DNA Lounge: Wherein the daystar is of no use to us.

Every few years, I read another article about solar power, and how there's been some new technological breathrough in efficiency, or some new incentive program, and soon all the buildings will have solar panels on their roofs and everything will be sweetness and light. Well, a few times now, we've actually investigated installing solar at DNA, and each time it has gone exactly like it went this last time. It's pretty comical, so I'll share it with you now. We've had this same exact conversation three times over the last eight years:

    We contact someone who has a business installing solar panels. We tell them, "It would be nice if we could do this for emotional or environmental reasons, but environmental reasons don't pay the bills, so we're not doing it for that reason. We're only going to do this if it saves us money."

    They say, "Oh, it will totally save you money! Since you use power at night, you'll be feeding power into the grid during the day, and buying it back more cheaply off-peak! It makes so much sense for you. It's like you're the optimal case. Now, if you'll just write me a check for $20,000..."

    "Whoa, hold up there, Sparky. How does me writing you a check for $20k save me money?", I ask.

    "Well, it will pay for itself in only 20 to 25 years! Then you'll be totally in the black."

    "Wow, you must be an investment banker, with a pitch like that."

    "Oh, and also there are all these rebates and incentive programs. The Government will pay you to install the system! Also, you can do an operating lease with no money up front, or a Power Purchase Agreement, or this, or that, and it doesn't cost a thing!"

    "Zero? Zero sounds great! Get back to us with some options."

    "Ok, so the installation will cost $100,000 before incentives, and after the tax credit and five years of depreciation, the hardware only ends up costing you $13,000!"

    "Is yours a hearing problem, or an understanding problem?"

    "But it will pay for itself in only 25 years! Maybe 30."

    "You are such a tool. Goodbye."

Honestly, I can't tell if the problem with the people pushing solar is that they are earnest-but-incompetent hippies, or are just straight-up scam-artists. Either way, it seems like it'd be more efficient to actually set paper money on fire and use that heat to drive a turbine.


public space 2

A few months back I wrote about the "public space" zoning regulations. There's now been a new article about it. I don't think there's much new information there that wasn't covered in the links you folks posted in the comments, but there is a pretty slick Google Maps display of all the spaces mentioned in the article.

Oh, and that one on 2nd Street that I made fun of? "Enclosed empty concrete lobby as public park"? The article says, "Though passers-by must pass through doors to use the chairs and black granite benches, the space feels like an urban piazza."

Suuuure it does.

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And now, giant squid.

I'm sorry if that last post was a little nerdy. Here, have some giant squid homo tentacle rape.

Although mating has never been observed in giant squid, it is thought that what happens is that the male injects his sperm packages into the female's arms. The process is likely to be a fairly violent affair as the female is probably not that keen on being injected. This is a problem for the amorous male as females are normally a third bigger than they are.

But males get round their inferior size by being endowed with a particularly long penis, which means they can inject the female without having to get too close to her chomping beak. The male's sexual organ is actually a bit like a high-pressure fire hose and is normally nearly as long as his body - excluding legs and head.

But having such a big penis does have one drawback: it seems that co-ordinating eight legs, two feeding tentacles and a huge penis, whilst fending off an irate female, is a bit too much to ask, and one of the two males stranded on the Spanish coast had accidentally injected himself with sperm packages in the legs and body. And this does not seem to have been an isolated incident since two of the eight males that had stranded in the north-east Atlantic before had also accidentally inseminated themselves.

It is also possible that the sperm packages had come from other males that they had 'bumped' into, in the dark depths of the ocean. However, the sperm packages ended up in the squid - it is just another part of the mysterious lives of these creatures of the deep sea.

Also, spiders.

Many spiders exhibit sexual dimorphism as well, typically with the female much larger than the male. In spiders of the genus Tidarren, this trend is carried to an extreme, with males that may be 1% of the female's size. Here's a photo of one of these little guys clinging to his girlfriend's underside, copulating frantically (there is cause for hurry, since she might decide to eat him). [...]

Shortly after the adult molt, male T. sisyphoides trap one in a bit of spider silk and twist it off. Voluntarily. A kind of willing hemipenectomy. One has to cringe at the thought, but I suppose I can sympathize -- if I had a pair of penises the size of volleyballs and weighing 10 pounds each attached to my cheeks, I might want to get rid of one, too.

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