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Comment: Re:Hegel strikes again? (Score 1) 622

When someone uses the term "Alternative energy" they almost always mean "A little bit of energy on sunny days when the wind is blowing". It may work for households, but when it comes to industry, as a replacement for coal, without nukes, it's pure unadulterated Arithmetic Denialism.

I have been advocating phasing out coal in favor of nuclear for about 40 years now.

Comment: Re:Classic pricing problem (Score 1) 324

by Mike Van Pelt (#48620009) Attached to: 11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

You left out a biggy: 5. Don't punish conservation.

How do some CA utilities punish water conservation? It goes like this: A. drought hits. B. utility requests conservation. C. Good citizens comply. D. Because utility revenue is proportional to usage, utility has less revenue. E. Utility has to raise rates. F. Good citizen who complied is a chump. He ends up paying more because he did a good deed.

And on top of that: Good citizen complies, water supplies get more scarce, mandatory rationing is implemented as it is Every. Single. Time., in the form of "Everybody must cut back on their previous use by x%", bad citizen just waters his lawn three times a week instead of every day, but good citizen is screwed.

Comment: Re:Better Link (Score 1) 324

by Mike Van Pelt (#48619937) Attached to: 11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

Yeah, I really hate "gadzillions and gadzillions of gallons of water" reporting on the water deficit.

Taking their figures, 42 cubic kilometers, and California with an area of 423,970 square km, that's a deficit of about 10cm of rainfall, statewide.

(Assuming I didn't slip a decimal point.)

Yeah, it grossly underestimates the issue, because that much rain all at once would mostly run off, and rainfall is not evenly distributed, but it's more useful than the nutty measurement that was reported in that article.

Comment: Re:awww.... (Score 1) 720

by Mike Van Pelt (#48550353) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

HR departments and felons... oh, yeah. At a previous employer, we really desperately wanted to hire a really good technical guy, but he'd been convicted of possession of some AT&T code at some time in the past. My boss pushed back on HR, and they said "You can probably force the issue and get him hired ... eventually. But we can and will use every means at our disposal to block and delay it for as long as we possibly can. I can guarantee it will be at least a year."

So, since we needed someone sooner than a year, we had to pass on our ideal candidate.

Comment: Re:Theory vs reality? (Score 1) 172

by Mike Van Pelt (#48244069) Attached to: EU Sets Goal To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40% By 2030
Actually, large coal plants are enough more efficient than the usual automobile internal combustion engine that, even with electrical losses along the way, there's less CO2 emission per mile with an electric car charged from electricity powered by a coal plant than from a gas car.

Comment: Re:wow (Score 1) 571

by Mike Van Pelt (#48152907) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

Fission plant wastes are two differnet problem sets: 1) Fission products, which are pretty much gone after a couple of hundred years for even the long-lived ones, and 2) transuranics bred from uranium absorbing neutrons. It's the transuranics that are the long-lived stuff, but they are potentially nuclear fuel, so should be recycled into new fuel rods. Plutonium is the most obvious one of these, but any transuranic is going to alternate between absorbing neutrons, decaying via some decay path or another, and eventually hit a fissionable isotope of something, at which point it gives off a bunch of energy and joins the fission product problem set.

Of course, if this fusion technology of Lockheed's really does pan out, no one is going to bother. I want a Mr. Fusion to power my Tesla.

Comment: Re:The third law of slashdot. (Score 1) 238

But what percentage of the people who make such a big ostentatious show of being so very very very concerned about CO2 and climate change are not also rabid anti-nukes? Much of our problem with CO2 is that we failed to phase out coal in favor of nuclear decades ago. And California just shut down another nuclear plant, replacing its carbon-free energy with more megatons of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere. (Yes, California does have some "sunny days when the wind is blowing" power generation. But as long as any power is being generated by fossil fuels, shutting down nuclear plants is increasing amount of fossil fuels burned.)

Comment: Re:The gift of Technology (Score 1) 238

A usefull corrolary to keep in mind is one from the "Freefall" web comic: "Any technology, no matter how simple, is magic to you if you don't understand it." And too few people really understand science or technology on even a basic level.

On the other hand, I like Dr. Barry Gehm's version, too: "Any technology that is distinguishable from magic is not advanced enough."

Comment: Re:Navel gazing (Score 1, Insightful) 652

by Mike Van Pelt (#48075203) Attached to: Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

While environmental studies professors continue to pump out ready excuses for imposing increasing economic feudalism in Europe and North America, China and India are going to build out nuclear power and produce energy. I doubt they'll be dissuaded from trying because of anything this professor says.

When people like this say, "the world can't" remember that they actually mean, "we aren't going to let you."

This. I wish I had mod points today to mod this up.

Comment: Re:Arithmetic Denialism (Score 1) 200

Meanwhile ... this week's Science Friday podcast had a couple of people on touting the "Stop Global Warming" march, and one of them did, in fact, with no sense of irony whatsoever, tout his previous activity in anti-nuclear marches. And Ira Flatow did not call him on it.

As I suspected...

Comment: Re:Arithmetic Denialism (Score 1) 200

Not a very detailed article -- basically, it just says "Amory Lovins says that..." which I find singularly unconvincing without more support than that.

Lovins is an absorbing speaker. I heard him give a talk on his idea for his super-duper-ultra-mega-hypercar. But his arguments veer towards the tendentious. In the example of his car ideas, it's amazing to me to hear someone who supposedly has a degree in physics assert that crumple zones will protect someone in a featherweight vehicle in a collision with a normal car. Really? Has conservation of momentum been repealed because he says so? I don't think so.

I'm not ever going to forget that one of his premises is that cheap, clean, abundant energy is inherently a bad thing. "Nothing short of disasterous", in his words.

Not that I'm going to toss it out just because Amory said it. But I'm certainly not going to blindly accept it as TRVTH because Amory said it, either. I'm going to subject it to a great deal of scrutiny, to see what his assumptions are.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"