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Comment Re:Prayer can help your code life. (Score 1) 244

I know God is real, and I've come to discover prayer does help too.

Interesting; I found just the opposite. When I was a programming n00b working on my C assignments in college, and it was the night before it was due and I couldn't figure out why it was crashing, I tried praying, hoping, wishing, random changes to the code, furrowing my brow at the screen, loud cursing, exhaustive special-case-logic, and a dozen other increasingly desperate non-methods to "make the code work" without actually understanding it.

Just before the 4 AM deadline for submissions, the code would still be crashing, so I'd give up, email in the non-working code, and get a poor grade.

Eventually I realized that the only way to get the code to work was to understand what I was doing, and that if I didn't understand something I needed to learn about it (through experimentation, or reading the man pages, or asking a fellow programmer for help, or simplifying the program to make it more manageable, or etc) until I did understand it. Once I understood what was really going on under the hood, the nature of the problem (and therefore its solution) usually became obvious and trivial.

I think it was this more than anything else that cemented my atheism -- the repeated experience of prayer not making a bit of difference, followed by the realization that only the application of logic and observation would lead me to the correct solution.

Comment Re:Oh boy, here we go... (Score 1) 323

with the costs going up across the board as it is, we dont need any new taxes. especially here in NY

You misunderstand how a carbon tax would work.

It would be revenue-neutral, which is to say the money collected by the tax on carbon would be used to reduce the tax load of the population as a whole. All the money collected would be given back to the taxpayers.

As such, costs would actually go down for everyone except people/businesses who emit a lot of CO2.

Heavy CO2-emitters would pay more, of course, which would give them a clear economic incentive to find less CO2-intensive ways of doing business, which is the point of the exercise.

It's a great example of the sort of "market-based reform" that Republicans used to champion as an alternative to command-and-control strategies, back before they went batshit.

Comment Re:Oh Great! More Central Planning! Just what we n (Score 2) 323

It would do more than completely eliminating coal burning plants. Transportation generates a similar amount of CO2 to coal burning power plants.

CO2 emissions in transportation are being reduced as well, via higher fuel economy standards, development of electric cars, etc.

This isn't a scenario where any one improvement will "solve" the problem. The problem has to be attacked on many fronts simultaneously, and all of the partial reductions will start to add up over time.

It's a massive restructuring of our society and economy on shaky grounds.

Hardly. The proposal merely sets targets and leaves it up to the individual states how to reach them. The states don't even have to submit a proposal until 2016, and don't have to start making any actual changes until 2020. The administration is bending over backwards to make this as easy as possible, and still conservatives are crying like they're being waterboarded.

What happens when the next imaginary ecothreat comes through?

There's your problem -- you think global warming is imaginary, and therefore the amount of resources that can justifiably be allocated to fighting it is zero. There's no point in discussing mitigation strategies with when you haven't even accepted that there actually is a problem that needs to be solved. Most likely at some point in the next 5, 10, 15 years the evidence will become obvious enough to overcome your ideological blinders; but in the meantime the rest of us need to start working on a fix now, rather than waiting for you to be convinced.

Comment Re:Won't somebody think of the miners? (Score 1) 323

Legislature? Obama doesn't need any stinking legislature. He's Emperor Lameduck! He rules by executive order!

Interesting fact: In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA not only the authority to regulate CO2 emissions, but the responsibility to do so.

So you're right, Obama doesn't need the legislature to do this, because the legislature already gave him (or more precisely, gave the EPA) the power to do this back in 1970.

If the legislature doesn't like what the EPA is doing, they can of course pass new legislation limiting what the EPA can do. Assuming the legislature is still capable of passing anything, of course.

Comment Re:Meaningless (Score 5, Insightful) 323

The US power industry puts out 5% of the worlds carbon and this plan will cut it by 1.5% over how many years? China on average is bringing on a new power plant every 10 days. Please explain how this insignificant but costly plan is going to affect climate change?

The same way that going to the gym once or twice helps a person lose weight -- not by a whole lot, but you have to start the ball rolling somehow.

Also, it's a lot easier to convince other nations to reduce their emissions when you've started reducing your emissions first. Otherwise they just accuse you of "do as I say, not as I do" hypocrisy.

Comment Re:They aren't revolutionizing shit. (Score 1) 357

Heh. Yeah. I can squeek a six quart crock pot of lentil soup (Lentils, Chicken, Canned Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Carrots and Potatoes) under $10. Half that if I leave out the chicken. A bit more if I also add bacon and my home-ground curry mix. I can get cumin for practically free at the moment, though. And that'll keep me fed the entire week. It's damn good, too, just not something I'm in the mood for in the middle of August.

Comment Clean! Atomic! Energy! (Score 1) 486

Doesn't Mitsubishi or someone make a pebble bed reactor you can fit on the back of a 18 wheeler for about $10 Million? Thought I read that somewhere. I would totally put a Mitsubishi reactor in my back yard if I could sell the excess electricity on the local grid. I'm sure the neighbors would have no objections to Clean! Atomic! Energy! and neither should Hillary. Reallly! It's just like fire! The handbook says so! All that hysterical handwaving is just hippies stuck in the 70's!

Comment Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 281

I agree they have no obligation. I was pointing out that hypocrisy of acting like they are green or trying to help the planet when they clearly are not - which it sounds like you agree with me on.

Which is better for the planet, an auto industry that is moving towards renewably-powered electric cars, or one where electric cars remain an insignificant niche market indefinitely?

Because Tesla is the company that is driving the move towards the former by making electric cars that people actually want to buy, and scaling production up so that people can afford them.

Just because you don't like the means they are using to achieve that goal doesn't mean they aren't heading towards that goal.

Comment Re:Let the market decide. (Score 1) 486

We should also let the market decide if the military and the police are worth paying for.

There are a few people who believe that we don't need a government; that the free market can solve all problems up to and including national defense. These people are called anarcho-capitalists.

Other people believe that government should handle things for people that the people cannot handle for themselves, and military and police fall into the latter category. I am in this camp; I consider myself a minarchist.

Still other people believe that government should be really big and do lots of stuff; not just the core functions like military and police, but government should feed people, provide medical care for people, etc.

Your joke about making military and police optional is kind of funny, but actually conflating military and police with renewable energy policy is fuzzy thinking.

The big problem with anarcho-capitalism, IMHO, is the free rider problem. If 90% of the people make their voluntary contributions to the national defense, and 10% don't, it is not possible for the defense to allow attacks on the 10%. National defense is either effective for everyone or effective for nobody.

On the other hand, privatized fire departments actually work. Not only have they been tried, they actually are in current operation in the USA. It's simple: if you don't pay for fire protection, the fire department doesn't save your house; they watch it burn down (and make sure the fire doesn't spread to paid-up neighbors' homes). No free-rider problem.

So while I don't actually believe that privatized police and military would work, other things like power generation and fire departments could work. Then it becomes a political question of what the majority of people prefer. (I don't expect ever to see the government get as small as the imaginary minarchist model would propose; I'd be happy just to see it get smaller. Most people like public fire departments and would vote to keep them, and I'm not such a hard-core frothing-at-the-mouth minarchist that I have a real problem with this. Overall, public fire departments are working okay.)

Comment My last 3 android phones have had this feature (Score 0) 70

Taking and transcribing voicemail? My last 3 phones, all Android and going back at least four years, have had this feature. Is Apple really that far behind, that this feature comes out as News, and what's more, implies that they invented it?

Christ, does anyone editing this site actually keep up with technology?

Comment Government mandates aren't magical (Score 0) 486

The cost of solar has fallen dramatically, so lots of people will build solar even if the government doesn't do anything.

The government could best encourage solar by streamlining regulations, and possibly with some sort of low-interest loan program to help people get past the initial cost. If solar makes sense, people could save enough money on their electricity to pay back the loans.

My big fear though is that if the government tries to force this, it will turn out like the similar program in Germany. Because of the lack of practical grid-scale energy storage, Germany has simultaneously managed to produce huge amounts of free renewable power while making the German citizens pay far more than ever for power and while burning more coal than ever. (Germany is shutting down nuclear power plants; solar and wind aren't dependable enough; result, more coal burned.)

President Obama's administration has implemented new rules to reduce coal burning, but the example of Germany shows that this shall really cause a dramatic increase in prices so it will not be politically possible for that plan to be fully implemented. It's easy to talk about it now, but it will be hard for politicians to say "your electricity cost will necessarily skyrocket and you just need to deal with it, and vote for me." (The plan contains "escape hatches" that will allow the utilities to keep producing power with coal if the plan doesn't work out.)

I think that all we really need is practical grid-level energy storage, and the "green energy" solution will take off like a rocket with no government intervention needed. I have hopes for liquid metal batteries but any high-density storage solution would solve the problem.

If we get grid-level storage in the near future, solar and wind power will become much more economically attractive and we will get more of it. Then politicians will claim the credit and the coal-burning reductions will actually happen. If solar and wind power remain economically problematic and government forces us to use more, we will all pay more for power, and politicians will say there is nothing they can do.

The reward for working hard is more hard work.