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Multi-National Crew Reaches Space Station

dpilot Re:Same as Columbus (69 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.

2 days ago
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Multi-National Crew Reaches Space Station

dpilot Re:Same as Columbus (69 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!!

2 days 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

dpilot This post is being typed... (304 comments)

... on a vintage Model-M keyboard purchased years ago at Flea@MIT. Someone had a bunch of unopened boxes of them, brand new 15-year-old keyboards. My only mistake was in not buying more than one. I've picked up a few more an various flea markets and hamfests, but none as good as that one...

That is, except for the 1987-vintage Model-M on my wife's computer upstairs that came an the XT-286.

about a month and a half ago
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Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

dpilot Re: Greater Internet F***wad Theory (993 comments)

How would you feel if there were apparent force applied to make you use systemd, regardless of our opinion of it? Some of us perceive that that's the reality. Witness L.P.'s recent rants against Gentoo, which only offers systemd as an option, and not the default option.

I like to be a moderate too, but I don't like coercion.

about 1 month ago
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NASA Eyes Crew Deep Sleep Option For Mars Mission

dpilot Re:Sounds a bit risky (236 comments)

It's going to be interesting for the test subjects. You don't really think that they're first going to use this on the way to Mars, do you? I would suspect that the first many-month tests will be right here on Earth, with continuous monitoring, and they'll probably build time up from the current week until they reach the target.

Then at some point they'll ship the "hibernaculum" up to the ISS for the next layers of testing. They'll probably again ramp the time up, looking for zero-G degradations. By the time anyone ships for Mars this way, it'll be well tested.

But here's the question - I get the impression that you get a better pay scale for being on-orbit. What will be the pay scale for sleeping for 9 months solid? After all it IS hazardous duty. And when someone goes up to the ISS to sleep for long periods will they get on-orbit pay?

about 2 months ago
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Sci-Fi Authors and Scientists Predict an Optimistic Future

dpilot Re:Spoiler (191 comments)

This presumes that people regularly leave the tower, or at least the upper floors of the tower. Science fiction has plengy of examples where Elvis may never leave the building. Probably not workable in today's society, but what if everything needed for daily life could be reached within a few floors.

Think in terms of the arcologies in "Oath of Fealty".

about 2 months ago
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European Space Agency Picks Site For First Comet Landing In November

dpilot Re:Does it look like a potato? (35 comments)

Sorry, but it's a bit early for that. Search for "Patricia Vasquez" and you find two of any prominence, an acress and someone who mediates natural resource problems. Add "mathematics" to the search and the top hit is utterly irrelevant - some dude named Greg Bear.

about 2 months ago
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Original 11' Star Trek Enterprise Model Being Restored Again

dpilot Saw it at the Smithsonian a few years ago (99 comments)

We took the family to DC for a vacation, and of course one of the things I had to see was Smithsonian Air and Space. I didn't know that the original Enterprise model was there, and was surprised to see it on the lower floor.

The next surprise was that the model was never finished. One side had all of the lights, striping, and everything. The other side had a little striping, and was otherwise pretty much blank. I remembered reading that in one of those books, and how all shots were of the finished side, or mirrored in post-processing.

about 2 months 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  |  about 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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