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Comment: Re:The Stupid. It Burns (Score 1) 452

by JSBiff (#44802945) Attached to: The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

I'd say the smart thing to do in that case is just testify. Then, if they TRY to prosecute you, you just point out that you were compelled to give testimony which incriminates you, which violated your 5th amendment right, and therefor, the testimony is inadmissible as evidence.

Although, to rebut my own argument: it's often more complicated than that - because you might not want them to know you ever used drugs to begin with, because once they know that, they might start investigating you, and once they start investigating you, they might find evidence to convict you completely separately from the inadmissable testimony, and if you hadn't testified to begin with, maybe they wouldn't be looking.

Comment: Refusing to testify makes you an accomplice? (Score 1) 452

by JSBiff (#44799861) Attached to: The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

It seems to me that those who protect the guilty are colluding to obstruct justice, and prevent the prosecution of a crime.

How is refusing to testify, any different, than hiding a murderer or rapist in your basement? It would seem like you are attempting to shield them from justice. What am I missing?

However, the catch-22 in that argument, is that if they haven't been convicted yet, how can we say you are protecting a criminal? We cant, so. . . I think someone should be able to refuse to testify, and not *immediately* be guilty of a crime merely for not testifying, but if the other person is later found guilty and convicted, and the prosecutor has solid evidence you knew and refused to testify, then you should be able to be prosecuted separately for obstruction or some similar charge.

Comment: Wrong plutonium (Score 2) 139

by JSBiff (#43170901) Attached to: NASA Restarts Plutonium Production

The isotope of PU used by NASA is not the type you make bombs from. I guess you could freak people out by spreading some radioactive material with a 'dirty bomb' - but basically, dirty bombs are a psychological weapon more than an actual hazard - they get people to panic and hurt themselves. They don't do much or any direct damage.

They type NASA uses won't fission (which is what you need for a nuclear mushroom-cloud, city destroying type explosion). It only decays, and as it decays, it produces a lot of heat and radiation (which, in a spacecraft, gets converted to heat also). NASA uses the heat to create electric power using a device called an RTG - Radioisotope thermal generator, which directly converts heat to electricity without any turbines (although, much less efficiently than a steam or gas turbine, but that's not a big concern for NASA).

Comment: Re:We could start by ending the double standard. . (Score 1) 564

by JSBiff (#42657135) Attached to: Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

We are talking about one particular method here. I have no problem with people helping others to get around censorship and get communications. On the other hand, *attacking* others to deny them free speech (e.g. taking down their website), I can essentially almost never agree with.

Comment: Re:We could start by ending the double standard. . (Score 1) 564

by JSBiff (#42656551) Attached to: Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

Fair point, about the punishments compared to other crimes. Perhaps you are even right about their actually being no double standard, but it has appeared to me that in the tech community, there is some amount of approval for some of the actions of Anonymous and similar groups.

Comment: Re:We could start by ending the double standard. . (Score 3, Insightful) 564

by JSBiff (#42656519) Attached to: Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

Yes, that's true that many people condemn Anonymous for shutting down websites, but my point is, there's enough people that hold them up as some sort of 'heroes', that as a society, we send a bit of a mixed message about what's appropriate, even if it *is* illegal.

Comment: We could start by ending the double standard. . . (Score 5, Insightful) 564

by JSBiff (#42656443) Attached to: Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

Perhaps it would send a clearer message if we stopped celebrating some groups for hacking and DOS's websites of people, governments or companies we don't like?

After all, if it's ok for Anonymous to harass websites who don't conform to "our" cultural preferences, then I suppose it's ok for anyone to harass any website they don't agree with. . .

Comment: And not being allowed to return home (Score 1) 124

by JSBiff (#42610359) Attached to: Fukushima's Fallout of Fear

In many parts of the evacuated zone, the "contamination" is so small and insignificant that health experts have stated that people could safely return home. However, the government of Japan, instead of trying to educate people about the true risks (or lack thereof) decided they were going to keep the area empty until it could all be "cleaned up" at enormous expense.

So, the public is left with the impression that the government must know it's too dangerous to return, so it must be, right? So, they are depressed that a nuclear accident evicted them from their family home (which may have belonged to the family for generations - in Japan, a home staying in the family for very long periods of time is not uncommon) and they won't be able to return in their lifetime.

The government should just let people return to the very low contamination areas, which ARE SAFE for human habitation, educate them about the risks, and let them get on with their lives.

Comment: Re:Pardon Turing, convict us? (Score 1) 231

by JSBiff (#42318797) Attached to: New Call For Turing Pardon

Honestly, it depends on how the laws are written that legalize a former crime. It's perfectly possible (and I suspect this may be part of the Washington and Colorado initiatives, though I haven't checked) for a new law to state that a former law is repealed, and also that any prior convictions under the previous law shall be vacated.

Comment: Re:Irony of "affordable" German solar panels (Score 1) 735

by JSBiff (#42307665) Attached to: Solar Panels For Every Home?

Here in the States, all nuclear power plants are required to put a certain amount of the revenue for each kWh sold into a decommissioning fund. I've heard it comes to around a penny per kWh (which isn't a large increase in power rates, by any means).

The thing about nuclear power plants is they produce epically large amounts of power, over a long period of time, and the fuel costs are close to zero on a per-kWh basis. So, even though a plant might cost Billions to build, and another Billion or two to decomission, it's still cost effective.

Here in the States, one of the utilities called The Southern Company is building a new two-reactor NPP at the Vogtle Power Station site. It's estimated to cost $14Bn. Nuclear plants typically seem to get cost overruns, and this is a first-of-it's kind design (well, first in the US anyhow; the AP-1000 reactor). So, let's say it runs to $18Bn and another $2Bn for decommissioning and fuel disposal, for $20Bn total cost (maybe it'll be a little more, maybe a little less; you can argue with the accuracy of my numbers, but this should get us to a reasonable approximation of the actual figures within say 5 or 10%).

The AP-1000 is rated at 1117MW per reactor output (in the future, this may be able to be retrofit to higher output; that has commonly happened at other NPP's, but we'll assume constant power output over the life of the plant).

So, assuming a 60 year life for the reactors and 90% Capacity Factor, how many kWh would each reactor potentially be able to generate and sell?

1117MW * 1000 KW per MW * 24 hours per day * 365.25 days per year * 60 years * .9 capacity factor = 528,747,588,000 kWh.

That is a LOT of kiloWatt-hours. So, assuming a market price of around 5 cents per kiloWatt-hours, how much total revenue is that?

528,747,588,000 * .05 = $26,437,379,400

That's $6Bn per reactor of gross profit. Of course, there's fuel costs, insurance costs, operation and maintenance costs, which could really add up to a few Bn (particularly if there's any very expensive maintenance that has to be done in the future, such as being faced by San Onofre or Crystal River nuclear plants).

Still, that's affordable energy - much more so than solar power or wind.

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