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Comment Re:The next generation... (Score 2) 342

Actually, most of the "failed terrorist attacks" actually succeeded in making us scared. The "failed" shoe bomber means 800 million people annually now need to take off their shoes every time they go through security, taking a cumulative 760 man-years of time (assuming 30 seconds for on and off), of monetary value $67 million if you assume $10/hour value for the average person's time. The "failed" underwear bomber, now means 800 million domestic airline passengers annually need to be xray-screened, and costing us even more in (useless) machines, all for a bomb that probably cost $5.

I think we're wasting way more time and energy reacting to their past attempts than they are thinking of new ways to try to hurt us.

*800 million from http://www.numberof.net/number-of-airline-passengers-per-year/

Comment Re:What does "green" mean? (Score 1) 482

Consider that buying a 1992 Honda means someone else can't...Honda can't decide to make more 1992 Hondas. Whereas buying a new Prius means Toyota makes one more Prius (approximately). Even if you sell your Prius every year to buy a new one, your old one isn't getting crushed -- someone else is buying it who instead might be buying a less fuel efficient car. Right now, you have to choose between fuel efficient (low energy upkeep) and reliable (initial energy cost being amortized over a longer time). But in 20 years, people will be choosing between a reliable Camry and a reliable Camry Hybrid.

Comment Re:This is why I'm never a fan of 'rebates'. (Score 1, Informative) 589

2) The Prius / Volt gets 48mpg highway; the Golf TDI gets 41mpg. Thus, diesel is actually is less efficient than a hybrid. A base Prius is $23,560; a base Golf TDI is $23,709. So really, there is no way a Golf would recoup the extra cost since it gets worse gas mileage and in most parts of the country the gas is more expensive.

Also, isn't the LEAF supposed to debut at $33,000 - $7,500 federal = $25,500 before any state rebates (several of which are $5,000) the Leaf makes perfect sense if you are in a household that is or will be a two-car household. (If you charge it at night, it's about $0.08/kWh for PG&E customers -- in other states without tiers it's probably about $0.12/kWh.)

Most households only need one vehicle with a range of more than 100 miles, so it makes sense for multi-car families to have one or more electric vehicles and one car that takes gasoline, which could be a (plug-in) hybrid.

To the person who pointed out electricity is not free: the energy content of gasoline is 36.6kWh/gal (of which only a third does useful thermodynamic work) and has an average price of $2.75 (more in California) which works out to $0.23/kWh, so unless your utility doesn't offer cheaper electricity for EV charging at night (required in California) or doesn't have tiers (most of the rest of the country), electric will be cheaper to refuel, in addition to being cheaper to maintain.

Comment Re:What if... (Score 1) 438

I don't know where you got your numbers but I think they are grossly misleading. First, you compare electricity production to transportation consumption and ignore the efficiency only on one side. So, we use 28 exajoules of energy for transportation, but it only does about 7 exajoules of work so we would only need 7 exajoules of electricity to replace all oil for transportation. However, a lot of transportation energy is used by planes, which aren't really a candidate for electrification. And then there are trains, buses, and taxis which we could in theory electrify but aren't really talking about. And then there is light rail, most of which is already electric and is therefore in both categories just for confusion. In the end, by electrifying cars, I'm estimating that we're only talking about another 2 exajoules of electricity or so, replacing 8 exajoules of oil.

I chose to convert everything into useful energy, not consumed energy. You could do the opposite if you like but it's complicated because different power plants have different efficiencies and if we're talking about pollution how do you adjust the efficiencies of solar power plants since on one hand they are technically inefficient but on the other hand they don't use any fossil fuels? Anyway, gas-fired power plants where most of the immediate increased consumptions would probably come from are about 50% efficient so you could just use that number to get an approximate result of replacing 8 exajoules of oil with 4 exajoules of natural gas.

Comment Re:No problem, long as they charge at night (Score 1) 438

At least here in California, you must change to be on a time-of-use rate (either for the whole house or just the charging station) if you plan on refueling an EV on premises. That said, the time-of-use rate is cheaper at night and on weekends ($0.057/kWh), the slightly cheaper during normal times ($0.102/kWh), and only more expensive ($0.282/kWh) from 2-9pm on weekdays during the summer. Note that in California we have a tiered system and I was assuming one was in the lowest tier ($0.112/kWh) but if you're in a higher tier then you are likely already paying $0.22-$0.34/kWh.

Before you complain about over-regulating everything, it actually costs you less money given that you have a choice of moving your whole house to time-of-use or just the EV charger. If you play it safe and only put the EV charger on the time-of-use rate, you would only have to charge your EV four times as much at night as you do during the summer daytime for it to cost you more money if you went with the EV charger only option. This should be easy if you use your car to commute to work each day or generally don't drain your battery every morning and need to drain it again every evening.

Comment Re:No problem, long as they charge at night (Score 1) 438

What do you mean extremely poorly at under 90% of capacity? They run just fine at under 90% of capacity, it just doesn't save you any money whatsoever because you can't turn down the rate of putting new fuel in like you can with fossil fuel plants and even if you could the fuel is a negligible cost of the power plant, the majority being design, construction, and safety. You have to refuel every 18 months (or something like that) because the fuel doesn't burn evenly when you run under capacity so you can't really just replace the more burned fuel and if you wait to refuel the plant you'd end up refueling in the middle of summer which is obviously counterproductive.
Earth

Electric Cars Won't Strain the Power Grid 438

thecarchik writes "Last week's heat wave prompted another eruption of that perennial question: Won't electric cars that recharge from grid power overload the nation's electricity system? The short answer is no. A comprehensive and wide-ranging two-volume study from 2007, Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles, looked at the impact of plug-in vehicles on the US electrical grid. It also analyzed the 'wells-to-wheels' carbon emissions of plug-ins versus gasoline cars. The load of one plug-in recharging (about 2 kilowatts) is roughly the same as that of four or five plasma television sets. Plasma TVs hardly brought worries about grid crashes."

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 365

In academia, it seems like 80% of faculty/researchers already have Apple laptops, which essentially means that only the people with >5 year old Powerbooks or iBooks don't have interchangeable power bricks (which isn't that many). Thus, I expect most Apple customers wouldn't care (or even notice) if HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, and Sony moved to using a standard connector.

But maybe in a corporation this would be different.

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 2, Informative) 565

Why shouldn't taxes punish people for negative externalities? For example, gas taxes are a more free-market way of limiting smog from cars than mandating that every new car have a certain fuel economy or telling the manufacturers every car needs to be a hybrid. The argument isn't "we don't like X so let's tax them" but rather "action X has a hidden cost to the nation of $Y, let's tax it $Y". Of course, you're lucky if you can get 60 senators to agree that pollution is bad so we don't really hear much of the nitpicking over whether it's $Y or $Y-1, just that some people think there is a cost (in other words pollution is bad) and some don't. Taxes are for forcing the free market to realize negative externalities and funding needed government services. What's wrong with the argument "it would be better for the country if we taxed X"? Furthermore, pretty much all of the taxes you pay do go to stuff the government pays for that you have previously benefited from (public education), are benefiting from (the military, police, fire protection, roads), or will benefit from (Social Security, Medicare, federally funded research). Now some of it is pretty indirect, like the Secret Service protecting the President, but in the end most of it still benefits the country. If the government cannot raise taxes to pay for these costs, how should it or should it stop doing them?

Comment Re:meh 'em (Score 1) 277

As a California resident and taxpayer, I just want to point out that far above the amount we are investing in education we are being gouged by an inefficient prison system that is incapable of change due to the power of the warden union/lobby that wastes the states resources.

Fifty years ago, California decided that in order to attract smart talent & entrepreneurs to the state they would offer free higher education. And look at Silicon Valley now.

Comment Re:Are climate researchers.... (Score 4, Insightful) 641

The newspaper, not surprisingly, has the ability to reach a lot wider audience with what it says that this guy does. The libel laws are there for cases like this when someone lies / misrepresents the truth. Even arguing that he can inform the public of his side easily on the internet, what about everyone who read it in print, or who won't read what he writes because it won't be picked up by newspapers they read?

There needs to be an incentive to not lie about things in print. Saying that lies can be corrected doesn't necesarily fix the harm that was done.

Comment Replace the optical drive. (Score 1) 297

Replace the optical drive. I've been keeping a log of how many times I've ever used my DVD drive while away from home. So far I'm at 1; I ripped a CD I got for Christmas before I brought it back home with me. It could have waited.

Yes, I know it doesn't work for everyone, but I think it works for most people, assuming you get a USB powered optical drive or enclosure.

Comment Re:and? (Score 1) 555

Actually, his point was that no one was truly running the state of California because you need 2/3rds of the legislature and when, exactly, has either party had 2/3rds of the legislature and the governorship? Never.

Also note that grandparent suggested raising taxes on the wealthy; you seem to have missed that.

I'm also going to suggest taxing CO2 emissions in some form as a way of raising revenue.

Comment Re:This is why we need the on-live service to succ (Score 1) 132

Wait a second, your argument is that 3 consoles (including accessories) are as expensive as 2 gaming computers and therefore consoles are more expensive than gaming computers?

First of all, 3 Toyotas Highlanders are more expensive than 2 BMWs Z4s. Second, you can have more than one person play a console simultaneously, but you have to take turns on the gaming rig (or buy 2) -- like fitting more people in the Highlander. Finally, old consoles are fun (and cheap); old gaming computers suck at gaming.

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