Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Back for a limited time - Get 15% off sitewide on Slashdot Deals with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Don't forget Ammonia (Score 1) 282

Melting aluminium is an *ideal* use for unreliable power: the primary cells can run at variable rates or even in reverse to stabilize the grid, or some of the molten product can be staged for running optimized Al air batteries. Germany is already doing this,

From that link, other energy-intensive processes may be suitable, "including those used to manufacture cement, paper, and chemicals. Making chlorine, used to produce paper, plastic, fabric, paint, drugs, and antiseptics, also requires electrolysis."

Don't forget Ammonia, by fixating Nitrogen from the atmosphere.

About half the "green revolution"(*) was due to availability of Ammonia due to the Haber process, which means our ammonia production supports about half the food production on the planet.

Haber is energy intensive, requiring half a million Joules of energy per mole (17g) of ammonia produced, which comes out to about 5% of all energy used worldwide.

It's largely startable/stoppable, so would make another good choice for unreliable or unneeded (ie - solar panels in uninhabited areas) power.

(*) The other half due to pesticides.

Comment Party affiliation (Score 1) 128

For those of you who think that voting Democratic is the lesser of two evils, note that the bill had strong bipartisan support in both the house and senate:

Yea 303: 179(R) 124(D)

[The USA Freedom Act] would make only incremental improvements, and at least one provision-the material-support provision-would represent a significant step backwards," ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.

Next up: the Trans Pacific Partnership. Let's all get together and vote for the party that does the least amount of damage to the American People! Yeah! That'll fix it!!!

One reasonable way to get good government to vote against all incumbents. Whether it's a red or blue congress critter, they'll fall in line once they realize that they only get 1 term if they screw over the people.

Another reasonable solution is to vote for non-insiders. Not Hillary, or Jeb or Chris or Marco.

This year the choices seem to be between "experience" and "change". Which of those would be the best for Americans?

Comment Two reasons (Score 1) 222

The Republican situation is hard to call - the lead has changed hands a few times now.

I've been following the republican nomination thing with great interest for several months now, mostly as an exercise in insight and analysis.

Surprisingly, the republican lead has *not* changed hands a few times, and depending on your definition of "lead" it hasn't changed hands at all. Carson pulled ahead of Trump in one poll one time, but in the overall average and in the national polls he's consistently been in the lead, for the last 6 months.

Look at the link in the last paragraph, and look at the right-hand column and count the number of times it reads "Trump".

This informative graphic from RealClearPolitics shows the overview situation.

But if this is true, then why was the MSM hyping "Carson pulls ahead of Trump" all the time?

Two reasons.

As an exercise to the readership, can you identify the two reasons?

Comparing news reports with actual data has been an eye-opening experience. There's really a lot of shenanigans going on in this election. Applying Bayesian priors of "of all reasons causing *this*, choose the most likely" paints a surprising, infuriating, and depressing picture of American politics.

Comment Me too. (Score 5, Insightful) 207

Yes, the marketing campaign is flawless. My next car will be a Tesla, and my decision is based only on the articles published here on /.

I'm also planning on getting a Tesla as my next vehicle.

It's largely because of context. I *hate* how my dealership inserts itself between me an my purchase and tries to siphon off money for itself. I went through the trouble of looking for the *same* model and make of my previous purchase between two dealers - and got two "rock bottom" prices that were $1000 different. I know they were "rock bottom" prices, because the dealership told me so.

There's also the reliability context. GM has a problem with its ignition switches, denies the problem for a decade, and once a hundred deaths occur fixes the issue without telling anyone, and backdates the paperwork in an attempt to hide the issue.

For the longest time I couldn't rationalize Tesla stock analysis in the financial news. It's almost as if the analysts were looking at Tesla as a black box company: they make some product, have some capitalization, have some profit/loss, and it's a good/bad buy.

As near as I can figure, the financial analysts have an algorithm that actually looks at Tesla as a black box company and makes an heuristic estimate of whether it's a good buy or not. Periodically, an analyst chooses Tesla for review and then rationalizes the heuristic output based on whatever news has recently happened.

(I think that's how all financial analysis is done, actually. It's always "markets are *up* because of $X, markets are *down* following $Y", and so on. It makes the reader think that market fluctuations are caused by these newsworthy events.)

No one in the financial news seems to clue in that the company is building a battery factory, or that the cars had (at the time) the highest rating on Consumer Reports, or that they own a nationwide chain of chargers (and are building more), or even that they are currently selling electric vehicles.

Nope - none of that matters. Porsche plans to make an electric vehicle, and Tesla's stock tanks.

Apparently, in the financial markets context doesn't matter.

But if you look at the context, Tesla is the best product on the market.

Comment Optimum health? (Score 2) 161

How much benefit do you think you'll actually get by sucking down all that D in pill form? How much of that does your body actually put to use, if any? Or would you rather listen to the pill pusher's unchallenged cure-all claims and chomp on your placebo like a good consumer.

Let's take a trip down memory lane and recall how the RDA for vitamin D was established.

The FDA measured the amount of vitamin D people were getting throughout America, and then took the average value.

As anyone who isn't a physician can tell you, people living in the Northern latitudes get less vitamin D because they get less sunshine, and depending on where you live, from November through February you aren't getting any at all. And vitamin D has a half-life of about 6 weeks in the body, which is why we have a "cold and flu" season: once we stop getting sunshine, everyone's D levels drop low enough to depress our immune system.

More recently, they measured the vitamin D in a Spanish farmer working his fields w/o a shirt, and decided that he gets 50,000 IU of vitamin D each day.

So you tell me: 400 IU of vitamin D will prevent disease, but how much is the correct amount for optimum health?

Comment Regulation, but after we feel better? (Score 3, Interesting) 161

There's nothing more squirmy than listening to a Religious Libertarian explain why medicine regulations are evil and somehow there'd magically be fewer deaths or organ damage caused if the Invisible Hand were left unhindered.

I'd like to draw a line between Religious Libertarians and smug physicians and point out that *both* ends of the line cause unnecessary medical suffering.

The themes "do no harm regardless of cost" and "federal agency takes the blame for safety, but not the costs" have driven medical research to a standstill for the last 40 years.

There can be no medicines for afflictions that affect less than a billion people, simply because it takes $1.5 billion to bring a drug to market.

We're running out of antibiotics(*), we've already got diseases which are impervious to *all* antibiotics, and there are no new ones in the horizon.

Someone here (on slashdot) put this into perspective: peanuts would not be allowed under FDA rules.

Let's take peanuts as an example for discussion. Considering that they are easy to grow, and can be nourishing, can we outline an FDA procedure that costs less than $1.5 billion, and yet addresses the issues in a sane manner?

Let's divide this by a factor of 1,000: Can we get good safety regulations for peanuts for under $1.5 million?

I think we could. I'm not a Religious Libertarian, but from a purely mathematical standpoint it's obvious that letting people die because the treatment isn't known safe (absence of evidence is evidence of absence) is less efficient than the middle ground.

Probably more - I think more people die because we don't have working antibiotics than die from complications of supplements.

(*) Note that we've run out of antibiotics *not* because we keep feeding them to livestock, but because it's too expensive to make new ones. If we had 25 separate antibiotics and used them in a staggered pattern 5 years each (5 years of use, followed by 20 years of abstinence) we would never lack for working antibiotics.

Comment You cannot sue without damages (Score 3, Insightful) 518

There are two reasons. Because if you commit fraud, you should be prosecuted for fraud. That's pretty easy to understand.

And here I thought we prosecuted fraud because of the damage it does to others.

You can't sue someone unless you can show damages. Shouldn't the legal system work the same way?

Are we to completely circumscribe behaviour now, prosecuting things that have no effect on others whatsoever, based on a petty definition?

Comment The little things (Score 3, Interesting) 518

Later if the person gets stopped for a traffic violation and isn't wearing their spaghetti strainer, that should be grounds to investigate and charge them with fraud if it were a sham.

And why is this? Why should the DMV care, why should the police be on the lookout for this, and why should society embroil someone's life in the legal system over something that has no effect on anyone, whatsoever?

People seem to think that we need to uphold some sort of justice against the *intent* of some rule or another(*).

Why bother? Can't we just let little things go?

(*) The one that comes to mind first is the "If you can't be bothered to vote, you can't comment on the voting proceedings", but there are others. People seem caught up in enforcing some sort of "just universe", and take it to absurd extremes.

Comment Can you support this? (Score 1) 176

When this happens, and it will, the number one social concern will be to figure out how hard work can still be incented. Without hard work, humans become listless and unhappy. As gleeful as you are to disparage Puritans, they understood this aspect of human nature well.

(*) Do you have any references or studies for this?

It's clear that the end-game of productivity is complete automation. Image a huge factory complex that produces everything anyone needs on a monthly basis. Each month everyone is given $1000 of the machine's production that they can spend to get things, and save up for more expensive things. The factory is self-sustaining, and self-sufficient. Only a handful of people - 100,000 perhaps - are needed to maintain the system.

This may or may not be the end result, but it's a good model to use for predicting the end-game of productivity: lots of goods and services available, few people needed to produce them.

In such a world, would people *actually* become unhappy? If that were true, then we need to chart a different course to a different endpoint.

Of the studies I've seen which deal with addiction and such, people given free access to Cocaine eventually choose to stop using on their own. Lots and lots of people have some dream that they can't accomplish because they don't have enough time.

We see lots of "labor of love" open source works on the net: software, artwork, stories, comics, and so on. Quality work from people who do this even they don't get paid for it.

So. Do you have any references for people becoming listless and unhappy when all their material needs are met?

(*) You probably meant "incentivized"

Comment Nicely balanced versus clear point (Score 4, Interesting) 331

That title definitely makes this book sound like it takes a balanced and objective viewpoint of the situation, with both sides of the argument covered.

There seems to be a cultural shift in recent decades where you can't make a clear argument any more.

This starts with journalism, where "balanced reporting" initially meant that news organizations couldn't show only one side of a controversial issue (abortion, roughly 50% of Americans on one side or the other), and has progressed to where "balanced" journalism includes giving equal air time to climate change deniers (less than 3% of scientists), ESP and paranormal believers, and other completely fringe views.

To be completely fair, about 40% of Americans believe in Creationism, so it's probably OK that this gets equal billing. The point isn't about the beliefs per-se, it's about journalists unwilling to choose a side. Equal billing tends to prop up failing modes of thought.

I've read numerous books and papers that posit a claim and then cite evidence to support that claim... I *thought* that's how science debate worked. For example, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind does precisely this: establish a point, then bolster it with reams and reams (well, one ream - 512 pages) of evidence.

Why does someone with a position to argue need to lay out both sides of an argument?

That's not how human perception works. We rely on experts to sort through the information we don't have time or expertise to deal with.

What's wrong with making a clear point in a book tagline?

You have a massage (from the Swedish prime minister).