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Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Isn't that obvious? (173 comments)

You folks are the maybecat's maybemeow.

yesterday
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Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Lame (173 comments)

TFS is so stupid there's no way I'm going to RTFA.

Comments like this are like urine stains on the wall next to public urinals. They appear so often and so consistently you'd think there was a contest, where the first one to miss, wins.

yesterday
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Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

TheRealHocusLocus Meanwhile, on a more Practical Level... (579 comments)

Tabloid, much?
Who cares what dem people call dem other people??
Only freaks publicly insist on labeling other people freaks.
Says I, in public.

There are places where folks are still covering topics of pure-CO2 temperature causation (or not) that involve studies of available data, and just as important these days, breakdown and evaluation of the various 'corrections' that have been retroactively applied to those datasets, the reliability of models and various proxy methods. WattsUpWithThat is one such resource. If you conclude that it is on the other side of the fence than perhaps you should ask yourself, who built the fence?

Branding dissenters as heretics in the popular press on this level --- it is as if they are appealing to some Supreme Diety to descend from the heavens with a 'Mighty Dog' branding iron --- to mark the foreheads of chosen persons. It's ridiculous, boring and trite.

The climate furor may be part of a larger trend in science noted by master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli. The paper Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] is a fascinating read. It notes that "Of the hypothesized problems, perhaps the most worrying is a worsening of positive-outcome bias. A system that disfavours negative results not only distorts the scientific literature directly, but might also discourage high-risk projects and pressure scientists to fabricate and falsify their data."

Let me spell it out, what is being claimed here is a progressive shortage of applied effort to discredit popular hypotheses. Is it because we are such great guessers. we tend to get these things right so often the first time it's a waste of time and effort to back-check, to reproduce? Does it come down to money?

Or are people letting themselves become religious about science?
Isn't this what Carl Sagan warned us about?

Note to self: add citation to paper, "Climate Change may decrease eggshell thickness of duck-billed salamanders by 0.25mm by the year 2050."

yesterday
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'Revolving Door' Spins Between AT&T, Government

TheRealHocusLocus Yeah, Revolving Doors are Cool (61 comments)

They always seem to be trying to make up their minds. On Star Trek doors go sheesh! but we have revolving doors that go Whump! Whump! Whump!

I'd have three revolving doors, two on the outside rotating in opposite directions and one in the middle that changes direction at random times, even when a person is in it. I'd put wheels on a potted plant and have it bumping along. I'd have one in a shaded area with a bright strobe light in it. I'd have a revolving door with mirror panels surrounded by a curved mirror and a curved, mirrored sliding shells that advance with the door on opposite sides and stop, to close off the tube completely and trap them for three full rounds, then advance again to present an opening as if it had always been there. I'd have a revolving door with rising and falling wedges that 'arrive' at the far end one step down or up. I'd have a camera at the top of the wedge looking down, and a bright LCD display set into the floor that is re-playing the top-down view from the last occupant, including a glimpse of the screen with the one previous, et cetera. I'd have a message that says, "say Hello!" and play back the hellos of previous occupants at random. I'd have a glass floor with a hypnotic spiral disc spinning quickly in the opposite direction. I'd have a narrow brightly lit aquarium with fish as door panels. I'd have a gauntlet of a dozen revolving doors synchronized to pass occupants on, each one lit with a progressive hue of the rainbow. And ping pong ball releases.

Next up at Slashdot: 'Escalator' Trundles Between Verizon, Government

about a week ago
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BGP Hijacking Continues, Despite the Ability To Prevent It

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Prefix This (57 comments)

(feeling karma-guilty now) Some of my previous BGP bookmarks,

The RFC6480 I'm sure you'll want to read this first, every bit of it. Others may wish to skip on to the next chapter which is a good bit and has Marvin the Robot in it.

Introduction to BGP and How BGP best path (by default!)
[2014] spammers squatting on unassigned IP address ranges
  [2014] Using BGP advertisements to gather Bitcoin mining traffic (doing digital money with unsecured protocols, kewl!)
[2012] Packet Pushers #93: Lies and Routing in the Internet great interview with Geoff Huston. Look for the show notes links too.
[2012] Packet Pushers #105: BGP Origin Validation with Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) with Alex Brand from RIPE. Discussion of attack profiles, resistance and real-world challenges to its implementation.
[2012] Previous Slashdot: Engineers Ponder Easier Fix To Internet Problem
[2013] Denver pings Denver --- via Iceland! Someone's Been Routing Internet Data Through The Great Chefs Of Europe

Here's some confusing BGP routing diagrams to print out and tape to the walls to impress everybody.

about a week ago
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BGP Hijacking Continues, Despite the Ability To Prevent It

TheRealHocusLocus Prefix This (57 comments)

Just flipped down the thread:

AAAAASSSS????ASSSA?FFbFbb??bBM

Key:
A = messages complaining about use of acronym, explaining it
S = messages questioning relevance of BGP to 'Nerd', answers
? = WTF responses (Fry, Bennet)
F = political views (fuck ARIN, fuck legalese, fuck de Man)
b = relevant but misinformed (filtering not quicky-solve, RPKI not Kill Switch)
B = relevant, thoughtful response to a 'b'
M = this, meta message about thread.

If the rest of the Internet was like this, no actual routes would ever be advertised.

My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

~T.S. Eliot

about a week ago
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New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Meh. (163 comments)

Basically,

"Flu Season Deadlier Than Previously Thought"

Who are these people Previously Thinking these things?
Will they please stop?
Perhaps it's a ruse.
No one Previously Thought these things.
They're actually just saying these things.
It's all about the scary music,
you must imagine scary music,
music like this.
Go ahead, play it now. Turn it up LOUD.

Here, take a cookie.
I promise, by the time you're done eating it ---
you'll feel right as rain.

about two weeks ago
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New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Looks like the mismatch nailed me (163 comments)

Still 100% glad I got my flu shot, though. Basically, I was wearing a bulletproof vest, but got shot in the leg.

I was at Walgreen's shopping for scented candles, to ward off evil spirits, when I spotted this bright bold sign that shouted

Get your flu shot...NOW!

I jumped and backed up against the shelf with the candles, knocked them per foss, but the aisle was deserted, no needle wielding assailant apparent. The little signs were everywhere! Why had I not spotted them before?? Clutching a sandalwood candle and a gallon of milk defensively I approached the checkout, where the clerk informed me that the special price shown in the large glowing red sign was for those with a Special Rewards Card Only, and did I want to get one now?

Then the sign flashed out its warning, in the word that it was forming,
and the sign said

Get your flu shot...NOW!

I fled in terror.

about two weeks ago
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Ultrasound Used To Create Haptics That Can Be Touched and Felt

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Think of the dogs (41 comments)

Every time you touch it all the dogs in the neighborhood go nutzo

Tormented hysterical dogs tearing at the flesh of beached whales, spatially confused elephants wandering into your living room.

I'm bored, said humanity. Let us pump tremendous amounts of LF sonic energy into the air.

Beat frequencies from these devices penetrating walls, resonating and combining with one another, infusing odd corners of adjacent rooms, hallways and buildings with whispers and throbbing tones. People will leave these things turned on, unaware or uncaring that beat frequencies and harmonics create lobes around others' beds tormenting people trying to sleep around them.

Arson will be on the rise.
Whole city blocks will burn.
The sound of breaking glass and tearing metal.
Then, all is quiet once again.
Cue crickets.

about two weeks ago
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Is Chernobyl Still Dangerous? Was 60 Minutes Pushing Propaganda?

TheRealHocusLocus Re:People like you don't understand risk (409 comments)

Having watched Internet reaction to the same material on Pripyat presented by Kiddofspeed for ten years now, I have to say that we've made some serious strides as a virtual culture, and not necessarily in a good direction.

When the series first appeared it was truly a phenomenon. Elena's commentary is brief and completely authentic, as a young modern explorer chronicling a bizarre place frozen in time. With a measure of curiosity and intelligent caution she takes us to the lonely places, takes but a few steps into the most dangerous places, and the album as a whole is presented as just what it is. The Kidofspeed series and her wonderful russenglish commentary stands as one of the greatest photo essays of the generation.

A great many reactions fixed on her as a person, simple and undisguised male adoration of this adventurous motorcycle-loving young female, and a vicariously shared sense of wonder of visiting forbidden, dangerous lonely places. It was real.

No trace of that now. This is kinda fake. Slashdot may still be mostly male, but we've managed to purge --- it seems --- that aspect of human sentiment completely. Is it because we have achieved a level of sterile, grey political correctness? Have we sold our human souls for a dear price?

"I hereby reject Kiddofspeed because it is not a Slashdot-approved link to a cited peer reviewed journal."
"tourist"
"Motorcycle! Dangerous!"
"Blah blah so-and-so should MOVE there if he feels that way!"

Pripyat is what it is, just like that burning coal town Centralia PA. Not the end of the world or even the complete destruction of life, just a visible warning of what we should not let happen again.

Elena, you're still my hero, I love your art and you're still a FOX.

about two weeks ago
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Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source

TheRealHocusLocus Re:'Decommissioning' is a made-up scenario (235 comments)

Water and sewage plants are usually public utilities so the owner is less likely to flee without paying the clean up costs (or sell it to a third party who tragically go bust shortly after leaving no liability for the previous owner), plus the pollution they generate is significantly less toxic.

You're right of course, and drawing any correlation between a nuclear power plant (or any electric plant) and water treatment plants seemed silly at first. They light up whole different areas of the brain. I started asking myself, why is this so?

Have we become conditioned to think of electricity as something aside from a dire necessity?

Water and sewer plants are usually sited geographically, and people tend to settle along lakes, rivers and coastlines. Our city is fortunate to be within a gently sloping river valley so treated water is carried to the tap and wastes to the sewer plant mostly by gravity alone. You could be shown a blank topo map of most areas and draw a circle where each plant should be.

Power plants follow a similar rule of minimizing distance from their primary loads. Our grid was built out as-needed and not for surplus. Therefore aside from a few sad glaring exceptions such as the de-population of Detroit, one will never spot an electric plant somewhere on the landscape and conclude, an electric plant is no longer necessary here. Natural gas plants are being built to supplant coal generation on the grid so there is an emerging phenomenon where a plant here and there is deemed obsolete because "electricity is being generated elsewhere, cheaper, today." In many cases this is being played out by cents on the kWh, where the demise of something locally 'irreplaceable' is triggered by investor sentiment from the glut of natural gas distribution. Some day (perhaps sooner than many think) easily extractable natural gas will peak and begin its inexorable decline, and residents will turn once again to coal. Because of the ridiculous impossibility and expense of completely dismantling coal generation plants, that plant will still be there.

A properly operating sewer plant removes human toxicity from the environment, making its water discharge safe for human contact and subsequent drinking water treatment plants downstream. Likewise, a properly operating nuclear power plant is the only viable industrial-scale way to remove human toxicity from burning fossil fuel from the environment.

Despite its vilification and shortage of investment, the nuclear industry has innovated. The Candu and AP1000 light water reactor are the most "walk away safe" designs we can muster from the inherently dangerous combination of fission and water. Molten salt reactors could take this many steps further. Though the radioactivity of the salts is extreme the fissile is bound to the salts and your worst case scenario is a real mess, but it is a manageable mess that would remain there waituing for cleanup, not seep into the environment, as Tepco attempts to chase down Cesium tainted water molecules dispersed to air and sea.

It is my personal belief that every utility class wind farm will be a silent rusted blight within fifty years, and the electricity customers of those regions will be struggling to overcome the financial hardships imposed by them --- both the subsidized cost of their construction and insufficient generation over their brief lifetime --- but principally the wasting of human resource that diverted them away from better paths that could have been taken.

Central to all this is the question, do we think there will come a time when we simply do not need this (or that) nuclear power plant anymore? Decommissioning mentality not only forces your hand in that decision, by making nuclear power more expensive than it really is, it encourages a more insidious 'disposable culture' thinking, can't we just close this thing down and buy cheaper power over the wire, or elsewhere, today?

Which is why Americans no longer make things, use newly printed virtual currency to purchase consumer goods from China. The tide is turning on that and we'll see how it ends.

about three weeks ago
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Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source

TheRealHocusLocus Re:'Decommissioning' is a made-up scenario (235 comments)

Ok, how do you start upgrading? Oh yeah, you decommission the old one! So your whole argument makes very little sense...

If only it were that simple. See this NRC backgrounder on decommissioning nuclear power plants and 26 CFR 1.468A-5. It is a fund owned by customers, held in trust for complete plant dissolution. It cannot be borrowed from or against or used to upgrade the plant, even if this would result in a longer useful life. Typically these funds are held conservatively, though there have been attempts to tax them to higher heaven or play risky games.

Don't get me wrong, decommissioning funds are a good idea in general for industry, especially for anything involving radioactivity or stored chemicals. But you have to ask yourself for anything, such as my water or sewer plant example, is it likely that we will really want this thing to close and completely disappear in (x) years? If the answer is NO, the return-on-investment burden costs everyone money over it's lifetime because it stifles renovation and innovation. The higher cost and lower profit margin repels good stewards and attracts bad ones (like Dominion). Just as for life insurance, it's not healthy for any one or thing that is truly useful to be considered worth more dead than alive.

If anyone would attempt to impose such a trust to coal generating plants over a pre-determined lifespan with subsequent greenfield decommissioning, you'd hear some real noise. Then when those numbers change, aside from CO2 everyone might conclude that nuclear IS cheaper than coal, today!

"The useful is as beautiful as the beautiful." ~apologies to The Little Prince

about three weeks ago
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Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source

TheRealHocusLocus 'Decommissioning' is a made-up scenario (235 comments)

The biggest hand waving always comes with decommissioning

Okay, I'll wave my hands about and gobble about 'decommissioning'.

People tend to increase over time. Energy use increases over time. Globally we are not even close to providing the whole world with a grid coverage and capacity that provides the comfortable existence we ourselves would not tolerate losing. Every renewable dream has us whizzing around in electric vehicles. But this could come true only if the future is nuclear. The renewable numbers just don't work out, even when you imagine a magical solution to the storage problem, and especially when you include ground transportation.

So where did this 'decommissioning fable' come from? When was it decided --- and by whom --- that ~60 or so years hence there must be a desolate public park at every site chosen for a gigawatt nuclear plant, today?

Suggest to anyone that a water or sewage treatment plant cannot cost what it costs, it must also gather funds to fund its own destruction and demise and people will shake their heads. But this is crazy! The sewage will always flow downhill to here. We're not going to move a water plant, tear the pipes out of the ground and route them somewhere else. Oh, it's soo much different.

But is it really? Who is telling us we will be using less energy in the future? Should we listen to them?

Decommissioning funds gathered for nuclear plants may seem like a great idea, but it has also become an awful idea. It does not make nuclear energy any safer. It has promoted technological sloth, dissuaded investors from supporting (and injecting R&D to improve) the only clean base load energy source on the table. It has handicapped nuclear from being THE cheapest source of energy. It has enabled the most short-sighted and fuck-stupid forms of corporate vandalism. This is because when anyone owns or acquires an aging nuclear plant, they are faced with a choice --- whether to re-invest and re-structure to replace aging components, as they would for any other source, or trigger its destruction and unlock the magic chest of decommission funding. Getting a little kick to the balance sheet by rendering a productive energy source into a blight on the landscape, something intentionally broken that cannot be fixed.

Such as the Kewaunee Power Station which went offline in 2013 despite that it is in good condition, has maintained a healthy balance sheet, perfect safety record, operating license extended to 2033 and had six months' fuel left in the reactor. All because Dominion is riding the natural gas 'glut' at this brief moment in time. When the glut peaks out Dominion will invest in some other, dirtier short-term solution.

We should be upgrading these plants and taking them to the next level as we do with every other utility. Given the gigawatt-year track record they have demonstrated It is ludicrous to assume that any nuclear plant operating today deserves to be destroyed rather than upgraded. There are too few of them and they are too precious.

Do not feed the vultures.

___
Please see Thorium Remix and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate
Also of interest, Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Aerial or underground ? (516 comments)

Aerial, or underground, that is the question.

BOTH in the future, but keep in mind that none of these day to day repairs have anything to do with re-tooling the grid, which would will take $ trillions of dollars.

Aerial power lines are the practical rule in many towns and cities because space is tight and there is already ~80 years of infrastructure under ground. Ours has two electric utilities, in some intersections their feeders cross on two upper levels. In new subdivisions electric primaries have been buried in alleys with ground level transformers but in most places it's pole transformers and drop wires.

I routinely dig water and sewer mains in these places and cannot describe the rush of raking a backhoe tooth against a buried primary that was ~2.5' off the mark crossing over our sewer main. No flash-pow, it was just there. When it was laid boring crew did not realize their tool had gone halfway through a customer's sewer tap, not plugging it completely but breaking our main and causing problems for years. Imagine a rotating plumber's snake grinding against a 7kV power line (not in conduit). I still feel that electricity needs to be underground as a rule but in these areas better mapping to the inch would be a plus, and each utility presents its own locating challenge.

Aerial lines suck during ice storms and high winds and there is a constant battle with trees, but the plus is that everything is out of reach of people and floods, and the power company can visually inspect everything right up to your home. Considering the level of danger this is a BIG plus. And when you realize that the cost of putting everything underground in your neighborhood is an incredible capital expense that would not yield a single erg of new energy... well, I say don't hold your breath, live with it.

High voltage pylons between cities are another matter entirely. If a few buildings in your neighborhood go dark it's an inconvenience, but what of when whole cities go dark? There are too few alternate paths in our long haul grid. There is also the need to move to HVDC to couple the grids, to build more redundant overlapping 'loops'. This would improve efficiency and survivability. Here is where State and Federal government could make a real difference.

We have these superhighways you see, and all that is missing is a method to cut-and-drop a channel into them. We should be building electric pipelines in addition to oil pipelines. Robert Faulkner is a lone voice in this HVDC wilderness, and I tell of his quest in this Slashdot post.

___
Please see Thorium Remix and my own letters on energy,
  To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
  To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about three weeks ago
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Study: Space Rock Impacts Not Random

TheRealHocusLocus Please, help stamp out postage! (78 comments)

So you're just a little rock drifting in space, perhaps you have a bit of slow elliptical gig with the Sun or some heavy vector from rude encounters with other Astrobumps and potato-lumps. But these vectors have mostly cancelled each other and you're copa-centric with the solar system, just chillin'.

Every now and then you wiggle-woggle as a giant vacuum cleaner that is Jupiter or Mars passes, which leaves you a bit perturbed but its song is so enticing. You do a little dusting now and then to spruce up the neighborhood and your day/night sides fill you with just enough electrostatic tickle and a tug of graviton tockle to gather little bits. Just a big lovable clump, like a giant iron-filled molar enjoying the solitude of space grooving on the universe.

But the groove is changing. You are humming with beacons and bitcoms and bacon commercials, ringing with SATCOM beams and HF RTTY streams, and music and bouncy over-the-horizon PAVE PAWS and wave claws of a modern age. And music, voices! Millions of voices. Single sideband gwobbles and gwerps, AM throbby-bumps and gurgle-beats, quavering FM and chaotic barking bursty bits channelized and encrypted for your protection. Lissen up party people, meat is in the house. And it's talking.

And IT is the source, that THING, a rolling blue ball with puffy white squiggles tumbling towards you. Clearly this is a bad place to be because it is headed in your direction and its inhabitants are too stupid or inconsiderate to move it aside.

Its mass tugs at you as a thin layer of atmosphere sears blazing heat through your little rocky self. It becomes thicker and you dissolve in an explosion of heat and light. Your elementary particles will add mass to this malevolent menace as a few creatures point their stubby fingers at your death and say, "Ooooooooooooooo!".

Then they will get on their cell phones and blabble over the radio accusing YOU of attacking THEM.

Stoopid PEOPLE on their BIG BLUE DEATH MARBLE.

about three weeks ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

TheRealHocusLocus Re:That's the problem, you can't get U238 anymore. (523 comments)

This is one of my primary goals in life. Get nuclear more accepted in the US, then start building Thorium reactors across the country.

Glad to hear it! If we love our children, there really is nothing quite as important.

For every 1000kg of U-233 bred with thorium in a LFTR, ~15kg of Pu-238 is produced. Here is Kirk Sorensen discussing the waste stream of a two-fluid LFTR and a series of slides.

So every 1 gigawatt LFTR reactor would produce the necessary amount of Pu-238 to fuel ~3 Voyager-class (4.5kg) space probes, every year. Beyond Voyager's simple purpose and its 400 watt electronics package, think of what our space probes could do with more energy. Locomotion, drilling, small maneuvering adjustments or a steady acceleration using ion thrusters.

For more, see my letters on energy:
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate
and the the collected rants of the Trix Rabbit of Thorium.

about a month ago
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Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Li-Ion batteries aren't good for this role (41 comments)

This is not really about the use of Lion batteries. So Facebook is going to change out lead-acid systems that give ~20-30 minutes (MY guess, TFA does not say) to one that gives only 90 seconds for generator start.

That 'dragster' remark is cute but it falls flat with me. There is a whole class of real-world fail opened up here. 90 seconds is scarcely enough time for humans to respond, let alone diagnose and solve a problem. As a critical infrastructure IT admin I'd never want to commit to this. It is an example of one of those 'Faustian bargain' compromises over time that are making modern technology fragile (in a sneaky way that is no one's fault) , where the UPS maintainers are 'absolved' of responsibility for the Big Fail when it happens. Blame is shifted onto the generator maintainers --- who might have been able to solve the problem had they had more than 90 seconds in which to do so.

Not to mention that lead-acid batteries are mostly water and non-combustible sulfuric acid. A Li-Ion battery fire is 50 times nastier than a lead-acid battery fire, and produces a hell of a lot more noxious gases.

If you design a commercial class server farm without a physical fire/vapor room/wall between batteries and servers and a real DC bus you have already lost the battle, abandoned Bell Standard Practice. I remember when telling someone they were violating BSP was the worst thing you could say. Now it's like, "Bell Standard Practice? What's that? Look it's cool, we just unpack this stuff from the box, snap it together and it works!" Until it doesn't. Or a single battery catches fire and you have to clear the room and don moon suits.

There are other issues too. It's an environmental loser. If you're championing Lion over lead acid for vehicles you're a winner because there is no other way. But this move to install Lion over lead-acid in places where the additional sqft is available is silly. Lead acid maintenance and recycling is a no-brainer. But Lion? Taks a look at this article on state-of-the-art battery hazards and recycling. "it takes 6 to 10 times more energy to reclaim metals from some recycled batteries than it does to produce it through other means, including mining" and thus only a few companies are doing it, probably living on subsidy. The Lion boom is driven by China's rare earth industry, and you can be sure they'll turn the screws when assimilation is complete. There are even some who claim that due to economic reality, many Lion batteries, even the heavy duty ones, are dangerously destined for the landfill, a place lead-acid batteries do not go because their recycle process is mature and chemically simple.

So from here it really looks like Facebook is trying to eliminate a few blue-collar battery maintainer positions in their Data Center, at great cost, to their ultimate peril. Never mind that extra time to keep servers running while you fix faults, just chuck the old stuff, install these things, and... relax. The Big Fail will be no one's fault because the accountants have signed off on it.

Story of the modern world.

about a month ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

TheRealHocusLocus Wake up and smell the authoritarian malfeasance (334 comments)

TFA3 "Will Cheap Gas Undermine Climate-Change Efforts?" [...] "I don't think people will see the urgency of dealing with fossil fuels today," Perl said. Instead, he explained, people may choose to fill up their cars and burn fuel while the costs are low. [...] "This is like putting a Big Mac in front of people who need to diet or watch their cholesterol," Perl said. âoeSome people might have the willpower to stick with their program, and some people will wait until their first heart attack before committing to a diet --- but if we do that at a planetary scale it will be pretty traumatic."

This dialogue is straight from the United States' temperance movement that led up to a Constitutional amendment and a decade of peril, a black market economy comparable in size to the real one, and the Federally-subsidized ascension of organized crime. Some people think they are being proactive, easing their view of a world 'sin tax' as a way to stay global catastrophe. They are being hoodwinked into believing that unless they act soon by accepting some prepared package of countermeasures, some point of no return would be reached. This is being done in the traditional way, fronting claims that the (terrorists, evil corporations, fossil fuel interests) have "almost won".

But the real tripe, such as Perl spouts, misrepresents and marginalizes the personal motives among the poor and middle class folks who've managed to (just) stay afloat, and use their resources to acquire certain contested 'things'. Complicated and realistic motives, the whole spectrum of survival through pursuit of happiness (aka sanity) are reduced to some simple addict-reward-temperance model that suits the purpose. Then add a dash of global imperative and we have things like

I believe that the miseries consequent on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors are so great as imperiously to command the attention of all dedicated lives; and that while the abolition of American slavery was numerically first, the abolition of the liquor traffic is not morally second.
~Elizabeth Stuart Phelps who helped to 'ferment' a revolution

Abolish slavery, then alcohol? This lady says this in 1897, a time when neither women nor former slaves in the US were permitted to vote. Priorities problem, much? Now cheap gas and pure-CO2 is the alcohol of the 21st century, and the same style of temperance movement is forming. It is hip and trendy. No one will confront you if you publicly picket for temperance in these matters.

Perhaps they should. Because where the rubber hits the road, such temperance movements are ultimately damaging to society. Phelps may have believed that the abolition of alcohol would magically 'elevate the human condition' to such a degree that other pressing issues of her day would be somehow solved, that it was drunkenness that was denying women the vote, or any other issue of the day to which she could have refocused her effort.

I'll say it flat out. Real people tend to have rational and understandable reasons for doing what they do. They will choose a vehicle that can hold a family and haul a load with a measure of real metal to stabilize it and protect them. They will choose a $30k truck or minivan over a $50k Tesla because... they have a choice.

Real innovation arises by pursuing real solutions to problems that result in the right choice being the cheapest one, not the one least encumbered by taxation. The future does not depend on the 'price of gas'. Temperance movements are ultimately about removing choice from the equation.

about a month and a half ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

TheRealHocusLocus Narrow minded people rejoice! (282 comments)

Science is finding new ways to tell us apart from one another.

Well Lordy be, they chose a Climate Change issue to do a psychological study of people-perceptions, again. What a surprise. Perhaps a disproportionately large number of Republicans have encountered various other analyses that plot observed reality against model projection and said, "well maybe that 3.2degC is not so scientific after all." How did/could they control for the participants' private assessment of the "scientific" statement they were given?

I'd be more curious about the pollution portion, there is far less scientific dispute about the effects particulates and aerosols on people and planet. Too bad the press release didn't cover that. At $11.95 for the PDF its TE;DR.

The hidden component to these studies is not necessarily political people-prejudices or even brain wiring, it is how people perceive and apply risk. Without a pivot of risk you're not going to get a straight answer on anything. None of these issues (climate, pollution, guns) are simple.

For pure-CO2 global average temperature causation my risk-O-meter is barely twitching, just enough that I'll glance out of the corner of my eye for the huge juggernaut of extraordinary evidence that would be required to prove it at this point. It would be large enough to see from a distance and would be a great deal slower than a speeding train .

My other risk-O-meter is PEGGED, the one that attempts to assess my personal risk from politically motivated shoddy conclusions, emerging secular belief systems, 'new' government regulation (by a government that seems to have forgotten how to repeal anything, preferring to tune legislation to greater heights of obfuscation and uselessness) ... some of the dumb-ass solutions being proposed out there are TERRIFYING.

So if someone drew me into a study where I'm expected to weigh a stated 'problem' with and proposed 'solution' empirically, expecting me to decouple one from the other so they can draw some sort of conclusion from it, forget that.

If I had grown up in a place where solutions did not often create their own set of problems, that need to be weighed and factored --- such as inside a comic book --- maybe.

And I'm not even a Democrat or a Republican or liberal or conservative. That's just me looking at the world.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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HR 4681, Section 309: Hello NSA, Goodbye America.

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a week ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Stick a fork in the Republic, it's done. Hidden in the final version of the Intelligence Authorization Act HR 4681, passed by contemptuous "voice vote", is a section that, for the first time, codifies and implicitly authorizes the collection of communications (not just 'metadata') of Americans.

It seems that the NSA's backbone voice and Internet tap apparatus is chock-full of "Incidental Communications" — that is, "any nonpublic telephone or electronic communication acquired without the consent of a person who is a party to the communication, including communications in electronic storage" that has been obtained by "any intelligence collection activity not otherwise authorized by court order".

The gist of the legislation is, they are acknowledging the presence of this (illegal and unconstitutional) activity in the context of 'limiting' retention of these communications to five years. After five years a troop of Congressionally Authorized Boy Scouts will tour NSA facilities and supervise the removal of your telephone calls and email. And you know they will. It is time for us to completely dismantle, de-fund, de-construct and defame the NSA for what it has done, and smite Section 309, which says it's perfectly all right for Americans to spy on Americans 'for five years'. Or as we IT folks know, forever."

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Google challenges us on the Future of Energy

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a month ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Google's Ross Koningstein and David Fork have published a interesting article at IEE Spectrum that describes the impetus behind the REC Initiative and sobering conclusions on the most popular renewable energy sources today. It also issues a challenge: not only must we find a source that is theoretically cheaper than coal, "What’s needed, we concluded, are reliable zero-carbon energy sources so cheap that the operators of power plants and industrial facilities alike have an economic rationale for switching over soon---say, within the next 40 years."

It makes good sense, a 40 year deadline. Energy is the catalyst of our modern life, as substantial as any physical product. Cheap base load electricity delivered by grid is the running water of the industrial age. Its effect on quality of life and economic health is analogous to the effect of clean drinking water on public health. Robert Hargraves is one who has also been promoting a carbon-neutral energy source that might provide electricity cheaper than coal and provide raw process heat for making synfuels. What other game-changing ideas are out there?"

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The Day Israel Attacked the NSA

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a month and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Al Jazeera's recent showing of Richard Belfield's documentary The Day Israel Attacked America is the latest telling of a June 8, 1967 incident that survivors unanimously declare to be an unprovoked and deliberate attack, with clear intent to sink the USS Liberty SIGINT ship with all hands. Along with the BBC's excellent 2002 documentary, it has scarcely been covered by networks in the US itself, save a 60 Minutes segment years ago. James Bamford's NSA exposé Body of Secrets offers a riveting chapter on the harrowing incident. While the Liberty Incident Wikipedia page is information-rich, it has also been a battleground as editors attempt to merge survivors' accounts (often irreconcilably) with official narrative from US and Israeli government sources. WikiSpooks' Liberty article has more to chew on and its reliable sources page is a must-read.

Questions remain, such as why Secretary of Defense Robert Macnamera recalled air support and rescue (twice), the odd indifference of the Johnson Administration and circumstances surrounding our involvement in the Six-Day War, which may have brought us to the brink of nuclear conflict with the USSR. If you love whiteouts and blanked audio you can even browse NSA's own Liberty collection, some materials added in response to FOIA requests.."
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Survive (and Party) Like It's 1920!

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "The Survivor Library is gathering essential knowledge that would be necessary to jump-start modern civilization, should it fail past the point where a simple 'reboot' is not possible. Much of it (but not all) dates to the late 1800s and early 1900s: quaint, but we know these things work because they did work. Does modern civilization offer a real backup-pan? Not a priority. Wait for help. In 1978 James Burke said our modern world has become a trap, and whether it springs shut or not all true roads to survival lead to the plow. Could you make one, use one? Sure, even a steam engine to pull it. I rescued my copy of Henley's Formulas from a dumpster outside a library. This is happening all over. It makes my blood run cold.

Think of it Survivor Library as a trove of survival skills, a "100 year civilization checkpoint backup" that fits on a hard drive. If one individual from every family becomes a Librarian, gathering precious things with the means to read them, there may be many candles in the darkness. You might even ensure survival. Browse at will, but if acquisition is the goal, someone has kindly made a torrent snapshot as of 14-Oct-2014 available to all Ferengis. If the worst happens we'll just party like it's 1920. See you there."

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When Snowden speaks, future lawyers (and judges) listen

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "We are witness to an historic 'first': an individual charged with espionage and actively sought by the United States government has been (virtually) invited to speak at Harvard Law School, with applause. HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig conducted the hour-long interview last Monday with a list of questions by himself and his students.

Some interesting jumps are Snowden's assertion that mass domestic intercept is an 'unreasonable seizure' under the 4th Amendment, it also violates 'natural rights' that cannot be voted away even by the majority, a claim that broad surveillance detracts from the ability to monitor specific targets such as the Boston Marathon bombers, calls out Congress for not holding Clapper accountable for misstatements, and laments that contractors are exempt from whistleblower protection though they do swear an oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. These points have been brought up before. But what may be most interesting to these students is Snowden's suggestion that a defendant under the Espionage act be permitted to present an argument before a jury that the act was committed "in the public interest". Could this pure-judicial move help ensure a fair trial for whistleblowers whose testimony reveals Constitutional violation?

Professor Lessig wraps up the interview by asking Snowden, Hoodies or Suits? “Hoodies all the way. I hope in the next generation we don't even have suits anymore, they're just gone forever.”"

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Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's do both, smartly

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none" which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent hello again, still making progress reminder — I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a ground swell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" Do you think fusion is 'the' solution, and yields 'no' radioactive waste?

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were '100% clean'. I think that a low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. Because LFTR is a sure thing. It is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. Yes those are my opinions, but I've been looking into this for awhile. There is plenty of cross-over, LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR. Four hours well spent. Saving humanity is worth having at least two eggs in the basket."
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A Cyber 'Cold War'? Let the new generation opt out now!

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 3 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "So here we go. The New York Times is quoting "people briefed on the matter" who allege that the JP Moprgan data thieves "are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government". This becomes a front page item on the Times. Drudge Report dipped into their stock photo bin and plopped a huge Putin photo, one of those pensive ones like he's hiding something.

I remember a time when a respectable news source would be reluctant to take such a claim to the front page on an unnamed single source, let alone tossing out those "loose connections". And of course the Sanctions are brought in, it could be an act of "retaliation"... in case you didn't know. My bullshit detector is going off. I've seen the former Soviet Union evolve into an amazingly diverse culture that is well reprresented on the Internet. This culture has grown alongside our own and runs the gamut of characters: tirelessly brilliant open source software developers, fine commercial products, basement kiddles from script to l33t, and yes — even groups affiliated with organized crime syndicates. This is no surprise and these exist in the US. Ask your local bank what card skimmers are. Are we ready to go full-political on this computer security issue, where who and where diddit is more important than how to lock it down? If Joe Smart from Nashville owns a Russian bank would we expect to see a pensive Obama photo in the Moscow Times?

Let us stay this madness. How do you Slashdotters feel about these growing 'tensions' and what can we do to help bring some moderate balance to the table? And my Russian friends, how do you feel about being implicated thus? Are you all KGB agents? You can speak up, we're all alone here. Signed: been through one Cold War and don't want another."

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The Rise of Wagnerian Science [corr]

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Just encountered Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] from master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli, whose 2009 work on scientific misconduct was covered on Slashdot. He finds "the proportion of papers that, having declared to have tested a hypothesis, reported a full or partial support has grown by more than 20% between 1990 and 2007." Does this mean that as a species, we are becoming better at guessing — or are there other forces at work?

One thing that jumped at me in Fanelli's paper [Fig 3, p7] was the smoothness of this progression for the US authors, as compared with other countries. Richard Feynman noted "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting." Are we seeking those things? Newton was almost right. Bereft of rigorous testing to invalidate popular hypotheses, would we be likely to notice "negative results" such as the disparities that led into quantum mechanics, today? Or would they be swept under the rug of selective funding and implied consensus?

Years ago when listening to The Ring I found myself switching the turntable to 78rpm to complete the Cycle in a few hours — its musical sentiment was soo obvious and I "see" where it was going. Science should embody more Contrapunctus, a fugue where negative and positive entwine in a thoughtful dance. Writing this summary I must endeavor not to relate this to climate science. Oops."

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The Rise of Wagnerian Science

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 months ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Just encountered Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] from master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli, whose 2009 work on scientific misconduct was covered on Slashdot. She finds "the proportion of papers that, having declared to have tested a hypothesis, reported a full or partial support has grown by more than 20% between 1990 and 2007." Does this mean that as a species, we are becoming better at guessing — or are there other forces at work?

One thing that jumped at me in Fanelli's paper [Fig 3, p7] was the smoothness of this progression for the US authors, as compared with other countries. Richard Feynman noted "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting." Are we seeking those things? Newton was almost right. Bereft of rigorous testing to invalidate popular hypotheses, would we be likely to notice "negative results" such as the disparities that led into quantum mechanics, today? Or would they be swept under the rug of selective funding and implied consensus?

Years ago when listening to The Ring I found myself switching the turntable to 78rpm to complete the Cycle in a few hours — its musical sentiment was soo obvious and I "see" where it was going. Science should embody more Contrapunctus, a fugue where negative and positive entwine in a thoughtful dance. Writing this summary I must endeavor not to relate this to climate science. Oops."

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Death to the Trapezoid.. Small aggravations and big 'fails'

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  1 year,16 days

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told-- just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?"
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The Dismantling of POTS: bold move or grave error?

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  1 year,19 days

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "The FCC is drafting rules to formalize the process of transition of "last-mile" subscriber circuits to digital IP-based data streams. The move is lauded by AT&T Chairman Tom Wheeler who claims that significant resources are spent to maintain 'legacy' POTS service, though some 100 million still use it. POTS, or 'Plain Old Telephone Service' is the analog standard that allows the use of simple unpowered phone devices on the wire, with the phone company supplying ring and talk voltage. I cannot fault progress, in fact I'm part of the problem: I gave up my dial tone a couple years ago because I needed cell and could not afford to keep both. But what concerns me is, are we poised to dismantle systems that are capable of standing alone to keep communities and regions 'in-touch' with each other, in favor of systems that rely on centralized (and distant) points of failure? Despite its analog limitations POTS switches have enforced the use of hard-coded local exchanges and equipment that will faithfully complete local calls even if its network connections are down. But do these IP phones deliver the same promise? For that matter, is any single local cell tower isolated from its parent network of use to anyone at all? I have had a difficult time finding answers to this question, and would love savvy /. folks to weigh in: In a disaster that isolates the community from outside or partitions the country's connectivity — aside from local Plain Old Telephone Service, how many IP and cell phones would continue to function? Are we setting ourselves up for a 'fail'?"
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If ONLY Compact Flourescernt Bulbs are lighting this room, right now...

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "POLL IDEA

* They better for me AND I want to threaten everyone to use them with a stick
* Illumination is BETTER than incandescent bulbs
* No difference, who cares
* Illumination is WORSE than incandescent bulbs
* Worse for me AND I want to break them all with a stick
* Naver mind this bulb business, I just want to use the stick
* Disqualified: I have an incandescent desk lamp, I am blind or all my bulbs have burned out"
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Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 40-Year Old Technology

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Paul Rosenberg has uncovered some surprising new evidence that manned space travel is not only possible, it has actually been achieved using decades-old technology. Some 40 years in the making, a tale too amazing to remain untold. With a few quaint photographs he asks, could we build this? The answer is no. Or is it? It is uplifting to read that "Productive humans have been delegated to mute observance as their hard-earned surplus is syphoned off to capital cities, where it is sanctimoniously poured down a sewer of cultured dependencies and endless wars..." for it must take something really compelling to prevent us from reaching the stars, and he has nailed it. This essay makes the case that the headliner of 2052 may well be: Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 80-Year Old Technology. I can hardly wait! Down with robots."
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The future of energy must be crowdsourced, needs your help

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "It wants to power our grid — completely. It wants to eat our existing nuclear waste, all of it. It does not want to explode or release radioactivity via steam or overpressure. Oil companies are trying to make you fear it (duh). The Big Nuclear Industry will not touch it because it eats anything, and they cannot lock you in to a solid fuel contract. Environmentalists are still confusing it with 'traditional' melt boom irradiate nuclear power technology. Kirk Sorensen wants to tell you about it. TFA is two hours long but there is not a idle moment in here, it's a mini physics course in itself. This is all about keeping the lights on, surviving the Winter, keeping our technological lead."
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How 'hackable' is EAS? This just in: Zombie acopalypse in Montanna

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 years ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Perhaps uncoincidentally with the Walking Dead's return on AMC, unknown persons have managed to inject a fake EAS (Emergency Alert System) message into the stream of KRTV in Great Falls, Montana. From CONELRAD [1951-1963] to EBS [1963-1997] to modern EAS, the US has had infrastructure in place for an attention signal to alert a hierarchical network of broadcast stations. In 1979 I conducted weekly EBS tests at a small FM station which always required direct operator action. But now so many stations run unattended, it is surprising incidents like this do not happen more often. But this begs the age old question: how could you secure such a network without introducing excessive complexity, reducing reliability?"
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Only two real challenges face us today, besides restraint (for comment)

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 years ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "There are only two real challenges to face in this world.

There is only only one doomsday scenario that requires us to come together and take action to ensure our survival: to deploy technology that can identify, then divert or destroy asteroids on a course to impact our planet.

There is only one actual piece of social engineering that needs to occur to ensure our survival: to marginalize the opposition to nuclear energy and to build and scale up efficient and safe modern designs to completely power our electric grids with enough surplus energy for electric ground transportation, trains, cars and trucks. To gather and store the nuclear waste responsibly until breeder technology matures. The developing world wants electric grids (not our charity dollars), in the developed world the grids are the only thing between us and the dark ages. Coal, oil and gas harm the environment and their depletion curves yield a perpetual resource war and eventual doom. Disaster-hardened underground nuclear reactors hold the ONLY real promise we have for continued existence in the style to which we are accustomed.

That's it. Only two challenges. All the rest are matters that may be solved with restraint.

This practice of taking issues such as violence and war or drug abuse or overpopulation, and treating them as 'disasters' and not issues of restraint — worries me. It is a grave mental disorder to portray them as anything more than they are, simple issues of personal restraint.

John Galt's motor does not exist. Fusion even if it proves possible will not be scalable soon enough. Hydrogen is a great fuel for transportation but it requires energy for harvest. Nuclear fission is the *only* energy source that could keep us alive through a long dark winter so it must be pursued — until it is perfected, to the exclusion of everything else.

In other words, GROW UP humanity, this little recess from technological innovation while we burn off the oil and turn away from danger in the sky, is over. It's time to get back to work."

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