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Comment: Reason is concentration (Score 1) 521

by alispguru (#47714677) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

The "bad for wildlife" question basically comes down to:

* how much mass you have to move
* how much land area you have to occupy

per watt generated.

Coal and hydro lose because they both require a lot of mass (water and coal) and a lot of area (dammed waterway, mines and transport).

Nuclear and geothermal win because they both require very little mass and very little area other than the plant itself - uranium ore has at least 1000 times the energy per gram as coal.

Any kind of solar is in the middle because of the large area needed to capture relatively dilute solar energy.

Comment: Given the choices, go with Apple (Score 1) 88

Realistically, your choices are:

* Facebook and their ilk, who will sell your individually identifiable data without a second thought.

* Google, who will absolutely sell your info, probably aggregated. At least they're upfront about it.

* Apple, who views their non-release of your data as a market differentiator and thus a valuable part of their brand.

As long as people choose Apple for privacy, Apple will value privacy and not sell their data.

Comment: Of course do this, but... (Score 1) 367

by alispguru (#46827485) Attached to: Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

Don't go thinking that learning trade X or skill set Y or getting credential Z means anyone is set for life.

There are no simple fixes for the current situation where anybody's livelihood(*) can be reduced in value by automation. All the old middle-class certainties like:

- I own a house, which is an asset whose value will only go up
- I have a college degree, which guarantees me a middle-class job
- I have trade labor skills that have been valuable for many years, and will be valuable for the foreseeable future

are no longer certain.

(*) If you're lucky enough to have monetary assets of $500,000+ that you can invest conservatively, and are disciplined enough to live on only the proceeds, you're pretty safe.

Comment: Coal sludge is bad, hyping it doesn't help (Score 1) 290

One billion gallons is about 10 billion pounds.

There was 140,000 pounds arsenic in 10 billion pounds of sludge.

Concentration of arsenic in sludge is 1.4 * 10e5 / 1e10 = 1.4 * 10e-5

Or about 1 part in 100,000.

This is why they got away with it. Coal ash sludge is nasty, but not quite nasty enough to be a hazardous substance per se. Hell, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to add it to concrete, which is then poured where people live.

The figure you should worry about is the change in the arsenic level in the river after the spill. I didn't see that figure in the article.

Comment: Gates and Woz are bad privacy references (Score 2) 335

by alispguru (#46493547) Attached to: Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes

Both of them can choose exactly how much privacy they want, because they're both rich. Gates is maybe three orders of magnitude richer than Woz, but both of them are at least three orders of magnitude away from the American median income ($45K or so).

Also, neither of them can just go out in public in the US without being recognized.

That's the problem with the privacy "discussions" in the US - most of the people who can actually change things are members of a minority who gave up big swaths of their privacy, voluntarily, as an entrance requirement for their profession. They can say "privacy is an illusion - get over it" with a straight face, because they haven't had any themselves for decades.

They may be over it, but I'm not, and it pisses me off that they get to choose my privacy level.

Comment: Zuckerberg knows exactly what he's doing (Score 2) 280

by alispguru (#46323495) Attached to: Who's On WhatsApp, and Why?

He creates/offers/buys a free service that by its nature can learn a lot about its users. He then gradually relaxes privacy assurances and changes the sharing defaults to "we can do whatever we want with information we collect about you", and sells the info to advertisers.

Anybody who thinks this won't happen to WhatsApp hasn't been paying attention.

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