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Comment Re:What Hollande says (Score 1) 328

Number of deaths is a poor measure of risk. By that reckoning, a bus accident earlier this year in Ghana is a worse disaster than the 1992 Hurricane Andrew, because 71 died in the bus accident and only 65 died from the hurricane. Andrew caused $26 billion in damage. A bus and a truck are worth what? Less than $1 million.

You have to look at total damages. Many sq km of Japanese land that can't be safely used for centuries is a loss of hundreds of billions. Land is very, very expensive in Japan. Expected increase in medical work to deal with all the cancers is more millions. Cleaning up the mess is another huge cost. And, Fukushima is still not over! It's still leaking radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean.

Comment Re:What Hollande says (Score 3, Insightful) 328

Seems that mistake in Scientific American will never be lived down:

In response to some concerns raised by readers, a change has been made to this story. The sentence marked with an asterisk was changed from "In fact, fly ash—a by-product from burning coal for power—and other coal waste contains up to 100 times more radiation than nuclear waste" to "In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy." Our source for this statistic is Dana Christensen, an associate lab director for energy and engineering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as 1978 paper in Science authored by J. P. McBride and colleagues, also of ORNL.

Coal waste is NOT more radioactive than nuclear waste. The difference is that nuclear waste is not dumped into the environment, while waste from coal burning is. Nuclear waste is stored, and storage space is limited. Permanent dumps for nuclear waste are difficult to engineer. They must be designed to hold nuclear waste for millennia.

The big problem with nuclear power is that accidents are extremely dangerous and costly. That wouldn't be a problem if accidents were extremely unlikely. We know how to design and operate nuclear power plants safely, the problem is that we won't. Fukushima showed that. That accident was entirely avoidable. They needed only to build the walls higher. They had good information on how high the walls needed to be, and the recommended height was not a strain on our engineering capabilities. But management chose to ignore the recommendations and build a lower wall, to save a little money. The fools in those management positions did not understand that the risk they were taking was very high, they chose instead to ignore the warnings. Disaster could still have been averted had they not also cut another corner to save a little money, and the backup generators had been in working order and not located in the basement.

Comment Re:And to think the DNC wanted to face Trump... (Score 1) 2837

Months ago, Michael Moore predicted a Trump win based on the blue wall in the rust belt turning red. He gave simple, excellent reasons why. People are sick of being thrown under the bus by the wealthy and powerful, which establishment Republicans and Democrats both have been doing for decades now. Trump campaigned on preserving rust belt jobs, threatening to put serious hurt on Ford if they followed through on their plan to move a factory from Michigan to Mexico. That was what really won it for him in the rust belt, not all that white male supremacy garbage.

All the media noise focusing on Trump's ignorance and sexist and racist antics missed badly. They thought they could cynically use Trump to boost their numbers, thought they could skimp on covering the meat and focus mainly on personality and scandal, without affecting the outcome of the election, because Trump couldn't possibly make it all the way to election day without imploding spectacularly, he was too dumb, arrogant, undisciplined, and impulsive to run a serious campaign, or so they believed. Some even entertained the idea that his campaign was all just an elaborate publicity stunt, he didn't really want to be President, and would simply drop out at an opportune moment.

Liberals have been pretty smug about the conservative turn towards deliberate ignorance, their preference for living in an echo chamber full of like minded people. And now we see liberals did the same thing, didn't see a Trump victory coming. How could our polls have been so wrong? Hillary was supposed to not just win, but win big, win in a landslide. And now they're calling this election the biggest upset in history, as if no one could have seen it coming. Michael Moore saw it, and was right on all counts.

Comment Re: Supply and demand (Score 3, Interesting) 587

Thing is, that $2/day stuff is a myth. That does not put any value to all the labor of doing everything yourself.

Standard of living is the big factor. We in the US could live on $2/day if we cut everything, and I mean everything. Not just no Internet and cable TV, but no electricity, water, sewage, and road. You could then spend your time working in your vegetable garden and milking your goats so you'd have something to eat, and trudging to the nearby creek for fresh water, trying to avoid all the shit on the trail, hoping you don't catch cholera or some of those lovely intestinal parasites, and chopping wood so you don't freeze next winter and can have a cook fire. If you do get sick, you tough it out, or die. Transport? Walk, or saddle up, or hitch up the wagon. Clothes? Grow some flax or cotton, spin the fibers yourself with a spinning wheel, weave it into cloth, then cut and sew into shape. So what if that takes weeks, what better things do you have to do? Sanitation? Forget the daily shower, you're going to bathe once a week, maybe. You only washed when you were so heavily coated with grime and filth that it was interfering with your ability to labor. Mow the lawn? Ha ha, are you nuts? Send in the goats, dummy! Refrigerator? Without electricity? No, you're going to use a root cellar, and maybe an ice house. There's also canning. Cold? Put on a coat. Hot? Sweat it, A/C is for sissies. Wash your clothes by hand in a wash tub and hang them from a clothesline to dry. That's not too far off from how my great grandparents lived: farm with a veggie garden, no electricity or indoor plumbing, just chamberpots stowed under the bed, except they didn't do their own clothes, they bought factory stuff for that, and they had a well, none of this hauling of water 1km or more.

We've really run wild. Many modern conveniences are great to have, but enable a great deal of waste and foolishness. Many companies made a businesses out of catering to our dumber instincts. The biggest things the daily shower does are waste a whole lot of fresh water, make water infrastructure businesses and shampoo and soap manufacturers richer, and actually make us less healthy by washing away beneficial bacteria! And we do it because we've brainwashed ourselves into believing that body odor is offensive. We've all dealt with suburban sprawl. Car manufacturers have brilliantly exploited our foibles to promote the car at the expense of all other forms of transportation. Then there are expensive hobbies such as boating, owning your own swimming pool, off roading, hot rodding, skiing, or flying your own private plane. Even something less intense on required equipment such as golf isn't too cheap either. So many sports have commercial interests dangling options in front of us to turn it from not too terribly costly to insanely expensive.

A relevant incident is the 2010 suicide of Joseph Stack. He was angry that the government had bailed out big banks but he personally was being audited by the IRS. He flew his private plane into an IRS building in Austin. While I sympathize with his complaints, the fact that he had a private plane shows he wasn't hurting for money.

Comment Re:It figures (Score 1) 48

Ah, so the problem that bothers you is piggybacking, so to speak. Using other's work to bring attention to ads and products that generate income.

On piggybacking, I feel our "mother may I" system is a serious drag. I don't like the idea that artists should have control over how their works are used. The artists should receive money somehow, but they shouldn't be able to dictate usage on some far fetched notion that lack of control might somehow negatively impact potential profits. I believe that's the rationale commonly used to justify such control. For an example of the trouble such control causes, consider the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's album cover. They had to ask permission of each and every one of the hundred or so people they wanted on the cover, an expensive and time consuming project. For that reason, works like that album cover are quite rare.

It would be better if no permission was required, and artists whose work was used could simply apply for money from a publicly funded trust. Maybe don't even need to apply, perhaps the trust could actively work to discover such usages. Would have to be careful exactly how such a system was set up, as the potential for cheating is huge. I think it could be done and could work better than copyright.

Copying is in the hands of the masses now. The Internet is even more revolutionary than the Gutenberg printing press, which was perhaps the most revolutionary and life changing invention in the past 1000 years.

Comment Re:It figures (Score 1) 48

Understandable, as there is a lot of confusion on this subject. Took me a long time to work out answers I find satisfying.

Firstly, it's a mistake to equate copying with stealing. Copying is not stealing, copying is copying. Vandalism is not stealing. Littering is not stealing, Nor are speeding, trespassing, slander, forgery, creating a parody, taking photos in public spaces, insulting politicians, and a whole bunch of other activities in any way stealing. Nor is buying from Burger King stealing from McDonalds. When you say "stealing others' works" to mean copying, you fall for publisher propaganda that does want the public to accept that copying is in fact stealing, to stir public anger, slandering sharers as "thieves". They're trying to push our buttons.

To really steal someone else's work, you'd have to take credit for it. We have a name for that: plagiarism. You added "selling them as their own" to "stealing others' works", so what did you mean exactly? Were you talking about distributing others' works, or plagiarism? It's a big, important difference.

"they are undeniably causing harm by siphoning money away" Certainly it is harmful to McDonalds for a Burger King restaurant to open up nearby. Now publishers are being challenged by competition that they have never faced before, the Internet. We're 25 years into the rise of the Internet and the Age of Information, and they're still struggling to get it, meanwhile whining how unfair the whole thing is that their old business model that relied on media being a scarce resource doesn't work any more. They want the Internet and computers to be hamstrung so badly they work no better at moving information around than distribution via CD/DVD. That is asking far too much of us all. Just turn the clock back to the 1980s, rip up the Internet, uninvent the CD/DVD burner and hard drives bigger than 40M? They claim that artists will starve, seem to take it as a given that copyright is the glue that makes art possible. They're wrong. There are other ways to earn a living, such as crowdfunding. And it's not a new idea. Classical music was and still is mostly supported by patronage, not copyright.

The harm to us all is huge. Our public libraries should be a lot more digital than they are. Think of it: no more late returns, lost books, waiting for a copy to be returned because they're all checked out at the moment, and most of all, a much, much larger collection and searchability. If you've ever used a card catalog, one with actual little rectangles of cardboard with typing on them, you can see how much computer search surpasses that. Further, our education system relies far too much on private, for-profit printers. We should have a huge choice of excellent, open, online works available and used for basic education, We have some things. Wikipedia completely outstrips print encyclopedias, just no comparison between the two. We should have more, and we would if not for the evil known as extreme copyright,

Comment Re: I could only get warranty work at approved rep (Score 1) 491

That's what I did. Got a new spider from them. Then I took it to a business that does protective powder coatings. Replaced the broken corroded spider with the new coated spider myself. Even with the money I spent on the coating, it was way cheaper, if you don't count my time as particularly valuable. They wanted so much money for repairs that it made more sense to buy a new washer and throw the old one away than go through them.

LG's warranty is a joke. They're only trying to make it sound like they stand behind their products. They sure don't want to spend any of their own money actually repairing their shoddy engineering decisions.

Comment revolution (Score 1) 84

Oh, I think reform will happen, one way or another. Either we get busy bringing sanity back to our laws, or watch helplessly as the ever increasing corruption pushes us into doing a reboot. Revolutions clear away all kinds of bought laws.

So far, there isn't any political entity that hasn't eventually fallen. Their elites always push too far and beggar everyone else or push their state into overreach, or they get stuck in a rut, or they hold too dearly profoundly wrong or inferior ideas. Time and time again belligerents have lost despite numerical superiority, when the other side employed superior weapons they refused to accept, or sometimes only superior tactics, or merely didn't make the incredibly stupid military move of calling for a massive assault on a well fortified and defended position while the losing side did. Sometimes the internal corruption wasn't too bad, but it was enough to bring about a collapse in the face of a big problem such as a long drought or severe plague. The Byzantine Empire was so notorious their name is now a byword for corruption and graft covered up with excessive complexity. The Ottoman Empire that conquered the Byzantines itself succumbed to corruption.

There's more than mere technical problems to overcome before we'll ever be capable of colonizing other star systems. A generational colony ship needs a society that can remain more than stable for millenia, that society has to really clamp down on violence, can't have so much as one gunfight between two individuals lest the ship and everyone on it become collateral damage.

Comment Re:Return it as defective. (Score 1) 491

I've had that experience with so-called warranties. Have an LG front loading washing machine with a lifetime warranty on the stainless steel drum that holds the clothes, and a 10 year warranty on the motor. But the "spider", the piece that connects the motor to the drum, was not covered, and it broke because it was made of some sort of cheap aluminum alloy that corroded rapidly. All they had to do was add a protective coating during manufacture, but no, that costs more money. I tried to argue that the spider was part of the motor, but it was no good. Even had the spider been covered, it wouldn't have been worth the cost. I could only get warranty work at approved repair centers, and the cost of labor wasn't included in the coverage. Had that been something like a part of the axle of a car, they would have been in lots of trouble and would have had to do a recall. Btu washing machines are much less visible than cars.

I pretty much told them to fuck off

Wish more people would do that! The much vaunted Power of the Market can't stop lock down and all the other crap vendors pull if buyers passively accept it, then grumble but keep buying while sellers control, monopolize, and gouge them. BestBuy went too far even for the sheep, what with that aggressive pushing of extended warranties by holding people up at the checkout.

Comment Re:People, this is how the system works. (Score 4, Interesting) 527

I've been wondering if Capitalism is fatally flawed. We've seen reckless, foolish greed destroy lives time and time again. It seems capitalism elevates psychopathic individuals to positions of great power and responsibility. Of course people of that sort abuse their power. Strip resources from everything within reach, leaving behind waste and destruction.

We moved from monarchy to democracy because the former just doesn't work for long. Monarchy works okay until an idiot gets elevated to the kingship, solely because he's the oldest son of the previous leader, and not because he has any qualifications whatsoever. It's a horrible way to choose leaders. Even when a talented, vigorous, enlightened king comes to the throne, he's still just one man. If a monarchy has instilled passivity in the people, only the monarch himself can inspire action. These days, nations are far too large for that to work well no matter how talented the monarch is. Our nation is a democracy, yet many of our private corporations operate as feudal domains. And it shows in these incredibly short-sighted, anti-social moves they make.

What Big Sugar has done is bad, but it's just another greedy corporate action that we, with our low expectations of corporate behavior, hardly notice. The one that will change that blase attitude is Big Oil, when all our coasts drown.

Comment Re:Countdown traffic lights (Score 1) 203

Yes! Improve the traffic lights.

Traffic lights are stupidly brainless. Nearly every trip I take, I end up getting stuck at a red light for nothing. There were no cars on the cross street, but the light turned red anyway.

Often, there are also underhanded politics at work. Such as, the lights on the free "service road" (a parallel road to the main, limited access highway), are purposefully neglected because the main road is toll, and badly timed traffic lights on the service road are a way to harass people for trying to avoid the tolls. Of course, private operators of red light cameras have been caught numerous times screwing up the traffic lights. And then there's things like Bridgegate. I've noticed that traffic lights for access roads to major shopping malls push it, holding up as much through traffic as they can get away with without a public outcry. Merchants think that the longer people are stuck in front of their stores, the more business they get.

Comment Re:Telecommuting FTW (Score 4, Interesting) 163

I love telecommuting, saves a lot of time and hassle fighting rush hour traffic and maintain a car. Not to mention that it can be far away so one doesn't have to move, a very expensive and life disruptive process. I'm willing to accept quite a bit less pay for a telecommuting position. But it is against most employers' religion, even progressive seeming technology employers such as Google.

Many cling hard to the mindset that workers are lazy slackers who have to be closely monitored to ensure they're working instead of goofing off. Instead of leading and inspiring workers, they use the slave driver approach and push and prod workers. Much harder to push telecommuters, so they simply don't allow it. No doubt many workers would abuse the situation. But it wouldn't last. If the telecommuter doesn't do any work, this is going to be noticed pretty fast. Telecommuters can't get away with much more slacking than office workers, often even less because of the necessity to counter the higher levels of suspicion by working harder.

Then there are the managers who believe a work environment and the close communication it enables is necessary to be highly productive. And, yes there are environments, home environments especially, where doing any work is very difficult thanks to loud, needy family members. But it's hardly an insurmountable problem.

Comment Re:Loyalty to people not companies (Score 1) 765

Businesses will be businesses, huh? Poisonous snakes will be poisonous snakes, too. Employers do pay a high price for treating employees like cogs. That kills moral. Word does get around. It's been so pervasive that rather than a few companies getting bad reputations, the entire corporate world has a bad reputation. The company that treats employees fairly and well is the exception, not the rule.

There are reasons why people don't deal with each other the way companies do. Mostly, it does not work. Bad actors are quickly ostracized. In recent times, employers have been able to get away with treating employees like dirt is the huge imbalance in power. The job market has been an employer's market since before the Great Recession. Before the Dot Com crash is the last time employees had some leverage.

Comment multiple levels of stupid (Score 5, Insightful) 224

The pushy upgrade was a stupid idea for more than one reason, and this was well known before Microsoft did it. There's the old saw "don't fix it if it ain't broke". Some hardware would quit working. The upgrades were most cavalierly programmed to happen without regard to the customer's needs, able to take a computer out of service for hours, and that could be just when the owner had scheduled some important work. And of course for those with limited, expensive bandwidth, it's damned rude of Microsoft to pig out on such a precious resource without asking. That's stooping to the level of online advertisers, who deserve to be blocked because they just can't lay off the obnoxious loud, flashing animated video advertising that eats gobs of bandwidth and CPU time. Not that Microsoft was ever much above that level.

Speaking from my experience as a system administrator, doing a major upgrade on production systems for the heck of it was a major no-no. We only upgraded if we had to, for some crucial new functionality, and we'd spend at least a week preparing for it with tests on identical equipment if available, dry runs, and the like. We'd document how long it was going to take, and if too long we might set up a temporary system. We were not going to risk taking down the website of our company. Uptime is critically important. Stunts like this pushy, opt out upgrade assure that Windows will stay permanently banned from the server room.

That Microsoft apparently can't grasp any of this or just doesn't care shows, again, how stupid their leadership is. Meh, they've been unbelievably stupid for 15 years now. Getting in bed with the MAFIAA of all people, and deferring to those idiots on technical matters around DRM, wow, just wow. MS doesn't deserve to be regarded as a tech company, not while they're willing to defer to tech morons on the areas they're supposed to be the experts on.

Comment Re:Let me get this straight... (Score 1) 304

Let me amend what I said. Actually, I am impressed by what smart TVs could do. But I am disgusted at the intentional crippling. No, I don't think Vizio is alone, I think the whole smart TV market is corporate Internet. Alternatives? Since the market isn't for whatever reason finding it profitable to give consumers more, only real alternative at this time is to use a computer. Include a video card with a TV tuner, and hardware to receive signals from universal remote controls. I know there are some nice programs that basically turn a PC with such equipment into a TV and a DVR, though I can't name any offhand.

That said, a remote with a full keyboard would be nice. But if that's too many buttons, why not at least employ the numeric keypad? Could type 2 digits for each letter, 01 for 'a', 20 for 't', and so on.

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