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Comment Re:First (past the) Post (Score 5, Interesting) 639

http://www.gallup.com/poll/148745/political-ideology-stable-conservatives-leading.aspx

Self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals in the USA by a ratio of about 2:1, and this has been stable for decades. Moderates also outnumber liberals by almost 2:1. People on the liberal end of the spectrum make up only about 20% of the population.

The USA is a center-right country.

Comment Re:Pay no attention to the others (Score 1) 861

And forgive me, but recycling is detrimental to the environment, are you fucking daft?

Nope, read it again. I said that recycling of paper and glass has no value. In fact it has very little value, because recycling paper and glass uses almost as much energy as manufacturing new paper and glass.

I said that biofuels, local food, and organic food are positively harmful.

Aluminum recycling matters, but it's an exception.

See I can make lots of assertions too.

Yes, but the trick is to make true assertions.

Comment Re:No scarcity of land for landfills. (Score 1) 861

2) Really? There's no shortage of land? Right, let me magic up some more land out of nowhere that nobody lives near.

How about the Sahara as a landfill for Europe and Africa? Or the high desert in the American southwest? Or northern Canada? Or the desert in the middle of Australia? Or vast areas of central Asia as in Mongolia?

Bear in mind that garbage in landfills is not spread out evenly over a wide land area. Garbage is compacted and stored as a large cube.

If we took all the wastes from all people in the USA for 1,000 years, it would occupy about 1.8 cubic miles. Of course, we couldn't have a cube going up into the air for 1.8 miles, so we would likely spread it out over an area of 20 square miles or so. This would occupy about 0.0007% of the land area of the US for 1000 years' worth of garbage.

Comment Re:What's the point? (Score 1) 861

Those food scraps in the landfill become permanent volume. Ever higher mounds.

If this were true, then throwing your organic garbage into the landfill would be effective carbon sequestration and would reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

The small amount of attrition that occurs is into methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

Since 1996, the EPA has required all large landfills to capture and burn landfill gas, thereby converting it into CO2, just the same as if it had been composted.

Comment Re:Should X be mandatory? (Score 1) 861

Tiny bit of effort, huge benifits to everyone!

Nope, there are no benefits to anyone from composting. Whether you throw your organic garbage in the composting bin or the trash, it just ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere. It makes no difference.

Since 1996, the EPA has mandated that all large landfills have gas recovery and burning mechanisms which convert landfill methane into CO2. The result is that greenhouse emissions are CO2 in both cases, and are the same whether you compost something, or throw it in the garbage.

As a Canadian, the standard selfish American "fuck that shit" response to this kind of stuff is always humorous.

I would laugh at Canadians and Europeans (and American liberals) if it weren't so sad. Whereas typical Americans are selfish and say "fuck that shit," Europeans and American liberals actually care about the issue, but then engage in worthless symbolic gestures like mandatory composting, recycling, local food, organic food, etc, which either have no effect or make the problem worse.

Comment Pay no attention to the others (Score 1) 861

It makes no difference whether you put something in the garbage or the compost bin. In both cases the organic garbage ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere. Although the garbage is converted into methane (not CO2) within the landfill, that methane is captured and burnt, and thereby converted into CO2. Since 1996, the EPA has mandated that all larger landfills must capture and burn methane (google the "Landfill Rule" and look at the EPA site). As a result, it makes no difference whether you compost or not. Nor does it save landfill space, since the organic garbage is converted to a gas which then escapes.

Composting is not the most efficient way to prevent methane emissions. It's almost certainly more cost-efficient to burn landfill gas, since that accomplishes the same thing without costly human labor spent on sorting and inspecting garbage. Even if you live in a country that does not burn landfill gas, you should support landfill gas burning rather than mandatory composting.

Composting has no value. It's like local food, organic food, recycling of paper and glass, biofuels, and so on. They make no difference to the environment, or are positively harmful to the environment (local food, organic food, biofuels). (In fact, organic food and biofuels would be catastrophic to the environment if used extensively). The purpose is to give hippies the feel-good, low-tech, back-to-the-land lifestyle which they always wanted, and to impose that lifestyle upon others. Whether it helps the environment is irrelevant and ignored.

The two most important things you can do to help the environment are: 1) live in a high-rise apartment building in the densest urban area possible, since urban dwellers emit a small fraction of the CO2 as suburban and rural dwellers; and 2) support nuclear power. Both of these are vehemently opposed by greenies who spend their time on worthless symbolic activities like composting. This shows that they either don't know what will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or they just don't care.

Comment Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (Score 1) 530

And did Milton consider the total economic cost of that tradeoff? ... Did he add the cost of supporting and/or fending off all of those out-of-work people that would be furloughed if the shovels were replaced with tractors? ... Did he multiply the cost of completing the project if the shovels were replaced with spoons? ... Did he determine whether the project would even be undertaken if not for the cheap availability of generic people and shovels instead of the expensive need for skilled people and tractors?

Yes, Milton considered all of those things. Those things are all addressed by the old economics from the 18th century. Maybe there are some circumstances where those arguments fall down, but not the circumstances you listed.

satisfy his own rush to cognitive closure and limited view of the consequences as a means of satisfying his own political preconceptions

Are you sure you're not doing that?

Comment Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (Score 1) 530

There are two San Francisco bridges - among the most used and photographed in the world - ... was a WPA project - approved and built in 4 years.

I'm a big believer in increasing government spending on infrastructure, but you have to be careful about this kind of remark. The question is whether the GG bridge would have been built eventually, even without the WPA. Also, whether the GG bridge was a better investment than any alternative use of the same funds. We can't just assume that there would have been nothing (instead of the GG bridge) without the WPA, because the same funds would have been spent or invested elsewhere.

If the Keynesian argument is true and output was higher because of public spending then that's great, but in that case it was deficits which were helpful and not the GG bridge specifically.

Even if we wish to run deficits to increase the economy, we should still pick the best public projects for the least amount of labor relative to what's accomplished.

Comment Re:Quote Investigator to the rescue! (Score 2) 530

Considering this ideological simplified nonsense

You just totally misunderstood what you read. You should read the quotation again and ponder it.

the WPA, is responsible for most of the standing infrastructure that the US, the world's biggest economy relies upon every day.

That is not at all relevant to the point from the parent's quotation.

Comment This keeps happening (Score 1) 378

Unfortunately there has been a news story about a battery breakthrough every week or so for the last 10 years. (In MIT technology review, for example, there's a constant drumbeat of battery-breakthrough stories). Few of these breakthroughs make it to commercialization at all, and those that do are less revolutionary than promised. Batteries have made only gradual progress.

Comment Re:I though they were already a reality... (Score 3, Informative) 378

Compare a $10k used car to $10k electric car: The cost of a decent LiFePO4 battery pack is $6k

That seems like a problem in your argument. There is no electric car+battery combination which costs $16k. The figure you cite is less than half the actual retail cost of an electric car+battery. Even the prius plug-in, due next year, costs over $30k, and the battery pack only provides a 10 mile range.

The cost of electricity to recharge the pack is ~$0.10

Retail electricity for residential consumers in states which don't burn coal is about $0.14/KwH, not $0.10. If we burn coal to generate electricity, then we've negated any environmental benefit of electric cars, so we should use the $0.14/KwH price for electricity. Electricity from renewables would be at least 50% more expensive than even that.

Let's try a comparison with these figures. The Nissan Leaf costs $35,000, and an approximately equivalent Nissan Versa Hatchback costs $15,000. If we drive the versa for 150,000 miles with $4/gal fuel at 35 mpg, we pay $17,142 for fuel. If we drive the Leaf for 150,000 mi (which is the rated life of the battery pack), the fuel (electricity) would cost $8,400 (leaf has a 24 KwH battery pack which costs $3.36 to recharge at $0.14/KwH and takes us 60 mi on average, for a per-mile charge of $0.056, *100,000 = $8,400).

We must also include the cost of financing. Interest at 3% above inflation for 5 years would cost $2250 for the Versa and $5250 for the Leaf. Even if you pay using cash upfront, you are foregoing interest you could have earned by investing the same money, so it's an opportunity cost.

There will also be different insurance costs, for insuring a $15,000 car against theft vs. a $35,000 car. But let's ignore that now.

Of course the government will give you a $7,500 tax break right now if you buy an electric car, but will only do so for a small number of buyers until the incentive expires, so let's ignore that now because it's not generalizable.

The total cost of the Versa for 150k mi is $34,392, and the total cost of the Leaf for the same distance is $48,650. It costs about 41% more to drive a similar electric car at present, not counting insurance or limited-time government incentives. It is not cost-competitive.

It's possible that an electric car will become competitive if gasoline costs far more in the future and batteries cost less. If the Leaf costs $30k in the future and gasoline costs $7/gal (in 2011 dollars), then the Leaf would be approximately cost-competitive with a gasoline-powered car. This circumstance is definitely possible within the next 15 years.

Comment Re:Completely different contract/machine/goals (Score 1) 99

The bulk of the new blue waters will be pure opteron nodes, with only 35 of the 270ish cabinets using GPUs. They obviously are assuming that most users will be running with only x86 cores. They ordered a few dozen cabs of GPUs, probably with an eye to where the industry will be heading over the lifetime of the machine, not where the users are today.

It's true that interlagos cores are a poor competitor to power7 core to core. However, they fair much better if you use the entire module. Think of interlagos as an 8-core processor with 2 threads per core, and all of a sudden it looks a lot better. Power7 is probably still better, but at ten times the cost.

Furthermore, just because a single node of power7 is an awesome node, does not mean that a many-thousand node supercomputer, composed of those nodes, is also awesome. If the IBM blue waters machine were just about the processors, they would have clustered together a bunch of bladecenter704s. They would not have bothered to bid the p775 system. If you want really fat SMP nodes, then they would have bid a bunch of p795s. Obviously they tried to make a really high-bandwidth shared-memory interconnect for the p775, and they failed. Either it didn't work reliably, wasn't fast enough, or cost too much. IBM didn't step away from the deal because the clock speed was 10% low, or because their costs rose enough to make their margin slim. You don't screw a customer in such a high-profile way unless you're going to lose a LOT of money on the deal.

I notice, looking at the top500 list, that IBM managed to sell the 10 cabinets of p775 that they built for NCSA. A few weather forecasting sites in canada and the UK are running 5 systems at 2 cabinets each. Tellingly, a couple of those customers have a pair of 2 cab systems, rather than a single 4 cab system. That tells me that the interconnect isn't scaling to larger numbers of nodes. A problem for a really big system like blue waters.

Comment Re:Aha. Bulldozer sucks my ass. (Score 1, Informative) 99

It is true that it costs a lot to switch processors, but lets remember that HPC systems are also very price sensitive. Blue waters will have more than 50,000 processor sockets in it. Xeon processors may be better than opterons, but they also cost a LOT more. Multiply that by 50,000. In the benchmarks I've seen, 16 core opterons almost compete with 8 core xeons in raw performance, but blow the xeons away in price/performance.

Comment Re:It is the worst since Chernobyl (Score 1) 259

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. It was very close to being worse than Chernobyl.

Do you have any support for this claim?

From what I can tell, efforts to control things at Fukushima essentially failed completely. They had full station blackout; they were not able to restore power; no important systems worked other than power-less emergency core cooling at 2 and 3, and then only for awhile; generators brought in were of the wrong kind; etc etc. All they did successfully, was vent and spray water on the outside. Nevertheless, total emisisons of radionuceides was about 20% of Chernobyl, according to various sources.

How do you figure that it was "very close" to being worse than Chernobyl?
 

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