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Comment Re:Biofuels are the future. (Score 1) 139

This is the big problem with corn ethanol - it is energy negative!

Probably not. I suppose you could say it is open to debate, but the consensus seems to be for positive energy output with current methods. Also perhaps worth noting is that the parent commented on biofuels in general, whereas you focused in on one particular biofuel from a source that happens to be a bad idea pretty much all the way around. I can see the rationale for using surplus corn for ethanol if you have to use it (the surplus corn). But you're probably better off storing it until pricing/supply supports using it as some form of food or feed.

Better methods are coming along, though. Cellulosic ethanol seems promising since it can use non-food feedstock, including existing agricultural waste streams or switchgrass, kudzu or other fast-growing non-commercial plants. Biodiesel from jatropha or other non-food crops are still a possibility, especially where small scale production can work, but algae and pond scum have several advantages over plant crops, and there are companies working on commercial scale implementations now. There is also biodiesel from waste vegetable oil -- either processed, or just filtered and used as-is in slightly modded diesels. And then there is thermal deploymerization of agricultural waste into diesel/fuel oil, which has been going on commercially for a few years now.

Any or all of these can fit into our existing infrastructure, so as petroleum hydrocarbons become more expensive (and/or tech improves for the alternatives), they'll start to become players in the market.

Comment Re:Pussy. There, I said it. (Score 1) 643

That gets close, but based on Greenbaum's own explanation, there was no good faith belief of necessity "to protect against misuse or unauthorized use of our web sites". He did it: to teach the guy a lesson (it was a "teachable moment", in his words), because the poster meant to post it (he tried a second time, thus not an accident or momentary lapse of judgment), and because "it was easy". He even outlines other (better, IMO) steps he could have taken. But for the above reasons, he chose to reveal the user's info. Those reasons do not fit within the parameters set forth in the privacy policy, even as vague/loose/permissive as the policy is. "It's easier" is obviously not the same as "necessary".

I didn't read the whole TOS, but it seems they may be ok with respect to that document. But it doesn't change the fact that they violated the privacy policy.

Comment Re:Pussy. There, I said it. (Score 4, Insightful) 643

I mostly agree with you, but not this part:

The newspaper did the right thing.

Nope. Wrong. Aside from violating their own privacy policy, he (Greenbaum, the newspaper guy) went counter to the idea of anonymous commenting. If you want to be able to call someone out, don't allow anonymous posting. If an anonymous poster is being a nuisance (and one re-post probably should not qualify -- the poster could have assumed transmission error or some such) block his IP address.

Comment Re:Mod parent up... (Score 1) 1255

To quote from his original article "women's participation in FOSS development is over seventeen times lower than it is in proprietary software development." If that doesn't point to some systematic problem I don't know what does.

It does if you're comparing apples to apples. On the other hand, isn't FOSS development fundamentally different from proprietary development in many ways? I'd also like to know what "participation" means. Does it include sales? Marketing? Focus groups? project management? Certainly there are FOSS projects that have all those elements and proprietary shops that don't, but my anecdotal experience leads me to believe that those things tend to be thin for FOSS and are often well funded in companies making proprietary software.

I'm not saying there is no sexism, but the evidence offered seems rather thin -- some vague numbers and a couple of anecdotes. If this is a real problem, make a better case than that.

Comment Re:Seems fine to notify (Score 1) 304

It depends. It could be a good thing. Or if they use an overly broad interpretation of what might indicate virus or botnet activity, I could see it becoming a tool to shut down customers who just use a lot of bandwidth.

Plus, even if Comcast's intentions are good, it seems like a great way (for others) to phish. Think about it. Users are not used to seeing notices from comcast, but maybe they've heard about this initiative. So they get a pop-up saying "Comcast service notice. Your PC may be infected. Click here to go to our Anitvirus center". Then the user helpfully installs everything the site tells him to. How about an app that blocks the legitimate notices you're now getting from Comcast?

Comment Re:cue exploding battery packs.... (Score 1) 650

I'll need maybe 20-30 days a year (only 2 or 3 days a month away), so that's 600-900. Assuming I find completely free electricity for the EV, I'll be "saving" around 600-700 in commuting fuel costs. Oops.

There are a lot of assumptions here. One that you're going to travel more than 500 miles one way at least 20 and up to 30 times a year. Also, that gas prices will remain fairly constant. And that any incentives for buying a zero emissions vehicle for some reason don't augment the fuel cost savings. I'm ok with that, since this theoretical 500 mile per charge EV may come with a premium price tag, or maybe any incentives just offset the cost of electricity, whatever.

Fixed (by the tax man) per-mile rate for car travel.

In your own car. Doesn't apply to the cost of renting a vehicle for work.

YMMV - thinking around my extended family, friends, and work colleagues I can't think of any car driver who _never_ drives 100miles away.

On the other hand, I can think of several people who wouldn't even consider a car trip of more than say, 200-300 miles-- that's why airplanes were invented, they opine. However, I did not say people. I said cars. You may find a different result among your family and friends if you ask how often each of their vehicles make 100, 200, 500 mile trips. Lots of cars are owned by multi-car families that typically use one car (the biggest or most comfortable, whatever) on their long trips. Census data from show that about 55% of households have 2 or more vehicles. So again, while it may not quite work for you, there are lots of people for whom an EV -- even with perhaps as little as 100 or 200 mile range -- would work just fine.

Comment Re:Waste MORE time!? (Score 1) 1073

Our federal government mandated testing is done on one day, for one single class. It is never repeated. There is no "November vs March" comparison. The students are tested once, and are never tested again.

Good to know, but not related to my point. My point was along the lines of short term vs. long term memory, i.e. if you only can recall a set of facts or concepts long enough to pass the test (in class test, not the standardized test) at the end of the week they're covered in class, you haven't really learned it.

We take one single test in November, and compare the raw average, ignoring any variance or standard deviation, to the raw average of the students who took it last year. (Yes, a completely different population of students!) It is truly a single data point.

By that logic, any study/survey/data collection only done once contains only a single data point regardless of how many questions/assays and/or respondents/subjects there are.

One year on one test, my school pulled something like 1107, when the state cutoff was 1110. Due to this, we were placed in the "below average" category. Never mind that the test error bars are like 30-50 pts.

Your assumption seems to be that the error bars are not considered when setting the cutoff. I don't know that that assumption is any more valid than the assumption that they are.

My Master's thesis looked at the fact that 3 zeros could push us from passing to failing. Three kids could blow off the govt mandated test which didn't affect them, and because we only report a raw average with no error, they could cause us to fail.

If that's true, then the way scores are aggregated and used is bad. No-shows for the test should be counted as NULLs, not zeros since those scores are unknown. I can see having some penalty (administratively to the school, not against the actual test scores) if some percentage of students don't take the test, but mixing non-scores with actual test scores doesn't make sense.

To be fair, it seems like we may be arguing somewhat different points. My point is that there is utility in standardized testing-- it allows you to control for subjective factors, etc.... The more I read you, the more I see that you're arguing against the way scores are used rather than against standardized testing itself. With that in mind, I don't think we really disagree that much.

Comment Re:cue exploding battery packs.... (Score 1) 650

At first glance, the commute would be ideal for EV, but if I still need the other car to cover the long trips it just doesn't add up. The fixed costs on the car (tax, insurance, servicing & repairs) are actually _more_ than the fuel costs of my commute over a year

Except that you don't have to buy the second car. Rental rates are not that steep. Or as Rei suggested, just rent a towable generator for your EV. If the trip is for work, expense it.

For me, a viable EV needs to do practically everything a current ICE car can do so it can replace it.

Fixed that for you. But seriously, to replace a particular ICE car with an EV, the EV only has to do what the ICE car does, not what it can do. Contrary to your opinion, I suspect most cars never travel more than 100 miles from home, nevermind 500 miles in a day. And unless you're single, being a 1 car family would be the exception rather than the rule.

Comment Re:Waste MORE time!? (Score 1) 1073

You make some good points, but I'd like to nit pick a few things.
1) Mostly agree. School boards, though, are local. Some are going to do well, others poorly. And their power varies too.
2) Agree, but I don't think multiplication is a good example.
3) Yeah, testing is hard. But unless the tests are one question now, it is not one data point. And while it is one day a year, it is designed to test what you've learned. If you "knew" some set of facts in November when they were being covered, but you don't know them for the test in March, did you really learn them? Standardized tests are for measuring what students know on an even playing field. They're not perfect, but standardized tests do control for weak curricula, teachers who grade easy (or hard), and similar factors.
4) Mostly disagree here. Hundreds of years ago, your career was mostly determined by what your father did, but we don't really do things that way anymore. I'm a fan of giving kids a well rounded education (trying, anyway). Maybe senior year you specialize if you know you want to go a particular way. Lots of schools have vo-tech programs that address this.
5) If you're talking about better ways of teaching math, I'm in favor. Most high schoolers seem to have fairly limited grasp of solidly useful, basic math concepts like area and volume, angles, the Pythagorean theorem, etc... so we certainly don't need less math. But I'm intrigued by the idea of integrating it into other subjects.

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Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine