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Comment: Re:If you want local solar (Score 1) 389

by unimacs (#47420657) Attached to: Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis
I should probably back up a little. There are a couple of issues here, - generation and consumption. From my perspective, no matter how you generate it, our level of consumption is not sustainable. Solar, wind, and other renewables may be better than fossil fuels, but you can't tell me that there won't be negative environmental impacts from covering deserts in the Southwest with solar panels, transmitting half of the power to the North, - and losing 6% of that in the process.

We were able absorb the costs associated with transmission loses in the past because power generation was artificially cheap and we didn't make the generators pay for the environmental impacts. The other problem with transmitting power over long distances is that it ultimately creates more points of failure and a more fragile system.

Comment: Re:If you want local solar (Score 1) 389

by unimacs (#47420203) Attached to: Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis
In the US natural gas costs 60 cents per kWh, coal 95 cents per kWh, nuclear 96 cents per kWh, and solar 130 cents per kWh. They are not on par with each other. We wouldn't be having this discussion if they were.

When you consider the amount of power the US (and other parts of the world) consume, 6 to 7% is huge.

Comment: Re:Useless (Score 2) 235

by unimacs (#47381355) Attached to: Radar Changing the Face of Cycling
Knowing how far a car is behind you and how fast it is approaching can give you some idea whether or not you can move over to make a left turn. And as more electric cars end up on the roads, you may not always hear them coming depending on what other sources of noise there are. I frequently ride through an area near an airport. I'm not going to hear a car approaching over the roar of a plane taking off.

I'm not sure I'd trust it vs taking a look over my shoulder. That would be my main issue. I've tried various rear view mirrors and never much liked them. Too small a field of vision. Too much moving my head around to see what I wanted to see.

Comment: Re:Ah yes, the party of "tax the rich" extends the (Score 1) 76

I'm not sure what your point is exactly. If by "look in the mirror" you mean that I'm paying for those externalities, I agree. We pay for them through higher taxes, higher health care and insurance costs, among other ways.

And for the record I don't mind spending money on necessary defense. I do have trouble with the idea of propping up unpopular leaders of questionable ethics in exchange for short term stability and cheap gas prices. You can argue that it's necessary but either way we still pay for it. It's still an additional cost related to fossil fuels.

If you're implying that I'm part of the problem as a customer of a utility that primarily generates power via fossil fuels, I'll remind you that most of us don't have a say in where our utilities get their power from, - which is why it is good that states like California gives breaks to those who want to generate their own power using solar energy. I'm not even blaming the utilities entirely. Many of them are trying to generate electricity using cleaner sources of power and spend significant money on energy efficiency programs.

I'll also add that I'm typing this on a laptop provided by a non-profit energy efficiency organization (along with a salary) in exchange for my services. A laptop that I transport to and from work... on a bike.

Comment: Re:Ah yes, the party of "tax the rich" extends the (Score 1) 76

We subsidize other forms of power generation constantly buy forcing the public to pay for all the externalities. If the power companies had to pay for all the costs related to mining, drilling, transporting, and burning fossil fuels, renewables would make a lot more economic sense even without the incentives.
What has it really cost us to keep the oil flowing out of the Middle East? What about the environmental and health impacts of burning fossil fuels? Who is paying for that?

Comment: Re:Why do we permit "property tax" at all? (Score 1) 76

In a system with no property tax, there would be no disincentive to hoard property.

So? I apologize in advance; there is no way to say this politely; you can take your loaded term "hoard" as well as your consensus and your bowing and scraping to government, and stuff them. You started the name-calling when you characterized real property ownership as "hoarding".

If you get off on seeing people's wealth seized by force and redistributed, fine; viewpoints and opinions are the most basic rights everyone has. But if you give support and comfort to those doing the seizing, expect a little blowback.

Now, if you want to get to basics and discuss the pros and cons of allowing private ownership of what is called "real property" (basically land) in the first place, that is fair game.

I don't think istartedi was characterizing property ownership as hoarding at all. Hoarding would be buying up a ton of property with no intent to do anything with it. This would drive up property costs for anyone else wanting to buy in the area. Without property taxes, one or two people with enough capital could buy up most of the land in a region and then charge of whatever they felt like to other potential buyers. Or they could basically price things out of anybody's reach and rent out the property instead, - again at inflated rates. Any land that sits idle costs them nothing anyway so there's no disincentive to hold on to it.

Where property taxes can be problematic are when people on living fixed incomes. Rising property taxes shouldn't be allowed to force anyone off a property that they've had for decades.

A community provides benefits to those who own property there, - whether its schools, police/fire service, or whatever. Those things need to be paid for somehow.

Comment: Re:I call bullshit (Score 1) 265

by unimacs (#47334205) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

Unfortunately I've seen first hand all to many times that some people automatically just play the minority card each time to avoid ever having to make an effort to help themselves. The only reason they still do it is because it works thanks to most white men having already been programmed to feel socially guilty for everyone elses failures by a society with a screwed up socialist agenda like yours.

So some people playing the minority card means that there aren't any talented minorities out there that are being held back by their circumstances?

You know what I have seen first hand? A hiring manager rejecting a resume solely based on the ethnicity of the name of applicant. In fact they had rejected several resumes for exactly the same reason. I couldn't believe that this stuff still happens but it does. And that's just an overt case. I'm sure minorities are passed over for more subtle reasons that have little or nothing to do with their actual qualifications.

Once I was literally told to think long and hard before offering a job to a black candidate we were interviewing by somebody who wasn't even involved in the interview process. This was for a business unit of a larger organization that prided itself on its diversity record. When I first started working in that unit I'd actually been a little surprised at how lily white the staff was compared to my previous job in the company. After awhile it became very clear that it wasn't exactly an accident.

Comment: Re:silly premises (Score 1) 265

by unimacs (#47327819) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo
Aren't all youth cultures in the US part of the society as a whole? Doesn't one culture affect another? To me these things are all related, - all connected. You can't simply say that the problem is for the parents and kids of minority communities to fix, - although it's a very convenient solution to suggest for those outside of those communities. And also I can't think of any parent who doesn't want their child to achieve academically. You may have young peers who value other skills more, - regardless of ethnicity.

As to Facebook's concern those are legit as well. Don't you ever get spam from a non-english speaker trying to get you to do something or another and entirely missing the mark? They do so because they don't understand the language and the culture enough. Same with Facebook or anyone of these companies trying to appeal to a wide audience. It's not that I can't write software for any particular audience but I'm smart enough to know that what appeals to me and people like me may not appeal to people living under different circumstances or different cultures.

Have you ever considered that our whole approach to developing software has been largely created by white men? Perhaps that's part of the reason so few outside that group do it.

Comment: Re:I call bullshit (Score 1) 265

by unimacs (#47327041) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo
Every company I've ever worked for at the very top level of management says all the right things. At the same time I've personally witnessed hiring practices that excluded people who didn't fit the mold, - some applications being rejected based solely on fact the applicant's name wasn't "American" enough. The latter was for a technical position. I reported it and soon left. I doubt much was done because the hiring manager was on the fast track to move up in that organization.

I don't think a company's level of diversity has to exactly match the larger community's but clearly the numbers at these tech firms are completely lopsided. I'm not blaming them necessarily but yes I think they could and should do more. That doesn't mean hiring people who aren't qualified but it might mean doing more than looking at the pool of applicants that comes to you, you may have to find them. For example, they could start apprenticeship programs to train people with potential rather than only choosing from among those who could afford college.

On the bright side many of these same companies are promoting programs to get a more diverse pool of people into the necessary academic training.

If we as a society don't do these things, zip code, ethnicity, and even gender will play too a large a role in determining who becomes a "have" vs a "have not"

Comment: Re:silly premises (Score 1) 265

by unimacs (#47326901) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

Of course, as far as race is concerned, it is just irrelevant. I mean, who but a racist would seriously believe that you have to be (fill in some race) in order to write web software for (same race)?

Unfortunately it is not irrelevant. Few people believe that a black person CAN'T do software development (for example). However it's a hard road for many, many black people to take, - especially if they are poor, which black people disproportionally are. What you have to realize is that even though the legal barriers have fallen, the social and economic barriers are alive and well.

I'll give you an example. I don't know if you're familiar with the radio show "This American Life". Anyway, on one episode they interviewed a number of talented but poor college kids that were given scholarships based on their academic achievements along with their lack of ability to afford college.

One of the kids was black and got an scholarship to MIT for some technical degree program (which I don't remember). He talked about how much he loved the classroom and lab work but how hard it was for him at the school. He felt like he didn't fit in. There were few other people there that shared his background. He felt like he continually had to prove that he deserved to be there. He had to dress better than most of his peers, and he had to behave better than most of them as well. His high school academic training had been woefully inadequate in some areas so he had to take additional classes to make up for that.

It was almost worse for him at home. While his family was proud, many of his old friends didn't want to hang around him, - accusing him of acting "too white" and selling out. Even the friends who stuck by him were on different paths and he couldn't share with them what was going on school and have them understand.

The other students told very similar stories. The point is that the inequalities in our society are deeply ingrained and won't go away simply by making it illegal to not hire somebody based on gender or ethnicity.

Comment: Re:Diversity is not a virtue (Score 1) 265

by unimacs (#47325883) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo
When you have certain fields dominated by a subgroup of people you have to ask the question why. In this case the question is why are well paying jobs in high tech companies going mostly to white men? Is it really because that genetically white men are more likely to have the necessary skills? I highly doubt it, at least not in the proportions we are seeing reflected in the hiring of technical talent.

So where is the problem? Many would argue that it starts well before Google and others make hiring decisions. I think it does too but I also think that having so few women and non-white males getting these positions helps perpetuate the problem. If you're a young child, knowing and seeing other people like you holding technical positions like that makes it more likely that you yourself would entertain them as an option.

As much we'd like to say that color and gender are no longer barriers, it's just not true. We don't treat everyone the same way.

Pro-baseball was brought up as an example. I don't know that it quite works as an argument in the way it was intended but sports is just one way I see people pigeonholed all the time when it comes to race or gender. My son loves football. We spent last year looking at different options for high school for him. Now, my son is not nearly good enough to make a career out of football and most of the criteria we were using for choosing a high school had nothing to do with sports. However, he's good enough to at least play at a high school level. I did have one friend seriously say to me that if my son wants to play varsity football he should stay away from school "x" because a lot of black kids go there and he won't have a chance. Seriously? He'd never even seen my son play football.

"Summit meetings tend to be like panda matings. The expectations are always high, and the results usually disappointing." -- Robert Orben