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MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

anorlunda The Great Nestle Hedge Bet (322 comments)

In the early 60s I worked as an exterminator. Our company was hired to fumigate warehouses full of cocoa beans owned by Nestle. They hired every vacant warehouse in New York State to hold those beans. I got to see a lot of warehouses and an unimaginable quantity of beans. The fumigations were strictly precautionary.

  I was told that Nestle was taking advantage of low world prices and had bought the the entire world' scrap,of cocoa beans for thst year. In following years, they could either sell them at a profit, or use them up in Nestle chocolate factories.

3 days ago
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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

anorlunda Re:Profits a function of regulations (517 comments)

Second, utility company profit is typically regulated to be a percentage of revenues, and reduced sales (because of conservation, self-generation, or whatever) will reduce power company revenue, but profits will remain at the regulated percentage of revenue.

No. Not a percent of revenues, but rather a percent of investment. A critical difference in this context because falling revenues will not cause falling profits.

about 2 months ago
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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

anorlunda Re:TFA False Premise (517 comments)

One could carry it to the logical extreme. Expect everyone to supply their own power, but charge only a fixed fee to serve as a backup source.

Even in thst extreme case, the public service commission is required to grant rates which proved the utilities a guaranteed return in investment. Investments in transmission and distribution are huge. Return on those investments does not depend on them actually delivering energy all the time.

A death spiral would occur if too many people go completely off grid. But those people will have to learn to live with having power only part time. There are periods in winter where days are short and winds are calm for weeks at a time. In places where it gets to be 20 below, backup,power os dearly needed. (Things are a bit easier in warm, sunny, parts of the country.)

You are also still neglecting the people in high density and high rise housing who can not easily generate their own power. As many as half the population is in that category.

about 2 months ago
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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

anorlunda TFA False Premise (517 comments)

The TFA uses a false model for computing profits. In the USA nearly all electric utilities are regulated monopolies. The government grants them a monopoply for a particular service area. The utility fronts the capital investment (historically up to 20% of all capital investment in the whole country!!! They must raise the capital in the private markets and convince investors to invest in utilites instead of Apple or Alibaba. High returns are needed to attract that money.). The pubic service commission is obligated to allow rates that guarantee the utility a defined return on investment profit. In real life, there is a lot of wiggle room and lots of politics in rate setting, but competitive pressure is not a factor. TFA ignores this.

We could, as a matter of public policy, decide to revoke the monopoly. That would open the door to any competitor, but it would also allow the utility to charge any rate they like without asking permission, and would remove any obligations regarding reliability and quality of service. (Think daily brownouts for anyone who doesn't pay for "premium service" on the hottest day of the year.) It would also open the door for another set of poles and another set of wires running down every street; one set per competitor. NYC was like that in the 1890s, and some places in Asia are like that today with hundreds of wires on every pole and laying over every rooftop.

But a death spiral in which rising rates paid by the remaining non-solar customers drive more and more customers to generate their own power could still be possible. But it would not directly affect utility profits as the TFA claims. The regulated utility business model would be challenged, not the profits of utilities that remain regulated. Those profits are guaranteed by law.

We should also recognize that lots of the population lives in high rise apartments and do not own enough rooftop or yard square feet to use solar panels.

about 2 months ago
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Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

anorlunda Re:Arevas failure (130 comments)

I worked on a competing bid for this plant from a Swedish supplier that had a track record of completing nuclear plants ahead of schedule and under budget. After loosing thst bid, the nuclear department of that company was shut down.

The same company and the Finns were also set to sign the contract for a downtown district heating nuke for Helsinki. It would have been a major success for nuclear technology. The day before the signing press conference, Chernobyl happened.

My point is that the process of bidding and bid evaluation on high priced projects is so burdened by politics, marketing hype, and luck that we might as well just flip a coin. It happens all the time that the contract is awarded to someone who can't fulfill it, while more capable suppliers are sidelined.

about 3 months ago
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Securing the US Electrical Grid

anorlunda US Government is the Biggest Attack Vector (117 comments)

If NSA has installed weaknesses and/or back doors into most commercial hardware and software globally, then everyone, Al Qaeda, as well as power companies, use the same stuff.

Ask any security manager. He'll tell you that we must assume that bad guys will eventually learn how to exploit those weaknesses and/or back doors, leaving us highly vulnerable to attack.

The Cyber Command wing of NSA has the responsibility to assure that they can successfully attack any enemy, any time. They can not know now who that future enemy might be. Therefore, the only way they can be assured of accomplishing that mission is to make sure that no computer, no IT operating anywhere on the planet is really secure. I fear that they are planting the seeds by which bad guys can attack the power grid in the future.

about 3 months ago
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"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

anorlunda Re:straight from the OMFG NO dept (364 comments)

I disagree. It may be entertainment, but the show is a great model for amateur science. Being amateur does not mean it is not science.

You say, "Real scientists don't need to perform these shitty expriment and can solve the problem with basic thinking and most of the time basic arithmetic."

Wikipedia's article on the scientific method says, "To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning."

I say it is your concept of science that is flawed.

about 3 months ago
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Geographic Segregation By Education

anorlunda Re:Open Borders - Bad idea (230 comments)

I agree with what you said kosh271 except:

1) if the population reduction is great (say 75% or more) and the need is urgent (say 50 years or less), then birth control can not possibly be adequate.

2) if birth control is inadequate or unattainable (you said it can not come to pass in your country) then what?

None of us want to advocate killing, but the next most drastic step after birth control (and maybe the next most drastic step after that) lead us to ethically taboo places that no one is willing to discuss. That suggests that our fate is demise though inaction because all suffupicientky effective actions are too drastic to consider.

Raise this subject in a room full of activists and you'll empty the room in an eye blink. No one dares to discuss it publicly.

about 4 months ago
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Geographic Segregation By Education

anorlunda Open Borders (230 comments)

The article only discusses domestic segregation, but the elephant in the room is national differences.

If global warming becomes as bad as they say, many heavily populated areas of the world (think India) will become too unproductive to support their population. Other areas (think Canada or Scandanavia) will become more habitable. Clearly the only humane policy will be totally open borders and to allow unlimited migration globally. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

My point is simply to mock the massive hippocracy and parochialism of western societies.

about 4 months ago
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When Beliefs and Facts Collide

anorlunda Cynicism and Scientific Malpractice (725 comments)

We've been trained to "follow the money" in all circumstances of public advocacy and to be highly suspicious of those who would befit financially. Scientists who say "increase funding for my field", or "I deserve a prize", or "better agree with this or you'll lose tenure and not get your grants approved." undermine the credibility of the whole profession.

Malpractice is what I call it when Scientists mask politics under the cloak of science. Science can speak about climate change, and perhaps about the cause. On the other hand, what to do about it (if anything) is a question of values, not science. It sounds immoral to spoil the world for our grandchildren, but that's not science. So when scientists get on the media and try to dictate what we must do about it (such as renewable energy), that's malpractice because it is a political issue not a scientific issue. When they threaten to label you as a denier if you disagree, that's even worse. When they tell the politicians to obey scientific edits or else, that's an attempt to create an uber ruling class.

My point is that much (not all but much) of the blame for cynicism goes to the scientists.

about 4 months ago
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Following EU Ruling, BBC Article Excluded From Google Searches

anorlunda Re:Streisand effect? (239 comments)

Maybe this slashdot entry really will vanish if someone files an official request to remove it to Google.

If i were Google, I would play hardball. I would not just remove the article from the search, but the whole BBC web site. That would eventually lead to removal of all court and eventually all government web sites from search engines. As the whole Internet began to go dark as seen by Europeans, it is my guess that they would relent and reverse the decision.

about 5 months ago
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Future of Cars: Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Or Electric?

anorlunda Re:Electric. (659 comments)

Line losses for electricity are in the 10% or greater range (the figure for Canada is almost 40% due to the amount of power we get from relatively remote hydroelectric facilities). So electricity and hydrogen aren't too far off-base with respect to losses.

I call bullshit. The losses are not that high.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

" For example, a 100 mile 765 kV line carrying 1000 MW of power can have losses of 1.1% to 0.5%. A 345 kV line carrying the same load across the same distance has losses of 4.2%. ... Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 6.6% in 1997 and 6.5% in 2007"

I can tell you that most of those losses are in low voltage local distribution, not the long distance transmission.

You claim 40% losses from the remote hydro in Canada. James Bay alone makes 16 GW of power. 40% of that would be 8.4 GW. In order to dissipate that much power from those thin wires, the temperature of those wires would have to be hotter than the core of the sun, and it would warm up the transmission corridor to Miami Beach climate. That's nonsense.

Think of countries like Sweden and Brazil where the bulk of the power is generated thousands of miles from the consumers.
They operate without excessive losses.

Cite your sources dude.

about 6 months ago
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Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

anorlunda The KISS Principle (865 comments)

Doesn't anyone remember KISS?

If the only function was to start the car, then a simple off/acc/on switch plus a momentary button for start, is all that's needed.

If we add the requirement of anti-theft security, it gets harder. Conventional keys would suffice to lock/unlock the doors, while a button would start the car once you're inside. Who said that two levels of security are magic (1) the doors (2) the ignition switch? Why not one, or three, or four levels?

about 6 months ago
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Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

anorlunda Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (191 comments)

Ditto what Minulpa said.

Ease of handwriting is personal. Some people, like me, require intense focus to write longhand legibly. Thst means shutting out hearing what is going on while I write.

The correct answer is longhand for some, keyboards for others, and no notes for still others. Averages are as useless as an average bra size for women.

about 6 months ago
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NSA Can Retrieve, Replay All Phone Calls From a Country From the Past 30 Days

anorlunda The Utah Data Center (320 comments)

Isn't anyone going to ask about the new NSA data center in Utah? It is claimed to have enough storage to save all the world's conversations for 100 years. What could NSA possibly have in mind for that?

about 8 months ago
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The Billionaires Privatizing American Science

anorlunda Better Than The Alternative (279 comments)

I'm sure that this news may make a lot of slashdotters uncomfortable. But I ask you to think of the alternative. They could spend their billions influencing elections. How many attack ads can you buy for $75 billion?

Here's a challenge. How should billionaires spend their money?

I'm not asking for how you would spend the billions if it was yours, nor am I interested in your concept of social justice or what is beneficial for mankind. I'm challenging you to try to imagine the world from, the billionaire's view.

about 8 months ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

anorlunda The Greatist Race (401 comments)

15 years from now is 2029. In 2043, we are supposed to encounter Ray Kurzweil's Singularity. Those dates are awfully close from a historical perspective. If we reach The Singularity, presumably we will become smart enough to surmount problems.

Boy, what a great theme for a SF novel. A great race. Will we reach collapse or singularity first? Photo finish.

about 8 months ago
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NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

anorlunda Re:BS, as usual. (401 comments)

You are mostly right Peter, but continue the analysis another step. Because we are very good at finding alternatives, then we approach a point where nearly all resources reach depletion (nearly) simultaneously. The result is not just collapse, but a really devastating collapse. Worse, post collapse recovery will be greatly hindered by a resource starved world.

In terms of mitigatation, it would be better if we were no so adaptive and good at finding alternatives. Instead of a collapse, we might have a series of crises instead that would throttle down growth.

about 8 months ago
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Drone Pilot Wins Case Against FAA

anorlunda Re:model plane != plane (236 comments)

A manufacturer of toy planes who test flies one before sale, is doing it commercially.

A retailer of rubber band powered balsa gliders who flies a demo inside his store is flying it doing it commercially.

A kid's video of his Xmas present balsa glider flying past the Xmas tree, and posted on YouTube with ads is commercial flying.

Strict interpretation of the FAA's words lead to horrible absurdities.

Horribles are what lawyers use to get laws stricken down by courts.

People who write regulations need to temper zeal with reason.

about 8 months ago
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Schneier: Break Up the NSA

anorlunda Re:NSA Walks a Fine Line (324 comments)

I work in critical infrastructure protection CIP (the power grid). My nightmare is the back doors that NSA may have inserted in our systems.

Why would NSA do that? Because terrorists might get jobs at CIP companies and use their systems to communicate with other terrorists. Also because NSA can't selectively insert back doors only in the systems of bad guys. They do it by compromising any and all systems globally.

What is the problem for me? If a back door exists, then I must assume that it is only a matter of time before bad guys discover it and exploit it. The back doors become the biggest threat vector we face.

Why can't I just find and close those back doors? Because utilities have a long tradition of sharing information. If I learn how to make our stuff secure against NSA back doors, that information my get transferred overseas to institutions that NSA's cyberwar branch may wish to target. Private possession of knowledge of anti-NSA protection becomes a threat to national security in NSA's view.

The same government that demands to be my partner in making the grid secure, is also invested in making sure that it can never be secure. The government's conflict of interest is horrible.

about 9 months ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Why no Third Party Facebook Clients?

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  about 4 months ago

anorlunda (311253) writes "Facebook annoys me (and millions of others I'm sure). In order to see pictures and news of family and friends, I have to be exposed to all their "likes" and "shares" and now plain ads. Facebook won't let me filter those things categorically.

The stage seems ripe for a third party client that will access my Facebook account, but that caters to my wishes about what I don't want to see. There must be thousands before me who had the same idea, yet I find no trace of discussions on this topic on Slashdot.

Of course Facebook will hate this idea but that hasn't stopped third party apps in many analogous cases. How does Facebook prevent third party clients or third party apps? How do they suppress even discussion of the topic?"
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Wind Based Air Defense

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 4 years ago

anorlunda (311253) writes "The NYT has a story called, "Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance." It tells about military opposition to wind farm projects; especially in the Mohave Desert of California. Apparently, the spinning blades interfere with radar, both military radar and weather radar.

They go on to say, "The military says that the thousands of existing turbines in the gusty Tehachapi Mountains, to the west of the R-2508 military complex in the Mojave Desert, have already limited its abilities to test airborne radar used for target detection in F/A-18s and other aircraft."

Now there's a road map to a modern air defense system. Just put wind farms around your most important targets and the US military will be hindered in attacking you by air."

Link to Original Source
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Where Is Population In The Climate Debate?

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 5 years ago

anorlunda writes "One of the 6,780 reports released today by Wikileaks, is entitled Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Perspective on the Top 20 Emitters and Developed Versus Developing Nations (RL32721 / 2008-12-24) It contains some very simple, easy to understand, and very useful information about greenhouse emissions.

Namely, it says Population delta + per capita GDP delta + Intensity delta = Emissions delta

An interesting side point is that the current world-wide recession causing big negative GDP growths will have a huge inadvertent impact on emissions.

Most important, the equation makes clear that if we continue to allow population to grow, and if we are committed to elimination of poverty, and ending the recession, then population and GDP growth inevitably overwhelm any gains we can make in intensity (i.e. energy consumption and efficiency). There is no scenario in which technology can outrace population x GDP.

Despite that, it seems that 100% of the debate hot air on climate change is over intensity. We are barking up the wrong tree! Assuming that we remain committed to elimination of poverty, the only way that we can beat the climate change problem is to reduce population. Efficient light bulbs be damned; how are we going to reduce global population?

Here's some figures from the report (in percent per year.)
... Population delta + per capita GDP delta + Intensity delta = Emissions delta
... global: +1.4 +1.7 -1.6 = +1.6
... USA: +1.2 +1.8 -1.9 = +1.0
... China +0.9 +9.1 -4.9 = + 4.8
... EU-27 +0.3 +1.8 -2.4 = -0.4
... Russian Fed -0.2 -0.4 -2.0 = -2.7"
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The Politics of Power Bring South Africa Down

anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 6 years ago

anorlunda writes "The NYT reported today that "Power Failures Outrage South Africa" The crux of the story is that politicians in South Africa screwed up by delaying approval of needed new power plants and failed to deliver on alternatives. They were warned in 1998 that this would lead to shortages in 2007, but they ignored it. Now, South Africans are subject to daily rolling blackouts. It may take as long as five years to repair the problem. By then, the South African economy will be completely trashed.

Could a similar problem happen in the USA? Sure; in fact it already did to some extent. The 2000 power crisis in California was primarily caused by flaws in the 1996 law that allowed predators like ENRON to run wild. It resulted in rolling blackouts reputed to cost the California economy $1 billion per day. Fortunately, the USA still regulates power on the state level, so political mistakes are likely to affect only one state or one region at a time; not the whole country.

Power reliability engineering is a subject so crushingly boring that it can bring tears just to read about it. The reliability councils tell us how much reserve generating margin of what type we need in which locations to maintain reliability. That it is something that is highly likely to be overridden by politics.

The sad news is that energy plans must be so conservative that we refuse to let go with one hand until the other hand has a firm grip on the rock face. We need to plan to build both the dirty (but proven and doable) conventional plants and renewable plants. To the extent that the renewable plants actually get built and actually produce, the conventional plants can lay idle or just sit around for possible backup use or their construction plans can be canceled. We must not the country hostage by canceling conventional plans for keeping up with electric demand while hoping for newer and cleaner alternatives to take their place.

If we screw up the reliability engineering in our rush to stop polluting, then we risk the same fate as South Africa. The consequences could make the great depression seem like a picnic."
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anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 7 years ago

anorlunda writes "I'm retired and all my money is in an IRA account at TD Waterhouse. I access it online the only way I can, via public WiFi hotspots. Naturally, I'm very concerned about security. If someone hijacked my account I'm dead broke.

The TD Waterhouse home page has fields for logging in. However, IE6 does not show the SSL icon for the page on the status line. Firefox shows neither the SSL icon nor the signer's name on the status bar. However, near the login fields there is a padlock icon.

TD Waterhouse has a second page specifically for, client login, and that page shows the SSL icon and the signer's name in the Firefox status bar, as it should.

TD Waterhouse should be a trusted source, so I emailed them this question and got the following reply.

From: clientsupport@tdameritrade.com
Information entered on http://www.tdameritrade.com/welcome2.html in the sign-in box is transmitted through a secure server. Please notice the lock on the "Log on" button. This segment of the page is secure.
Mark C.
Client Support, TD AMERITRADE
Division of TD AMERITRADE, Inc.

Should I believe them? He seems to claim that a segment of a page can be secure even if the page itself is not secure. My instinct tells me to ignore any text or graphics in a web page's content that claims that it is secure, and to believe only my browser (if anything). After all, any old scam artist could put a padlock icon on his web page."
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anorlunda anorlunda writes  |  more than 7 years ago

anorlunda writes "This is pure speculation. I notice that experts seem to be increasingly concerned with zombie PCs on the web and all the damage that they can do. There will come a day when an injured party sues the zombie's host ISP claiming negligence. A natural reaction to that could be for the ISPs to insist that their PC customers use the most hacker resistant, yet ubiquitous OS around — namely Vista.

I can hear the screams of anger now from millions of users who don't want to switch. On the other hand, few or none of them would stop using the net or even switch ISPs. Most would probably grumble, then switch to Vista. Hardware and third party software vendors and congressmen would back the ISPs because it would trigger the biggest mass upgrade since Y2K and create a surge of thousands of jobs.

The security debate to be acted out before congressional committees would be entertaining. We would pit the antimonoculturalists on one side versus the ban-those-Win95-skeletons proponents on the other side. It would also make the perfect opportunity to advocate the mobile browser plus net apps as the non-PC alternative architecture.

Could a major ISP successfully refuse Mac and Linux customers? I see no legal impediment. They can argue security and simplfied support as their motives. Once again, most aggrieved Mac and Linux customers would scream, but they would rather switch than go back to dial-up. Therefore, relatively few customers would actually defect.

I hate bringing up such an ugly speculation. I can see the flames coming my way now. But, the simplicity and rationality of a Vista-only future from the point of view of the ISPs and others seems too powerful to ignore. Perhaps the question should be, what would stop it from happening?"

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