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Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

Mike Van Pelt How good is your insurance? (237 comments)

With insurance, you don't really know for sure how good it is until the day you hope never comes happens, and you have to make a claim. Do they drag their feet or low-ball payment of the claim? Do they drop you? Do they hike up your rate?

My car insurance is kind of on the middle-low end of cost. I get ads for other insurance that could have cheaper premiums. But... With my current insurer, I have had a few experiences with having minor and not-so-minor claims, and they have treated me well, and not dropped me, and not jacked my rates up.

I don't think losing that kind of peace of mind is worth some marginal rate decrease.

4 days ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

Mike Van Pelt My suspicion (441 comments)

Saudi Arabia is trying to bankrupt the oil shale producers to get rid of potential serious competition. (Remember the stories of more oil than Saudi Arabia being found in the Dakotas?)

about two weeks ago
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Unbundling Cable TV: Be Careful What You Wish For

Mike Van Pelt I want unbundling. (448 comments)

From TFA:

There are surely examples of people who would be better off in an era of cable unbundling, such as those who watch only a very small number of channels, none of them high-fee sports channels, with great regularity.

That describes my viewing exactly. (Ditto Empty-V and its myriad tedious clones.)

about two weeks ago
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Heinlein's 'All You Zombies' Now a Sci-Fi Movie Head Trip

Mike Van Pelt Re:Predestination is an incredibly unsatisfying mo (254 comments)

> The heart of the question about him is 'where did he come from and why does he exist?"

"I know where I came from, but where did all you zombies come from?

about two weeks ago
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CIA on UFO Sightings: 'It Was Us'

Mike Van Pelt Re:It's what they want. (197 comments)

Tin foil. TIN. Aluminum foil is worse than useless. There's a reason actual tin foil is hard to find. (And you won't find it at Costco.)

about three weeks ago
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Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

Mike Van Pelt Re:Hegel strikes again? (719 comments)

When you say "Material must be handled over and over again because containers break down" it shows you have not bothered to even look at the actual proposals for how to deal with the waste; what was actually going to be put into the repository at Yucca Mountain. (Or, you're being deliberately disengeuous, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt.)

about 1 month ago
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Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy

Mike Van Pelt Re:Second hand view from a teacher (351 comments)

... it was a missed opportunity to give the "best children's book ever written" a proper adaptation.

It wouldn't work. And I'm not saying that to be cruel, but a major part of the viewing audience would have seen LotR first and quite frankly hate the Hobbit done according to the book.

This. Tolkein's story "grew with the telling"; he'd done all this imaginary mythology background stuff, epic poetry, and tales. He wrote some of it up as a childrens' book, "The Hobbit".

"The Lord of the Rings" came later. At the time he wrote "The Hobbit", he didn't realize that the ring Bilbo found was The One Ring. I'm not sure the whole "three for the elves, seven for the dwarf lords, nine for mortal men, and one ring to rule them" thing was developed in his mind at the time.

Jackson chose to adapt "The Hobbit" as a prequel to "Lord of the Rings". That decision is ... controversial. But it was probably necessary, given that the "Lord of the Rings" movies existed.

Yeah, it should have been one movie, maybe two. Sauron showing up Just Does Not Work in the continuity; in LOTR, they didn't know Sauron had returned at the beginning of the story. There are a lot of things I wish Jackson had done better, or differently.

And too much Coyote Physics, way, way, *WAY* too much Coyote Physics, especially in the second movie. I enjoy Roadrunner cartoons as much as anyone, maybe more, but I don't want Coyote Physics in something more serious.

Still, my biggest beef of all with Jackson was from the original "Lord of the Rings" movies; wrecking Faramir's character was a huge blunder.

Oh, well, I still found them mostly enjoyable,

about 1 month ago
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Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

Mike Van Pelt Re:Hegel strikes again? (719 comments)

When someone uses the term "Alternative energy" they almost always mean "A little bit of energy on sunny days when the wind is blowing". It may work for households, but when it comes to industry, as a replacement for coal, without nukes, it's pure unadulterated Arithmetic Denialism.

I have been advocating phasing out coal in favor of nuclear for about 40 years now.

about a month ago
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11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

Mike Van Pelt Re:Classic pricing problem (330 comments)

You left out a biggy: 5. Don't punish conservation.

How do some CA utilities punish water conservation? It goes like this: A. drought hits. B. utility requests conservation. C. Good citizens comply. D. Because utility revenue is proportional to usage, utility has less revenue. E. Utility has to raise rates. F. Good citizen who complied is a chump. He ends up paying more because he did a good deed.

And on top of that: Good citizen complies, water supplies get more scarce, mandatory rationing is implemented as it is Every. Single. Time., in the form of "Everybody must cut back on their previous use by x%", bad citizen just waters his lawn three times a week instead of every day, but good citizen is screwed.

about a month ago
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11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

Mike Van Pelt Re:Better Link (330 comments)

Yeah, I really hate "gadzillions and gadzillions of gallons of water" reporting on the water deficit.

Taking their figures, 42 cubic kilometers, and California with an area of 423,970 square km, that's a deficit of about 10cm of rainfall, statewide.

(Assuming I didn't slip a decimal point.)

Yeah, it grossly underestimates the issue, because that much rain all at once would mostly run off, and rainfall is not evenly distributed, but it's more useful than the nutty measurement that was reported in that article.

about a month ago
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The Personal Computer Revolution Behind the Iron Curtain

Mike Van Pelt Re:'it is out of stock now; try to ask next year.' (115 comments)

We'll know that communism has succeeded when we find a communist country that doesn't prevent its citizens from leaving.

This. Oh, so very much this.

about a month ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

Mike Van Pelt Down with Solid State! (416 comments)

We should stop using transistors and purge our textbooks of all knowledge of DNA because Shockley and Watson are racists.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

Mike Van Pelt Re:awww.... (720 comments)

HR departments and felons... oh, yeah. At a previous employer, we really desperately wanted to hire a really good technical guy, but he'd been convicted of possession of some AT&T code at some time in the past. My boss pushed back on HR, and they said "You can probably force the issue and get him hired ... eventually. But we can and will use every means at our disposal to block and delay it for as long as we possibly can. I can guarantee it will be at least a year."

So, since we needed someone sooner than a year, we had to pass on our ideal candidate.

about a month and a half ago
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EU Sets Goal To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40% By 2030

Mike Van Pelt Re:Theory vs reality? (172 comments)

I've had air conditioning. And I've had lack of air conditioning. Air conditioning in the summer is a very big improvement to quality of life in most of the United States. Maybe not so much in Sweden. But I do not live in Sweden.

about 3 months ago
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EU Sets Goal To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40% By 2030

Mike Van Pelt Re:Theory vs reality? (172 comments)

Actually, large coal plants are enough more efficient than the usual automobile internal combustion engine that, even with electrical losses along the way, there's less CO2 emission per mile with an electric car charged from electricity powered by a coal plant than from a gas car.

about 3 months ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

Mike Van Pelt Re:wow (571 comments)

Fission plant wastes are two differnet problem sets: 1) Fission products, which are pretty much gone after a couple of hundred years for even the long-lived ones, and 2) transuranics bred from uranium absorbing neutrons. It's the transuranics that are the long-lived stuff, but they are potentially nuclear fuel, so should be recycled into new fuel rods. Plutonium is the most obvious one of these, but any transuranic is going to alternate between absorbing neutrons, decaying via some decay path or another, and eventually hit a fissionable isotope of something, at which point it gives off a bunch of energy and joins the fission product problem set.

Of course, if this fusion technology of Lockheed's really does pan out, no one is going to bother. I want a Mr. Fusion to power my Tesla.

about 3 months ago
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PETA Is Not Happy That Google Used a Camel To Get a Desert "StreetView"

Mike Van Pelt Re:Sheesh, what's the problem? (367 comments)

Heh... I just saw a commedian on TV last night who said "I hate PETA. I would eat a cat just to piss PETA off." The audience roared with laughter.

about 3 months ago
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Co-Founder of PayPal Peter Thiel: Society Is Hostile To Science and Technology

Mike Van Pelt Re:The third law of slashdot. (238 comments)

But what percentage of the people who make such a big ostentatious show of being so very very very concerned about CO2 and climate change are not also rabid anti-nukes? Much of our problem with CO2 is that we failed to phase out coal in favor of nuclear decades ago. And California just shut down another nuclear plant, replacing its carbon-free energy with more megatons of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere. (Yes, California does have some "sunny days when the wind is blowing" power generation. But as long as any power is being generated by fossil fuels, shutting down nuclear plants is increasing amount of fossil fuels burned.)

about 3 months ago
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Co-Founder of PayPal Peter Thiel: Society Is Hostile To Science and Technology

Mike Van Pelt Re:The gift of Technology (238 comments)

A usefull corrolary to keep in mind is one from the "Freefall" web comic: "Any technology, no matter how simple, is magic to you if you don't understand it." And too few people really understand science or technology on even a basic level.

On the other hand, I like Dr. Barry Gehm's version, too: "Any technology that is distinguishable from magic is not advanced enough."

about 3 months ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

Mike Van Pelt Re:Navel gazing (652 comments)

While environmental studies professors continue to pump out ready excuses for imposing increasing economic feudalism in Europe and North America, China and India are going to build out nuclear power and produce energy. I doubt they'll be dissuaded from trying because of anything this professor says.

When people like this say, "the world can't" remember that they actually mean, "we aren't going to let you."

This. I wish I had mod points today to mod this up.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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West Africa Internet connectivity slashed

Mike Van Pelt Mike Van Pelt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Mike Van Pelt writes ""Large parts of West Africa are struggling to get back online following damage to an undersea cable."

Where will I go to get my get my (big bucks from the purloined millions of random deposed dictator of the day) now?"

Link to Original Source
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Google Maps missing satellite view

Mike Van Pelt Mike Van Pelt writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Mike Van Pelt writes "Google seems to be missing the satellite images tonight — when I click on any map at any resolution with the satellite option set, it shows the roads but no images, then replaces the roads with tiles of its "We are sorry, but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region" message.

This is an example, screen-captured before it had completely replaced the map with the "no imagery" messages.

http://mikevanpelt.com/images/Google-no-sat.png

Have they perhaps overreacted to the lawsuit reported earlier?"

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