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Comment Re:The Goldman talks... (Score 1) 315

Your point is that Hillary Clinton charges as much as others, so she's no different. The problem is that "others" are actually a bunch of crooks, such as her husband, Trump, assorted politicians who all can be accused of corruption just as she is.

No one in their right mind pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for a speech—any speech. I am a researcher and I have been invited to give lectures in universities abroad occasionally, and the rule is that at most they cover your travel costs. Nobel laureates may get command some extra treats, like conference fee exemption, presentation placement in plenary and a nice hotel, but not big payouts; besides, in that case the speaker actually has to prepare something, not just spout some truisms and rehash some old presentation.

If someone is being paid hundreds of thousands for a 5-minute speech, the speech is only a fig leaf to cover for the transfer of money; now if you are paying that money to Malala Yousafzai, it's obvious you really want to support her work for girls' education; if you pay that money to a politician that may help your company, that's corruption, be it for a specific service or as "environmental corruption", where it is normal to regularly pay politicians to be on their good side. It is obvious that even in the absence of either written or oral agreements, both parties realise that the speaker will be in debt to the organiser. That's corruption, be it Clinton I or II, Trump or whoever else.

I suggest you Americans to eject New York from the Union so you can get rid of both candidates and start over...

Comment Re:EU science programs open to non-members (Score 4, Informative) 517

It is possible to take part in EU science programs and funding like Horizon 2020 without strictly being an EU member.

Yes, but you need to be a third-world county or an associated country; source here. Essentially, you can get funding if you are outside the EU if you are:

  • a EU country, e.g. France;
  • a colony of a EU country, e.g. Greenland;
  • an Associated Country, which means countries in the wider sphere of influence of the EU, e.g. Norway;
  • a third-world country like Afghanistan.

Developed countries like US, Canada, Russia and China are excluded, and that's the set in which the UK will land after Brexit. Their only option is to join as an Associated Country, but that is more expensive than staying in as an EU member. Otherwise, they can wait until their economy tanks bad enough to join the other list.

I am coordinator for two EU projects, each with 6 partners over 5 countries, and I know the system fairly well. And I have a proposal with one UK partner in processing, damnit.

Comment Re:Aluminum (Score 4, Informative) 231

Last year I saw a presentation by the head of Technology Development of Hydro, which has aluminium electrolysis as one of their core businesses. He proposed the same thing you do, using aluminium as an energy carrier: make aluminium (primary production though, not recycling) where you have power, then transport aluminium instead of setting up expensive DC subsea cables.

Since I work in renewables and hydrogen, I asked him if this could be done for wind power; it could not, because aluminium factories require an enormous amount of steady power. If power is interrupted, not only production stops, but the electrolysis cells solidify and cannot be restarted: this is a damage that requires hundreds of millions of dollars and months of lost production to fix. For example, this happened when the Qatalum, Qatar plant went offline.

So, intermittent renewables such as solar and wind are not a good match for aluminium, because it requires constant power. Hydro power is a better match.

Comment Re:Ugh.. (Score 3) 371

I always suggest that people who try to deny this watch Triumph of the Will. It helps explain how the Nazis *saw themselves*.

No, no, no. You make a propaganda movie to influence how others see you. The Triumph of the Will is how the Nazis wanted German to see them, and indeed the word "socialist" was quite popular at that time in history, which is why they hijacked it in "National Socialist".

Of course, what they did had nothing of the "socialist" part. They were heavily funded by the wealthy industrialist class (Krupp is a name among a hundred others), they were against abortion and for high child-bearing rates, were fond of guns and trained children with toy guns from an early age, stressed competition and survival of the strongest, had good relations with high clergy, including the Vatican, to the point that they helped hiding many Nazi war criminals after WW2.

Then of course there is the issue of "scientific" racism and the idea of master race, persecuting political enemies (guess what, almost all in the left side of politics), invasion of the Soviet Union, persecution of Jews (an age-old right-wing conspiracy theory used to provide the masses with an easy scapegoat).

I get what you are doing, trying to pull off the Goebbelsian Big Lie by associating the Nazis to your political opponents, no matter how historically groundless and ridiculous the association is. Maybe you believe it yourself. I would suggest you read more about the Nazis, you might end up liking them a lot.

Comment Re:"Historically", uh? (Score 2, Interesting) 639

Nazis were LEFT WING

Two paragraphs, and Goering emphasizes the SOCIALISM of Nazis nine fucking times.

So, all that persecution of socialists and communists, all that Barbarossa business, all that money the Nazis got from Krupp and the German aristocrats and industrialists, and that little issue with racial purity—that was all a charade? The No True Scotsman brought to new heights...

I hope you are trolling, because the other diagnosis is that you are so retarded you could be a Trump voter.

Comment Re:"Historically", uh? (Score 1) 639

German Mavare is one murder victim in a particularly violent country, was not a national leader and apparently the murder was due to robbery. Venezuela is besides the only country I know of where the leaders of an opposition that organised a coup was not arrested en masse (as would be normal in any democracy) and executed (as it would be the case in the US, where treason is punishable by death).

While one murder victim is one too many, in a dictatorship the scale is very different, the violence systematic and organised. You're lucky if you don't have the experience to understand this.

Comment Re:"Historically", uh? (Score 4, Interesting) 639

Proof you are wrong, sir: Hugo Chávez won all his elections fair and square, according not just to himself but to former US president Jimmy Carter, who was quoted saying "Venezuela probably has the most excellent voting system that I have ever known".

Chávez' opposition, instead, organised riots, a coup against him, and he was so magnanimous as not to have them sentenced to death (which is undoubtedly what would be done in case anything remotely similar were to occur in the US; it's called treason).

Just because you don't like his policies, his attitude or his inept successor does not make the man a dictator. And by the way there are still elections scheduled in Venezuela, and it is likely Maduro is going to lose.

Comment "Historically", uh? (Score 4, Insightful) 639

Historically speaking, that's where the real danger is.

If I understand you correctly, you are claiming that the "real danger" comes from the "socialist" left wing of politics. You curiously attached the adjective "historically", even though, in the history of democracy, not one single time has any established democracy ever been replaced by a repressive Soviet-style stalinist regime. Not. Once. Ever. The closest you get is when the USSR invaded the baltic states early in WW2, but that's more like a country-to-country invasion that would have happened no matter what the regime in Russia was.

As observed by Eric Hobsbawn in The Age of Extremes, real dangers to any established democracy have always, without exception come from the right wing of politics: fascism in Italy, nazism in Germany, Franco in Spain, Austro-fascism, Vichy France, various dictatorships in South America, the colonels' regime in Greece, Salazar in Portugal, the Shah in Persia, Suharto in Indonesia.

And the way dictatorships start is not by censoring news in a private media outlet, however despicable the practice may be; it is by instilling fear in the populace, identifying an enemy (real or imagined), and convincing the masses that they have to give up their rights and trust a heroic leader to gain security and maintain prosperity. Sounds like anyone you know?

Comment Re:Again? (Score 2) 121

The charge times are a factor, but mostly it's cost, cost, cost!

Batteries are economically unsustainable: Li-ion batteries (the type with high energy density that you need in any battery vehicle) cost about 500 $/kWh. You can expect it to drop somewhat through the next decades, say to 300 in 2050, but they are already being mass-produced and unless a significant, revolutionary breakthrough happens, this technology has already delivered what it can.

Hydrogen storage, instead, costs about 12 $/kWh, much cheaper (I'm talking of the only commercial technology, compressed hydrogen at 350 or 700 bar). In addition to that, you need the fuel cells to convert hydrogen to power, and they cost about 300 $/kW (not kWh, kW). However, they are not mass-produced, in which case projections indicate they would cost about 50 $/kW or lower.

Now, trust me on this one (or do the calculations yourself): of the world's 10 most sold cars, almost all have one kW in the engine for every kWh of fuel in the tank (netting for engine efficiency). So mass-produced hydrogen cars can have a powertrain that is an order of magnitude cheaper than batteries by the kWh when mass-produced. Not only you can build a car that drives 500 km—you can afford it too!

But what about efficiency, I hear someone in the back shouting: it is true that batteries are about 90% efficient, and the electrolysis, compression and fuel cells train is about 40% efficient. However, consider this: a battery can operate for about 1500 cycles before end-of-life. Every kWh of capacity will store and release 1500 kWh, which in consumer prices (different by country, I know) is about 150 $. This means that the cost of batteries is much higher than the cost of the energy they will store through their entire lifetime. Efficiency in operation actually takes a back seat when investment costs are this high.

Finally, what about capacity? Li-ion batteries store 0.25 kWh/kg (that's why Teslas are so heavy). Hydrogen (including the pressurised tanks, that are 90% of the weight, and netting for 50% efficiency) provides 2 kWh/kg, again one order of magnitude higher.

To be clear: there is a marked for batteries and one for hydrogen. Smaller applications for short usage are better with batteries (think commuter cars). Larger applications, or applications that in general need a lot of energy compared to power (taxis, buses, trucks, even ships) are better served with hydrogen.

Comment Re:invite more people in? (Score 1) 547

So you are saying that Christian culture is the worst:

The problem with many European racists is that they blindly assume that all muslims believe the Quran. Just like for Christians and the Bible, most muslims do not read the Quran, even if they keep a finely decorated hardcover copy in the house. In the case of the Quran it's actually even less likely they are going to read it, since the Quran makes a point of being in Arabic, while the Bible is usually translated. Even if many non-Arabic speaking muslim countries include Arabic in their school curriculum, often ostensibly to allow reading the Quran, no one can reach a level of skill sufficient to do so in school (think of how many US citizen can read the Bible in French or Spanish after high school).

Of course you will find plenty of evil in the Quran, just like in the Bible. Of course Mohammed did evil things, so did Jesus (being rude to his mother—note that it is a violation of the fourth commandment, punishable by death in the Bible—, proclaiming war in Matthew 10:34-35, vandalising property and inciting a mob against the merchants in the temple, etc.), and of course all these parts are ignored, repressed and buried among Christians. But if they are read those quotes and told it's the Quran, they promptly believe it, because Islam is evil, right? (NB: of course Islam is evil. I am pointing out Christianity, Judaism, and for that sake Buddhism are not better.)

We all despise Saudi Arabia and Iran for their barbarous executions of homosexuals, but can you remember what England did to Alan Turing? That's England, a country noted for centuries for being one of the most liberals on the continent, not Italy or Poland, just two generations ago. And it was a war hero they were punishing.

Point being: the Quran is not more representative of muslims than the Bible is of christians. Some believe that nonsense (extremist nutjobs), some say they believe but don't really care, some believe they believe even if they don't know what is in the books (looks like you), and some dismiss the whole humbug. "Culture", as you intend it, is a mostly personal issue, and there is no way to determine that Mr. X from Syria is less liberal than Mr. Y from Oslo. Variations between single persons dwarf the average difference between population by orders of magnitude.

Comment Re:Who cares (Score 4, Informative) 578

I worked for a few years at a Max Planck Institute (not the same one as Jobb), and I remember he sent occasionally racist rants to all email recipients in all institutes, in which he lamented that the foreigners were taking his job. The rants were so logically inconsistent they looked like a crossing of Time Cube and the Unabomber Manifesto.

More than racist, which he is, the guy is psychologically unstable; the archetypal mad scientist.

Comment Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 5, Interesting) 371

The way it works here in Norway is that you pay an extra tax when you buy an eventually recyclable item. When you want to get rid of your old washing machine, you can deliver it to anyone selling washing machines ("you sell it, you take it"). Their logistic costs for handling the waste are paid by the taxes paid on new items.

For some items you actually can get the tax back, e.g. for plastic bottles and beer cans. You bring them to the supermarket, feed them to a robot and get a receipt (one dime for small bottles, three for larger ones) and redeem it at the cashier. It's smal enough that people don't mind the extra price, but high enough that you see bums scavenging trash for bottles.

That's the main principle you need to drive home—you make people pay when they want to buy things that they eventually will dispose of, when they have their wallet open, and make them pay nothing extra (or even pay them something) when they recycle it.

Comment Re:just what we all love (Score 4, Insightful) 243

I am pretty sure that Amazon did not originate in Luxembourg, that they do not have any significant infrastructure in Luxembourg, and certainly most of the products they ship are not made in Luxembourg.

I would not have any problem if their actual warehouses were all in Luxembourg and all shipments departed from there; however, they most certainly do not. It's a good thing to pay taxes from a single country when selling to several, but one must pay taxes where the value is generated, not going around shopping for the lowest rates.

The single market was intended to be used for simplification, not for tax avoidance.

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