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Comment Or ... (Score 3, Informative) 32

they could just give their environmental regulators the authority to enforce their existing environmental laws.

In the film Under the Dome, Chinese journalist Chai Jing astonishes a Chinese audience with a film clip from California where Cal DoT stops a truck and actually checks that it has all the mandatory safety and emissions equipment. That never happens in China. China has tough emissions standards on paper, but the law is written so that the regulators don't have any enforcement powers. So Chinese manufacturers simply slap stickers on vehicles claiming they have all the mandatory emissions equipment without installing any of it. Technically this is a crime, but the law's written so there's literally nothing anyone can do about it.

And if you don't think environmental regulations make a difference, this is what New York looked like in 1970. Note that that isn't a sepia tinted black and white photo, it's true color. Granted it shows an exceptionally bad day, but before the Clean Air Act got strengthened in the mid 70s bad smog was pretty common. If you look at pictures of American cities from the 70s you'd think that photo technology of the day put a blue or yellow haze on stuff in the distance (like this). It wasn't the film, cities actually looked that way a lot of the time.

Predicting bad pollution days isn't "fighting" pollution, it's living with it. If you want to fight pollution you've got to stop people from polluting. You've got to catch them at it, fine them, and in some cases throw them in jail. Pollution like they have in China is nothing short of manslaughter on a national scale. 1.6 million people die every year from it.

Comment People will "LOL" at this. (Score 1) 620

For starters, I could buy the name brand mac and cheese any time I wanted, not just on special occasions.

People will "LOL" at this.

It is a very real issue for those of us who grew up poor.

On special special occasions, you could include 1lb of ground beef.

Like once a week. Most rich people used to be incredibly poor people who will Never NEVER again be in that position.

Comment 100K a year (Score 1) 620

100K a year after taxes.

It's bound to go up, but to being "wealthy" means $2-4M in investments to get to that after taxes. Depending on how.

Everything after that is either "invest in the investments" or "pay off the house loan against the line of credit".

Any way you look at it, if you do not want to work, or you do not want to work on something other than "facebook++" for some asshole who thinks he has a magic "get rich quick" scheme, you are at a minimum looking at $4M.

Comment Erm... (Score 3, Insightful) 106

The 130-page report (PDF) shows that Li-on batteries will drop from $550 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2014 to $200 per kWh by 2020

The going rate for residential electricity in the U.S. is about $0.11/kWh. So basically if these batteries charge/discharge once per day (as the case would be for solar), and you want the batteries to only add (say) 20% to the price of the generated electricity in order for it to remain cost-competitive (note: wind is nearly cost-competitive, solar is still about 2x-3x more expensive), then it currently takes $550 per kWh / ($0.11 per kWh * 20% * 365 cycles/yr) = 68.5 years for these batteries to pay for themselves, but by 2020 it will take 27.4 years. Yay progress?

Unless the levelized price for renewable generation drops substantially below that of coal, I don't see how this will "spur renewable energy adoption" except for regions where electricity prices are substantially higher (e.g. Hawaii, $0.30/kWh)

Comment Re:So much for net neutrality (Score 1) 257

1. a data cap that from an "unlimited" that is not unlimited, since the user signed a contract that had some sort of fair use policy allowing redefinition of the word "unlimited" by the ISP,for marketing purposes;

I think most (all?) carriers have dropped unlimited data plans. Sprint is the only one I'm not sure about.

The remaining people with unlimited plans are grandfathered in (I'm one). Legally, the carrier is not required to continue to keep these people on those grandfathered unlimited plans. Once your multi-year contract is up, your service is month to month. You are free to cancel it at any time, but the carrier is also free to cancel it at any time. The carriers have, as a courtesy, just been allowing customers on the old plans to continue month-to-month under the terms of the old plan. There is no legal requirement for them to do so, and they could in theory just force you into a current data capped plan if they wanted.

I agree marketing data plans as "unlimited" in the first place was stupid. But it happened, and it's in the past. Carriers are now doing the right thing by specifying what your bandwidth limit is. The "my contract says unlimited" argument really carries little legal weight (unless a carrier still offers an unlimited data plan).

2. Did I read that right about them targeting torrent and p2p users first? Didn't the US just pass a net neutrality law? Isn't protocol-specific "accusing" a type of discrimination punished by law when it concerns American citizens, because it would automatically assume the content these users were trading was illegal without a serious base for such accusation? I mean, seriously. Who gave these corporate douches the power to decide how their service is to be used. It's about time all service providers understand that a user has a right to privacy that goes well beyond his right to sniff on the user's content.

Understand that the typical Internet service you pay $50/mo for is actually a shared service. If you to try to buy (say) 20 Mbps for your sole, exclusive use, it would cost you around $2000-$5000/mo. The only way the ISP can offer it to you for $50/mo is by having you share it with about 100 other people. And the only way sharing it with about 100 other people works is if on average each of them uses about 65 GB/month.

The easy way is to set a bandwidth limit of about 100 GB/mo (most customers won't come anywhere near 65 GB/mo so you have some extra headroom). But you can't do that with unlimited plans. So you can either let the service go to hell with transmission rates slowing to a crawl due to everyone torrenting and P2Ping 24/7. Or you can selectively slow down services which most people don't care about in order to maintain speed in the services most people do care about (web browsing). If you're going to say they're not allowed to do that because of net neutrality, then that is equivalent to choosing the "go to hell" option.

There's no free lunch here. You can pay for a dedicated line and have no usage restrictions, or you can pay the shared rate and accept some usage restrictions and bandwidth limitations. The idea that you can pay the shared rate but use it as if were a dedicated line is a fantasy sold to you by unscrupulous marketers.

Comment Re:You keep using that word. I don't think it mean (Score 2) 257

I agree - especially if tethering is not allowed.

Tethering and unlimited data are an either/or. Either you can have unlimited data but no tethering, or you can have tethering but with data caps.

Frankly, I think the latter makes a lot more sense. Tethering is a very useful tool built into every wifi-capable Android phone by default (the carriers disable it). If you have it, it eliminates the need to get a separate cellular data plan for your laptop, tablet, etc, and you're no longer limited to using those devices only within earshot of a wifi hotspot. I show people how to tether with their phones, and they're flabbergasted when they realize the possibilities it opens up. e.g. Kids can watch a streamed movie on their tablet during a long road trip. You can navigate using a bigger tablet as your map, instead of the tiny screen on your phone).

Logically, it makes no sense to discriminate based on where the data will end up - your phone or your tablet/computer. That's like a restaurant saying you aren't allowed to share the food you buy with someone else - only you are allowed to eat it. You've paid for the food/data, why should they have any say over what you do with it? On unlimited plans, disallowing tethering is really just a roundabout way to limit bandwidth (like buffet restaurants don't allow you to share food with someone not buying the buffet). Why do that and suffer the collateral damage it causes, when you can just limit bandwidth directly with a cap?

Comment Re:science fiction (Score 1) 34

To Dani's comment, I'll just add that, the day that an asteroid assay is done and proves that the thing is actually more than 1% platinum, or any other of the many proposed ways to make space economically interesting proves out, the land rush will be on.

There is no mineral or resource valuable enough that you wouldn't got broke bringing it back to Earth - even if it were stacked in neat little ingots so you wouldn't have to refine it, just open the hatch and shovel it in. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Comment Re:No Teaching Experience? (Score 1) 60

Some people are great at teaching, others are not.

I believe this is a self-perpetuating myth. What the data shows is that new teachers in America improve rapidly over the course of about three years, after which they are about as good as they'll ever be. So it's certainly not the case that some people are just naturally teachers; great teachers have to learn the craft through practice, and that learning comes after they finish their official training.

But maybe what we're seeing is that it takes teachers three years to reach their inborn teaching potential, after which they no longer are able to learn anything more that might help them. My question is, how do we know that? How do we know that American teachers are actually completely incapable of becoming better teachers after three years of in-classroom experience?

We don't know. The remarkable thing is that until very, very recently, very few American school systems have actually attempted to systematically improve the performance of their teachers through observation of what they're doing in the classroom. They may have "professional development" where they get more of the same kind of theoretical training they got in education school, but they usually don't follow up to see how the teacher actually puts that to use, or even to identify bad habits the teacher may have developed over the years, or good habits he hasn't. In my kids' school system kids are sent home early on "professional development days" so that working with actual students won't get in the way of a teacher's skill development. It's like trying to make someone a better baseball hitter by banning bats and balls from training and simply talking to players about the theory of biomechanics.

Imagine you own a factory and your assembly line is turning out too many defective widgets. How would you address that problem? Would you send your engineers to a seminar every year on manufacturing theory and ask them to make design changes when they came back from that seminar? Or would you go over the assembly line with a fine tooth comb? While the seminar idea has it's merits, it's too slow and it'd take sheer luck for the seminar to hit on the particular problem that's affecting the line.

In America we have a simple model for improving the teaching at a bad school: fire the bad teachers and hire better ones. But imagine, just for a moment, it is possible to use empirical methodologies to improve the performance of any teacher. Imagine for a moment some bad teachers could be transformed into mediocre ones; some mediocre teachers into good ones; and some good teachers into great ones. In a world where that was possible there'd still be a place for the hire and fire strategy, but relying on that strategy exclusively leads to two unfortunate and unnecessary results: (1) Poor districts have to make do mostly with inadequate teaching and (2) teaching in rich districts tends to be adequate, but great teaching remains uncommon.

Sound familiar?

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. -- Bengamin Disraeli