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Comment: Re:Figure, Figure, Figure (Score 3, Interesting) 239

by Required Snark (#47652805) Attached to: Patents That Kill
Since the end of the Cold War Russia and the USA have been following the same economic/political path: control by oligarchy/elites. In Russia the balance is that the government holds power over the oligarchs and they do the government's bidding. In the USA the government does the oligarch's bidding. Given a long enough time the two systems will differ only in insignificant details.

Russia never had long period of democracy, so the slide to authoritarianism does not have that far to go. The USA has a much longer democratic tradition (except for women, racial minorities, Native Americans, etc.) so it it taking longer to eliminate democratic forms of government.

Still democracy is slowly dieing in the USA, as evidenced by end of independent journalism, most criminal court cases being decided by plea bargains, the increasing costs of elections and the dysfunction of the legislative branch, the polarization of the Federal judiciary (the Roberts court decision on the Voting Rights Act) and the inability of the President to make deals with the Congress. (Note to Republicans: when there is a Republican President and the Democrats control the House and/or Senate, they will be just as unwilling to cooperate in running the country as in the current division of political power. Don't whine when you get bit by your own strategy.)

Comment: Re:Oddly nobody factors in risk and after costs (Score 1) 409

Nuclear power is only "cheaper" if you ignore the issue of insurance.

There would be no civilian nuclear plants if they had to buy real insurance.

All nuclear power is implicitly backed up by government guarantees that they will pick up the cost if a major accident happens. In the US, there are explicit limits to the amount that utilities have to pay out if something goes badly wrong. That is the only reason they can get any insurance at all. If they had to get insurance without that limit the economic model would not work. No one will insure a reactor because the down side is so huge. The low probability of an event does not counterbalance the immense burden of failure. No insurance company would take a bet like that.

Although the mechanism is different in Japan, the Japanese government is deeply involved in maintaining the illusion that TEPCO is a solvent company. In other venues, like the US, they would have already been forced into involuntary bankruptcy, and the government would be on the hook.

The Japanese government is taking much of the financial and administrative responsibility for cleanup. A big part of the funding is coming from all the other energy companies in Japan. Effectively the are taxing the energy sector for TEPCO's failure.

This is another example of how big corporations want the freedom and lack of oversight of laissez-faire capitalism while taking vast subsidies from the government. If you want to see how far this can go just examine the current state of Wall Street. They are literally getting free money from the Treasury. That's what the US government's current zero interest policy means.

Comment: Do EEs need to know Ohm's Law? (Score 1) 637

If you assume that CS is in the same category as Electrical Engineering, you should make a meaningful comparison.

EEs need to know the basics of electrical theory. Even if they use design tools that handle all the low level details, to do a good job and avoid mistakes they need to know simple things like Ohm's law. No one says "that's too low level, the state of the art has made Ohm's law only useful to a small set of professionals."

The low level tools of CS are languages and interfaces. A professional needs to have knowledge of both high level and low level tools. If they don't their training is inadequate. Even if the exposure is in school, and not used professionally, it's important to have the experience.

By the way, so called Software Engineering is a bad joke. It is almost non-existent. Real engineers, like ME or EE or Civil Engineer types can design something for a predictable cost that has a very high likelihood of meeting all it's design goals. If the cost, time or result is wrong it's because someone failed. By that criteria all software development is always a failure. Using the term "Software Engineer" is fraudulent. Other engineering disciplines should stop computer software developers from degrading the term Engineer.

Comment: Real world consequences (Score 4, Informative) 190

Now that the Slashdot Pundits have made fun of a number, here's what's happening in the real world.

According to researchers, monkeys in the vicinity of Fukushima City had detectable levels of radioactive cesium in their muscles, while the northern monkeys did not. Researchers also found that the Fukushima simians had significantly lower white and red blood cell counts compared with macaque troops almost 200 miles away.

The researchers suggested their findings mirrored studies conducted on human health impacts following the Chernobyl disaster, where researchers found decreased blood cell counts in people living in contaminated areas.

The Chernobyl site is in the process of having a New Safe Confinement structure built, which will keep radioactive material from the disaster site from entering the environment for 100 years. Once it is in place some of the radioactive material will be broken up and moved to long term buried storage.,

In contrast, one of the articles states "The plant is believed to be still releasing an average of 10 million becquerels per hour of radioactive material." The quoted 1.1 trillion BQ figure was the result from recent debris removal.

Up to 1.12 trillion becquerels of cesium was dispersed last summer as debris was removed from the battered building of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, with tainted rice later being found in Miniamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, according to Tokyo Electric.

The amount of cleanup and debris handling remaining is immense compared to the work done in this last operation. This means that the impact of future work will be proportionally larger.

Beyond that, the three damaged cores are still not stable or safe. There is no solid information on the state of cores, or even if the core material is in the containment structure. At least one of the cores is believed to have suffered a complete meltdown and become corium.

The already severely damaged reactors are still at risk for future earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons. Any one of these events could result in another large scale radiation event. The Fukushima disaster is not necessarily over. It's just less active.

So go on and giggle over a number. It shows that you have the collective intelligence of a retarded 11 year old.

Comment: Verizon customers are screwed (Score 1) 75

by Required Snark (#47520419) Attached to: Verizon's Offer: Let Us Track You, Get Free Stuff
Not matter what they claim, they will be tracking everyone, whether they sign up or not. I'm sure they already have some slimy lawyer bullshit in the existing terms of service that they can use to justify the practice.

It's not like users will ever know what they are doing. It could be going on right now and no one would be the wiser. Maybe the are rolling this out now because they have been keeping (and possibly using) this data, and they figure that pretending that there is an option available will give them plausible denyability. It would be consistent with their otther behavior.

The (pretend) government oversight agencies are a pathetic joke. The recent "net neutrality" clusterfuck shows that they don't even have to pretend that customers are stake holders or have any say in the matter. The FCC is now a fully owned subsidiary of the telecom industry. The only open question is how the monopolistic spoils are going to be divided. It's no different then gangs controlling their turf so they get all the profit from the various rackets that they run.

So what are you going to do, switch to TimeWarner or Comcast? The difference is the same as paying protection money to the Mafia, the Bloods, or the Crips or ...

Nothing to see here, move along. No capitalism, no democracy, no competition.

Comment: Re:But (Score 1) 110

A turbine is the wrong technology. I think that this would work better with a Sterling Engine. The steam temperature is (obviously) 100C, and the cold side could either be ambient air temperature or water.

The Sterling crank output could drive a generator, and there are some existing Sterling designs that use the linear motion of the pistons as magnets with a coil for electrical generation. The boiling water is a closed loop that is the hot side of the Sterling engine.

This lends itself to a modular design where the water boiling and Sterling power generation are a sealed unit, and you get more power (and protection against single points of failure) by replicating the module. The major limitation of this system is that it only works during daylight hours. Even so, if it has high enough efficiency and low enough manufacturing cost it could be useful for environments without extensive electrical grid infrastructure.

Comment: RTFA: real engineering is going on (Score 4, Insightful) 55

by Required Snark (#47436231) Attached to: A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware
I have no strong opinion about the DWave machine. It might be doing quantum computing or it might be doing classical computing. I don't have the correct background to judge, and there is still a lot of controversy among those who do know this stuff.

However, if you read the article (which I did), they are doing real engineering. They are building very sophisticated superconducting quantum circuits. Their second generation machine has four times the qubits and cycles much more quickly. This is very difficult and advanced work, and they are making it happen.

So why is DWave getting so much flack on Slashdot? Somehow I doubt it's because there are vast number of quantum physics types just waiting to display their deep knowledge whenever the subject comes up. What I see are Slashdot Pundits: hoards of pseudotechnical wanna-be's who pile on with meaningless criticism. The motivation is not to have a useful debate but to pretend to be smart by talking trash. Maybe they impress each other, but from my vantage point it looks like a lot of eight year olds shouting curse words they don't understand and giggling over how cool they are.

Comment: What about the bankers? (Score 4, Insightful) 135

a "continuing criminal enterprise" charge that's better known as the "kingpin" statute used to prosecute criminal gang and cartel leaders.

Given the billion's of $US that various banks have been fined recently, for things like evading US taxes and money laundering for Syria, Iraq, and Somalia, isn't it about time that the legal system give the same treatment to bankers committing these crimes?

Why do they get to pay fines that don't have any real effect? Just look how their stock always go up after they announce a deal. If any individual ever gets fired it's always the low level person who takes the hit, and they all end up going to work for someone else and never face any real problems.

Oh, I just remembered: bribes/campaign contributions along with the revolving door and juicy high paying jobs for former regulators. To bad drug dealers can't have a revolving door with law enforcement.

Comment: Green Card Irony (Score 2) 401

by Required Snark (#47396603) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say
For the1H-B workers, the irony is that as soon as they get their green card, or even eventual citizenship. they face the same job discrimination faced by US residents. As soon as you have a stake in the US, they don't want you as a skilled worker.

American capitalism hates American workers. They put greed above all, even the sustainability of the US economy. Why the hell are we putting up with this?

Comment: Will human technical civilization last that long? (Score 1) 564

Assuming that our current technologically based civilization will prosper that long is not the only possibility.

It is conceivable that global climate change, perhaps with other unforeseen events, could wipe out civilized society. Bye-bye "superior" AIs.

This would be one answer to the Femri Paradox. The reason that we have not detected other technological civilizations is that technology is self destructive. If it develops it doesn't last very long.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce