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Comment: The Great Nestle Hedge Bet (Score 1) 323

by anorlunda (#48398745) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

In the early 60s I worked as an exterminator. Our company was hired to fumigate warehouses full of cocoa beans owned by Nestle. They hired every vacant warehouse in New York State to hold those beans. I got to see a lot of warehouses and an unimaginable quantity of beans. The fumigations were strictly precautionary.

  I was told that Nestle was taking advantage of low world prices and had bought the the entire world' scrap,of cocoa beans for thst year. In following years, they could either sell them at a profit, or use them up in Nestle chocolate factories.

Comment: Re:Profits a function of regulations (Score 1) 517

by anorlunda (#48009773) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Second, utility company profit is typically regulated to be a percentage of revenues, and reduced sales (because of conservation, self-generation, or whatever) will reduce power company revenue, but profits will remain at the regulated percentage of revenue.

No. Not a percent of revenues, but rather a percent of investment. A critical difference in this context because falling revenues will not cause falling profits.

Comment: Re:TFA False Premise (Score 2) 517

by anorlunda (#48009533) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

One could carry it to the logical extreme. Expect everyone to supply their own power, but charge only a fixed fee to serve as a backup source.

Even in thst extreme case, the public service commission is required to grant rates which proved the utilities a guaranteed return in investment. Investments in transmission and distribution are huge. Return on those investments does not depend on them actually delivering energy all the time.

A death spiral would occur if too many people go completely off grid. But those people will have to learn to live with having power only part time. There are periods in winter where days are short and winds are calm for weeks at a time. In places where it gets to be 20 below, backup,power os dearly needed. (Things are a bit easier in warm, sunny, parts of the country.)

You are also still neglecting the people in high density and high rise housing who can not easily generate their own power. As many as half the population is in that category.

Comment: TFA False Premise (Score 4, Interesting) 517

by anorlunda (#48008539) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

The TFA uses a false model for computing profits. In the USA nearly all electric utilities are regulated monopolies. The government grants them a monopoply for a particular service area. The utility fronts the capital investment (historically up to 20% of all capital investment in the whole country!!! They must raise the capital in the private markets and convince investors to invest in utilites instead of Apple or Alibaba. High returns are needed to attract that money.). The pubic service commission is obligated to allow rates that guarantee the utility a defined return on investment profit. In real life, there is a lot of wiggle room and lots of politics in rate setting, but competitive pressure is not a factor. TFA ignores this.

We could, as a matter of public policy, decide to revoke the monopoly. That would open the door to any competitor, but it would also allow the utility to charge any rate they like without asking permission, and would remove any obligations regarding reliability and quality of service. (Think daily brownouts for anyone who doesn't pay for "premium service" on the hottest day of the year.) It would also open the door for another set of poles and another set of wires running down every street; one set per competitor. NYC was like that in the 1890s, and some places in Asia are like that today with hundreds of wires on every pole and laying over every rooftop.

But a death spiral in which rising rates paid by the remaining non-solar customers drive more and more customers to generate their own power could still be possible. But it would not directly affect utility profits as the TFA claims. The regulated utility business model would be challenged, not the profits of utilities that remain regulated. Those profits are guaranteed by law.

We should also recognize that lots of the population lives in high rise apartments and do not own enough rooftop or yard square feet to use solar panels.

Comment: Re:Arevas failure (Score 1) 130

by anorlunda (#47805357) Attached to: Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

I worked on a competing bid for this plant from a Swedish supplier that had a track record of completing nuclear plants ahead of schedule and under budget. After loosing thst bid, the nuclear department of that company was shut down.

The same company and the Finns were also set to sign the contract for a downtown district heating nuke for Helsinki. It would have been a major success for nuclear technology. The day before the signing press conference, Chernobyl happened.

My point is that the process of bidding and bid evaluation on high priced projects is so burdened by politics, marketing hype, and luck that we might as well just flip a coin. It happens all the time that the contract is awarded to someone who can't fulfill it, while more capable suppliers are sidelined.

Comment: US Government is the Biggest Attack Vector (Score 2) 117

by anorlunda (#47751525) Attached to: Securing the US Electrical Grid

If NSA has installed weaknesses and/or back doors into most commercial hardware and software globally, then everyone, Al Qaeda, as well as power companies, use the same stuff.

Ask any security manager. He'll tell you that we must assume that bad guys will eventually learn how to exploit those weaknesses and/or back doors, leaving us highly vulnerable to attack.

The Cyber Command wing of NSA has the responsibility to assure that they can successfully attack any enemy, any time. They can not know now who that future enemy might be. Therefore, the only way they can be assured of accomplishing that mission is to make sure that no computer, no IT operating anywhere on the planet is really secure. I fear that they are planting the seeds by which bad guys can attack the power grid in the future.

Comment: Re:straight from the OMFG NO dept (Score 4, Informative) 364

by anorlunda (#47735601) Attached to: "MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

I disagree. It may be entertainment, but the show is a great model for amateur science. Being amateur does not mean it is not science.

You say, "Real scientists don't need to perform these shitty expriment and can solve the problem with basic thinking and most of the time basic arithmetic."

Wikipedia's article on the scientific method says, "To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning."

I say it is your concept of science that is flawed.

+ - Ask Slashdot: Why no Third Party Facebook Clients?

Submitted by anorlunda
anorlunda (311253) writes "Facebook annoys me (and millions of others I'm sure). In order to see pictures and news of family and friends, I have to be exposed to all their "likes" and "shares" and now plain ads. Facebook won't let me filter those things categorically.

The stage seems ripe for a third party client that will access my Facebook account, but that caters to my wishes about what I don't want to see. There must be thousands before me who had the same idea, yet I find no trace of discussions on this topic on Slashdot.

Of course Facebook will hate this idea but that hasn't stopped third party apps in many analogous cases. How does Facebook prevent third party clients or third party apps? How do they suppress even discussion of the topic?"

Comment: Re:Open Borders - Bad idea (Score 1) 230

by anorlunda (#47442735) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

I agree with what you said kosh271 except:

1) if the population reduction is great (say 75% or more) and the need is urgent (say 50 years or less), then birth control can not possibly be adequate.

2) if birth control is inadequate or unattainable (you said it can not come to pass in your country) then what?

None of us want to advocate killing, but the next most drastic step after birth control (and maybe the next most drastic step after that) lead us to ethically taboo places that no one is willing to discuss. That suggests that our fate is demise though inaction because all suffupicientky effective actions are too drastic to consider.

Raise this subject in a room full of activists and you'll empty the room in an eye blink. No one dares to discuss it publicly.

Comment: Open Borders (Score 1) 230

by anorlunda (#47442417) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

The article only discusses domestic segregation, but the elephant in the room is national differences.

If global warming becomes as bad as they say, many heavily populated areas of the world (think India) will become too unproductive to support their population. Other areas (think Canada or Scandanavia) will become more habitable. Clearly the only humane policy will be totally open borders and to allow unlimited migration globally. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

My point is simply to mock the massive hippocracy and parochialism of western societies.

Comment: Cynicism and Scientific Malpractice (Score 1) 725

by anorlunda (#47395381) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

We've been trained to "follow the money" in all circumstances of public advocacy and to be highly suspicious of those who would befit financially. Scientists who say "increase funding for my field", or "I deserve a prize", or "better agree with this or you'll lose tenure and not get your grants approved." undermine the credibility of the whole profession.

Malpractice is what I call it when Scientists mask politics under the cloak of science. Science can speak about climate change, and perhaps about the cause. On the other hand, what to do about it (if anything) is a question of values, not science. It sounds immoral to spoil the world for our grandchildren, but that's not science. So when scientists get on the media and try to dictate what we must do about it (such as renewable energy), that's malpractice because it is a political issue not a scientific issue. When they threaten to label you as a denier if you disagree, that's even worse. When they tell the politicians to obey scientific edits or else, that's an attempt to create an uber ruling class.

My point is that much (not all but much) of the blame for cynicism goes to the scientists.

Comment: Re:Streisand effect? (Score 1) 239

by anorlunda (#47375743) Attached to: Following EU Ruling, BBC Article Excluded From Google Searches

Maybe this slashdot entry really will vanish if someone files an official request to remove it to Google.

If i were Google, I would play hardball. I would not just remove the article from the search, but the whole BBC web site. That would eventually lead to removal of all court and eventually all government web sites from search engines. As the whole Internet began to go dark as seen by Europeans, it is my guess that they would relent and reverse the decision.

Comment: Re:Electric. (Score 3, Informative) 659

by anorlunda (#47004225) Attached to: Future of Cars: Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Or Electric?

Line losses for electricity are in the 10% or greater range (the figure for Canada is almost 40% due to the amount of power we get from relatively remote hydroelectric facilities). So electricity and hydrogen aren't too far off-base with respect to losses.

I call bullshit. The losses are not that high.


" For example, a 100 mile 765 kV line carrying 1000 MW of power can have losses of 1.1% to 0.5%. A 345 kV line carrying the same load across the same distance has losses of 4.2%. ... Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 6.6% in 1997 and 6.5% in 2007"

I can tell you that most of those losses are in low voltage local distribution, not the long distance transmission.

You claim 40% losses from the remote hydro in Canada. James Bay alone makes 16 GW of power. 40% of that would be 8.4 GW. In order to dissipate that much power from those thin wires, the temperature of those wires would have to be hotter than the core of the sun, and it would warm up the transmission corridor to Miami Beach climate. That's nonsense.

Think of countries like Sweden and Brazil where the bulk of the power is generated thousands of miles from the consumers.
They operate without excessive losses.

Cite your sources dude.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil