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Comment Attention contrarian investors: (Score 1) 64

There's a reason they're called "wind farms": like a farms they have good years and bad years.

El Niños come every five to seven years, and then go away. It's called the "El Niño/Southern Oscillation", or ENSO, and we're bound to get the *opposite* end of ENSO some time in the next couple years (the so-called La Niña). So if this news has people dumping their wind stocks, this'd be a great year to buy. Then dump them in three years when the news sounds insanely good.

Comment Re:Our previous numbers were completely wrong. (Score 1) 170

The world is big, and hard to measure. So big that you can't measure a lot of things perfectly, you have to estimate them based on some kind of sample. For example to arrive at the three trillion number they obviously didn't go out and count every last tree on Earth. They took observations of samples and based on the best understanding they have extrapolated.

And even though that process is obviously not infallible, it is rational. Ignoring a problem because some of the numbers related to it might get revised in the future, or assuming different numbers because you prefer the outcome aren't rational. You have to use numbers, and use the best supported numbers you have. Or give up and go with something a bit more certain of its results, like astrology.

Comment Re: Sounds like (Score 1) 86

What your experience is like depends on which level of government you're working with. I had a business that had hundreds of municipal, county and state clients, and life was simple. You put in a bid at competitive price and when you won you signed a relatively straightforward, common sense contract Then in the post 9/11 era we started bidding on the bonanza of federal anti-bioterrorism projects and life got very complicated. The big consultancies we were competing with usually formed wholly owned subsidiaries so as to contain the arcane bookkeeping requirements. In a nutshell anyone can bid on contracts at the state level and below, but to bid on federal contracts you really need to specialize in that.

Oh, and there's a big difference between states too. Insofar as state or local governments work at all, its because there are good people in them that have to take a lot of shit from the public and from their deadwood colleagues; but generally places where the public is the most cynical have the most deadwood It's a chicken-or-egg thing. If public employees are

It helps to be connected anywhere of course, although ideally that shouldn't matter. It also helps anywhere to be personable, attractive (especially for women), and to like golf. We hired an engineer who was probably the second worst engineer we ever hired, but he played golf and liked to go out with the clients for a drink after work. Best. Hire. Ever.

Comment Re:What About Nutrition? (Score 4, Interesting) 107

Except this very local, which is the whole point.

Except that's not the whole point of organic agriculture. Organic farming has a number of points, some of which are valid, some of which are not.

Now the locality issue has to do with the sustainability arguments of organic advocates, which I consider generally more plausible than their ideas about nutrition or toxins. Centralizing agriculture far away and transporting pesticides and fertilizers to that site and then transporting the produce, sometimes half-way across the globe, represents a huge waste of energy, with the pollution that goes along with that.

That said, growing crops indoors with electricity derived from, say, a coal-fired power plant is hardly "sustainable agriculture". If you're growing those crops with solar or wind power from your roof that's possibly a different story.

In any case I'd regard a food system that was more local than what we have in the US to be a good thing. However I don't think that an *entirely* local food system would be a good idea. Yes, local agriculture has sustained human populations for thousands of years, but for thousands of years local famines were common too. So why I purchase locally grown produce, including excellent pasture-raised pork and beef, when it is in season, I don't feel guilty about purchasing Californian or Chilean produce when local produce is out of season, although I'd welcome some kind of "green seal" of sustainability, which would not necessarily be as stringent as, or necessarily a subset of the requirements for the "organic" label.

Comment Re:Heh (Score 4, Insightful) 431

One thing I've noticed is someone who is very good at a tech job isn't just twice as productive as someone who is lousy at it; the discrepancy could easily be 10x; or it could be that he produces positive progress and the lousy guy produces anti-progress. This is clearly true for software developers, but I've seen it happen with network administrators too: small cadres of happy, super-productive admins outperforming armies of miserable tech drones.

But the thing is if you don't understand anything about (a) the technology or (b) human beings, how do you get a worker to be more productive? You make him work longer.

I'm not talking about striking while the iron is hot. When opportunity produces the occasional 80 hour work week, that's a totally different matter than having no better idea of what to do than setting unrealistic goals and leaving it to workers to make it up through sheer, unsustainable effort. Too often in the latter case you end up producing the semblance of progress. Yeah, I finished the module but someone's going to have to throw it out and rewrite when it blows up in the customer's face.

Comment Re:Wait for the results. (Score 2) 141

Well he *is* going to test the hypothesis. But he has to test the *procedure* as well on a smaller scale before he uses it on his research subjects.

People underestimate how much of science is like this. Advancing science isn't just a matter of creating more theoretical knowledge; a lot of the time it's about advancing know-how.

Comment Re:duh? (Score 1) 85

You can use different kinds of evidence different ways. Credible anecdotal evidence can disprove some things, or it can suggest other things, but for the most part can't prove that one thing causes another.

Example: Suppose my friend Larry gets lung cancer a few years after he quit smoking. This disproves the notion that if you quit smoking you are guaranteed not to get lung cancer. It suggests that smoking causes long-term damage to the cells of the lung. It doesn't prove that quitting smoking causes cancer.

Randomized controlled studies are generally the most useful evidence points when it comes to trying to prove causation, but individual studies still can't do that. What you need is a pattern of evidence that includes RCTs and other, independent lines of inquiry.

Comment Re:duh? (Score 1) 85

The point is that the relationship between sleep and the strength of the immune system has been well know and tested for years...

For a certain value of "well-known" and "tested". You could actually read the paper abstract and see what was novel about this particular study.

Comment Re:duh? (Score 4, Interesting) 85

Knowing it in principle and knowing when to put that knowledge to work are two different things.

I used to catch *everything* that was going around, including some things most other people didn't. I got sick three, maybe four times a year. I always put it down to having a lousy immune system, until in one checkup I mentioned to my doctor that I'm a pretty loud snorer. "Better have you checked for sleep apnea," he said, and sure enough I had it, although only a relatively mild case. He prescribed sleeping on a CPAP machine, and since I've been doing that I almost never get sick. Maybe once in four years.

Anecdotal evidence, I know, but my point is this. Now that there's research demonstrating the impact of sleep on immune system performance it makes sense to make questions about sleep quantity and quality a routine part of health surveillance. I just happened to mention snoring to my doctor on one visit; if I'd been asked twenty years earlier it would have saved my employers a lot of sick time and me a lot of misery.

Comment Re:Here's the thing about disasters. (Score 1) 246

A win-win game is not the only kind of non-zero-sum game there is. Suppose I set up a game in which the amount I win is 1/10 of what everyone else loses. I win $100; everyone else loses $1000. If I add up the net gains in the whole game, what we have as a net loss of $900 for all players. It's not fair; it's not reasonable for the community of players to favor such rules, but nonetheless I'm still up $100.

Broken windows may not be a net good thing for the community as a whole, but it certainly is a good thing for the glaziers.

Comment Re:Free speech hundreds of miles out in the desert (Score 3, Insightful) 184

I'll bet a lot of people love the fact that all this "free speech" will be taking place hundreds of miles out in the desert...

You don't know people very well then. As Lord Macaulay observed in his The History of England from the Accession of James the Second,

“The Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.”

You see it is not enough for prigs and busybodies that they're not involved in any way in the things you do that give you pleasure; their problem is with you enjoying something they don't enjoy, or perhaps understand.

Comment Here's the thing about disasters. (Score 1) 246

There's no such thing as a disaster that's a disaster for everyone. War is a disaster for people in general, but it's great for munitions makers. Hurricanes are no good for the people who live through them, but very good for companies that sell them building materials.

Every catastrophe is a windfall for someone. If the public saves tens of trillions of dollars by slowing down climate change then that's tens of billions of dollars of revenue somebody won't be making.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright