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Comment Wind and natural gas (Score 4, Interesting) 275

Carbon capture was a technology that was useful in the US when it was thought coal would remain the primary fuel. Now that natural gas is dirt cheap, partially thanks to fracking, it is not so critical. Natural gas produces about half the CO2 per BTU as dirty coal. Switching from coal should reduce emissions at least 40%. In fact Texas can meet standards by shutting down a few very dirty plants and moving to natural gas.

But what is going to change everything is when the rest of the US follows Texas which now gets at least 10% of the power from renewables, mostly wind. This is where the climate change problem will begin to decline.

Which is not to say the carbon capture technology is dead. In other developing countries it may be useful,and the US could be the supplier for those systems.

Comment Re:Just the fake ones? (Score 1) 212

Exactly. Never talk to a debt collector or charity on the phone. Never take any bill that is mailed at face value. Always type the link of your financial institution of use a bookmark.

In the US laws tend to protect the debtor. If you owe money, there will always be time to pay. Firms buy old debt without knowing if he debt is genuine. I get calls all the time trying to collect fake debt.

Comment Re:Sapphire crystal lens cover (Score 1) 111

I woud suspect it was something like a epitaxial layer of safire to coat a glass lens. In fact, depending on how the measurement was done, the lens could be safire. Glass is a generic term to mean a substrate that is not a single crystal, and could be of many compositions, including Aluminum Oxide doped with titanium. One requirement is that the lens does not preferential reflect and visible frequency of light, so that rules out most of what one would commonly call sapphire.

Comment Never updated (Score 2) 63

The collaboration in the word processor is nice, but even Apple has that to some extent now. Google does this a lot, provides a decent product then ignores it and lets it get stale. I was thinking they were going to kill it off like they do with most of their products. Does the spreadsheet have a real regression line feature yet?

Comment Re:CS should _not_ be taught to teenagers (Score 1) 241

We live in a world where it is increasingly important to understand process. Think of teaching a spreadsheet to a kid who understands how a computer works, rather than just thinking the buttons are magic. Understanding is key. Everyone else is going to have their job taken over by a robot or by kids who did have some basic CS.

No one is saying that we teach a CS curriculum in high school, just like not one is saying that we teach math or science or literature or history to the levels taught in college. What some, like the poster are saying, is that we decide the few we are going to educate, and ignore the rest.

In the end CS in high school is a practical problem. CS is still a relatively rigorous topic, and relatively few people understand it. I have sat in rooms with adults playing on an arduino, and most could even to the simplest tasks. They simply are not trained.

In the end we don't have CS in high school for the same reason that in may high schools we have 4 years of required history and English but only three years of math and Science. There are simply not enough teachers. And yes, many teachers will deny it and say that math and science is useless, and no kid needs to know physics or calculus.

I am certainly glad that i did not have parents of go to a school that represented this level of stupidity. Otherwise I would not have a job. I also had to learn to read literature and write and do many other things, even if I did not have an aptitude for it. It is called being educated.

Comment Don't drink and derive (Score 2) 201

Just imagine how dangerous the roads would be if you just said that adult could just start to drive at 18 or 21, but were not allowed to drive a car before. At 21 you could buy and drive a car, but if you were caught driving before that you would be arrested.

I am not saying that drinking is a skill, but the craziness occurs because many kids go from not being allowed to drink, ever, to having unrestricted access. I think that most of us have learned that abstinence does not work, but still we think we can let kids learn to drink all at once and not see terrible consequences.

In civilized places like Texas a parent is an affirmative defense to a minor drinking. I certainly knew how to manage my drinking by the time I was 18. I saw many people without this skill get shit faced. Of course when people are getting drunk for the first time as adults without supervision there are going to be negative consequences.

Also, of course, there are people who are addicts, and those people need to be identified early and provided with appropriate medical attention. I can't imagine a worse time to learn one is an addict than at college.

Comment Re:It's Hillary time! (Score 2, Interesting) 271

The Russians are suspected of hacking computers of US political people, and then releasing edited documents. One POTUS candidate has very close ties to Russia, and even though Russia is not an enemy this is a concern, just like the same candidates direct request for campaign funds from a another foreign governement.

There are two problems here. First, nothing on Wikileaks should be taken as fact without corroboration. Right now too many just accept everything posted as fact. This is what lead to the current situation.

Second, Assange needed to have negotiated a trial for the rape charges. Right now he is a fugitive suspect. If what he did was rape under the laws of the country he was in, and if he really believes in the rule of law and is not in fact just a narcissistic demagogue, he needs to face the consequences of his actions. By not doing so he has lost all credibility as fighter of truth. He is a fighter for truth he finds useful.

Comment Re:Reference devices? (Score 2) 203

That was back when Google thought that their smartphone would have enough market penetration and be broad enough that it would make Google a lot of direct and indirect money. Now the market is segmented into Apple, which rakes in most of the profit, and Samsung, which is Android, who sells most of the devices. Google itself no longer has the control it once had, even though it has tightened up the Android license.

The massive Android ecosystem which would have enriched Google with a monopoly on mobile device like MS had on the desktop never emerged. The reference device idea, which was to spearhead such an ecosystem, turned into an actual competitor that help kill the widespread use. If Google is in fact going to fork Android, give a lesser product that treat other device OEM as competitors, that might really kill Android as a competitor. I don't know where Samsung could go for an OS, but recall that many dominant phone OS have fallen over a very short period of time.

Also remember that most consumers are buying Samsung, or to a lesser extent Amazon products, not Android.

Comment Re:Up to date? (Score 2) 332

The last point, about the college kids, is a good point. What engineers learn is that there is a new gradated class while employers pick the best of, and then replace their worst employees. From what I can tell employees get three years of training, and if they don't do well, they get replaced. It is not all milk and sugar for the graduates. There are years when less than 50% of graduates get hired because really only the bad employees are going to get fired.

One wonders why employees choose to train their replacements instead of just quit. It seems to me that if a person is so qualified that they are being fired no for cause but just because they are too expensive, they could get another job. It is like complaining that there are no more jobs in the US, but never buying a product made in the US.

Clearly if the visa program did not exist companies would be forced to hire the maybe less qualified US workers, or perhaps open office outside the US. OTOH, I tend to believe that the US is the greatest place in the world, with a great deal of cheap capital, and many people agree. The problem is that people in the US tend to be much more complacent about living up to that greatness than highly motivated people in other countries. It is the greatness of the US that encourages workers to come here, not the ability of employers to pay less. Yes it may lead to the same outcome, but if we look at the former we only complain, but the later gives us solutions.

Here is what happened to me early in my career. At first if was easy because I was competing with the to 5% of the 18-30 year old living in the US, those who had access to technology but also to schools who were more interested in teaching novel skills than the three R's as we used to call them. As the years went on, and more people became computer literate, in the broad sense, not MS Office, then I had to compete with more people. Finally, I was competing with the world, and at that point, since I was not in the top 1%, it all fell apart, so to speak.

Again, when I was a kid the entire engineering class would be hired straight out college. Now one can be in the top 50% and not be hired. It is not just visas, it is not just that technology has made things more efficient, it is also that so many of us are simply complacent about our futures.

Comment Re:a maintenance nightmare (Score 1) 188

I have not seen any definitive data that is not 10 years old, and a lot of the current stuff is biased toward coal and nuclear and create astronomical number for the cost of wind. In reality as scale increases and data is gathered on how to best run the turbines maintenance costs are becoming predictable and not that outlandish. Texas which has the largest installation and the most experience also has some of the lowest O&M costs.

Wind energy is texas is still less than 10 cents, and will be cheaper as it allows us to decommission old inefficient coal power plants.

The biggest expense in my lifetime was paying for a nuclear power plant that never fully realized it's production goals and we had to have a special tax to pay for it.

Comment Re: Do us a big favor (Score 2) 188

MLB is not hiding behind the faÃade of amateur sports. This is becoming comparable to the exploitation of the NCAA. We have increasing evidence that the IOC is a corrupt organization that exists only to enrich the management. Sure it costs money, but much of that is paid for by the state. The players are owned by no one, unlike the MLB, and can only benefit by their exploits promoted on social media.

Comment Colleg fund (Score 3, Insightful) 373

If you were 18 and could fund college by selling blood, would you? The downside is that if people were allowed to sell blood on the open market, the price of blood bank blood would likely go up significantly. Right now they get it for free. OTOH if you had to be healthy to sell blood, that would be an incentive for kids to eat better, not abuse drugs, and stay VD free. This to me is more akin to pr0n than selling organs. Blood is simply a renewable resource that needs to be regulated.

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