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Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

GPS Pilot Re:The optimal way (452 comments)

while it's 'fair and accurate' it is very much 'not easy'

Not easy, but easier than it used to be. Probably wouldn't be too difficult to adapt a GIS system to analyze how many segments a particular customer uses, and how many other customers are using those same segments, and bill the maintenance costs accordingly. And if we were talking about another type of distribution system where the value of the delivered commodity is much higher than a residential electric bill (say, an oil pipeline), it would make a lot more sense to go to this effort.

As a high school kid in the '80s I wrote a paper about the Rural Electrification Administration. The gist of my paper was that this was a perfect example of a federal agency that had long since accomplished its mission and outlived its usefulness. Wikipedia says "In 1934, less than 11% of US farms had electricity... By 1942, nearly 50% of US farms had electricity, and by 1952 almost all US farms had electricity."

The REA existed until 1994 -- and it's still not completely gone, because it was absorbed into the "Rural Utilities Service." It's impossible to put a stake through the heart of a federal agency.

I should make a stronger distinction between construction costs and maintenance costs. Construction is a one-time cost that can be amortized over many years, and I'll grant that subsidized construction, like the early work done by the REA, was probably a good thing. But maintenance costs are forever, and if the owner of some far-flung cabin can't bear the full cost of maintaining a line that serves no one else, that line never should have been built in the first place.

yesterday
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Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

GPS Pilot Unless it's a kludge (452 comments)

If Oklahoma uses this system, then the utility is being fairly compensated for the power lines no matter how little electricity the customer actually buys.

That's true if the pricing scheme accurately reflects the costs. If the pricing scheme is a kludge that merely gives the illusion of providing an accurate cost breakdown, it is now coming back to bite them.

2 days ago
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Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

GPS Pilot Making things fair for both buyer and seller (452 comments)

Distribution utilities pay a wholesale price for each kilowatt-hour purchased from a generating facility. Individuals who want to sell excess power generated by their rooftop unit should have the same status as the big guys -- receiving wholesale, not retail rates for the power they put into the grid. (This encourages right-sizing of an individual's solar installation. Effectively, those individuals do get retail price for the non-excess solar power that they consume themselves.)

Once that level playing field is understood and established, distribution utilities should heartily welcome little guys selling power. The more places you can go to obtain the commodity you're redistributing, the better off you are. Each additional seller makes the market more competitive and makes the network more robust.

Perhaps what is needed here is breaking apart the distribution side of the business and the generation side, so each side can pursue their conflicting interests.

2 days ago
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Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

GPS Pilot The optimal way (452 comments)

This sort of thinking has the cost of the line be $0 every customer but the last one, who's charged millions. Not all that practical. It's much easier to look at the cost of the line* and divide by the number of customers. I'd say it's more fair as well.

You've presented two extremes, and neither represents the most fair and accurate way to allocate maintenence costs.

The most fair and accurate way is to look at who is served by each segment of the line. It makes no sense to make the last customer bear the entire cost of maintaining the entire line; but it does make sense to make him bear the entire cost of maintaining the last segment of the line, which serves only him. The next-to-last segment serves two customers, and its maintenance should be borne by those two customers; the next segment after that serves three, etc.

There are scenarios where simply dividing by the total number of customers can lead to severe misallocation of resources. If the line serves 999 customers who live in a relatively tight cluster, but the 1000th customer wants to build a home 100 miles from that cluster, the utility will never recover the cost of that extremely long line extension if the single customer it serves is permitted to pay "average" rates. The other 999 customers should not be forced to subsidize the new customer's unrealistic desire to live in such a remote location while enjoying all the comforts of civilization.

2 days ago
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Student Records Kids Who Bully Him, Then Gets Threatened With Wiretapping Charge

GPS Pilot Curious about the characterization... (797 comments)

Why do you call this a "post authoritarian decade"?

Was 2000 - 2010 an "authoritarian decade"? If so, why?

5 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

GPS Pilot Re:Nonsense (293 comments)

Did the Vice Chancellor know you were on his side -- i.e. that you thought this policy was ridiculous? I would have said "Sir, I will be your best ally in getting this policy repealed, but in the meantime we have to follow it." Or could he have gotten the impression that you were just gleefully implementing the policy like some tool? The former would set anyone up for promotion more than the latter.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Engel's Law (422 comments)

Why shouldn't I talk about valid statistics? Here is one of the many places you can find the statistics: http://www.motherjones.com/blu...
This article says Americans spent 33% of their incomes on food in 1963, and by 2009 this had dropped to only 6%.

It's called Engel's Law.

I know you're not the only person making less they did 15 years ago. There are probably millions like you, but in spite of that, Mother Jones can still point out how much more affordable food tends to be these days. Engel's Law has not been violated. Instead of writing another ad-hominem attack, you'd do better to use that time learning about Engel's Law: http://my.safaribooksonline.co...

(Hey, that author also cites milk as an example of something that is now consuming a smaller fraction of family budgets.)

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Re:The reason why the laws are for sale. (422 comments)

Last time I checked, elections still work on the basis of one-person-one-vote. But how do you attract votes to your cause or to your philosophy? With political advertisements and marketing campaigns. Those cost money, and always will. Like it or not, speech really is money: if I stand on a soapbox in a vacant town square and express my views, I am exercising my First Amendment rights, but in a completely ineffectual way. If I purchase a full-page ad in the New York Times instead, my ideas will have infinitely greater impact.

This is why donations matter in a democracy. They affect the way that each one person exercises his or her one vote.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Re:The reason why the laws are for sale. (422 comments)

What you are saying is that Political Action Committies with large budgets should have exactly the same amount of influence as PACs with small budgets. You have robbed Jane of her power to strengthen FooPAC by making a $15 donation to FooPAC, because it will have the same amount of influence regardless of whether Jane donates.

What also follows from this is that if the Build-a-KKK-Statue-on-the-Washington-Mall PAC raises $40, and in the outraged backlash, the We-Mustn't-Build-a-KKK-Statue-on-the-Washington-Mall PAC raises $53 million, Congress must give an equal amount of attention to both of those organizations.

Sorry, seems like you haven't thought this through.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Re:The reason why the laws are for sale. (422 comments)

How would you implement your proposal?

Suppose Jane feels three time as strongly about issue foo as Joe does, and therefore she donates $15 to FooPAC and Joe only donates $5. Are you suggesting that FooPAC should be forced to refund $10 to Jane? Then no one would be free to act on their ethos more strongly than the weakest actor.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Re:Automating away bureaucracy... (422 comments)

Your anecdotal situation doesn't change the fact that there's a long-term trend in which basic commodities consume an ever-smaller fraction of average family income.

Your personal milk consumption habits don't change the fact that milk is a basic commodity.

Do you have a recurring habit of allowing your desire to be argumentative sap people's productivity, or of valuing anecdotes over bulk statistics?

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Re:Benefits of third-party sites (422 comments)

Colorado had a perfectly simple online form, and then one year they rebuilt it to require Silverlight 2.0, of all things! Now, Silverlight 1.0 was the last version that supported PowerPC; that meant my not-that-long-in-the-tooth PowerMac G5, perfectly serviceable for all other web sites, was dead in the water.

I sent them a nasty nastygram, and the next year Silverlight was gone.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Benefits of third-party sites (422 comments)

Taxact.com, like Turbotax, provides an online "interview" that guides you through the process, makes complying with the law much easier, and finds deductions that you might otherwise overlook. I am glad that a third party is providing that service. And I'm glad that multiple third parties are doing this, and making continuous improvements because they are competing with each other on the basis of ease-of-use and correctness-of-calculations.

If the IRS had a monopoly on providing this service, and developed it in-house, you can bet it would be as user-friendly as waiting in line at the DMV. I'm not so naive as to claim that the third-party efforts are bug-free, but they're better than the IRS would do, because what motivation would a faceless IRS bureaucrat have to fix bugs in the software?

There's also a motivation to be secure: Third-party sites can be sued if your private data leaks out, but the IRS cannot be sued.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Quantifying the damage done by the tax code (422 comments)

I once read that the amount of resources expended to simply comply with the IRS is equal to the gross state product of Iowa.

Think about it -- the entire output of a fairly prosperous state, wiped out by the overly-complex tax code!

(And that was about 20 years ago, when the tax code was less complex than it is now.)

Sure, tax simplification would be disruptive to Intuit (and also to firms that act less like vampires, like H&R Block). But no more disruptive than any other awesome efficiency-boosting development, like the invention of the LED.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot The sheeple celebrate their refunds (422 comments)

Joe Public: Yay, Ima gonna get a big check from the IRS!

Me: Wouldn't you have rather gotten that money sooner, rather than later, by reducing the amount withheld from your pay?

Joe: Huh?

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot I just e-filed for free (422 comments)

Go to Taxact.com. You can e-file your federal return for free, no strings attached.

The e-filing of state returns is where they attempt to make revenue, but you're under no obligation to buy that service.

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot Automating away bureaucracy... (422 comments)

Think about this: thanks to incomes growing faster than the rate of inflation, basic commodities, like a gallon of milk, consume a significantly smaller fraction of a family's income than they did a generation ago. And that effect is orders-of-magnitude larger for technological commodities, like a gigaflop of computing power.

Government services, too, ought to be costing a smaller fraction of a family's income. (Especially because government uses technology to provide its services. Most government workers sit in front of a computer all day.) But government services are about the only thing that is bucking the trend, and consuming a larger fraction of a family's income!

about a week ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

GPS Pilot The reason why the laws are for sale. (422 comments)

The laws can be for sale, only to the extent that the lawmakers are selling!

Every special interest should be free to lobby. The real trick is electing representatives who understand that catering to a special interest is, by definition, detrimental to the general interest. (If something is in the general interest, it's by definition not a special interest.)

about a week ago

Submissions

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More details about Mars mystery rock

GPS Pilot GPS Pilot writes  |  about 3 months ago

GPS Pilot (3683) writes "Previous reports said the rock that suddenly appeared out of nowhere was merely 'the size of a jelly doughnut.' Now, a color image shows additional reasons for this metaphor: 'It's white around the outside, in the middle there's kind of a low spot that's dark red,' said lead scientist Steve Squyres. In the image, the object does stick out like a sore thumb amidst the surrounding orange rocks and soil. Its composition is 'like nothing we've ever seen before. It's very high in sulfur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars.' If it's just a random rock that had been kicked into position by one of the rover's wheels, chances are it would not be 'like nothing we've ever seen before.'"
Link to Original Source
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Autonomously-driven car transports Congressman

GPS Pilot GPS Pilot writes  |  about 8 months ago

GPS Pilot (3683) writes "The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee just took a ride in Carnegie Mellon University's autonomously-driven Cadillac — a nice step forward for acceptance and awareness of this technology."
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Independent replication of BlackLight Power energy

GPS Pilot GPS Pilot writes  |  more than 5 years ago

novel_compound writes "Faculty memebers at Rowan University have independently replicated the remarkable energy source invented by BlackLight Power, Inc. Their report confirms that this process causes hydrogen to release 100 times more energy than ordinary combustion."
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Greenpeace founder promotes nuclear energy, again

GPS Pilot GPS Pilot writes  |  more than 5 years ago

GPS Pilot (3683) writes "Patrick Moore is promoting nuclear energy again.

The only viable solution is to build hundreds of nuclear power plants over the next century, Moore told the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. There isn't enough potential for wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal or other renewable energy sources, he said."
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Roll your own pivoting display?

GPS Pilot GPS Pilot writes  |  more than 6 years ago

GPS Pilot (3683) writes "A monitor with 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for watching DVDs, but perfectly wrong for word processing and coding. What's the best way to get the best of both worlds: should I pay a premium for a display that has a 90 degree pivoting feature built-in (such as the HP LP2465), or is there a good aftermarket VESA mount desktop stand that can turn any LCD into a pivoting display? And how well do various OSes support pivoting displays? (I'm most interested in OS X.)"
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Fifth fundamental force of nature: antigravity?

GPS Pilot GPS Pilot writes  |  more than 5 years ago

GPS Pilot (3683) writes "Dr. Randell Mills has just posted a paper in which 'We report the experimental confirmation of 15 predicted hyperbolic-electron states that are observed forced away from the Earth with an acceleration that is over twelve orders of magnitude greater than that of gravity, as predicted.'

In other words, a fifth fundamental force of nature, which amounts to a very powerful form of antigravity.

He performed the experiment with an off-the-shelf electron gun."

Link to Original Source

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