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Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 484

by stoatwblr (#47937697) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

"The UK benefits from Scottish oil and renewable energy."

The income from oil tax revenue is lower than the extra expenditure on Scotland.

If Scotland goes it alone and keeps the oil revenue, it will still have to find at least 20% extra money internally.

After the 3 Stooges (Cameron/Millband/boringone) made unsustainable promises if Scotland votes "No", I'd imagine that most of the english population started wishing the scottish will vote Yes.

If Scotland votes yes, it will hurt both countries, but the rest of the UK will recover quickly. Scotland is likely to face extended periods of extreme austerity, possibly as long as 20 years.

If Scotland votes no, the rest of the UK will hurt (scotland gets even more disproportionate funding) and it won't stop hurting.

In 12 hours we'll know the results.

Comment: Re:It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 601

by stoatwblr (#47920571) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

"Distinction without difference. Both ice caps were supposed to melt — dangerously increasing water-levels planetwide."

Arctic ice floats on water. Melting it makes no difference to sea level.

Greenland ice is a different matter and Greenland's glaciers are moving quite fast now.

Comment: Re:Ask the US Postal Service (Score 1) 124

I'm not.

The problem is you have to pay your examiners evenhandedly for _rejecting_ applications as well as accepting them.

Taking money away afterwards isn't going to help nearly as much as decent statistical modelling of what should be average and then taking a much closer look at examiners who appear to be gaming the system (it's possible to pick up "gaming" to appear average too.)

The reason is that the interval between patent approval and court overturn may well be a decade or more. People simply don't think that far ahead when operating in a fraudulent manner.

Comment: Re:This is not a new or unique problem (Score 1) 124

A lot of the time a _good_ union(*) will tell an employee they don't have a leg to stand on when making bogus claims.

It's not in their interest to back unreasonable demands, as it antagonises employers and other union members alike.

(*) ie, not the Teamsters.

Comment: Re:OY (Score 1) 124

"If you fired the bottom 20% on any given day the only thing you'd noticed at work would be the availability of more parking spots in the morning and possibly the productivity would go up since management could spend more time training and less time on personnel (off duty/discipline) issues."

Management would notice it, because it reduces the number of people under them, so their pay grade might be diminished.

That's why it's so bloody hard to ratchet staffing levels down in govt departments.

Comment: Re:Ask the US Postal Service (Score 1) 124

"They should perhaps pay patent examiners some money annually for each patent that is passed"

They do. That's the problem. There's no incentive to be overly critical on an application because you don't get paid if you reject it.

They also get paid more for examining more patents in a given period, which has the same effect.

The other problem (not enough work) is a direct result of "featherbedding" - managers with more employees under them end up with higher pay grades. This happens in large corporates but far more often in govt departments.

Comment: Re:Not just Reno (Score 1) 444

by stoatwblr (#47903069) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

1: Cheap gas is still a CO2 source - and the USA's CO2 footprint hasn't reduced by anything meaningful since cheap gas came online.

2: "Cheap gas" is mostly driven by rules requiring drillers to sell their product "or else!" - even when the amount they're receiving is lower than the cost of extraction, instead of allowing them to withhold gas until the price is sufficient to cover costs. The end result has been a rash of bankruptcies and a marked cooling off of new exploration, which leads to...

3: Fracked shale gas wells initially produce a burst of gas then taper off rapidly, with an average lifespan of only 3-5 "productive" years. The USA gas boom can only be maintained with constant drilling and fracking, but economic pressures as described above are already starting to cause a supply pinch.

4: The USA exempted fracking rigs from many environmental laws, compliance with those would have driven up costs substantially and made drilling mostly uneconomic. By contrast, european rigs are not exempt and there are no moves to change this.

The overall result is that there never will be a wave of "cheap" gas in europe and US gas prices can be expected to climb over the next few years.

Comment: Re:Not just Reno (Score 1) 444

by stoatwblr (#47902931) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

"I keep hearing people say this and never backing it up with facts. I know renewables have their own environmental issues but why should they be a show stopper? "

Because they can't supply baseload.

(Geothermal is NOT a renewable. History shows that the extracted heat tends to be pulled from the ground faster than it's supplied from below - Iceland is one of the very few exceptions worldwide - and they also have significant environmental impacts due to highly polluted groundwater entering the ecosphere.)

With the best will in the world, until every large renewable source is piggybacked by a battery bank, they never will be able to supply baseload either - which is why utilities are refusing to connect them unless forced to, or are paying renewables generators to NOT connect.

If the amount of subsidy poured into solar since the 1970s had been put into LFTRs instead we'd already have a large fleet of nuke plants which are significantly safer _by design_ than the Heath-Robinson (Rube-Goldberg for your USAians) contraptions currently deployed and being built and, would produce at least 98% less high level waste than those current designs and be a LOT harder to extract any form of bomb-making material from too. On top of that, because they don't need to run on enriched uranium, the environmental (and carbin) impact of mining for fuel is vastly reduced, let alone the energy requirements of enriching and the substantial wastage of potential fuel at that point (250 tons of mined uranium becomes 140 tons of enriched uranium and 90 tons of depleted uranium, both of which can actually be used for fuel but it's much easier to mine thorium and feed that to a LFTR instead)

Instead, the only existing LFTR plant was last run in the 1960s and shut down by presidential order in 1972 because it couldn't produce plutonium.

Comment: Re:Not just Reno (Score 1) 444

by stoatwblr (#47902853) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

"Totally agree, but when people cite Germany as being well on their way to using 100% renewables they are missing the facts that Germany has increased its CO2 emissions in the last several years with its shift away from nuclear and they are increasing use of cheap dirty coal to balance the higher costs of renewables."

Not just that but they're making up for the removal of the nucelar baseload supply by importing electricity from France's nuclear fleet.

In other words Germany didn't really stop using nukes, they just shifted the source.

Comment: Re: Broken light bulbs. (Score 1) 173

by stoatwblr (#47854631) Attached to: Surprise! More Than Twice As Much Mercury In Environment As Thought

" Scrubbers are not perfect, but they catch a lot of mercury and other pollutants."

Yup, and they dump them into ash ponds, which are toxic cesspits the power companies conveniently ignore until they burst their containment.

One burst last year in the southeastern USA. The environmental damage was significantly worse than Deepwater horizon.

There are 5000 _known_ ashponds of the same or larger size in the USA.

Catching the bad stuff and putting it somewhere is not the same as mitigating the overall problem.

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure