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Comment: Fudge factored (Score 1) 610

by iMactheKnife (#48152501) Attached to: Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

You can always get the "correct" number by adding a fudge factor in to the actual data. TFA is a good example.

First, the "externals" are larger than the real costs of several sources. By far the largest factor in external costs is "climate change" which is itself a fudge factor on the real data. Finally, TFA shows an error bar in the externals which is about the same size as the externals. In other words, the external cost COULD be close to zero.

Comment: Common mode failures (Score 1) 38

by iMactheKnife (#48069325) Attached to: Snowflake-Shaped Networks Are Easiest To Mend

TFA says the snowflake is a good model for networks that are inexpensive to repair, not necessarily robust. Considering that most repairs will happen at level 2 or level 3, that may be true ON AVERAGE. As the number of total nodes grows, I bet there is a point where the central node, which supports the most connections, becomes the expected common failure mode of this kind of network. Not only is the central node, by necessity, the most complex and by far the most expensive to repair (every level 1 function is down at this point), because of its complexity it may also have the shortest mean time between failures.

As soon as you see this and try to go back to a redundant central node, the next level nodes become vulnerable. And so on. Vulnerability propagates down the levels. The snowflake, er, melts down.

Maybe there needs to be a limit to the number of branches per node....but then you will have more than 3 levels.

Comment: Context is important to history (Score 1) 363

I think it;s a great idea. Context is essential to history. The parched, knothole view I got in high school was worthless. This big view is right on. Let's hope some revisionist scum do not try to make this into political ideology.

Except for the money, Gates seems to be staying out of the lesson planning.

Comment: Re:Straight to the pointless debate (Score 1) 136

I've never used a marine GPS that could not correct for magnetic variation and display the magnetic course. If you have one that can only display true north, it is an el cheapo.

Your compass probably needs to be swung.

With all those errors, you probably shouldn't be going 14.4 knots. Or, if you are, I should be aboard to calibrate your instruments correctly. I'm a USCG Master with thousands of hours of blue water sailing and race experience.

Respondent who says you must publish your raw data and the methods you use to smooth or adjust that data is correct. You need to give others
  scientists the full facts to reproduce your experiment or it goes into the Journal of Unreproducible Results.

Comment: Crossover GOP support? (Score 1) 171

by iMactheKnife (#47716045) Attached to: Why Chinese Hackers Would Want US Hospital Patient Data

Better check your history.

NO Republican voted for the PPACA health care bill. It was passed on a holiday evening by a vote on strictly partisan lines. 34 Democrats voted against it. Practically no one had even read the 2700 page bill (I did, eventually). The day after the House passed the Senate bill, the House tried to repeal it.

Comment: Re:What Publishers Do. (Score 1) 306

by iMactheKnife (#47575783) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Whenever this topic comes up, we end up discussing what publishers really do.

Every time, someone with some knowledge of how the publishing industry works turns up and explains how there is this long road between the author's draft and the book in your hands, made of editing, copy-editing, typesetting, cover design, marketing and more, and the publisher is the truck driver that sees the draft to the end of that road. That's correct.

But I've come to the conclusion that none of that is the one irreplaceable service publishers perform in the system.

All of the above can, to some extent, and for a fee, be performed just as well by independent contractors. (There are great independent editors out there, and aren't we all glad for that.)

The one important thing publishers do is: they take the loss on books that don't earn out.

Now hear me out.

I know how we, Slashdot readers, tend to think about those things. In our minds, if the book doesn't earn out (that is, it brings in less money than the publisher gave the author as an advance), then it's got to be someone's fault, right? Bad writer, bad publisher. Something.


The thing is, a successful book requires a lot of factors. Great writing doesn't suffice. The public is fickle. Yesterday, supernatural romance sold by the truckload, now it doesn't. GRRM was a great writer for decades before you even heard of him. Harry Potter didn't start hitting it big until three or four books into the series. Word of mouth matters, but only after the readership has exceeded a certain critical mass. And until then... someone has to take the loss.

Because, here's the thing. GRRM, Rowling, they're outliers. Many books -- most books, AFAIK -- don't quite earn out. Many deserve to, but don't, because that's not how the world works.

But they still got written, you still read some of them, you still loved some of them, and that only happened because someone, somewhere, was willing to pay an author to keep writing, and take the risk that the great book in their hands may not earn that money back.

And that, friends, is what publishers really do.

So, if the Ebook does not sell, the publisher eats the inventory?

Do you think we are stupid enough to believe that?

Comment: Interchangeable units (Score 1) 306

by iMactheKnife (#47575775) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Most Ebooks ARE interchangeable units of entertainment. A few authors and titles stand out, but those are generally of interest only to a niche audience. I buy over 50 Ebooks a year for my Kindle, varying from a highly technical textbook on molecular evolution (free!!!) to a Science Fiction novel by a great author ($7.99).

Let's face it, you are buying a brief reading experience, not a leather-bound pride-of-ownership thing for your smoking room.

Comment: Luddites at the FBI (Score 1) 435

by iMactheKnife (#47476185) Attached to: FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

More bullshit "security" concerns.

What are the odds that an (easily prevented) driverless bomb car will be any more effective than any other kind of terrorist attack? All we need is a car occupant detector to prevent that. How does that stack up against the lives saved by driverless cars in traffic accidents?

Oh, yeah, and way less traffic ticket revenue for City Hall. It also makes those auto speed detectors in D.C obsolete. Now, if we could only stack them vertical to save parking spaces we would have a nice, disruptive technology.

Comment: Re:And this doesn't seem like a bad idea? (Score 1) 105

by iMactheKnife (#47425515) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

The Chernobyl experiment was not ordered by scientists. It was ordered by a political appointee who wanted to exceed his boss's expectations and show that the plant could also generate useful power at low neutron densities. The onsite engineers protested to no avail. Unfortunately, the reactor graphite core did not shut down evenly. Instead, full neutron current ran in small sections of the graphite without adequate cooling. When the graphite reached the temperature to dissociate water, the free oxygen ignited a granite/hydrogen explosion which blew about 190 MT of fissionables out of the containment and into the environment.

I'm one of the proposers of an international nuclear intervention process for nuclear disaster like Chernobyl.

Comment: Forget May. What about January? (Score 1) 547

We had a record COLD winter this year. Will a one month record a few tenths of a degree higher make up for it? And how much money does the government propose taking out of the economy to fix a portion of a tenth of a degree?

Let me know when it's safe to assume this is not a political argument.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876