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Comment Consenting parties (Score 1) 321

Being prudent with other people's money is nowhere near equivalent to promising 100% reliability.

Who is being imprudent? The company who owns the satellite is or should be fully aware of the risks involved. The company who build the rocket has an obligation to disclose any known or reasonably foreseeable risks. As long as those two things happen and both parties are ok with the risk involved with it then there is no problem. Nobody is being taken advantage of here. One side pays the other a risk adjusted fee for launch services with the full understanding that the launch may fail. If the satellite owner isn't comfortable with the level of risk being taken then they shouldn't sign the contract.

Now if unreasonable promises were made or the rocket maker lied about what they were doing then that is why we have a court system.

Comment Re:No return trips? (Score 1) 321

So 200+ ships at billions of dollars each? Yeah, that's gonna happen.

The US spent more than that dropping bombs on the Middle East, not benefit was achieved by the effort, and almost nobody wanted it.

Imagine if all the people on Earth actually wanted something and we could effectively solve the coordination problem (coming soon to a blockchain near you)

Comment Re:Only when it costs them money. (Score 1) 96

There are a few options but all of them require high-jacking IoT devices.

If I were feeling more energetic I'd pull out some comments from here I left a decade ago talking about a guild of Internet engineers and a trust system where certified operators could send cryptographically-signed messages upstream to shut off attacking ports (or requests to do so - that's a local detail).

Yes, we're decentralized, and that's good, but we also need to cooperate.

When homeowners get their Internet shut off because their IoT is attacking and they have to call a local tech to diagnose the problem and pull out the offending light bulb before it's turned back on, suddenly everybody will demand secure light bulbs (except us 'luddites' who are still using dumb dishwashers because we know that complexity breaks).

Comment Rockets always can fail (Score 2) 321

You don't push technological or economic boundaries with other people's $50M satellites.

Yes you do. There is always a risk of failure when you put something on a rocket. Anyone who promises they can do it with 100% reliability is either lying or delusional. The satellite owners knew that when they signed the launch contract. You make contingency plans in case the rocket blows up and get insurance. If the risk of blowing up is higher more money should change hands but nothing fundamentally changes about the risks. There is no launch system with a perfect success rate and more than a hand full of launches nor is there likely to be one any time soon.

"Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don't have the balls to live in the real world."
        Mary Shafer, NASA Ames Dryden

Comment Explore! (Score 1) 321

While sending 80 peeps to Mars is cool, what are they going to do while they are there?

You have literally an entire planet to explore and you can't figure out what they are going to do when they get there? That's the easiest question to answer imaginable. The only real question is where to start. There are serious problems with actually getting there but what to do if we do get there is a question that answers itself.

Comment Funding the vision (Score 0) 321

Progress advances non-linearly, and fastest when someone with a vision leads.

Vision still needs funding. The biggest obstacle to getting to Mars is probably not a technical one. I suspect we could resolve enough of the technical issues within a relatively sort time span to get some boots on Mars with sufficient motivation at least for a brief visit. The biggest problem is one of funding. No private enterprise is going to fund an exploratory trip like this because there is no reasonable likelihood of return on investment. I just don't see how this thing gets built any time soon even if it is technologically feasible.

The only organization with enough money and no need for a financial return is the government. There is no evidence that there is any appetite in the US government to go to Mars and really the US is the only country currently with the technology to make it happen in the near future. (China, Russia or the EU might eventually but aren't there today) I don't see the US government getting interested unless it becomes a national pride thing kind of like the Cold War. We didn't go to the moon for science. We went to the moon to beat the Soviets. The only way I see it happening is if we get into another space race with the Chinese or the Russians and that seems improbable at the moment.

I love Elon Musk's optimistic approach to big problems. I really do hope he can get it done. I just have my doubts that some of his proposals are realistic in time frame he proposes given the economic realities of the situation. Maybe he has a plan to make it happen but so far I've seen scant evidence of one.

Comment Pushing boundaries (Score 5, Insightful) 321

You're right. A 7.2% failure rate is horrible. (The Delta IV has a 3% failure rate, the Atlas V only 1.5% and the Ariane V a 2.3% rate. Only the Proton is worse, at 13% but that's since 1965.)

Not to come off as an apologist but my opinion when it comes to rockets is that if one isn't blowing some of them up then they probably aren't trying to push any technological or economic boundaries. I would actually be disappointed in them if they weren't experiencing some setbacks because that would mean they weren't trying as hard as they could. Rockets are complicated and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. They push the limits of our engineering capabilities. If you don't step over the line from time to time your pace of learning is going to be slow because you don't know where our limits are anymore. Doing the same safe already proven things everyone else has done will result in slow or no progress.

Comment Too much bass (Score 1) 280

People who listen to it loud just want the pounding bass that you get at a night club or concert.

I get that but I don't really get the appeal unless you are actually in a night club or concert.

It's neat to hear that stuff on headphones

For some people but not everyone. Unfortunately a lot of headphone makers think that means all the rest of us want to listen to absurd amounts of bass in our headphones. Personally I do not. I want the audio to sound how the person who recorded it intended it to be heard for the most part. If I'm listening to a podcast I don't need extra bass if you get what I'm saying. My wife's car has a supposedly fancy branded name stereo system in it and the only notable thing they seem to have done with it is to dial up the bass to 11 as if that somehow makes it better. They of course did not provide a way to turn the bass down in case I don't want to feel like I'm in a techno club.

Comment Data does reduce human labor (Score 1) 75

Aside from a few data-processing tasks which have already been automated (OCR, statistical analysis), there is no dirt simple way to use data to reduce human labor.

Complete nonsense. Computers are how you use data to reduce human labor and tons of tasks have been automated. To take the analogy further oil by itself is useless. You need a machine to do something useful with it. Data is the same way. By itself it is comparatively useless but with a computer you can do a lot to reduce human labor. For example CAD or bookkeeping or inventory are all data processing tasks which substantially reduce human labor with the help of data.

Comment Re:The Climate has always been changing... (Score 1) 163

how much is really mankind's fault? ... The Earth's climate has LAWAYS been changing and will continue to do so no matter what.

It rarely changes this fast without some world-wide event like a meteor or super-volcano, and it's still changing: The ride ain't over.

In the end it doesn't matter.

To who? To humans displaced or bankrupted by weather changes? Yes, it matters. To dead species, Yes, I'm sure they are not happy about extinction.

On the up side, it's a good time to invest in Canadian, Alaskan, Greenland, and Siberian real-estate.

Comment Mozilla is wasting money, brains, and time (Score 5, Interesting) 83

Mozilla announced last year that Firefox OS initiative of shipping phones with commercial partners did not bring the returns it sought.

And did anyone expect otherwise? Mozilla is an organization which has lost its purpose. It keeps chasing fads, copying the work of others, wasting money on projects that no one needed or wanted, and can't seem to figure out what to do next. Mozilla's original goal was to ensure there was an open web. Internet Explorer and Microsoft were in danger of turning the web into a monopoly. Firefox provided the fireblock to prevent this from happening. Problem is that once they accomplished that goal, they didn't know what to do next.

I like Firefox and use it as my primary browser. It's a decent albeit imperfect bit of software. But if Mozilla really wants to make a difference they need to focus on solving actual problems instead of trying to do a second rate version of whatever Google is working on this week. They need to focus on a specific problem and do it really well. They did that for a while with browser software. Time to genuinely focus on something new.

Comment Re:Miles... (Score 1) 90

can't we at least agree to outlaw imperial measurements for anything to do with space?

Screw your commie system, God save the Queen!

10 is a dumb base anyhow, not divisible by 3 or 4. The first tetrapods who crawled onto land had mathematically defective digits. They should have been BBQ'd and placed between bread instead.

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