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Comment Not wind vs nuclear - wind AND nuclear (Score 1) 164

My BS meter just twitched.

You need to take it into the shop to have it fixed. It's clearly malfunctioning.

Wind, at about 2% of the total energy market is tiny.

Even 2% of US generating capacity (not the actual number) is an enormous amount of power and the amount of wind power generating capacity is growing fast. Wind accounted for about 4.4% of US energy production in 2014. Some countries generate double digit percentages of their electricity from wind with Denmark topping the list at 39%! The US accounts for a (disproportionate) 18% of world energy consumption despite being just 5% of the population. If other countries (particularly India and China) follow our lead that is not sustainable without huge increases in the use of renewable energy.

This hostility from the government towards nuclear power is one big reason why I have trouble believing in the global warming hysteria.

The hostility towards nuclear power does not come from the government. It comes from citizens who are nervous about nuclear power and the consequences of what can happen when things go wrong. (see Chernobyl and Fukishima) There also is the as yet unsolved problem of nuclear waste disposal. Granted some (not all) of their concerns are more perception than reality but perception is what drives policy regardless of whether it is true. It also comes from financiers who look at a LONG track record of cost overruns and cost uncertainty in building nuclear plants.

This hostility towards nuclear power on costs is also something that bothers me. The reason it costs so much is because we've forgotten how to build them.

No we haven't. Nuclear power plants are being built routinely and have advanced significantly. Just not in the USA. I'm an accountant. The reason nuclear power plants cost so much is twofold. 1) They are very complicated and have to be engineered to very high standards with careful attention to safety culture to avoid disasters. This level of engineering and safety is very expensive and prone to cost overruns. Nuclear plants are (comparatively) cheap to operate but very expensive to build. Worse, there is considerable cost uncertainty surrounding their construction. When this happens financing costs for construction rise considerably. Private financing is very difficult to come by as a result. Public financing is substantially more expensive and harder to get. 2) Nuclear power plants are considered so risky by insurance and financing companies that they cannot be built without government guarantees. The risk profile is one where the odds of a disaster are (generally) low but the consequences are very high and challenging to quantify. That makes insuring and indemnifying them very expensive.

I'm not impressed with wind power. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is a much better solution.

You can waste your time being "not impressed" with wind power but it's an important and fast growing and affordable and clean source of energy. It's not going to solve all our energy needs. No one form of energy (not even nuclear) is going to do that. Stop thinking in terms of either/or and start thinking in terms of balanced portfolio. Nuclear fission will be an important part of the energy portfolio for the foreseeable future and it has almost none of the climate change issues we get from fossil fuels. The goal is to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to a level lower than what the Earth's ecosystem can handle. This number isn't zero but it's far lower than where we are now. To do this with existing technology will require some combination of wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, and hydro. Battery and energy storage technology will matter greatly. I think distributed power (solar panels on roofs) are going to matter a lot as well.

Comment Net effects (Score 1) 164

The fact that you can just buy your power from a so called renewable resource power company doesn't mean that you're not still pulling power from the same coal fire power plants that are the BACK BONE of the US power infrastructure. They're not 'bottling up' that electrics and shipping it to the Google.

Calm down. We all know that. You don't seem to grasp that it doesn't matter on a net basis whether Google consumes the power themselves or not. Google needs X joules of power and they pay for X joules to be generated from renewable sources. Whether they use it themselves or not has EXACTLY the same effect on the ecosystem overall.

You're just buying more expensive power so you can feel like you're doing something.

They are doing something. They are subsidizing the development of renewable energy. Early adopters always pay more. It's a good thing that they are doing and with the amount of power they use it makes a measurable difference.

Comment Still nothing but a minor problem (Score 2) 164

Domestic cats don't kill eagles and other typical endangered species of bird.

Domestic cats most certainly do kill endangered species of birds. They may not kill eagles but the certainly kill other threatened species in substantial numbers. Cats are an invasive species and a poorly controlled one at that.

Let us not also forget about bats,

Same deal as with birds. Windmills are simply not a significant threat to their populations.

and the fact that renewable provide a tiny amount of energy today.

You think 10% of US energy consumption is a tiny number? I think you don't understand the definition of the word "tiny".

Comment Minor problem (Score 3) 164

So much for "green" power. I'm all for it, really, but let us not be deceived that "green" means at no cost. There is a real cost to everything. Tens of millions of birds (and bats) are killed the world over annually the world over.

The number of birds killed by windmills is several orders of magnitude smaller than the number killed by domestic cats. Heck FAR more birds are killed in collisions with cell phone towers than by windmills - roughly an order of magnitude more.. Bird deaths are a very minor issue especially compared with the number of deaths that will occur if we don't do anything about climate change. You're focusing on the little problem when it is the big one you should be worrying about.

Comment Subsidies and marketing (Score 1) 164

Which tells you that no government incentives or actions are needed: if this is a reasonable accounting of costs, companies will switch to renewables all by themselves.

I'm afraid not. First off the competing fossil fuels receive substantial subsidies from the government. Worse, fossil fuels do not have to pay for a large portion of the pollution (including carbon) that they create so their prices are artificially low. Second, while renewables are becoming cheaper they aren't the lowest cost option just yet outside of some corner cases. Getting them to be the lowest cost option likely will require some amount of financial and/or regulatory support for a while longer. Not forever but just until cost parity is approximately reached.

Once the economic incentives are in place the switch will take place like osmosis but I don't think we are quite there yet. Only rich companies like Google can do it today and they do it as a marketing expense more than anything else.

Comment Value for money (Score 1) 156

the movie catalog is shrinking, and the quality of the movies aren't that great anymore.

I've had a Netflix subscription twice and I've cancelled it twice. Why? Glad you asked. Reason #1 was that I wasn't getting adequate value for the money. No it wasn't hugely expensive but the catalog of shows was mostly older movies, B movies, or stuff that I had little to no interest in. Their original programming simply didn't hold my interest. Reason #2 was that it was a pain in the ass to find anything interesting to watch. Their navigation system was annoying and clumsy at best. It took WAY too long to find something interesting to watch and their suggestions were usually not very good even after a lot of training about what I liked and didn't. When you add Reason #1 into the mix with Reason #2 you have a pretty irritating needle-in-a-haystack problem. Just not worth the bother.

I like the idea of Netflix but it just wasn't worth the price to me given its current state. Maybe in time that will change.

Comment Good luck with that (Score 1) 240

If said companies overstep their bounds customers are free to form rival websites that are not run by over zealous individuals.

Ok go ahead and start a company that will supplant Google. Good luck with that. Back here in the real world we understand that market forces do not solve every problem and in fact it market forces are the source of many of them. You are being very glib with a non-solution to a very real problem.

Comment Econ 101 (Score 1) 131

They are way overpriced, just because you are a member of their cult doesn't change that simple truth.

Actually I couldn't care less about Apple and my argument would be the same for any other company. Just because YOU think their products are overpriced is irrelevant except for your own decision to buy them or not. There is a clear mathematical way to determine whether a product is overpriced. It happens when profits fall when you raise the price further. (Specifically when marginal revenue becomes less than marginal cost) This is economics 101 stuff. A product being overpriced is a market decision not personal one.

You get a vote on whether it is overpriced but so does everyone else. It's the outcome of all those votes that determines whether it is overpriced. To use a different example I don't like Budweiser beer and even though it is quite inexpensive, to me the price is still too high. But millions of cans are sold every year to enthusiastic buyers so my (un)willingness to pay for the product does not make it overpriced even though I wouldn't buy it at the price offered.

Comment Willingness to pay varies by person (Score 1) 131

Not overpriced. Man, that'll keep me chuckling all day.

Laugh all you want but what I said is correct. You are conflating YOUR willingness to pay for what Apple offers with what OTHERS are willing to pay for it. To you it might seem overpriced but to others just the opposite is true. And BOTH of you are right. But until Apple starts losing profits when they raise the price further it is by definition not overpriced. It is meaningless to say something is overpriced unless you are considering the entire market for that product.

Basically you are arguing that Apple products are overpriced because you think they are overpriced. That is circular reasoning and not applicable to anyone but yourself. Essentially the market votes on whether something is overpriced and you get a vote but you don't determine the outcome with your opinion alone.

I'm not arguing one way or the other whether Apple's products are good value for money. Merely observing whether others have found them to be good value and clearly many have. Whether they could have gotten better value elsewhere is a separate question. You could substitute Samsung for Apple in the above argument and the argument would be identical and equally correct.

Comment Tautology (Score 1) 131

Definition of overpriced, for those of us who aren't long winded blowhards. "Anything that costs more than I as an individual think it's worth."

That definition is a tautology. "It's overpriced because I think it's overpriced" is the very definition of meaningless.

Comment Multiple use technology (Score 2) 240

I'm sure many of you have had the same thought but there is no way in hell this would be used merely for "extremist" content.

First off good luck consistently defining extremist. Sometimes it's obvious but sometimes it's a matter of perspective. There is no bright line test.

Second, sometime "extreme" viewpoints are merely sane ones being suppressed by another group. Fifty years ago people arguing peacefully for civil rights for minorities were considered "extremist" by our own government.

Third, you know for a fact that what this will actually be used for is cross site protection of copyrighted material that has nothing to do with any extreme viewpoints because the technology has more than one use. But it's easy to develop it to ostensibly combat "extremism" and then quietly use it for other purposes.

Comment US tax policy is NOT the problem for Apple (Score 1) 131

The reason they have large piles of cash isn't that they can't figure out what to do with it, it's that it's cash they generated overseas they can't move it to the US without giving 35% of it to the federal government.

They don't have to repatriate it to do useful things with it. Believe it or not you can actually do interesting things outside the USA. I know right? Who knew? Furthermore they don't actually have to repatriate it to return money to shareholders. Have you wondered why Apple has taken out loans in recent years despite having gobs of cash and no actual need for the money? They are doing it to shuffle money around without triggering a tax liability. They have $79B in long term debt on their balance sheet despite not needing a dime of it.

They can't pay it out as dividends without repatriating it, nor can they invest it in anything in the US.

Over 50% of Apple's business is outside the US. They can invest in plenty of things without returning a penny to the US. Furthermore just because the US has a high statutory tax rate doesn't mean that companies actually pay that rate. The effective tax rate in the US for corporations is actually below the world average.

the reason they have big piles of cash is because the US has the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world.

The tax issue is certainly a complication but it's not the elephant in the room. Not even close. The actual reason these companies have huge piles of cash is that it is REALLY hard to find investment opportunities worth tens of billions of dollars with a 20%+ net profit margin. There just aren't a lot of opportunities like that out there and creating new ones isn't trivial. Apple has revenues of $215B for the last 12 months. For them to grow just 4% they have to create a business the size of eBay (revenue $8B) from scratch. THAT is what is keeping their money in cash. It has almost nothing to do with tax policy.

Comment Simple isn't simple (Score 1) 135

"Football is a simple game that is made complicated by the players" Sir Alex Ferguson.

That's not a quote about the game being simple. It's a comment about the players making mistakes and thereby needlessly complicating things.

Professional sports teams have vast libraries of tape, full time employees to analyze strategy and tactics, statistical analysts breaking down performance, nutritionists, psychologists, strength coaches, not to mention the coaching staff. And you think these games are simple? A glib statement about a game being simple doesn't actually make it simple. If it actually was simple Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn't be paid huge sums of money to coach.

Think of it a bit like chess. You can learn the basic rules and strategies of the game in a few minutes but it takes a lifetime to master it and it is anything but simple once you understand the full depth of the game being played.

Comment 10 minutes of football (Score 1) 135

45 minutes is about the amount of time they're actually playing, the rest is between downs, mostly with the clock stopped.

The actual amount of time spent actually playing a game of football is around 10 minutes per game. Somebody did a study about that a while back. The rest of it is just standing around and people shuffling back and forth. It's actually a really slow paced game where not much happens most of the time.

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