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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

jeff4747 Re:In Finland (508 comments)

Even in places where hurricanes and earthquakes are common they put electric lines on wooden poles with the result that when an earthquake occurs or a hurricane blows through the streets are literally covered with downed power lines. I live in an earthquake prone region where we almost exclusively use underground wiring. We've never had an outage because of an earthquake.

And I lived in Los Angeles and never had an outage because of an earthquake. Had many earthquakes, including some pretty big ones that destroyed a lot of buildings near the epicenter. I now live in a place that sees a major hurricane every 20 years or so, and got to experience that firsthand.

Anyway, we put the wires on wooden poles for three reasons:

  1. 1- We have a shitload of wood. That makes the poles very cheap.
  2. 2- They're pretty fast and inexpensive to repair.
  3. 3- We've got a lot more distance to cover. So we've got a lot more power lines and burying all of them costs a lot more.

The power lines usually have enough slack to deal with the earthquake itself. Something falling on the power line can obviously cause a problem, but that's not likely to happen unless you're very close to the epicenter and it's a big earthquake.

In hurricane prone areas, new construction usually requires the bottom floor to not be living space, and it's usually built in a way to resist flooding. For example, the building is actually on pilings and the bottom floor's walls are built to break away. However, that's new construction. We've got many decades of old buildings still out there. When you've got places that regularly go 60+ years between storms, it's going to take a long time for the old buildings to be "forcefully upgraded".

As for wood construction, that remains popular because we have a shitload of wood. Building out of concrete is vastly more expensive. And when it comes to earthquakes, wood buildings tend to do better. Wood can flex, versus a concrete building cracking under the strain. The main problem becomes sufficiently anchoring the wood to the foundation, and a tough enough foundation to withstand the shaking.

As for your comments about New Orleans reconstruction, many of the areas are so far below sea level that a single "flood safe" level isn't enough. The house would have to be built very high to keep it above all potential flooding, which costs way too much for an event that is unlikely to repeat for a few decades. And in theory the levees are supposed to prevent flooding to begin with.

2 days ago
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Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

jeff4747 Re:sooo.... (305 comments)

The stars that are close enough to Earth for a GRB to be dangerous can't produce a GRB. So it's not so much "in between bursts" as being in the right place.

3 days ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

jeff4747 Re:I got a better idea... (554 comments)

Pssst....Income taxes are not the only taxes.

That bottom 40% is paying lots of other taxes. Those other taxes just aren't as expensive to the top 1%, so people like you pretend they don't exist.

about two weeks ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

jeff4747 Re:Oh fark off (554 comments)

There's two separate gas taxes in California.

The federal gas tax is used only for roads and bridges. That is the subject of this article. Raising that would not give the bozos in Sacramento more money. It would give the Highway Trust Fund more money.

States can add their own gas taxes on top of the federal gas tax. California has, and uses that money in California's general fund.

Wanna fix California's funding problem? Dump the insanity that is Prop 13.

about two weeks ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

jeff4747 Re:Oh fark off (554 comments)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

100% of the federal gas tax goes to roads and bridges via the Highway Trust Fund. 0% goes to the general fund.

Instead, the general fund has been tapped multiple times recently to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.

Raising the gas tax in California is irrelevant, since the subject at hand is the federal gas tax - you'd be raising it in every state.

about two weeks ago
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HBO To Offer Online Streaming Without TV Subscription

jeff4747 Re:Total Isolation? (139 comments)

If the likes of ESPN and the NFL make stand-alone streaming services (I believe they have the "requires cable subscription" offerings at the moment, like HBO already has) then it could be the death knell of cable subscriptions in our country

Here ya go: https://gamerewind.nfl.com/nfl...

Every single NFL game this season. Downside is you can only watch a game after it ends, but in an era of DVRs that's pretty common anyway.

about a month and a half ago
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Ebola Has Made It To the United States

jeff4747 Re:Airplane Petri Dish (475 comments)

Mutation doesn't work that way. Putting the two viruses in the same person does not actually mix the viruses. They're each independent organisms.

Can anyone advise why I should not be terrified to be on the same plane with an Ebola carrier regardless of assurances by medical officials that it is not that contagious.

Because the people coming from the area with the epidemic are screened before they get on an airplane. For example, they are checked for fever.

If they have symptoms, they aren't allowed on the plane. If they do not have symptoms, they are not contagious.

about 2 months ago
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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

jeff4747 Re:Mod up 1000+ (448 comments)

Yes, you really did get that backwards.

Here's a picture of the Shah having a chat with Kennedy in the White House.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi...

And Nixon was so incensed by that "non-dollar oil sales" that Nixon went to visit the Shah after he was deposed.

During his second exile, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi traveled from country to country seeking what he hoped would be temporary residence. First he flew to Assuan, Egypt, where he received a warm and gracious welcome from President Anwar El-Sadat. He later lived in Morocco as a guest of King Hassan II, as well as in the Bahamas, and in Cuernavaca, Mexico, near Mexico City, as a guest of José López Portillo. Richard Nixon, the former president, visited the Shah in summer 1979 in Mexico.

And then when the Shah got sick, the USAF flew him to the US for medical treatment.

The Shah suffered from gallstones that would require prompt surgery. He was offered treatment in Switzerland, but insisted on treatment in the United States.

On 22 October 1979, President Jimmy Carter reluctantly allowed the Shah into the United States to undergo surgical treatment at the New York–Weill Cornell Medical Hospital. While in Cornell Medical Center, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi used the name "David D. Newsom" as his temporary code name, without Newsom's knowledge.

The Shah was taken later by U.S. Air Force jet to Kelly Air Force Base in Texas and from there to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base.[75] It was anticipated that his stay in the United States would be short; however, surgical complications ensued, which required six weeks of confinement in the hospital before he recovered. His prolonged stay in the United States was extremely unpopular with the revolutionary movement in Iran, which still resented the United States' overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddegh and the years of support for the Shah's rule. The Iranian government demanded his return to Iran, but he stayed in the hospital

So...we disappointed our good friends who deposed the hated Shah by treating him and then protecting him in the US, or you got it backwards.

Btw, written on the US/english Wikipedia page about "that Shah" is

The Shah's diplomatic foundation was the United States' guarantee that they would protect him, which was what enabled him to stand up to larger enemies.

There are three instances of the word "dollar" on that page, and none of them have to do with oil sales.

Also, Nixon wasn't president in 1963. Kennedy was until November, then LBJ was. So how, exactly, did the Shah "bluntly refuse toward Nixon" in 1963 when Nixon was not at all part of the government? All Nixon was in 1963 was ex-Vice President who lost to Kennedy.

about 3 months ago
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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

jeff4747 Re:What's wrong with keys? (448 comments)

They get in the way at very bad times.

Let's say we're in a war with an enemy that isn't woefully under-equipped. Your tank battalion pulls up to resupply and repair. Tanks are shut off while this is going on.

Then the bad guys drop a bunch of bombs on you. You and most of your tank crew survives. Unfortunately, the tank commander who had the keys is now a fine mist settling onto the ground. Alternatively, half of your crew is dead, half of another tank's crew is dead. If there were no keys, you could operate one tank. As it is, you can operate zero.

And then it turns out the airstrike was followed up by the bad guy's tanks rolling over the next hill.

Give keys to everyone? Now you've defeated the purpose of keys, because there are such a massive number of keys that "the bad guys" will find at least one.

Or if you'd like a less spectacular scenario, keys have a failure rate. You don't want to be waiting for a locksmith during a war.

about 3 months ago
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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

jeff4747 Re:Mod up 1000+ (448 comments)

If the USA had not meddled with the Shah, whom they disliked

You got that backwards.

In 1941, the Shah was deposed. Iran ended up with a secular, communist-leaning government, last run by this guy, who wanted to nationalize the oil industry.

That upset the US, so we worked with the Islamic fundamentalists to overthrow the secular government and re-install the Shah in 1953. The Shah turned against the fundamentalists, leading to the 1979 revolution.

about 3 months ago
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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

jeff4747 Re:Mod up 1000+ (448 comments)

You might have heard about this guy named "Oliver North". He might have a wee bit to do with the current state of Iran's F-14 fleet.

about 3 months ago
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Tesla's Next Auto-Dealer Battleground State: Georgia

jeff4747 Re:an insight into the stagnation (157 comments)

A far greater insight can be achieved by looking at the statistics they used to declare the sales "stagnant".

Electric car sales fell 0.1% as a proportion of total car sales....during an August with more car sales than have been seen in years.

In other words, they held about the same percentage of sales when total sales massively shot up, despite the very small number of models available. That ain't stagnant.

about 3 months ago
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New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

jeff4747 Re:In 14 years practising emergency medicine (595 comments)

We should treat it as possible, instead of insisting it never happens because we have not personally experienced it.

about 3 months ago
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New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

jeff4747 Re:brilliant, but with a few flaws. (595 comments)

unless you're Penn Jillette, most men do not wear nail polish.

The test chemical is clear. As a result, you could put it in a clear nail polish, which would not be extremely obvious on people who don't normally wear nail polish.

about 3 months ago
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New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

jeff4747 Re:In 14 years practising emergency medicine (595 comments)

In 40 years of living on this planet, I've never had a heart attack. And no one I've personally known has had one. Therefore, heart attacks never happen. Ever. To anyone.

Alternatively, we could learn the difference between "anecdote" and "statistics".

about 3 months ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

jeff4747 Re:What's the point? (511 comments)

And we can thank C for the kernel. Doesn't mean we have to choose C for new development.

about 3 months ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

jeff4747 What's the point? (511 comments)

The problem is what's the point of Java?

If speed is absolutely critical, you're going to go with C/C++/ASM/whatever native-compiled-language works well for your problem.

If speed is not absolutely critical, there's plenty of "scripting" languages that get the job done more easily with less code. And if you're talking about something cloud-based, you can probably handle the lower speed of these options by adding another server node.

Java seems to be in the middle ground where it's more cumbersome than the "scripting" options, yet slower than the "native" options. Leaving not much of a reason to choose it in the vast majority of cases.

Java just doesn't seem to have much a a role today beyond "Google decided to use it for Android apps".

about 3 months ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

jeff4747 Re:But... (193 comments)

You either need a giant bank of HDDs to store a snapshot of the data before it's written to tape, or a system that can handle large inconsistencies in data caused by the slow write speed.

You'd still need some inconsistency handling for Blu-ray, but it's a lot faster than tape so there's a lot less to handle.

about 3 months ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

jeff4747 Re:But... (193 comments)

Maybe he was just smart enough to figure out that you don't have to power HDDs when they aren't in use either, and whomever said they do is an idiot.

5 Blu-ray drives, autoloader with thousands of disks. When not operating, you are powering the SATA-or-similar interface for 5 drives and 1 autoloader.

2000 HDDs. When not operating, you are powering the SATA-or-similar interface for 2000 drives.

2000 > 5 + 1.

I know! Let's pay people to go unplug the 2000 drives. That'll make it cheaper!!!

Or we'll kill power to the entire cabinet, that way we'll have no clue how many of the HDDs are still at all operable. It'll be so much more exciting!

Even better, we can use the suggestion repeated over and over again to use laptop drives, with MTBF 1/1000th of an "enterprise" drive. That'll save thousands in power, while paying tens of thousands in maintenance personnel.

about 3 months ago
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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

jeff4747 Re:But... (193 comments)

Couldn't get all the way to the 7th sentence of the summary?

about 3 months ago

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