Sunday, June 17, 2012

Open thread for non-climate related comments

An experiment.  Anything non climate-related is fair game.  An adjacent post is for climate-related comments.  If you prefer just one open thread, say so.  If you prefer none, then silence speaks volumes.


Ron Broberg said...

Lets see ... non-climate comments ...

... I just added 2 125W panels to my off-grid home-grown solar. (Parallel to the residential on-grid). I've heard similar systems described as "a hobby with benefits." Currently it runs my DSL modem and external xmas lights. (Keeps the missus happy) Probably going to move the TV/media stuff to it soon.

Son just finished switching all our lights to CFLs for Father's Day. I added a 25 dollar smart power strip to the media center to disable external devices when I switch the TV off. That saves 24 watts x 20 hours = 480 Wh per day. Mostly from the satellite receiver. These two changes alone will reduce our electric use by 10% or more.

Dallas said...

Is golf the solution for population control? Golfing parents typically have two or fewer children. The typical professional golfer is an only child or has less than two siblings. In nations with low birth rates, the number of 18 hole golf courses

Since Gary Player became a PGA tour champion the number of golf courses in South Africa has increased from less than 100 to over 500 while the birth rate dropped from 6.5 to 2.5 per woman. There is a noticeable surge in golf course construction and reduction in fertility with Ennie Els first Open win.

Anonymous said...

Well I always considered golf to be a turn-off...


dbostrom said...

How a giant fleet of EPA spy drones was imagined into a threat to our Freedumbz:

EPA 'spy drones' overshoot the facts

The hubbub over nonexistent drones spying on U.S. cattle farmers provides a look at something hard to capture in U.S. politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood.

Sounds hauntingly familiar but this is not the thread for c*****e.

If we had another few hundred David A. Fahrentholds working the case we'd all be a little bit safer; the author actually took the time and effort to trace this lunacy all the way to its source (natch, the path led straight through Fox...).

Brian said...

Sounds like the Daily Caller never fixed the first story with an update, instead posting a second story with the truth that got little attention. We bloggers can do better than that.

While Fox spread the misinfo, it started with PJmedia, the alt rightwing online network. Not a big surprise.

And finally - my water district rents helicopter/pilot time on a periodic basis to inspect our pipelines and canals. Lot cheaper than trying the check everything from the ground. I actually have wondered if buying/renting some El Cheapo Drone would save us more money, but I think the foolish blowback would make that unwise.

Anonymous said...

"Is golf the solution for population control?"

Depends how deep the bunkers are.

badger badger badger said...

Apropos of something:

Jason Miller said...

If people did things right the first time, we would all be more productive.

Chris_Winter said...

Anonymous wrote: "Well I always considered golf to be a turn-off..."

On the other hand... Tiger Woods.

David B. Benson said...

There are no non-climate related comments.

Tom Dayton said...

My NASA Ames team yesterday added a plug-ins page to our open source Open Mission Control Technologies site, with four additional plug-ins. We'd like students, hobbyists, computer professionals, anybody, in both space and non-space domains, to try MCT, use it, write plug-ins, and ideally then share those plug-ins. The Demo version of MCT requires no computer expertise to install and run. This is real NASA software, certified for ISS mission operations and being considered for a bunch of other missions at multiple NASA centers and at least one commercial space company.
I'll be attending SETICon this weekend (wearing an MCT long-sleeved t-shirt) if any of y'all want an in-person demo. Probably I will also be staffing the NASA exhibit table at the NewSpace conference in July.

EliRabett said...

Hi Tom,

To Eli this appears to have common roots with LabView, so the question is, having displayed/obtained the information from telemetry/the web how do you manipulate it to combine information in useful ways.

For example, let us say you download a set of temperature measurements from UAH, how do you map them on a representation of the globe, and having mapped them how do you obtain some sort of weighted average over time.

Brian said...

Hi Tom - I live next door to you all in Mountain View. Always trying to keep an eye on cool stuff/lectures happening at Ames or SETI.

J Bowers said...

There seems to be growing awareness of how we ended up in the financial mess we're in. Anyone have any opinions on these two offering on why, and the solutions?

Positive Money
Money Without Debt

Anonymous said...

J Bowers.

My knee-jerk response whenever anyone mentions financial crises is "fractional reserve banking". I was a little bit smug to see that both links touched upon it, more or less.

Amongst other ills, FRB encourages folk to overdraw from a future that they can't see, to fund the present that they imagine can be sustainably financed. More fundumentally FRB also requires perpetual economic growth for the trust of the population to be assuaged - without such growth the illusion that everyone's money is safely ensconced in the actual real fraction fails as the punters realise that sufficient interest will not accrue to cover the risk of not having complete collateral, and then the sort of thing that's happening in Greece at the moment takes root.

And as the last few days have shown, the world's governments are still, in action, rusted on to the fantasy that growth is eternally possible, and that it is the only cure to all of our ills.

It's all a part of the ever-growing global FUBAR...

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq.

J Bowers said...

Bernard, the idea is that those who wish to risk their savings can do so by instructing the bank to invest, but current accounts are kept away from such risks. One interesting thing highlighted is that electronic and credit card transactions have taken away £2.5 trillion from the UK Treasury over the past few years, simply because they're electronic transactions and the fees paid to the Treasury per note or coin are lost: the 19th Century Act didn't cover the internetz or plastic. That's enough for a 3 year tax holiday for all of the UK, or could just pay off the entire national debt. Instead, the financial institutions creating the money get to keep what would have gone to the state.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Paradoxically, my wife and I now find ourselves in the position where we have too little debt. Our mortgage is nearly paid off and we aren't in a position to take advantage of the nearly free money the banks and gummints are giving away. And because we have been diligent savers, we stand to lose quite a bit in the upcoming cluster coitus that will occur when people suddenly realize that all the money they think they have is not even worth the paper it isn't printed upon.

Money is a slippery concept. In fact there are about a dozen different definitions of "money". Ultimately, it comes down to faith. My wife and I honeymooned in Brazil in 1993. At that time, inflation was running at 35% a month. There were people whose full time job was to walk around the store to raise the prices of everything. If you wanted a bargain you tried to stay one aisle ahead of them. My wife found a 10 centavo piece from 3 devaluations ago, which meant it was worth 10^-10 dollars!

Then Brazil introduced the Cruzeiro Real by lopping off 3 zeros from the Cruzeiro. Suddenly 3000 Cruzeiros became 3 cruzeiros reais--or ultimately 3 reais. People had confidence and inflation has been pretty moderate until recently. Economics is an unreal game that has real consequences only for the small players.

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny says:

J. Bowers
I plowed through a lot of material after the collapse. Learned, tranches, CDOs, etc. and was shocked at the machinations that disguised the underlying worthlessness of some financial instruments.

I think the base reason is nobody can be trusted with money. The ideology of the time (and now) is "let the market decide, it will weed out the idiots". The ideologues gave a picture of fish swimming in every direction, those going where there was no food died out and the rest prospered. My image is of a school of fish, they all "stampede" in the same direction.

The Act to Modernize Commodities in 2000 permits big financial institutions to 'bet'. They all bet (save Goldman Sachs) that house prices would increase indefinitely. Even though wages weren't increasing!

You must have independent audits of bookkeepers. You must have open and accurate reporting of assets and independent analysts assessing. Too many people are tempted if you don't. As has been remarked before, money is the root of all evil.

Tom Dayton said...

Eli, your question about MCT versus LabVIEW is a good one and becoming more common, so I'll add my answer to the MCT FAQ page after I run my answer past some LabVIEW experts who are familiar with MCT. (I'm only slightly familiar with LabVIEW.) Here is my unverified, short answer:

1) MCT and LabVIEW each has its own best target populations of users, tasks, and situations of use. LabVIEW's and MCT's possible populations intersect, but the farther you get from each's best targets, the more strained is the application.

a) MCT is a general-purpose, object-oriented-GUI-style platform that allows non-programmer users, in "run mode," to compose prebuilt "user objects" into displays that are themselves user objects, and freely to switch among views of a given user object. LabVIEW is a graphical programming tool that allows users having modest programming skill to build displays whose composition is static during run mode.

b) Those MCT user object types' fundamental characteristics are determined by Java programmers before runtime. In LabVIEW, at least the intermediate level of characteristics is determined by graphical language programmers before runtime.

c) MCT's objects can have their views switched in place by users in "run mode." That's because MCT treats all the views (e.g., Plot, Alpha, Canvas) as merely superficial appearances of the underlying domain object (e.g., the Power System). Each domain object has a unitary "manifestation" such as a window, panel, list row, tree row, plot line, plot legend item, or icon. LabVIEW instead treats each "view" as its own object on the screen. If two such LabVIEW display objects happen to be connected to the same data source, they can be considered to be different views of the same underlying domain object, but that commonality does not manifest concretely for example as a single panel.

d) MCT's objects each can be inspected and opened into its own window by clicking on any of its existing manifestations without disturbing those existing manifestations (displays), and all in "run mode." LabVIEW does not allow any of that in run mode.

2) MCT is free for everybody. That will increase the user community, which should increase the community contributions to enhancements.

3) MCT is open source. That will speed enhancements and bug fixes, because the community can help diagnose and even fix bugs, and can suggest code for enhancements.

Tom Dayton said...

Brian, I figured you were near here, based on your stories about the water district. Perhaps we will see each other at one of the talks at the SETI Insitute. I'm easy to spot due to my beard art.

Aaron said...

Why did Climate Science as a body get sea ice so wrong?

Does Climate Science have a fiduciary responsibility to society?

dbostrom said...

A few more points on LabVIEW, if you don't mind somebody else butting in.

-- LabVIEW is calibrated to suck up as much of your money as possible without actually causing you to abandon your work.

-- The more you use LabVIEW, the more you have to continue using LabVIEW. Kicking the habit is extremely painful and possibly fatal to your work. It's like injecting heroin into your projects; feels so good, makes everything look so good, but it's a one way trip.

-- As w/all software that's written for profit directly from licensing, your plans are strictly secondary to and dependent on a business plan that is only incidentally connected with your success. If there's something wrong with the software getting it fixed is like throwing darts over your shoulder; you might get somebody's attention or you might not but at the end of the day you have effectively zero direct control over whether your problem will be fixed.

-- The effect of the business plan you subordinate yourself to begins with the imposition of artificial scarcity and then is manifested in a further myriad of increasingly annoying and inefficient defects introduced in support of the vendor's business plan. In the case of LabVIEW needless friction is introduced instantly the first time you attempt to use the software and then never really ceases. Obtaining patches, further documentation etc. is freighted with constant defensive actions intended to guard the carefully engineered scarcity of the product. Scarcity first, convenience second.

-- Secrecy is anathema to science. Commercial software depends entirely on secrets. We'd all be still be using tallow lamps, counting on our fingers and worrying about when we should be bled next if science was done the same way as commercial software. Well, really, it wouldn't be science, would it?

dbostrom said...

As if I didn't say enough already, exposing students to "black boxes" dependent on carefully guarded secrets for their correct functioning is 100% at cross-purposes with teaching good habits as a scientist.

It's not possible today to avoid close-source software but the tendency should always be to seek more modern and progressive alternatives.

Brian said...

JBowers - I'm a fan of Henry George and the land value tax myself, iff you view it as one important tool and not the be all solution for everything. Wouldn't have fixed all our recent problems, but cutting off the land speculation sure would've helped.

We'll see how China makes its way through their current land bubble too.

Tom Dayton said...

Thanks for the opinion, Doug. I don't think there's any amount of paraphrasing I could do to enable me to repeat your comment on our MCT web site :)

Another advantage of open source is that you can verify the code's security and whatever else you want to check, instead of taking a company's word for it.

J Bowers said...

@ Brian. I've never actually taken a look at LVT before. Thanks.

On another subject, put your coffee down:

* Pennsylvania Fracking Bill Puts Gag Order On Doctors, Union Says
* For Pennsylvania's Doctors, a Gag Order on Fracking Chemicals
* Silencing Communities: How the Fracking Industry Keeps Its Secrets
* The natural gas industry refuses to reveal what is in the mixture of chemicals used to drill for the fossil fuel

Courtesy of Desmog.

dbostrom said...

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

From Texas GOP platform just adopted. They're also into beating children.

Maybe the Texas GOP could form a alliance w/the Taliban, sort of like shared frequent flyer programs?

J Bowers said...

Too good to be missed:

A dress to save the world

"According to green fashion website Ecouterre, designer Dahea Sun has created some naturally-dyed silk dresses that change colour according to air quality.

The Central Saint Martin's textile student had developed a set of dyes using pigments found in red cabbages, blackberries, and aubergine that responded to acidity levels in rainwater and can therefore detect acid rain.

What's more, she's created a smartphone app which records the data from the dress. Using GPS, it can then map the crowd-sourced data to show air-quality trends on a global scale.
Regardless of its poetic resonance, the Tank wonders whether London Mayor Boris Johnson could order in a few pollution detecting suits to provide him with up-to the minute information on air quality as he cycled around the capital."


J Bowers said...

Who Wants Free Stuff?

Mitt Romney does.