These charter-school folks have a long-term agenda, and that is the conversion of public education from a public service to a fully privatized profit center, with the added perk of eliminating teachers unions as a political force. A key factor in achieving this is that wealth inequality has become so extreme that local governments no longer have the resources to educate the nation's children, but billionaires do. Can parents and boards of education afford to say "no" when, in the face of decaying buildings and teacher layoffs, big-time donors come offering modern, well-staffed facilities, with all the latest IT and other equipment, if only you let the donors do it their way? Once the public school system is reduced to being merely a dumping ground for the worst, most disruptive and unresponsive students, the donors won't have to be so generous, they'll be making handsome profits as the contractors in a privatized fee-for-service education system. It's just like the 1990s when deep-pocketed for-profit HMOs offered healthcare at below-market rates. Once all the nonprofit hospitals and insurers were driven out of business, the for-profits jacked up premiums at double-digit rates for decades. It was a brilliant strategy, and it's happening all over again, in education.
To me, the Times is well worth the 2 bucks a week I pay for it (with an
.edu address). The articles are more comprehensive than any of the free news sites, and the ads are low-key. I feel news is something we should pay for, after all, someone has to pay all those reporters, editors, etc. It's become clear online ads aren't going to do it, and it shouldn't be governments paying them either. There are only going to be a few survivors in the online news game, but the Times might be one of them. They'll need millions of subscribers though, and last I heard they didn't even have a million yet.
Automotive grade lithium batteries are slowly falling in price but currently cost about $500 per kWh and can last perhaps 3000 charge-discharge cycles, so the cost to store and release one kWhr is about 16 cents, more than the total price of electricity in most of the US even at peak periods, but a good bit less than the retail price of electricity in Japan, about 32 cents. So in Japan it might actually make sense, depending of what the peak/off-peak differential is. But as suggested in the initial post, yes, is would make just as much sense to simply put some batteries in the basement and forget the cars. For that matter, you don't need lithium, lead batteries - cheaper but less durable - work out to about the same cost per kWh stored and released. But as lithium battery prices continue to fall, the day is not that far off when storing electricity from intermittent solar and wind sources in very large batteries will be economically feasible.
"[it] can run at an 80 percent efficiency when used to provide both heat and power." This makes no sense. If you count the heat produced, any combustible material can easily yield much better than 80 percent efficiency just by burning it. Condensing natural gas boilers, for example, routinely run at >95% efficiency. Of course, they're producing all heat and no electricity, but by the specified criteria, that's more efficient than the Cube. Straight % efficiency in producing electricity only, would be a much more useful number. I doubt that they're only counting electricity in the 80%, but it's ambiguous as written.
We are in fact increasing longevity and slowing down the aging process, but that only means an ever-longer period of helplessness preceding death. The most frightening statistic I've heard is that for every year of increased longevity that modern medicine has provided, only seven months is an increase in the time one is in good health. The other five months is an increase in the time during which you're still alive but have lost the ability to care for yourself. What's really needed is to minimize that period of dependence, in other words, delay the aging process while at the same time making it more sudden. Slowing it down is the worst thing you can do.
I've often taken notes on laptop at seminars and scientific meetings, and I've found it helps me concentrate on the talks. Taking notes on paper is distracting primarily because it requires constant glancing down at the paper. Further, I can type much faster than I can write. Rather than transcribing exactly what the speaker is saying, though, I find myself putting things in my own words, which keeps my attention from straying. But it's essential to be typing by touch and not looking down at the keyboard or the screen, which is as distracting as writing on paper. Typing errors, sometimes approaching one per word, can be corrected later, and in fact provide a convenient opportunity to review the material. If the study excluded surfers and included only touch-typists, I'm confident the laptop note-takers would do better.
I'm thoroughly confident that if I ever had to actually (or virtually) see myself as others see me interacting in a social situation, I'd never go to a party again.
lfp98 writes "Just a month after the collapse of independent battery-swap company Better Place, the uniquely successful maker of luxury electric cars, Tesla, has announced it will provide its own battery-swap capability for its Model S sedans. The first stations will be built adjacent to Tesla's charging stations on the SF-to-LA route, and a swap will take no longer than filling a gas tank. From the article: "A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank", Musk said. "Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack.""
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
Their strategy with GoogleDocs/GoogleDrive is truly incomprehensible. Seven years after its launch, it is still pathetically primitive, lacks even the most essential functions like detailed formatting of figures and legends. DOS WordPerfect was more sophisticated. MS-Word is a terrible program, still crash-prone, expensive, frustrating and distracting. It cries out for a replacement, even though almost every enterprise and public sector institution is dependent on it. Google engineers can make a self-driving car, you'd think they could program a decent word processor in an afternoon. It's clear they're not even trying. Why??
Just one more step on the gradual transformation of traffic laws from deterrent to revenue source.
If the states really wanted to collect all that sales tax, all they would have to do is enforce current law (requiring residents to pay the tax themselves) and increase the penalties for evasion. Random audits would reveal massive infraction - supposedly less than 1% of taxpayers in states requiring it report any internet or other purchases where the vendor did not charge tax. But they won't do this, they're too scared of the backlash from voters. In short, they want somebody else to do the dirty work for them.
lfp98 writes "According to David Wasserman's vote tracker, Gov Romney's share of the certified popular vote, which continues to trickle in, has now dipped to 47.4934%, which of course rounds down to 47%, or exactly the percentage of voters Romney had claimed would never even consider voting for him because they are too dependent on government handouts."
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
I don't see how their system makes anything more affordable, and it's outrageously inefficient. When I'm writing a grant or a research article, I might easily look at 20 or 30 articles in a single day. So, that's $120-$180 if I just look at them temporarily or up to $330 if I want to keep them permanently. So I could spend thousands per month just on access to references. Plus, I'll be spending an inordinate amount of time and mental energy on constant decisions of whether to rent, buy or pass up every article I encounter. Usually, I don't know whether an article will be relevant to the specific question I'm trying to answer until I actually look at its data. This system really will be a major impediment to scientific progress, if investigators are regularly ignoring articles that might contain a critical piece of information, just because they wouldn't risk the $6 - not a huge risk of course, but multiply it by hundreds of articles and it adds up quickly. The people particularly hard-hit would be those who for example have just lost their funding, and so have to write grants more or less nonstop but at the same time have no grant support to pay for article access. The best solution in principle is the author-pays model (with allowances for those who truly can't afford to pay). At least with that system you eliminate the infrastructure needed to charge users and maintain the security of paywalls, which is a big part of the expense of electronic publishing. The problem with author-pays is that currently it's just too expensive, a few to several thousand dollars per article, and that has to be brought down. Perhaps with better software and better-informed authors, you wouldn't need all the layout techs and copy editors that put articles into a standard journal format - the authors could do that themselves - at least for low-impact journals that seem to present the biggest problem.
Right, so, absolute worst-case scenario, an electric run on pure coal power will match a fairly fuel-efficient ICE car. But coal plants are rather rapidly being abandoned in favor of natural gas, with half the carbon emissions, or solar and wind with almost none. Plus, a quite substantial fraction of electric car owners become motivated to install their own solar panels to power it. As far as carbon emissions in manufacture, making an ICE compact creates about 12,000 lbs CO2, or about a year's worth of driving, so even doubling it can't make a difference of more than 10%, assuming a 10-year lifespan. And who discards any car after 100,000 km (60,000 mi)? With proper care, even today's lithium batteries should last at least 100,000 miles, and if they go bad, they can be replaced - the other components, like the motor and electronics, ought to last much longer. But the real advantage is energy independence. Every year we send $200 billion to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the like, and eventually it ends up added to our national debt. Keeping that money in the US would be as stimulatory as a $200 billion tax cut,
I'd agree, actual fraud is still pretty rare despite all the pressures, if only because the consequences of getting caught are so unspeakable. The more common problem is that in an age of scarcity, everything has become more politicized, with personal connections and salesmanship becoming much more important than they once were. Everyone is more obsessed with claiming the maximum possible credit for their contributions to a project, simply because they have no choice, and that has taken a toll on the traditional collegiality of scientists.