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Why Robot Trucks Could Be Headed To Afghanistan (And Everywhere Else)

TrumpetPower! Not Google cars (135 comments)

i've been telling people for a while that the first we'll see of autonomous vehicles in any big way isn't in personal Google-style vehicles, but in the long-haul trucking industry.

Now I know that's true, because it's the only physically possible way to safely haul away the toxic mess that's the fucking Beta shit being sprayed everywhere like something out of a low-budget slashbeta horror flick.

Fuck the Beta,

b&

about 6 months ago
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Target Admits Data Breach May Have Up To 110 Million Victims

TrumpetPower! That's the whole country (213 comments)

According to the Census Bureau, there're about 115 million households in the US. Target has basically admitted that the theft amounts to their entire database.

I'd like to think that this would mean the end of the credit reporting rackets; how can anybody even pretend any more that that data is meaningful when this sort of fraud is taking place? But I also wanted to think that the Snowden revelations would have meant the end of the NSA, so clearly I'm not somebody anybody is paying or should pay attention to.

Cheers,

b&

about 7 months ago
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People Become More Utilitarian When They Face Moral Dilemmas In Virtual Reality

TrumpetPower! Re:Fucking trolley bullshit (146 comments)

So? Everybody participating n the Stanford Prison Experiment knew it was an experiment, too.

That's the most important lesson learned from the famous psychology experiments of the '50s and '60s: that those sorts of experiments were important to do once, and they should never be done again except in extraordinary and the most carefully controlled of circumstances. The ethical review boards were brought into existence explicitly to ensure that those sorts of experiments were never performed again unless for truly justifiable reasons.

I fail to notice any overwhelming, transcendental purposes in these mockeries of psychological research that warrant their execution.

Cheers,

b&

about 7 months ago
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People Become More Utilitarian When They Face Moral Dilemmas In Virtual Reality

TrumpetPower! Fucking trolley bullshit (146 comments)

I can't believe that people still think that these trolley car "thought experiments" are telling them anything novel about human moral instincts.

All they are are less-visceral variations on Milgram's famous work. An authority figure tells you you must kill either the hot chick on the left or the ugly fatty on the right and that you mustn't sound the alarm or call 9-1-1 or anything else. And, just as Milgram found out, virtually everybody goes ahead and does horrific things in such circumstances.

Just look at the videos in question. The number of laws and safety regulations and bad designs of the evil-mad-scientist variety in each scenario are innumerable. They take it beyond Milgram's use of a white lab coat to establish authority and into psychotic Nazi commander territory. In the real world, the victims wouldn't be anywhere near where they are. If they were, there wouldn't be any operations in progress at the site. If there were, there would be competent operators at the controls, not the amateur being manipulated by the experimenter; and those operators would be well drilled in both standard and emergency procedures that would prevent the disaster or mitigate it if unavoidable -- for example, airline pilots trained to the point of instinct to avoid crashing a doomed plane into a crowded area.

The proper role of the experimenter's victims ("subjects") is to yell for help, to not fucking touch critical safety infrastructure in the event of a crisis unless instructed to by a competent professional, to render first aid to the best of their abilities once help is on the way, and to assist investigators however possible once the dust has settled.

Yet, of course, the experimenter is too wrapped up in the evil genius role to permit their victims to even consider anything like that, and instead convinces the victims that they're bad people who'll kill innocents when ordered to. Just as we already knew from Milgram.

How any of this bullshit makes it past ethics review boards is utterly beyond me.

Cheers,

b&

about 7 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

TrumpetPower! Re:There must be a very good reason... (579 comments)

The correct accounting would be that you should be charged retail rates for what you draw out of the grid, but reimbursed only at wholesale rates for what you feed into the grid, like any other power producer who feeds into the grid is paid.

If you had read the second half of my post, you would have learned two facts.

First, for the annual surpluses, that's exactly what happens: I get paid wholesale rates. But not just any wholesale rates; I get paid Palo Verde off-peak average rates for some period of time, less a transmission fee. That's basically the cheapest power there is.

Second, you would have learned that I'm generating the most of my power during the highest peak demands, when they're not only charging customers the highest but oftentimes paying more than they're charging their customers to meet peak demands. (They make up for it during other hours, of course, but we're discussing the time periods when I'm putting more in than I'm taking out.) And and at night when I have my highest draws from the grid, that's when their cheapest baseload generators are idling.

Put those two together, and, even if it weren't for the annual surplus that they credit my account for at bargain-basement wholesale rates, they'd still be profiting hugely from me. Even though it's a kWh-for-kWh credit swap, the kWhs they get from me are the most expensive there are (maximum peak green-generated) and the kWhs I get from them are the cheapest there are (overnight nuclear-generated baseload).

Cheers,

b&

about 7 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

TrumpetPower! Re:There must be a very good reason... (579 comments)

Because they are usually required to pay customers a lot more for feed-in power than they can generate it for, with no allowance for their internal cost overheads, etc.

Absolutely false -- horribly false.

On a day-to-day and month-to-month accounting basis, my utility (Salt River Project in Arizona) gives me a kWh-for-kWh credit. If I generate 20 kWh during the day, use 15 kWh during the day, and another 5 kWh during the night, I have net zero usage.

Surpluses are carried over day-to-day and month-to-month. If I have a net debit at the end of the month, I'm charged the regular rate for that electricity. If I have a surplus, it's carried over to the next month.

Once a year, in the spring, if I have a net surplus, SRP credits my account and resets the surplus to zero. And I generate about half again as much as I consume -- enough to power my not-yet-purchased electric vehicle -- so they credit me a fair amount every year. It's enough to pay the basic connection fee for about half the year, in fact, so I only even pay that for about six months per year.

But.

Rather than crediting me at the $0.12 / kWh typical residential retail rate, or the $0.25+ / kWh they purchase peak summer power (which is when I'm generating most of my surplus electricity), they pay me about $0.02 / kWh.

By my rough back-of-the-envelope calculations, they're now profiting from me almost as much as I used to pay them in total. As in, what used to be their gross receipts from me is now their net.

What business wouldn't be thrilled with such a business model?

So, do please stop spreading the lies of the Koch Brothers. The poor widdle utilities aren't being hurt by the solar meanies -- quite the opposite. They're making money from us, hand over fist.

They're just a bunch of greedy sick fucks who want to roast the goose that's laying the golden eggs, is all.

Cheers,

b&

about 7 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

TrumpetPower! Utilities aiming at their own feet (579 comments)

I live in the Valley of the Sun, and most of the southern half of my roof is covered in solar panels. I generate about half again as much electricity as I consume. This is by design; the plan is to get an electric vehicle in the not-too-terribly-distant future, and my excess generation capacity is enough that I should be able to drive for basically free. And the whole thing will pay itself off in about seven years total; if you remember the Rule of 70, that works out to about a 10% annual rate of return on my investment.

My utility provider is SRP; it was APS who was taking Koch Brothers money to fuck over their customers.

I've got a really good thing going for myself, obviously, but SRP is also making a nice profit off of me. My peak generation coincides with peak demand here. At the same time as they sell my electricity to my neighbors at $0.14 / kWh, they're paying twice that to spool up diesel generators...and they're paying me about $0.02 / kWh for my surplus. And I've signed over all my green credits to them, as well. Sweet deal for both of us, and I'm glad for it to be that way -- that's how good business profits are supposed to work.

If, however, APS's original proposal went into effect and SRP adopted it or something similar for themselves...well, at that point, I'd tell them to fuck off, get a battery system, and drop off the grid entirely. Changing the equation like that would wipe out any financial advantage I get from my investment and hugely profit the utility -- and, remember, I'm already far and away the most profitable customer they have on the block. It would really suck to have to pay again for a battery system; I've got better things I could do with that money. But I'd much rather invest that money in real physical goods that provide me with actual benefits (including, in this case, having the lights stay on should the grid ever go down) than throw gobs of money for no good reason at greedy profiteering corporate CEOs.

I can assure you, if the utilities keep up this sort of thing...well, they'll "protect" their profits for a little while, but it won't be long before people start dropping off the grid in droves. And that will be a bad thing for everybody -- but, most of all, for the utilities.

Cheers,

b&

about 7 months ago
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P2P Data Not Private, But It Could Be

TrumpetPower! Please. (59 comments)

Please stop giving air to this ignorant blowhard.

Just stop.

Now.

KTHXBAI

b&

about 8 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:thorium OR ??? (776 comments)

I most emphatically do have a heat pump, and I generally keep the thermostat set at about 80 during the summer -- and I'm in the middle of the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Unless your roof is mostly shaded, I can only assume that your house has no insulation whatsoever, or very large single-pane windows in direct sun, or other variations on that theme, and that you chill the place to below 70. You're describing needing something on the order of a 50 KW PV installation to reach 100% offset, which is industrial-sized.

Your electricity bills have likely also at least flirted with the four-figure mark, so I wouldn't necessarily feel so much sympathy at reluctance to spend $37K up front to reduce those. However, you'd be a textbook case of somebody who could get far better bang for the buck in efficiency improvements than in generating capacity. Once you're no longer wasting more electricity than an entire Mediterranean village, you won't need anywhere near as large an array to meet your needs.

Cheers,

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:thorium OR ??? (776 comments)

No, renewables can't meet the demand today, and possibly never will. You have made the classic mistake of assuming your experience is typical of everything everywhere. A typical solar installation is capable only of meeting a normal households power needs part of the time.

Purest bullshit.

I have not quite half my roof covered in solar panels, and I generate 150% as much electricity as I use -- enough to power an electric vehicle that I plan on buying in the next couple years or so.

Granted, I live in Arizona. But if you were to teleport my house to Seattle, I'd only need to cover the rest of the roof to make up the deficit -- and probably not even quite that much.

As for overnight? First, we've got far more than adequate baseload generating capacity to last us for a loooong time. But, more to the point, a Tesla-sized battery would be plenty to keep me going overnight -- and that's an expensive battery designed for a high-performance vehicle; something much more pedestrian would be just fine. Or, much more preferably, the utilities can continue to remain relevant by investing in utility-scale storage, such as pumped hydro or running fuel cells in reverse or even generating hydrocarbon fuels from atmospheric CO2 via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

We've already got the infrastructure in place for solar: our rooftops and the existing grid. And we've got the technology; labor and code compliance are the most expensive parts of any solar installation today. And we would have had the money...the $1.5 trillion we've burned blowing up brown people in the past decade would have quite nicely paid for the solarification of America.

What we lack is the moral integrity and courage to tell the Koch Brothers what to shove up their asses, and how far.

Cheers,

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

First, I haven't run the numbers for the UK, but I suspect your estimates are likely overly pessimistic. Remember that solar PV still works on cloudy days; just not as well. You Brits might have to install more panels per person than those of us in more temperate climes, and you might need to supplement further with other sources.

But...you may be on an island, but you're hardly cut off from civilization. Germany, whose entire country is worse for solar than the gloomiest parts of the Continental US, is going gangbusters with solar. And I'm sure, once they've finally got some surplus, they'd be delighted to sell it to you -- as would the French and Spaniards and Italians...and, with a sufficiently advanced grid, even the Saudis. And you have "neighbors" to the west who have more geothermal power than they know what to do with already.

Besides. Nobody ever guaranteed that the future would be better than the past. It might become prohibitively expensive to live in Britain, with or without solar. Then again, it might become prohibitively expensive to live anywhere else, either. Such is life...and death.

Cheers,

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

Of course, I'm not advocating for genocide nor throwing up our hands. As I've repeatedly noted in this thread, I've gone solar, myself, and I've also already noted how the money we burned blowing up Iraq and Afghanistan would have been just about enough to switch the US entirely over to photovoltaics.

I'm just not at all optimistic that we're going to make a wise choice. I hope we will, but it's looking quite likely that we'll instead see economic and population crashes as a result of resource depletion and widespread pollution (such as the collapse of the oceanic fish stocks we're already witnessing). And, of course the wars that will inevitably accompany such chaos.

I really, really don't want to see that happen, but I can't honestly say that I see a realistic path forward that avoids that sort of thing.

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

I've done the next best thing; I've covered my roof in solar panels, and I'm generating half again as much electricity as I use -- enough to power the electric vehicle I plan on getting in the next couple years. It's far and away the best financial investment I've ever made, with a guaranteed nearly-risk-free ROI in the 10% range.

I don't have any interest in getting into the construction and roofing business. But the contractor who installed my system, American Solar Electric, is quite profitable. If you're a qualified tradesman in Arizona and need a great job, I can put you in touch with them....

Cheers,

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

Again, no need to turn existing undeveloped areas into glass-covered parking lots; we've already got all the space we need on our rooftops.

But, for reference, it's an area smaller than Texas.

And, again again, we're already 80% there with the smart grid, which already needs to deal with plants going offline and coming back online. And solar is quite predictable at the timescales that utilities need to deal with; and we've got plenty of baseload capacity to tide us over as we ramp up utility-scale storage.

Indeed, had we invested that trillion and a half dollars we just blew up in Iraq and Afghanistan in solar power infrastructure, we'd already be there....

Cheers,

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:windturbines btw. 3-6 months (776 comments)

Wind definitely has its place in the energy production mix of today and the future. However, as with hydroelectricity, it's just displaced solar and can't even come close to matching more direct solar energy harvesting (especially photovoltaic and solar thermal) on a global scale.

I wouldn't at all want to discourage somebody from harvesting wind power, and there're lots of situations where it'd be stupid to not do so. But, as incredibly wonderful as it is as a niche player, it's still a niche player. Wind by itself is never going to quench our thirst for energy.

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

Of course, I was writing in the inclusive "we" -- that is, "we" as a society.

I've covered my roof in solar panels; I'm generating about half again as much electricity as I'm using, enough to power the electric car I hope to buy in the next couple years. I'm fully aware that some of us are doing all we can to do right by ourselves and the planet.

But, sadly, collectively, we're doing precisely diddly and squat (to any appreciable rounding margin). In no small part, of course, because of the parasites you mention.

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

As Tom has most recently turned his attention to, the real problem is overpopulation, especially coupled with population growth. And I suspect he's about as pessimistic as I am at our chances of making it through this without an unprecedented crisis, if at all.

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

A five-year payback time is equivalent to a 14% annual rate of return on your investment. Are you really so rich and / or foolish that you can afford to turn your nose up at a guaranteed 14% return on your investments?

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

Electricity doesn't care which direction it flows. It's not like water that needs a push to get up a hill.

b&

about 9 months ago
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4 Prominent Scientists Say Renewables Aren't Enough, Urge Support For Nuclear

TrumpetPower! Re:Not good at math (776 comments)

First, we've already got more than enough baseload generation capacity for the indefinite future. We don't need to tear down what's already in place.

Second, I shit you not, we've already figured out how to store electricity. There're things called, "batteries," and you might even have one within arm's reach as you read these words; your next car might have one big enough to power your house for a day or so. Dams can be run in reverse during the day and drained again at night. Fuel cells work just as well backwards as forwards. Solar thermal plants are typically designed so they collect enough heat during the day to keep the turbines running through the night. Caverns can be pressurized. Or, if you're really feeling extravagant, you can, as I mentioned, use Fischer-Tropsch to generate hydrocarbons from CO2.

Is any of this as cheap as sticking a straw in the ground and sucking out crude oil? Well, actually, once you consider the cost of the externialities of oil production, it's a hell of a lot cheaper.

But, hey. You're apparently delighted to pay for the Koch Brothers's lives of luxury with your children's futures, so don't let any of this stop you.

Cheers,

b&

about 9 months ago

Submissions

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Terrorist Watch List Hits One Million Names

TrumpetPower! TrumpetPower! writes  |  about 6 years ago

TrumpetPower! writes "The nation's terrorist watch list has hit one million names, according to a tally maintained by the American Civil Liberties Union based upon the government's own reported numbers for the size of the list. The wire services have picked up the story. To help put the number in perspective, that's just shy of the size of Russia's army, and many times the size of any individual European army. Either we're in imminent danger from a literal vast horde of terrorists who would destroy us; that horde is exceedingly ineffective; or the list has vanishingly few actual terrorists on it."
Link to Original Source
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Font Freedom Day

TrumpetPower! TrumpetPower! writes  |  more than 6 years ago

TrumpetPower! writes "On September 29, 1988, the Library of Congress Copyright Office issued a notice of policy decision (4 Mbyte coralized PDF) in the Federal Register “to inform the public that the Copyright Office has decided that digitized representations of typeface designs are not registrable under the Copyright Act because they do not constitute original works of authorship.” In observance of Font Freedom day, go ahead and share some of your favorite fonts with your friends — and do so entirely guilt-free!"
Link to Original Source
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TrumpetPower! TrumpetPower! writes  |  more than 7 years ago

TrumpetPower! writes "This past Thursday, in response to questioning by Senator Arlen Specter (R, PA), US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary committee that ``The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. '' The exchange between Mr. Gonzales and Senator Specter has received virtually no attention from the press; Google News currently has all of a dozen or so stories. Habeas corpus is the right, in America guaranteed by Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, which ensures that people are not unjustly imprisoned and tried."
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TrumpetPower! TrumpetPower! writes  |  more than 7 years ago

TrumpetPower! writes "On September 29, 1988, the US Copyright Office published a notice (4 Mbyte PDF) in the Federal Register (Vol 53, No. 189, pages 38110 — 38113) "to inform the public that the Copyright Office has decided that digitized representations of typeface designs are not registrable under the Copyright Act because they do not constitute original works of authorship." The four-page document is well-reasoned and thorough. It not only examines all the technical arguments in depth, but also considers various unintended consequences: "If copyright protection existed for the data representing a particular typeface design, a printer who innocently used an infringing electronic typefont to print a public domain book would presumably infringe the copyright in the data fixed in the electronic font." So, to celebrate Font Freedom Day, why not share some of your favorite fonts?"

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