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Comment Re:Lithium-ion batteries (Score 1) 93

As pointed out earlier in the thread, a continuous process which uses outgoing product to pre-heat incoming materials can cut energy usage dramatically. This is the way it's done in many other industrial processes. The difficulty, of course, is how to recover heat from liquid materials as they cool into solids, while still producing a suitable end-product.

Comment Re:The idea of removing impurities is cool... (Score 3, Insightful) 93

solar panel efficiency is so abysmal a few percentage points more isn't going to help.

Utter nonsense. Photovoltaic efficiency is higher than every other end-to-end solar to electricity conversion process. It's higher than the dominant process (photosynthesis) by an order of magnitude.

The problem with photovoltaics isn't efficiency. It's cost.

Comment Re:Where's the OCR? (Score 3, Informative) 234

The obvious answer is that QR codes are useful to scan something with crappy resolution, like a phone display, using something with crappy resolution, like a phone camera, and to process it in real-time using something with crappy computing power, like a phone cpu. The fact that it works at all is really kind of amazing.

Comment Re:Building a case... (Score 1) 344

Well, I'm not going to go too far into this because I haven't really fleshed it all out and it would sound idiotic otherwise. But, basically, the idea is that there exists a spectrum of technologies, based on both the instant and future amount of cooperation required to produce, maintain and operate them.

On the one hand, you have things like paperclips and hammers which only require a single person to operate and could be created from scratch by just about anyone. And, on the other, you have things like mortgage-backed securities and nuclear power plants which require massive cooperative effort and therefore generate massive systemic risk as a result. The difference between them is fairly obvious.

And the thing is, only idiots should actually *want* to live in a world with mortgage-backed securities or nuclear power plants, because only idiots fail to recognize the risk inherent in them. Yet they still exist. And many otherwise reasonable people use them and invest in them. Why? Because they have to. Because they are dependent upon them. They are dependent upon the stratification of society that enables things like mortgage-backed securities and nuclear power plants to exist. They are dependent upon the benefits provided by these technologies, and either oblivious to or shielded from the risks. And these technologies are currently *allowed* to exist, so therefore if we don't invest in building them, someone else will, and we will therefore be worse off regardless once they eventually blow up so we might as well reap the benefits in the mean time, right?

Okay, so that's a fairly simple concept. Anyone can see the difference between mortgage-backed securities and paperclips. The hard part is everything in-between. Where do we draw the line? Well, my working definition would be that if it is something that a single person could reasonably build himself using nothing more than similarly-categorized technologies and a per-capita average of the world's resources, then it qualifies as a paperclip. If it requires multiple people, more resources than average, or technologies that depend on either, then it is a nuclear power plant and should tend to be regulated. Simple and fairly straightforward, if not entirely practical.

But the really interesting question is "where does something like open source software fit in?" Because as far as I'm concerned, that might as well be a paperclip. Its design and production is completely transparent, and anyone has the opportunity to build or replicate it. Yet it basically depends on microprocessors, which a person could probably not reasonably build in his garage. Bitcoin, too, for example, is one of those massively cooperative technologies that ideally shouldn't exist, yet compared to the alternatives, it might as well be a paperclip.

So, I guess the answer to your question is that it kind of complicated. Yet the concept undeniably exists, and I think is worthy of attention.

Comment Re:Career (Score 1) 848

I was once an engineer at a company where we sent work out when we were busy. I saw how much they were spending to get these parts drawings made and I offered to do it for 1/2 the price at home. My boss refused. So I went to the job shop that was doing the work and offered to do the work for 75% of what they charged. Since I was familiar with the job I could get it done very quickly. The job shop accepted because they were getting paid for doing nothing.

It's depressing how fucking stupid some people are.

Comment Re:Building a case... (Score 1) 344

Anyway, I don't think a society that attempts to purposefully restrain technological advancement (i.e., makes inventing illegal, which our patent system is coming close to doing anyway... so you may get your wish) or, alternatively, pays a large swath of the population to do nothing could be sustainable.

It seems clear to me that the only viable methods of enforcing sustainability are to either, on the one hand, restrain only those technological advancements which serve to stratify society into castes by requiring large-scale cooperative enterprise, or, on the other, to pay the *entire population* to do nothing. And I fear that it may be practically impossible to achieve the latter without completely abrogating the former.

If the chemist and the entomologist had to exert them-
selves seriously to obtain the physical necessities, and if
that effort exercised their abilities in an interesting way
but in some nonscientific pursuit, then they wouldn’t give
a damn about isopropyltrimethylmethane or the classifi-
cation of beetles.

Comment Re:misleading article (Score 1) 173

Let's put it this way. I'm guessing, in your fantasy world, that you believe since Northrop Grumman has been delegated the authority to build bombers for the US military, that those are somehow "private" bombers? Because that seems to be your argument when it comes to the FED.

What would you be saying right now if, instead of the FED, we were talking about Northrop Grumman giving (and it *is* giving) stealth bombers to some other country, that they then turn around and use to bomb American cities?

Would you be arguing that Northrop is a private institution and can do whatever they want? Would you be arguing that they are separate from the government?

How is that at all different from the Federal Reserve *giving* free money to foreign banks, that they then use to buy up American assets? At a time when the US economy is collapsing, inflation is rampant, unemployment is at ridiculous levels, and most Americans haven't had a raise in 5 years, how is that anything other than outright treason?

Comment Re:misleading article (Score 1) 173

Clearly you don't really understand the working of complex systems. The fact that the FED can print money, and has in the past, is inextricably linked to *these* loans. You cannot separate them. Your argument is obvious and facile. You want to say that *this* money for *these* loans somehow exists due to the hard work and savings of the FED, separate from all the money that they just print out of thin air due to their having been delegated the governmental authority to do so. It doesn't work that way, because money is fungible, leverage is ultimately all that matters, and the FED has infinite leverage.

I mean, really, you expect anyone to fall for this argument? The FED has, on one hand, a printing press, and on the other, a pile of money derived from interest payments. One month they decide "there needs to be more money supply" because "that's just what the FED does" and so they print up a bunch of money and lend it out. The next month they decide to lend some of "their" pile of money to a bunch of foreign banks. Do you really think we're dumb enough to believe that these are separate issues?

Comment Building a case... (Score 4, Interesting) 344

Pay attention to what is going on here, because you will start to see it in other areas as well.

The establishment (through the media) is attempting to build a consensus that Bitcoin is not a legitimate currency, but a "money transfer service". "Money transfer" is a service that carries with it the implication of guarantee against loss of value during that transfer. It is a regulated industry.

By branding Bitcoin a "money transfer service" in the eyes of the public, powerful banking interests will then be able to begin loading Bitcoin down with regulations. Large Bitcoin institutions may even go along willingly. Regulations create monopolies, and monopolies bring higher rents.

This is the classical method in which the free market is subverted by government regulation, and creeping nanny-statism benefits large, risky centralized corporate interests at the expense of main street. It is the prisoner's dilemma in action. So pay attention as it plays out.

Comment Re:misleading article (Score 1) 173

Look, the Congress is the only entity endowed with the power to coin money. The fact that they have somehow transferred this power to private interests doesn't magically make it "private money". It's public money that is controlled by private banks.

The FED doesn't have "reserves". They have a printing press. They use it to devalue the currency and to buy government bonds. And it's ultimately funded by savers and taxpayers.

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