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Comment Re:Let me guess... (Score 1) 25

Google's an easy target; this is hardly the first time. Anyone here seen Ex Machina? Plot summary: "Sergey Brin's home pet project is to put Google's neural nets into robots, what could go wrong?". They don't call him Sergey Brin and they don't call the company Google, but they don't exactly hide their basis either.

Comment Re:meh, totally predictable plot lines (Score 2) 25

If it's from Hollywood, post 1968, then:

1. The villain will be a US military agency, a US spy agency, a corporation/CEO, a gun company, a non-renewable energy company.

Wow, I must have misunderstood the plot on all those post-1968 movies where I thought the baddies were commies, nazis, drug lords, foreign terrorists, domestic terrorists, anarchists, poor people trying to get rich quick, rich people trying to get richer quick, crazy people trying to do incomprehensible things for incomprehensible reasons, wayward do-gooders, megalomoniacal supercrooks, pirates, pirate hunters, aliens, alien hunters, vampires, vampire hunters, zombies, orcs, dragons, ghosts, etc.

If you don't like the simulation you're living in, you can always rejoin us here in reality.

Comment Re: This works for me (Score 1) 367

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/moscow-had-contacts-with-trump-team-during-campaign-russian-diplomat-says/2016/11/10/28fb82fa-a73d-11e6-9bd6-184ab22d218e_story.html?tid=sm_tw

Russian government officials had contacts with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday, in a report that could reopen scrutiny over the Kremlin’s role in the president-elect’s bitter race against Hillary Clinton. ...

"Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Rybakov said. “ I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”

I'll repeat for emphasis: staying in touch with most of his entourage during the campaign. And what did they have to talk about?

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/09/putin-applauds-trump-win-and-hails-new-era-of-positive-ties-with-us?CMP=share_btn_tw

Markov also said it would mean less American backing for “the terroristic junta in Ukraine”. He denied allegations of Russian interference in the election, but said “maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks.”

The Obama administration accused Russian authorities of hacking Democratic party emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks. Putin has previously dismissed as “nonsense” claims of Russian interference.

Whether or not you choose to believe that Putin and his party are responsible for his win, they think that they are.

As for the other stuff, I'm not sure what you're questioning - that's just history; pick up a history textbook.

Comment Re: Thanks, Trump! (Score 1) 154

HVDC lines have one big problem against them, cost. These wires cost money. The losses may be minimal on paper but they also add up over time.

I'm going to try the peer-reviewed study in Nature that I read on the subject, which determined that they save nearly four times as much as they cost.

(I've also done back of a napkin calculations, and ended up with a number well less than the Nature estimate)

This is compounded by the issue that wind and solar are not cheap.

Once upon a time that was true. Not any more. Even solar, which used to be playing catchup with wind, way behind, is now coming in at some crazy low cost figures, like the $1/W plant that just opened in India, which is bloody nuts.

Not even going to bring the conversation into the costs of dumping pollution into the environment. Or the costs and consequences of having to have huge amounts of cooling water (and the curtailments you have to do during droughts). Or geopolitical issues.

r just to avoid the "N" word... nuclear.

Yeah, if you have $10+/W just to spend on construction, not even counting operations and decommissioning or the government-provided catastrophic accident insurance (which no private industry would ever put themselves on the line for - Fukushima's now estimated at $200B). And of course which uses even more cooling water than fossil fuels. And if you like having to estimate future power supply and demand 10-20 years into the future before your plant even comes online.

K Street loves nuclear. Wall Street, not so much.

We've seen government subsidies for wind and solar power going on for decades and little to show for it

You have to be joking. First - beating around the bush here - wind subsidies are not that great, and more to the point, the constant year-to-year uncertainty on the PTC has been a big hindrance to the industry. But more to the point, wind has gone from absurdly expensive to very cheap (as low as 2,5 cents per kWh in 2014), growing with an average annual 30% rate of growth for 10 years. Last year wind made up 41% of new nameplate generation and solar 26%.

Whether you want wind and solar or not, they're happening. They've gotten too cheap to stop. You'd have to actively try to stop them with punative taxation policies at this point if you wanted to stop wind and solar's percentage of the grid from growing.

Comment Re:Fake news? (Score 1) 367

Those terms are meant to

I'm not feeling generous today, so I won't write a correspondingly pedantic essay about the meaning of words is never so cut and dried, not even when socially ratified by unnamed parties.

I've always thought the guy in the bright-orange vest with the LED-powered traffic control baton who originally assigned these things to the left and right was a bit of an idiot with a small mind.

But it appears he did have an algorithm after all, however naive. Thanks for boiling that down so succinctly.

Comment all lizard brains are created equal (Score 1) 149

I studied myself, and noticed the same thing: that my choices were a direct function of the quality of goods available. So I fired all the low quality options (and haven't looked back).

Also, if there's a giant bag of potato chips in the house, my odds of cooking a healthy meal go down by about 50%. So I fired the chips, too.

Netflix is right: all lizard brains are created equal.

Comment Re: Thanks, Trump! (Score 4, Interesting) 154

Peaking does not cause blackouts; peaking prevents blackouts. I'm thinking that perhaps you're confused about what a peaking plant is.

Yes, but cross country grid loading is a bad idea. Very bad.

Interconnected HVDC grids offer increases in grid stability, as cascading failures can't propagate through them (AC failures are prone to cascade as different parts of the grid go out of sync with each other). Yet most of the time a nationwide renewables-supporting HVDC grid is not used at near peak capacity (its capacity is sized for peak load transmission requirements, not average), and thus can generally have their power routed through other legs if one line goes down without curtailments (often, even, without need for peaking - it depends on timing). The grid itself is designed, as with everything else concerning electricity generation and transmission, to provide a statistically-guaranteed level of power reliability.

It's important to remember also that in the US you have basically three separate power grids today - west, east (which is kind of a patchwork), and "ERCOT", which is basically Texas doing its own little weird thing. To allow them to support each other, they have a number of converters, mainly DC ties. Basically, HVDC terminals without any actual long-distance transmission lines. So it's already done to improve grid reliability and economics. Also, certain parts of the grid already rely on long HVDC lines. Not just for "moving peak power because of intermittent shortages in one region", as a grid for supporting high renewable penetration does, but actual baseload. For example, in the northeast, RMCC moves 2 GW of remote Quebec hydropower to New England. It's almost always run at near capacity.

Europe and China uses HVDC a lot more than the US. Europe mainly for undersea lines, China to move power from inland to its densely populated coast. Both have major plans for expansion.

Comment Re:Thanks, Trump! (Score 3, Informative) 154

What happens when the wind plants and solar plants aren't producing?

Peaking. Now do you have any other absurdly easy questions?

Covering average demand is ONLY covering average demand.

Yeah, it's not like variability has ever been a part of the grid before. Current grids have their own annoyances on the demand side, including daytime power consumption being much less than nighttime, summer and winter variations (sometimes major), etc - as well as also on the supply side, such as interlinks or plants suddenly dropping offline. It's not some sort of new ground.

The short summary of a high-renewables-penetration grid is:

1) Peaking plants (NG is a good choice).
2) Geographic smoothing (aka, while one front is leaving the US east coast, another is coming on the west; while there's a high stuck over one part of the country, a low is churning up winds elsewhere; also, midwest and east coast wind is strongest in the winter, while west coast wind is strongest in the summer)
3) Geographic timeshifting (aka, desert southwest sun is still shining when it's evening demand in NYC, the evening wind is blowing on the east coast during the morning rush on the west, etc)
(HVDC grid needed for #2 and #3 - est. 0,3 cents per kWh amortized cost for construction and maintenance, saving 1,1 cents per kWh in reduced generation hardware requirements)
4) Multiple source variability compensation (e.g., wind and solar tend to run opposite to each other - highs make low winds but lots of sun, and vice versa; winds are strongest at night, solar during the day)
5) Hydro uprating as storage. Optional storage additions = solar thermal, wind flywheel, battery (price is dropping fast), etc as needed/desired, but are not a fundamental requirement.
6) Demand shifting if needed (aka, power-hungry industries get favorable power rates if they're willing to occasionally shut off as needed; this is not a rare arrangement)

For the future, EVs also help, but are not required - insofar as they're mainly nighttime loads, steady draws, and easy targets for charge rate modulation (or even reversal). Nobody cares exactly when their vehicle takes power from the wall, so long as it has a full charge when they told it to be done by. The more flexible they let their car be, the cheaper they get their power for. But again, this sort of arrangement being wirespread is not a requirement - just a bonus.

Comment Re: This works for me (Score 5, Insightful) 367

Such an oversimplistic reading.

1) The real thing that led enabling Hitler was the battle with communism. The Communists plus the Nazis had finally achieved just barely over half of the votes, meaning that you had to work with at least one of them - something that the moderates found horrifying. Of course, many people who voted for the Nazis did so because they thought they were the only ones tough enough to stand up to the communists. Parliament ultimately sided with the Nazis, who had sold the public and parliament on the idea that there was an imminent communist revolution about to take place.

Summary: fearmongering (and outright fictions) about "the great threat if the other side seizes power" causes the public and parliament to acquiesce to someone they're very apprehensive about.

2) The way Hitler leveraged that into a dictatorship was through driving out those likely to oppose him on bills to consolidate his power, and negotiating with the rest. First, with fear of a Communist revolt stirred up by the Reichstag Fire, he got the Reichstag Fire degree passed, allowing for the elimination of his communist opponents. Intimidation from Nazi paramilitaries also managed to intimidate some other people from taking or attending office. The key element he needed to gain full state power was the Enabling Act, which required a sizeable supermajority. This was achieved with a combination of paramilitary intimidation and horse trading. The Catholics failed to see, until it was too late, how much of a threat he really was, and so traded the enshrinement of provisions favorable to the Catholic Church for the extra votes needed to get the Enabling Act passed.

Summary: Paramilitary intimidation and use of the powers of the state to get enough power to horse trade your way to complete control.

#1 is fully and completely applicable, and anyone who pretends it can't apply to the US is kidding themselves. #2 is at present, not applicable. However, I should stress "at present". First, the Republicans control all branches of government (or at least will shortly after appointing at least one, and likely two or more) Supreme Court justices. Fear of the base has so far shown effective at keeping wayward Republicans in-line. Republicans also control nearly the 75% of state legislatures needed to pass constitutional amendments. So the prospect of an "enabling act" type amendment is actually plausible, so long as the grounds for it can be stirred up.

Stirring up? You have a president elect who directly coordinated actions with foreign state intelligence services to dig up dirt on his opponents (as now admitted to by the Russians, both the coordination and the giving the info to Wikileaks). He obviously has no qualms about this sort of thing. Now he's getting the keys to the candystore, so to speak - full control over US intelligence services. J. Edgar Hoover managed to maintain a disturbing level of control through such means, and he's far from the limit of what sort of pressures can be exerted. Things need not be only backroom, Hoover-style blackmail, but can also be very public "airing of dirty laundry" to rally the public against desired targets - political or public, foreign or domestic.

One thing that Trump thankfully lacks is a paramilitary. As long as this remains the case, I'll feel a lot more comfortable.

But still uneasy.

No, I don't think that it's at all likely Trump will try to achieve "President for Life" status. Honestly, that's near the bottom of my list of concerns, and it's a long list. But I think it's naive to pretend that it couldn't happen, given the right combination of provocations. Nobody in Germany in the 20s would have ever guessed that the 30s would see them in a Nazi dictatorship. The concept seemed the height of absurdity.

Comment Re:AI doesn't exist (Score 1) 22

You think human intelligence isn't an algorithm?

This issue is surprisingly divisive, even among those you'd think would know better (feasible scenario: perhaps they do).

Federico Faggin at UC Berkeley 2-19-2014

Pretty good, if you like this kind of thing.

1h12m41 he takes a question from the audience, and goes off into space (Hilbert space) on the underlying quantum mechanism of human consciousness (and mental creativity).

"You know, I am one of those guys who do not think that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the operation of the brain. I thought like everyone else ... "

You think human intelligence isn't an algorithm?

Just one thing, is this unremarkable stock remark a terminating process, or have I personally fallen into an ELIZA trap?

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