top The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse
Burning methane has about half the CO2 emissions per unit energy as coal, basically all carbon. Add in the effect of 2% losses from drill to furnace, and you have the same greenhouse effect as using coal for the same job.
For residential use, there's no question that many handling processes, storages, and miles of ever-smaller pipes has losses well above that. Even for heavy industrial consumers connected straight to major supply pipelines, it's surely over 2% loss; from leaks around the wellhead to every stage of the plant processing to pipeline joints, leaks happen. Gas is a cleaner-greener fuel in that all the other bad stuff in coal emissions are not there; coal kills perhaps 24,000 Americans per year - but the greenhouse impact of gas is certainly worse than coal, or oil.
top The Cashless Society? It's Already Coming
Despite a lifetime of gadget-loving, I'm a smartphone holdout. (My employer pays for my cell, and it's dumb. ) But what I really note about smartphones is they're quite heavy, most of the volume must be battery - and they still need nightly charging.
The movie "No Country for Old Men" made an impression on me that cash weighs something - that $2M was 50lb, even in hundreds. It seems to me the weight of a smartphone, even just in a mix of 5's 10's and 20's, is the weight of more cash than I spend in a week. How many bills is the weight of, say, an iPhone 5 equal to?
I wonder if those of us who have only a 3-oz DumbPhone now will find our pockets heavier or lighter after we are compelled to get an iPhone 9 to buy lunch.
top In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars
It's always struck me as obvious that driving will be automated in order of difficulty of job. First, trains (already done for many of them). Then buses in "BRT" systems (where the buses have a dedicated lane) and then buses on regular roads. Only after all of these have become routine sights will you see your automated Car2Go -type taxi services.
But just automating mass transit will increase the use of it. Why are trains lumped together in 3 cars that only come by every 15 minutes? To save on drivers. One car every 5 minutes is the same capacity but one-third the waiting time.
And you could be getting to the station from your house from bus stops where a small van comes by every 5 minutes, too. Chopping out that time-consumption (and where I live, COLD waits for half the year), would probably double interest in mass-transit right there. Effects that make mass-transit more appealing have a positive feedback loop effect going for them, because of the same "network effects" that drive adoption of new popular communications like fax then E-mail the social media. If twice as many people take the train, then it comes every 2.5 minutes, and they start building tracks to more places.
Meanwhile, there's then a positive feedback loop hurting the car industry. The fewer people buy cars, the more expensive they get and the more likely your employer is to charge you for parking, because only half the employees even use it, and why should you be subsidized? These positive feedback loops can lead to "tipping points" more quickly than most people would tend to predict.
top Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power
Makes me almost nostalgic for the days when the dread terror that was going to kill us all in our beds at least had a navy, air force, and nukes. Yes, as it turned out all three were hopelessly inferior to ours and they were never about to attack, merely paranoid that we were about to; but still, they looked pretty scary and only a millionth as much surveillance was justified by it.
But every President of every party seems to become President of Fear upon taking office, even Mr. Constitution Professor. The notion that they are "Commander if Chief" of all those dozen defense and security and spook agencies is a little comical; it's clear who really gives the orders.
top New GCHQ Chief Says Social Media Aids Terrorists
It's their Terrorist Transportation Network Of Choice, officer. They also use libraries, schools, water fountains.
It's called "having an open society" and it's what we're paying you to defend. So quit complaining about open society before we wonder if giving you weapons and surveillance powers is creating a bigger problem than the one its your job to solve.
about a month and a half ago
top Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"
about a month and a half ago
top FTC Sues AT&T For Throttling 'Unlimited' Data Plan Customers Up To 90%
The *expenses* that any utility has providing services fall into three broad categories:
1) One time costs of putting in infrastructure - or at least they appear one-time for any human lifetime, as lots of pipes (and even copper phone wires from the 30s) outlast people. But everything needs replaced eventually on some "lifecyle" of 20-120 years. These costs are handled by large banks loaning money over long periods so that it becomes a yearly cost that can be broken down per subscriber, or reasonably apportioned to subscribers by usage category (you vs Netflix, they pay thousands of times more).
2) Yearly fixed costs. They have to employ X guys to keep the lines strung through snowstorms, whether your line falls or not. Again, this breaks down to a monthly bill per subscriber and regulators can routinely agree how much you vs netflix pays, based on whether your "category" is 1-500 GB/month or 500-5000 or >5000.
3) Costs that are exactly proportional to usage. The actual cost of water per gallon, once all the pipes and plants are paid for; the actual cost of electricity per kWh, after all wires are bought and maintained. And there can be complexities here with utilities that have "rush hours" where using power when they're maxed reequires buying more expensive power - these can be addressed with "peak time surcharges" if needed.
With power especially, these are routinely broken out so that you don't pay $0.11 per kWh - you pay $20/month plus $0.07 per kWh. That's only fair. Any kind of pro-rating means some subscribers subsidize others.
With internet, every single ISP tries to blend all their costs into one monthly charge, and so you have $50/month and $80/month and $120/month "plans" with caps. It's all hogwash. THere should be ONE formula. And from the Netflix corporate filings, we know the Big Secret: data in bulk is now transmitted for barely 2 cents per GB.
So, your $50 plan should be a $48 plan, plus a nickel per GB - that's still giving them a vast profit per GB transmitted, but nobody will care as few use more than 100GB per month.
If they were regulated into breaking out fixed costs vs per-GB costs, all this crap with "data caps" and throttling would go away. No caps, because you pay per GB and they want you to buy more. No throttling for the same reason.
Even DISCUSSING the notion of a "cap" or a "throttling" is buying into their model of pricing, which is good for them and not for you. Don't do it.
top Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?
What the other replies said to this guy about average vs local density is perfectly correct. But even in low density areas, this is STRICTLY an upfront capital issue. Only the original install costs much more. The increased service delivery cost once you have the larger amount of fiber per customer installed is barely worth discussing except for the accountants who finally figure out that the US suburbs should be paying 1.87 cents per GB rather than 1.74...it would be those kinds of numbers.
The article says it plainly: in dense apartment areas, $280 per install; US housing, $2200. But really, what's $2200? A one-time investment that pays off over what, 40 years? The copper lines to my house date to 1954, the TV cable to 1973. The asset lifespan exceeds the 40 year max that even a large utility can get to pay down an investment. So even with interest (which these days is tiny, by the way, but lets use 4%), it's about $100/year added to your bill to pay off your install, unless you want to pay up front.
God, it's such a crap argument in so many ways - so unworthy of a nation that was among the first to bring in electricity and then phone and then cable, the last especially to provide so much less utility (57 channels and nuthin' on...) than Internet...but it comes up every time. That 57 channel TV cable was DONE, jack, between about 1970 when I first heard talk of it, and 1980 when everybody had switched to it. Here we are 20 years after everybody started wanting on the Internet, and virtually no new lines strung, they're still using the 1930s phone wires and the 1970s TV cables that were already paid for...but charging you like they had.
The people making these excuses for them are among the robbed, and they should just stop.
top Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site?
From the story about "Ralph Lauren Opens a Store in the Uncanny Valley":
However, Ralph Lauren's marketing arm and its law firm don't see it that way. According to them, this is an "infringing image," and they thoughtfully took the time to send a DMCA takedown notice to our awesome ISP, Canada's Priority Colo. One of the things that makes Priority Colo so awesome is that they don't automatically act on DMCA takedowns. Instead, they pass them on to us and we talk about whether they pass the giggle-test.
This one doesn't.
top Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq
"The war resumed". Ah, the old "1441 excuse" that the war was authorized by the security council under 1441 a dozen-odd years earlier. Except Powell attempted to make the case about WMDs before the security council and was turned down. That *invalidates* the 1441 excuse, as a later ruling supercedes the earlier. You don't get to say, "well, there's no evidence but we know in our hearts there's WMDs" on your own.
So the "war" (UN police action) did *not* resume with a coalition of 35 nations with authorization. It was just a unilateral decision to invade. It's fashionable to ignore the UN as a worthless/toothless/corrupt/your-insult-here, but you can't actually ignore that there's a treaty (the UN Charter is a treaty) that's US law under the constitution, and signers agreed not to cross other nation's borders with force without security council authorization...that's actually the article under which the whole 1441 resolution was based! Saddam was held to it by 35 nations.
top Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker
"One of the best?" Meaning, there's a good hospital or two there somewhere that they send you if you have some rare cancer? Great. But the fact is, Texas is 33rd in health spending out of 50. They've cut and cut and cut. The US has on a national basis, mostly in the last 10 years, but red states of course more than most.
top Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows
> the costs of actual treatment but thats already paid by taxes.
...which does not make the overall cost to society zero. Indeed, that's the point of studies like these, to add in the costs on which the one alternative is free-riding. Medical costs like that, and yes, environmental costs...which can be clearly established in many cases, particularly coal-mining. Examination of dropping property values near mining sites is just the clearest one.
top Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?
Please don't apply that belief to ASTM standards for wiring. Poor states would have 50 house fires per day.
It's funny, nobody suggests applying "local standards" to other professions. Yes, each state may have their own certification for accountants and engineers and so on, but the *standards and practices* are much more widespread. Nobody shops around for the doctor that meets local standards for appendectomies.
I don't crap on people who believe this stuff, but MY private belief is that they want to ensure that money from wealthier school districts never leaks over into poorer ones.
top Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website
I've got a hunch you typed that statement by hitting these keys:
F1 in Congress that passed the law to begin with.
top Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?
No, not Heinlein. Very old joke, it may even pre-date Heinlein.
top The Benefits of Inequality
...about how the West is not really special about democracy:
Writing about your original, even pre-homo-sapiens hunter-gatherer groups, who had democracy since we had language:
They were all very little societies: rarely more than 50 adults (who had all known one another all their lives). On the rare occasions when they had to make a major decision, they would actually sit around and debate it until they reached a consensus. Direct democracy, if you like.
People have been running their affairs that way ever since we developed language, which was almost certainly before we were even anatomically modern human beings. So 99.9 percent of our history, say. That is who we are, and how we prefer to behave unless some enormous obstacle gets in our way.
The enormous obstacle was civilization. All hunting-and-gathering societies were essentially egalitarian. The mass societies that we call civilizations arose less than 10,000 years ago, thanks to the invention of agriculture. Until very recently all of them, without exception, were tyrannies, pyramids of power and privilege in which the few decided and the many obeyed. What happened?
A mass society, thousands, then millions strong, confers immense advantages on its members. Within a few thousand years the little hunting-and-gathering groups were pushed out of the good lands everywhere. By the time the first anthropologists appeared to study them, they were on their last legs, and none now survive in their original form. But we know why the societies that replaced them were all tyrannies.
The mass societies had many more decisions to make, and no way of making them in the old, egalitarian way. Their huge numbers made any attempt at discussing the question as equals impossible, so the only ones that survived and flourished were the ones that became brutal hierarchies. Tyranny was the solution to what was essentially a communications problem.
...and notes that tyrannies have been going downward ever since printing, much less twitter.
top The Benefits of Inequality
That's what I loved about Heinlein. One time he'd write that, the next time, 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', which is very libertarian. He just posited that the Moon exiles would all just get along and not form into bloods and crips. He really loved thought experiments even when he clearly knew they contained a big assumption; shame so many mistook things like "Starship Troopers" as his serious proposal for government. He wrote a whole essay once about all the other fun ways to restrict franchise: "Why not just \women? Men had their day. Or better yet, why not just mothers? The only humans with an inarguable stake in the future." (quote is approximate.)
top William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls
Keeping in mind they can't possibly have humans listening to all that, the only way to flag human-worthy content is voice recognition and transcription to plain text files. If you keep voice only on the 0.1% that are "likely" to be interesting, and simply voice-recognize the rest after a month and compress the plain text, the storage problem drops by orders of magnitude.
top OpenSSL To Undergo Security Audit, Gets Cash For 2 Developers
The comments from the folks who started LibreSSL at a meeting of the Calgary Unix Users Group the other night were beyond scathing. Bob Beck's first slide shows Laura Dern in Jurassic Park, up to her elbows in stegasaurus dung, as a metaphor for what the first skim of the code felt like. It's a hopelessly overpatched mess of spaghetti code and #IFNDEF mazes that nobody can really maintain. Their fork has already tossed out tens of thousands of lines of code and started again. (Another slide shows the line from Aliens: "Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure").
If not a from-scratch rewrite, think of a home reno where you have to strip it to the frame and put up new drywalls.
And this situation was allowed to grow by the current bunch that manage OpenSSL; they're only doing this at all because one of the hundreds of time-bombs in the code finally went off, and anybody who's looked it knows how many hundreds more there are. For shame.
There's a link to the slides from the libressl.org site, which is very minimal, as they say "We're too busy deleting code to make web pages".
It was just a very sobering presentation. To think we let so much depend on a pile of cruft.
I was glad to grab my LG TV - because it was the last one at Best Buy that wasn't a "smart" TV, no internet connectivity at all. Just a monitor.
I really hate my $129 media player that adds 20 new for-pay services every time it updates....also LG, but I am so getting rid of it when I pull the $ together for a little computer I'll build on FLOSS from scratch, and that'll be the only thing with any smarts in my media life. Not a privacy fanatic, but it all just makes me uncomfortable and suspicious.