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Comment Re:Just (Score 2) 169

My sense is that distributed power production won't work until you get a quantum leap in battery storage so the generators can use their own excess capacity. I'd cover my roof in solar tomorrow if I could have 100 kWh of battery in the basement to cover evenings and peak utilization.

I don't think the idea of a random, unstructured network of spare residential solar over capacity is really what makes for a manageable grid. Maybe the existing grid could be redesigned to support a lots of local feeds in a manageable way, but it would be extremely expensive and I don't know that it's worth the cost, especially if its only to justify the individual generators personal solar economic choices.

I don't agree with the monopoly obligation agreement at all. The concession made by utility monopolies is rate regulation -- they get to charge enough to meet reasonable costs and a fair profit margin. Stable, minimal markup pricing is the concession. By forcing the utilities to buy power they don't need under their current generation and management structure (and at high rates), you're basically forcing them to charge more to everyone else so that they can buy power they don't need from people who have invested in solar.

I'm sorry, but I don't agree that utilities or other rate payers have a moral or any other obligation to subsidize the choice of putting up solar panels. Put up panels if you want, but your economic calculations should just include the power you don't buy from the grid, not the power you make the other rate payers buy from you. If that turns out to be a less winning economic decision, too bad. "Because solar" or similar isn't good enough.

Think of it this way -- if I shop at one grocery store and buy food and then discover I have too much, I can't go to a different grocery store and make them buy back my excess food or give me a discount on the additional food I buy.

Comment Re:Just (Score 2) 169

I just don't get the righteous indignation. Why should the utility be required to buy your excess production at all? I get that in some kind of ideal world, it makes sense to pump excess residential generation into the grid but I don't know if that's much more than wishful thinking right now -- there's no coordination or management of reverse feeds, for the utility its a nuisance and could be a real headache in the future.

At some point I wonder if this is really about being pissed off that the economics of a solar installation is dependent on excess power being sold back and their actual numbers aren't adding up.

I guess my thought is, too bad. If you want solar, you should pay for solar. Asking other people (the other ratepayers) to subsidize your solar installation is kind of BS and no amount of moralizing about your petty 10kw backfeed keeping them from spooling up a gas turbine will make it otherwise.

Comment Re:Planned Parenthood (Score 2) 142

I'm also inclined to give Sanger's eugenics a sort-of-pass.

I think you don't have to swing a dead cat very far to find contemporary medical ethicists exploring some of the same issues Sanger was pretty gung-ho about. Like should a couple discover they both carry a gene which will result in a high probability of a child with birth defects have children? Such a child would likely impose a significant dollar costs, and since most people can't afford to self-fund such care, they will just be shifting those costs onto everyone else.

The racialism and forced sterilization stuff seems distasteful (especially now), but there's a certain dark charitibility to her outlook when you consider the poverty, slums and misery of the poor of her historical era. All of the war on poverty money spent still hasn't cured poverty and the social costs of basically unchecked poverty seem to only perpetuate it.

If you did implement some kind of eugenics, would we have "solved" the problem of poverty, or at least reduced the scale of poverty to the point where it was manageable as a social and economic cost and allowed social welfare spending to actually produce the results its supposed to? Or would it have been a serious problem in terms of shrinking populations and reduced economic growth?

Could you implement a eugenic program in a way that wasn't coercively Orwellian? Could you model social welfare costs of poverty and offer some kind of net-positive cash benefit to people willing to be sterilized?

Comment Re:What's the point of Tivo anymore? (Score 1) 84

Of course, a prerequisite for using TiVo is a more-than-passing interest in browsing and watching TV.

Which really means "cable TV" -- I can't see spending $300 for a new Tivo + $150 a year for a no-content-included Tivo subscription without the giant cable plan content feed to go with it. There's not enough on the broadcast channels to make it worthwhile with an antenna or my bare-minimum cable plan.

And for that kind of money with Amazon Instant, Netflix and Apple content already on my TVs I can buy a lot of seasons of shows that aren't on Prime or Netflix.

Comment What's the point of Tivo anymore? (Score 1) 84

Any one of a zillion boxes will stream content from the major streaming providers and so much of cable's content is available online already.

I've owned Tivos since series 2, but have cut out cable to the "basic" package of local channels only, mostly to appease my wife and son (who has pretty much moved on to Netflix anyway).

I have 3 Series 3 boxes right now, but when they go I can't see a reason for replacing them. I already have other boxes which do Netflix/Amazon/Hulu.

Comment Re:The F-35 is having problems? (Score 1) 178

The F22 Raptor is probably better suited at air combat against another 4-5th gen fighter.

The new Sukoi T-50 is more of a 4.5 gen fighter with frontal stealth but poor-to-medium side and rear radar signature and heat trails due to the external double-thrusters.

Unless they come in head-to-head, I dont think a T-50 has a chance against a F35. And dog fighting (avoidance of which is the whole point of stealth) is best serverd to the bi-axial thrust-vectoring of the F22.

Comment Re:Fuck You, Experian (Score 1) 161

If the credit-worthiness data does not correlate well with ability to repay,

None of this changes the desire of the lenders to charge more profitable interest rates nor the desire of credit reporting agencies to have their scoring seen as more profitable. Since lenders are inherently risk-averse and profit-oriented, they have an incentive to lend at the interest rate that represents the highest possible risk and highest possible profit.

There's almost no way for a credit reporter to lose by reporting clients as worse risks than they really are. If a lender has a loan go bad and they see that the borrower was assigned the worst of three possible credit scores, they can't blame the credit reporting agency who reported it. If a loan was repaid correctly, the credit reporting agency was ALSO right AND the lender made more money.

Comment Re:Fuck You, Experian (Score 4, Insightful) 161

None of this should be surprising. The credit reporting services are in business to please their customers, the credit issuers. People who apply for credit are part of the product.

I would even go so far as to argue that the credit reporting agencies have an incentive to make your credit report as bad as possible, since the worse the report, the higher the interest rate you get charged for borrowing money. And the good news for creditors is that it doesn't force them to be more competitive, since they're all competing against the same view of your creditworthiness. Erring on the side of reduced creditworthiness lets creditors charge a higher interest rate for a risk that isn't elevated.

My conspiracy minded side says this is why erroneous credit data is hard to remove and why credit reporters want to use non-financial correlates (like driving records) as part of your credit score -- something you can't ever get removed yet makes your credit report look marginally worse, thus making you a more profitable creditor via higher interest rates.

Comment Why almost nobody cares about energy use (Score 1) 91

The companies cheat anyway, so the number on the product is meaningless (ranked first merely for topicality)

People buy a [thing] for its inherent qualities. A TV is chosen for its picture quality, size, features and price first. Energy consumption? The only person I've ever known to choose a TV based on energy consumption was a guy with a boat who wanted to keep his house battery consumption down.

Maybe if all products were essentially equal, energy consumption would matter. You could argue that fridges are basically the same, but when we bought ours size was the most important quality (biggest that would fit the opening) followed by the interior arrangement.

And does the energy consumption vary that much? Maybe the cheapest possible fridge uses a lot more energy, but once you narrow the field and eliminate the tails of the curve they seem awfully close.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM