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Comment Re:Storage? (Score 2) 478

For coal, this doesn't really matter - it still loses. To pick up where renewables leave off, you want natural gas (or even petroleum) turbines that can quickly be brought on and off line. Coal and nuclear are not really suited to this.

The power industry makes the distinction between "base load" and "peak load" generation sources. Coal and nuclear are best for base load, running 100% capacity as much as possible. Combined-cycle turbines are best for peak load since they can be economically throttled.

The issue is both peak and base load demands are increasing. Turbines make great peak load sources but are poor for base load. TVA -- my former employer -- took coal plants offline due to Obama-era regulations making them impossible or unprofitable to operate (or both). They made up for the lost generating capacity by running their turbines as if they were base load generators. The result? Huge increases in turbine maintenance costs, more frequent maintenance outages, and more unplanned outages.

If the goal is to kill coal you have to replace it with something. Nuclear is a non-starter for most people because of their hysterical, irrational fear of it. Natural gas is cheap but, as stated above, it's not the best candidate for peak load generation. Nothing in the solar or wind column can come close to substituting for any current base load generation technology.

Comment Re:Total regulatory impact 2-3 percent (Score 2) 478

Coal has been made disproportionately more expensive over the last several years by government fiat, not market forces. Burdensome regulation and carbon taxes have made it so. Until recently I worked for TVA (mostly nuclear plants but some coal, hydro, and combined-cycle turbines). Several coal plants were shut down well ahead of schedule simply because Obama-era regulations made them unprofitable to run. Remember, candidate-Obama promised to destroy coal. He certainly worked hard enough at it.

If coal is allowed to float without government interference it will be quite a bit cheaper than renewables and much more abundant. Windmills only spin when the wind is blowing. Solar only works when the sun is out and your panels aren't covered in snow. Coal runs 24x7, rain or shine, windy or calm, hot or cold.

Comment Re:Total regulatory impact 2-3 percent (Score 1) 478

Adapt. Fossil fuels are over. They're too expensive.

Says the guy whose lights and computer are very likely lit by electricity generated from fossil fuels. Who, if he has a car, is likely powered by fossil fuels or has a battery charged by fossil fuels. Or, if he uses mass transit, it's either fueled by fossil fuels or powered by electricity derived from fossil fuels. Whose synthetic plastic materials around him are made from fossil fuels. Who, if he's ever flown anywhere, was in a plane powered by fossil fuels. Who, if he stopped to consider it, would be utterly unable to function today in any useful capacity without power, products, or motive force made possible in whole or in part by fossil fuels.

But hey doesn't it sound all trendy and shit to say "fossil fuels are over"?

Comment Coal won't cut it? (Score 2, Informative) 478

From the DoE:

Major energy sources and percent shares of U.S. electricity generation at utility-scale facilities in 2016:

Natural gas = 33.8%
Coal = 30.4%
Nuclear = 19.7%
Renewables (total) = 14.9%
Hydropower = 6.5%
Wind = 5.6%
Biomass = 1.5%
Solar = 0.9%
Geothermal = 0.4%
Petroleum = 0.6%
Other gases = 0.3%
Other nonrenewable sources = 0.3%
Pumped storage hydroelectricity = -0.2%

So, wind + solar = 6.5%
Coal + natural gas + nuclear = 83.9%

Winner = not renewables

If coal's been on the decline it's only because the Obama administration demonized it and because we had a happy accident of finding an abundance of natural gas. Wind and solar would be nowhere without massive government subsidies.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting on those fusion reactors.

Comment Re:Fortran (Score 1) 629

I'm not quite old enough to have used FORTRAN.

What does age have to do with anything? I took a computational linear algebra course in the late '90s that used FORTRAN nearly exclusively.

That said, I started out, like most kids in the '80s, with BASIC and assembly language (6809 and 6502, in my case). I started college early enough that the introductory computer-science courses were still in Pascal, but pretty much every course that needed to do real work used anything but Pascal...lots of C, with a systems-programming course splitting time between 8086 assembly and VAX assembly and a database course that introduced us to SQL (of course).

The computational linear algebra course mentioned above was a math course specifically for computer-science majors; other engineering students took a different linear-algebra course.

Comment Re:Reminds me of the Pico Brewer (Score 2) 359

I kind of liked home brewing. But home bottle sterilizing was a fucking bore.

That's why I started kegging after a couple or three years. Sanitizing the bottles wasn't too bad (a trip through the dishwasher would suffice, either with heated drying or (if available) the sanitizing option enabled), but it's much easier and faster to fill one keg than 50+ bottles. You can also dry-hop in a keg.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 4, Informative) 359

why would someone buy a $400 machine that requires you to buy prepackaged produce to be squeezed out of it...?

Consider this quote from TFA: "Tech blogs have dubbed it a 'Keurig for juice.'" Then consider how Keurig machines and the coffee pods they use have sold over the past few years. Nobody ever went broke overestimating people's laziness.

Comment Re: Texas Instruments.. (Score 1) 857

the only way to choose in assembly was to use PEEK, POKE, and CALL from within TI BASIC

Did TI BASIC even have PEEK and POKE? Maybe it did and I just never knew what to do with them due to a lack of available documentation, but as I recall, those commands weren't in the console. They might've been in Extended BASIC, but I didn't have that cartridge back in the day. I have one now, as well as a bunch of other things (such as a PEB) that I didn't have back then, but a lack of space has kept it packed away the past few years.

Comment Re:TI-99/4A (Score 1) 857

Started with one that my parents had picked up cheapish ($150?) as the prices were starting to come down. Peripherals were still expensive as hell, though, and the console by itself didn't support much real work without them. Combine that with TI exiting the computer business a few months later and you can probably see where this is going: two years later, we ended up getting an Apple IIe (this time, with a couple of floppy drives, a monochrome monitor, and a printer), which got me through high school and a fair bit of college.

Comment Re:Who cares (Score 4, Insightful) 296

So when they put out all the paranoid rhetoric that the US is only out to invade and bomb them, are they really being paranoid?

My drill instructor gave me some useful advice about thirty years ago: if someone says they want to kill you, you should take them seriously. Let's keep in mind that since the late 1950's North Korea has been militant, aggressive, threatening, and destabilizing no matter who was in the White House. Various administrations have tried various sticks and various carrots to get them to change all to no avail. If the Norks are afraid of external animosity they only have themselves to blame.

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