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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

DutchUncle Re:Great, now all we need to do... (176 comments)

"Starlost", a badly-done early-1970s TV show that wasted a promising premise (by Harlan Ellison): The multiple bio-domes of a generation ship have been sealed off from each other for hundreds of years after an accident damaged the ship's bridge. The people in each have long forgotten that they are on a ship at all; they only know their little world, like medieval peasants. A handful of people try to escape their own little community and discover that there are other humans - and, after contacting the ship's half-disintegrating AI, that the ship is in danger and *someone* must figure out how to get to the reserve bridge.

2 hours ago
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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

DutchUncle Re:Great, now all we need to do... (176 comments)

Oh, of course, their full-time job - in fact, their *lives* - will be dedicated to maintaining, repairing, and improving the ship, not to mention growing their food (easiest way to recycle). We already have some of that technology - I just read an article in this week's New Yorker about people working on a US Navy air craft carrier, with many people in tight space, no privacy, hazards everywhere, etc. But even a carrier expects supplies and spare parts delivered in port, or in emergency by air. Submarines stay out for six months at a time, and are a lot closer to the spaceship situation, but still get oxygen out of the water around them. Right now, we have no way to travel in space, with no support whatever, without stockpiling a lot of spare parts and spare materials at the beginning. As nice as it would be to scavenge materials from space as the ship travels, we don't have the technology, so the ship won't have it available. The list of science fiction things we DON'T have is endless. Add to that the random danger of a rock zipping through the hull . . .

Their nav and control systems had better be open source, because as you point out, they may need to work on *everything* as they're traveling.

If they last long enough, they may forget why they're traveling, or that there is anything real outside the ship. That's an SF staple. In fact it might be *useful* to develop a cultish atmosphere about the work of supporting The Trip; after all, it's not as if there is any economy supporting any other line of work. They'll need cooks, and maybe entertainers, and maybe writers . . . though what they will imagine after five or six generations in the ship is an interesting thought.

Robert Heinlein, "Orphans of the sky". Alexi Panshin, "Rite of Passage". Just look up "Generation Ship" and there are lots of articles about lots and lots of classic SF.

2 hours ago
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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

DutchUncle Re:Great, now all we need to do... (176 comments)

No, it would be OK to send a generation ship, where people live their lifespans on board raising their children. Assuming we could build something that lasts long enough without a BSOD.

10 hours ago
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Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

DutchUncle Re:Snowden, that's why it's relevant to /.ers. (193 comments)

It's called "reductio ad absurdum" - in math, proof by contradiction. Take the apparently reasonable premises to their extremes and show that they contradict themselves.

about a week ago
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Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

DutchUncle Re:WTF? (193 comments)

I think he's be in line with Europe; the current events and public issues he discusses, being American, are what's to the right.

about a week ago
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Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

DutchUncle Re:WTF? (193 comments)

Double down: Stewart seems *more* irritated by stupid lefty shit, in the tone of "Hey, why are you being as stupid as the other side, you're supposed to be the smart ones!!!"

about a week ago
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Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

DutchUncle Re:Funny host (193 comments)

Will the same people who like the Top 10 lists understand "The Word"?

about a week ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

DutchUncle Re:Good! (1037 comments)

Early in the book, it says very specifically that people shouldn't do human sacrifice any more. Then, in the "sequel" portion, a particular human was created specifically to be sacrificed

You wouldn't accept that degree of illogic from a TV or movie writer; why should you accept it from something that's supposed to be important?

about two weeks ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

DutchUncle Re:Knowledge (1037 comments)

... switch from many gods to just one (who may not have started out as being almighty)

Note that early in the book it says "you shall have no other gods *before* me", and only later on does it emphasize the idea of a single god. And Jews know that nothing in the book is to be taken literally at this point; it's a human transcription of human memory of oral history, and bound to be full of errors and myth and embellishment.

about two weeks ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

DutchUncle Re:Knowledge (1037 comments)

Internet zealots! Everyone must have broadband directly wired to their nervous system! . . . . oh, wait, Samuel R. Delaney did that in 1968, "Nova". Never mind.

about two weeks ago
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Why Are We Made of Matter?

DutchUncle Re:By definition... (392 comments)

I was going to title the same argument, "We aren't".

about two weeks ago
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UK Government Pays Microsoft £5.5M For Extended Support of Windows XP

DutchUncle Re:Virtualization? (341 comments)

You mean, return from individual computers to dumb terminals with remote mainframes? Like in the 1960s?

about two weeks ago
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UK Government Pays Microsoft £5.5M For Extended Support of Windows XP

DutchUncle Re: TCO (341 comments)

No. I work for a division of a Fortune 500, and our division has never upgraded people from Office 2003 because of the "confusion and expenditure for little benefit". And for the most part, they're right. I have Office 2010 at home, and most of the difference I see is that it rearranges things on the menus enough to be confusing. Otherwise I use Thunderbird for email.

Making do with a consistent system that does the job is *exactly* what all of the anti-government-waste people would insist on. Why keep enriching Microsoft for "updates" that are mostly cosmetic and confusing? If they were going to move *forward* to anything *new*, it would be new standards anyway, and the conversion would be decried as an even bigger waste of money.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

DutchUncle Re:that's why China will do it and we won't. (402 comments)

You cut off the leading part of my sentence: " Humans demonstrate amazing dedication, endurance, and sacrifice to do totally impractical things *purely* to strive for a first-performance, or a record,..." I stand by that.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

DutchUncle Re:Exploration isn't safe (402 comments)

Ummmm . . . . I think we're in violent agreement here. All I know is, if I were working on a space mission, I would want to be absolutely sure that I had done my absolute best; otherwise I would have trouble living with myself if anything went wrong. But I'm not going. :-)

about two weeks ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

DutchUncle Re:robots (402 comments)

Bummer, dude.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

DutchUncle Re:definition of "safe" (402 comments)

There is still a risk management decision to make. "People won't come back" is not the same as "People died because of equipment problems". I'm betting most of the Pacific Island settlers didn't go back, either.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

DutchUncle Re:Exploration isn't safe (402 comments)

At some point, somebody needs to draw a line and say, over there is too much risk to be acceptable,

That task belongs to the persons taking the risks, not you.

If we don't have boundaries and stick by them, things like Challenger or Apollo 1 will happen and we will have needless loss of life because we didn't asses risks properly or take them seriously enough.

There's a big difference between "taking a calculated risk", or even "choosing to commit to a one-way trip", and "not taking the risk seriously". Challenger was a horror not just because people died, but because it was ALREADY KNOWN that the O-rings and joints were a weak spot in the design and were particularly affected by the cold conditions. The astronauts CHOSE to sign on with the implicit understanding that everyone behind them was doing their absolute best, and in this case institutional inertia held back the efforts of people who were already investigating damage at the joints. Of course it didn't help that all of the shuttle parts had to be made the right size, and assemble-able, to fit through railroad tunnels and other barriers from factory to launch pad, rather than one state getting all of the benefit from the space program by building everything in one neighborhood.

The boundary NASA failed to stick to was "We built the best possible rocket that humans can make". It could have been improved, and some of the engineers already knew it. The boundary was not "Astronauts sitting on a big pile of explosive is too dangerous", because it had always been dangerous, has remained so since, and always will be.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

DutchUncle Re:Exploration isn't safe (402 comments)

Magellan didn't survive Magellan's expedition. Scott died trying to get to the South Pole.

No, Scott died trying to get *back*. On the other hand, the ancestors of the various Pacific Island peoples managed to find their ways to little dots of rock in the middle of a really big ocean, and managed to survive and succeed and have descendents to be ancestors of. There must be a few remnants of that DNA left in some humans, somewhere.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Slashdot finds a way to keep me from bothering to check it today

DutchUncle DutchUncle writes  |  1 year,16 days

DutchUncle (826473) writes "By making everything unreadable without lots of extra effort, Slashdot has found a way to keep me from wasting as much time today. Thanks!"
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Can you patent a steak?

DutchUncle DutchUncle writes  |  about 2 years ago

DutchUncle (826473) writes "Someone at Oklahoma State University has "discovered" a new steak. By now I would have thought that every possible part of a cow was already discovered, not to mention used for something. I can understand trademarking a name for a particular cut of meat; I can understand copyrighting the published instructions on what to cut where; but can this be novel enough for a patent?"
Link to Original Source
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No termination fee if Verizon terminates *you*.

DutchUncle DutchUncle writes  |  more than 4 years ago

DutchUncle (826473) writes "Just received the following email announcement from Verizon. Nice to know that if they cut off my service, I won't have to pay extra:

"The following is an outline of an important change to the Verizon Online
Terms of Service, which is effective as of November 30, 2009. ...

1. If you are on a term plan and Verizon ceases offering service to
your location prior to the end of your term commitment, you will not
have to pay an Early Termination Fee.

Please take time to review the complete Verizon Online Terms of Service.
Thank you for being a Verizon Online customer."

To which I add: For now."

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