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Comment: Re:Sanders amazes me (Score 1) 265

by ScentCone (#49604709) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

it's a distraction by statistic

Nonsense. It's not a distraction, it's different topic than the ebb and flow of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare (which are transfer welfare taxes). Income taxes are what pay for all discretionary spending (the military, federal agencies like the EPA, the FAA, the FCC and a jillion other activities). There's a good reason we look at all of those differently than we do the entitlement programs.

And ... capital gains? You do realize that a whole lot of middle class people also earn capital gains, right? Directly or indirectly, through things like mutual funds. Warren Buffet's secretary can put a pizza's worth of cash every month into some investments when she's young, and can and should be looking forward to earning some money from that. You know, just like him: taking money on which she's already paid taxes, and putting it entirely at risk in an investment that stimulates the economy and if and when it happens to pay off, paying more taxes on that activity.

If Warren Buffet loses money in an investment? He doesn't get to write that off against his income taxes - he just loses it, plain and simple. But he's smart, and usually makes good investments. If he's making money, the money he risked is being put to very good use in an active economy. That's the entire reason why we reward that risk taking with a lower tax rate - because we want more of that risk taking to happen.

All of which has nothing to do with transfer entitlement taxes.

Comment: Re:Sanders amazes me (Score 1, Informative) 265

by ScentCone (#49604033) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

they never actually do pay the taxes they claim

Nonsense. Well-off people pay the vast majority of the income taxes in this country. Nearly half the people in the country pay no income taxes at all (though they still get to vote on what happens to the money collected from the other people who do).

The top 5% of earners pay almost 60% of the taxes. The top 25% of earners pay over 86% of the taxes. The bottom HALF of the country pays under 3% of those taxes. So how do you come up with "never actually do pay" - ? These numbers come from the IRS. The people who cash the checks you say aren't being written.

Comment: Re:THINK (Score 1) 265

by ScentCone (#49604017) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

Gore won by the most conservative count

Gore LOST in every carefully examined recount conducted in exhaustive after-the-fact tests run by a panel of journalism outlets (including some that actively opposed Bush and worked to get Gore in office). Most importantly, Gore lost in studied recounts that followed the capricious guidelines he tried to get the Florida supreme court to enforce.

The supreme court made a corrupt ruling and appointed Bush the winner.

No, the Supreme Court stopped a corrupt recount process, aided by a partisan state court, from continuing under unreasonable and unfair conditions. They didn't "appoint" Bush the winner, they called out Gore's cherry-picking, standards-shifting strategy for being the craven election-grab it was trying to be.

Comment: Re:They are burning down a city (Score 1, Funny) 150


So, the corruption you're worried about is something that you think will be fixed by trashing a liquor store? By looting and burning the local CVS? By burning down an almost completely senior center being built specifically to improve the local quality of life in that crappy neighborhood?

Yes, the democrats that have been running that city for decades have plenty to answer for in the way of imperfect services being rendered. But unless you think it's the city government's role to step in between two people and prevent pregnancy from occurring, or to follow thousands of kids around to make sure they actually bother to go to school, then what exactly is it you're proposing? Who is it that starts and populates violent local gangs? Who is it that kills the vast majority of those who die in that area, and scares those who aren't involved out of doing anything about it? Why is it that businesses don't see any point in risking their money to launch a venture in such a neighborhood - perhaps because they can't find employable local people to actually work there, and can't find a market for their goods and services in an area that's filled with abandoned buildings and fatherless kids running drug markets?

The problem isn't government corruption, the problem is in thinking that what amounts to a poisonous local culture is the government's area of responsibility. Those neighborhoods are crap because the people that live there can't keep their own kids under control long enough to turn them into viable members of human civilization. And those that do have the wherewithal to do so leave (along with whatever economic activity they might have represented) because the local culture is completely toxic to their kids' success.

Comment: Re:Motive (Score 0, Offtopic) 150

There is a much more credible, obvious, proximate threat to life and property than there would be with some shadowy nonspecific radical-jihadist plot. Things were literally on fire, people.

A few thousand reduced-to-ashes New Yorkers might, if they were alive, argue with your dismissal of their deaths at the hands of radical jihaddis as being non-proximate, and shadowy. They are indeed quite literally dead. Multiple very non-shadowy attempts (some very successful) by the same and related groups to kill other people, in large numbers, have also happened since then.

Comment: Re:inventor? (Score 1) 418

by ScentCone (#49597587) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

Conglomerate steals credit & patents it

Which, of course, is BS and not at all how it actually happened. Which you know.

They guy who observed the mold's properties was terrible at communicating his thoughts about it, and had trouble getting help from chemists to stabilize the important stuff. TEN YEARS go buy, and other researchers get the work done. Then THEY travel to the US to find drug manufacturers that might be interested in taking on the complex task of mass production.

You know, pretty much the opposite of your troll list.

Comment: Re:The utilities have reason to be upset (Score 1) 499

by DaChesserCat (#49594121) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

"Because the transformers which convert distributed power (typically lower frequency and higher voltage) to the household power (60 Hz / 240 VAC split-phase) are made to work efficiently, one-way. Going the other way, they are considerably less efficient."


Everything on a power grid operates at exactly the same frequency. DC interconnects and other exotic technology aside, it is one gigantic synchronous machine. If load increases faster than supply the frequency of the entire gird slows down a tiny amount, as supply increase and load drops, the frequency goes up a tiny amount. Supply is continuously adjusted to keep the frequency stable. It is like a train. Locomotives tend to speed it up, wagons tend to slow it down, but it is all going at the same speed.

The POWER required has to match, input to output. On that count, I will agree with you. In that regard, it's synchronous. And if I want to grid-tie an inverter, the inverter must be able to match voltage, frequency and phase to what is being supplied to the house. And yes, when you change the load applied to an AC generator, the frequency will vary slightly, but they have feedback mechanisms on those to keep frequency within a very narrow range. But the electricity reaching my home is coming from multiple power plants; if this one varied frequency significantly, it would throw it out-of-sync with that one, hence the feedback and regulation of same.

May I direct your attention to this article? I know for a fact that the rural electrical coop, to which I'm attached, is sending out well over 1 kV to the transformer outside my house. The transformer is converting it to 240VAC 60 Hz split-phase, and it's compensating for the fact that the 2, 120 VAC channels in my home are not perfectly balanced. So the transformer is fairly sophisticated, in that regard. But sending 240 VAC split-phase long distance is going to require some VERY thick lines to avoid resistance losses. They avoid this by transmitting very high voltages (some places, over 1 megaVolt) and keeping the current down. That minimizes transmission losses. The distances involved STILL get some significant losses, but they'd be FAR worse if they were transmitting 240 VAC, long-distance.

Comment: Re:Batteries (Score 1) 499

by DaChesserCat (#49593921) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

It's about GBP30-40 for a 100Ah 12V car lead-acid battery on a random site. These are mass-produced, cheap and easily available. Granted that they are heavy and large, but... scaling up... that's 1.2KWh alone. We'd only need ten car batteries to match it. That's GBP300-400.

Why, then does it cost the equivalent of nearly $3,500 (GBP2200) for the same here?

Sure, we allow leeway for different voltages (necessary for high-current loads, etc.), different technologies, deep-cycle, etc. but... that's a five-to-seven-fold increase over what we're using now for quite basic solar, wind, etc. power storage and can be obtained from any garage. And 10 car batteries aren't prohibitively large, expensive, difficult to handle, etc.

With 10 year warranty and 2KW peaks? That's way within range of such a pack. Hell, stick a decent split charger / inverter on the end, one designed for home use, and it still comes nowhere near the price of this home battery.

Is my maths wrong? Have I missed something? Quite what are we trying to sell here apart from an overpriced battery and some electronics on either end of it?

It's one thing to sell a battery. Musk is selling the complete package:

  • battery
  • rectifier and inverter, such that the battery can interface to the AC power in the home
  • charge controller, such that rectified DC power can go into/out of the batteries without overdoing it

The lithium batteries he's using aren't exactly cheap; you're quite right that lead-acid batteries are cheaper. But the electronics needed to interface the batteries to the home add considerably to the price. And a good charge controller, with lithium batteries, will get a lot more charge/discharge cycles, meaning it will last a lot longer than lead-acid batteries.

IIUC, he's going for a system which will work, reliably, mostly invisibly, for over a decade. That takes some engineering. To make a battery last longer, you typically only discharge it part of the way. Let's say you go for 80% Depth of Discharge. That means you need 1.25 x as much battery capacity but you will get a lot more charge/discharge cycles out of it than 100% (that will kill a lithium battery, typically in < 100 cycles). Going to 66% DoD will require 1.5 x as many batteries but give you considerably more charge/discharge cycles. No word on what DoD level he's charging/discharging the batteries.

I have a Camry Hybrid. It has NIMH batteries. The system does about 25% DoD, meaning that the batteries really don't store much. But they last and last and last.

Comment: Re: The utilities have reason to be upset (Score 1) 499

by DaChesserCat (#49593171) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System
They don't care. But in the Court of Public Opinion, where they need a win if they're going to get what they want, that pushes a LOT of people's buttons. If I believe that Climate Change is a hoax, PV is regarded as a waste of money. The notion that I, who do NOT have PV on my home, may be subsidizing the grid for someone who does ... So they play that card.

Comment: Re:The good news is... (Score 1) 209

I don't necessarily think of it as being beyond your abilities as much as outside of the scope of your abilities; is managing inherently more difficult than developing? For some people sure, but I think perhaps looking at the career ladder hierarchically is part of what leads us into this. My boss is not a great coder (he started out coding) but he is a great negotiator, salesman and organizer. It takes all sorts, right?

I don't know that it's inherently more difficult. It IS, however, a very DIFFERENT skillset. And just because I'm good at communicating with a computer (programming) doesn't mean I'm good at communicating with management. Indeed, if the Programmers' Stone is to be believed, programmers and managers are very different in how they comprehend stuff, not to mention how they communicate.

The truly gifted can speak both languages. Most of us speak only one. And we don't even realize there IS another way to comprehend/communicate. If/when we do, though, it result can be wonderful.

IMHO, the things every programmer-promoted-to-management needs to know are found in that link and in The Mythical Man-Month. I, routinely, run into situations where management still hasn't learned the lessons from that book. And life for me, as a programmer with ZERO interest in going into management, would be so much better if they would learn from that tome.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 108

by DaChesserCat (#49592667) Attached to: Messenger's Mercury Trip Ends With a Bang, and Silence
Save it for what?

To try to bring it home to Earth? Where we have no means to recover it and bring back to the the surface? Even if we did, to put it in some museum, so elementary school kids on a field trip can look at it and go "whatever?" After it's been exposed to years of hard radiation in space, closer to the Sun?

Seriously. Save it for what? Better to let it finish it's job and become its own monument. Maybe, someday, another probe will get to see it. We sure as hell won't.

Comment: The utilities have reason to be upset (Score 5, Informative) 499

by DaChesserCat (#49592597) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System
Many of the utility companies, such as the ones in Arizona and Hawaii, are griping about people adding solar PV to their homes. These people have, typically, used Net Metering; any power they produce in excess of what they consume at any moment is fed back into the grid and, when their demand exceeds their supply, they draw from the grid. The utility company gets to "reimburse" them for the power they contribute. In some areas (California), 1 kWh contributed during peak hours = > 1 kWh they can withdraw during off-peak hours. But that's pretty generous; most power companies don't even like 1 : 1.

If you put enough PV on your home, you can eliminate your electric bill. At which point, many utilities argue, the costs of maintaining the grid (that's rolled into your electric bill, but not as a separate line item) are covered by the less-wealthy. The poor are subsidizing the grid for the wealthy, they argue. And they argue, further, that they should be able to charge people who are using Net Metering even if they ARE producing as much power as they're consuming.

Where I live, I pay a monthly connection charge ( < $20 / month) + $0.085 / kWh. In short, my electrical co-op breaks these out as separate line items on the bill. Even if I put in enough PV to go Net Zero, so long as I'm connected to the grid, I'm at least paying the monthly connection charge. The Arizona utility wanted a connection charge / kWh installed PV, to the point that the homeowners who installed the PV ended up paying the same, without or without the PV. In short, they wanted to eliminate any incentive to add PV and connect to the grid. They did get approval for a connection charge / kWh installed, but it was a fraction of what they wanted.

In Hawaii, where power is routinely $0.39 / kWh (it's made, largely, from imported petroleum), solar PV and Net Metering are so widespread that entire neighborhoods are producing excess power during the height of the day. It's to the point where HECO gets to veto whether or not you can add PV to your home; you have to get permits from them and they're getting harder to acquire. Because the transformers which convert distributed power (typically lower frequency and higher voltage) to the household power (60 Hz / 240 VAC split-phase) are made to work efficiently, one-way. Going the other way, they are considerably less efficient. If you are a net producer and your neighbor is a larger, net consumer, you're supplying your neighbor and the local transformer simply converts less power going into that neighborhood. When the entire neighborhood is a net producer, the transformer has a problem. So they limit how much power can be produced in each neighborhood.

I used to think this was all about the power/utility companies trying to defend their bottom line. That's still part of it, but I've come to realize there are technical reasons, too. Installing efficient, bi-directional transformers would require:
  1. installing a second, bi-directional transformer
  2. taking down the power to an entire neighborhood while they switch over
  3. decommissioning and moving the old transformer

at considerable expense. And that latter part, well, you KNOW they're not going to let their executives and/or shareholders eat that cost. And many utilities are regulated, such that they have to get approvals for rate increases. Which aren't easy to get. So there's technical reasons AND financial reasons for the utilities to grip.

Put a battery pack on your home, like one of these. Get an inverter which feeds excess to the battery and NEVER exports to the grid. The power company loses their only technical reason to gripe, because you are no longer doing Net Metering. At that point, it's all about the Benjamins.

Indeed, if you get to the point where your home is truly Net Zero, long-term, you can go completely off-grid. At which point they no longer have a say in the matter.

FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin