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Comment Re:Capitalism! (Score 1) 171

It is capitalism that will likely save the helium. If it is as rare as people say then the price will reflect that, that's capitalism.

As prices rise the ability for people to afford helium for things like airships diminishes. As prices rise it becomes affordable for people to invest in new ways to obtain helium and pay for ways to prevent it being lost.

If we have the government dictate that no one can use helium for fuel saving airships like this then you have tyranny.

Seems rather unfair that we must choose between economic freedoms and having cheap helium for MRIs, doesn't it? Well, life is not fair.

Comment Re:LaTeX (Score 1) 346

Because a proper tool costs money and learning to use it takes time.

Research costs money and the people that can do the research with less costs get to do more research. Microsoft Office is "free" to most because it effectively comes with the computer. Getting the right software can costs thousands per seat.

Comment Re:Not strictly Excel's fault (Score 2) 346

That's easy to say but people need to understand what they are looking for. As a Specialist in the Army I happened to be in the ops office while one of the sergeants was working on a spreadsheet that handled some sort of inventory. He knew I knew something about computers and so he asked me to come over to look at the funny formatting that Excel was doing on him. What I saw was a number that could have been a date, price, part number, or something else. I started asking the sergeant what he was trying to do with the number and what kind of a number it was supposed to be. It didn't take long before he became frustrated with me and I was told I had somewhere else I needed to be.

This was probably something better managed by a database but databases are hard, and does Office even include a database product any more?

Comment Re:LaTeX (Score 1) 346

That's great for people that have access to Matlab from the college they attend or from their employer.

If you can prove you are a student the $500 price tag is a bit much. I don't recall how much I spent on the student version of Matlab I bought many years ago but being a student version there were imposed limits on the size of arrays it would hold. As such the one time I needed it for a project it proved worthless since it could not hold my data set. Guess what I used instead? Excel.

The "pro" version of Matlab costs over $2000 while Excel is effectively free. Microsoft has been so successful in marketing it's office products that few even think about how much that software costs. I have to wonder how many people even use Excel for it's intended purpose. People buy Office to get Word and Powerpoint, the fact it comes with Excel makes it nearly impossible for anyone to compete with that even in cases where people should know better to use a more appropriate tool.

We've seen the US government, and other governments, crack down on Microsoft for their near monopoly and largely fail. I don't think trying that again is going to break this trend. Even if somehow Microsoft is forced to break up the Office bundle there is still the matter of the inertia of the files floating around that people need to use. There is the matter of corporate culture where "no one got fired for buying Microsoft". Then there must be a product that competes with it. If the product is free (as in open source) there is an implied lack of value and quality due to no price tag on it. Someone might try to package FOSS applications as an alternative using that money to lure people from the way to get the same thing for free by promising additional proprietary features and capability. This packaging must then strike the balance between price, features, and packaging to give the right impression that people would want to buy it.

After going to college years ago for computer engineering I'm taking courses now on "big data". I have access to SAS, Matlab, Mathematica, and more that I cannot recall as I use them so irregularly. What I find myself doing is use Excel to format the data, produce some pretty graphs, and then paste them into a Word document for my final reports. This is because the tools cannot make things look as pretty, or it's just too hard to figure out when the assignment is due at midnight and being late can cost a 10% reduction in the grade.

How can this problem be solved? I don't know but I imagine it means the people that sell Matlab will have to gamble on selling their product at 1/10th the current price in the hopes they get 10X the number of buyers. That's just a minimum since the increase in support costs for the new influx of novice users will need to be covered too.

Comment Re:Criminal (Score 1) 526

I like your idea and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

I have a similar idea. Currently every even year we have an election, that stays. On odd years we have an automatic recall vote for everyone in office. If they win then they continue to serve their term. If they lose then they must leave office as soon as the vote is certified as official. Then their lieutenant/vice/deputy/whatever takes their place for executive positions until the next election. Legislative seats would be empty or filled by appointment like we do now for cases like retirement, illness, or whatever. In the next election that person in that seat currently can choose to run for the rest of that term as can anyone else eligible. This includes the person that was voted out the year prior.

At the normal end of the term there is a normal election. This keeps things relatively normal for things like keeping a four year term for POTUS, six year staggered terms for Senate, and two year for the House.

This means a continuous election season but how is that different than now? All it does is allow the voters to do something about it more often. While someone voted out of office could run again for the same seat there will be pressure from the political parties for them not to. If things are going well then the same people stay in office. These people would then be campaigning on how awesome they are and telling us about all the laws they got passed or voted down. Politicians would have a harder time hiding unpopular legislation during the off seasons.

These recall elections could be for appointed positions too, like cabinet positions and justices. This does not bar them from being appointed again but the person making that appointment is going to have to defend that or get voted out too.

Comment Re:I've seen this before (Score 2) 412

You mean the punny things on subs and carriers? Sorry, that is like comparing an internal combustion engine in a car with a gas turbine.
A naval reactor sizes range between 200MWt and 600MWt making them perhaps 1/10 the size of the biggest reactors on land to about the same size as the smaller ones operating in India. Point is we can build nuclear power plants in a reasonable time if we want to. I fail to see how the size matter here, just build more of them. You know, cheaper by the dozen, right?

Cheaper than nuclear. And in a a year or two cheaper than any other big scale power production. You must be living under a rock.
You assume that wind and solar will get cheaper but nuclear power can not or will not. Who's living under a rock?

Unlikely. What exactly do you want to use to replace steel and concrete?
Not replace steel and concrete exactly, just new ways of putting them together. Mass production, which can be done with those "punny" naval sized reactors, helps here. There will need to be new materials used, such as nickel alloys, to hold up to the higher temperatures from these highly efficient reactors.

We actually don't know how to really build such a reactor and especially we do not know what material to use, as liquide flourides are rather difficult to handle.
Now I know you've been living under a rock. There are at least four companies in North America doing research on molten salt reactors and they know what materials to use. Then there are people in China, Japan, and probably elsewhere figuring this out. All that is needed is a license to build one to figure out some of the details for mass production.

And your randomly thrown in "cheap" makes nothing cheap. Nuclear power is right now the most expensive on the planet ... always was and always will be. Regardless what technology you use to produce it.
Always? I saw a video of a nuclear engineer talking about doing the assessment on the time, money, and effort required to build a modern nuclear power plant. They added it all up and found it no more expensive than a coal plant. This did not match the estimates they've seen elsewhere as their number was much much smaller than any other estimate. Then they realized where they went wrong, they did not add in the licensing costs.

Nuclear power is expensive only because the government decided it would be expensive. If they decided it was no longer going to be expensive then we'll see it cheaper than coal, that's quite certain. Whether it is cheaper than anything else is a matter of other market forces.

Comment Re: "Ghandi" quote updated (Score 1) 412

Liar.

Right, of course, because calling a person a liar is an excellent debate tactic. I asked you, the reader, to do your own research on this so I make no direct claims on precise numbers. If you would like to provide a source that contradicts my claims then perhaps we can have a reasonable discussion.

Wind is cheaper than gas right now at about 4cents/kwh on 30 year contracts.

I made no claims on gas versus wind so I do not see how this is relevant. That may be true but does nothing to dissuade someone from choosing nuclear power.

Nuclear in old already paid for plants is 10cents/kWh and if you want to build a new one its close to 16cents/kWh.

Let's assume that is true, that wind costs 4cents/kWh and nuclear costs 16 cents/kWh. The problem is that a one gigawatt windmill farm produces power only 30% of the time while a one gigawatt nuclear power plant produces power 90% of the time. You'd need three of those wind farms to make up for the one nuclear power plant. You have to pay for that wind farm even if it is not producing any electricity making the cost 12cents/kWh, that's real close to the nuclear power cost. Still cheaper but not as much as you make it out to be.

Let's ignore that and get back to 4 cents compared to 16 cents. I will do this because in my previous post I conceded the point that wind can be cheaper than nuclear in certain cases. I will further concede, if it makes you happy, that wind is 1/4 the price of nuclear but the issue is more than just price. Nuclear power is still more reliable. Wind needs a backup, like that natural gas you mentioned, or the lights go out once in a while. That might be fine for me sitting in my basement with my laptop and battery backed up lighting but that's no way to run a hospital, prison, police station, fire station, airport, military base, factory, restaurant, or much of anything really.

Price aside and reliability aside, I will concede both points if that makes you happy. We will assume that we can create a nation wide smart grid and the wind is always blowing somewhere. That might still suck for small island nations/states/whatever like the UK, Hawaii, or Japan, but whatever, they can harvest tidal energy too or something. That still leaves me with my two biggest points on nuclear power, lives lost and carbon emissions.

People die in construction accidents, and that includes wind and nuclear. Nuclear is such an energy rich power source that even adding in big events like Chernobyl and Fukushima the amount of energy produced to lives lost is still in favor of nuclear power. If you favor wind over nuclear power then you must not be bothered by people dying in construction accidents.

Then there is the matter of carbon footprint. I thought the whole point of using wind power was because it was "green". Not that wind power isn't green, it is very much a green source of energy. That is if you ignore the people and birds that get killed, then it turns a bit red, but hey, we need to fertilize that land somehow, amiright? Blood is a very nutrient rich fertilizer, at least that is what my drill sergeant told me. Anyway, I got a bit off topic there. Wind is an energy source that still produces two to three times the carbon per kWh produced compared to nuclear power. Look it up.

If you look into the carbon footprint of wind further than just the construction of the windmills you will find that the need for backup power is detrimental to the CO2 produced. This is because of a natural gas boiler putting along, or a nuclear power plant, you get steady power but you have windmills producing intermittent power with natural gas turbines filling in the gaps. Natural gas turbines are not as efficient as boilers and so more CO2 is produced in operating them. This gets worse if they are cycled often since they have to burn fuel to get up to speed before they can produce power. I know we assumed earlier that with a national smart grid and widespread windmills we could avoid this but realistically the costs prevent this. Natural gas is just too cheap, and if competing with widespread wind power then expect it to get cheaper.

Wind power isn't bad really, its just that nuclear is better.

If you want to talk about an energy source that claims to be "green" but is far from it then ask me about solar power.

Comment Re:So long as we're trying such elaborate measures (Score 1) 191

My sister and her husband live in Illinois and they went out of state to buy a firearm, not Indiana but Iowa. They had to provide ID, submit to a background check, and wait 24 hours for delivery as required by Illinois law because they are legally Illinois residents. Going out of state does not allow a person to bypass federal law, or even many state laws.

The firearm they purchased had to meet the laws of Illinois on how they define an "assault weapon". I don't know what would happen if they tried to buy something illegal to own in Illinois as an Illinois resident. I have a suspicion that the gun dealers would not sell them because the BATFE frowns upon people that try to bypass state laws, and if a dealer makes the BATFE unhappy then the BATFE makes the dealer unhappy. The levels of "unhappy" the BATFE can bring on a licensed dealer can range from a warning, probation, fines, revocation of their license, all the way up to many many years in federal prison.

If these people are leaving the state to buy from an unlicensed dealer then they are idiots, because unlicensed dealers are by definition breaking the law and they don't need to leave the state to find those people.

Comment Re:perhaps a buyback program? (Score 1) 191

What about people that steal guns from their elderly neighbor? Are we going to have my tax money going toward buying that gun too? How is that not creating an incentive for more crime? This "kid", is he over 18 years old? If not then it is illegal for this "kid" to possess the gun without adult supervision. Does this "kid", assuming he lives in Illinois or state with similar gun laws, have a Firearm Owners Identification Card? How is this "kid" going to carry the gun to the taxpayer funded compensated confiscation program? Does this "kid" have a concealed carry license? Perhaps the "kid" will carry the gun in a clear zip-lock bag in their hand, so it is not concealed but everyone he passes on the street is going to see this gun. Maybe this "kid" will get beat up and robbed for the gun by another "kid" so he can cash in on the deal, or worse.

I believe that you did not think this through.

It's not a total solution but will reduce the number of people getting shot which will give victims of violence a better chance at survival and more importantly, reporting their attackers.

I have to wonder if you've been brainwashed by Mom's Demand Action on Gun Violence or you've not taken your meds this morning. Perhaps you took one pill, or toke, too much.

Comment Re:Responsibility. (Score 4, Insightful) 191

There is also still a strong social stigma against seeking mental health. Nobody is embarrassed to say something like "My arm was broke so I went to see the doctor," but the moment someone utters the phrase "mental health" everyone thinks of him as crazy, weak, and pathetic.

There is a big difference between going to a surgeon to fix a broken arm and going to a psychiatrist for a mental illness. A broken arm does not lead to the police coming to your house to take your guns. Depending on the conditions of the mental illness in Illinois the government will revoke your FOID for one year, five years, or the rest of your life for seeking treatment for a mental illness. Getting a FOID is difficult and expensive. Getting a firearm to protect yourself, your home, and your family is also difficult and expensive. Being disarmed in your own home is not pleasant if one lacks the means to move to a better neighborhood or one is bound by some (real or imagined) obligation to stay put.

You want to see crime go down and people get treatment for mental illness? Then get rid of the laws that disarm people and leave them vulnerable to the thugs that the police cannot do anything about. The police can only come when called, they cannot be there every time there is a crime, as much as they might want to be there. When a crime is committed there are certain to be two people present, the perpetrator and the victim. Let's allow the victims to be armed so that they can defend themselves.

Illinois was the last state in the federation to lift the ban on concealed carry of weapons. Even though they are technically available the process to get the license is lengthy and expensive, something not everyone that need them can afford. The license alone costs $150. Then there is the required training, photograph, fingerprints, and probably more that have to be paid for. The time to do all of this is likely out of the question for the average blue collar worker.

This brings up the question on why Illinois even needs a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Would you believe me if I said six states do not require permits to carry a concealed weapon? Well, you shouldn't because the real number is more like eleven, depending on how one defines permitless carry. Carrying a weapon in the open, not concealed, does not require a permit in 25 or 30 states.

Where is all of this crime happening? There seems to be a strong correlation between restrictions on the carry of self defense tools and violent crimes. There is also a strong correlation between Democrat governance and crime. Think about that the next time you vote.

Comment Re:"Ghandi" quote updated (Score 1) 412

Easy, do a Google search on "deaths per terawatt hour" and "cost of energy sources". You'll find ample evidence of the safety of nuclear power compared to everything else. You'll also find that while nuclear power might not always win out on price compared to everything else it is almost always cheaper than wind and solar. There might be a few places where onshore wind beats nuclear on price but the margin is very small.

If you are one of those people that doubt the "carbon free" claims of nuclear power then you can search on "carbon footprint by energy source". The carbon footprint of nuclear isn't zero but it is less than that of "carbon free" energy sources like wind and solar.

Saying that nuclear power is more reliable than wind and solar should not even enter into debate but if it does then we can define reliability in one way with capacity factor. Do a search on "capacity factors by energy source" and you will see nuclear power is 90% or better, perhaps some reports will show it as low as 80%. Wind and solar have capacity factors of about 33%. Perhaps some ideal cases might reach 40%, perhaps even better than that but that is still half of nuclear.

Do I really need to add all of that up for you? You might argue about the exact numbers but getting within an order of magnitude you'll find wind and solar being three times as expensive as nuclear (mostly due to capacity factor issues), result in ten times as many people dead (mostly due to construction accidents), and ten times the carbon output.

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