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Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

Immerman Re:just like homeopathy (330 comments)

Sex = exchange of genetic material, of course fish have it, otherwise there would be no baby fish. Fish don't have *intercourse*, but that's just one of those bizarre reproduction rituals that mammals and a few other branches of animal life engage in.

2 days ago
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Cody Wilson Interview at Reason: Happiness Is a 3D Printed Gun

Immerman Re:Idiot (206 comments)

>Remember when encryption was considered 'military armaments?

Did they finally abandon that? Last I heard we'd simply had a work-around by distributing all the high-end encryption software from jurisdictions that didn't try to restrict the export of military grade encryption.

2 days ago
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Closing Surgical Incisions With a Paintbrush and Nanoparticles

Immerman Re:"The Power of Nanoparticles"? (55 comments)

If the existence of particles as particles is important to the outcome then it's not just chemistry, and 50nm is very firmly in the nanotech range - that's over 300 carbon-bonds across, probably including tens of thousands of atoms. Sure, it's barely (if at all) nano-engineered, but it's very definitely nano-scale technology.

2 days ago
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Closing Surgical Incisions With a Paintbrush and Nanoparticles

Immerman Re:Sucky Surgeon (55 comments)

Really? If you want to do an honest comparison of the effectiveness of your chemical "glue" to sutures then it seems to me that you should really have someone that's at least minimally competent put in the sutures. Of course if your intent is actually just to show off how awesome your "glue" is, then by all means compare it to the results of your incompetent suturing.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Immerman Re:I'm not worried about poor students (389 comments)

1) That's a clear failure on their parents part. Not much society can do to make up for bad parenting, though I suppose we could at least make Home Economics a required course in high school.

2) A damn shame. But I'd again tend to put the blame on parents. The world has always been full of silver-tongued hucksters, why the hell are you letting your kids set out on their own without having instilled even basic commercial cynicism? Have you truly been on such an authoritarian power trip that after 18 years your kids are completely unwilling to listen to your advice on real, practical matters? That's just shameful.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Immerman Re:C. H. Douglas -- Social Credit (389 comments)

>Copyright and patent laws exist to specifically prohibit "all of humanity" from inheriting anything

Quite the opposite actually, at least originally. Patents encouraged people to share their innovations with the world rather than keeping them secret (which was a major problem), in exchange for a decade or so of exclusive rights to profiting from them. Copyrights did similar - artists were encouraged to be more prolific by being granted control over the distribution of their creations for the first decade, giving them a better chance of being able to monetize their creations. And that addressed a very real concern - the for example it was quite common for the "media moguls" of Shakespeare's time to build their fortunes by producing performances of popular plays without paying the original playwright a dime - and thus many promising playwrights abandoned the profession in favor of something that would put food in their bellies. Or at least relegated their writing to an after-hours hobby.

The problem came when folks started gaming the system and then purchasing more lucrative extensions to the law. 10 years gives the creator time to make some money off the initial wave of popularity (assuming they can generate such). 100 years ensures that their grand-children can still prevent the work from entering the social inheritance, quite possibly contributing to the creation being lost forever.

2 days ago
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Why Tesla Really Needs a Gigafactory

Immerman Re:WTF is a 'gigafactory'? (190 comments)

Actually they started with a monster factory, but the production line kept generating eldritch horrors that devoured the employees, so they had to scale back their ambitions. Those OSHA folks can be *so* demanding.

2 days ago
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Russia Writes Off 90 Percent of North Korea Debt

Immerman Re:THROUGH North Korea?! (232 comments)

Hmm, I hadn't considered the propaganda angle, but you're probably right. Every government loves a boogeyman, and an insane pipsqueak dictator is frightening all out of proportion to his actual threat.

2 days ago
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For $20, Build a VR Headset For Your Smartphone

Immerman Re:uh uho. problems.. (49 comments)

Did you mean "there are no more novel, original ideas"? If so my answer would be (A) Bullshit. and (B) So? Then there's no more need for patents. They were always a social contract of dubious benefit to begin with. Innovation tends to surge in countries that remove their patent system.

>My point is you can be validly awarded a patent on something that is not original or novel in any way, but it is being applied in a way that original patent did not specifically cover.
*Only* if the invention is also something novel and non-obvious to one skilled in the field. Otherwise it's something that anyone so inclined could be reasonably expected to create given a reason to do so, and the "invention" offers society no benefit to compensate it for granting the inventor government-backed monopoly rights. Remember, like copyright, patents aren't an expression of some sacred right to exclusivity, they're a limited deprivation of the natural right to mimicry that is granted in order to encourage creators to be more prolific and provide more value to society. If that equation falls out of balance then they no longer justify their existence.

2 days ago
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For $20, Build a VR Headset For Your Smartphone

Immerman Re:How much WiFi energy? (49 comments)

A perfectly reasonable position. But there *have* been several at least apparently independent studies into the link - that no conclusive evidence has been found suggests that either any link is tenuous, or that all the multiple government-funded studies around the world have been quietly bought out. Granted I'm not quite prepared to totally discount the latter - there haven't been *that* many studies, it wouldn't have to be a major conspiracy.

2 days ago
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SpaceX Launches Load to ISS, Successfully Tests Falcon 9 Over Water

Immerman Re:Not sure about the recovery test (125 comments)

Not hardly. How fast does that sucker get moving before the second stage separates? You can only cancel momentum once, after that you fly back on a trajectory optimized for safety and fuel efficiency, rather than for getting a payload up to 8km/s, which is the real challenge - altitude is easy.

2 days ago
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SpaceX Launches Load to ISS, Successfully Tests Falcon 9 Over Water

Immerman Re:Not sure about the recovery test (125 comments)

Of course they still have to neutralize the horizontal momentum, otherwise they crash into the ground with only a high horizontal speed instead of having a high vertical speed as well. All a separate landing pad saves them is the fuel required to fly back to the launch pad - but they'd then need a ship to carry the rocket from the sea-based landing pad, and then transfer it to some sort of overland vehicle capable of carrying a 200 foot long rocket massing over 500 tons. Considering everything I've heard is that flying it all the way back to the launch pad only adds a tiny percentage to the needed fuel, which itself is a tiny percentage of the cost of a launch, it seems like that's adding a whole lot of complexity for very questionable benefit, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if flying it back was actually cheaper than the alternative.

3 days ago
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Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

Immerman Re:not bad news for the rest of us (396 comments)

How does recycling beer-brewing waste as a cheap, nutritious animal feed instead of burying it in a landfill contribute to ocean acidification?

3 days ago
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SpaceX Launches Load to ISS, Successfully Tests Falcon 9 Over Water

Immerman Cost breakdown (125 comments)

So, is NASA currently paying a nearly 3x premium to SpaceX just to get their technology off the ground or what? Not that I object to such long-term thinking, quite the opposite in fact, but I could swear the SpaceX contract was marketed as a cost-saving maneuver.

It says here that it currently costs $10,000 to get a pound of payload into orbit, but from TFA SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract for 12 launches, and if the current ~5000 pound payload is typical that works out to ~$27,000 per pound. Granted, assuming SpaceX perfects the reusable F9 that stands to potentially reduce launch costs 5 to 20-fold, easily making it one of the cheapest options available, even assuming that the current contract strictly covers launch costs and profit and without any R&D budget. But it's hardly a cost-saving maneuver in the short term.

Also, gotta love the phrasing in the summary "In another win for the company, as the L.A. Times reports, SpaceX also has launched a re-supply mission to the ISS." As though completing the mission that's actually paying the bills was just an added bonus.

3 days ago
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Russia Writes Off 90 Percent of North Korea Debt

Immerman Re:THROUGH North Korea?! (232 comments)

To *be* bat-shit crazy, or to *appear* bat-shit crazy? Appearing insane can be an excellent military strategy, especially if you're in an extremely week tactical position such as North Korea is in. It makes your enemies extremely hesitant to provoke you because you may quite possibly engage in a completely disproportional and/or unexpected response. Of course keeping up the appearance requires that you do occasionally actually engage in insane behavior, but a sane commander using such tactics will be extremely canny in employing such behavior only when a studied analysis of the enemy suggests that he can get away with it with minimal real costs. The fact that North Korea is not only still standing, but has managed to repeatedly milk the western world for lucrative concessions despite the apparent insanity of its leaders, strongly suggests that that is the case.

Of course the beauty of such a strategy is that your enemy can never be completely sure exactly how much is an act, and must moderate their own behavior in the face of that uncertainty. Would North Korea launch an all-out attack on our regional allies in response to some moderate provocation, knowing full well that they would be completely obliterated in response? Certainly not. Probably. We hope.

3 days ago
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For $20, Build a VR Headset For Your Smartphone

Immerman Re:uh uho. problems.. (49 comments)

No, we don't know all the unspoken rules that govern a patent examiner - but we *do* know the official, written rules which do so - and those rules require them to deny patents on non-novel technologies, mathematical algorithms, abstract ideas, and many other things which nevertheless routinely receive patents. Perhaps the examiners are only following orders when they grant such patents - but their actions are still illegal (well, extralegal at least) and carry a massive cost to the economy and the pace of US innovation. And I for one feel fully justified in condemning them for those costs. "I was just following orders" has never been an excuse for unethical behavior, though obviously the hammer should come down even harder on the ones who gave the orders.

3 days ago
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SpaceX Launches Load to ISS, Successfully Tests Falcon 9 Over Water

Immerman Re:Not sure about the recovery test (125 comments)

Well, if they managed to bring the thing to a complete stop 8m above the water and then just drop it, that's still an incredibly soft landing compared to the traditional method of dropping it from a few dozen miles up at high speed.

I would assume the rocket was unrecoverable in a "reusable" sense - as you point out it wasn't designed for a water landing, and there is absolutely no point in doing so since this was only a full-scale proof-of-concept "landing" before attempting it on actual land. At most they would be looking to recover the rocket to analyze it for flight-related damage that could help to improve the next rocket - after all this is the very first rocket to manage anything remotely resembling a soft landing after a real-world orbital launch, there could be a great deal to be learned from it towards improving the reusability of the next rocket they build and launch. Ideally by the time they're confident enough in the safety of the landing procedure to attempt it over land, they will have worked out enough of the kinks that they can actually attempt to reuse it. Presumably in a situation where success is not assumed. A high-risk, cut-rate orbital launch perhaps? Or maybe just just a test firing.

3 days ago
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The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

Immerman A clear lack of taste (181 comments)

I particularly like the part where LeMessurier, the structural engineer given most of the credit for this giant ugly glass-and-steel rectangle on stilts (with a *gasp* slanted roof, how exciting!) calls the Old Saint Peters Church that it was built to accommodate “a crummy old building the lowest point in Victorian architecture."

If that's the sentiment of the people designing our buildings, then it's no wonder that US cities are such colossal eyesores.

3 days ago
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The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

Immerman Re:Math (181 comments)

Actually no, the odds of collapse would be much lower, unless you are assuming that any storm capable of knocking down the building would automatically also cause a blackout that disabled the tuned mass damper that would otherwise allow it to survive. Without knowing the conditional probability of a blackout occurring during such a storm it's impossible to calculate the chances of a collapse.

3 days ago

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