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Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 319

Not quite so much in a Tesla. With their latest software, you put in your destination and it will plan your route based on supercharger locations. They're adding more all the time to make efficient routes. But wait ... there's more! Not only do they route you to superchargers, the route planner tells you how long you have to spend at each location charging to get to the next charger.

How much charge does 10 min of charging get you? 10 min strikes me as the max amount of time that it can take before it becomes a problem. Filling up with gas is 5 min, but 10 min would be ok. I think 15 min is pushing it...

Of course, it brings back up another issue... You have to convince millions of people to change their habits because... "reasons" and "environment" and "stuff"...

That is a heck of an uphill climb. It can be done, but it likely will take a generation shift. I fully expect that the soonest you'll see 50% of the cars and trucks on the road being EVs is 50 years from now. By which point, if the doom and gloomers of global warming are correct, it will be too late.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 319

In your analogy, though, I'd say that hybrids are the CFLs and that EVs are the LED bulbs. Early LED bulbs were pretty shitty, if you recall: outrageously expensive, weirdly colored, and not long-lived.

I honestly don't recall, they weren't on my RADAR at all until recently...

CFLs have mostly sucked their entire lives, both when they were new and today. :)

Until we come up with much better batteries, the Volt style "bring a generator with you" approach is certainly the most versatile.

The search for "much better batteries" has been going on for awhile. Will we get them? That is not guaranteed. I hope so of course.

One possible option is that if the Volt technology gets developed further, the engine can be made smaller and more efficient over time. Existing engines are optimized to drive a transmission and wheels, an engine optimized to run at one RPM and drive a generator strikes me as another design goal that could use a few years of work.


As I have posted before, I drive a full size SUV, a Yukon XL. The question becomes, what kind of engine could you put in there to be a "range extender" and have it run for 40 miles on batteries? What would that cost?

It is worth pointing out that saving fuel driving a Volt is nice, but replacing a Chevy Cruz with a Chevy Volt doesn't actually move the needle very much. Replacing a Suburban with a "insert Volt version of Suburban" is likely to yield far more savings.

Consider that for 32 years running, the best selling vehicle of ANY TYPE (car or truck) in the United States has been the Ford F-series pickup truck. Considering just trucks, that number extends to 43 years (about a third of the entire history of automobiles, that is nuts!). There are tens of millions of them driving around, if not more... That is really the low hanging fruit of gas consumption, IMHO. The EcoBoost helps a bit, but not nearly as much as the conversion to EV would, in terms of total CO2 and pollution emitted.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 319

I'd actually compare hybrids to CFLs. They still use gasoline, so the fuel savings are a fraction of what they could be, and they make enough compromises that they're horribly complicated, often don't perform well, etc...

EV cars ARE the LEDs of 5-10 years ago: Great for the most part, have a couple issues, but still mostly just too expensive.

You might be right, I have no problem being wrong if that happens...

I've said many times that the primary issues with EVs is cost. Not the cost of the Leaf, but the cost of the Tesla. If Tesla could profitably sell the Model S, as it stands now, for $30k without subsidies then they would have a real winner on their hands.

300 miles of range, nice looks, good technology, for $30k, they'd sell a million of them.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 319

The short of it is, if today's batteries were cheap enough - no better density or anything else - electric cars would very quickly take over the market place.

You say that as if it were a statement of fact, something that "everyone knows".

I'm not convinced that is the case... Range issues are a concern, and people just don't like change...

Right now plug in vehicles of all types are 0.7% of vehicle sales in the US. Note that this includes stuff like the Chevy Volt that DON'T have range issues due to having a range extender engine.

The number of pure EVs are a rounding error. Cost is one reason, lack of customer interest is another. Price could help with that to some extent, but cost of the vehicle is only one consideration. Cost of fuel is another. If gas were $8 a gallon, then I think you'd be correct. At $2 a gallon, I just don't think most people care that much. What you save per month in gas at $2 a gallon for the average person switching to an EV just isn't worth the trouble.


EVs strike me as quite similar to CFLs. No one really likes them, some people suffer with them, just until we get something else to replace them, which in this case is LED bulbs which don't have most of the issues of CFLs. I've just ordered another case of LEDs to replace the last of the CFLs in my home, which will be a 100% LED lighted home in a few weeks when they arrive.

CFLs suck, but Incandescent use too much power, LEDs are a nice replacement.

What is the LED version of the vehicle? A replacement for a dead dino burner, but not a pure battery car that has to be recharged.

Comment: Re:I'll tell you why I don't use it. (Score 4, Interesting) 303

by FlyHelicopters (#49558633) Attached to: Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed

Office 2003 may long be discontinued, but Microsoft didn't take my data with them when Office 2007 was released.

It goes MUCH further than that...


You may, if you are so inclined... buy a brand new in box copy of MS Office 2003 right now, today, and it will work perfectly fine...

You don't have that option with Google Service X...

Microsoft would do well to remember that when making their own cloud services. Everyone doesn't want to be on the "newest thing" and sometimes older products work well...

Comment: Re:Terrible Then Too (Score 1) 314

by FlyHelicopters (#49558345) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

With sufficient competition (and sufficient money in the vouchers), you should eventually see the schools that cut corners get run out of business by the schools that hire quality teachers. I would like to see a point where private schools are competing for the vouchers to the point where they are bragging about the quality of the teachers, the quality of their programs, etc... My town of 80,000 is small enough that you can drive from one end to the other in about 20 minutes but is big enough that it has about a dozen grade schools. If these dozen grade schools were completely released from regulation and were allowed to compete for students, they would all eventually take different
approaches. Some of the crappy ones would go under and a few new ones would probably start up but I would like to see what would happen if 12 schools all had to put their best foot forward to attract students.

Amen, this!

Comment: Re:Done in movies... (Score 1) 224

We have been well trained that it is OK for the good guys to bend the rules to stop the bad guys.

In fairness, there ARE times when that is the case...

A good example is during the movie "The Peacemaker" with George Clooney.

A terrorist has a nuclear weapon in his backpack and is 10 blocks away from where he plans to set it off. He also plans to die, so if you confront him, he'll just set it off anyway.

The sniper who is supposed to shoot the bad guy has his shot blocked by a girl on her daddy's shoulders. He doesn't have a clear shot.

Do you shoot through the girl to hit the bad guy in that case?

Is the cop bad if he does? Is he good? Is that against the rules?

Comment: Re:Progressive Fix 101 (Score 1) 621

by FlyHelicopters (#49546783) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

I was talking about this with my wife just now and thought of another way to put this...

Warren Buffet has gone on record saying that he pays a lower marginal tax rate than his secretary and that is wrong. He as proposed that wealthy people pay no less than 20% of their income in taxes, regardless of deductions.

To which many people have said, "Mr. Buffet, you can write a check to the US Treasury any time you like, put your money where your mouth is".

If Mr. Buffet wrote a check for $10 billion dollars to the US Treasury tomorrow, would it matter? Would it change the US Budget deficit? Would it balance the budget? Would it make any noticeable difference to the current US Debt?

The answer of course, is no, it wouldn't do any of those things. In fact, lets put those numbers into terms you can understand.

The current US Debt is over $18 Trillion dollars. Lets cut that down to normal people numbers. Lets take someone who works at Walmart for $9/hr. If they work full time, 40 hours a week, they make about $19,000 a year. That is about $1 per billion dollars of debt.

Mr. Buffet's $10 Billion dollar check, works out to just $10 at the same scale. Does $10 to a Walmart worker help? Sure, everything helps. Does it make a substantial difference to their life? No, it really doesn't.

Since there aren't likely a lot of Walmart workers here, add a zero and scale it up to a nice lead developers pay, $190,000 a year... $10 Billion dollars turns into $100.

Does $100 one way or another make a difference that is noticeable to someone making $190K a year?


Mr. Buffet's point is that he alone can't make any difference to the outcome, it has to be a collective effort. The same is true with resource consumption.

Comment: Re:Progressive Fix 101 (Score 1) 621

by FlyHelicopters (#49546521) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

I have seen that before, a great video that everyone should watch...

Of course, the question becomes, now what? Is our current rate of oil consumption growth sustainable? Sure, for a few years... Forever? Of course not...

I would submit that the single biggest problem we have is our population growth rate... You cannot conserve your way to success if you don't do something about the population growth...

A simple example is China and coal. The US could shut down all our coal plants tomorrow, turn them all off, regardless of the consequences. By 2020, China will have replaced it all. Right now China is burning 5 billion tons of coal a year. The US is burning about 1 billion tons. China is expected to hit 6 billion tons of coal in the next 5 years or so.

It is easy to say, "well, we all have to do our part", and "every little bit helps". But the truth is, it doesn't. Nothing I do one way or another will make any difference in the end. There are much larger changes that need to be made for the outcome to be changed by enough to matter.

I actually agree that we need to change our path, we can't keep adding a billion tons of coal every 5 years and have that be sustainable. But those changes have to happen at a worldwide scale. Nothing I do, nothing even the US does, matter, if everyone else isn't on board.


As a side note, I posted in another reply that I've just spent about $400 buying LED bulbs to replace every bulb in my house. The payback period is, overall, about a year. It is a very logical decision that makes financial sense and also happens to reduce my carbon footprint. That is $400 worth of coal power that won't have to be produced in the next year.

The irony is that there are many people who don't like change, who are upset that incandescent bulbs are going away. CFLs do indeed suck, they have a flicker, aren't instant full brightness, etc. LEDs fix those problems. I had a few CFLs in my home, but never liked them, LEDs are very nice.

I rather feel that EVs are much like CFLs, the Chevy Volt technology is more like LEDs. EVs have a problem, in that people don't really want them. They sound nice, right up until people have to live with them. If EVs had 500 miles of range and recharged in 15 min and cost no more than a normal car, then sure, people would like them, but that isn't like to happen any time soon.


The other issue is, just replacing gas cars with EVs doesn't solve anything long term. Yes, power plants are more efficient than internal combustion engines are, some of that power can come from wind and solar, but if we don't stop the growth rate of car and people production, it won't matter. Cutting your emissions in half per vehicle mile doesn't help if you double the number of vehicle miles driven.

Solar and wind are growing nicely, but won't replace coal, oil, or natural gas any time soon. Nuclear could, if we could get over our "oh my god the nuclears!" nonsense. But we won't, because we're largely stupid emotional creatures that do not make logical decisions.


TL;DR - I am happy to make some changes to my carbon footprint that make economic sense and do not impact my lifestyle too much, but anything much beyond that requires action at the international level, since this is a global problem and can only be solved if everyone gets on board.

Comment: Re:Progressive Fix 101 (Score 1) 621

by FlyHelicopters (#49546319) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

On the contrary, I could easily afford a "nicer" car. I have chosen to drive something that takes into account that I'm not the only person in the world. You should explore the concept.

That is a nice, meaningless statement that says nothing...

You probably think you driving a crappy car somehow helps other people. I doubt it, but if it makes you feel better, more power to you.

Comment: Re:1000 times (Score 1) 621

by FlyHelicopters (#49543391) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

by your own article (US sales):

number of EVs sold in 2010 - 2011: 17,500
number of EVs sold in 2014: 123,000
Growth rate: 600%

By comparison overall car sales:

2011: 12,778,000
2014: 16,500,000
Growth rate: 29%

Sure, but when you're starting from almost nothing, doubling sales isn't hard...

When you're at a very large number, growing will be very hard...

But it is worth pointing out that overall vehicle sales go up and down each yet more than the total EV sales.

Last year they were at 0.7%, they might break 1% this year, or maybe not with cheap gas. I don't see 5% happening within 10 years, but I could be surprised. Depends on how fast prices come down and how fast gas price goes up.

Another thing to consider is that regardless of how you may feel about global warming, California has some very aggressive goals for emission reductions by 2050.

Two things:

1. Does California count the emissions from power produced in another state against that total? If a coal plant in Arizona sends power to California, does that count in the number?

2. I am not at all convinced global warming is real, however I would agree there are good non-global warming reasons to reduce the amount of dead dinos that we burn, so I'm all for reducing it within reason.


As a side note, I am totally for reducing our carbon footprint, where it makes sense. Regardless if CO2 is a threat or not, the pollution from burning stuff is bad, I think we all agree on that point.

This past month I've spent about $400 replacing every light bulb in my house with LED lights. My master bathroom alone was nuts, I had 10 of those G25 globe bulbs using 40w each. I replaced them with 5w LED bulbs. There is more light in there now and I've cut my power use by a factor of 8.

That is just common sense. I'll get my $400 back in about a year, maybe less. With that kind of payback, there is no excuse to not replace level incandescent bulb in every house in America. I even went ahead and replaced the lessor used bulbs, the payback on those might be a bit longer, but even 2 or 3 years still makes them worth doing, and it reduces my carbon footprint at the same time.

Rather than provide $7,500 tax credits for EVs, why not provide $7,500 worth of LED bulbs? I'll be willing to bet that you could just give away LED bulbs to everyone for how much is being spent to push EVs, and it would likely make more of a difference.

Comment: Re:1000 times (Score 1) 621

by FlyHelicopters (#49543081) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

AFAIK in a electric car, the motor and his surrounding infrastructure is cheap compared to an thermal combustion motor. The 'only' problem is the storage where the cost, mass, capacity and longevity is hard to compare with a simple tank filled by fuel. I am confident that at some point an innovative solution will open the path of way to overcome this limitation at an acceptable level for a bigger chunk of the car mass market.

And I would welcome it... get the cost down and the majority of my issue with EVs goes away.

Range remains an issue, but for a second car and a lot of other people, that one is less important than the cost.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.