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Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

dpilot Re:um.... (144 comments)

Not really. Certainly NASA has been buying boosters for a long time, but from what I understand those have continued to be on a cost-plus basis, or as some would say, sucking from the government teat. Again, from what I understand, SpaceX is new in that it is delivering fixed-cost launches.

2 hours ago
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Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

dpilot Re:um.... (144 comments)

>NASA did all the really hard work (the basic design of space rockets). You know, the Basic Science that costs billions and
>doesn't pay off for decades. You see, private companies are too focused on short term profit generation to basic science.
>That's why it's done on the public dime.

I won't disagree with you. But I also believe that NASA should be allowing basic launch stuff to go to companies like SpaceX, which reap the rewards of all of that public domain knowledge - the fruits of publicly funded NASA research. It's past time for basic Earth orbit access (and somewhat beyond) to be business as usual.

NASA should be moving on to bigger, tougher jobs, targets that are still beyond the horizon of ordinary business, just like space travel was 50 years ago.

yesterday
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Comet Dust Found In Antarctica

dpilot Re:just the beginning (17 comments)

Or just read "The Year When Stardust Fell" or "In the Days of the Comet" for other examples. Many would say more interesting ideas, because they're not simple monster movies.

about two weeks ago
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Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

dpilot Re:Let her be a princess who like science. (584 comments)

I never tried to mold my daughter, but I also made sure that opportunities for science and technology were there for her. There were numerous signs along the way that she was headed in the direction of the sciences. She's always been interested in critters - We used to go to the Maine seashore, and one of our big activies there was exploring tide-pools. She "adopted" woolie bears in our front yard one fall, building villages for them. When she was in 5th grade, I read "The Hot Zone" with her. For years after she kept a picture of the ebola virus on the wall of her room, and we still trade ebola news over a decade later.

She got her bachelor's and master's degree in biological sciences, and started her PhD. About a year in, she discovered that she really didn't like the life sacrifices of the PhD lifestyle required, especially of a woman. She also realized that she likes the outreach side of science more - bringing science to students and others. She's managed to find a job in that field, while her husband continues to work on his PhD.

She's one terriffic daughter and person.

about three weeks ago
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How High-Tech Temporary Tattoos Will Hack Your Skin

dpilot Re:Better yet ... (57 comments)

You forgot to mention that Peter F. Hamilton weaponized some of his tattoos. I presume that's at least part of the reason for your "awesome".

about three weeks ago
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'Mirage Earth' Exoplanets May Have Burned Away Chances For Life

dpilot Re:A nice dream (62 comments)

Earth has been advertising itself for more like a half-billion years. An atmosphere with free oxygen is rare, at least we haven't found one yet out of the explanets we've discovered. To be sure, we haven't studied the atmosphere on very many, but at the very least we know how to do so, at least for some.

There has been some suggestion of merely chemical processes that can give rise to free oxygen in the atmosphere, but I don't know how likely (or un) those processes are, and whether they cause the levels the Earth has, especially with traces of methane present at the same time.

We know our atmosphere has been biosculpted, and that would be something others could have seen for half a billion years.

One must assume that any alien civilization capable of interstellar travel would know at least as much as we do about the relevant technologies. That would include something Keplar-like, only better. You don't want to take your first interstellar steps to a place with no relevant planets.

about three weeks ago
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How the Rollout of 5G Will Change Everything

dpilot Re: Seems like more marketing nonsense (216 comments)

More value was returned to the shareholders. After all, what are they there for, to provide a solution where the free market acts to optimize the situation for both provider and customer, or to use a de-facto monopoly to maximize shareholder value?

about three weeks ago
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Multi-National Crew Reaches Space Station

dpilot Re:Same as Columbus (70 comments)

We keep launching stuff into space, and launch cost is always a concern. This isn't new business, this is existing business. Even if only structural components could be space-source, and not the electronics or optics, it can still be a financial win.

about a month ago
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Multi-National Crew Reaches Space Station

dpilot Re:Same as Columbus (70 comments)

That depends on the destination for the final product. If you're building something for use off-Earth, using space-based resources from construction allows you to eliminate launch costs for the weight of that thing.

This of course presumes that the launch cost of your asteroid harvester is less than the launch cost of what you're building with the materials. Then again, if one Earth-launched asteroid harvester can get enough raw materials for more than one space-built asteroid harvester, you're on your way. Or to put it in a more Slashdot-memetic way:
1 - Launch asteroid harvester.
2 - Use harvested materials to build more asteroid harvesters, plus other neat space-based stuff. Repeat.
3 - Profit!!

about a month ago
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MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

dpilot Re:This is what the Free Market is for (323 comments)

I'm guessing that the problem here is that there can either be executive salaries for chocolate (and coffee) companies in the US, or there can be adequate revenue for sustainable chocolate (and coffee) agriculture outside the US.

Of course we know which is more important.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Unblock Email From My Comcast-Hosted Server?

dpilot Re:Call Comcast? (405 comments)

Say that their business class service is not sufficiently functional and it's a Comcast problem. This problem will presumably be shared by other Comcast customers, if it's IP address based. It renders their service less valuable, and can be a reason for business class customers to choose another option. They may be losing business today because of this problem.

about a month ago
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U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

dpilot Re:Really? (285 comments)

Perhaps good for people who read, "The Virtue of Selfishness."

To be fair I'm taking that title at exactly its face meaning and coming to the same conclusion as you. However I remember some E.E. Doc Smith books had the "Principle of Enlightened Self Interest" that I could potentially buy into, so I'm still leaving the door just a squeak open for Ayn Rand on this. But only a squeak.

about a month ago
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Comet Probe Philae Unanchored But Stable — And Sending Back Images

dpilot Re:Couldn't they have used an RTG? (132 comments)

I don't believe Philae has thrusters, much less thrusters that can be fired gently. I get the impression that there is one single-use thruster that was meant to counter the reaction of firing the harpoons, and neither went off as planned. I would guess that at some point they will attempt to manually fire both. But if something goes wrong with that attempt it's very possible that Philae will get launched off of the comet, so they probably want to get as much science done as possible before they even try it.

The bigger problem is the lack of sunlight on the solar cells.

about a month ago
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U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

dpilot Re:Really? (285 comments)

I suspect that some would think that externalizing all possible costs is a legitimate path to higher profitability, and therefore a Good Thing under Capitalism as practices in the US. However I also suspect they'd be very careful who they would actually say that to.

about a month ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

dpilot Re:Obama (706 comments)

Utter side point, and I'll probably get flamed for this, but since you've said "conservative enough", even as an AC...

It bothers me that I've never heard a Republican utter the phrase, "too conservative." It seems almost past their lexicon, which leaves me thinking that if someone spent the time coming up with conservative-to-the-absurd ideas and threw them out there, there would be Republicans lining up behind them. I would feel much better, like there might even be real political discourse, if some Republican could say that some idea or other is, "too conservative," without being immediately dismissed as being a RINO.

Since this is Slashdot, I'll say that that is another disturbing thing about systemd. From what I can tell by its advocates, there is absolutely nothing wrong with systemd. Any problems at all that show up are because of some piece of software that just isn't working well with systemd, or because of stupid obsolete Unix thought modes that haven't been purged from the rest of the system.

Incidentally, "too liberal" is in my lexicon, as is "too conservative," and I think that there are problems with SysVInit and OpenRC, as well.

about a month and a half ago
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New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight

dpilot What about the "old normal"? (144 comments)

Might this have bad implications for those who can keep their appetites and activity levels in decent proportion?

I'm thinking about the fact that airbags can be harmful to kids, because they're tuned for adults. What happens when we start tuning our restraint systems for the obese? Will they continue to function properly for trim people, will they work less effectively, or might they actually become harmful, like airbags for kids? (I would expect that they might become too stiff for old-normal body proportions, for instance.)

about 2 months ago
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Debate Over Systemd Exposes the Two Factions Tugging At Modern-day Linux

dpilot Re:Are you sure? (863 comments)

There's something else different about systemd - the dreams of monocultuer by its proponents.

There are some other near-monocultures in Linux - glibc, xorg, gcc, etc. But I don't see glibc people trying to stamp out uclibc, nor did I ever see xorg people trying to stamp out svgalib, etc. As for gcc, there is what appears to be healthy competition with llvm, and I see no significant politicking there, either.

We have Postfix, Courier, Exim, sendmail, etc. They all coexist, and they all try to be best for someone's needs.

There may be some other near-monocultures in Linux, but nowhere but systemd is anyone insisisting on becoming THE monoculture, and working to tie everything possible into their monoculture.

about 2 months ago
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Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

dpilot Re:By yourself you know others (583 comments)

I think I'm on the same page as you on this, but with even weaker A.I.-fu. We're not going to suddenly jump to Vanamonde, the Mad Mind, or even POne or HAL. Far before we get to such a point we'll have far weaker A.I. that very likely does exactly what we ask of it. Except that we really shouldn't be asking it to do the things we will be.

One of those steps might be a battlefield drone that does target acquisition, then waits for a person to press the "Kill" switch. How much judgement will that person be using, and how much will he come to trust the target algorithms? How long will the followup continue to make sure the algorithms didn't target an innocent?

Simpler - how about an insurance optimization algorithm that denies coverage or treatment, sometimes fatally?

How about a financial trading algorithm that missteps and causes finanical ruin to some people? (Oops, we already have that one.)

We can do some really bad things with weak A.I. - we don't even need strong A.I. for that, though one can extend our "progress" and see the negative possibilities.

about 2 months ago
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What It Took For SpaceX To Become a Serious Space Company

dpilot Re:Blah blah Elon call me when (96 comments)

By that definition, nobody has a serious space industry, not even the government players.

Actually I think I might almost agree with you, but that's not a ding against SpaceX, it's a ding against our species.

I don't agree about launching more habs that we can fill with people - I'd just like to see enough SOMETHING launched to make opportunities. I'd also like to see a second basket to keep some of our species eggs in.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Blog of Helios writer facing cancer deadline

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 2 years ago

dpilot writes "This story has been through "submitted stories" twice this weekend that I've seen on Slashdot, and not made it to the front page.

Slashdot is about "News for Nerds", and Ken Stark passes the geek-test as well as anyone. This is also where Geek meets Politics, and the bad things that can happen there. Perhaps begging for his life on the internet isn't the thing to do — perhaps begging for money to write a trivial app is far more so — I don't think so.

So this is really a "Death Panel". So far Ken Stark has lost the first two Death Panel rounds to the editors. As is said in Congress, let's bring this to the floor — if it's a Death Panel, let's make it public, and stand behind your words. I'll stand behind mine — it's a sickening shame that he is in this position. I've already donated."

Link to Original Source
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Background for "American Gods"

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 3 years ago

dpilot (134227) writes "This weekend I heard Neil Gaiman speaking on "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" on public radio, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of "American Gods." I got the book in hardcover when it first came out, and felt that I was getting strafed by fighter jets, there were so many Norse mythology references going "Whoosh!" over my head. I enjoyed it as best I could, but know I could have gotten much more out of it, had I been more familiar with the underlying material.

I took a Greco-Roman mythology course in high school, so am fairly well founded there. But my Norse mythology comes mostly from reading, "The Mighty Thor" from Marvel Comics. Since the 10th anniversary is as good a reason as any, I'd like to reread "American Gods," but I'd like to do a little reference reading first. Can anyone recommend a book or two of Norse mythology for getting up to speed, without making it a career path?"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Democracy is a sheep and two wolves

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 9 years ago

>Democracy is a sheep and two wolves deciding what to have for lunch. Freedom is a well armed sheep contesting the issue.

I fear it's more like, "Democracy is 48 sheep and 52 wolves deciding what to have for lunch. Well armed sheep contesting the issue is, 'traitorous liberal domestic terrorism.'"

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Journals, friends, foes, fans, freaks ??

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 12 years ago

There seem to be some new features, though they may have crept in a year ago, considering the attention I've been paying. I can guess what friends, foes, and fans are, but I wonder about freaks.

I don't really have time for this, so this journal entry is my investment, for the moment.

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