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Comment Re: An excellent paper on that subject (Score 1) 194

Oh sure, it's not a sexy solution at all. I'd like to see a future with a Tesla in every garage and fusion plants dotting the landscape. And I do think we'll get there someday. But this approach does have the merit of being available today. It uses the petroleum infrastructure we already have in place, so no spin-up costs there. And it's 100% carbon neutral, which will become increasingly important in the next few decades.

Millions of years of evolution has already given us a pretty darn efficient solar energy battery in algae. Even in a future with wind farms everywhere or fusion or whatever, hydrocarbons are a hard to beat storage meduim in terms of energy density. A carbon neutral hydrocarbon solution would still have a place.

Comment An excellent paper on that subject (Score 3, Insightful) 194

I take this article to be good news. Renewable energy is finally contributing to the grid well enough to where emissions will drop below the carbon emitted from transportation. This is excellent progress and excellent news.

Now, here's how you fix the transportation part. A wonderful article you can only find on the Wayback Machine, from 2004. UNH Biodiesel Group, Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae, Michael Briggs, University of New Hampshire, Physics Department.

It's my favorite paper on the topic and I'll take any opportunity to post it.

TL;DR - if we really wanted to, we (meaning the USA) could utilize biodiesel entirely for our current transportation needs. It would be 100% renewable, carbon neutral, and all the money spent would stay inside our own borders. And any other country could easily do the same. There is absolutely NO need to haul oil out of the ground anymore.

Check the math in the paper. We really could do this.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 1) 86

Not sure what you actually mean when you say that SQL NULL means unknown but not absent? Is there a meaningful distinction you are making here?

It makes a difference when you start applying operations.

For example, if you compare a NULL to any value (even another NULL), the result is also NULL, rather than TRUE or FALSE. This doesn't make sense for absent values - two absent values should compare equal (and, indeed, two nulls in JS do). On the other hand, it makes perfect sense if NULL means unknown - if my last name is unknown, and your lastname is unknown, comparing them for equality can only produce "unknown" as a result, since it's not known whether they're the same or different.

Same thing with arithmetic operations. 1 + NULL equals NULL in SQL, again, because NULL is really "unknown", and so when you add an unknown value to 1, the result is also unknown. If NULL were an absent value, the expression should either produce an error, or give 1.

The most telling part, though, is the SQL truth table for Boolean operators that includes NULLs. Specifically:


Again, this makes perfect sense if and only if NULL means unknown. AND is always false if one of the operands is guaranteed to be false, so FALSE AND NULL is always false, regardless of what the actual unknown value is. On the other hand, FALSE AND NULL is NULL, because the result could be either false or true depending on the unknown value. With OR, it's the reverse - TRUE OR NULL is TRUE, because OR is always true if one of the operands is definitely true, regardless of what the other operand is. FALSE OR NULL is NULL because the result depends on the unknown value.

Philosophically, the difference also exists. Absent value means "I know what the value is, and there isn't one". For example, for a guy from Iceland, you know his last name - he doesn't have one. Unknown value means "I don't know what the value is, and there could be one". For example, you don't know if I'm from Iceland or not, so I may or may not have a last name, and you don't know which one if I do. These are two distinct states, and ought to be reflected as such in the database.

Comment Look at it from this perspective then (Score 2) 216

Again, I'm not telling anyone what to do. I'd just like the question to be explored a bit more.

Morally it's quite clear, you simply don't consume the content. Justifying theft because of (supposed) shady business practices is not remotely moral.

Well, what if you don't think of it as theft? What if the movie is an advertisement, and the actual product is the merchandise? That's basically how it is, at least from the point of view of the creators of the content.

Let's say you love Star Wars. A safe assumption. And you want to reward George Lucas for putting something in your life that you love. Which makes more sense to do:

A) Buy the latest remastered blu ray. It'll set you back maybe $15, and George will see maybe a nickle of that. Corrupt Hollywood middlemen will see the other $14.95. They didn't have jack to do with the movie, they have just paid lawyers and positioned themselves in the middle as a barrier that must be crossed to get to the stuff you love.

B) Pirate it online, then buy a Jar Jar Binks figure. It'll set you back maybe $5, but George will see a dollar of that, and the corrupt assholes in the middle get bupkis.

Again, I'm not saying what you should do. Pirating movies is illegal and can get you in some serious hot water. I'm just asking people to think about the actual dynamics of the situation.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 847

Part of that whole "land of the free" thing has been that you could live as a cash-only squatter and mind your own business without having the government sticking their nose into yours. Maybe not the most convenient way to live, but an option.

And, as a matter of fact, you can rent an apartment without an ID - provided that you find someone who agrees to rent one out to you on those terms. You probably won't find such a thing in an urban area, but out in the country, it's not all that hard. Either way, again, there's a big difference between having the government demand your ID, and having another party to a deal you're trying to make do the same. You can walk away from the deal and try to find a different one.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 847

Popular myth and Hollywood. And yes, the social contract HAS generally demanded that you produce papers. You want a job? Papers please. You want a loan? Papers please. You want government benefits? Papers please!

The difference in all the cases that you describe, is that you have to actively do something to get into that situation. And you always have an option to turn around and walk away if you don't feel like it. Not at all the same as walking down the street minding your own business, and having a cop or a ICE agent harass you for papers.

Not that we already don't have that - those bullshit roaming immigration checkpoints within 100 miles of the border (which is where millions of American citizens live). But at least you can tell them to fuck off these days, and because they know they don't have the authority to actually detain you without a reasonable suspicion, and looking Hispanic does not constitute reasonable suspicion, they'll back off if you're persistent enough.

And the supporting documentation required to get one does require establishing said identity - or did until some of these states changed the laws so that illegal immigrants could get a driver's license (and those driver's licenses are different from 'normal' driver's licenses.)

Illegal immigrants don't necessarily lack the ability to establish their identity - they will usually have the passport of their originating country, for example. And getting a driver's license does not require a US-issued ID (given that it is the one and only ID that they have for most people, that wouldn't exactly work). So for a non-citizen, when you come to get a license, what you usually need is 1) a valid ID, possibly foreign (they usually ask for 2 different kinds for foreign ones), and some proof of residency - like, say, a utility bill with your name and a local address.

The same way we've already been doing it: you want a job? Papers please. You want a loan? Papers please. You want government benefits? Papers please! The problem is right now we're not enforcing it hard enough - _punish_ companies/people using illegal labor and they'll stop doing it once it's no longer cost-effective.

All of this is already the case. I don't know if you've heard, by the way, but deportations are at an all-time high under Obama.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 847

It's amusing how "papers, please!" was one of the most chilling American stereotypes of the Soviet "evil empire", encapsulating everything that's wrong with it in a few words... and less than three decades later, so many Americans not only see why it's problematic, they actually think it's a solution to some of their problems.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 847

If you're driving, the driver license (and only the driver license - not any other form of ID) is a prerequisite to demonstrate that you have the right to drive.

But you don't have to drive to get around. You can walk, bike, get a bus etc. And none of those require a driver license, or any other form of ID. If you get pulled over on a bike, the officer doesn't have any right to ask you for ID, and you have no obligation to show them one.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 847

Historically, in this country, the social contract has not amounted to "papers, please!". That was supposed to be the kind of thing reserved for commies and fascists, not for the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is also the reason why many people don't actually have a birth certificate etc on hand - because they don't need it, and because the law doesn't require them to.

Also, driver's license does not actually signify either citizenship or legal status. The amount of supporting documentation that is required to issue one varies from state to state, and not all of them ask for an SSN. Of course, even if it did, not everyone has a driver's license - as the name makes evident, it's a document that is issued for a specific reason, and not all people even need it.

In any case, the main question was not about identification, but how exactly you imagine checking for it. So, again: are you proposing to stop random people on the street, going on about their business and not engaging in any criminal activity, and demand to see their papers? If yes, are you going to do this for everyone, or just for those who look Hispanic?

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 1) 847

It's not a dodge at all. I'm merely pointing out that Trump's proposals require massive civil rights violations of all ethnic minorities who are collectively suspected of being illegals, in order to determine who of them is actually here illegally. There's no way to decouple these.

Comment Well, let's discuss ethics then (Score 5, Insightful) 216

So you have no ethical issues pirating content? Please no BS about sticking it to the media corporations--that is just rationalizing the fact you are just a cheap jerk with no morals.

Is it ethical to give your money to an organization that will do this sort of skullduggery with it?

I'm being serious.

It's theft if you download content and view it for free, sure, but you're not exactly morally in the clear if you do pay. Your money is lining the pockets of famously and spectacularly corrupt middle men, with only pennies on the dollar going to the artists you love.

The correct thing to do isn't as clear as you might suppose. Morally, it may be more correct to pirate their content then buy a t-shirt or something from them, because they'll see most of that money. Most notably George Lucas is wealthy because of merchandise, not movies.

I'm not saying what to do, what not to do, or what I do - I just want you to think about it a bit before tossing out moral absolutes.

Comment This would be cool if... (Score 1) 205

I'd love to see one of these little guys with six cores, dual nics, up to 16gb ram, and an external sata port. With an x86 based cpu they would make beautiful super cheap nodes for a private openstack cloud. Since people would be buying several of them and some companies might even considering building very large stacks on them the volume would allow them to be cheaper than this.

Comment Re:Anti-Hillary is not Pro-Trump (Score 5, Interesting) 847

So you're going to stop people on the street randomly and tell them to produce papers on the spot? And you wonder why I'm asking?

Oh, and what's "citizenship papers", exactly? There's no such thing in US right now. Closest you can get is birth certificate or naturalization certificate, but many people don't actually have those (since it's not a requirement), and certainly no-one carries them around.

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