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Comment: How much of that cost is power? (Score 1) 311

by swb (#48616607) Attached to: 11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

Versus the equipment to actually perform the desalination?

California has some pretty big wind farms and one of the issues with wind power is its availability when the grid can't accept the power. I wonder how much capacity goes unused and whether it would make sense to direct that power to a desalination facility that could provide a working load for the power in a scalable way that could be quickly and granularly spun up and down inversely to grid demand for that power.

The power the wind farms can generate but isn't absorbable into the grid is kind of free energy in a way and it would seem to make sense to do useful work with it like desal.

Comment: Re:Sympton of a bigger problem (Score 1) 590

by swb (#48604455) Attached to: Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

Time spent on a bus is time not spent concentrating on traffic. Relax, read a book, maybe do some work.


I remember long bus rides. In the summer, it was kind of 50-50 you'd get a bus with air conditioning. No AC? Now you sweat like a pig, which is really awesome on the way into work. This was marginally less oppressive on the way home, but only marginally less oppressive because when you got home you could strip off your sweaty clothes.

In the winter not enough heat wasn't the problem, too much heat was. Since I had to walk six blocks to the stop and wait at least 10 minutes, I had to dress for whatever outside was like in Minnesota in January, which usually meant dressing for 10-20F. Then you get on the bus and it's like entering a crematorium -- the heat blowing batshit, making it like 80 degrees. And it's crowded and you can only take off so much of your winter stuff, because there's no room to put any of it.

I did do a fair amount of reading, but working? The buses I rode were all like coach airline seats (although not as extreme as coach has recently become). There was no room to practically use a laptop and of course no tray table or anything to put it on.

I eventually gave up the bus and plowed an extra $200/month into a paid parking spot and it was actually LESS stressful. The climate control worked. The seating more comfortable. And despite periodic traffic headaches, it was less stressful to commute for 25 minutes in my car than to wait 10-15 minutes outside for the bus, sit on the bus for 45-50 minutes, and then walk another six blocks to get home. The daily one-way trip time from door-door was almost double on the bus.

It will be a cold day in hell before I commute on a bus again. I might be swayed if I had less than a five minute walk, the stop was climate controlled, and the ride actually on par with driving time AND the seating approximated a first class airline seat in terms of room and a tray table, etc.

Comment: Re:How about criminal charges ... (Score 1) 512

by swb (#48584873) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

I think they do this already -- a recent newspaper article about our local police department detailed a half-dozen officers terminated for various reasons.

But I think it begs the larger question of what remaining officer morale is like if the kinds of "fire 'em all" mindset towards swift and harsh discipline takes place.

I'm not trying to defend bad police behavior, I'm trying to put into the context of a bunch of highly unionized employees who aren't trivially monitorable like $10/hr clerical employees working in some 3,000 square foot desk farm.

There are ways (and I'm sure most experienced officers know them) of simply doing less that no level of oversight can measure let alone measure to the level that satisfies union work rule disciplinary procedures. Sure, fire them all, but who the hell are you going to be hiring to do the job?

Comment: Re:How about criminal charges ... (Score 1) 512

by swb (#48584713) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

It's a common theme, but it begs the question -- do we just live in a state of anarchy now, where the "order" the police provide is merely illusory and most people are law abiding because of social convention, etc? Or does policing actually provide some kind of utility function to maintaining order?

Comment: Re:How about criminal charges ... (Score 2) 512

by swb (#48581199) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

I wonder about this, but I also wonder what the secondary of effects of harsh punishments would be. What happens if the police end up being just deliberately ineffective?

It's not like they don't have myriad ways to be ineffective that are basically impossible to control or punish -- evidence lost, conclusions not reached, investigations short-shrifted.

Maybe some or all of these happen now, but could they get worse and what would the larger effect be?

Comment: What's state of the art in UI scaling? (Score 1) 179

by swb (#48580855) Attached to: LG To Show Off New 55-Inch 8K Display at CES

It doesn't seem to be in Windows 8.1 from my experience on a Surface Pro 2 -- it's a nice display and very high resolution, but it's scaling options leave a lot to be desired.

I can only imagine the same phenomenon would be true on super high resolution screens, although a lot of people seem to like 4k monitors, but it's hard to know what these would be like in day-day usage.

Incredible pixel density is nice, but it seems like (IMHO, anyway) that UIs and applications need to have a lot more flexibility about how they work with very high resolution displays.

Comment: Re:Watson is a scientist (Score 3, Insightful) 234

by swb (#48567435) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Prize Medal Will Be Returned To Him

The pope is invited to parliaments and international diplomacy as if he was somehow especially smart or important.

The pope is treated as having political importance not because of the efficacy of his theology but because he is the spiritual leader of 1+ billion Catholics, a large portion of which actually believe in the doctrine of papal infallibility.

Comment: Re:Shakedown (Score 3, Interesting) 127

by swb (#48554303) Attached to: Civil Rights Groups Divided On Net Neutrality

The urban poor can't afford Internet? Every time I drive through "poor" urban areas, I'm always amazed at the forest of DISH/DirecTV dishes on apartments. Half the time I wonder if its not an NSA branch office or occupied by a NASA tracking station.

AFAIK most cities who signed cable franchise agreements required the entire city to be wired. While I'm sure more affluent areas were wired first, I seriously doubt my own city (Minneapolis) isn't universally wired 30 years later.

And 80% of the population is urban, and I would wager that number is slightly higher for African Americans, meaning that most of them live in areas with accessible broadband.

Comment: Re:Why not fish for lamprey? (Score 1) 118

by swb (#48549715) Attached to: How One Man Changed the Ecology of the Great Lakes With Salmon

The article I read say they approximated squid, if less chewy. IMHO squid and octopus don't really have a strong flavor -- they really just represent whatever they are cooked in (the Greeks seem to have a flair for them, oil and herbal seasoning).

In fact, I think a lot of people could be served tripe if you cooked it like squid and never know the difference.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.