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Google To Spend $1 Billion On Fleet of Satellites

Brian Stretch What if it's a high-altitude airship? (170 comments)

Park a drone airship (hydrogen, not helium) ~22km up with solar panels on its topside for power and you'd have a really nice comms platform. Mesh network the fleet. Maybe higher up. Maybe you'd call it a satellite but it's not what you'd think of at first glance. The rigid hull of an airship would be a nice evolution from the balloons they've been experimenting with.

about 4 months ago

Civilian Use of Drone Aircraft May Soon Fly In the US

Brian Stretch DIY Drones (196 comments)

Civilians are already building their own drones. See DIY Drones, etc.

Personally I'd like to see a drone airship that can hold a stable position around 70,000 feet (~21km) to use as a WiFi relay, which would fix the problem of getting a clear line-of-sight for point-to-point long-range wireless but good. I doubt it can be done reliably though. But if it could, and you built a fleet of them linked with Open Mesh, you could build a global drone communications network for fairly cheap. Call it Skynet... oh.

more than 2 years ago

Marx May Have Had a Point

Brian Stretch Wages stagnant for ~40 years.. what happened then? (1271 comments)

I'd go back a few years further to LBJ removing silver from American coinage, a key event in the ongoing destruction of the dollar. The 1965 minimum wage paid in 1965 90% silver dollar coins would be worth around $30/hour in today's fiat money. FDR confiscating gold and devaluing the dollar was bad but not catastrophic. Woodrow Wilson's creation of the Federal Reserve enabled the later mischief. The rot had set in when Nixon officially took us off the gold standard and engaged in assorted other economic stupidity. Of all these events, LBJ's economic manipulation to cover the expense of his welfare/warfare state was the worst in my opinion.

Throw in the dividend double-tax that discourages dividend payments that help keep public companies honest (accountants can fake many things but not cash payments), the massive leverage generated by Wall Street banks (derivatives, options, CDOs, etc) that enables all sorts of heads-we-win/tails-you-lose mischief, the federal government encouraging real estate asset bubbles (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, mortgage interest deduction, CRA, etc), and you come to realize that this hasn't been a capitalist nation in a very long time.

Austrian school economists have been warning the world of the dangers of the Keynesian economics practiced by "mainstream" economists for generations now. It looks like we're heading for the "crack-up boom" they predicted, with the Obama Administration accelerating the end-game dramatically. What's fascinating is that Marx understood the danger of undermining currencies as well.

Anyhow, if you want to steal wealth from the average family there's no surer way than printing lots of new currency, which dilutes the value of existing currency, and handing that new currency to your buddies on Wall Street (Goldman Sachs/etc) and politically connected corporate socialists. Talk of manipulating the income tax is laughable misdirection in comparison to this.

about 3 years ago

Court Rules Against Vaccine-Autism Claims Again

Brian Stretch Vaccines paired with acetaminophen may be to blame (416 comments)

See this article:
Acetaminophen (paracetamol) use, measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, and autistic disorder: the results of a parent survey

The theory is that after they started giving children Tylenol with their vaccinations instead of aspirin due to the Reye's Syndrome scare in the 1980's, that caused the autism rate to spike. Tylenol impairs the liver's ability to purge the additives in vaccines (not just the minuscule amount of mercury but some aluminum-based ones designed to boost immune response so that they can use less vaccine), increasing the risk of side effects. The child will probably run a mild fever if you don't use a med such as aspirin or Tylenol. I'm not clear on whether the fever reducer is simply for the child's comfort or if it's medically necessary.

It's a THEORY. It looks promising. But if we simply shout down people who make logical observations and use "correlation is not causation" as an excuse for not thinking we won't get anywhere. An observation can still be correct even if the reasoning is wrong. Meanwhile, using ibuprofen or naproxen with vaccines, if any fever reducer at all (aspirin allergy is nontrivial), and spreading out vaccinations over time to the maximum recommended extent seems prudent. It does appear likely that immune system dysfunction is key to understanding autism. That's likely why changing diet sometimes helps: most of your immune system is in your gut. Antibiotic overuse could be a factor. Which particular set of problems is affecting a given autistic individual will vary but the immune system appears to be the common theme.

more than 4 years ago

Here Come the Linux iPad Clones

Brian Stretch Re:Pixel Qi screen -- better than Kindle (584 comments)

Nice! That's going to the top of my toy list. Kindles, even my Kindle DX, make very poor web browsers. Only for last-resort use IMHO. The Adam looks ideal for general web reading.

Some people can stare at regular LCD screens all day without trouble. Maybe even most people. I'm not one of them.

more than 4 years ago

Here Come the Linux iPad Clones

Brian Stretch Only if screens are as eye-friendly as Kindle's (584 comments)

I can read off my Kindle's e-ink screen with considerably less eye strain than reading off a backlit LCD. Backlights are hard on your eyes.

Some tips: sit ~3 feet away from your monitor, turn the backlight down as low as you can without it becoming counterproductive (wanting to lean forward to view the dim screen is bad), look away every once in a while so your eyes aren't fixed on the same close distance for long periods. For more serious problems you may need vision therapy like I did. I thought I had ADD until I figured that out. Oh, that's why I had so much trouble with reading and why my vision got blurry after marathon gaming sessions...

more than 4 years ago

Health Insurance When Leaving the Corporate World?

Brian Stretch Same here, but I skipped the HSA part (1197 comments)

I bought an individual catastrophic health insurance plan from Assurant Health via my local State Farm agent. $5K deductible, the maximum they offer. I didn't bother with the HSA part. I pay under $1500/year. The really good part is that any work done in a hospital is covered in full, which I've made use of a few times so far. Everything else, I pay cash and see whoever I want. For oddball stuff like vision therapy (if you think you have ADD, look up Convergence Insufficiency and get tested) it's great to not have to explain to some bureaucrat what it is and get them to pretend to pay for my health care.

It's scary how conditioned people have become to having a third party (pretend to) pay for their health care. Most of the time when I try to convince people that they'd be better off under a catastrophic/HSA plan they just can't grok it.

The refundable tax credit plan that McCain proposed would have paired perfectly with catastrophic/HSA plans. Unfortunately our President spent $40M on attack ads against that proposal, telling people that it'd tax their health insurance... which was true, if you had a really expensive "Cadillac" plan that cost more than the tax credit was worth, "Cadillac" plans which Obama is now proposing to tax...

Whole Foods Market provides this type of insurance to their workers:
The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

Unfortunately the socialists reacted badly to his audacity to state facts that run counter to the Democratic Party line so he got into a bit of trouble.

more than 4 years ago

Silicon Valley VCs and the Gender Gap

Brian Stretch Which would be better: high-IQ women working or (375 comments)

raising half a dozen children and later helping out with the grandchildren? On average, raising those children will have a bigger impact on society than spending her reproductive years on a career.

If you wanted to cripple Western Civilization you could convince most of the smart women that they had to have careers, weigh down the middle class with taxes to curtail family size there, and give welfare to everyone else. Many people will beat the odds and more than a few trust fund brats will disappoint, but overall wouldn't this explain a lot? This bias against reproduction has created a very nasty negative feedback loop I think.

Unless you buy into the notion that humans are arbitrarily exempt from the rules of evolution of course.

I'm just saying that interfering less with personal decisions might lead to better outcomes. Enough with the reeducation programs.

more than 4 years ago

Court Orders Shutdown of H-1B Critics' Websites

Brian Stretch H1B program is indentured servitude. Instead, (605 comments)

skilled foreign workers should be fast tracked for citizenship. Any nation that makes migrating to the other side of the world look good DESERVES to lose their best and brightest.

The biggest problem is that H1B visa holders are made dependent on the company that hired them. If that company turns out to be yet more proof that Dilbert is non-fiction, they're stuck. They're forced to put up with the abuse or go home. Removing that dependency would eliminate much of the abuse.

Or maybe the biggest problem is that so many Big Businesses appear to be run by shortsighted sociopaths with MBAs. Or that Congress is corrupt as hell and is easily bought by said sociopaths. Or... anyhow, Indians aren't the problem.

more than 4 years ago

US FTC Sues Intel For Anti-Competitive Practices

Brian Stretch Re:Well, duh. (230 comments)

Intel's compiler treated any CPU that didn't report being GenuineIntel as an i386 instead of checking for the SSE, SSE2, etc flags like an honest company would have. If you hacked the compiled code to skip the GenuineIntel flag test it magically performed MUCH faster on AMD hardware.

Given that end users have no control over which compiler a software developer uses, AMD users suffered artificially poor performance if their vendors either chose or were coerced into using Intel's compilers.

This is a very old issue. Here is one glaring specific example from four years ago:

Benchmark companies in particular just happened to favor Intel compilers. Some of those benchmark makers were really, really shady:

more than 4 years ago

Angry AT&T Customers May Disrupt Service

Brian Stretch Re:Not the best idea (572 comments)

How could anyone really think this is a good idea? AT&T has effectively admitted that the data usage growth for smartphones is above the rate that their data network will be able to grow. Using more data intensive applications will only show them how correct they are ("Look how much data will be used in the future when more people are streaming data")

In addition, what if this actually interferes with an emergency call?

Sorry that this might not be anti-corporate enough, but Operation Chokehold really isn't a great idea.

What are you, a Communist? That's the same excuse we used to hear every time Reagan wanted to put pressure on the Soviets. Bring on the YouTube vids of Apple's 1984 ad on OC day! Bring the Evil Empire to its knees!

Umm, except that crushing AT&T's network would make iPhone's a wee bit useless... frack.

(satire, for the humor impaired...)

more than 4 years ago

Obama Looks Down Under For Broadband Plan

Brian Stretch Re:Aren't AT&T and Verizon already working on (387 comments)

Verizon FiOS, yes, though they're slowing down FiOS deployment lately due to the depression. AT&T, no, their U-verse FTTN network uses existing copper for the last kilometer and tops out at 27Mbps aggregate bandwidth, shared between VoIP, HDTV and Internet. It's a joke. They're not interested in doing the job right like Verizon did.

It would probably be best for last-mile dark FTTH to be run by a third party, either an old-fashioned dividend paying utility or a municipal utility. Service providers would lease fibers to plug their electronics into. Such a utility would make for a nice, sleepy cash cow of a business. The business model would work a lot better if dividends weren't double-taxed though.

more than 4 years ago

Candy Linked To Violence In Study

Brian Stretch Synthetic additives, not sugar (link: Lancet) (205 comments)

Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial

Even that study could have been done better but it was enough to get the point across. Petrochemical food additives such as artificial coloring (FD&C anything), flavoring and preservatives (BHA, BHT, some others) are inherently toxic and immune response to them varies wildly between individuals. With some people you'll never notice a difference. With others, the tiniest bit of, say, red dye will make them hyper, violent, you name it. Synthetics are a major reason why ADHD has become epidemic.

For me, synthetics were making me more impulsive and a bit mean. Nothing dramatic but switching to a clean diet made a noticeable difference in my psychology and I'm in better shape now too.

Keeping synthetics out of your diet can be difficult. It helps if there's a nearby Whole Foods Market or similar store that bans all synthetics. There is NO REASON for synthetics in food other than that they save food processors from having to buy real ingredients.

Why haven't you heard more about this? Who's going to pay for the research? It won't lead to a prescription drug, surgery, or any other medical intervention. It'd wipe out most of the market for ADHD meds (not all, some people have congenital neurochemical imbalances). It would require people to learn how to cook again.

Much more info at the Feingold Association research page.

more than 4 years ago

Report Claims Iran Has Data To Build a Nuclear Bomb

Brian Stretch Re:Not the first middle east nuke (630 comments)

That's like saying that if the reasonably sane and responsible fellow is allowed to own firearms then why isn't the violent and mentally unbalanced crackhead, played by Ahmadinejad this week?

Seriously, Israel has a tiny sliver of land and is surrounded by neighbors who have repeatedly tried to exterminate them. The Iranian theocracy has made it abundantly clear that they want to nuke Israel. Given that a) Israel is already a nuclear power, b) Tehran's geography is an ideal nuclear kill zone, and c) the Iranian theocracy thinks it's possible to induce the return of the "twelfth imam" and the end of the world, maybe it would be a bad idea to let Iran's suicidal dictatorship get nukes?

Personally I'd like to see the Iranian pro-democracy dissidents succeed and overthrow the mullahs but since the theocrats have all the guns and no qualms about using them it doesn't seem likely. Too bad, it looks like Iran is about where the Soviet Union was in their final years, a brutal but wobbly government hated by its people. We need another Reagan but we've got another Carter.

more than 4 years ago

"Cash For Clunkers" Program Runs Out of Gas

Brian Stretch Re:Wow (594 comments)

From all the small business owners I know, this is not how it works. The business is incorporated, and the owner usually games the system so that the "business" owns everything that seems remotely plausible, and pays for everything that is remotely plausible.

LLCs, partnerships and S corps have "pass through taxation" where business income is "passed through" to the business owners' personal tax returns. LLCs can elect C corp tax treatment if they like. They still get to tax deduct their business expenses as you describe. As a rule, C corp tax treatment just isn't worth the paperwork trouble for small businesses now that LLCs are available. Sole proprietorships are the risky form, since they offer no shielding of personal assets. They are simple and popular though.

If we really wanted to stimulate the economy we'd pass the Flat Income Tax so hundreds of $billions weren't wasted figuring out how to comply with tax law, but that would take away the favors that Congress sells to lobbyists so we obviously can't do that.

My point stands: small business owners have a vastly higher return on capital than Congress. Raising their taxes to fund federal "stimulus" programs, etc is counterproductive.

more than 5 years ago

"Cash For Clunkers" Program Runs Out of Gas

Brian Stretch Re:Wow (594 comments)

I think the concern in this recession is that rich folks would simply buy "safe" investments like treasuries with any tax cuts, which wouldn't stimulate anything.

Top bracket taxpayers are overwhelmingly small business owners paying their business taxes on their personal tax returns. Cutting taxes means more money to reinvest in small businesses that produce most new jobs in America and providing less discouragement for workaholic small business owners to keep working when they really don't have to. Yes, it's unfortunate that limousine liberals get the tax cuts too but they still help on balance (the cuts, not the liberals).

Since small business owners are overwhelmingly Republican and the UAW bankrolls the Democratic Party the "Cash for Clunkers" program made more political sense than tax cuts. Tax cuts also mean less government control over the economy and that would be double plus ungood.

more than 5 years ago

Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

Brian Stretch Re:Solar panels are peak power generators (367 comments)

Here in Michigan (northern US) peak energy use may be in winter but peak electricity use is most definitely summer. Grid heat is almost entirely provided by natural gas. My electric bill is high in the summer (A/C), low in the winter. NG is the opposite. Electric powered heat is very inefficient and rarely used beyond small portable space heaters plugged into the wall.

Actually, my electric bill hasn't been bad at all this summer. I've rarely had to run the A/C. It's easily the coolest summer I can remember. I bet my upcoming winter heating bills are going to really suck though...

NG's appropriateness for heating is also why I get cranky at states that build almost nothing but NG fired power plants instead of nuclear, driving up my winter heating bills.

more than 5 years ago

Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

Brian Stretch Solar panels are peak power generators (367 comments)

Solar panels produce their highest output when demand is highest, namely on sunny summer days when everyone has their air conditioning cranked up. That's VERY expensive power. Keeping the power company from needing to fire up their peak power generators (versus relying on base load) and helping to prevent brownouts is worth serious $$$. Solar panel output is lowest when cheap base load power is plentiful. In management-speak this is called "synergy".

The PHB's at Xcel Energy need a whack with a cluestick. Nickel and diming people who are giving you expensive peak power for the price of base load is petty at best.

more than 5 years ago



CDC Warns Public to Prepare for Zombie Apocalypse

Brian Stretch Brian Stretch writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Brian Stretch (5304) writes "Floods? Hurricanes? Earthquakes? Pandemics? If you're prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse you're prepared for anything so the CDC wrote up a guide. Apparently zombies have overrun the CDC webserver but scientists armed with chainsaws and boomsticks will have them driven back any minute now."
Link to Original Source

The Inflatable Electric Car is coming. Seriously!

Brian Stretch Brian Stretch writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Brian Stretch (5304) writes ""XP's Mini Utility Vehicle prototype cuts costs and time by using 70 percent less parts and novel materials that require simpler factory devices... most of it is air using XP's XPanelB(TM) technology pressure membranes... The nano-tech fabric is not only bullet proof, but it can also withstand crashes by a large SUV without harm." Looks like the perfect car for bouncing along Michigan's moon crater surface roads. I want one."
Link to Original Source

Outsourcing jobs to America thanks to broadband

Brian Stretch Brian Stretch writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Brian Stretch (5304) writes "Broadband makes tiny town an English-teaching hub. "Eleutian Technology hires people in towns across northern Wyoming to teach English to Koreans of all ages using Skype..." "He picked Ten Sleep, where his in-laws live, after seeing fiber-optic cable being installed throughout town. Tri County Telephone, the telecom cooperative that serves the Ten Sleep area, upgraded from decades-old copper phone wiring to fiber in 2006..." Amazing what you can do when your town's too tiny to be in the clutches of AT&T. Kinda kills the low population density excuse eh? I want FTTH!"
Link to Original Source

Wikipropaganda: not exactly fair and balanced?

Brian Stretch Brian Stretch writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Brian Stretch (5304) writes "Lawrence Solomon found himself on the wrong side of a global warming Wikipropaganda campaign: "Ever wonder how Al Gore, the United Nations, and company continue to get away with their claim of a 'scientific consensus' confirming their doomsday view of global warming? Look no farther than Wikipedia for a stunning example of how the global-warming propaganda machine works... I then corrected the Wikipedia entry... I made the changes again, and this time confirmed that the changes had been saved. But then, in a twinkle, they were gone again. I made other changes. And others. They all disappeared shortly after they were made. Turns out that on Wikipedia some folks are more equal than others." He offers no solutions but you have to admire the problem."

Professor Lessig Is In (interview)

Brian Stretch Brian Stretch writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Brian Stretch (5304) writes "Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig is interviewed at NR. "...Lessig hates corruption. He hates it so much, in fact, that last year he announced he'd be shifting away from his work on copyright and trademark law... to focus on it." "'One of the biggest targets of reform that we should be thinking about is how to blow up the FCC.'" Good summary of "what", needs to work on "how"."

India's techies take to cycling

Brian Stretch Brian Stretch writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Brian Stretch (5304) writes "Even though they can easily afford new cars, techies in Bangalore find that biking is better. "Concerns over traffic conditions and the environment, combined with the sedentary lifestyles peculiar to the software sector, have all combined to promote cycling to work in Bangalore. 'After a few months, I began taking the bike to work, maybe a couple of days a week,' Mr Dasarathi says. 'Now it's an addiction... I prefer to cycle the 15km distance between home and office twice a day.'" Makes sense to me. I'd rather bike than drive, though being American I want to get a Sport Utility Bicycle. I still want an electric car too though. Hat tip: getDowntown."


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