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Comment Nothing to do with DNC (Score 4, Informative) 55

Because all of the posts so far are about the Clinton email/DNC hacks, and because the summary is obviously trying to cash in on current political events to make this a big story by excluding this, here is a quote FTFA:

Law enforcement officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment while the investigation was underway, said Wednesday that the suspect did not appear to be related to the hacking of the Democrats’ emails or to organizations like DCLeaks or WikiLeaks.

Comment Re:Hmm... (Score 1) 357

I agree. Sadly, this is the atmosphere in many Western states. When citizen investigators infiltrated an animal processing plant in Idaho and came out with horrific footage of animal abuse (, the state's response was to pass a law not against animal abuse, but against exposing animal abuse. The law was drafted by the Idaho Dairymen's Association.

Happily, the law was later determined to be unconstitutional, but the point is, in the Western US, we're much more likely to attempt to abridge first amendment rights than to try to deal with the ugly problems that are revealed by reporting, whether it's a dairy worker sexually molesting a cow, or private security contractors settings dogs on protesters.

Comment Re:Hmm... (Score 4, Interesting) 357

It appears that the protesters were attempting to shut down pipeline pumping stations

Huh? Did you watch the video that they're claiming is evidence of Goodman participating in a riot? Protesters were trying to stop bulldozers. They went over a fence and then a bunch of security goons pulled up and sicced dogs on them while spraying them with mace.

They originally tried to charge the protesters with trespassing, but apparently the fence was not properly marked to make that charge stick, so now they've changed it to 'rioting'. Anyhow, it wasn't that Goodman interviewed some people who seemed likely to commit a crime. She was there with a camera crew when they went over the fence, and she covered the story. I don't know what it takes to convict a person of rioting in North Dakota, but I'd be pretty surprised if the charges are not dismissed.

Comment Re:Right (Score 1) 326

Sorry, it's just that some of your other posts seems significantly more thoughtful. I made a bad assumption. Your poor spelling is a distraction, but it doesn't anger me, and I'm sorry that you felt that the effort would somehow improve your point. Anyhow, the purpose of my original comment was not to refute whatever studies you've read. It was merely to state that there are many problems in higher education, and while inflated self-esteem may be one of them, it is not, in my experience, the most significant.

Comment Re:Right (Score 1) 326

No, as I've said, I haven't read any studies about it. I cannot tell you that "all of teh universities" are wrong. I can't tell if you got really drunk and lost the ability to reason and type, or are just attempting to patronize me by acting like a moron. All I can say is that in my experience with teaching, and in conversation with colleagues who also teach at a university, we perceive that the mathematics, writing, and study skills of many incoming students seem less than they used to be; and that helicopter parents and wrongly inflated self-esteem are problems that appear, but not nearly as often.

Comment Re:Right (Score 1) 326

Certainly there are helicopter parents out there who have ruined their millennial children. Of course, this has always been the case to some extent, particularly among the wealthy. I personally know a man in his late 40s who calls his parents when a light bulb in his house has burnt out and needs changed. He's not developmentally disabled or anything, he's just been that sheltered for his whole life. His parents are getting on in years, and some of us seriously worry how he'll even be able to feed himself after they get too old to take care of him.

My experience, teaching ~120 undergrads per year for the past few years, is that I've had perhaps one student per year whose mom tried to contact me to interfere somehow with his coursework. I've spoken with colleagues about it, and they find it happening at similar rates. I haven't looked at any studies about it, but it doesn't seem to be the biggest problem.

I think what's much worse is that freshmen are coming into college woefully underprepared. It seems like they spend too much time in high school doing standardized tests and not enough time actually learning how to write and do mathematics. I teach courses to sophomores that require solving simple equations for unknowns and working with ratios, and some of those kids are quite intimidated by it. IIRC, it must be something like middle school-level math? Maybe high school freshman? And some of them can barely construct an intelligible sentence.

Nevertheless, most of my students work hard and get the job done. Some number fail every year, but my score distributions come out looking pretty normal at the end of every semester, so that's something, at least.

Comment Re:Might be time (Score 1) 104

As far as I know, deposit accounts don't affect your credit score (unless you end up owing money on them that goes to collections). I guess you if you have an overdraft protection/PLOC associated with your checking account, then you could lose points for closing it. But unless you have everything set up just right, you have to pay fees on WF checking accounts, so it could be a losing proposition to keep it open just to maintain a better average account age.

Comment Re: Wikileaks (Score 2, Funny) 377

Yes, apparently at the moment of her swearing in, there will be a sudden nauseating shift and we'll all stagger for a moment before resuming our lives as jackbooted American Neonazis who have our embassy-cracking assault squads on standby 24 hours a day. Hillary will wear an eyepatch and have a long knife scar on her face, and all the men will have well-groomed facial hair. And we'll all look great in whoever is the spiritual successor to Hugo Boss! Sign me up, I wanna squeeze into a set of jodhpurs and strap on my pistol baldrics!

Comment Re:Too many problems to even be able to quantify (Score 1) 163

When you say that it doesn't work based upon thermodynamics, I suppose what you mean is that it isn't self-sustaining--that the road tiles don't generate as much power as they consume. That isn't the claim, and I can't see how that could ever possibly be the goal.

Comment Re:Too many problems to even be able to quantify (Score 1) 163

I think the skeptics are onto something, but I figure if a group of people want to spend money on ways to do it, let 'em try and see what happens.

I agree. If they try and fail, it hasn't been a huge financial blow. If they succeed, the results could be great. The risk/reward ratio of this project seems to make it a good thing to try. But we'll never get anywhere if we listen to all the people who say it can't be done.

What I wonder, though, is what it might do for roads to essentially have a tough engineered surface like this. Asphalt and concrete have their own problems and if solar roads wore better because they were designed to be driven on and wear well, maybe it's real value will be as a better road surface and the power generation will just be a decent bonus.

Yes, I'm curious how these panels would wear under normal use. They've apparently tested the load-bearing capacity of the panels as being several times the allowed weight of a fully-loaded semi truck. The traction surface is supposed to be within the bounds required by the transportation department, including under wet road conditions. The shearing strength is supposed to be able to withstand braking under heavy loads. From what I can tell, most of this testing has taken place under lab conditions. I want them to get this developed to the point where they can install it on a stretch of real road and see how it performs in the real world over a couple of years in a place with significant seasonal change and environmental challenge.

Comment Re:"free of snow and ice" (Score 1) 163

According to their reports, the traction on their surface exceeds ADA requirements for foot traffic, so I wouldn't expect this to be any slicker than other sidewalk. Of course, I hope they've planned for water runoff, because if the snow melts off of this little patch of tiles and the water runs onto adjacent sidewalk, it'll refreeze there and become a deathtrap.

Comment Re:Too many problems to even be able to quantify (Score 1) 163

I wouldn't say that feasibility in this case means that the solar road generates enough energy to be self-sustaining. That seems clearly impossible, particularly with low light and snow cover in the winter. But if heated road surfaces reduce other winter road maintenance needs, there's a tradeoff betweeen the cost of operating the heater and the traditional costs. Just because they consume power in the winter doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have any benefit.

Comment Re:Too many problems to even be able to quantify (Score 1) 163

I mean, they have to start somewhere. A perfectly functioning solar roadway doesn't just spring into existence overnight. Obviously, it's hard to get too excited until they actually install this as a segment of a real road and demonstrate that it's cost-effective and functional. But surely a little proof of concept installation in an area with harsh winters is a good start to testing performance.

I have no idea whether this concept is feasible at scale, but it seems like the best way to know is to work on developing the concept. If we don't try, we'll never know. It sounds like a technology that could dramatically change our road transportation systems, if it works out.

Comment Re:"free of snow and ice" (Score 4, Interesting) 163

Even if they become energy consumers during snowfall, having a road that clears itself saves on fuel for plows and de-icing trucks, labor costs, chemical costs, potentially capital costs if fewer plows are needed, and probably other things I'm not thinking of. I mean, as long as the heating component actually works in practice and isn't wildly inefficient. Anyhow, even without snow cover, winter in the Pacific Northwest is not a great place to be trying to do solar, especially low to the ground where there is more likely to be more shade. In this environment, I'd consider any power generated by the road to be a nice bonus, and not the primary goal.

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