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Comment Re: Thanks, Trump! (Score 0) 84

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 1) 84

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 3, Informative) 198

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:!Revolution (Score 5, Funny) 271

The word revolution also contains the word evolution, and you might have noticed that we've evolved past the point of calling a paper printer a necessary component of computing today.

And the word "internet" contains the word "tern", so clearly it is built upon angry arctic birds with sharp beaks that dive bomb anyone who gets too close to their nesting grounds.

Comment Re:because (Score 2) 271

Indeed. I've ordered 3d prints online several times and as things stand there is no reason I'd ever do otherwise. The choice is, "have something produced using top notch hardware and finished by professionals", or "have something produced by crappy hardware, by you". The marginal cost may be lower if you do it yourself, but you have to plop down $1k first, so unless you 3d print a lot, you don't win even on that comparison. It's just not worth it.

If you run a business where you're 3d printing prototypes every day, that would be different. But regular for home users, I just can't see an argument for it.

Comment Re:It's always cost (Score 4, Interesting) 271

That's really a key issue. Most "standalone" things people want are not made of plastics, except for toys. There are a some things - for example, parts for a small homemade drone or whatnot, where strength is not important but lightness is. But most often, if you want something "standalone", you want it out of metal.

Being able to print replacement plastic parts for other things could be nice, mind you. For example, I've twice had to replace a plastic part on my refrigerator and it cost something like $50 each time with a nearly month delay, due to customs fees, shipping to where I am, etc. Having been able to print one out would have been great. Except, having a 3d printer alone wouldn't have been enough, because there's no "universal spare part database" that manufacturers upload to. A 3d scanner as well might have been able to enable reproducing the part from scanning its broken pieces, except that not only do you have to have one, the part was transparent, and many 3d scanners don't like transparent objects.

A "3d printing revolution" may come some day. But things are a lot more complicated than just making it possible to print something out of some material.

Comment Re:They only show gorgeous women (Score 2) 243

Please ignore the correlation between "looks" and genetic indicators of reproductive health

That would be a nice argument if there was some universal agreement on what is attractive. In some cultures, thin is attractive. In others, fat. Some places like women who stretch their necks out. Others like their feet bound to the point that they can hardly walk. In Meiji era Japan, it was seen as attractive for women to paint their teeth black. Do you find that hot? There is no single standard of beauty. You cannot just declare yours to be universally applicable.

The majority of "beauty" traits have nothing to do with genetic indicators of reproductive health. That said, there are some. For example, for both sexes, "clear skin" is usually desirable, as that is an indicator of immune system fitness. And of course standard secondary sex characteristics, including having typical voice ranges appropriate to their sex, muscle mass in men, in women breasts and wide hips, etc. But the majority of the specific details that make up the "look" of an attractive man or woman versus other men and women in their society are simply cultural.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 1) 525

Try extending your graph back to 2000 - it tells a story opposite to the one you're thinking of.

By the way, most of those manufacturing jobs are never coming back. A lot of them have simply been priced completely out of the US market. Many of them don't even exist anymore, having been taken over by automation.

As for where US job growth has been: the US is increasingly a service economy. Also energy has been growing a lot. Correspondingly, construction too. Healthcare... retail... business & professional services..leisure and hospitality... all strong growth fields.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 1) 525

The Democrats controlled the House in the 80s, so spending budgets came from them.

Right. It's the Democrats who are really into extreme tax cuts for the wealthy! Why didn't I notice this before? I also apparently missed the part where the president signs bills that he doesn't support.

The "Reagan tax cuts" that passed were very close to what Reagan was seeking in each case.

According to this graph

"According to this deliberately deceptive graph..."

Anything that shows financial issues a long period of time, without including inflation, while trying to argue that "the last person in the list did the most of X", is being partisan at best, intentionally misleading at worst. In reality, even inflation alone isn't enough; the best figure you can use is debt as a fraction of GDP. But I digress.

As a second issue, you make it misleading when you focus on debt and not the deficit. Because the deficit makes much clearer what sort of situations the next person inherits, as well as the immediate impact of financial shocks and passed bills.

The reality is, when Obama took office, there was a massive deficit left behind by Bush. During Obama's administration it reduced every year.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 5, Insightful) 525

Talking about debt isn't helping your case any. Here's the deficit (change in debt) from year to year: Link

Why is that Republicans keep blowing the budget? Well, let's look at the case of Bush. Wow, whodathunkit, massive tax breaks to top income earners skyrockets debt, news at 11! And yes, having the government hawk itself into debt is great for the short term strength of the stock market.

Re, debt outlook under Trump: absolutely not if he enacts his "Bush Tax Cuts+++ proposal.

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