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Comment Re:Praise Legacy Data (Score 4, Interesting) 336

Get out the pitchforks and torches, antisocialists.

What is interesting to me is that private hospitals negotiate rates with medicare and insurers, but basically set their own rates for the uninsured. My limited knowledge on the topic is merely based upon the few articles that have achieved my attention, but medicare rates are apparently the most reality-based, since the federal government gets to collect and analyze more of the pertinent data than anyone else. The private insurers have some strength in numbers/volume, and have their own data, and get to negotiate a bit. The uninsured are basically screwed, and are asked to pay many times what is charged to the insured or medicaid patients.

Google chargemaster, if you are interested.

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong (Score 2) 122


Your 52kg figure is for a naked sphere of U235. This article mentions a reflector. This article also makes no mention of a second mass, or that the reactor ever reaches criticality. Sub-critical assemblies can still multiply the flux from a static neutron source, so plenty of power with no potential of runaway reactions. Also, the article is about deep-space missions and mentions probes. So I'm guessing no crew, no halves, and no fizzouts.

Comment This is why I never 'password lock' my cellphones (Score 2) 122

My family has lost (had stolen) two iphones. I recovered both by seeing who was texted and phoned. This was before find-my-iphone apps were available. My experience so far is that perps are stupid, and will call and text everyone they know. You can probably call up current usage info and logs online at your service provider.

Hello, this is MichaelDelving. I think someone called you from my iphone last night at 8:37... Do you remember? Well, I'm going to call these 5 other numbers, and see if any of these other people know... I just want to get my phone back, not get anyone in any trouble...

Start nice, and then go through the list more angry (or resigned to just giving over phone call and text info to police). Eventually, either someone fesses up, or scares the perp into contacting you.

Arrange to meet somewhere nonscary, like the customer service desk of Walmart.

Comment Not stupid (Score 1) 247

Utilities must build generation, or rely upon competitors to meet their daily or seasonal peak demand. If storage capability was distributed throughout the grid we could get by with fewer power plants. Plants purpose-built to help meet demand peaks tend to be combustion turbines (which have the highest fuel costs, and deplete a non-replenishable fossil fuel). Also, intermittent sources of power (solar, wind, etc.) really becomes more useful when storage is available.

Comment Re:A novel idea: be a better teacher (Score 1) 664

Ha. Had the most monotone professor, world renowned in his particularly dry and boring field, but he put the Ben Stein teacher drone to shame.

There were apocryphal-seeming stories of students falling asleep in upper-level grad classes of his. Only seeming, because they sound unlikely, unless you ever took one of his classes.

Case 1: 3 or 4 students, one fell asleep, and at end of lecture prof shushed students, and turned out lights and crept out, leaving him asleep. Case 2: single student made it to lecture, fell asleep, professor kept teaching. Sounds unlikely, but I have on good authority (passersby).

Comment Re:Witless stenographers? (Score 5, Insightful) 664

Agree, for any HARD class. E.g., upper-level undergrad and grad-level theoretic courses in your (engineering)department/major. You scribble every last greek character in every equation from the board, in a desperate attempt to try to get down every jot of information (also verbal explanations). You read over your notes later to 'unpack' and store the knowledge, because you were writing so fast you were only using the short-short-term buffer of memory. Before the exam, you recopy your notes neatly, and then you magically can reproduce any arcane derivation on demand. And then again, years later, in preparation for the comprehensive exam.

Comment Re:About $2K savings per month (Score 3, Interesting) 562

I happen to work for the largest public power utility. Sorry to rain on your parade, but tranmission and distribution losses generally account for around 2-5% of power 'usage'. Probably closer to the 2% side of things when you are considering an industrial/commercial load.

Also, depending on the particular middle man you're thinking of, generally utilities' residential customers basically subsidize business customers. The utilities soak residential customers in order to give corporate rates at or slightly below costs to encourage business (and thus, residential) growth.

Businesses (esp. power intensive) decide where to locate with energy cost as a factor, human beings, not so much. So you've got to offer better industrial rates (especially to high load factor businesses such as data centers) than your neighboring utilities, otherwise the grass will be greener on the other side of your fence.

These boxes are claimed to be twice as efficient as their gas turbines equivalents. But gas turbines, while being cheap to build (comparatively!), are the most expensive to run, and are generally only brought online to meet peak demands. So half the cost of running a gas turbine might still be expensive compared to cost averaged over the entire generation mix (hydro, nuclear, and fossil being much cheaper in a variable cost sense). See also my previous comment about residential customers subsidizing commercial ones.

Finally, I wonder how 'green' these boxes really are? I mean, compared to gas turbines? Carbon goes in, so it must come back out. Maybe in a more easily sequesterable form?

Comment Re:USA! USA! USA! (Score 0, Troll) 1053

I don't know what you self-named conservatives sit around smoking as you dream up these ridiculous strawmen, but, if I may speak for all liberals and progressives, we never slandered your patriotism. It seems you are projecting your own tendencies upon us. It does not make you a traitor to oppose universal health care. It just reveals that you are an ignorant jackass.

Comment Re:Texting vs. Hubble (Score 1) 721

The texting cost calculations might be missing an important point. You probably don't have to 'provision' any (or much) bandwidth specifically for texting. Most of the time, when the 'pipe' is not already full, you have 'excess' bandwidth available for texting. You probably design your system to handle peak demand (uh, actual calls, and data/internet), which ideally is never quite met or exceeded in practice. That's assuming that the proportion of bandwidth eaten up by instant messaging is tiny, though.

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