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Comment Re:As long as you keep population constant? (Score 2) 254

You might think that the unit "(mega)people" is standardized, but in fact there's still quite a difference between an American person and an African person [a bit like swallows, I guess.] Concretely, an American uses 12,954 kWh per year[1], while an average Moroccon uses 875 kWh. Thus, the electricity used by 1.1M Moroccons equals the electricity used by 70 thousand Americans. So, while the unit might sound like everyone can relate to it, it's pretty horribly inaccurate.

The Computerworld article doesn't even give total expected production, only MW capacity, which is probably peak capacity, ie only achieved during the day. Wiki [2] gives a production of 370 GWh per year, which is enough to provide energy to just over 400 thousand Moroccans, consistent with providing juice for 1.1M is capacity is roughly tripled. However, if Moroccans start getting up to first-world levels of energy use, the number of people served will swiftly drop by an order of magnitude, even if they don't go all the way to American energy use (e.g. Holland has about half the US energy use, probably due to less need for airco and higher electricity costs)

The water use sounds very problematic, according to wiki it uses 1.7 million m3 per year or 4.6 liters per kWh . To compare, desalination requires 3 kWh/m3, i.e. it would cost about 5GWh to desalinize the amount of water used annually, compared to 370GWh of electrticity produced. So, even if the water draw is compensated by desalinizing water elsewhere, it still comes out ahead.

[1] Note that kWh per year is a pretty stupid unit, too...

Comment Re:More nation-wrecking idiocy (Score 4, Informative) 592

Another favourite trick in the Netherlands (which is what I'm guessing you're posting about) is to have two bicycle lanes marked on both sides, leaving a normal road that would normally be too small for two cars to pass. This causes cars to drive in the center of the road, forcing them to drive more slowly:


Another idea is that of a "shared space", having motorist mingle with pedestrians and bicyles, again forcing them to slow down:

What GP is ignoring is (1) that speed enforcement doesn't really work most of the time on smaller roads, as the proportion of cops to small roads will always be low, and (2) that speed enforcement itself causes people to drive in certain ways (braking when they see cop/radar,

None of these "environmental engineering" solutions will be a panacea: some will work in some conditions, but not in all. For example, the jury is still out on the new "shared space" between Amsterdam central railway station and ferry terminal. Ultimately, the question of what solution to use should not be political, but empirical: given a set of road conditions, what is the design that optimizes safety (or throughput, or speed, or whatever you want to optimize --- which is a political question).

Comment Re:what are they doing the rest of the year? (Score 1) 84

In "other people's money", John Kay makes an interesting argument that most (short-term) trading indeed does little more than create liquidity, but liquidity in that sense is almost only interesting for short-term traders. In most "real" stocks there has always been sufficient liquidity for normal trading, and when a crisis hits and you really need that liquidity it evaporates anyway.

Comment what are they doing the rest of the year? (Score 4, Interesting) 84

From TFA:

The average attacker conducts eight attacks per year, of which less than half are successful. Among the findings that will be of particular interest to defenders: Hackers prefer easy targets and will call off an attack if it is taking too long. According to the survey, 13 percent quit after a delay of five hours

So, you do 8 attacks, and give up if you don't succeed in five hours. Since unsuccessful attacks are part of the 8, I assume that the ones they give up on are also part of that. That means that they work 40 hours a year, for an average salary of 29k$, or around 800$/hr. Not bad al all :)

Comment Re:New York Taxi Workers' Alliance (Score 1) 180

In Amsterdam quite a lot of taxis are Tesla. Most taxi trips are short and in slow or stop & go city traffic, and the taxi company built superchargers at the airport. Apparently, software decides whether to charge quickly or more slowly depending on how busy it is.

I'm not sure where the electric city (i.e. non-airport) taxis charge, a newspaper article suggested at the taxi company and on normal street charging stations. I guess with 400km radius and an average trip of <20km, charging once every 20 trips isn't that bad; drivers need a break now and then anyways.

Also, at the official taxi waiting areas (e.g. at central station) there are a lot of taxis waiting, probably for at least 30 minutes outside of rush hour. I could imagine installing a supercharger there are well.

Links (in Dutch - have fun with google translate :))


Comment Re:Why SlashDot is broken? (Score 1) 108

Well, I for one was glad to see that after all these corporate restructurings slashdot is back at its old level :)

But it is funny how they can post a dupe with exactly the same name, while the original article is even in the "most discussed" list. That's a level of incompetence for which you normally need to hire special staff to achieve :)

Comment Re:The Future! (Score 1) 149

[Cum grano salis alert: extremely amateur go player here. ]

Also, Go often has many local "battles" going on simultaneously. If you've figured out that you are losing in one corner, you switch to a different corner. If the opponent finishes you in the first corner, that gives you one or more free moves in the new corner. So, the opponent will generally follow you to the new corner. What you can then try to do is build from the new position towards the old in the hope of rescuing that position. But this means that there can easily be 50 moves between having effectively lost a position, and the material disadvantage from the position being finished.

Comment Re:Good for them (Score 1) 474

I think the main problem is that you switch one set of administration and enforcement for another:

Current situation: means tested benefit and an amalgation of special case subsidies, leading to administration/enforcement costs and inviting fraud*

New situation: basic income = zero administration/enforcement cost on top of existing citizen registry, and the ability to collapse/remove a lot of special-case benefits like housing subsidy, health care subsidy, pension, student loans, etc. However, as tax rates will increase it becomes more attractive to work in the "informal" sector on top of the basic income, so there will need to be more enforcement of taxation (or even higher tax rates, but that is a slippery slope, see much of southern Europe). Of couse, it is possible now to work informally next to receiving a benefit, but since the tax rates are lower (relatively) and the benefits are more difficult to get and onerous to keep, it will become more attractive in the new situation.

I believe the balance is still positive for basic income, but it is foolish to think that all administration and enforcement problems will be magically solved.

The real question is what the effect on behaviour will be. How many people now receiving benefits will take small jobs since the net effect is always positive (as the extra income comes on top of the benefits, rather than instead of)? How many people that now have unattractive jobs or difficult home situations quit working? How many people will take more risky steps such as starting a business or switching jobs, since they have the certainty of the basic income to help them through difficult times? And will people be more willing to accept more flexible employment contracts for the same reason?

*) and privacy problems: e.g. old-age pensions and possibly welfare are lower for couples than for two individuals since they can share cost of living, this gives the government a "legitimate" reason to nose around in people's bedrooms. For welfare this is sort of understandable since people specifically request welfare if they fall on hard times, so trading a bit of privacy for government support is understandable - but since everyone gets old-age pension, suddenly the government has an interest in the bedrooms of all >65 citizens (actually, somewhere between 65 and 67 I guess nowadays..)

Comment Re:No thanks (Score 1) 402

To me a computer is a tool and I find arbitrary change in UI irritating.

Which is actually a very good reason to avoid most graphical interfaces. Icons jump all over the place, toolbars move, start buttons disappear and re-appear, Unities are invented and discarded.. but things like ls and rm stay put, and the interface convention / syntax of "command --option=value argument > file" also hasn't changed.

If your computer is an important tool, spend the couple days weaning yourself off window managers and desktop environments, and breathe out a sigh of relief.

Comment Re:No thanks (Score 1) 402

those who remember having nothing but a command line are dead or retired

Now this is just silly. I'm mid-30 and I started computing* on an Acorn Electron (around '85?). Although Windows 3.x was released a couple years later, I used MSDOS from the moment my parents acquired a PC until windows 95 (admittedly in addition to a Acorn Archmides, which was ahead of Windows by at least 10 years at that time).

Nowadays I adminster a number of linux servers, and although I'm sure I could set up X forwarding, as far as I'm concerned I have nothing but the CLI to run them. I do use X forwarding to the virtual host to run virt-manage because I'm too stupid to learn the vritualization commands for the once a month I use them...

So, not only do I vividly remember the pre-GUI days, I'm not even convinced that they're over, and I have yet to touch 40...

*) OK, I was around 5, and computing meant loading games (using CHAIN) and typing a bit of code into BBC BASIC (of the 10 PRINT "MY BROTHER IS STUPID") level. But still :)

Comment Re:Perfect use of the FSM meme (Score 2) 209

The idea was to show that religions are ridiculous, not to join the ranks of the bullshit peddlers.

It's bringing to the public attention that it is ridiculous for government to allow alleged representatives of bearded men in the sky to solemnize marriage.


I agree, but the other way around: I think anybody should be allowed to solemnize marriage, provided that there is a proper interface with the official bureaucracy (e.g. assertions are checked and results are processed -- probably requiring some sort of certification, but preferably one founded on bureaucratic form rather than religious or humanitarian substance). Marriage is partly a bureaucratic affair, but also (to some people) a deeply meaningful and romantic ceremony. If the government can guarantee that the bureaucratic requirements are met, why not give people the liberty to organize the ceremonial aspect in any way they see fit, with bearded men and/or spaghetti-monsters? As long as you can also skip the ceremony and simply register your marriage at the town hall desk, I don't see why alternative ceremonies would not be allowed.

(and first marrying "for the law" and then marrying again "for the church" as is customary in some places is not ideal, I think, as that makes it more difficult for non-organized religions to have a meaningful ceremony since the legal consequences and the ceremony are separated, taking the essence out of the ceremony for those lacking celestial pogonophiles to provide an alternative formality)

Comment Re:GM producers are shooting themselves in the foo (Score 1) 514

There's another angle to this, namely simple honest labeling rules. An atlantic salmon has a certain taste and texture, and I'm not sure that if they GM its growth functions it will have the same taste and text. As a consumer, I want to know what I'm buying, not because I think GM is poison, but because I like to know the quality of the product, and the species of a fish is an important part of that. A turbot is a different fish from a halibut, and I would not like to be given a halibut if I ordered a turbot. From my perspective, a GM-turbot is not necessarily the same thing as a non-GM turbot since the "G" part is what defines a species.

(and no, I don't trust the FDA's "materially different" to sufficiently describe the taste, texture etc of a product)

Comment Re:Work for free!! (Score 2) 124

Uhhhh...isn't that the same argument the multinationals make when they claim Americans should be happy to be paid the same as somebody in Bangalore or Beijing? That you should be happy to "compete" with the absolute lowest bottom of the barrel wage slave they can possibly find on the planet?

As long as we (or at least the vast majority of Americans and Europeans) do our shopping by going to the absolute bottom of the retailer barrel (walmart / aldi+lidl) and/or online shopping barrel, I don't think "we" are in a position to complain.

(and the worst is people who go to a brick&mortar shop to browse and inspect products and get advice, and then buy the thing they selected online because it is 20$ cheaper - since they didn't have to pay the store, the stock, and the somewhat knowledgeable salesperson...)

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