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Comment: Confidence versus rational confidence (Score 4, Insightful) 98

It is conceivable that the World's Cleverest People (WCP) will devise a system that reliably enables people to vote over the internet. And researchers tell us America is no longer a democracy, so I suppose it doesn't really matter that only the WCP will have rational reason to have confidence in the system.

But for those of us who think people should be able to prove to their own satisfaction that their vote was counted as cast, paper inserted into witnessed boxes and then counted in public seems like a better idea. It will never make Microsoft rich, though, so I doubt Microsoft Research will admit this.

Comment: inappropriate technology[ was Re:Gamechanger] (Score 1) 514

by mtrachtenberg (#49594639) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

Lithium ion batteries are great for mobile. They are far from the best available solution for stationary power. There are a lot of battery companies out there with safer, less-expensive, but less energy-dense battery chemistries.

Elon Musk needs to sell a lot of lithium ion batteries as part of his business model, and he understands how to work the system incredibly well. I just hope that this prettily-packaged bad solution to a real problem doesn't damage the ability of others to build good solutions.

Cogeneration is a great example of a naturally home-based or factory-based solution, because it captures heat that would otherwise be wasted, puts it to work, and eliminates distribution losses. And battery backup is needed to make the grid more flexible, but should be done with appropriate tech. Power shifting from one time slot to another would be much more sensibly done with batteries designed for stationary use. And, except for the advantage in a power failure, there is little reason to locate batteries in people's homes. To the extent anyone wants batteries at home, I hope they'll at least choose more appropriate batteries than lithium ion.

Comment: Re:Batteries (Score 1) 514

by mtrachtenberg (#49594563) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

Lithium ion batteries are great for mobile. They are far from the best available solution for stationary power. Check out Aquion, as one example aimed at stationary storage.

Elon Musk needs to sell a lot of lithium ion batteries as part of his business model, and he understands how to work the system incredibly well. I just hope that this prettily-packaged bad solution to a real problem doesn't damage the ability of others to build good solutions.

Cogeneration is a great example of a naturally home-based or factory-based solution, because it captures heat that would otherwise be wasted, puts it to work, and eliminates distribution losses. And battery backup is needed to make the grid more flexible, but should be done with appropriate tech. Power shifting from one time slot to another would be much more sensibly done with batteries designed for stationary use. And, except for the advantage in a power failure, there is little reason to locate batteries in people's homes. To the extent anyone wants batteries at home, I hope they'll at least choose more appropriate batteries than lithium ion.

Comment: A Spectacular Political Statement (Score 1) 482

This is not just a good thing for Gravity's employees, it is also an enormously thought-provoking action at a time when such actions are rare.

Even imagining that high tech is a true meritocracy, which is a fairly dubious imagining, American companies are still floating in the sea of American business. And America has been heading towards historic levels of income inequality, higher than the levels that preceded the great depression. We tend not to learn our lessons until we shoot ourselves in the foot or higher. This CEO is demonstrating the obvious -- once you are making a ton of money, you can begin to share it with the people who have helped, are helping, and will continue to help you make even more, and this can have a positive impact not just on the people you are sharing with, but on YOURSELF as well, and on your society.

A positive impact on yourself, because you will be appreciated and honored for doing a very decent thing.

And, if your society were to pick up on your lesson, all sorts of good things could happen: it would be less likely that your children will get an infectious disease, because other children would be healthier; you would be less likely to have to pay for more prisons, because people are less likely to turn to crime when they are able to participate in a flourishing economy; you would not need to invest quite so much in alarm systems for your mansions. You might find the public schools improving because there would be fewer people going to private schools. You might even need to invest less in a military because with less income inequality, the politicians' focus might change from protecting our billionaire class' stolen overseas assets to protecting our country while aiding the poor in our own and other countries.

Comment: The NSA requests you stop sealing envelopes (Score 5, Insightful) 212

As you all know, our country is subject to terrible terrorist threats. It has come to the attention of your friends at the National Security Agency ("we put the security in the national") that terrorists have, under certain circumstances, used the United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service, and Federal Express in order to facilitate their terrorist doings. Therefore, we would appreciate it if, effective immediately, you stop sealing your parcels and envelopes, to make inspection easier.

This is for your protection. Please don't object, or we'll have to illegally open your items and lie about it. Thank you.

Comment: Re:The Real Lie - faking statistics (Score 1) 394

by mtrachtenberg (#49138493) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

This is fairly hopeless, I see.

I'm sure the IPCC, like any other bureaucracy, has problems. But you cannot take a situation where there is no consensus and fool everyone into believing that there is a 98% or 99% consensus. The consensus may be wrong, but I do believe in playing the odds.

I'm sure there are occasional credible people who disagree with it; we are not machines. I'm sure there are people agreeing just because there is a consensus; again, we are not machines. But to suggest that the vast majority of those who have the ability to study the subject have not reached consensus about certain issues is simply to deny reality.

You can easily see the effect of propaganda when you compare public opinion of the IPCC in countries like the UK with public opinion of the IPCC in countries like the United States. The GOP and Tea Party have succeeded in destroying belief in any neutral organizations because, as Ronald Reagan explained to us, "facts are stupid things," and, as Upton Sinclair wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Comment: Re:The Real Lie - faking statistics (Score 1) 394

by mtrachtenberg (#49138271) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

The procedures used by the IPCC to gather data and come to consensus are described here: http://www.ipcc.ch/

I suggest you read them, because it is clear you haven't. I'd also suggest you read the lists of authors of the working group reports. Perhaps you might consider contacting a few of them to find out why they believe what they believe. Until you've done so, you're not worth taking seriously.

Also, I notice you do not respond to the fact that United States elections may be purchased like any other commodity, according to the persons appointed to the supreme court. There is a clear and accepted correlation between expenditures on advertising buys and ad-market voting results, yet the persons appointed to the supreme court do not believe in preventing the expenditures of millions (or, for that matter, trillions) of dollars on advertising buys by the interested parties who got them appointed. That makes your own interests very clear.

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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