Jay

Jay

  • Commented on A different cluetrain
    I'm not sure what, beyond enlightened despotism, or a quasi-religious fervor, actually could deliver radical change in a modern setting. It's possible that the inherent complexity of our current level of technology is a major barrier to change. The...
  • Commented on A different cluetrain
    I think that by now, those who survive in the Western military establishment have bought in to the idea of capital intensive war. But, on land (naval war being a different matter), it still doesn't seem to work, at least...
  • Commented on A different cluetrain
    I see your point, but a good case could be made that, short of the kill-us-all-let-God-sort-us-out WWIII scenario, capital intensive warfare just doesn't work. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, you know the drill. If anything, it seems to me that capital intensive...
  • Commented on A different cluetrain
    Automation will take at least a century in the most optimistic scenario. Part of the problem is which jobs are being automated first; they tend to be jobs involving high levels of logical reasoning or quantitative skill, both of which...
  • Commented on A different cluetrain
    About 100 years ago, more or less, there was a school of thought that said capitalism is self-liquidating. Capital tends to accumulate in fewer and fewer hands. Eventually those hands manage to purchase political power, and from that point on...
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    Sorry. I meant about 37 C, or 95 F, wet bulb temperature. Mixed up my units....
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    Here is some energy use data for the U.S. in 2013, the most recent year available: https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/ If you go there and take a look, you'll notice that average energy efficiency in the U.S. at present is just under 40%....
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    None of those technologies are certainly impossible (immortality may be, we don't know enough about brains to be sure), but on an engineering level they're damn implausible, especially in combination. OGH's essay, "High Frontier, Redux" on the right sidebar (under...
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    I have a stupid question: why would we need a planet? Vacations. All that habitat maintenance is incredibly tedious and stressful. Sometimes you need a week in a place where the atmosphere just works, no supervision needed....
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    Yes, it's true that the problem becomes a great deal easier if we have a remarkable assortment of magical technologies like coldsleep, terraforming, interstellar communications, immortality, apparently limitless batteries, redonkulous heat sinks, and whatever is accelerating all these toys. Most...
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    For soft science fiction, it's a genre convention to pretend the starship is much less impossible than it is. The author wants to tell a story about aliens or some such, so a starship of some sort is a necessity....
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    Quantum mechanics sets a minimum beam spread on a laser. For lasers with reasonable wavelengths and plausibly-sized apertures, the signal attenuation over interstellar distances is extreme. Of course, having a star in the background won't help; the difference in angle...
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    Frankly, I think we're closer to being able to engineer a probe able to conduct a successful interstellar flyby (circa 1-10% of lightspeed, range 5-20 light years) than we are to being able to automate child-rearing I get your point,...
  • Commented on Space Robot Sad Trombone
    I hadn't heard about Venera. Now that I looked it up, it's impressive, but the sense of wonder is undercut by the realization of how damn unpleasant Venus's environment is. It makes Mars look nice, and that's saying something. P.S....
  • Commented on My Country Tis of Thee
    There are a lot fewer third sons with no prospects than there used to be. Except in the Middle East, which explains a lot....
  • Commented on My Country Tis of Thee
    Life stopped being quite so zero-sum in the seventeenth century, quite dramatically by the late 19th, so the uniformitarian assumption isn't a good one after those dates. The industrial revolution changed the situation quite a bit, with effective birth control...
  • Commented on My Country Tis of Thee
    It was an overstatement to say that everyone is a would-be conqueror, but it is a recurring theme in human history. Ditto ape history, to the extent that we've recorded it. Ditto the history of pretty much every territorial animal,...
  • Commented on My Country Tis of Thee
    If Leif Erikson's expedition had brought smallpox 500 years earlier, the native American population would have recovered by 1492. From point 3 on it gets to the same place, but more closely follows real history. As far as Diamond's book...
  • Commented on My Country Tis of Thee
    I should probably mention that peaceful interaction is a sufficient but not necessary condition for appropriation....
  • Commented on My Country Tis of Thee
    Was I appropriating something that didn't belong to me? No more so that the first American Indian to open a casino, or the first Japanese chef to adapt pizza to their tastes, or the inventor of Brazilian jiujitsu. Appropriation is...
  • Commented on The Faces of Publishing
    The middlemen are good at exactly one thing: getting paid. If you want to get paid for what you create, you go through them. If that's less of an issue to you, there is an enormous quantity of free stuff...
  • Commented on The Faces of Publishing
    Between the subject of this post and this blog's typical obsessions, this seems like a good place to mention Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London, a bit of RPG Cthulhiana where the major characters are London booksellers of various degrees...
  • Commented on In which I am crabby about viral archery videos.
    Seriously, who would loan a year's salary to a soldier going out on chevauche? The lender's odds of seeing that guy again are not good, and we won't even get into medieval Christendom's ban on usury. More likely, if a...
  • Commented on In which I am crabby about viral archery videos.
    On the other hand, there was quite a bit going on in metalworking in Europe over the course of the Hundred Years' War. It's rather likely that the typical soldier's armor got significantly better over the course of the war....
  • Commented on In which I am crabby about viral archery videos.
    If an archer had armor, he would certainly wear it. OTOH, metal was extremely expensive in the middle ages and the average archer wasn't rich. Even ordinary clothes were expensive before the onset of the industrial revolution. I'd suspect that...
  • Commented on In which I am crabby about viral archery videos.
    The energy of the arrow is the integral of the draw force over the length of the draw. If the bow is an ideal spring, which is not a terrible assumption for simpler bows, then not much energy is stored...
  • Commented on In which I am crabby about viral archery videos.
    Now I want to see Legolas fire a Lego-laser....
  • Commented on Default Option
    Personally, I've never considered a job as punitive. Not all jobs are punitive, but some sure are. Heck, one of my bosses could make drinking in a bar after work into an ordeal. The secret is to insist that people...
  • Commented on Default Option
    The likelihood of German-led military action against Greece in the foreseeable future is zero. Did somebody suggest a tremendously unwise military adventure with no possible good outcomes? This looks like a job for Uncle Sam! Seriously, I think military intervention...
  • Commented on Cloud cuckoo politics
    Here in the States, there's usually one bin for recyclables. It's fairly common for the recyclables to end up in the landfill with the ordinary trash, just because dealing with them separately is a pain....
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