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Comments

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Are you better off than you were four years ago?

beefubermensch Yes, but... (524 comments)

My family and I are better off than we were, mostly because my wife and I are both software engineers... one of the few professions to do really well through the recession. But we're significantly worse off than we expected to be. That's the real question: Have your plans and hopes and dreams come true, and not just for you personally, but for the world at large? Almost everyone in the West would probably answer "No". We were used to having our expectations exceeded. Now they are disappointed.

One of the reasons software eng. has done so well is that it can deliver improvements through depreciation. A smartphone takes less energy to produce than a PC. A die shrink uses less energy per FLOP. Distributing "apps" over the internet uses less energy per sale than shrink wrap, etc. In the physical world, where it takes energy to make improvements, almost everything seems in decay. Tech bloggers call it "dematerialization".

Dematerialization is fine and good, but when it's the only kind of improvement civilization can muster for four years... it leaves something to be desired. As Peter Thiel says, "let them eat iPhones" is not a hopeful direction for the future.

about 2 years ago
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Fossil Fuel Subsidies Dwarf Support For Renewables

beefubermensch total amount of subsidies irrelevant (172 comments)

Subsidy dollars per GWh are the relevant units. According to the EIA, and browsing through dsireusa.org, we find that "renewables" currently get the greatest subsidies by far.

more than 4 years ago
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Report Blames NRC For VT Yankee Leak

beefubermensch Irrational fear and misinformation (136 comments)

Canadian nuclear plants emit 40 times more tritium every day when functioning normally than the Vermont Yankee leak emitted in a year:
http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-much-tritium-leaked-from-vermont.html

A 1 GW(e) natural gas turbine will emit about 9 curies/year,* which is 20 times the rate of radiation from the VT Yankee leak at its highest.

Oh, and natural gas "fracking" produces toxic and radioactive wastewater. This article from last summer discusses EPA tests that found nasties from the fracturing fluid in domestic well water:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chemicals-found-in-drinking-water-from-natural-gas-drilling
New York State is doing fracking in something called Marcellus shale. This article from last fall says that surface wastewater from these sites was found to contain Ra-226 in concentrations "thousands of times" the limit for drinking water:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=marcellus-shale-natural-gas-drilling-radioactive-wastewater
This page
http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/oilandgas.html
says, "more than 18 billion barrels of waste fluids from oil and gas production are generated annually in the United States".

-Carl

* Radioactivity of fossil gas. This abstract
http://rpd.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/3/259.abstract
gives 200 Bq/m^3. It doesn't say where they measured, but given context of the paper I'll assume it was at the consumer end of the line, at STP. I don't know if gas used at electrical plants is any fresher, but I'll assume it's no more stale. Pure methane has an energy content of 55.5 kJ/g and a density of 667 g/m^3, or about 5 Wh(e)/L from a 50%-efficient combined-cycle plant. So about 40Bq/Wh, or 1 nanoCurie per Wh, or 9 Curies/GW-yr.

more than 4 years ago
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100 Years of Copyright Hysteria

beefubermensch Sousa (280 comments)

Any tie-in with copyright aside, Sousa was correct. Technology has negative sides, and music playback technology deeply damaged the participatory nature of music in our culture, and the associated music skills in the population.

more than 4 years ago
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Huge ISS Science Report Released

beefubermensch now we finally know! (87 comments)

Ants *can* sort tiny screws in space!

more than 4 years ago
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Poor Design Choices In the Star Wars Universe

beefubermensch midi-chlorians (832 comments)

A Hugo-award winning science fiction buff who doesn't realize that midi-chlorians are based on mitochondria? For shame.

While I would have preferred to leave the Force mysterious, I think midi-chlorians are one of the *best* revisions in the Star Wars universe. Understanding that mitochondria probably started out as bacteria which began living symbiotically with algae -- a symbiosis so successful, they do indeed provide the 'life force' to every eukaryotic organism on the planet.

more than 5 years ago
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GM Cornered Into Defending the Volt

beefubermensch Prius (769 comments)

The Prius doesn't make economic sense in terms of gas savings either.

more than 5 years ago
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How To Encourage Workers To Suggest Innovation?

beefubermensch one bug tracker for all users (281 comments)

One bug tracker, for bugs and new features, for all users internal and external. That includes developers.

If you have too many ideas, you'll need to filter them. The only thing that matters is how efficiently you can filter them by merit. I don't believe that preventing end users, and certainly not internal people!, from accessing the bug tracker is an efficient way to filter by merit.

more than 5 years ago
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Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?

beefubermensch let the baby have it now, not later (409 comments)

My advice is to not prematurely clamp the cord, as almost all OBs will do. Instead, have a homebirth, let the blood go into the baby for a few minutes after the birth, then tie the cord off. Works like a charm, and my 3-year-old has enjoyed an extremely healthy life so far. Another is due in April, and we'll be doing the same thing for him.

more than 5 years ago
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Smart Spam Filtering For Forums and Blogs?

beefubermensch public filtering is an unsolved problem (183 comments)

If a spammer really wants to, he can test his attacks against the site until he beats your filter. Filtering works impossibly well, but only if the output of the filter is private. Spammers may not be doing these attacks now, but if everyone started using Akismet, no doubt they would start.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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China Initiates Thorium MSR Project

beefubermensch beefubermensch writes  |  more than 3 years ago

beefubermensch (575927) writes "Pro-Thorium articles have been featured here several times in recent years. Now it looks as though Thorium advocates are finally getting their wish: China has announced the first serious program to develop this transformative technology. In the words of President Obama, I think we just had a "sputnik moment"."
Link to Original Source
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beefubermensch beefubermensch writes  |  more than 7 years ago

beefubermensch writes "The first game of a six-game match between the human world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik and the Deep Fritz 10 chess engine was drawn today in Bonn, Germany. Games will be held every-other day until December 5th. Deep Fritz is running on a 4-core Intel Core 2 Duo system that lets it calculate about 8 million positions per second. The present contest is a rematch of sorts for Kramnik and Fritz, after their eight-game encounter in Bahrain in October 2002 ended in a 4-4 draw despite an early lead by Kramnik."

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