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Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 181

by swb (#47534635) Attached to: How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

Since this whole war on terrorism nonsense, they've gotten kind of funny about tours for the sake of curiosity.

The Union Electric plant didn't have a visitor center -- you just showed up outside an entrance and employee took you anywhere you wanted to go. I even got to go inside one of the generators.

Comment: Re:sure, works for France (Score 1) 77

You can have all the vacation time you want anywhere you live

Which is why every American takes 6 weeks in the summer.

In my experience, most permanent job employers don't like to negotiate on vacation time. Sometimes they'll give on a day or two, but usually they're not crazy about vacation time that deviates from whatever the position qualifies for. The only explanation ever given to me was that because salary is "secret" it's easier to compensate employees differentially; vacation is visible to other employees at the same level and differential compensation creates tension.

In a contract employment situation you can negotiate anything, but I've found in shorter term contracts there's usually some kind of deadline that's non-negotiable, making free-lance vacationing a little bit challenging.

Comment: Re:raise money privately? (Score 1) 165

I think roads are the best (and in some ways the most literal) examples of what municipal broadband should be.

The government builds roads past my house but it only provides "dark asphalt" (aka dark fiber), it doesn't provide any of the services that could be provided by the highway.

The government then licenses "service providers" to provide services on the municipal roads -- taxes for trucks that deliver things to my house, taxis, or even access fees for me to drive a vehicle on those roads. I have to pay myself to utilize the services provided by the roads.

Municipal broadband should be the same way -- it should only be the transit network, anything else -- IP connectivity/Internet should require me to pay an internet provider who in turn has paid for whatever access they need to the municipal network the same way businesses pay fees (direct or indirect) to use the roads to deliver services.

Comcast could sell TV services or Internet services, although I would expect that some other ISP would offer an better product than Comcast and they would be a marginal player, which of course is their entire objection -- hey have a rent-seeking monopoly they want to maintain. If the pipe to your house was open to any service provider, it seems likely they would only get a minority of people who wanted traditional cable television.

Comment: Re:FCC does not make laws (Score 1) 165

But all the magic comes from the Commerce Clause.

You can't build a nuclear reactor without importing components for it across state lines. It starts there. I'd also imagine that NRC and EPA approval would also stem from (mostly) reasonable arguments that the natural environment (wind, water, etc) is inherently interstate and that any risk from a nuclear accident would have interstate impact. Probably some justification on national security grounds relative to radioactive materials as well.

The same thing would be used to justify federal anti-discrimination laws should I decide not serve some group in my local restaurant in which I only serve food obtained locally, cooked in a kitchen made entirely of locally-sourced, locally made cookware and served on locally-made dishware from locally-sourced materials in a building made from locally-sourced building materials by bearded, local bohemians wearing only locally sourced clothing who only drink locally brewed beer in locally made mugs.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 3, Interesting) 181

by swb (#47531351) Attached to: How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

When I toured the Union Electric hydropower plant in Keokuk, Iowa back in the 1990s when they still let you into places like that (with a camera, no less) the guy showed me a hand-crank the size of a bicycle wheel that was originally designed to dead start the plant when it was self-powered.

Apparently spinning that generated just enough power to get one of the turbines generating electricity and that was enough power to boot strap the entire plant.

Comment: Re:Avoiding Amazon Web Services? (Score 1) 147

by swb (#47531127) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

One question might be "What business is Amazon in?"

They almost feel like one of those somewhat out of fashion companies that owns a whole bunch of businesses that are only tangentially related. Are they a consumer electronics company? A hard goods company? A clothing company (Zappos, and Amazon's fashion wing)? A bookseller? An internet services company?

With regard to the last one, maybe AWS isn't a long-term business but a medium-term strategy to sell their own excess capacity to cover the cost of having excess capacity in the near term and gain specific expertise in managing large, distributed computing environments almost 100% under their control.

At some point in a more mature Amazon business, does AWS go away because they no longer need to cover their own excess capacity? I'm guessing that AWS will be big enough business not to, but Amazon's kind of amorphous business model seems to add some uncertainty.

Comment: Re:So Short-Sighted (Score 2) 59

by swb (#47522149) Attached to: How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

How do you manage routing, especially across multiple identically numbered private networks?

Even if you make the assumption that the IoT has the bandwidth, range and routing capability for meshing, it seems ripe for many kinds of abuse. Greedy traffic handling (dumping incoming, flooding outgoing), MITM, etc.

Comment: Risk of mutation to something worse? (Score 1) 167

by swb (#47521559) Attached to: Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

I am not a virologist or an epidemiologist (nor do I play one on TV) but I always seem to remember the risk of a larger pandemic from Ebola or other similar severe hemorrhagic fevers was reduced due to the nature of these illnesses having a rapid onset and severity which limits the ability of infected people to be ambulatory and infect other people.

What I wonder and maybe worry about is a long-term low-grade outbreak leading to mutations which increase the amount of time the infected might be able to spread the illness. I don't know how likely this is, but it seems kind of a scary idea.

Comment: Re:a question.... (Score 1) 63

by Rei (#47516505) Attached to: Oso Disaster Had Its Roots In Earlier Landslides

That's not what everything I've read about the disaster has said. The mountain has gone through cycles - whenever it collapses, the river gets moved away, and the slides stop for a time, but eventually it wears away the footings enough that it falls again. They'd even tried to prevent landslides there by manually shoring up the base back in the 1960s, but it just flowed over their reinforcements.

The waterlogging of the soil is also a necessary factor too, mind you - not saying otherwise. :)

Comment: Re:a question.... (Score 1) 63

by Rei (#47516433) Attached to: Oso Disaster Had Its Roots In Earlier Landslides

I had paperbark birch seeds, which are also pretty water tolerant (though not as much as river birch), but none sprouted - ironically I think the seeds were too wet when I stratified them (same with my maples). Isn't river birch (B. nigra) a warm-weather birch species? I've got some cuttings of random local birches from a neighbor but I have no clue whether any of them are water tolerant enough to take swampy ground. Also birches don't usually get that tall so I don't know how expansive of a root system they'll put down. The abundant local species B. nana (dwarf birch) grows (nay, volunteers) readily here almost anywhere that sheep don't graze, but it's just a shrub, I doubt it'd do the trick (though it's probably better than just grass). It can take wet soil, although not totally swampy conditions.

For the wetter areas I also have about a dozen or so western redcedar seedlings - they're not as swamp-tolerant as dawn redwood and western recedar, but they're still reportedly quite tolerant of wet or even waterlogged soils, and they should be more cold/wind hardy than those two (wind is actually the big issue, it doesn't really get that cold here). I've also got a number of other pacific northwest trees with varying degrees of standing water tolerance. Oh, and a species or two of tasmanian mountain eucalyptus (don't remember which ones) that tolerate fairly swampy ground and should at least stand a fighting chance against our winds.

Basically, I'm just going to plant a ton of stuff and see what survives. ;)

One plus is that where the ground is persistently wet and at landslide risk, it is slowly flowing water, it's not standing. It's constantly replaced by fresh, cold ground-filtered water, so there's probably not as much risk of root rot as might be common otherwise. But there's still the oxygen issue. That and the damned sheep, but I'm working to fix that issue once and for all...

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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