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Comment Re:When I was a kid... (Score 1) 324

I've been wondering about that. I've got a heat pump, and one down side is that it fares poorly when the weather is significantly below freezing. It's been a wicked couple of winters around here in the Mid Atlantic, and it would have been nice to tap into a huge store of moderate temperature just a few feet below ground.

Comment Re:EVs aren't that much better (Score 1) 630

Many countries are phasing out coal in favor of natural gas, which pollutes less and (due to fracking) has dropped considerably in price. It costs around $1.99 per gigajoule today (

Note also that not all environmentalists are in favor of ending nuclear energy. New nuclear plants are being built now, approved by the Obama administration: "DOE’s investments in nuclear energy help secure the three strategic objectives that are foundational to our nation’s energy system: energy security, economic competitiveness, and environmental responsibility." ( There is indeed a quandary among environmentalists because the issue of nuclear waste is contentious, but many in the environmental movement recognize that nuclear power can be part of an overall strategy in reducing carbon emissions.

Comment Gripe: Math versus Science (Score 1) 267

Science is respected for its reputation for certainty, and Math is seen as the purest (and thus most certain) of the sciences.

This bugs me. Math, on its own, is so "pure" that it has no connection to the universe whatsoever. Aliens don't appear in pure math. Neither do electrons, polymers, or three-toed sloths. Math is purged of all real world things. Math can't predict anything about the real world. Even the simplest tautologies, like "two apples are equal to two apples", requires extra real-world semantics to apply an abstraction like "equal" (which has many different definitions) to actual things like "apples".

So when people say "according to math", they're aspiring to a certainty that it doesn't earn. You could say "according to science". Science will always incorporate some form of math. But it's not identical, and if scientific claims seem "weaker" than math claims, we just need to live with that. Because we don't, in fact, really truly mathematically "know" anything about aliens. Not even a probability: our probability estimates are themselves subject to enormous amounts of guesswork.

Sorry for the distraction, but this bugs me. The article itself doesn't seem to be of much merit; it's all old news. So I'm gonna gripe about the headline instead. Thank you for your time.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 238

It's a bit more complicated than that, but the conclusion is correct.

You're describing a local hidden variables theory, in which the particles already have a definite value at the point where they were entangled. That doesn't quite describe reality; with some subtle experiments you can see that they interact in ways slightly different from ones that are already set. But that difference still doesn't allow you to communicate.

Comment Re:Local maximums = Global minimums (Score 1) 382

I wonder what it would take to make it safe down to 40 meters, the limit for recreational divers. Use your phone as your dive computer and to take pictures while you're down there. They already make wireless regulators; they can't be hard to adapt to Bluetooth. (I have no idea what the range of Bluetooth is under water.)

Comment Re:Local maximums = Global minimums (Score 1) 382

Is anybody making a phone with no jacks at all? Just wireless charging and Bluetooth headsets? That would give you a great opportunity to really seal the device.

Right now not having a charging jack would prove a bit of a pain, but for a specialized heatseeking kind of market I could see people getting into a really ultra-thin phone completely devoid of the need to accommodate any connectors.

Comment Re: Dangerous (Score 1) 155

You can think of a heat pump as a reversible refrigerator. In cooling mode, it works just like a refrigerator: the compressor compresses gas, lets it radiate heat of compression outside, then pumps it inside to evaporate.

The remarkable thing is that you can turn the process around to heat the inside instead of the outside. You compress the gas outside to make it hot, then pump it inside to release that heat. A carefully-designed valve causes it to go from liquid to gas, or reverse, depending on where you want to absorb heat: outside, even in winter, the evaporated, chilled gas can be warmed up by the outside air.

The trick is getting the right refrigerant, which turns from liquid to gas and back around the temperature you want. I dunno why they've chosen CO2 here, but I suspect it has to do with the ambient temperatures in Alaska.

Comment Re:Only $1 million? (Score 1) 429

Yeah, I suspect that they're pretty aggravated by it. It does have the advantage of keeping her name in the news at a time when she might otherwise vanish, and "all publicity is good publicity", but I don't know how much her staff are enjoying those sour grapes.

It shouldn't have come as a complete surprise, though. She's always had high negatives, though it's disappointing that so many of them come from concerted Republican campaigns to smear her. (Remember that Barack Obama had a site set up the minute he won the nomination.) It's unsettling to have liberals repeating Republican talking points, in addition to creating their own.

It set her up for there to be some kind of opposition. And the Democratic party has been taking its liberal wing for granted for quite some time, allowing centrists like Obama and both Clintons to get their votes knowing that they'd be unable to get more than the palest pink liberal agenda items actually achieved. I happen to be a left-leaning centrist myself, and think that's about the right thing, but real leftists are understandably upset.

In the end they have the opportunity to realize that they've dragged one candidate a bit left, and get that candidate elected over a far-right candidate. That would be a win, and if it's not the win they were hoping for, it's also the one that doesn't have every Republican and half of the Democrats upset at going too far left. We'll see if they'd rather have half a loaf than none.

Comment Re:It doesn't matter what party you vote for (Score 1) 429

and if it weren't for the super delegate system, he would be very close to winning the nomination.

Sanders is behind Clinton in pledged delegates, 1,428 to 1,189. There's no way to spin that as "Sanders is close to winning"; Clinton is undeniably closer.

If you eliminated unpledged delegates entirely, Clinton's target would be 2,113; she'd need less than 700 of the remaining 1,646 delegates to win.

The only way Sanders could achieve a win would be for him to inspire the superdelegates to change their minds between now and the election. He's hoping somehow to thread the needle, denying her a majority of the (pledged + superdelegates) just with her pledged delegates. That's pretty deceptive. She's winning the pledged delegates; she's winning the superdelegates; she's winning the popular vote.

Comment Re:False negatives and false positives (Score 2) 89

I don't have the journal article itself, but the way I read the abstract, they mean 0% false negatives and 0% false positives.

They did not, however, appear to test people from outside the group. That is, if I were to show up, it's unclear if it would identify me as not one of the sample. That still leaves a pretty substantial room for error, but it's a very good starting point.

Comment Re:This is either blackmail or a confession. (Score 1) 354

You're right that they only say "ally" because it's far from clear that they actually ARE our ally.

But the Saudi government does cooperate with the US on a lot of things. They're often the targets of the same terrorists that we are. Their intelligence agencies coordinate with ours, and provide a lot of the information that goes into the US "war on terror".

The problem is that the Saudi "government" is a weird thing. It's a kingdom with literally thousands of princes. Many of whom are insanely wealthy, and some of whom actually support terrorism, including terrorism against their own country. That's not an "official" policy, but neither does the Saudi kingdom go out of its way to arrest them, either. Why exactly those princes support violence against their own country and their own family, biting the hand that feeds them caviar... well, let's just say It's Complicated. But they do.

So they say "our ally Saudi Arabia" because it is our ally... often against itself, which is our enemy and its own.

It's even more complicated by the fact of oil; for decades we relied crucially on them. And that's growing more complicated as our dependence grows less. So we're less willing to put up with the support for terrorism, within the family and within the government. We do, in fact, need their help, and simply trying to prosecute Saudi family members (if not the government itself) will make that complicated situation even more ridiculous.

So... I got no idea where we go from here. I see the threat to sell bonds as a really weak threat. The fact that they have those bonds was, in fact, a favor to us, helping prop us up during the economic crisis. But we don't really need that any more; plenty of people are still desperate to buy our bonds. The price of oil has collapsed their cartel.

The government wanted to be our friends, but not at the cost of loosening its own power. Now that's failing, and their options are few. I dunno what happens from here. Those 28 pages won't have nearly the "smoking gun" that people imagine it will, but they won't be pretty either.

Comment Re:18 Month Lifespan (Score 1) 57

Has there been some technology change that allows that? I've got a slightly older phone with a replaceable battery, and it needs to be replaced about once a year or so. Which is OK; they cost around ten bucks. (Forty, if I bought certified parts, but Anker makes knock-off parts that do at least as well.)

Do the non-replaceable batteries have a different technology that allows them to last longer?

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