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Comment: Re:It's a shame (Score 1) 287

by _Sharp'r_ (#47540375) Attached to: Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

If it weren't for them, we'd have the environment of China because businesses do not care. Pollution is the tradgedy of the commons - folks pollute and the rest of society pays for the costs.

The "businesses" in China, in contrast to the environmentally cleaner portions of the world, are essentially part of the government. Chernobyl wasn't exactly a private enterprise either.

The solution to the tragedy of the commons is private ownership and liability in order to change the incentives, not more government government regulations. You complain about the Atlanta area, but last time I checked, Georgia Power was a regulated government-granted monopoly.

I agree that it makes sense for people to do things that save them money (and resources in the process), but I object to the idea that solutions to environmental problems is what more government control produces. The worst environmental offenders are government agencies and tightly government controlled industries around the world.

Who do you think takes better care of a forest? Tree farmers who own the land and want to get the most long term value out of it, or government bureaucrats who are marking time until their pension kicks in?

Most of the current fashion in environmentalism is a way for some people to tell themselves they're morally superior to the less "environmentally conscious" while they do ridiculous things like sorting and recycling glass, with the other side of the movement profiting handsomely by selling them what they want to hear and using it all as an excuse for the government officials to reward their friends.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

Comment: Re:Peak Water (Score 1) 374

by _Sharp'r_ (#47536955) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

The natural price of a commodity is the clearing price, AKA the price where the available supply matches the available demand when those in the market for that commodity aren't prevented from agreeing on a mutually satisfactory price.

The government agencies setting the price artificially (which is why the reference to naturally) have tended to set it too low. That results in a shortage of water as more water is purchased for immediate use (vs among other things, storing for sale later, in forms such as an aquifer) than would be if the price were higher.

We've been using prices to ration scarce goods for thousands of years. They work very well at it. They lead to the situation where the most economically efficient use is made of the resource.

If you think the only cost of ground water in the west is digging a well and pumping it out, you likely don't live in the west. Essentially all the water in most western States is used by whomever owns the water rights. Most of the water rights are currently owned by government agencies, water boards, etc... which have been accumulating them for a long time (If you don't use your water rights continuously, the government will take them and add them to their own rights. If there is a water rights title dispute, the government purchases them for pennies on the dollar because then they can legally resolve the dispute in their own favor and claim the water rights, where a private citizen couldn't, etc...). They then turn around and sell the water at artificially low prices to the politically powerful. In CA, that's the farmers.

I happen to own (along with 500 acres with a well on it) a significant portion of 860 acre-feet of water rights in a rocky mountain state and I grew up in CA, so I'm fairly familiar with the way water works out west.

Comment: Re:Peak Water (Score 1) 374

by _Sharp'r_ (#47530187) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

The world isn't overpopulated.

There is one very simple option to prevent overuse....let the price rise naturally until water usage decreases enough that you aren't draining aquifers. Currently the local governments (CA,especially) artificially decrease the price of water for farms in the desert, so of course you get this entirely predicable (and predicted by economists in the past) result.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Comment: Re:A lot of complexity, a little gain? (Score 1) 98

by dougmc (#47509493) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Linux Login and Resource Management In a Computer Lab?

I've used lots of multi-user linux boxes over the years and never noticed that a few bad users ruined the experience for everybody else.

I did ... but this was 25 years ago at college when hardware was scarce (we had 1 MB disk quotas!) and the computer system was used to do all sorts of things that people just couldn't do from their own personal computers (i.e. access mail, news or the Internet.)

Users policed each other back then to a degree, but there wasn't much you could do to make a bad user behave unless the sysadmins backed you on it, and they'd only back you if they explicitly broke the rules set down. And often you didn't even know who a user was -- if they sat at a console you'd know who they were, but if they dialed in you might just know their user name and often that gave no clue who they really were. (The sysadmins knew, but they wouldn't share.)

But now ... most of the things that caused problems can be done from anybody's own computer, or from a PC down in a lab somewhere. True multiuser systems are kind of rare nowadays, and most users probably don't deal with them where back then we had little choice.

Comment: A lot of this seems superflurious ... (Score 4, Interesting) 98

by dougmc (#47509353) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Linux Login and Resource Management In a Computer Lab?

If you're giving your users access to the machines, they should be able to use them. And if you can't trust them to use them responsibly, don't give them access.

If it were me, I'd secure the boxes normally, set up some resource usage rules (guidelines?) and see what happens. If problems happen often, then maybe look into something automated to enforce the rules, but if not, then you're done.

As for renicing stuff done by remote users, I'm not sure this is a good idea, but if you want to do it you can renice sshd itself, and to be thorough you can also renice crond (if you give them access to cron/at.) But do keep in mind that nice (and ionice) can't do magic with an overloaded system -- they help, but they don't do magic.

As for commercial systems, I haven't really seen this as being a big problem outside academia. Multiuser *nix systems where different people are competing for resources is kind of rare in the commercial sector, as it seems like the trends lately are to have enough hardware, often dedicated, and to enforce limits through voluntary compliance (and have their boss talk to them if it's still a problem.)

That "have their boss talk to them" bit may not work so well for students, but still, I would wait for a problem to appear before I put too much effort into solving it.

Instead, put your efforts into proper sysadmin stuff -- stay up to date on patches, look for problems (especially security ones), make sure backups work, help users with problems, etc. If there's any troublemakers, talk to them, and if they don't shape up after a few warnings, kick them out. (And make sure the policies permit that!)

You can enforce limits on specific users through pam and sshd_config and some other mechanisms, but I'd suggest leaving that for later. Anything you do that will limit what people can do will eventually keep them from doing what they legitimately need to be doing.

Comment: Re:Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47485313) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

:-)

You make it sound like starving people are getting fat too.

If they are becoming obese, the particular individual has a surplus of caloric intake, if only for this year or month. This is not to say that they have proper nutrition. So I am not at all clear that the fact that there is obesity in the third world is confounding evidence.

Comment: Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47480445) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes
For most of the existence of mankind and indeed all of mankind's progenitors, having too much food was a rare problem and being hungry all of the time was a fact of life. We are not necessarily well-evolved to handle it. So, no surprise that we eat to repletion and are still hungry. You don't really have any reason to look at it as an illness caused by anything other than too much food.

Comment: Re: If you pay... (Score 2) 15

Martin,

The last time I had a professional video produced, I paid $5000 for a one-minute commercial, and those were rock-bottom prices from hungry people who wanted it for their own portfolio. I doubt I could get that today. $8000 for the entire conference is really volunteer work on Gary's part.

Someone's got to pay for it. One alternative would be to get a corporate sponsor and give them a keynote, which is what so many conferences do, but that would be abandoning our editorial independence. Having Gary fund his own operation through Kickstarter without burdening the conference is what we're doing. We're really lucky we could get that.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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