366 posts • joined Wednesday 3rd December 2008 19:38 GMT
Re: Good news and bad news
"In summary, the accumulated weight of evidence implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular heavy use of marijuana compared with the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco."
Well, it's a good thing you quit the tobacco, at least.
Industry forges on!
Anybody who can pull submerged hard drive manufacturing equipment out of brackish, silty water, make it work, and do so for cheaper than disposal and replacement has got my respect.
We all noticed.
But instead of letting ourselves be fascinated by cleverness in one form or another, morbid of not, I suppose we should be bawling about the fact that war still exists and pretend that humans would be less violent and suffer less if only they used cruder weapons. Let's knock off all this high-tech stuff and take weapons all the way back to 1914. It'll make the world a kinder and gentler place, won't it?
By the way, tai chi contains numerous combat forms, including several for weapons, and a nontrival number of human beings have, in all likelihood, been killed gruesomely with tai chi sword techniques during the centuries over which these have been developed. Just thought you might like to know that while you were ranting about how evil it is to show some appreciation for the cleverness of a fancy gun.
But if he tells them now...
So he shouldn't make an argument at all? If your country can't learn by any means other than injuring itself, then at very least now is a fine time for him to secure his "told you so" rights. The schadenfreude's free!
Besides, there's a tiny chance somebody might even listen.
Lead by example.
I'll leave you to cut your own consumption by 50-75%. Let me know how it works out.
"We" in environmental rhetoric is all too often a euphemism for "you", as opposed to "you and I". This is how your second paragraph reads to the other side of the aisle:
So, yeah, it's totally within your abilities, if only you were willing to make the tiniest changes (see below) to how you do things. You probably will end up using this bioengineered oil, but it's a heck of a lot easier to cover your consumption if you first cut it by 50 or 75%. And surely, you don't think that this stuff will be cheap, do you?
Death's consolation prize
...is, according to recent research, quite possibly an amazing DMT trip shortly beforehand. I won't thank nature for any aspect of death, but I will be thankful that it's a peaceful trip about rising into heaven and meeting angels instead of a deliriant horror trip about giant tarantulas eating our eyeballs.
(And if you thought it would have been more amusing if Jobs' last words had been "OH GOD THE SPIDERS ARE EATING ME", you are a bad person and should feel bad. Although there would undoubtedly be more comments in this thread.)
It's church. The wifi is the vacation!
I'm glad Mint exists. I don't use it myself, but it is morally incumbent upon me to offer it as a suggestion every time I hear some guy musing on inflicting the horror of Ubuntu on his mother. It is pretty much the reliable, resource-friendly, normal-people-accessible Linux that Ubuntu is supposed to be.
Madness is in!
The trouble with all these full-fat environments used to be that they treated you like a dumbass, came with zillions of superfluous programs that shoddily imitated the functions of basic, better-debugged system utilities, and did irresponsable things to memory usage. Now, additionally, they assume you're insane, and that you have a terrible fear of anything that doesn't look like a tablet interface with flame decals and spinning rims.
I work at a help desk in a facility that was blighted with Fedora 15 recently, and we've been having all manner of bizarre problems with (among other things) GNOME 3. Freezing on logout. Users getting logged out unexpectedly. Applications ignoring previously working settings due to unresolved GNOME 3 bugs. X crashing mysteriously. Oh, and users not being able to find where the hell anything is. Every GNOME-bewildered user who has taken my advice ("try logging in under XFCE instead, or maybe Fluxbox, or anything else in that menu that isn't GNOME or KDE") has thanked me as though I'd rescued them from the claws of Satan.
Don't listen to crackpots, guy.
I looked up this "LPPX Focus Fusion" thing and found a website that seems to be more about crackpots selling jewelry than physics. "Jewelry to the rescue! Meditate on aneutronic fusion with this fusion rosary." I coudl not make this shit up if I tried. And there doesn't appear to be any science--at least documented science, and that's the only kind that matters--going on there. Their latest report contains absolutely nothing useful. I cannot find any data or discussion of experimental results or the slightest bit of quantitative rigor. Science is about testing ideas by experiment, not making shit up and taking pictures of apparatus you never explain and trying to hock jewelry instead of posting data. These people are not scientists, and they look to be about as capable of developing a working fusion reactor as Fred Phelps is to develop a close friendship with an openly homosexual man. Stop listening to them.
By the way, power plants are built big precisely because it is easier to make a large-scale plant efficient than many, many small ones that operate, by necessity, under less thermodynamically favorable conditions. But that's actual physics and most crackpots are scared to death of the stuff.
I hasten to add that tokamaks tend to get more efficient when they are larger. This is probably the main reason ITER is much larger than similar devices at Princeton, the Max-Planck institute for Plasma Physics, and several other sites. And as for inertially-confined designs, well...the only one of those that can break even and be small that has yet been invented is called the hydrogen bomb. Unless you are building one of those, fusion is hard to fit in a small space. It just isn't easy to keep a plasma an adequate combination of hot and dense without the plasma destabilizing the magnetic field meant to contain it--thereby cooling and ceasing to fuse--or that field taking more power than the reactor can produce. And doing it with lasers has a whole host of problems that, likewise, do not get any better when you make the device smaller. I honestly don't expect the NIF guys to pull it off, but so what? Even if they don't, they've advanced so many prerequisite technologies, especially in optics and semiconductor laser technology--and that is often part of doing this kind of work, and a big part of why it is so costly: It entails developing new technology and tooling and manufacturing processes just so you can do the experiment--and that's to say nothing of the scientific work.
You are making a common mistake.
The thing about fear is that it's an impulsive shortcut around sense that we evolved back when we weren't smart enough to solve problems with our minds fast enough.
Decisions guided by fear are hasty and emotionally charged. They are, in general, not rational decisions, and you are unlikely to question them. They are quick, impulsive decisions from the part of your brain that tells you to run from scary things that might eat you.
Hence, when you think with fear, you reduce your powers of reasoning to a prehistoric level. This is no good for running a civilization.
A subtle but important difference.
What makes hackers hackers is that they're willing to invest the effort and thought necessary to figure things out that they don't know. It's not that they want to know--it's that they want to learn. There is a big difference.
Oi weh, not this again.
A company I've never heard of with an extremely generic name is suing a rich target over something that would be generic if it didn't mention Windows 95 system files.
I smell a troll. But that's what patents are for nowadays, apparently!
It'd be nice if all patents expired automatically and non-renewably after ten years. If you invented something and can't capitalize on that work when the market for it is yours for ten years, that's your fault. After that, the patent should serve as nothing more than a public record of technology, archived for the benefit of the public. The whole point was to protect inventors by preventing new inventions from being copied by competitors fresh out of the oven after letting the inventors do all the work--not to protect an invention from competition permanently so the inventors (or, more likely, the inventors' employers, who first made their employees sign over the rights to any work they do there) can keep charging royalties for the same invention indefinitely.
You mean the big, bloated "desktop environments" that try to be everything but your kernel have jumped the shark. As long as I can still install StumpWM, the rest can burn for all I care.
I need something that lets me work with windows in X. I don't need gconf. I don't need windows that do cute things when I close them. I don't need "social networking applications". I don't need riced-out redundant analogues of common Unix tools. Draw the damn windows and let me use them. Plenty of window managers will do this without any fuss, fortunately.
For the record,
no nuclear-powered device has ever killed "millions in an instant", or millions at all. Not even the two that were used as weapons.
On the contrary,
the alternative is a source of power that you can afford to pay for, and that source is not solar power.
Here's a little thought experiment for you: Suppose that you've got a biiiiig farm of solar panels, 100% efficient, located in some bizarre place where it's noon all the time and there are no clouds or dust. This farm's so big, it's a square kilometer of nothing but impossibly perfect solar panels! Well, sunlight gives you about a kilowatt per square meter, so this solar farm of yours should get a gigawatt out of a square kilometer.
A nuclear plant can pull this off--and plenty do--and doesn't even need perfect components, perfect weather, or a mythical location to do it. And it's a lot cheaper than the prohibitively expensive disappointment you'd get if you actually made a square-kilometer solar farm. I mean, seriously, look at the prices on solar panels. The power per area per cost is atrocious!
I'm all for finding out how to make solar panels so cheap you can buy them at the building supply store and tack them onto your roof for only like $20 apiece, but even then, they can't very well replace other power sources unless you have a lot of area, even assuming better than the best of conditions. Until they can safely be regarded as a common roofing material, they will be in no position to supply more than a small fraction of the juice on the grid because it just costs too much to buy the damn things for how much power they produce. It'd be nice if I I could get a decent solar panel for a good price before my hair starts turning gray, but I won't count on it. Hell, magnetically-confined nuclear fusion might beat it to the punch by then. I'm rootin' for the ITER!
The cooling system didn't simply fail. The plant operators were performing an experiment to determine how long the steam turbines would continue to spin under their own inertia in the event of an emergency. They throttled down the power too far, and the reactor suffered from xenon poisoning. As a result of their efforts to deal with this, the reactor was in very unstable condition--but, damn the alarms, they were ordered to go ahead with the experiment anyway. Once they started the experiment, flow of water through the reactor decreased, steam voids formed, and, owing to the reactor's design* and its unstable condition, a very strong power surge occurred that resulted directly in the parts of the story you got right.
*Light-water-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors are discouraged in the west for a reason: Namely, "positive void coefficients". Edward Teller warned long ago of this positive feedback loop between power output and steam void formation, but the Soviets were pressed for cash and it was relatively inexpensive to build large reactors this way that doubled as breeder reactors and could be refueled online. Graphite costs less than heavy water. The engineers knew the risks, but it never helps when the guy in charge orders his subordinates to ignore the manual. The Soviet Union did not have exactly a sparkling industrial safety record.
Chemical plants, dams, and all the other things deadlier than nuclear plants.
And don't forget the Banqiao Reservoir Dam. When that one cut loose, it killed the better part of two hundred thousand people.
Livejournal is a much nicer service than it used to be, ever since all the whiney teenagers left for Facebook and got replaced by the likes of Novaya Gazeta and even Dmitri Medvedev.
And with upwards of 800,000 Russian users, including many high-profile political activists, it certainly is an appealing political target.
I think what he's getting at is that he's a twit.
Empirical terms? So, like, whether they annoy you and whether they have any characteristics that strike you as positive? Sure, a lot of that is subjective, but it all depends on things you have to go and find out about, which is the very definition of the empirical. You can't just divine them out of thin air. If rationality isn't everything, do you purport to suggest that being irrational fills the gap usefully? Really, man, which is better at making good decisions, your brain or your pecker?
There's never really a good time to stop tempering your decisions with sense, especially when you're in a situation in which emotions are famously good at convincing you to do something stupid. There's empirical information and there are our imaginations. That's it. There's no other way for stuff to enter your mind. If you are not deciding based on empirical information, then you are deciding based on hormones and happy phantasms of your own invention which may or may not be in agreement with reality.
And you think you know how to make us rich?
Technically, we spend a lot more on entitlement programs than on defense programs (of course, whenever you talk about the financial burden of pouring money into a labyrinthine bureaucracy that promises it's helping poor people, you're automatically a filthy Rush Limbaugh worshipper.) Of these two parts of our budget, guess which one also injects billions of dollars annually into science ranging from medicine to astronomy.
By the way, to name one example, the adaptive optics that some ground scopes are now using to get better than Hubble resolution descended from beam-correcting technology developed for our directed energy weapons program. In fact, it was some of those same weapons scientists who popularized its use for peaceful purposes, even though the original point was to keep a high-power laser beam nice and straight and collimated so we could toast Soviet spacecraft. Straight from the Starfire Optical Range to the Keck observatory.
If you think the way to make the country richer is to fire thousands of our best scientists, then I'm damn glad you don't vote here.
Did Archimedes shoot down missiles and artillery shells?
I mean, like some of those neat things they test at White Sands have managed to do reliably for years.
Not every idea gets turned into a working device, much less every idea permuted through several layers of historians and hearsay in the absence of any other evidence.
Not this again.
I rather doubt they've rendered obsolete the capability to put a few hundred aircraft anywhere in the world on short notice, accompanied by dozens of support vessels, many of which are festooned with weaponry designed specifically to deal with things like sea-skimming supersonic ramjet missiles, or do you think the first person to think of that was some goon on an internet forum? No carrier fights alone unless it's on a suicide mission, and it's been that way since a good few years before transistors were invented. That's why we speak of "carrier battle groups", and why there are other kinds of warship.
Something isomorphic to "aircraft carriers are obsolete because fancy missiles exist that are capable of destroying them" (note: this is true of every object on Earth) is a perennial favorite among internet armchair naval commanders, it seems.
There are different weapons for that role.
Missiles and whatnot.
The lasers here are of greatest utility as anti-incoming weapons. You can't bump off a capital ship with 'em, but they're the best thing for popping flying ordnance and enemy aircraft quickly, in rapid succession, without missing, and without using up any of your own ordnance (see also: THEL). Considering how many rounds it takes, say, a Phalanx gun to shoot down a single shell, a laser like this could probably save a fat wad of cash on ammunition. Put a naval reactor behind that, or even just some good generators, then you can just save all your bullets for the occasional prickly situation in which lasers are inconvenienced by fog or smoke or something.
And, yeah, I admit there are some jobs where you just need a plain old deck-mounted machine gun. They're reliable and they work, and I doubt anybody will come up with any kind of weapon in the next five hundred years as reliable, effective, and logistically straightforward as guns. There'll be better materials, guns with higher rates of fire, guns with lower failure rates, better ammunition, and some amazing new new mechanical engineering, but in the end you'll still have some device containing a barrel, a chamber, something to feed rounds, and something to make them go bang. In exotic cases, maybe the bang will even come from something other than burning powder.
Can we knock off this nonsense already?
Thanks to the state of modern IP laws and their related legal precedents, it is now easier than ever for a company to rob one of its employees of his life's work. Now you can own the patents for everything he invents, own the copyrights for every creative work he produces, and generally screw him over if he ever does anything with those ideas that doesn't involve giving you money, because you can tell him he can either sign this contract or get a job elsewhere (where a similar contract awaits).
Half a century ago, it might have required a bit more effort, or at least have been considered immoral. Now and then, one of the people who gets screwed over wins a protracted court battle at enormous personal expense, and we like to think it means things are getting better.
Do mechanisms for the legal recognition of the ownership of ideas really benefit society, or just the people with the money to stuff those ideas in a safe and sue the crap out of anybody who objects?
Look on the bright side!
Surely it's better than using relatively cheap, reliable energy from those evil nuclear power plants. Wouldn't you rather sit in the dark with a candle during one of the rolling blackouts your future holds in store for you, or perhaps shiver in some blankets because gas is too expensive, than commit a cardinal sin of environmentalism?
I keep seeing comments about Libertarians, but the only people I've ever met who cared about Bitcoins were introverted cryptography nerds who thought it would be cool to have a currency based on math for the sake of having a currency based on math. I will not address why this is a terrible idea, since plenty of other people did it just fine already.
It is easy to misunderstand these guys. Always start with the primary sources.
For example, consider what Amon Amarth's vocalist had to say about the band being labeled as 'Viking metal':
"We play death metal. We write about Vikings so, therefore, some refer us to Viking metal, but I have no idea what that is. I can't imagine the Vikings were into metal at all except on the swords and stuff. And musically, I guess they only played these strange lip instruments and some bongos or whatever."
Now, would you have gotten an explanation like that from any of the newspaper articles complaining about how Scandinavian metal is destroying teenage minds? Always start with the primary sources!
Well, to be pedantic...
The roots of the music are, more than anything, probably in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which was by no means about setting churches on fire. In fact, the name "black metal" itself comes from a Venom song by the same name. Perhaps you recall what country they're from.
It's the nukes.
The thing that convinces the government to fund them has historically been nuclear weapons research. We don't get to test bombs anymore, so wouldn't it be nice if we could simulate every conceivable aspect of them? That's pretty much what they want and, really, it's the only sensible thing to do if you've got a nuclear arsenal and aren't allowed to pop the things off now and then. It's no coincidence that the biggest ones usually end up getting built at places like LANL, although universities are starting to acquire them too.
However, once they're built, there's usually a lot of spare capacity, and that goes into everything from biophysical simulations to designing antennas. A great deal of American scientific work--even totally innocent stuff like cancer research and figuring out ways to clean up toxic things--benefits from the defense budget, and this is one of the ways. Any computer this powerful will have people lining up to use it, and many of them aren't even weapons engineeers.
Probably no small amount.
Not that they'll notice with the USPTO bragging about how much revenue they generate by doling out patents at tens of thousands of dollars apiece. There is, unfortunately, great immediate reward to be had by awarding as many patents as possible. Undeniably, though, the resulting patent warfare is bad for business, but they don't care and cannot be arsed to think that far. That's a different federal bureaucracy's problem, right?
Really, though, the US loses far more tax revenues by having some of the highest business taxes in the world, thereby encouraging American companies to move as many offices and industrial sites to other countries as possible, and generally to hunt for any loopholes that can be found. If they didn't, their shareholders would be furious at what the government intends to be the cost of operating a business in the United States.
Not really a change in policy.
Really, they are just stating the obvious in slightly updated language: Sabotage of infrastructure is an act of war like it always was. Presumably, theft of strategically sensitive information is also an act of war (like it always was).
They weren't kings.
Blame the people who voted for them, and blame the America that lost the will to bring the awesome future we imagined closer to the present.
Like what? Name a single one!
Space exploration has stagnated precisely because it has relied on whether governments can find such an incentive. Everything substantial costs effort and resources to acquire and make, and rockets, being among the most tedious and expensive things in the world to make, are as bound to this as anything.
The cold war is over, and every politically convenient reason that might have helped push scientific progress into deep space has vanished--or do you think the general public actually cares about that when their national pride is no longer being measured against another superpower? A far better source of money--and someone has to pay for it, somehow--is not the inefficient, bureaucracy-clogged, slow, generally space- and science-disinterested funding apparatus of the US (or any) federal government, but people and companies with money who will hand it over to whichever people require the least of it to get a payload into space, whether commercial or scientific.
Musk knows the same thing Wal-Mart does: If you charge less by the right amount, you can make more money by drawing business away from relatively expensive competitors. When your competitors are comprised almost entirely of long-established aerospace contractors that have not had to worry about running efficiently for decades, it doesn't take much of a difference. He's not losing money by doing this, in hopes of making it back later. He's set to make the stuff hand over fist--by charging less. The financial environment of space exploration and aerospace research as we know it is unnatural, and arose only because, for a time, the technology was so expensive that it took nothing less than the budget of a superpower (back when it still had a red, hammer-and-sickle-adorned fire under its ass) to so much as get the field started. That's not true anymore.
You want astronauts exploring asteroids? Find a way for somebody to make a buck in the process, and it'll happen--and it'll be easier than convincing some world government to fund such a program.
Alas, boring as it may be,
This probably did not happen in international waters.
Not that big a deal.
I'm pretty sure most birds don't very much like the parts of the atmosphere where this thing is supposed to go that fast.
How wouldn't it?
It takes some incentive to get a whole bunch of people to work on some other guy's idea, and it should. I mean, really, if your neighbor told you "Hey, come to my house and I'll have you manufacture something that's really hard to make, and might not even work, in exchange for a nothing but a vague ideological pat on the back", you'd probably tell him "no" or some florid analogue thereof.
Glittering vagaries about the betterment of humanity through difficult aerospace projects do not get them built. Work gets them built, and only suckers and prisoners work for nothing. A neat-sounding idea of yet-undetermined feasibility does not automatically deserve a team of engineers and a fat government research budget.
Parse error near "fantastic"
Might be that "will run corporate applications and activeX" part.
Wouldn't it instead nicer if most or all of the "industry standard" corporate tumorware that haunts the desktop Windows ecosystem and compels Microsoft to do terrible deeds in the name of backward-compatiblity had to start from scratch on tablets and the like and take just as long to get as awful as their desktop relatives.
This is a market that is growing explosively with or without "corporate applications and active X", so it's not like failure to support the stuff will do it any serious harm. Hence, there's a fine opportunity here for cruft prevention in a relatively new and unsoiled market. And to hell with anybody who wants Lotus Notes on a Windows 8 tablet.
That would be utterly terrifying. I mean, moreso than the things that are usually in the vicinity of an active galactic nucleus.
Toward the center of the accretion disk, material falling in gets going really fast and heats up to an extremely energetic plasma through friction; gravitational potential energy is more or less becoming heat here. Whenever a collection of charges moves--and a toroidal death cloud whirling around a black hole certainly counts--it sets up magnetic fields. But when a charged particle cuts across magnetic field lines, it gets deflected; when a relativistic charged particle cuts across the magnetic field lines produced by the biggest, scariest kind of dynamo possible, it'll /really/ get deflected, and will probably shoot off along one of the poles.
Nobody's entirely sure of the exact mechanism, but this is mostly because magnetohydrodynamics--that scary place that exists somewhere between fluid mechanics and electrodynamics--is a very thorny subject. However, the fundamental cause--very fast-moving charged particles, drawn in and sped up by gravity, simultaneously generating and interacting with magnetic fields of terrifying stature--seems to be a pretty uncontroversial idea, if the NRAO's lectures are any indication. That is the meaning of "not fully understood" in this case: The math's not all filled in yet and there are probably a lot of weird things still hidden in that horrid mess of electromagnetic fields, but we seem to have the basic idea down.
Yeah, I'll upgrade...
...when Firefox stops getting slower and buggier with every release. Remember back when Firefox was getting popular because it was fast and reliable? I think it was back before version 2 came out.
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