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Comment: Re:republicrats (Score 1) 202

by ras (#49534665) Attached to: McConnell Introduces Bill To Extend NSA Surveillance

Both parties threaten their junior members to tow the party line or they will work against them next election.

Actually, that's not what is happening. It's just a simple matter of the congressmen not needing to give a shit about the voters.

How can that be so in a democracy? Simple: in the US, you allow the politicians to draw the borders between electoral districts. So they redraw the borders to ensure they have a safe seat. Once you have a safe seat, there is no need to care about the people who voted you in.

Quoting Wikipedia:

the two dominant parties in the state of California cooperatively redrew both state and Federal legislative districts to preserve the status quo, ensuring the electoral safety of the politicians from unpredictable voting by the electorate. This move proved completely effective, as no State or Federal legislative office changed party in the 2004 election, although 53 congressional, 20 state senate, and 80 state assembly seats were potentially at risk.

Most western countries have cured themselves of this particular curse, but not the USA. Again quoting Wikipedia:

Due to the perceived issues associated with gerrymandering and its impact on competitive elections and democratic accountability, numerous countries have enacted reforms making the practice either more difficult or less effective. Countries such as the U.K., Australia, Canada and most of those in Europe have transferred responsibility for defining constituency boundaries to neutral or cross-party bodies.

So you might ask yourself, if a typical congressman doesn't have to care about what he voters think, what does he care about? Enriching himself of course. How does he do that? By passing laws allowing anybody to throw unlimited amounts of cash in his direction in return for dispensing favours.

And when that plays out, what do you end up with? Laws that favour the rich of course. And what does a country look like when it allows the rich to run the place? Like the USA of course, where 1% of the people control 35% of the wealth, and 40% people control 0.2%.

You yankies never cease to amaze me.

Comment: Re:Tweet today from Elon Musk (Score 1) 142

by ras (#49420327) Attached to: Stanford Develops Fast-Charging, Stable Aluminum Battery

Battery "breakthroughs" need to state power *and* energy density

What if I told you I had a brand new battery to sell you. True, it only stores 0.14 WHr/kg (compared to 100WHr/kg for LiIon) and of course bugger all power density, but on the up side, the electrolyte is real cheap, and it's good for 10's of thousands of cycles.

You probably tell me to piss off, but in doing to you have dismissed the most popular form of electricity storage we have - pumped storage. According to Wikipedia. US stores and releases 5GWh of electricity per day. I'd lay odds that's more the entire combined output of all rechargeable batteries in the country.

The article made it pretty clear the potential breakthroughs were in cost and endurance. And they are right - they alone would suffice to make to this battery a success.

+ - Slashdot experiences total loss of Internet viewers over April Fools

Submitted by JohnnyDoesLinux
JohnnyDoesLinux writes: There were many warnings about the April Fool's day stories, but nobody believed them. A witness says, "It was if the new beta had taken over the minds of the people running the site, and they just shrugged off good advice".

See for yourself:
http://www.slashdot.org/
So now people are mourning the total loss of Slashdot as a viable website for Nerds, now it is "News for Nincompoops".

Comment: Re:do you really want the uninformed voting (Score 5, Insightful) 1089

by ras (#49296013) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

Over time I have gotten a little more interested in politics and voting. but when i was not interested, me voting was useless. I did not make a informed decision.

I live in country where voting is compulsory. (Actually it is showing up at a polling booth is compulsory. Compulsory voting isn't compatible with a secret ballot. The name choice is unfortunate because it sends the libertarians into a frenzy.) Turns out it's not an "informed decision" that's important. It's avoiding making a dumb decision. Regardless of whether you follow politics or not you do know when politicians make dumb mistakes, particularly when they effect you. I can't imagine too make people in New Orleans voting for Bush after the Katrina debacle for example.

It turns out that's all that is required. The people who care enough about politics to vote are the dangerous ones, because a fair percentage of them do not make an informed decision. They vote for tribal reasons - gun laws, "I'm a democrat" or whatever. You think you are making an "uninformed decision" and therefore it must be poor but trust me, it's infinitely better than those who vote the same way regardless of how they have been informed.

Comment: Re:No big red button? (Score 1) 212

by ras (#48649093) Attached to: Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

Bigger Bigger example, push the red button in a nuclear power plant, yes the control rods will react, but if you don't cool the heat from radiactive decay away, you will get a Fukushima.

During WWII, the major target of bombing runs was the infrastructure used to make the weapons. That means blast furnaces were damaged far more than they were by these hackers. It ditto the electricity generation infrastructure - which was coal fired power plants at the time. They were all rebuilt.

Next time it will be the nuclear power plants, which are effectively nuclear bombs with a big red target painted on the top. Had Europe been using nuclear power plants during WWII there would be places in it still uninhabitable now.

Comment: No, it's not crazy (Score 2) 205

by ras (#48551883) Attached to: The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Obviously, it would be crazy to staff such critical projects largely with a handful of unpaid volunteers working in their spare time.

The people who do this have a number of reasons. Some do it open source software garners job offers. Some do it because they or the businesses they work for need free software to exist, and it's a self perpetuating loop - the more free software there is the more people contribute to it, so the more they have to chose from. For some it's like attending church - it feels right. For some it's a nice social group to be in. None of these reasons means they or the system they contribute to are crazy.

As for the free loaders - without legions of these "free loaders" free software would not exist. Few would bother to put the effort into Linux, or X, or Debian if there weren't legions of users out there to test it, and give feedback, find bugs, suggest improvements. They are a necessary part of the system. A system that for all its faults, works as least as well as any other commercial way of developing software if you go by deployments.

Comment: Re:A definition of net neturality (Score 1) 200

by ras (#48322309) Attached to: Net Neutrality Alone Won't Solve ISP Throttling Abuse, Here's Why

would US ISPs be required to run trunks across the Gulf of Mexico because you decided you wanted that to have priority? Because using your argument, they really could do that.

Yep. You pretty much nailed it. In a well oiled market if there are enough customers out there who love Netflix so much they are prepared to pay the huge premium an ISP would have to charge in order to cover the cost of running such trunks, then they would exist.

But "required" is too strong a word. In a market functioning well no one requires anybody to do anything, so in this case in particular no one requires an ISP to fill a particular market niche. If the niche opens up then some will, not because anybody requires it, but because it is in their best interest to do so.

Yes, in the US "Net Neutrality" is code for "the government requiring the ISP's to act in a certain way". Yes, that is not a good way to run things - I'd be leery of it too. It's much better to let a market decide. In fact it is so obviously better that most countries had the foresight structured their telecoms so such a market would develop naturally. But not the US, which is why I said the US has cocked it up.

But then again in a well oiled market your whole scenario becomes fanciful, because if Netflix did that another content provider would pop up offering the same content from the US, so their customers didn't need to pay extra to a premium ISP just to see it. Well they would if bandwidth cost the same in the US as it did Honduras. If it cost more our new Netflix would have to recoup it somehow. I guess it could get very complicated, but that's the beauty of a well oiled market - it sorts all this shit out automagically without the need for government interference.

Comment: A definition of net neturality (Score 0) 200

by ras (#48321493) Attached to: Net Neutrality Alone Won't Solve ISP Throttling Abuse, Here's Why

There is a simple definition of Net Neutrality that works: the customer gets to decide the priority of his traffic.

There are many ways you can engineer this outcome, but in all countries that pull it off they do it real simply: every household is serviced by multiple ISP's (at least 10's), and you chose the one you like given your budget.

As usual the US, the supposed beacon of capitalism, has cocked it up. Most homes are serviced by one ISP. And with the power that gives them, not only don't they give you a choice in the priority of your traffic (which admittedly would be a big ask), they erect pay walled gardens, and then they actively interfere with outside traffic to force you to use them. They do this in secret, and seem to have no trouble telling direct outright lies about it when queried.

Being able to bleed monopolistic profits off their customers has made them hugely profitable of course. So to cap it all off they engage in crony capitalism by bribing your politicians with campaign donations to preserve this farce.

I have no idea why voters in the US put up with sort of shit. It boggles the mind.

Comment: Lies, dammned lies and statistics (Score 1) 422

by ras (#48183355) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

It means that you're 96% certain that your hypothesis is true.

Yeah. But if that were really true, everybody would trust the results of a study like this. But no one does.

It's the bar that's used for medical studies.

And in particular, the medical fraternity almost never believes the result from just one study. They always advise waiting for it to be confirmed.

You would be correct if this was a randomly selected study, the issue is it wasn't randomly selected. It was published. Studies that don't meet the 96% interval typically don't get published. So all we know is 1 study out of god knows how many showed this effect. If it is 1 out of 1, the 96% percent applies. But if it was 1 out of 10 it's almost certainly wrong.

Now it's published there are kudo's to be made from shooting it down. Translation: now it's published, it becomes the null hypothesis. A study showing it isn't true is a positive result and now has a chance of getting published.

In other words, the first published statistical survey showing controversial result is barely worth the paper it's written on. It's only real use is to prompt further research.

Comment: Re:China's Uni's have better PR that the US ones (Score 1) 395

Ah, here is a much better description of what they did. In short: their real breakthrough was to grow longer TiO2 nanotubes. They then re-did the work in the previous like to what difference the longer nanotubes made. Turned out it sped up the charge/discharge rate. At 30C they got 6K cycles at 86% capacity, which is where the 20 years comes from. The smaller length tubes had 10K cycles, so it a charge rate versus cycles trade off. As they said, it puts them in super capacitor territory but I'm not sure how that's helpful. We already have super capacitors. We need cheaper batteries.

Comment: China's Uni's have better PR that the US ones (Score 1) 395

I'm struggling to see what's different here to what was done 3 years ago. In other words, self annealing fast charge batteries using a titanium dioxide nanotube anode aren't new. The linked article says capacity for the Na variant of the cell is 144 W.h/Kg, which compares to around 250 for LiPo batteries. The linked article also says they had it working for Li at higher densities.

But it hasn't taken over the world yet, and so there must be some problem with it. Maybe the nanotubes cost a small fortune.

As for those of you whining about charging a car in 5 minutes, maybe it is a bit optimistic. But I'd happily settle for charging my phone in 10 minutes via 100W USB C connection.

Comment: Well done guy's (Score 1) 120

by ras (#47537471) Attached to: Long-range Electric Car World Speed Record Broken By Australian Students

Inspirational. You managed to elicit a dick waving competition from our fellow geeks in the US, all chanting "Tesla".

But Telsa isn't in the same league. It can't be. It's a mass produced product.

Sadly, they don't know what we know. We may be able to design the 1st one. But we can't build the next 1000 economically, unlike Tesla.

Please guys, devote some of they enthusiasm and energy to figure out how to manufacture the thing. Don't do the work for some Chinese company.

Comment: Re:it is the wrong way... (Score 2) 291

by ras (#47480787) Attached to: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Why would you assume he would compensate people for something that was being removed?

Maybe because before the election, Abbott promised to keep those tax cuts after repealing the carbon tax?

But you are right, I didn't assume it would stay. At time Abbott was making a whole pile of promises and he could not keep then all - balance the budget, reduce taxes, keep all the benefits those taxes paid for. But by that time hearing him make promises he could not keep was no surprise. It was clear by then the man would say anything, do anything, prostitute anything (including the sexuality of his daughter) in order to get into power.

Amazingly this extraordinary behaviour got worse after he was elected. (Amazing to me anyway. I didn't think it was possible.) First we had a promise to be an open transparent government, then a week or two later we learnt a phrase: "on water matters". Who still remembers the no surprises, no excuses government speech he gave after being elected. Probably not too many, given the shock the first last budget inflicted.

Comment: Re:Dark energy is negative (Score 1) 214

by ras (#47479507) Attached to: Cosmologists Show Negative Mass Could Exist In Our Universe

Dark Matter and Dark Energy are two completely unrelated issues.

To a complete layman like me, it sounds from the ancestor you are posting under they could be very much related:

Negative mass reacts oppositely to both gravity and intertia. Oddly, that means that negative mass still falls down in a gravitational field: The gravitational force is opposite, but negative mass responds negatively to force (a=F/m, where both F and m are negative). So negative mass particles repel each other gravitationally, but are attracted to positive mass objects.

That sounds like a good candidate for explaining both. Space expands because Dark Matter repels itself, but it causes galaxy's to clump and gravitational lensing because it attracts ordinary matter. I did always wonder why, if Dark Matter interacts with everything so weakly, it didn't immediately clump into black holes. This would explain it.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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