You see? It's not all death rays and monkey testicle implants.

It's important to hook them by middle school, when the all important sense of being misunderstood is its keenest.

Comment Re:Call me crazy... (Score 1) 89

Well, they're both solutions. But they run afoul of questions. Which users benefit most from each solution? And if someone benefits most from the massive battery with conservative display and processor specs, can you sell it to him?

I'll tell you right here that I'd much prefer LG's approach, but I'm an engineer. I think about my requirements differently than most people.

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