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Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 449

If I could buy a Tesla for the price of my Audi A3 - I wouldn't be driving the A3.
The thing is - new - their cost difference is neglible and over the lifetime of the car, the Tesla is actually a LOT cheaper... but I don't want to make the kind of debts that can buy a NEW A3, so mine is a 2006 model which will be 10 years old next year.

In 3 years or so when I retire it, I probably WILL buy a Model-S which by then, should be available second hand for the money I can get back on the A3 plus not much more than I spent on it initially.

The problem with cars is that buying new is always an idiotic thing to do. REALLY idiotic, making a debt to buy something that loses 25% of it's value as soon as you take possession and depreciates continuously there-after is insane.
So, like most smart consumers I let suckers with more money and ego than brains take that hit and buy my cars used. Price matters - a lot. More than driving the most awesome car that exists does, which is why I don't- but I will, when I can get it second hand.

Comment: Re:Arguments arguments (Score 1) 449

There is actually a valid point there. If you took a cooperative rather than competitive approach solar could become a lot more economical and viable a lot faster.

I read a PHD disertation that calculated that a solar farm a mere hundred hectares in size in the Sahara could supply the energy needs for the entirety of the E.U.

The problem is- it would under current thinking have to be sold - expensively to countries that would much prefer not to pay for imports. But what if it wasn't.... what if instead of selling it, it just went into a global grid which everybody has access to, and when the sun sets in the Sahara the one in the Australian Outback is just about hitting peak production, with a Nevada one coming on as it starts to go down, and for the dips in between where no large plant has good sun - you can fill those in with supplies of other types from the rest of the countries (in return for sharing in this global grid).
Whatever your country has, you contribute, in return you get all the energy you need. Since no two timezones peak at the same time - staggered production is feasible if you spread it globally- because that gives you staggered consumption to go with it.

Sure this is blue-sky dreaming and it rather depends on politicians being able to think beyond the ends of their noses and Americans being able to figure out that sometimes things that look vaguely like socialism (to use their definition of "not trying to maximize individual profit for somebody") can actually be the best solution. Something they generally only accept when they've had the socialist idea for so long that they don't think about it anymore (in which case they will happily tolerate and even cheer for even genuine socialism - like they do with public libraries).

  It would be expensive to build (not hugely - there is already a global grid - but restructuring the entire principle on which we switch the power around won't be cheap) and it would require international agreements on a scale we have very rarely seen - and investment of a lot of tax dollars, but it could be worth it, the challenges are not technical.
It's a space elevator - except that we actually DO have the technology to build it, today.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 449

While I agree with you - there is one major difference.
When a coal plant blows up - it doesn't render a city uninhabitable for thousands of years.

Not even potentially.

Of course the answer to that difference is better reactors with better designs - already breeder reactors greatly reduce that risk and their waste is a lot easier to manage because it has a half-life of decades rather than milenia.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 449

> Is it more efficient than just using the electricity to charge up batteries in an electric car for example?

No. Laws of thermodynamics at play - any conversion process has losses, by adding an additional conversion it has to be less efficient over-all.

Now that's the short answer. The truth MAY potentially be slightly different - the process of manufacturing cars and batteries also cost energy, it's conceivable that those are SO inefficient and the process of building and operating the plant and equipment ot make this stuff so incredibly efficient that in nett numbers this ends up very slightly more effient. That is extremely unlikely but since I don't have hard figures I can't actually discount it off the bat. That would be extremely unlikely because it would have to be measured over the life-time of the battery - which is a LOT of time for "fewer conversions" to make up exponential savings (however small the saving per mile may be).

This is basically a process for storing electrical energy as a fuel. It's actual major advantage is that it doesn't require a long recharge like electrical does and could conceivably fill in the niches where electrical is less suitable - like long-distance travel or freight trucking and the like.

It could also be a slightly easier sell to the public because you can just fill it up at a pump into any diesel car and it doesn't require an expensive new vehicle, you can instantly use it in your currently existing diesel car. That said, it's important to note that although this is made from CO2 it would not reduce atmospheric CO2 at all, it puts back exactly as much to be used as was taken out to make it, so that makes it exactly carbon-neutral.

Comment: Re: I will never understand (Score 1) 99

by silentcoder (#49558229) Attached to: Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls

Regarding the McDonald's coffee case. I'll tell you what wasn't reported in the media. You can find interviews with the lady online that back it up. The coffee machine at the store had a broken thermostat. They knew it and didn't fix it. What they handed her wasn't hot coffee. It was superheated liquid which when she moved it did what superheated liquids tend to do when shaken: exploded in a massive cloud of superheated steam that left her with third degree burns over large areas of her body. She had serious injuries and still have terrible scars from that. It was a highly legitimate injury with a perfectly reasonable outcome considering the degree of her injuries and the factors that their negligence caused those injuries. The whole "coffee may be hot" printed on cups thing was never a resolution of the case nor would it have had any impact on her. It was part of McDonald's PR stunts to paint her as a stupid person who filed a frivolous suit rather than be known to the public as the restaurant that burns people's faces off with exploding coffee.

Comment: Re: I will never understand (Score 1) 99

by silentcoder (#49558187) Attached to: Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls

Yet another version that exists in some Dutch-Roman court systems: both parties always lose. Sort of. The way it works is the judge in a civil case assumes fault on both sides. But of varying degrees. The court determines amount of damages and degree of guilt of each party. They then each pay the other that percentage of the damages. If the judge finds they are equally guilty nobody gets any money. But say it's a million dollar damages and the judge finds one party 75% guilty and the other 25% guilty. The nett result is that the latter party gets 250k richer. It seriously cuts down on frivolous lawsuits because you may well find that the judge decides you are 99% guilty in your own case and make you pay 99% of the damages you claimed to the defendant (if it's a frivolous case there is very little responsibility you can prove for the defendant ). On the other hand if the case has merit you are likely to walk away with a solid profit. Costs are awarded but only in cases where the judge deems the suit particularly frivolous - when a plaintiff is found to have the vast majority of that shared responsibility pool the judge may well add costs on top of paying the bulk to the defendant.

Comment: Re: Chimp interview ... (Score 1) 336

by silentcoder (#49525781) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

Or for that matter executed. If we kill hundreds of people, we are killed in turn. A corporation on the other hand gets a slap on telephone wrist settlement or at worst a fine which they recoup from wage cuts, lay offs and customers. So a whole lot of people are punished - oddly the list doesn't include any of the people who actually had the power to stop it (shareholders).

Comment: Re:Chimp interview ... (Score 1) 336

by silentcoder (#49518993) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

>WTF is the definition of legal person at this point?

Considering that legal personhood is granted to corporations (literally a piece of paper with an official stamp on it - that's what a "corporation" in fact consists of), with no material existence, and "his" decisions made by a bunch of other people who all own a bit of "him", the word has been meaningless for decades.
I don't really see this as causing any major problems - at least, relatively speaking. If this is opening a can of worms, then granting personhood to corporations was a bucket of snakes, I think that remains a higher priority concern.

If a completely abstract entity with no mind at all can be a person, why not an actual living being with a mind that - in IQ tests have gotten scores comparable to young human children (which makes them rather smarter than the average CEO mind you) ?

In the end though - I see more interesting things from this, our days as the only truly sentient beings are numbered - sooner or later there will be others, whether it's highly advanced AI or extra-terestrial life, the day will come when we have to consider what does or does not get human rights like freedom of movement, what we can or cannot legally enslave.
We may as well get some prescedents set and test cases happening, it will be valuable in future.

While we're at it, maybe it's high time we challenge the assertion that a completely abstract legal fiction belongs on that list, or else take it to it's logical extreme. If corporations are persons - then share-holding is slavery and should be banned.

Comment: Re: You no longer own a car (Score 1) 649

by silentcoder (#49517619) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Audi wanted to charge me r4000 (about $600) to replace a broken key for my a3 (only the electronics we're damaged). I did a bit of shopping around and found a locksmith who could make and code a replacement electronic key circuit and install it in the key. Been working fine for about 2 years now. R250 including labour.

Comment: Re:EU vs America (Score 1) 192

by silentcoder (#49492187) Attached to: Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google

>In America, it does not make much progress

Oh really now ? You think so ? Forgot about SCO suing IBM ? Or Apple's case against Samsung because they BOTH made tablets that look exactly like PADDs from ST:TNG ?

The may prefer a different branch of bureaucrat (the courts), but the outcome isn't noticeably different.

Comment: Re:Thank goodness the NSA is looking our for us (Score 1) 327

by silentcoder (#49488685) Attached to: Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested

Where did I say it does ? Where did I say civil disobedience makes it not a crime ? But it can in many cases make a crime justified, and it's often the only way to bring about social change.
Martin Luther King Junior's civil disobedience made him a national hero and got a holiday named after him. What about Rosa Parks ? Or the Boston Tea Party ? Or on an international scale Ghandi or Nelson Mandela ?
Civil disobedience on a just grounds tends to make you a hero - conviction for it, will usually make you a martyr and while that is not much fun - it is a powerful weapon, there is no greater thorn in the side of a bad government than a martyr.

Comment: Re:Balls of steel (Score 1) 327

by silentcoder (#49484411) Attached to: Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested

It's also worth noting that corporations are not people, cannot vote and don't have human rights. You can't violate a corporation's rights, they don't HAVE any and even if you accept his ludicrous idea that money == speech so restricting spending on politics is censorship - you can STILL restrict corporate political spending WITHOUT intruding on ANYBODY'S freedom because corporations do not HAVE freedom to intrude upon.
They have whatever privileges society benefits from giving them.

And when it comes to campaign finance, it's about time somebody pulls a Picard: The line must be drawn here, no farther !
Actually, that time was probably about 60 years ago...

Comment: Re:Balls of steel (Score 2) 327

by silentcoder (#49484395) Attached to: Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested

No. You fucking idiot.
His message is that how much attention government officials PAY to political speech should not depend on how rich the speaker is.

And that is why campaign finance reform is needed, because without it the ONLY people who get listened to AT ALL is the rich. Without it, you HAVE no freedoms unless the rich don't CARE that you have them - anything that bothers them can and will be revoked.

Without campaign finance reform you don't live in a democracy OR a republic - hell you don't even live in an oligarchy ! You are living in a thinly disguised aristocracy ! The whole point of creating your country was to ESCAPE aristocracy and monarchy as systems of political power - and you're insisting that those who bravely fight back against the forces turning the USA into the very thing it was created to escape from are somehow the enemies of freedom.

No my friend - the only enemy of freedom in this discussion is you, and the wealthy campaign donors you are defending.

The absent ones are always at fault.

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