Back to: What I published in 2018

Crawling from the wreckage

So, 2018 is nearly over, at last. It was an absolute shit-show of a year for numerous reasons. On a personal level, I'll be remembering it primarily as the year I hit a personal wall, flaming out and delivering a novel six months late (for the first time in my career). In reaction to which, I decided to take a six month sabbatical (my first break from writing in a decade) ... then had the sabbatical interrupted by a family medical crisis, of the "an immediate relative spends three months on a stroke ward and will never recover" variety.

In comparison with the global political picture, my personal 2018 was all butterflies and rainbows. 2018 was the year that the global climate change alarm sirens began to sound continuously, with wildfires and heat emergencies and melting icecaps. 2018 was also, by no coincidence whatsoever, the year in which the global neo-Nazi movement made considerable headway, with neo-fascist demagogues grabbing power in Brazil, tightening their stranglehold in India, the Philippines, Turkey, the USA, Italy, and elsewhere. The UK was, for a third consecutive year, paralyzed by the utter shit-show that is Brexit, with the deadline now looming less than 100 days ahead of us. It was the year in which it became glaringly clear that the 2016 US election was rigged by a combination of election fraud and AI-controlled targeting of individual voters by state-level propaganda systems in order to amplify internal hatred and dissent: and that the same people and tools used in the US campaign had also driven the Brexit referendum result, and were in use elsewhere around the world.

I am looking for any silver linings to 2018 and coming up blank.

So, can you help me? What was the good side of 2018, the things we should remember this year for happily rather than with a curse?

941 Comments

| Leave a comment
1:

The goings on in deep corners of maths and physics are starting to bear fruit.
The places dark matter and dark energy can hide are getting squeezed.
The foundations of mathematics, even useful bits, are getting worked.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homotopy_type_theory

2:

"the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

That's all I've got -- and it isn't much against the gathering shitstorm.

3:

The war in Syria is winding down, so that at least is less bad.

Also the north/South Korean situation seems less fraught.

4:

The first woman Doctor

New Horizons arrives at Ultima Thule

Black Panther

Into the Spiderverse

My wife finally had her long-overdue gallbladder removal and it went well

5:

Not so much for 2018, but in 2019, Australia will finally get an adult government after the lastr5 year shitshow.

6:

Sorry you had such a hard year, btw. Losing a parent is really tough, especially as it means you are now the adult.

7:

Most of us are alive.
I count that as a positive.

8:


Clever folk successfully grew human esophageal tissue in the lab for the first time.

Ethiopia & Eritrea finally made peace after twenty odd years of hot & cold conflict. Hopefully it will stick.

Folk fold some evidence for surface water ice on the moon.

I really enjoyed The Labyrinth Index :-)

MASCOT landed on the asteroid Ryugu.

More robots on and around Mars. Oh and NASA are on course to send a helicopter there too.

N. K. Jemisin's well deserved triple at the Hugos — and the fact that the puppy asshats seem to have finally f**ked off completely.

Neat advances in 3D bio-printing.

Some evidence for extragalactic planets.

The ozone layer is healing faster that we thought it was.

The Armenian revolution — an strangely almost unreported victory for civic disobedience & democracy.

The new Doctor Who season was excellent, and rated well. Ditto for the Black Panther movie. Ditto for Into the Spider-Verse movie… it's almost like you can make successful mainstream films and series that aren't full of CHWDs.

The US midterms. Not so much for the result, but for the kinds of people running (and winning.)

We found a new class of antibiotics Odilorhabdins.

We saw an intersteller object wander through the solar system.

9:

Most of whom?

Is that based on the assumption that only living people comment on Charlie's blog? (Probably true that the live commenters outnumber the dead, but I wouldn't lay money that the occasional revenant doesn't appear).

Or is it based on the assumption that 'we/us' live in the West, where our chances (whatever the past/growing shitstorm around us) of surviving this far (if not as comfortably as we'd like) are better than those in less fortunate places.

I've had a pacemaker implanted this year, which has improved my life quality and survival chances. I wish the same opportunity was available to others elsewhere in a war-torn climate-scarred health-insurance-limited reactionary-controlled world, but I know that it isn't...

10:

Let’s see.

1. The US system of checks and balances did what it’s founding fathers intended and constrained the actions of a President who clearly doesn’t give a fig for democracy or the rule of law.

2. All those thousands of nuclear weapons remained quietly ticking and whirring away unused in their bunkers and siloes

3. Solar and wind power costs continue to fall.

4. More people had full bellies this year than last.

11:

As noted above, even with a slanted, gerrymandered field, the Democrats took the House in the U.S, which will be something of a brake or impediment to President Trump.

13:

As far as I have been able to interpret available data, the worldwide number of people living in extreme poverty has been declining. That is positive.

The downside of that is, however, the increased use of non-renewable resources.

14:

Re: 'unhistoric acts'

Agree. Stories/events that immediately came to mind:

1- 'MPRracoon' that successfully scaled a 25 story building
2- Thai cave rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach

Both stories showed that there's still some humanity on this planet. The raccoon story had people in several countries cheering. Yes, a raccoon is usually regarded as one of a handful of urban/suburban pests when it shows up in the backyard which makes it an encouraging sign that so many people did watch this news story and seemed to genuinely care about its welfare and not wish it ill. The Thai cave rescue story took much longer to unfold, had potentially dire consequences to fellow humans, showed how quickly and easily strangers/foreigners can come together to figure out and implement a plan for the benefit of someone they don't know and at considerable personal risk to themselves. (One former Thai navy seal died while returning from placing air tanks along the route to the cave where the boys and coach were found.) No politics, no money, just fellow critters/humans.


On the sci-tech side, my favorite story is the graphene water filter that can desalinate as well as remove pesticides and other unwanted materials from water. While this isn't a completely new (2018) story, it's encouraging that each year this idea is being improved upon therefore offering hope of a practical solution on both small and large scales. (At least we can avoid water wars.)

https://www.ft.com/content/d768030e-d8ec-11e7-9504-59efdb70e12f


And, because I happen to like both music and bio-pics: the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. What really made me laugh was how some things never change: the official music critics panned it while the fans loved it.

15:

Charlie: YOU have noticed, as many others have not that India is going down the tubes, because of Modi & his BJP nutters, here the Philippines are ignored, though I think Bolsanaro has raised warnings ( There’s a large Portuguese/Brazilian community in London ) Turkey we all know about … Italy will probably implode, simply because of comparison with Musso … they don’t want to go down that road again …

For good news, look to the science & medicine pages, I suppose, as always.

barren-samadhi @ 3
Actually, not good - the Kurds are going to get the Armenian-1916 treatment by Erdogan, unless they are lucky.
Question: How will the rest of NATO react when a member starts really committing extermination-atrocities?

Matt s @ 10
1 – really? … 2, 3, & 4 YES!

16:

Meanwhile, if you want a brief laugh Try this for size?

17:

Really like this. Surprised it didn't get coverage on google news:

https://www.theoceancleanup.com/system001/

18:

The #MeToo movement has started to make some real impact, cutting into teh patriarchal system with all the ramifications for the future. Assuming it doesn't flame out or end up un gutted in a backlash, I think this bodes well for the future of the status of 50% of the planet. It's only been how many thousands of years...?

19:

My answer will be spread out among several posts

Space

1. Humanity launched more than 100 rockets for the first times since 1990 (114 in 2018 vs 120 in 1990)

2. SpaceX met 3 of the 5 goals they set out for this year (launch of the Falcon Heavy, launch of the Starlink prototype, launch/multiple re-use of the Block 5). In addition, they will begin Grasshopper-like tests of the BFR in March 2019.

3. Here are the achievements of w.r.t. solar system exploration
Sun: Parker Solar Probe launched
Mercury: BepiColombo launched
The Moon: Chang'e 4 launched, and the Queqiao satellite entered L2 orbit
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang%27e_4#Science_payloads
This doesn't count as 2018, but India's Chandrayaan-2 orbiter/lander/rover combo is launching on Jan 3.
Mars: The InSight lander landed, we discovered liquid water under Mars' Pole, and surface Ice at Korolev Crater. It was decided that the 2020 rover will have a helicopter drone
Asteroids: Hayabusa2's mission at Ryugu, OSIRIS-Rex arrived at asteroid Bennu to begin its sample return mission
Outer solar system: Ultima Thule
Extrasolar planets: the launch of TESS to replace the dying Kepler, the first discovery of an exomoon (a neptune-size object around a supergiant).

4. The cubesat market is going from strength to strength. RocketLabs has launched 3 successful rockets, and approached a tempo of 1 rocket/month. This should prove exciting going into 2019. In addition, microsats and cubesats were used as part of the Chang'e 4 and InSight missions.

5. Speaking of Starlink, the prototype for the the Hongyan constellation launched on Dec 29. This is China's Starlink competitor, a "constellation of 320 M2M communications satellites."

20:

Ireland finally repealed the 8th and in two days time the legislation comes into force.

Meanwhile, I was thinking that there was a time when 2016 was the bad year, and then came to realize that a chunk of the immediate trigger events for today's hilarity (Brexit, Trump) could be traced to then. Gah.

21:

Tech

1. Apple GO cashierless stores. So far, they've tested a few prototypes that have been so successful Amazon is considering expanding the project to airports
https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/07/amazons-cashier-free-go-stores-may-be-coming-to-airports/

2.Wearables are becoming more ubiquitous. The growth isn't as rapid as smartphones, so it was largely ignored. Nevertheless, the growth does resemble the Ipod. This shows how much our expectations have increased
https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/29/analysts-are-still-bullish-on-wearables/
https://www.statista.com/statistics/276307/global-apple-ipod-sales-since-fiscal-year-2006/
As a bonus, we finally have a working ECG on the most popular smartwatch
https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/06/the-apple-watchs-ecg-feature-goes-live-today/

3. Cameras have continued their slow-and-steady improvements
https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/22/the-future-of-photography-is-code/
https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/30/moment-lenses-the-dslr-killer-a-review/

4. VR/AR is still growing slowly. It's still a niche product, but it hasn't died yet.
https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/03/apples-ar-bet-still-has-a-lot-to-prove/
https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/23/tc-sessions-ar-vr-surveys-an-industry-in-transition/
https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/09/facebook-launches-ar-effects-tied-to-real-world-tracking-markers/
https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/11/where-experiential-virtual-reality-is-heading/

5. Half the world's population is now online

6. Africa's tech sector is booming
https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/23/the-intensifying-battle-for-africas-burgeoning-tech-landscape-2/

22:

*It's weird, but I think the alarm bells screaming on climate change are a good thing. They've been ringing since the 1980s, but we've managed to ignore them regardless. I'm getting the sense that we're at a tipping point, not just the climate one, but the societal one where we in the US start seriously dealing with the issue.

*In southern California, I suspect that the leapfrog sprawl model of suburban development is finally breaking. This is mixed news. On the one hand, it means that we likely won't be seeing developments of thousands of high end homes put in even more high fire risk areas than they already built in. On the other hand, the people in the development industry say that they can't make a profit off of affordable housing, and that they built sprawl because that was the only way they could profit. If they're being truthful (and I'm not sure they are), then we've got an even worse housing crisis, but since the sprawl involved very little affordable housing, they weren't solving the problems we already have.

When the dust settles from all the lawsuits against the current crop of developments (in 2019 or 2020), I'm fairly sure sprawl will lose. Then we get to see if someone can figure out how to profitably build affordable living spaces in built-up areas. Those of you in Europe probably see this as our cities starting to mature, growing up rather than out, and you're right.

* On the US level, there's the Green New Deal, which has polling support from voters across the US political spectrum.

* This gets to a bigger point: the continuing diminution of the US Imperial Presidency. In the past few decades, we've afforded the POTUS imperial power, because nukes. This started after WW2, when we woke up to the notion that WW3 could be started and over before Congress got to work that day, so the old plan of Congress declaring war after long debate was hopelessly antiquated. This in turn invested the power for starting WW3 in the President, with that damned nuclear football. That imperial power spread into other regions of government and grew until 2016. Now that we've got the Current Administration, we've discovered that mutually assured suicide isn't a good basis for imperial power. We can do all sorts of things to oppose that power, because he's not going to start WW3 in response. Since I'm a fan of democracy and checks and balances, I think this is a good thing.

23:

I think you're too early: the first Ocean Cleanup boom they released isn't collecting plastic yet. Apparently plastic goes in and then bounces out. They're still tinkering with it to see if changing the geometry will make it work. Hopefully it will work in 2019.

On the good side, there's more work on how oceanic bacteria break down plastics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132502/

24:

And, confirming my opinion that one J Corbyn is STUPID ...
Try this for size.
Another example of the "lifelong rebel" trying to impose strict discipline ...., apart from the joining with the far-right in wanting to wreck the country of course.

25:

On the good side if you don't like real-world cyberpunk: FAANG generally had a bad year. That's Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. The megacorps aren't invulnerable.

26:

The suburban sprawl model in Southern California breaking down has some interesting upsides/downsides. Note that I happen to believe the developers here.

1. It limits California's population growth. Considering your state's water crisis, encouraging people to move to other states does help. True, it's less helpful if these people move to Arizona or Nevada.

2. It makes the state bluer. On the other hand, it makes other states redder. Contrary to popular belief, transplants to Texas voted for Cruz (+6) while people born in Texas voted for Beto (+3)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/11/09/texans-preferred-orourke-cruz-least-texans-born-texas-did/?utm_term=.c6c19ebfbaab

3. Expect a massive expansion in shantytowns. That's what the homeless encampments are, whatever the propaganda says. Btw, this is why I believe developers. If developers really were evil enough to purposefully create shantytowns, then they would have arisen decades ago.

4. It will make the state less white, but more Asian. This is partly because Asian immigrants are now the largest immigrant group, but a lot of gentrification going on now is focusing on immigrants brought to work in the tech industry, who are predominantly Asian (this is true for both the US and UK definitions of Asian). While this phenomenon does make these neighborhoods whiter too, that's not enough to counteract the retiring baby boomer population moving away. As a result, it's unlikely for California to be >50% Latino anytime soon.

5. Time will tell if the end of sprawl creates viable public transport system? LA has the ninth busiest subway system, but I'm not sure that most of the metropolitan region benefits from it?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_rapid_transit_systems_by_ridership

27:

FAANG did not have a bad year, they just had the type of PR crisis that oil and car companies have successfully weathered for decades. Let me rephrase that, Facebook had a bad year due to its scandals. Apple also had a bad year, but that's due to the plateauing of smartphone sales.

Amazon had an amazing performance, increasing their online shopping market share to 50% from 43.5%
https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-is-retailer-of-the-year-2018-12

Netflix has also been doing very well. As I posted in the previous thread, streaming services have led to 520 original scripted shows. Most of this was Amazon and Netflix
https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/11/15/why-netflix-is-up-50-in-2018.aspxhttps://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2018/10/18/netflix-projects-strong-subscriber-growth-in-q4/#52b8fc923a36

I don't think I need to say anything about Google.

28:

Here's some good news/bad news in regards to Modi.

There's a general election between April and May 2019
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Indian_general_election

So far, Modi's BJP has already lost power in 3 states that were considered its bedrock
https://www.indiatoday.in/elections/story/assembly-election-narendra-modi-loss-boost-to-opposition-1407572-2018-12-12

While it's likely that the BJP will emerge as the largest party after these elections, they likely won't have a majority and will have to go into coalition.

The bad news is that the Chandrayaan 2 is landing around that time. If you guys remember that when the Maglayaan Mars orbiter was successful, the reaction from Western presses boosted Modi's popularity. If you remember, a significant amount of the reaction covered these 2 points:
1. Why is the West still giving aid to India when they launch spacecraft?
2. Why is India spending money on spacecraft when the poor don't have toilets?

If the above is repeated now, then this increases the chances of Modi retaining a majority.

As an aside, I hadn't realized until that Wikipedia link the extent to which the Congress party had been decimated in the 2014 elections.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharatiya_Janata_Party#/media/File:State-_and_union_territory-level_parties.svg

29:

The developers are lying through their teeth.

*Look* at some of these houses. Ok, they're not longer as bad as the late sixties/early seventies, when the entire insides were cheap plasterboard, and I *could* put my fist through a wall without damage. But they're crap. And with contracting/sub-sub-sub-contracting, the folks doing the work, mostly non-union, are getting paid crap, and the developers and real estate agents get rich.

Oh, and dunno where you are, but I think they're *finally* being required, at least in some places, to put in sidewalks (as opposed to street and nothing else, because, I mean, no one walks...)

30:

The homeless encampments aren't permanent enough to be shantytowns, for good and ill. I do agree with some of your other points, though (see the end).

I do a fair amount of development stuff on the environmentalist side, and I've got a couple of sources in the development industry. Of those, one sides with the developers on building sprawl, one says it's BS brought on by a mix of ideology and greed.

One real problem with infill development (meaning that homes get rebuilt into condos and apartment buildings) is NIMBYism: people don't want their neighborhoods turned into soulless canyons (feel free to disagree if you live in a city of flats), especially considering that southern Californian cities were built around cars, densifying needs to get people out of cars to really work, and this requires different infrastructure.

The other problem is what one politician calls "San Diego Specials", where "obvious solutions to long-running problems die for the lack of vision, leadership and action." I've seen this kind of thing in action numerous times on housing issues. Fortunately, one of the biggest practitioners of this kind of politics did not get re-elected in 2018.

Anyway, getting development out of the high fire areas involves getting people in cities to accept denser housing, politicians to figure out how to build the infrastructure for densification, and getting the people already in the back country to shut up about preserving their rural quality of life and to get serious about explaining to people the difficulties in living with fires, floods, and drought.

As for moving people out of southern California, yes, I do hope that happens. This may sound weird, but I did live in the rust belt, and it's frustrating to see people leave this inherently safer place (no earthquakes or wildfires) to surf the catastrophe curve in southern California. So much of the calamity of the rust belt really looks like straight up political and industrial mismanagement. I'm in the minority, but I think it's a better place for long term human civilization than, say, San Diego, and I live here due to family ties more than anything else.

31:

Positive stuff:
1. Still have no idea what Oumonuma is telling home about us...
2. The GOP is toast, and acting like Saruman, and we know how that turned out.
3. Mueller has been going after the Malignant Carcinoma just like the mob boss he is... and M is *there*. I'm expecting a ton of indictments, since it's taken this long because there are so *many* of the crooks, with so *many* schemes in play. I'm looking forward to Mueller Time.
4. On a personal note, I find myself writing more and more, and, two seriously good notes:
a) Early Sept, I submitted a short to Amazing Stories. A week and a half or so ago, I email to inquire about status, and Ira, the editor, told me the slush pile reader had tossed it to him, and he was going to decide "early the coming year".... which means I'm getting out of the slush pile, meaning I'm almost there, at last. I also got a rejection (turnaround

And I'm still waiting for Eric Flint to tell me if a rewrite (so as to fit the novel he's just finished) will get my story into Grantville Gazette.

Yeah, my plan for 2019 is to get published, become a Famous Author, and attractive women (of the right age) will through themselves at me.

As I've written for too many years, happy new year, and may the new one be better than the old.

32:

People are still working on the replication crisis. It's a painful problem to think about, but at least some nonsense is getting cleared away and some better structures are being established.

33:

"The homeless encampments aren't permanent enough to be shantytowns, for good and ill."

Please expand on this point

I agree with you about the Rust Belt. Sadly, this is a global phenomenon. Chinese people are leaving Manchuria for the Southern cities, and Japanese are leaving Hokkaido and Tohoku for the "Japanese core" between the Kanto (Tokyo) and Kansai (Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe) regions. Europe seems to be the exception here, with the movement being from S. and E. Europe towards Germany, Benelux, the UK, and Scandinavia.

34:

Why is India spending money on spacecraft when the poor don't have toilets?

Because educating those poor and letting them communicate relies heavily on satellites, as does not having them swept away by an unexpected monsoon. Far better to have a domestic programme that keeps the money circulating within India than a continual drain paying other countries for services. The occasional research programme helps keep Indian scientists and engineers in India rather than them leaving to find research posts elsewhere.

35:

Ioan @ 28 & Vulch @ 34
You're both correct, but India dos not need foregn aid any more.
And Pakistan desrves none - conditions need to be set - STOP persecuting religious minorities & get rid of your "blasphemy" law(s) & stop supporting Al-Quaeda (because it annoys India - the stupid!) - incidentally, the result of Bangla Desh's election is going to be interesting, because they have ultra-"muslim" extremists going around murdering bloggers who are trying to support the secular constitution.
Religion, gah - another reason to hope the US "R's" get trashed in 2020 .....
... which leads to
whitroth @ 31
2. The GOP is toast, and acting like Saruman, and we know how that turned out.
Are they? I sincerely hope so, but all DT needs is a short victorious war, probably with Persia, Cthulu help us, because what we actually need is to get the religious nutters out of power in both countries, not weld-up more support!
Mueller? Really? I hope so, but he neeeds real dirt on DT, not *just* all of his associates - or he'll just blame the "bad advisors" & sail on.

36:

On the other hand, the people in the development industry say that they can't make a profit off of affordable housing, and that they built sprawl because that was the only way they could profit. If they're being truthful (and I'm not sure they are), then we've got an even worse housing crisis, but since the sprawl involved very little affordable housing, they weren't solving the problems we already have.

Sigh. They ARE being truthful. I've been involved in this for a few years as zoning and developement issues blew up in my area.

It is tied to zoning (commercial in old suburbs now turning urban) areas which limit commercial or apartments to 2 or 3 stories, lack of public transportation (build a cheaper but decent apartment complex and how to those people shop or get to work?), and so on...

It's a mess and even the people who "want" it solved don't seem themselves in the mirror.

37:

Anyway, getting development out of the high fire areas involves getting people in cities to accept denser housing, politicians to figure out how to build the infrastructure for densification, ...

I just spend nearly 2 weeks in Germany and was impressed by the rail system there. These things take years/decades to plan and implement. And wheel barrows of money. Maybe dump trucks. I liked systems I saw there but don't hold out for the US doing such things due to they take 5 to 10 or more election cycles to do and we just don't do that very well. Stuttgart has the local issue of "Stuttgart 21" taking way more money and time than planned and has resulted in the Green party now being holding the largest number of seats in the area government. Not sure how the plan to "fix" things. A lot of the project seems to be changing the rail station from a termination of all tracks to a through system. And any tracking project like this inhales money at a stupendous rate.

38:

As to good times. I just spent nearly 2 weeks in Germany with my immediate family down tracing family roots of my wife and visiting the family that my daughter stays with during an exchange year nearly 10 years ago. Her mom was German born in 1928 and married a US Lt in the mid 50s. My wife was there in the early 70s as an army brat and 20 something.

Got to ride the Deutsche Bahn a lot and was impressed. Buses in Stuttgart were nice (but not as nice as those in Madrid). Basically the system works. (Forget the autobahn. It is mostly legend. German's who have driven both say the US system is in better shape in most places. And yes we did spend about 10 hours on it.)

Anyway the rail system works. Most small towns have a rail station or are a 10 minute drive from one. Or so it seems. But it requires decades of commitment. In the US we don't seem to be able to do that.

Interesting few days with someone who grew up with the wall a few miles away. It came down when he was about 18. Interesting stories of the times.

Back to a high note. We met a lady who knew my wife's mother and remembered her from when they were pre-teen. And even knew some of her family history from before when they were born. Pictures and documents included.

Flying back in business class was a nice way to end the trip.

39:

It's a subtle thing, but my candidate would be "the increase of knowledge".

No amount of political stupidity seems to be stopping it. The stupidity isn't helping, but it looks like there's a sufficient consensus on treating just about everything as irrelevant to finding a way to get the information out there. Should that hold, I think that's good news whole and entire.

40:

She-ra came out on Netflix, and Steven Universe had cartoon's first gay marriage.

41:

"You're both correct, but India dos not need foregn aid any more"

While I'm sympathetic to your position, I don't think you've thought it through thoroughly.

Right now, India has a GDP (PPP) per capita (PC) of $8442 and an HDI of 0.64. If we set those as the threshold, then a lot of countries we send aid to would no longer qualify.

First, let me speak in favor of your position. China had a GDP (PPP) PC of ~$7000 when it kicked out the foreign aid agencies in 2007(?). So the standard you set does have some precedent. Likewise, the Maglayaan situation made it politically advantageous for Modi to refuse foreign aid.

Having said that, here are some examples of countries that would no longer qualify for aid

1. Ukraine has about the same HDI as China (~0.75), Georgia and Armenia have even higher values. By HDI, it's the second poorest country in Europe after Moldova. In fact, there's no country in Europe with an HDI < 0.7.

2. Most of Latin American countries have an HDI of >=0.7, including Mexico and Brazil. Should we cut off aid to those countries as well?

3. At the start of the shutdown, Democrats offered Trump a budget of $10 billion for aid to the countries whose citizens made up the caravan. Trump does not believe that those countries need the aid. If we set the above threshold, then he would be correct. Only Haiti and Honduras would be eligible for aid.

4. Other countries who would no longer qualify for aid include Egypt, the Philippines, South Africa, and Uzbekistan, among others.

5. If we cut off aid, then the Belt and Road Initiative becomes these countries main source of funds, for good and ill.

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

[[ html fix - mod ]]

42:


This could easily turn out badly, but the brouhaha over the CRISPR-modified kids in China in 2018 might, inshallah, stimulate serious thought into how to take advantage of the promising parts of the technology while avoiding/mitigating the bad possibilities.

43:

I am not optimistic on climate change - I think a significant number of people with power, especially in the US, China, and Russia, have decided that they can "win" it, i.e. their personal position will be improved relative to most other people in the world irrespective of the actual impact.
Err, sorry, I dont think thats what our host was asking for.

44:

"The homeless encampments aren't permanent enough to be shantytowns, for good and ill."

What I see down here isn't anything like permanent structures (e.g. shanties), they're tents and similar. I'd suggest a better analogy are the old hobo jungles.

45:

"Prince can't die again."

Other than that, what an incredible goat rodeo of a year. And all signs point to 2019 being much, much worse.

46:

On the other hand, the people in the development industry say that they can't make a profit off of affordable housing, and that they built sprawl because that was the only way they could profit. If they're being truthful (and I'm not sure they are), then we've got an even worse housing crisis, but since the sprawl involved very little affordable housing, they weren't solving the problems we already have.

Sigh. They ARE being truthful. I've been involved in this for a few years as zoning and developement issues blew up in my area.

It is tied to zoning (commercial in old suburbs now turning urban) areas which limit commercial or apartments to 2 or 3 stories, lack of public transportation (build a cheaper but decent apartment complex and how to those people shop or get to work?), and so on...

It's a mess and even the people who "want" it solved don't seem themselves in the mirror.

I think we're using different ways to talk about the same problem. Here's where I am: as I understand it, what you're talking is what we call down here a "San Diego Special" (see above), which is the political/NIMBY part of the equation. Our housing crisis consist of three interlocking problems:

1. developers claiming it's not profitable to build anything other than single family homes at $500K and up, plus
2. NIMBYs from developed neighborhoods fighting any attempt to densify, including adding mass transit, bike lanes, higher height limits, electric charging stations, etc.
3. Politicians who "lack the vision, leadership and action, to implement obvious solutions to long-running problems" (what is coming to be known as the San Diego Special).

The problem with #1 (which is what I was talking about originally) is the question of whether the developers need government subsidies to build dense housing, or whether the problem is simply that they can't gross $1 billion by doing so--in other words, it's whether it's not profitable without subsidies, or whether it doesn't maximize profits and is thus avoided. The developers claim it's not profitable at all, but at least one of their people claims affordable housing is profitable, just not as profitable as suburban sprawl.

47:

Agreed. I'd go further and speculate that many people in power are planning to survive the inevitable mass die-off so that "their kind" can take over the Earth. That seems to be an undercurrent of wealthy racism (though perhaps I'm paranoid?)

Thing is, that plot works better if us sheeple are kept ignorant of the problem until it's too late for us to do anything except die, while our betters go hide in their secret bases. Unfortunately, all the alarm bells clanging means that us sheeple look up perhaps a bit too early for the plotters. That is (hopefully) a good thing.

One thing you have to remember is that my optimism about climate change is that our species survives it, not that ten billion of us survive it. My concern is that, with melting permafrost and the Amazon and soils in the temperate showing signs of losing their ability to act as a carbon sink, that our species misses the survivability window.

I'd also point out that I don't know of any hard evidence for a wealthy right-wing conspiracy to commit a majority genocide. From what I've read and heard, they're simply prepping for what they see as an inevitable disaster, not knowingly trying to bring it about...

48:

Ah I see. I disagree that shantytowns can't be made out of tents. Modern tents are relatively cheap*, and probably more durable than a traditional shanty. In fact, I'd call the old hobo jungles shantytowns as well. I was thinking about slums such as Dharavi, which started out as makeshift housing for construction workers next to the building site which never emptied after the building was finished.

*They're more expensive than a day laborer can afford in a Least Developed Country.

49:

2018 may be the year when the neo-fascists in the U.S. finally went just a bit too far and it's going to be downhill for them from here. I don't think we're out of the woods yet, but maybe enough people have got wise to their lies to finally begin to reject them.

I think the outcome of the December UN Climate Change Conference was good. It could have been better, but I'm encouraged the rest of the world has decided to move ahead despite the Trump administration's stupidity. I hope that by 2021 (when the NEXT administration, hopefully NOT Trump & Co takes office) the U.S. will be able to rejoin and get with the program.

On a personal level, I survived the year and there's something of a personal victory in that; lived long enough to see another new Doctor Who & read the next installment of the Laundry Files.

50:

Heteromeles @ 23: I think you're too early: the first Ocean Cleanup boom they released isn't collecting plastic yet. Apparently plastic goes in and then bounces out. They're still tinkering with it to see if changing the geometry will make it work. Hopefully it will work in 2019.

Still it's a start; better than doing nothing.

51:

Greg Tingey @ 35:

2. The GOP is toast, and acting like Saruman, and we know how that turned out.
Are they? I sincerely hope so, but all DT needs is a short victorious war, probably with Persia, ...

If Cheatolini iL Douchebag manages to start a war with Iran it will be neither "short" nor "victorious". And an ignominious fiasco probably will be enough to get him impeached.

52:

I live with and am married to someone I love, and who rocks my world even those days when we're butting heads. I have many friends, some of whom have been with me for decades, though we're at the age where some are being stolen from my life by bad luck and bad genes. It makes me cherish the remaining ones all the more. I'm doing a job I love, and have earned considerable respect within my community for that work. I earn as much as I need, and am wise enough to know the difference between "need" and "want". Despite warning signs from my body, and an accumulation of damage over the years, I'm in decent health. I live in a country (Canada) I'm proud of, without being blind to its flaws. A country where my risk of death by meteorite seems (and possibly is) greater than my risk of death by violence.

By historical and global standards, that's pretty damned good. Most days, it's enough. It gives me courage in the face of political and environmental horrors that I can't pretend don't exist and helps keep my rage against the evils of the world in check. Which is not to say I'm not a very angry man, but I manage.

You seem to be in a similar space, mutatis mutandis. I hope it gives you the same comfort and courage it gives me.

53:

Aotearoa elected a young, almost-pregnant woman as Prime Minister on a platform of undoing austerity and reducing the impact of climate change. The first is a bit "yes and", but the second is a bit of a kick up the arse for all the various left-ish political parties round the world. And unlike Syriza the kiwis are actually in a position to do stuff (and are actually doing it).

Then she had a baby and seemingly the whole world lost its shit. But in a good way. Neve is better behaved than Donald :)

https://www.labour.org.nz/jacindaardern

54:

In Australia, Adani were forced to cancel the Carmichael coal mine when no-one would lend them the money for it. The 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon (~8GT CO2) over 60 years would have been a scary fraction of the total allowable carbon budget. So that's a double win: banks are waking up ever so slightly, and that mine won't be built.

55:

Australia joined the list of countries allowing same-sex marriage. The plebeshite was in 2017 but the law only passed/came into force in 2018. Sadly no country yet has marriage equality/consent-based marriage.

Scotland allowed 16 year olds to vote in IndyRef in 2014. Old news but good news :) More generally, there is slow progress towards a universal franchise in democratic countries.

Public transport and cycle facilities continue to expand in many cities around the world. This is a kind of sleeper story because it's almost always local government that does the work and the benefits tend to be seen as purely local. But globally all those little incremental changes add up to significant change in both transport pollution and damage intensity (most visibly the road toll that some pay).

56:

The #MeToo movement has started to make some real impact

Feminism more generally continues to make progress across a wide range of areas. Overall I think things are getting better. In many ways it's the Overton Window effect, where things that used to be unthinkable are now baseline.

For example even the various religious discrimination permissions codified into law and the activism around those no longer include divorce, slavery or violence except in very rare cases. You just don't see even the Catholics demanding the right to legally enforceable "marriage is for life not just for christmas", for example and the idea that they should have a legal right to sell their daughters as sex slaves "because it's in the bible" doesn't get mentioned even by the most vicious fundamentalists.

FGM continues to decline, and is increasingly outlawed as well as socially sanctioned. Likewise forced marriage. Both still happen, are still widespread, but less so. Focus on the "less so" part.

57:

https://www.goodnet.org/articles/10-good-things-in-our-world-that-are-getting-better

Access to Water:
Between 1980 and today, global access to safe water sources has increased from 58% to 91%. Improving water sources worldwide is integral to reducing poverty and increasing food security.

Agricultural Output:
Our annual cereal yield has nearly tripled since 1960. By 2050, food production will have to double to feed the world’s population.

Electricity Coverage:
Between 1994 and 2014, electricity coverage expanded from 75% to 85%. In the last decade, consumption of renewable energy has soared by 209%.

Protected Nature Reserves:
In 1962, there were 9,214 protected nature reserves. Today, there are over 200,000. Still, less than 20% of the world’s key biodiversity areas enjoy full protection.

Scientific Research:
Between 1665 and 2016, the number of scientific articles published every year grew from 119 to 2,550,000. Today’s global scientific output continues to double, on average, every 9 years.

Immunization From Disease:
Since 1980, the number of 1-year olds who receive at least one vaccination per year has risen from 22% to 88%. With only 22 cases in 2017, the world is now closer than ever to eradicating polio.

Global Literacy:
Since 1800, the world literacy rate has leaped from roughly 10% to 85%. Unfortunately, two thirds of the world’s illiterate population are women.

Female Education:
The number of girls enrolled in primary school went up from 65% in 1970 to 90% in 2015. If all women had a secondary education, the number of child deaths each year would drop by 3 million.

Internet Access:
In 1995, only 0.4% of the world’s population had internet access. Today, roughly 54% of people are online. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the number of internet users increased by 500 million.

People Living Under Democracy:
Since 1816, the amount of people living in a democracy has grown from 1% to roughly 50% of the world’s population. Of the world’s 195 nations, 49 are still not considered to be free countries.

58:

Ocean Cleanup boom... better than doing nothing

Disagree. I think it's worse than nothing for two reasons: most obviously, it involves dumping more plastic in the ocean. Until they start collecting and removing plastics all it's doing is shedding microplastics.

Second, and more important, it says we can keep dumping plastic in the ocean because it's at least theoretically possible to pull them out again. This is exactly the problem we have right now with governments all over the world deciding that negative emissions technology will solve whatever problems they leave for their successors. Like fusion power, negative emissions is doomed to be perpetually 30 years in the future(1).

(1) and even more like fusion power, we already have it but the stuff we have is boring and effective and no-one really profits from it the way they stand to profit from some radical new technology. They even link... the giant ball of fusing hydrogen powers the plants(2) that suck carbon out of the atmosphere.

(2) I mean old-school green growing things, not factories.

59:

Conservationists plant a 'super grove' of redwood trees cloned from ancient stumps
The clones come from trees that were larger than any alive today.
A mature coast redwood can remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, the AATA points out, sequestering as much as 250 tons of the greenhouse gas per tree. They also perform other important ecosystem services, like filtering water and soil, and they're highly resistant to wildfires, droughts and pests.

McDonald’s Exec: “We’re Keeping Our Eye” on Meatless Burgers
The iconic burger chain is considering fake meat.
Americans consume about 10 billion pounds of ground beef per year. The average American eats three hamburgers every week— nearly 50 billion burgers per year and about half of this is consumed in restaurants. In order to supply this much meat, around three quarters of all agricultural land in the U.S. is devoted to cattle and the crops they eat. Impossible Burger uses vastly less land, water, and energy than a burger made from cows.

Why Trump Can’t Kill the Electric Car
Even though he seems to really want to.
The electric vehicle revolution, after years of hype that outpaced reality, finally seems to be taking off in the United States. The best five months for plug-in sales in American history have been the past five months. Tesla’s Model 3 has been one of America’s top five selling passenger cars this fall, surging ahead of fossil-fueled mainstays like the Ford Fusion and Nissan Sentra. The U.S. put its 1 millionth electric vehicle on the road in September, not a large chunk of the nation’s 260 million vehicles, but not too shabby considering production started only in 2010.

Hemp Is Finally About To Go Fully Legit In The U.S.
For almost 50 years, hemp has been considered a Schedule I substance alongside more potent strains of marijuana. Congress is finally set to change that.
With coal almost dead this is the one thing that could save Appalachia from abject poverty.
It’s clear that hemp would represent a significant economic opportunity for farmers in Kentucky and across the country. In 2017, the U.S. market for the sale of hemp products was over $800 million and growing at a double-digit pace, as it had been for a number of years, said Steenstra. Although these sorts of goods have been completely legal in the U.S. for years, they’ve historically had to be imported because of the federal ban on domestic cultivation.

Tall wood gets green light from building code
This is actually a big deal, It allows the construction of timber skyscrapers, allowing the replacement of cement and steel with heavy timber and engineered plywood. Steel and concrete production together account for 10% of all greenhouse gases. OTOH, building with wood sequesters huge amounts of CO2 in the wood structure itself.

Clean energy is catching up to natural gas
The natural gas “bridge” to sustainability may be shorter than expected.
First, wind and solar costs fell so far, so fast that they are now undercutting the cost of new gas in a growing number of regions. And then batteries — which can “firm up” variable renewables, diminishing the need for natural gas’s flexibility — also started getting cheap faster than anyone expected. ...The cost of natural gas power is tethered to the commodity price of natural gas, which is inherently volatile. The price of controllable, storable renewable energy is tethered only to technology costs, which are going down, down, down. Recent forecasts suggest that it may be cheaper to build new renewables+storage than to continue operating existing natural gas plants by 2035.

Sucking carbon dioxide from air is cheaper than scientists thought
Estimated cost of geoengineering technology to fight climate change has plunged since a 2011 analysis.
The study, in Joule, was written by researchers at Carbon Engineering in Calgary, Canada, which has been operating a pilot CO2-extraction plant in British Columbia since 2015. That plant — based on a concept called direct air capture — provided the basis for the economic analysis, which includes cost estimates from commercial vendors of all of the major components. Depending on a variety of design options and economic assumptions, the cost of pulling a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere ranges between US$94 and $232. The last comprehensive analysis of the technology, conducted by the American Physical Society in 2011, estimated that it would cost $600 per tonne.

60:

CRISPR - maybe an end to malaria. Probably an eventual end to inherited disease. Maybe an eventual decrease in stupidity.

Solar and coal are becoming cost-competitive.

Amazon and the internet have produced an explosion of books and webnovels that I like reading.

AI does a better job of sorting pictures than I do. My mom really likes the display of grandchildren on her Google home hub.

A handheld device better than the Oracle at Delphi retails for a few hours wages.

Home automation is getting to granny-level usability. And LEDs are better than fluorescents now.

Just chatted with a friend I hadn't seen in a decade over an, admittedly, annoying social network.

Real poverty down again, year over year.

61:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/21/opinion/sunday/earth-day-read-this.html?fbclid=IwAR3lKybbFgY1YScSdNCV_GQ3ZBNIHoWPlVDgIdtOuFhppblUdi_hzFsctRw

Despairing on Earth Day? Read This

Mr. Walston and his co-authors go on to argue against the increasingly common view that these are the end times for life as we know it. Instead, they suggest that what the natural world is experiencing is a bottleneck — long, painful, undoubtedly frightening and likely to get worse in the short term — but with the forces of an eventual breakthrough and environmental recovery already gathering strength around us.

The pace of the global movement away from rural areas and into urbanized areas — a category that includes suburbs and small towns as well as city centers — is startling. In my own lifetime, we have gone from 30 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas to 54 percent today, with the likelihood that the number will rise as high as 90 percent later in this century.

Unfortunately, that means the bottleneck will get worse over the next few decades, according to Mr. Walston and his co-authors, because urbanization imposes short-term costs, including an increase in overall consumption. But it also leads to reduced per capita energy consumption, as well as reduced birthrates, and it reopens old habitat in abandoned rural areas to wildlife.

That’s already begun to happen in Europe, where wolves, bears, lynx, bison and other species have moved out of protected areas to re-wild a densely populated (but highly urban) continent. If we can hold on into the next century, Mr. Walston said, urbanization could set up the conditions for that sort of recovery worldwide.

62:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2018/01/iron-fertilization-of-the-ocean-is-as-natural-as-whale-poop-and-it-can-save-the-planet.html?fbclid=IwAR2M4GWb3yHaTaWRTjdDF3HYn56ouCie1nnYGqz5S9WkzBPcLtRlGsrQfRc

Iron fertilization of the ocean is as natural as whale poop and it can save the planet

Restore ocean iron
Restore ocean plankton
Restore ocean fish levels
Uneaten plankton dies in a week or two and sinks to the bottom of the ocean to sequester billions of tons of CO2.

63:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/08/seven-megatrends-that-could-beat-global-warming-climate-change

The seven megatrends that could beat global warming: 'There is reason for hope'

1. Methane: getting to the meat
New plant-based products, from chicken to fish to cheese, are coming out every month. “We are in the nascent stage,” says Alison Rabschnuk at the US nonprofit group the Good Food Institute. “But there’s a lot of money moving into this area.”

2. Renewable energy: time to shine
The most advanced of the megatrends is the renewable energy revolution. Production costs for solar panels and wind turbines have plunged, by 90% in the past decade for solar, for example, and are continuing to fall. As a result, in many parts of the world they are already the cheapest electricity available and installation is soaring: two-thirds of all new power in 2016 was renewable.

3. King coal: dead or dying
Production now appears to have peaked in 2013. The speed of its demise has stunned analysts. In 2013, the IEA expected coal-burning to grow by 40% by 2040 – today it anticipates just 1%.

4. Electric cars: in the fast lane
It is true that global sales of electric cars have now achieved liftoff, quadrupling in the past three years, but they still make up only 1.25% of all new car sales. However, if current growth rates continue, as Irle expects, 80% of new cars will be electric by 2030.

5. Batteries: lots in store
Here too, a megatrend is crushing prices for lithium-ion batteries, which are down 75% over the past six years. The International Renewable Energy Agency expects further falls of 50-66% by 2030 and a massive increase in battery storage, linked to increasingly smart and efficient digital power grids.

6. Efficiency: negawatts over megawatts
Nonetheless, good progress is being made in places such as the EU, where efficiency in homes, transport and industry has improved by about 20% since 2000. Improving the efficiency of gadgets and appliances through better standards is surprisingly important: a new UN Environment Programme report shows it makes the biggest impact of any single action bar rolling out wind and solar power.

7. Forests: seeing the wood
In the past two decades, tree-planting in China, India and South Korea has removed more than 12bn tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – three times the entire European Union’s annual emissions, Wolosin says. This action was driven by fears about flooding and food supply, meaning that global warming needs to be seen as equally urgent in this sector. Regrowing forests can also play a crucial role in sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, which is likely to be necessary after 2050, unless very sharp cuts are made now.

64:

Re: Cleaner air

Add this to your list:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/19/houseplant-rabbit-dna-reduce-air-pollution-study-devils-ivy

'Scientists have revealed that by inserting a rabbit gene into devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) the plant is able to clean the surrounding air by breaking down chemicals such as benzene and chloroform, which in certain concentrations can harm health.'

Now all we need is a marine plant/critter that feeds on plastics. probably bad news for recreational boaters (acrylic hulls), but heh!


Re: Pacific plastic boom

Yes - the first test wasn't great. Still, it's a first step and hopefully this or some other outfit will figure out how to effectively clean the oceans of plastic. As for profitability: more countries are using recycled plastics to pave their roads therefore the ocean's plastic garbage bin already has some value as a building material.

65:

Since Adidas already make a shoe with 95% being plastic recovered from the ocean that technology is already available. That should be the actual good news story IMO. Sure, it's a $7000 luxury item made in ridiculously tiny numbers... just like the Tesla Roadster was. But it actually exists and really is a retail product made from recycled ocean plastic.

The question is whether the floating boom is significantly better. Both projects seem to be 99% marketing ... but can hopefully scale up.

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/adidas-shoes-made-from-ocean-plastic-are-finally-h/

And can we please, for the love of all that's holy, stop misusing the terms. "recycling" should not mean "compressing it into blocks and pretending the problem has gone away", that's downcycling and deferral (that plastic road... where do roads go? After a certain percentage is ground away into microplastics and dispersed into the local environment, the rest of the slab is picked up and downcycled further, or burned, or buried. Is that better than concrete or congealed oil? Possibly. Is it a good idea? Doubtful).

Maybe we need a new word because "recycling" is so commonly abused. It's the last of the 3 R's but people commonly assert that it's a complete solution to all environmental problems. As we see with the fallout from China no longer accepting plastic waste, it's actually the least relevant. Reduce, reuse, recycle... in that order.

66:

Now all we need is a marine plant/critter that feeds on plastics. probably bad news for recreational boaters (acrylic hulls), but heh!

I have done some research on that and it's actually way more serious than you make it seem. The first issue is that an awful lot of gaskets, seals and covers are made of plastic. Depending on exactly which plastics were eaten and how that could make most current marine operations impossible (assuming the beasties only live in salt water). Recreational sailing would be a minor loss, but an awful lot of fishing is done by small boats like those and without the boats those people would die. There are too many of them, and the alternative materials too slow to come on stream, for a switch to work.

But the thing that would make us rich white first world aristocrats unhappy is that bigger boats both burn plastic (heavy fuel oil) and have key components made from it. Without seals around all the sea-water intakes and exhausts those boats don't work. And submarines don't come back up.

Worse news in some ways is that if they ate certain kinds of plastic there would be a population explosion shortly after they got loose, as a bunch of oil and gas platforms failed and released a lot of oil and gas into the sea. Which the beasties would presumably also eat. I fear that many wind and tidal plants would also suffer.

Not that we would know much of this, since every undersea communications cable would have been eaten as well. Not the copper or glass, but the shielding, insulation and waterproofing.

As well, living within spray-drift of the seashore might become more tricky than it is right now. I don't just mean lighthouses and ports, I mean villages like Manhattan and wherever the natural coastline is in the Netherlands. Oh, did I mention that anything that involves pumping seawater is going to stop working?

The good news is that silicone equivalents are increasingly available (except for the fuel), and the fuel is expected to stop being used by 2100 or so. All you'd need is to scale up production of silicone by an order of magnitude or two and develop a few new forms for situations that don't currently have usable candidates (high-temperature gaskets, for example).

What we need is something that eats any long-chain carbon polymer that doesn't run away, but that can only live in salt water. Some kind of microorganism.

67:

(sorry, I'm not sure whether the above is good news or bad news... either way, it's news from the future so it's off topic)

68:

wind and solar costs fell so far, so fast that they are now undercutting the cost of new gas in a growing number of regions. And then batteries — which can “firm up” variable renewables, diminishing the need for natural gas’s flexibility — also started getting cheap faster than anyone expected

This is the really key part. New fossil generation is becoming uneconomic on its merits, the only problem is that supply is struggling to keep up which means that some projects are currently marginal. The "big battery" in South Australia has over-performed and under-spent (although sadly it was built on time so we had to pay for it... which is good news or bad news depending on how you look at it).

In other happy news, now that there's more demand for lithium people are finding new sources of it. Not in the "fusion power" sense (hundreds of grams per year if all our energy needs came from H-Li!), but just people looking for new places to mine it. One of the best IMO is ... old mine tailings.

69:

Along this line, there's the publication of books like Saudi America or this entry in desmogblog suggesting that fracking isn't producing a true profit, but something a bit moore, erm, nuanced (example: "“The group’s cash flow deficit has narrowed to $945 million as U.S. benchmark crude hit $70 a barrel and production soared,” reported Reuters." Reuters reported this as a profit for that company). This is bad news for those left holding the bag if the industry really is this bad off, good news for those who like honest reporting, and better news for those who complain that alternative energy is propped up and wouldn't be profitable otherwise.

A lot of my good news from 2018 is actually bad news being uncovered when reality pressure-hoses the BS off it. Partially it's because it means I don't have to deal with the BS any more, partially it's because it's hard to deal with a problem when it's submerged in denial.

Speaking of which, can we hope that, in 2019, the New Age/Postmodern theory that "reality is what we make it and truth doesn't matter" becomes firmly associated with the reactionary right? It seems to be their modus operandi for politics at the moment.

70:

To continue my own list

Geopolitics

1. Canada is now competing with Silicon Valley as a startup center
https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/20/canada-is-north-americas-up-and-coming-startup-center/

2. To continue Daniel Duffy's point, Global TFR is 2.4.

3. It looks like there might not be serious sanctions against Assad. The reason I'm listing it as good news is because I don't think sanctions would have worked to depose him; not after he won. All they would have done is impoverish the population. Without serious sanctions, this may make rebuilding easier, and may bring forward the day when Syria is a developed country

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/30/syria-year-cemented-assad-victory-trump-us-troops

4. It's too early to tell, but there are signs that Kim Jong-Un actually wants to normalize relations with the South and with the rest of the world. I don't believe he'll ever denuclearize, but Deng Xiaoping-style reforms will improve the lives of the NK people.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-46714299

5. The peace treaty between FARC and the Colombian government is still holding. For those who are not familiar, that treaty ended a war between 1964-2017.

6. As I said in a previous post, the fact that almost all European countries have a HDI of greater than 7.5 is amazing. Within the European Union, there are only 6 countries with an HDI of less than 8.5, and two of them have a value of 8.47

7. The tussle between China and the US is likely to flood the Pacific Island nations and Central Asia with development funds. Thanks to this, several countries in the region are developing.

71:

Tall wood gets green light from building code ... This is actually a big deal, It allows the construction of timber skyscrapers, allowing the replacement of cement and steel with heavy timber and engineered plywood.

One big flaw that needs to be addressed. Locally a 5 story apartment building framed with wood went up in a huge fire during construction. It happened just after all the framing was done but before any of the plumbing, roofing, drywall (a huge fire stop), etc... was put in. There's that 30 day or so period when these are a big wood fire waiting to happen. Now I'm sure some changes to construction methods could fix this but I also suspect that this will add money.

On a side note the fire did so much damage to the 13 story concrete/steel building across the street that it has been closed for almost 2 years. When I drove by the a few days ago it looked like the smaller wooden structure will be open before the repairs are done on the taller building.

72:

CRISPR - maybe an end to malaria. Probably an eventual end to inherited disease. Maybe an eventual decrease in stupidity.

In the back of my mind I have a vision of multiple people with wet dreams of obedient servants with large muscles and not much intelligence but a slavish devotion to authority.

73:

The problem with #1 (which is what I was talking about originally) is the question of whether the developers need government subsidies to build dense housing, or whether the problem is simply that they can't gross $1 billion by doing so--in other words, it's whether it's not profitable without subsidies, or whether it doesn't maximize profits and is thus avoided. The developers claim it's not profitable at all, but at least one of their people claims affordable housing is profitable, just not as profitable as suburban sprawl.

What we have around here is a large influx of people, mostly in high tech. (Thank goodness Amazon and Apple didn't show up and take over the local universe but that's another story...) Which makes the market tight for actually building supplies and skilled labor. Which sets the price of decent but not fantastic construction at $200/sf. So for affordable housing it costs $240K for a 1200sf house which is what you need in the US if you have kids. (Yes I know I'm talking single family here but see up thread comments about apartment density.)

So $250K around here BEFORE you have a place to site it. My 1/3 acre lot is worth $300K sans the house. So now you're looking at someone spending well north of $500K to plant a house. Unless you subsidize. And anyone putting up $500K + for 6 months on a speculative situation wants more than a 2% annualized return. So they can build a 1200sf house without a garage that is very small by US standards and maybe make $50K IF THEY CAN SELL IT or they can build a 3500sf thing and sell it for $1mil or more and make $50K to $100K. Guess which way they go?

Now you can buy 1 to 5 acres an hour from here for $50K to $150K but how does a 1 hour commute, well water, and slow internet help out with the affordable housing issues? The people who need it can only afford the commute if they live in a trailer park.

74:

Finally, let's look at the good news in machine learning

1. Amazon is releasing their NLP ETL software Textract
https://aws.amazon.com/textract/

2. Natural Language Generation (NLG) is becoming a thing.
https://www.amazon.com/Building-Natural-Language-Generation-Processing/dp/052102451X

3. While there's no breakout application to showcase it, machine learning is becoming more accurate and more democratized. Machine learning is also being applied in new fields, including archaeology
https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/04/machine-learning-says-homo-naledi-may-not-have-buried-its-dead/

4. The same can be said for self-driving technology.
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/12/start-your-machine-learning-engines-amazons-deepracer-is-almost-here/
https://arstechnica.com/cars/2018/12/kroger-owned-grocery-store-begins-fully-driverless-deliveries/

5. Denmark is trialing using ML in its welfare state
https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/25/the-welfare-state-is-committing-suicide-by-artificial-intelligence/

75:

"I'd also point out that I don't know of any hard evidence for a wealthy right-wing conspiracy to commit a majority genocide. From what I've read and heard, they're simply prepping for what they see as an inevitable disaster, not knowingly trying to bring it about..."

Personally I think that most of the conspiracy theories related to climate change are optimistic since they assume great planning and plotting skills, and intelligent thinking. I have the suspicion that the reality is much simpler and much, much more depressing.

Most of the climate change effects are manifestations of Tragedy of the Commons phenomenon. The cost of the polluted air does not meet the polluter. Clean air and clean water and existing climate are examples of Common Goods. Nobody owns them and the polluter or over-user is not required to pay for the use of those Common Goods. In addition, it is completely rational for an individual person or an individual company or an individual country to continue pollution and overusing the Common Goods.

The reason for the rationality is that if you do not continue polluting or overusing, then somebody else will. This type of behaviour is actually build into the human psychology and the same behaviour is common to most living creatures. We human just are able to kill the whole planet with our behaviour - most of the species manage only self-extinction or near-extinction.

Unfortunately the world-wide economic system is multiplying the negative effects of the Tragedy of the Commons phenomenon. Free trade practically means that the big polluters do not need to pay for the pollution.

In order to continue with the grim line of thought, I would like to point out that electric cars and most of the so-called green solutions are very vulnerable to the rebound effect. The rebound effect practically means that all the efficiency savings or lessened pollution are quite likely to produce very small or even negative total effect. A good example is that increasing the fuel-efficiency of aeroplanes has actually increased the pollution and carbon emissions generated by air traffic. The reason being that the amount of air traffic has increased dramatically at the same time.

Sorry for being so negative.

76:

JBS @ 50
The problem isn’t “just” or “only” DT regarding climate – its Bolsanaro – especially given what sits on Brazil’s patch ( That forest )
China, in fact are worried, as others have pointed out – yes they are increasing coal, but they don’t want their coastal plain flooded, either – hence nuke-stations as well. Difficult problem – I really don’t envy their central planners’ jobs, right now.

JBS @ 52
I KNEW that when I posted it – so do you … but
He doesn’t know that & there are people with him who are both arrogant & stupid enough ( Can you spell “Bolton” or “Bannon”? ) to still try it on …

Moz @ 56
Except when your local “Authority” introduces a cycle scheme which DOES NOTHING FOR CYCLISTS. It’s predicated that by shitting all over car-owners, life for cyclists will automatically become better, which it doesn’t.
All down to one utter shit in local council, of course, as these things often are.
@ 57
Must disagree …
If you don’t believe me, I suggest you read the National Secular Society’s web-site every week. It’s still getting worse in an awful lot of places.

DD @ 60
I wonder about not “new” electric vehicles, but conversions – by 2021, what will be the cost of changing the power-plant & keeping the old car?
Cost of & lifetime of batteries -v. hopeful – needs a lot more work, but ….
Will steady development be “enough” I wonder?

@ 63
Yes but … AIUI the usual Fake Greenies are still shrieking about this & trying to stop it – or have they shut up & gone away … if not, how long before this obvious & simple solution is actually used outside the W Canadian coast? Timescale, please?
PARTICULARLY as that article seems to imply that the Fucking Greenies managed to stop further experiments & trials?

SFR @ 65
Well THAT very useful development will be stopped in its tracks by the Fake Greenies as well, because it’s “GM” & therefore EVIL & the spawn of the Devil etc, et fucking cetera.

Heteromeles @ 70
Various powerful/rich groups have been pushing Fracking here – fortunately the UK is not the US & the mini-earthquakes produced have brought it to a halt ( And LOTS of local protests ) Now, of course, the shits are saying: “We need to accept bigger Earthquakes” – I kid you not.
HERE Uggggh.

77:

Recognizing that you often need rose-colored glasses to see silver linings, I'd like to think that 2018 is a year in which the people who need to *fight* all the shit that is happening began to wake up. The Democratic wave in the US, which included the election of some real progressives, is a the beginning flexing of muscles to pull the US back from the brink. The activism of young people, such as the Parkland shooting survivors, is putting young people in the habit of activism, which will be incredibly powerful as they age and gain power. Employees of tech companies like google are beginning to recognize that they can and must take responsibility how their tools get used, and that that they can and must refuse to build certain tools because of they way they can be misused.

78:

The Fake Greenies hate this and all other forms of carbon capture and sequestration not because they may fail but because they might work.

It is an attitude is similar to that of the Catholic Church's opposition to condoms - they allow sinful fornication without consequences.

Fake Greenies oppose ocean fertilization (or any other method of carbon removal) because they allow us to continue the sinful burning of fossil fuels without consequences.

Sorry, but fossil fuels are too cheap, convenient and useful to ever be abandoned. We will never stop using fossil fuels, period - full stop.

And we can pay for carbon sequestration either as a government program payed for by ordinary taxpayers, or by regulations/taxes/penalties imposed on fossil fuel companies. Since all of their competitors will be faced with the same costs, they can safely raise their prices to cover these costs and not lose any customers.

Either way, we the consumers and taxpayers will have to pay for this, not the evil greedy CEOs that caused the mess.

Life is unfair.

But if given the choice between the empty moralizing of the Fake Greenies or actually saving the planet (no matter how unfairly this is accomplished), I'm in favor of the latter.

79:

There are signs that, in the UK at least, the young are realising that we have taken the wrong path. This may not translate into long-term, appropriate change (remember the 1960s?), but is at least hopeful.

And, despite the severity of the problem, this was the first year that it was generally admitted that there IS a plastic waste problem. The research into soil and seawater polythene-degrading bacteria is hopeful, but that's not new.

80:

DD @ 78
Your first 2 line asre spot on.
And, of course, because of the fake greenies, anyone who is actually concerend about real long-term trends & damage gets put in the same basket as these religious nutcases, which empowers the coal-burners so to speak.

81:

If we cut off aid, then the Belt and Road Initiative becomes these countries main source of funds, for good and ill.

Yes, but what is the purpose of aid?

I'm not talking about emergency and disaster recovery stuff. Or the historical purpose of, e.g., the Marshall Plan (rebuild Europe so it can provide a market/trading partner for American goods).

(You probably know this, but it bears repeating ...)

It seems to me that most aid to developing countries these days comes with very cynical strings attached: it takes the shape of credit that has to be spent in the donor country, thereby driving their export industries and improving their balance of payments surplus, and quite frequently it's used to subsidize overseas activities by donor nation corporations who use it to bootstrap resource extraction from poorer partners; and in some cases it takes the shape of military supplies to prop up unpopular or dictatorial regimes (go look into Saudi Arabia and Al Yamamah for an egregious example). Finally, it's used to acquire diplomatic leverage because on the receiving end it's a source of patronage and bribes: officials who rely on accepting foreign aid are thereby made dependent on the source, and can be coerced into taking actions on behalf of the aid donor.

I'm not saying that foreign aid to developing nations is always wrong: but the system is very susceptible to corruption at both ends (largely due to the lack of transparency associated with it).

82:

I don't know of any hard evidence for a wealthy right-wing conspiracy to commit a majority genocide. From what I've read and heard, they're simply prepping for what they see as an inevitable disaster, not knowingly trying to bring it about...

There is a point at which assuming a disaster is inevitable and preparing for it becomes indistinguishable from encouraging it. And if you bear in mind that most of the wealthy right-wing preppers are privileged white male conservatives, and that their preparations centre on personal rather than civilizational survival ... "let everyone who isn't one of us die" is perilously close to "encourage everyone who isn't one of us to die (we can use their resources)".

83:

Daniel Duffy noted: "A mature coast redwood can remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, the AATA points out, sequestering as much as 250 tons of the greenhouse gas per tree."

[Many interesting notes redacted] True, and speaking as a huge fan of big trees (and as a recovering forest biologist), very cool about the restored grove. But I must quibble (since it's what we do here). First, it takes a long time for really big trees to grow big enough to perform that well: 800+ years for redwoods. So they're a good long-term but not short-term solution. Second, younger trees actually remove CO2 faster per unit leaf area than mature trees. If your only goal is CO2 removal, you're better off with fast-growing species such as poplars and willows. Better still, kudzu if you can find a way to convert the biomass into something useful. Third, once a tree hits its mature size, it stops growing so fast and approaches an equilibrium at which CO2 uptake approximately equals release. So the problem with using vegetation to sequester carbon is that to do it efficiently, you need to chop down the trees before maturity and convert them into durable goods, like books.

DD: "Tall wood gets green light from building code This is actually a big deal, It allows the construction of timber skyscrapers, allowing the replacement of cement and steel with heavy timber and engineered plywood."

Very true. In fact, my former employer (Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada) provided so much engineering evidence for this that the local city council granted an exception to the rule that all commercial/public buildings had to be build from steel, concrete, etc. One bonus is that really large wood beams (I forget the size, but let's call it 0.5 m for the sake of argument) can be safer than steel in a fire because (i) they develop a layer of char on the outside that smothers the fire and (ii) they don't lose as much strength by the smothering point as steel does when heated. Of course, it also depends on wood, since many Japanese temples stood for centuries, including the Todaiji temple (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4100.html) -- until they burned down. The main problem with wood is that its long-term behavior in really big structures isn't well know, at least in the West.

DD: "Steel and concrete production together account for 10% of all greenhouse gases."

Concrete is a huge problem, as you note.

DD: "Estimated cost of geoengineering technology to fight climate change has plunged since a 2011 analysis."

I wouldn't call "direct air capture" geoengineering. It's more like emission control. Promising (Scientific American published a good review some time in the last year or so), but a different subject. The problem with geoengineering is that it relies on a lot of poorly understood and inadequately modeled processes, like the use of high-altitude SO2 aerosols. Without a lot more knowledge, I'm not confident that we wouldn't just be swapping a known problem for something unknown and potentially just as bad. Or something known and bad, such as acid rain in the context of SO2. Not fear-mongering here, just noting that the physicists who make such proposals tend to be a tad on the hubristic side about the limits of their knowledge, particularly with respect to ecosystems.

re. ocean fertilization: I'm pretty sure Heteromeles described the problems with this approach a few times in previous blog entries. My take on the problem is this: whenever you try to create a massive increase in the biomass of some species by (in this case) fertilization, you're going to be severely disrupting the ecosystem, which has evolved over millennia to be stable with the existing species and biomass. Disrupting that system will have unknown consequences. For example, what if the dominant response is to greatly increase the proportion of red tide species, the algae responsible for the huge dead zones around the world, such as in the Gulf of Mexico? What if ocean currents bring these species to the Pacific coral reefs that are the basis for the Pacific Ocean food web? Geoengineering must be considered with skepticism until our knowledge is much stronger.

84:

Most of "all of the world".

2018 was the year when the threat of a global Nuclear War came back, especially for the USians, but a conflict with NK will eventually involve China and/or Russia, and after that it's bad days for all of us.

The love story between Kim & Trump was rather unexpected, but then Trump is a narcissist who will favour anyone who behaves the right way. We only got a breathing space, I just wish that war doesn't happen before he's out of the office. Even US Republicans can't be that stupid to vote for Trump twice, at least this one hopes.

85:

I have a sneaking feeling the main reason fish-stocks are so much lower than historic records is because we are removing micro-nutrients, rather than any direct impact of our fish catches - Fish are extreme-k species, if the nutrients were there, the fact that the older generation has been decimated just means there is less competition, so more or the fry should succeed. The reduction of the stock of sperm whales probably is not helping matters either - they are a major transport mechanism of nutrients to the surface from the deep, so it is entirely possible that all a major ocean fertilization program will do is increase fish stocks enormously, because it replaces things we have been removing.

I also do not expect it to do very much about CO2. Those fish are not going to let all that food just rain down.

86:

_Moz_ @ 55: More generally, there is slow progress towards a universal franchise in democratic countries.

Maybe, but sometimes it appears to be two steps forward and one step back here in the U.S. It's glacially slow. So slow that sometimes I'm afraid it's going to bring on a new ice age.

Which might not be such a bad thing, but if it's anything like the last ice age, Canada is [you should forgive the pun] royally screwed.

87:

Daniel Duffy @ 78: Sorry, but fossil fuels are too cheap, convenient and useful to ever be abandoned. We will never stop using fossil fuels, period - full stop.

That just reminded me of a sci-fi story I read many, MANY years ago. Can't remember the name or the author, but one of the key plot elements was woven around what will the world be like once there is no more oil.

In one of the protagonist's expositions berating his 20th Century predecessors, he said something along the lines of "How could they be so STUPID?" ... to not realize petroleum was a finite resource and without it there would no more feed-stock from which to manufacture plastics.

I don't think the author had yet realized the other deleterious effects of burning fossil fuels. He was just concerned with the loss of petrochemical resources. How do you make all the other things you can make from petroleum instead of just burning it once you've burned all the oil?

88:

I can't remember the author either, but I think it was collected in Issac Asimov's "Before the Golden Age" anthology/autobiography.

89:

JBS @ 87
Cartoon I saw last week ...
Flying saucer has landed on outskirts of city ... epole wanrweing about ... caption:
"They're not as advanced as we thought, they want to see if we've got any coal for their spaceship"

90:

One of the Stainless Steel Rat books had that. The main character time-travels to 20th century Earth, and is shocked to realize that they are still burning petrochemicals.

91:

There is a point at which assuming a disaster is inevitable and preparing for it becomes indistinguishable from encouraging it.

I don't think its a conspiracy but more wishful thinking with a touch of Pascals Wager :


  • if climate change is not happening / has minimal effect then I'm better off ignoring it (this is my preferred state), but

  • if climate change is real and will have significant effects then
    • I live in a large country with many natural and technological resources
    • I have the wealth/influence to ensure I will get a good share of those resources
    • as the global population falls technological mitigation will become more effective and the situation more manageable
    • when the world reaches a new stable state I will still be at or near the top of the pile

Ergo, climate change is not a major threat (to me).

92:

Re: "short victorious war with Persia"... I think not. The still-in-view "short victorius war" with Iraq as a lesson... though I'm sure some like Bolton would rejoice at the price of world oil going through the roof..

93:

Zoning... funny you should mention that. I just got an email this morning from my county council, that they're holding a public comments session in about three weeks, to consider changing the zoning laws on "accessory dwelling units", which are defined as mother-in-law apts, like a basement with a separate entrance, etc, to provide for more social and less expensive housing.

And I'm in Montgomery Co, MD, USA, one of the *seriously* expensive counties in the US.

94:

Hi Charlie,

Unfortunately, my 2018 was almost as stupid and horrible as yours; no deaths fortunately, but otherwise ugly as fuck. Got laid off, got laid off again, currently working as a contractor, not enough money, had to move in the middle of getting laid off for the second time, someone close was stupid enough to get _________ to _________ and is currently in ____________.

So not much good news, (with one exception which I will relate on another post) but I have a ton of empathy for you and yours, so I will raise my virtual glass to the idea that 2019 will be much better for both of us; that we will be happy, productive, well-rested, and full of joy, and I'll see you next year in Jerusalem (whatever Jerusalem may mean to you.*)

* A very wise man I know once said, "You need to build your own Jerusalem!" So here's hoping that you and I get our Jerusalems built in 2019!

95:

My good news comes wholly on the creative front. My "J.K. Rowling meets H.P. Lovecraft" story, Unexpected Patronum (inspired by conversations right here on your blog) finally hit ten "Kudos" on Archive of our own, so I'm enormously stoked, and I've made major progress on the "optimistic" global warming novel in the last month - if all goes well it might be finished in 60-90 days - and this novel was also inspired heavily by conversations here at your blog.

This probably isn't the place to post a sample of what I'm writing, but it's quite frankly awesome, and probably instantly recognizable to anyone who participated in the hundreds of conversations which helped create it!

Which leads me to other positive news. This blog you have built up is the place where I, and I'm sure others, have stimulating conversations which result in major creative outbursts; it is the place on the web I go to when I want some intellectual stimulation; to be challenged, inspired, corrected, a student, a teacher, and (hopefully) a friend to an international group of really smart people.

In fact, as much as I love your books, it may well turn out, when the definitive history is finally written, that your blog is seen as more important than the books and that the work you have done in building and moderating this place will be regarded as your really important work; a substantial investment of time and energy in making sure the future is place of hope and positive change.

So stay positive. You deserve a good year, and I hope you get one!

96:

Troutwaxer
Be careful what you wish for!
"Jerusalem" - riven by factional & religious strife, sacked, looted burnt & emptied multiple times ...
Maybe not?

97:

Regarding ocean fertilization, I'd love to see some good experiments done on this technology, but unfortunately, the political will to make that happen doesn't currently exist. If I ever win the lottery, the rehabilitation of "ocean fertilization by ferrous sulfate" studies is is something I will finance.

The brief history of this is that there was some good work done in this area in the 1980s and 1990s, at which point people tried to actually go out in the ocean and do small experiments and ran into heavy official interference, in large part because one of the parties involved had the idea that they would use "ocean fertilization" in some kind of scheme to trade for carbon credits, which they then hyped before the wrong regulatory bodies...

98:

"I'll see you next year in Jerusalem" is a traditional Jewish blessing (but I do get the irony, yes, which is part of why I dropped the "build your own Jerusalem" line.)

99:

"There is a point at which assuming a disaster is inevitable and preparing for it becomes indistinguishable from encouraging it."

Could be.

Actually doing something that has a positive impact is notoriously difficult. A very effective way to battle climate warming would be to increase the price of oil to 10x. Or more. Look at France. President Macron actually tried to do the Right Thing, which is to increase the price of oil products significantly (or not that significantly).

Macron did, however, surrender to the gilets jaunes protesters. I do not claim that the problems people are protesting against do not exist, but lowering the price of diesel and gasoline will surely not help preventing the climate change.

It is very difficult to do something real and effective like increasing the price of oil based products. Especially because our western societies are build in a way that practically requires you to own a.car and burn oil.

From the point of view of an individual protester, the price of diesel is personally more important problem than climate warming. At least in the short run. We humans are unbelievably bad in long range planning.

100:

This is for a single family house, correct. Digging around, the cost for an apartment runs from $80-$200 per square foot, with the national average around $125. Presumably in west coast cities it's at the top end of the range, so $240/sf for an apartment isn't ridiculous.

Thing is, the land cost is the same for whatever you put on it, but once you start putting multiple units on it, that cost gets divided among the units. This is where the argument over densification starts.

101:

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones finds a silver lining (sort of) in one of your points.

102:

" quite frequently it's used to subsidize overseas activities by donor nation corporations who use it to bootstrap resource extraction from poorer partners"

This was true before the late-90s, but there's been another form of aid since then. It's called the "build infrastructure which allows the donor nations corporations to efficiently outsource or build hotels". I remember reading in the Nikkei Weekly that a lot of Japan's aid to SE Asia (maybe the majority) earlier this decade was of this form. This is also the bulk of the BRI aid. While immoral, this form of aid is actually useful to the host nation.

In the case of the factories, they're building up the local electricity grid, roads, and ports. The host nation can then piggyback on this development to provide electricity to the population. Hence the fact that 85% of people have electricity (the remaining 15% being in countries where such aid does not exist, or in rural areas whose future viability is uncertain).

In the case of resorts, this also means creating the necessary infrastructure to make the place tourist friendly. This includes sanitation facilities and water treatment plants for the local population and tourists alike.

In other words, stuff that foreign aid was envisioned to be used for.

103:

This is where carbon taxation can be both a blessing and a curse. One part is that it sends a signal about the real price of something. The countervailing problem is that it suddenly lets people know that their lives are cruel shams propped up by a bizarre system that may well include resource exploitation, violence, oppression, and so forth. Since we generally feel like we're good people trying to be normal members of society, this almost inevitably leads to furious denial, as it has for the last 500 years.

Remember that capitalism really started with the Conquistadors looting Latin America and pouring the riches into Europe, followed by slavery (ditto, but with growth in the US), followed by exploitation of weaker peoples and countries around the world, and currently propped up by digging up stuff and burning it to keep doing what we're doing. This list almost certainly upset you, and that's the point. The critical point isn't the truth of the statement, it's your reaction to it. Knowing the truth doesn't make you free immediately (per Jesus), it's generally horribly upsetting at first (per Buddha).

The solution is gradual pressure, habituating people to issues so that they come around to the problem. That doesn't work well with climate change, since we don't have much time left to make the change, and we've been trained to maximize our own convenience and pleasure and to assume that progress and growth will take care of any problems we leave for the next generation.*

Societies that were better at long-range planning had more immediate feedbacks to correct their actions: they went hungry if they screwed up their food system, and they so depended on their local resources that they knew enough to take care of them. If they needed big trees, they had to tend them as they grew. They couldn't simply harvest a tree in some poor country halfway around the world and assume those people would be able to deal with the problem. This kind of local and rapid signal is going to be *hard* to implement in a global civilization, but either we do it, find an alternative, or our civilization breaks down into smaller units that do have adequate feedbacks in their systems.

*One of the fun things that SF doesn't do all that well is to figure out how we go from conspicuous consumption, progress, and growth to sustainability. This isn't as big a mystery as it sounds, because we've got historical examples from both Rome and China about what historically happened. For example, Rome went from conspicuous consumption and luxurious sacrifices to pagan gods to favoring an ascetic Christianity that lionized monks who lived on pillars. What would a similar attitudinal shift look like in today's society? Now make it better than the North Korean propaganda broadcasts you just visualized.

104:

"I'm not saying that foreign aid to developing nations is always wrong: but the system is very susceptible to corruption at both ends (largely due to the lack of transparency associated with it)."

I would argue the opposite. I would argue that overall foreign aid to developing nations is money well spent, with waste due to corruption and funding awful dictators a significant minority of it.

(I know that you know these points, but it bears repeating)

* Security aid: I understand that Boomer and Gen X dislike for this form of aid comes from the fact that it was used to fund death squads during the Cold War. However, it's essential in the modern world. Bolsonaro's base of support was people who wanted to own semi-automatic weapons due to Brazil's 60k+ homicides. Similarly, Duterte's rise was predicated on death squads for drug users. Wasn't the security situation in Russia a huge part of Putin's rise? In short, by ending security aid to corrupt nations, you're gift-wrapping those nations to the fascist international.

* Health and education: There's a lot of waste and corruption involved, but these budgets are becoming more efficient. Just look at the rising health and literacy rates in developing nations. Historically, wasn't education aid to India partly responsible for the trajectory that India's development took?

105:

“Remember that capitalism really started with the Conquistadors looting Latin America and pouring the riches into Europe, followed by slavery (ditto, but with growth in the US), followed by exploitation of weaker peoples and countries around the world, and currently propped up by digging up stuff and burning it to keep doing what we're doing. “

That certainly wasn’t the start of capitalism, where do you get these odd ideas?

What do you think the economy of the Roman Empire ran on, communism ?

106:

I see humanity's situation as something similar to someone who has a big, interest-bearing loan to deal with. We can either start making some moderately inconvenient monthly payments right now, which means most of us will live, or we can make one big payment fifty years from now, which means most of us will die.

107:

Or, as I've been writing for decades (used to be in an APA), next year in orbit.

108:

Talking about "carbon taxation" is important, but it may not be the most important issue.

The most annoying, and important, problem is, IMHO, the deteriorating ecosystem. We humans kill most of the ecosystem with no thought of how to survive without bees, for example. Without that the warming would just kill several billion (US billions) people. But the rest might survive at the same time when the southern species would migrate to the north. Of course our current economical system (and societies) will collapse, but I think that they are likely to collapse in any case when there are no new resources to be exploited. Eternal growth of the physical economy is a logical impossibility in which only some politicians, bankers, economists, and similar types believe in. Of course that can be solved by providing another planet to mess with.

But that is my nonconstructive attitude.

"One part is that it sends a signal about the real price of something. The countervailing problem is that it suddenly lets people know that their lives are cruel shams propped up by a bizarre system that may well include resource exploitation, violence, oppression, and so forth. Since we generally feel like we're good people trying to be normal members of society, this almost inevitably leads to furious denial, as it has for the last 500 years."

Not at all. People tend to live according to the rules of the existing society and the existing set of beliefs. People cannot plan against something they do not know. Unknown unknowns are real killers. If you believe that you have a god-given mandate to do anything you want, then you will act according to that.

Unfortunately we humans are still stupid enough to suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons. The combination of advanced (sufficiently advanced) science and inability to make long range plans may turn out fatal.

109:

And you complain about me being literal!

110:

I think you have to remember that, until quite recently (ending... um...) groups like the CIA sponsored fascist dictatorships, because they understood how to work with them. This dates back to the opening days of the Cold War, when the CIA harbored and aided formerly fascist groups in the fight against Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe, for all the good it did. The Marshall Plan (our most successful example of foreign aid) was predicated on containing the Soviets, part of a tripartite strategy also involving the threat of nuclear war and action by the CIA.

What I'd argue is simply that we're still dealing with effects of centuries of imperial head-butting, with problems like Syria, Somalia, Pakistan/India, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan dating back to the Great Game and the results of WWI, and the Korean split dating to WWII. In the purest sense, we're dealing with the karma, the actions of the past shaping the present.

111:

The regulars have heard this before, but I don't think you have?

Anyway, the Tragedy of the Commons is BS that even Garret Hardin, who first popularized it, repudiated latter on. It's basically capitalist propaganda arguing that everything should be privatized.

Moreover, the late Elinor Ostrom won an economics Nobel Prize for her decades of work documenting the conditions under which commons don't just exist but flourish for centuries.

Since she's the only woman to win an economics Nobel prize, there's also been some predictable sexist blowback against her ideas.

I've read her work, and it's convincing, since the ten conditions she documents for the persistence of commons also (for the most part) are the ones that lead to well-functioning markets (things like transparency, immediate and proportional punishment of cheaters, and so forth).

If you want an example, the water basins under Los Angeles are managed as a commons, simply because to do otherwise would flood the basin's groundwater with salt water from the Pacific Ocean and render the city uninhabitable. And if you've seen Chinatown, you're under no illusions that the water managers of Los Angeles are egoless people who sacrifice for the common good. They run a commons because, after decades of litigation and attempts at market-based alternatives, it's the system that works.

Anyway, humans do not suffer from the tragedy of the commons. Sorry. It's been disproved, and it's an urban legend. The real question is what people gain by pushing this myth and dismantling commons that used to be more widespread.

112:

Hmm... I do think that we think differently about the implications. Or we do not understand the concept in the same way. Unfortunately the original concept has been too closely related to land and its ownership. Or it has been interpreted in that way.

In my country there are several managed commons (land, water, etc) that are quite successful. In that I completely agree. But the climate is not managed like a normal resource.

In my understanding the climate is something that is common to us all. If I have a factory in an underdeveloped country and my factory generates pollution to the atmosphere, then how I the cost of that pollution will be paid by me? The most likely case is that I will not pay the costs.

But in the case of the climate I still claim that we suffer from the Tragedy of Commons. The structure of the problem is the same. We may invent a new name to it if it makes the discussion easier.

The original problem has unfortunately been used in order to push private ownership, as you say. That does not, however, make the problem to disappear. For an individual resource user it is simply rational to use the resource as much as possible. The same behaviour can be seen in many species (not only humans) and it does not disappear if we claim something else.

113:

I think the "tragedy of the commons" current incarnation exists because we no longer have a recognition of what our "commons" looks like. Is "average temperature" a commons? How about "predictable weather." How about "the ability to insure a farmer's crops against unpredictable weather events?"

If you don't understand that these things are prerequisites for survival... words like "deliberately induced ignorance" come to mind.

114:

Heteromeles notes: "the Tragedy of the Commons is BS that even Garret Hardin, who first popularized it, repudiated latter on. It's basically capitalist propaganda arguing that everything should be privatized."

Rubbish. The idea that people tend to overexploit shared resources if nobody is held responsible for maintaining those resources has many good historical examples -- pollution in the absence of emission control laws is the classic and still valid example. It's been a while since I read the original, but I don't recall Hardin claiming this was a law of nature or that there were no exceptions. The fact that there are historical counterexamples does not undermine the basic validity of the description if you assume "can" rather than "must": this can and does happen, but it is not inevitable.

The fact that pretty much any argument carried to its extreme becomes reductio ad absurdum (i.e., here, that TOC is "privatization propaganda") is also not relevant. It's kind of like saying the goal of a market economy is to produce a situation in which the poor are forced to eat one another while the rich watch and place bets. That's definitely one possible outcome (witness the American trend), but that doesn't mean it's the whole point of the system.

115:

In response, I'll simply quote Ostrom's Law (based on her work): "resource arrangements that work in practice can also work in theory."

To show how silly your argument is, let's talk about every market failure as a failure of the theory of capitalism. Which they are. Capitalism failed spectacularly in 2008 in the US. If we didn't add massive price supports to petroleum, it would be uneconomical, and thus it's supported as a matter of political economy, not pure capitalism. However, no one says categorically that capitalism only worked in a few historical examples, or that it's fundamentally wrong-headed. We don't talk about the Tragedy of the Markets, although the evidence for it is all around us. But that's the way we talk about commons if we don't know better.

I can go on, but the points are the following:
--Garret Hardin's idea of the Tragedy of the Commons is taken as gospel despite numerous and current counterexamples of commons working. Even Hardin saying that he was wrong is insufficient to countermand the widespread use of his paper.

--Commons work under specific conditions. So do markets. So does government regulation and government production. So does communism (in small communities). So do gift economies (especially in families). So does volunteerism. Of these, only commons are declared ideologically not to work.

In any case, you're arguing from ignorance, and I suggest reading Ostrom's work rather than relying on your memory of something Hardin wrote.

Here's Ostrom's 8 rules for common pool resource management (CPRs. I prefer the 10 rule version, but whatever). For the system to work, it must:

1. Be clearly defined (clear definition of the contents of the common pool resource and effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties);
2. Have appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions;
3. Have collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process;
4. Have effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;
5. Have a scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;
6. Have mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access;
7. Have self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authorities; and
8. In the case of larger common-pool resources, have organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level.

Based on these rules, air pollution is in many ways a managed common, for some specific regions (California Air Resources Board for a variety of pollutants) and some chemicals (CFCs worldwide). Ostrom did not deny that the government could play a critical role in a common if it was trusted by and accountable to all the members of the common. Part of the argument for air being a common is that people both from industry and from parties affected influence what the rules are for emissions.

Similarly, the groundwater of LA is currently managed as a common by the water agencies that pump water into and out of the aquifers (the aquifers in LA are used more as storage tanks for imported water than as primary sources of water). Water is one of the resources that lends itself well to commons management, and many current and historical examples of commons around the world are water management systems.

Not everything can be treated as a common. Fish stocks where poaching is rampant and difficult to punish is a classic example. Greenhouse gases cannot currently be managed as a common because cheating on emissions is currently more profitable than complying, measurements to determine who is cheating are imprecise (although this is rapidly changing), and there is no good system for punishing cheaters. But similarly, market forces fail to regulate both of these as well. Is this a Tragedy of the Commons, or a Tragedy of the Markets?

116:

2019 is almost here ...

Just learned that Brian May (Queen & PhD astrophysicist) will be premiering a new music video at 12:02 AM EST. Description says this is his personal tribute to the 12-year New Horizons probe journey.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Jm5POCAj8


To OGH and all the folks here:

Thank you for your insights, education, puns, thought puzzles and always interesting discussions.

Best wishes to you all in the New Year!
SFreader

117:

Eternal growth of the physical economy is a logical impossibility

My more charitable view is that the financial value of the physical economy is effectively unbounded (subject to things like the difficulty of doing integer maths on infinite numbers). When economists talk about "added value" and "transformational use" and a variety of similar terms, the physical economy part of that is that "got rock, want meat" has become "got obsidian, want mammoth steak" right up to "got platinum, want lab-burger".

The cynic might say, yeah, and Zimbabwe took that all the way to "got wheelbarrow full of paper, want toothpick". But still, good luck using facebook from that rock you found on the side of the road.

118:

Positive:

We have learnt that Humans lie and that their constructed reality is not real.

Negative:

Our TIME is ending in this world, as the whales and other complex minds pass on.


Thought: The world would be a better place with our Minds and Whales and not the lying dross that rules your world, surely?


Positive:

[i]Our Kind Do Not Go Mad[/i], and we've eaten your worst WMDs for breakfast.

Negative:

A large percentage of your ruling classes are functionally insane sociopaths.

Thought: Well, it's been proven. The [Redacted] that give them power are also in the mix. Pro-tip: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, whose going to go bug-fuck psychotic breakdown before us all?


Positive:

Everything that Daniel posted is a lie. It's media trash-spin nonsense. There are better stories out there. In fact, Daniel seems to be a proxy muppet for something a bit darker: where's the $$$ from?

Negative:

The Ocean plastic nonsense is nonsense: you cut the influx into the Oceans via the Nile, Yángzǐ Jiān and so on: you basically preclude plastic entrance. You fucking pathetic levels of "I HAZ A SHIP ON THE SEEEEAAAA N WE'RE GONNA CLEAN IT UP!" ... er... Scale? Gigatonnes? KM3 of Ocean?


Anyhow, grow the fuck up. Our TIME is ending in this world

Yeah, no.

Mirror. Gozer the Gozerian.

You wanted to fuck a Mind and power it through egotistical abuse and negative space while killing off the good ones? Well then.

Νέμεσις


Cancer. It's a 21st Century thing since you made so much money on "Charities" not fixing the issue but just feathering your nests.

It's a Mind Virus. Shiiiiite, you couldn't even spot AIDs, this stuff is sooo. Anyhow: enjoy dementia.


~


Positive?


You're still alive if you're reading this. That's about as good as it gets. Oh, and you can still laugh.


2019: We're going to test the "protected" Minds to destruction, see how many survive.


Spoilers: Not. Many. Do.

119:

Positive?
You're still alive if you're reading this. That's about as good as it gets. Oh, and you can still laugh.

Truth. Good to hear from you.

120:

Heteromeles @ 115
But ... that's a long list of preconditions.
Easily upset by greedy cheaters or governments with ideological bees in their bonnet, more's the pity.

121:

Anyway, humans do not suffer from the tragedy of the commons. Sorry. It's been disproved, and it's an urban legend.

That will be great comfort to the North Atlantic cod industry.

People who talk of the "Tragedy of the Commons" usually mean "shared resources will be exploited unfairly, to the ruin of all, if we don't have mechanisms to stop people doing so".

That does not appear to be disagreeing with Ostrom, since mechanisms to identify and penalize cheaters appear to be fundamental to her work on functioning Commons.


I'm sure there are definitions of "tragedy of the commons" that make your claims true - but I think they'd also make your claims a fair bit weaker than they first appear.

122:

The coalition government in BC (where the junior partner, the Green party, is lead by a distinguished professor of atmospheric science) looks like it will hold https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Weaver Ditto for resistance to more oil pipelines, even if the Canadian federal government bailed out the oil companies involved.

Around the world, local governments and NGOs are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change and reduce consumption of fossil fuels, usually with a plan for the next 20-50 years.

The fiascos at Patreon and Tumblr and fb and ... have raised awareness of the problems with the current financial and social media systems, and when people agree that there is a problem, they can work together to stop it. Remember when Microsoft was frightening?

123:

Aotearoa elected a young, almost-pregnant woman as Prime Minister on a platform of undoing austerity and reducing the impact of climate change.

I think the "almost-" is in the wrong part of that sentence.

She was fully pregnant. Not just "a little bit" pregnant. But she's only "almost" as progressive as you imply.

She's Labour (boring centrish-leftish), not Green, and though she is in coalition with the Greens she's also in coalition with the Old People Need More Respect From The Youth Of Today Oh They Weren't Like That In My Day Party (aka New Zealand First).

However, the absolute and total shellacking here in NZ of a local conservative talkback host who tried to make a big thing of how hard it would be for her to do her job given that she was also becoming a mum - that was a total positive of 2018.

124:

icehawk @ 121: People who talk of the "Tragedy of the Commons" usually mean "shared resources will be exploited unfairly, to the ruin of all, if we don't have mechanisms to stop people doing so".

That does not appear to be disagreeing with Ostrom, since mechanisms to identify and penalize cheaters appear to be fundamental to her work on functioning Commons.

Where I've most frequently encountered the idea is from Libertarians who use it as a perverse argument for laissez-faire capitalism; because people will always cheat, therefor there should be no government intervention to regulate the commons.

125:

If it's the story I think it is, JBS' reference is to a pre-WW2 story. Hence clearly not a Harry Harrison.

126:

Likewise; but also with driving law. Notably, "Everybody speeds, so we should not have speed limit enforcement". I offended one of these people by suggesting that the actual difference was that he was whining when he got caught :)

127:

How about setting speed limits appropriately, on the basis of the 90th percentile speed of what drivers actually do when not constrained, rather than on the average of all traffic, or "there has been a crash: Something must be done: Reducing the speed limit on this road is something, therefore we must do it."

128:

I find that the people who most often tell me "you should drive at the speed of traffic" only use that to mean other people should drive faster, not that they should drive slower. It's as if "the speed of traffic" and "the speed I want to drive" are somehow the same…

129:

The question becomes, "what is a commons?" A commons is something that's collectively owned, like the classic village green that people graze their cattle on or the water canals that supply fields with water.

If we're talking about the high seas, no one owns them, although there are laws regarding how people are supposed to act on the high seas. There are differences between "no one owns it," collective ownership, and governmental ownership.

The problem is when someone says, "people suffer from Tragedy of the Commons, therefore..." And that's simply fallacious. Commons have and do work. Assuming a priori that not only do they not work, but that any property must be owned by a person (physical or legal) to be managed, and that furthermore, this is the only way people can be made to behave and plan rationally? That's wrong on multiple levels, starting with the idea that owning private property and depending on market forces makes people behave rationally.

130:

paws4thot @ 125: If it's the story I think it is, JBS' reference is to a pre-WW2 story. Hence clearly not a Harry Harrison.

I want to think it was written some time in the late 50s or early 60s; one of those thin paperbacks that sold for $0.50. It was the kind of book you could read all in a single sitting.

I don't remember enough to identify the author, but it wasn't a "Stainless Steel Rat" story. I don't even remember if the "How could they be so stupid that they burned petroleum?" was essential to the plot or just background world-building to give the story verisimilitude. The story was not set in a dystopian future as I remember it.

The protagonist was some kind of future world government cop/detective who was going undercover in a floating factory/city of some sort because the bad guys were using it to do something illegal.

Another thing I just remembered from cudgeling my brain over it ... He could communicate with whales, porpoises & dolphins using some sort of translating machine. Again, I don't remember if that was essential to the plot or just background world-building. I think maybe at the climax when the future cop got ready to arrest the bad guys they tried to get away but the whales were able to block their escape.

One other thing that comes to mind now (but may be from a different story, I'm not sure)... There's a scene where the protagonist is assigned to dumping garbage over the side and it's dangerous duty because you might fall off the edge & drown (or get eaten by sharks). The bad guys could use that to get rid of inconvenient witnesses.

I think the protagonist used that to smuggle evidence out; dumped it overboard where dolphins were waiting to take it away.

131:

Laws work when they are a backstop against behaviour which is near-universally considered unacceptable in any case, but is still practised by the inevitable small percentage of people who won't stop it unless forced to. So, for instance, nobody argues that we shouldn't have laws against something like theft. Not even habitual thieves do - try stealing from one if you don't believe me. Their version of enforcement may be more likely to work by having someone break your legs than by having someone lock you in a little concrete room, but the very fact that they have a version at all demonstrates that they still support the idea of laws against theft, in the broad sense of considering it behaviour which should attract punishment from some form of "authority" (which does not, in this broad sense, have to be that of a national government).

Laws do not work when the behaviour they proscribe is widely considered to be perfectly OK. This is certainly the case when the behaviour concerned is something that everyone does do, often several times a day, because it requires continuous reference to a measuring instrument to determine whether you're actually doing it or not. Particularly when it is trivially obvious that the concept regulated by the law is so unrelated to its supposed purpose that the law does next to nothing to achieve that purpose, and indeed may even achieve the opposite in many cases.

And particularly too when the manner of its enforcement is such as to make it obvious that the purpose it is being used for is nothing to do with its supposed purpose, but instead is just an attempt to enforce conformity for its own sweet sake and/or the result of a refusal to accept that doing something for the sake of being seen to do something is less useful than doing nothing at all and/or a form of stealth taxation based on fining people for something they may not even know they're doing. I don't know about other countries, but this is certainly the case with speed limit enforcement in the UK - as paws hints - eg. Scotland having some notorious examples of roads that go for miles through the middle of nowhere being fitted with average (not spot) speed measuring cameras that achieve nothing but revenue generation, or Oxfordshire unilaterally imposing a blanket speed limit 10mph lower than the national standard even though there is no corresponding step deterioration in road conditions as you cross the county border basically just because they can.

It's perhaps more strongly demonstrated by drug laws, which are universally broken by considerable percentages of the population, because people - whether they articulate it or not - hold contempt for any kind of attempt to dictate the form of their private pleasures. Ditto with laws against sex. They are too obviously nothing more than an attempt by a small segment of the population to make everyone else conform to a standard just for the sake of exercising power (after all, the people who make up the small segment don't universally conform to that standard themselves), and in contrast to laws against theft which make life more comfortable for nearly everyone, only improve the happiness of a handful of lawmakers at the expense of making a much larger number of other people miserable.

When I was about 5 or 6 the entrance to the play area at school was at one corner of the building while the entrance to the building itself was at the diagonally opposite corner. I happened to enjoy going around that side rather than this side of the building when coming back in after lunch break. The teacher told me not to, but could not provide any reason for this instruction other than conformity to an arbitrary rule purely for the sake of it to the benefit of nobody, so I carried on doing it. Eventually this resulted in the teacher taking me aside into the cloakroom and positively yelling and screaming at me for a good fifteen minutes, going red in the face and almost frothing at the mouth; I genuinely thought she had actually gone insane and was partly frightened, partly intrigued to see what a real mad person as opposed to the storybook version would be like.

It's depressing to find how much of full-scale governmental lawmaking is just like that teacher.

132:

The only 'good' that I can list for 2018 - noting I have no doubt that 2019 will find a way to be much, much worse for mankind as a whole - is that it is over. From A to Zed, just a crap year. Sure, I got to experience Stockholm for 2 weeks but at the same time they were in the midst of the worst heatwave in nearly 300 years. Puts a damper on things when (a) you can't breathe and (b) complete a-holes across the globe are trying to deny how badly we have screwed up our climate (not weather you jackanapes, climate!). Too much hate, too much death, little to no joy. It's the new normal.

133:

Robert Prior @ 128: I find that the people who most often tell me "you should drive at the speed of traffic" only use that to mean other people should drive faster, not that they should drive slower. It's as if "the speed of traffic" and "the speed I want to drive" are somehow the same…

I once had a Highway Patrol officer tell me he didn't write tickets for anyone who was speeding less than 10mph over the limit because it wasted his time. It would always get dismissed in court, and "besides there are enough idiots out there going more than 10mph over so that I can write as many tickets I want."

Over the years I've observed "the speed of traffic" out on highways in between cities pretty much follows that 10mph over the posted speed limit pretty closely. City driving is different. There's close to zero tolerance in residential areas, especially around marked school zones.

Cruise control is your friend. I'm one of those drivers who suffer from acute get-there-itis. The longer the drive, the harder it is for me not to lead-foot it. I've never gotten a speeding ticket while driving a vehicle equipped with cruise control. Set it; forget it; and watch the other idiots suck up all the speeding tickets. If a vehicle I'm driving doesn't come with cruise control as factory equipment, I'm going to have an after-market unit installed.

134:

I recognise nearly all the elements of that summary but not their combination, so it sort of rings bells but with quite a thickness of cloth around the clapper. Sounds like it's doing that with a few people :)

But considering the burning of petroleum only in terms of consumption of a finite resource is only to be expected for someone writing in that period. There seems to be some kind of conspiracy theory that anthropogenic global warming was known about and predicted as far back as the 80s/70s/60s/50s/pre-WW1/19th century/when we were all living in caves, but the oil industry suppressed the knowledge, whose truth seems to be an implicit assumption behind rather a lot of posts. This is, of course, nonsense. AGW may have been a speculative hypothesis held by one or two people, but there are always one or two people with a speculative hypothesis about something. The knowledge wasn't suppressed, it just wasn't there until thousands of scientists internationally got together to generate it. If there was any worry about climate change it was that we might be due for another ice age (which I remember being taught in school), with a faint suggestion that if we produced enough CO2 it might help prevent that. The environmental effects of oil consumption were seen as things like carbon monoxide in car exhausts, dirty cities, and the Torrey Canyon disaster; things easily dismissed as no big worry, unpleasant perhaps but not catastrophic. The catastrophic event that was foreseen - although not worried about, as it wouldn't happen "soon" (and in Britain, also because we found North Sea oil) - was the obvious one, exhaustion of oil supplies because they're finite.

135:

I agree wrt. cruise control, with the caveats that it only works in light traffic on straight roads without much in the way of lane changing. Which means practically nowhere in the UK! It works for some stretches of motorway in the north of England, basically, and during average speed camera zones where everybody tries to toe the line. Otherwise? Forget it, traffic is too dense and roads too twisty and some idiot will cut in in front of you and slow down, or drive up your exhaust pipe, pretty much once a minute.

(Having said that I've gotten used to relying on cruise control on road trips in North America. But outside of cities, most NorAm roads are much more lightly used than their UK equivalents.)

136:

That's pretty much official in the UK - you can't be done for going less than (10% + some constant I can't remember) over the limit because speedometers aren't required to be better than 10% accurate. Actual coppers often operate to personal unofficial limits a bit higher than that, as you describe, but automatic cameras don't. Since most speed limit enforcement in the UK is by automatic cameras, while human traffic cops are increasingly rare, the arbitrary nature of the law is very apparent: as long as you stick to the number on the lollipop when you're going past a camera, you can drive like a complete nutter the rest of the time and be as dangerous as you want without being nicked.

137:

A lot of modern cars (including mass market stuff like my Golf) now have adaptive cruise control as standard which is significantly more useful than standard cruise control.

I drive almost exclusively on A/B roads and it's probably managing the accelerator and brake for me 90-95% of the time with me just taking over at junctions and on twisty roads where there's no car to 'set the pace'. When I do venture onto motorways / dual carriageways it's equally useful at maintaining a good safe distance with minimal intervention.

Set it to the speed limit and you can then use your eyes to actually read the road for danger, rather than hawkishly eyeing the speedo to ensure you don't creep over.

138:

Your recollection is definitely now a different story to the one I first thought of. I don't think it's a Harry Harrison generally, never mind specifically a Stainless Steel Rat rat story either.

139:

#131, #133 - Which pretty much supports my argument from #127 about setting speed limits on the 90th percentile speed (the speed that 90% of all traffic travels at or below).

I totally agree the argument advanced in #137 about adaptive cruise as well. ISTR you mentioning thinking about "maybe replacing the Ovlov" Charlie? If so, I strongly suggest trying to hire something with adaptive cruise for your next trip South.

140:

Anyway, for "good things about 2018", it seems that there actually was one, if only right at the end of it.

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dv0csi7XQAAEy0l.jpg

That is a picture of a giant Ferris wheel in the middle of London lit up to look like the EU logo.

141:

In the US they generally already use an 85/15 split to determine speed limits .

https://priceonomics.com/is-every-speed-limit-too-low/

142:

Arguing 85th or 90th percentile speed limits is a waste of bandwidth; thanks for the support for the principle.

143:

GH, icehawk et al. have it exactly right. Just because there are mechanisms for solving the Tragedy of the Commons doesn't mean it's nonsense and there's nothing to be learned from analysing it. I just picked up a 1st year econ textbook I have handy and it has a full chapter on "social dilemmas", with the TotC as an early motivating example and with lengthy discussion of mechanisms to address these dilemmas. (Also has 2 pages on Ostrom's career and contributions in a "Great Economists" box, though it notes right away she was a political scientist.)

You might as well say that the Prisoner's Dilemma game is useless because there are plenty of examples of the evolution of cooperation in human and non-human societies. Which would surprise social scientists and theoretical biologists alike.

144:

I am addicted to cruise control... when I can use it. If the traffic's medium or heavier, you can't trust the idiots, either the ones who shouldn't be driving (they're *way* too slow, and drive in the left (passing) lane), or the Center Of The Universe (you can tell them because they're trying to do 85 when the traffic is lucky to make 53.5mph.

Just looked up adaptive cruise control, and hell, no, that's useless for the idiot-in-search-of-their-accident, who'll cut in front of you with two car lengths between you and the person in front of you (who's just slowed down for no reason, and so you're closer than you want to be, 2 sec behind).

But I really don't want to do a road trip without it. When I drove from DC to KC for Worldcon - that's a fuck of a long drive alone - I was, astoundingly, *averaging* 27mpg. In a 2008 minivan. And once I set - usually, about 4mph over the limit - cops looking for speeders don't worry me, and so it's once less thing to think about.

145:

Australia is generating more renewable electricity than ever before despite the best efforts of the governments(1):

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/31/2018-australian-government-energy-more-hopeful-story

Like the UK, our government is headed by a figure called "Prime Minister (at time of writing)" and I still think that's funny. It's not as good as an elected president, but at least a rotating prime ministership means only the things they're really committed to get put up and only the things there's wide support for within parliament pass. Which reveals some very bad things about them, but, well, I suppose at least we know.

(1) lucky Australia, most of us get five layers of elected representation, generally using five different electoral systems.

146:

use an 85/15 split to determine speed limits

I favour using acceptable casualty rates for that, it seems like a more reasonable approach. Decide how many people you want to kill, work backwards from that to develop quotas for groups of roads, then set the speed limits accordingly.

Letting the killers decide how many people they want to kill seems odd, if anything it should be their targets that get to decide. As with the TofC, the problem is that lots of people don't drive, but still have to deal with the likelihood of being injured or killed by a driver.

147:

If you really wanted to do that you’d need different speed limits for different people and different cars

My 76 year old father should realistically be about half my speed limit if you let him on the roads at all

Similarly your odds of dying in a crash if you are driving a 1979’s Chevy pickup are considerably lower then a 2018 Tesla. Especially if you are in the Middle S and factor in “likelihood to have adequate medical insurance@

148:

if you are driving

... then I have other problems. As I said, those who don't drive are people too. People who drive, especially those who drive "safer cars", are simply pushing the risk onto other people.

I think different speed limits for different vehicles is a good idea, but my preference is risk-based: higher speed limits for electric cars, and ones that balance risk vs fuel consumption for necessary infernal combustion powered ones on shared roads.

149:

Also, I don't "need" to have different speed limits for different individuals, that's not how statistics work. Using the same system we have now, we could have different posted speed limits on different roads. Changing the speed limit on a road changes the toll, there's ample experience of that.

150:

I agree wrt. cruise control, with the caveats that it only works in light traffic on straight roads without much in the way of lane changing.

I really like the adaptive cruise control on my Civic. I really miss it when driving other cars.[1] It will follow the car ahead at whatever speed they are going. Down to 0.

[1] Most of the other cars I drive are rentals and they rarely have such.

151:

Charlie is disturbing the dreams of economists...
https://johnquiggin.com/2019/01/02/the-joy-of-forgetting/

152:

“People who drive, especially those who drive "safer cars", are simply pushing the risk onto other people.”

Not true they are lowering the overall risk . If two modern, safe(er) cars get into an accident the chances of either occupant being hurt is less then if one of those cars is done old death trap

If you really want to just optimize for casualty rate entirely, you would just lower all the speed limits to 30 mph. There are two additional implicit assumptions

1: as a counter factor to safety, people want to drive fast and get places
2: the lower the speed limit the more people will ignore the speed limit
3: public resistance to laws that seem stupidly conservative

For instance I never drive slower then 75/80 mph on an interstate highway unless it is congested or there is severe weather. So highways that have speed limits around that number, I am within the law. If you lower them to 55 I just pay more attention for speed traps. That’s because I drive a great car, I am a good driver and I am reasonably young with good reaction time. This is a safe speed for me, I rarely get caught and when I do I can pay the fine

When much if the US flipped to 55mph speed limits it was mostly ignored and then mostly rolled back

So your actually trying to balance all of these factors

153:

So that would be 70 km/h past an elementary school, then*? Or were you thinking of using a 'drivers vote' only for highways with no pedestrians, cyclists, etc?

Given that the damage to pedestrians goes up considerably with speed, I think they should be allowed a voice in setting speed limits as well.

Toronto pedestrian deaths are up this year, which may be a statistics blip. What is also up is the average speed drivers choose to drive. When I moved here in the 90s, it was 5-10 over the posted limit. Now it's 15-20 over (which when coupled with cell phone distraction is scary).


*Speed limit 40 km/h, usual speed 70-80, verified with police radar gun.

154:

OK, one overall "grab bag" answer to points since my last at #142.
Variable speed limits by "how safe the vehicle is" are nonsense; you will just as dead if hit by a "safe car" as by a 1970s "death car" at 50mph.

Here in Scotland we have variable speed limits in most of what the Canucks will call "school zones". Worked example from near where I live:-
1) The overall ruling limit on the road is 60mph, which is generally well respected. I would put the typical speed of most traffic at 45 to 60mph when drivers self-select a cruising speed.
2) For some 870m around the school there is a 40mph limit, which is frequently ignored except at school times on school days.
3) Within (2) there is a 20mph zone some 336m long, which is only active at school times, on school days. This is pretty much never ignored.

Near where my Mum lives (already in a permanent 30mph zone) there is a permanent 20mph zone "because of the schools" (source being local community councilor who doesn't drive and is the sort of hair shirt Green who will refuse an offered lift from someone who's going their way anyway on a really wet day). The 20mph zone is pretty much ignored (although the 30 is respected) by everyone, except at school times.

So Robert, I'm going to suggest that you have a proven problem with bad hazard perception by Toronto drivers, which may be at least partly a result of bad law making in setting speed limits.

155:

One small glimmer of light. In the United States, the opposition party (The Democratic Party) took control of the House of Representatives, gaining oversight powers over the executive branch (they can issue subpoenas) and requiring by bipartisan compromise to pass ANY legislation which can potentially impede some of the fascist elements which have been infiltrating their slimy tentacles into the halls of power.

156:

A few things which went right (in the sense of "not wrong")[A] in Australia over the past year:

1) We still have a mostly-working social security system, rather than having it dismantled. Which, given our current government, and their determination to make Australia over into a cargo-cult copy of the USA, is worth celebrating.

2) The increasing disdain most people are feeling for our two major political parties is increasing the number of independent MPs in what were formerly "safe" seats for these major parties, and bringing a lot more diversity into the parliament (eg: the new member for Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps), as well as forcing a government which has grown up on notions of "my way or the highway" to learn how to negotiate. Plus, we may yet see Tony Abbott evicted from Warringah by an independent.

3) The housing price boom in Sydney and Melbourne appears to have topped out, meaning we may yet see affordable housing in this country again.

4) Growing acceptance in the general Australian public for the notion of being considerate of the needs of Indigenous Australians, and of being even vaguely considerate of their feelings about "mainstream" events such as Australia Day.

5) On a purely personal note: the passionfruit vine out the back is fruiting generously. Given the supermarket charges about $3 a pop for passionfruit, I'm getting to have fruit I couldn't have afforded for the cost of putting kitchen scraps around the base of a vine. I have something like $84 worth of fruit in a bowl on the kitchen table. Having passionfruit pulp on ice cream is one of the pleasures of summer these days. (If you have a garden and the space to grow it, planting a fruit tree or fruiting vine is one of the best treats you can give yourself, trust me).

Plus of course, the good old "I aten't dead" thing. Which is always worth a bit of celebration.


[A] As someone with chronic, recurrent depression, I am lousy at spotting things which are "good news" or "positive". However, I can spot things which are going wrong with laser precision at rather startling distances. So when I'm trying to find the bright spots in an otherwise miserable period, I look for the things which are going wrong at going wrong.

157:

"the new member for Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps"

The best bit about this is that Wentworth was the Prime Minister's seat. Absolute blue ribbon right wing seat gone to an independent (who also happens to be female, gay and have a bachelor of science)

Happy days.

158:

The following is bad for privacy but good news for AI development

"The smart speaker market reached critical mass in 2018, with around 41 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a voice-activated speaker, up from 21.5 percent in 2017."

and

"It also forecast that Alexa would generate $18 billion to $19 billion in total revenue by 2021 — or ~5 percent of Amazon’s revenue — through a combination of device sales, incremental voice shopping sales and other platform revenues. In the U.S., there are now more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices installed — a key milestone for Alexa to become a “critical mass platform,” the report noted."

https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/28/smart-speakers-hit-critical-mass-in-2018/

159:

With luck they’ll manage to unseat Tony Abbott next election. There are at least two high profile candidates likely to run, I guess the interesting thing is that preference discipline is not to be expected, but nonetheless preferences ought to be expected to run against Tony. We’ll have to see.

160:

Pigeon @140
I think we will be getting good news about the NASA Ultima Thule probe-pictures later today ….

Speed Limits
[ RP @ 153, paws @ 154, etc ]
Near where my Mum lives (already in a permanent 30mph zone) there is a permanent 20mph zone "because of the schools" (source being local community councilor who doesn't drive and is the sort of hair shirt Green who will refuse an offered lift from someone who's going their way anyway on a really wet day)
We have one of these utter bastards too.
He is called Cllr Clyde Loakes, he’s a liar & a crook & an utter shit – he tried to get our award-winning & much loved local Art gallery & Museum both closed. ( The latter, I pass every time I walk to my “local” & the former is well under a km from my front door… ) See *NOTE* - below.
He believes in “Improving cycling facilities” – which translates as shitting on motorists & doing nothing for cycling – I still cycle, after 62 years of doing it & his programme has done nothing for me as a cyclist.
The latest is utterly unnecessary 20mph limits on main roads … I await the latest accident & injury statistics with interest, because I don’t think it will make any statistical difference, since you are down in Poisson numbers anyway ….

Megpie @ 156
YES. This last year, my allotment Chinese Pear fruited really well – I made two batches of Pear & Lime Jam – delicious. Which reminds me – sometime in the next fortnight, I must make some Lime marmalade/jam ( From the Indian Lime tree/bush in my home greenhouse…. )

Ioan @ 158
In the extremely unlikely event of me being stupid enough to get a voice-activated speaker, I would use a different keyword, probably, in a tribute to John Brunner … “Shagreen”

*NOTE* Quote from the wiki entry
"In 2007, the museum faced a closure threat after its opening hours were cut back as a cost-cutting exercise, breaking a stipulation of gifts by Sir Frank Brangwyn, that works should be on view for a minimum amount of time weekly. Campaigners against the cuts included former Culture Secretary Chris Smith.[6][7][8] Subsequently a major redevelopment was carried out."

The closure threat being made, fo course, by the vile Loakes, a Labour councillor, opposing everything William Morris ever stood for the stinking bastard.
William Morris quote: - I do not want art for a few; any more than education for a few; or freedom for a few.-
But Loakes does, because that's highbrow stuff, not for Labour voters.

161:

" but all DT needs is a short victorious war"

Bush the Elder had that and it didn't win him a second term.

162:

Your reply to my #154 - The lady in question does actually live her values, and shows personal integrity in other ways. I mentioned the cited points as an illustration that she is in no way qualified to make judgments like that about speed limits. It also chains to my related point (may be in other live thread) about how well respected variable speed limits around schools in Scotland are.

163:

One thing that is very hopeful is the slow adoption of electric vehicles, without a simultaneous improvement in the nature of electrical transmission grids. This sounds barking mad on the face of it, but a very useful feature is hidden in the loopiness.

If you cannot recharge an electric vehicle quickly from a house electrical supply and you don't want to improve the supply infrastructure, then all you can do is put very big electrical storage batteries into houses; improvements in flow batteries make these fit the bill here very well indeed.

If you then have rapidly-changing pricing of electricity throughout the day and smart meters (of the working variety, not the garbage currently being touted) and fairly ubiquitous solar roofs, and you also have smart electric cars which know the probable demand they will have for electricity ahead of time, then you have a very useful situation.

You basically have a situation where home users can sell electricity back to the grid, and where they can do so based on the projected demands of their home user and the price of the electricity at the time and in future.

Now, this is most emphatically not the situation the EU blue-sky thinkers were trying to engineer with electric cars; that had a lot more compulsion and regulation built into it, but a situation where there's a lot of money to be made by storing power is one that could conceivably solve a lot of our energy needs in future. We'll still need baseline electrical power, but then we have nuclear systems for that.

Even this isn't as nasty as it sounds. Small sealed-for-life thorium reactors will do the job perfectly happily, and bombardment type fast neutron reactors will take care of virtually all of the long half-life radioactive sludge. Such systems will also safely destroy nasties like plutonium, and destroying plutonium is a highly laudable goal since the less potential bomb-making material there is, the fewer opportunities for nuclear terrorism there are. Plutonium isn't like a firearm; it is very difficult to manufacture so reducing the global supply really does inconvenience terrorists.

164:

Bush the Elder had that and it didn't win him a second term.

Bush the Elder ran for re-election during a bad recession and made the fatal campaigning error of not promising tax cuts. (Thatcher's MO was to give tax cuts in a budget before an up-coming election, then threaten the middle-class voters with the spectre of a Labour government rolling them back. The electoral calculus in the US is slightly different.)

Also, the Kuwait War was a bit too small-scale and far away to qualify; most Americans couldn't point to Kuwait on a map (or even spell its name).

(Again, in contrast, Thatcher was handed the supreme good fortune of a successful war to seize back a clearly stolen chunk of the British Empire, at least if you went by the contemporaneous news coverage with no insight into the diplomatic precursors: she was able to capitalize on a wave of atavistic nostalgia, combined with a spectacular split in the opposition between Labour and the SDP.)

165:

Signs of sanity breaking out.
Though, being J Corbyn, he'll probably fuck that up, too ....

166:

Actually what may be going is something slightly more sinister. The current Labour leadership are very strongly left-wing interventionists by nature, and are directly stating that they would like to make some fairly large alterations to the UK economy. Things like nationalising large bits of infrastructure (as opposed to leaving them privatised and fine-tuning a regulatory regime around them).

They would, it seems, prefer to be doing this without continual interruptions from the ECJ on the lines of "Naughty child! That's illegal state aid, you're not allowed to do that!" hence the Brexit referendum being something along the lines of a happy accident that they would like to make full use of.

I would class them as basically well-meaning idiots. They want to make things better, but are insufficiently cynical and insufficiently skilled to take on the bankers and money-men at their own game and win.

They also seem not to have learned the lessons of the Blair era; the public are centrist small-c conservatives and do not like extremists of any stripe.


167:

AI-controlled targeting of individual voters by state-level propaganda systems in order to amplify internal hatred and dissent

No.

I mean, they certainly did run ads and memes, but those were not "state level propaganda systems" nor is there any evidence they had any impact at all.

I mean we have found exactly what they ran. Which of them are remotely persuasive?

The "buff bernie sanders" cartoon?

The "Yosemite Sam in front of the confederate flag" meme?

it was shit posting. Nothing more.

168:

Dan H @ 166
Agreed with the public are centrist small-c conservatives and do not like extremists of any stripe. ... with the added proviso, that we are (by many people's standards ) extremely socially liberal { Brown? Pink? dark brown? Homo? Hetero? Bi? Religion - what's that? ... etc }

169:

The logic behind lowered speed limits was that drivers have increased reaction times. A secondary benefit not considered in the original debates* is survivability.

Statistical analysis summarized here:
https://nacto.org/docs/usdg/relationship_between_speed_risk_fatal_injury_pedestrians_and_car_occupants_richards.pdf

Looking at the graphs, a pedestrian stuck front-on by a vehicle is 10 times more likely to die at 40 mph, 3 times more likely to die at 30 mph, compared with 20 mph.

Maybe Scottish schools are different, but in Canada schools tend to be used by community groups outside of regular school hours — not to mention many provide before- and after-school programs. As well, playgrounds tend to be used by neighbourhood children outside of regular school hours. So assuming that children will only be present in school hours is a bad assumption**.

*At least in Canada, when reduced speed limits were discussed and implemented. Survivability frequently crops up in recommending lowered speed limits in Toronto (and possibly other cities where I don't follow local politics).

**It may be true for particular schools, but not all. My school has children there from 7AM until 9PM (later some nights) during the week, plus an extension school on the weekend.

170:

Also, the Kuwait War was a bit too small-scale and far away to qualify; most Americans couldn't point to Kuwait on a map (or even spell its name).

Ah, nope.

It WAS a big deal. Just over too soon before elections.

171:

Hey, the Democrats are taking control of the house later this week.

Also, science fiction has pretty much foretold every awful thing that we're now experiencing. Consider that in 1993, Kim Stanley Robinson figured that we'd have to start terraforming the earth to counter carbon emissions.

As bad as 2018 was, the silver lining is that science fiction has never been more important. It's time to double down on writing to give humans a roadmap to navigate our dark future.

172:

You have just argued for a world-wide version of the UK's "Red Flag Act", which required all motor vehicles to:-
1) Proceed at no more than walking pace.
2) Be proceeded by a pedestrian carrying a red flag.
Cite - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locomotive_Acts

Beyond that, all you've demonstrated is that your milage does vary (and maybe that you see 2 sports teams as being the same level of hazard as 2_000 teenagers leaving a location at once).

173:

Charlie@164
While Ross Perot may have taken votes from both Bush and Clinton (an assertion which is debatable), the votes lost by Bush cost him far more states.

Greg@160
It's easy for your to say when you don't have a relative buying it for the household, or as a surprise Christmas present.

In other news, Tesla's had an OK year

"The company sold 90,700 cars in the quarter and 245,240 for the year, a disappointment for Wall Street, but something of a minor miracle given the many production issues Tesla faced in 2018...But markets shouldn't overlook the smooth execution on Model S and Model X, which without much fanfare have hit their 2018 benchmark of 100,000 deliveries."

https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-model-s-and-x-are-core-business-and-sales-are-strong-2019-1

China will begin selling its hypersonic and laser weapons on the open market, which should improve its 5.4% international weapons market share which the seagull found.

https://www.businessinsider.com/chinas-latest-laser-weapons-are-ready-for-the-arms-market-state-media-2019-1

174:
Eventually this resulted in the teacher taking me aside into the cloakroom and positively yelling and screaming at me for a good fifteen minutes, going red in the face and almost frothing at the mouth; I genuinely thought she had actually gone insane and was partly frightened, partly intrigued to see what a real mad person as opposed to the storybook version would be like.

I have the feeling that this was the most valuable lesson you learned in that academic year - probably in the top 3 lessons you learned in any academic year!

Having passionfruit pulp on ice cream is one of the pleasures of summer these days.

Summer? What's that? On December 21st, where I live (43°N) had 9 hours between sunrise and sunset. 15 hours between sunset and sunrise.[1]

[1] Expecting a lot of "Luxury! Nine hours of sunlight in midwinter! I used to dream of having that much sun! etc.

175:

We're also burning information when we burn fossil fuel.

176:

Summer? What's that? On December 21st

It's the thing that we in the Northern hemisphere have on June 21st. Megpie is Australian.

177:

I've been saying for a long time that starting there, you ought to be *required* to take the full driver's exam, esp the road part, every five years. Now that I'm over 65, I continue to say it.

But then, I had good role models: my father, in his late sixties, got a ticket for going too slow on a bridge, and decided that was it, they lived in Philly, and had always used public transit anyway, so he sold the car. My late mother-in-law, living in nowhere, slightly better than a wide spot in the road, in TX (public transit? what's that?) , in her late seventies, when her eyes started having trouble adjusting to oncoming headlights, simply stopped driving at night.

The other thing we really need is different *grades* of license. Anyone driving a vehicle over (I just looked) 4500 lbs needs a special license, esp. since most of them drive like they're driving a compact car, and have NO IDEA how to drive a large vehicle.

(FYI: I could pass that test. But then, I've driven a 26' truck, with everything I owned, half-way across the US FOUR TIMES, no accidents. Oh, and once I parallel parked it on a city street in Chicago.... (buffs nails))

178:

"Safer cars"

A good while ago, I heard an interview with a woman (Jane Random person), who drove an SUV so that the next time she got into an accident, she'd be ok.

The next time? How many had she *had*?

My late ex and I were rearended/wound up being totaled by an idiot woman who cruised around a semi into the turn lane, where the light had just turned green... and I'd stalled our car (a stick, and I was out of practice). I'm not sure she ever hit her brakes, but I saw her mouth open in an OHHH!!! Rode *right* over our rear bumper, and into the trunk in her freakin' oversized SUV.

Ever since, I've wanted a national law requiring *all* SUVs to have ugly (and the law needs to specify "must be ugly!) bumper extension so that you're SUV's bumper isn't higher than a std. car's.

179:

When my late wife and I were driving from Chicago to Anaheim by way of the Great Northwet, some states's speed limit was "drive as is reasonable". Most of us were at around 75.

Then there's Centers of the World, exemplified by you, who are trying to do 85, when traffic only is allowing about 53.5. You're the one cutting in and out, into spaces where the cars are already too close together.

Interstates were built for 70. YOU are unsafe.

180:

Bush the Elder had a *lot* of negatives, including the "missing a few cards from the top of the deck" view of him.

He was also aggressive in ways that a *lot* of folks, most of whom remembered 'Nam far too clearly.

Oh, and he had as VP Dan Quayle[1][2], which was *not* a positive thing.

1. Most of us considered Quayle to be his insurance policy, since *no* *one* wanted President Quayle.
2. Gee, you're in a tight election race, why don't you piss off 10,000 vehicles of folks who might vote for you? (My late wife and I, having stayed in Florida for a week after Magicon in '92, had gotten a ticket to the Causeway, to get closer to the launch. 10k tickets given out. 10k cars driving... and then *STOPPING* for over half an hour, while Danny Boy choppered in, then motorcaded to the blockhouse, leaving us to drive like mad to find a sight to watch from before the launch.

181:

GH, icehawk et al. have it exactly right. Just because there are mechanisms for solving the Tragedy of the Commons doesn't mean it's nonsense and there's nothing to be learned from analysing it. I just picked up a 1st year econ textbook I have handy and it has a full chapter on "social dilemmas", with the TotC as an early motivating example and with lengthy discussion of mechanisms to address these dilemmas. (Also has 2 pages on Ostrom's career and contributions in a "Great Economists" box, though it notes right away she was a political scientist.)

You might as well say that the Prisoner's Dilemma game is useless because there are plenty of examples of the evolution of cooperation in human and non-human societies. Which would surprise social scientists and theoretical biologists alike.

Again, this is fallacious on multiple levels. Tragedy of the Commons was an idea proposed by Garrett Hardin to explain the problems with people exploiting resources that they didn't personally own. This metaphor caught on, despite evidence that commons (property owned in common) did in fact work, and despite ample evidence that privately owned property can be despoiled just as thoroughly as any common. "Tragedy of the Commons" was then used as an excuse to dismantle working commons, which I seem to remember is where Hardin repudiated the idea.

At this point, the Tragedy of the Commons is a pernicious metaphor. Water management is a great example. To pick one example, there were no commons for water in most of California, leading to the massive depletion of groundwater we currently see (there's a sideline that similar groundwater depletion helped cause the Syrian Civil War, so this is a serious issue). California is starting to set up commons in each major aquifer so that users can manage their remaining stocks...except that they can't be called commons, because the only time people have heard of Commons is in the phrase Tragedy of the Commons. California has a 150 year-long history of failures of market-based water management schemes, so that part isn't a surprise, just the latest iteration of California starting with free market-based management schemes and then moving on when these fail, despite our reputation as a socialist mecca.

The thing to realize that "Tragedy of the Commons" makes people ignore commons as a potentially useful alternative. Since most people talking about it have no idea what a working common is, it causes more problems than solutions. And yes, I've repeatedly taught the problems with common pool resource use. It's rather interesting to see what happens.

I'd end by pointing out that this is far from the only environmental issue that's warped by capitalist ideology. The classic one is ecological competition: it's a pain to demonstrate, but most general ecology textbooks focus a chapter on the same few studies (generally with grain weevils) to demonstrate competition is a universal and pervasive phenomenon.

Conversely, there's symbiosis. Every multicellular species pretty much has other symbiotic species. In humans, those are all the bacteria, etc. that live on us (you've probably heard that you have more bacterial cells than genetically human cells in your body?). Symbiosis is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Yet in most general ecology textbooks up to the 2000s, there was typically 1-3 pages of general descriptions of symbiosis, mentioning things like obligate pollinators or whatever.

The reason for this long chapter vs. handwaving coverage? It's not the importance of the phenomena, it's that in the 1920s, capitalism embraced competition as its organizing principle, while the Communists had embraced symbiosis and mutualism as theirs. As a result, studies of symbiosis were derided as an evil commie plot. That bias persisted well past the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Since I studied a symbiotic relationship for my PhD, I found out about the history of this whole sorry mess, and that made me a little more aware of the political biases that pervade the way issues are taught. I'd note it's particularly silly, because symbiotic-type relationships are rife in the business world. We call them subcontractors, partnerships, and consultants, among many others. However, ideologically capitalism is supposed to be organized as competition in a marketplace, and too much collusion is reputedly illegal. The result is that it's more difficult to talk about how business actually works.

In this case, I'd simply suggest that you stop uncritically defending the concept of the Tragedy of the Commons and actually look at what commons are and can do.

182:

We're also burning information when we burn fossil fuel.

I've long been saddened by the thought of all the fossils that have gone into coal-fired plants. (Really.)

183:

Given that 13.8 million people voted for labour at the last election, your comment re. the British public being small c conservatives is clearly nonsense.

184:

Not unusually, I am supporting you and Pigeon.

I am old enough to remember when the law was (mostly) drive to the conditions, not the regulations, and that was what I was taught to do and still do. For example, treating cyclists or pedestrians on a pavement or in a separate cycle lane as if they were in the same lane, ignoring white lines and speed limits when overtaking, slowing right down for blind bends and accelerating hard out of them. And, yes, I do slow and even stop for such people, when necessary, which pisses off the regulation followers.

As a vulnerable cyclist (and pedestrian), I utterly loathe the current approach, had to give up commuting by bicycle in 2002, and have had to more or less give up entirely now. No, I am not much more vulnerable - but the driving to regulations is getting worse. Being given 12" clearance at 20 MPH is FAR more dangerous to people like me than being given 6' at 50 MPH, and there is a strong correlation between a driver endangering me and he or she being an obsessive regulation-follower.

Nowadays, it has got so bad in the UK that a driver is almost never charged for killing or injuring someone unless he has broken a technical regulation or sassed the police, no matter HOW clearly it was his negligence - at, at least in cases of minor injury, even if it was admitted to be deliberate.

There are solutions to this, but they involve reversing a lot of the past half-century's policies.

185:

Really? When you consider what the options were, and remember that the opinions and plans of Corbyn and McDonnell weren't exactly obvious to the unthinking masses, plenty of such people would have voted Labour. I did, for the first time in my life (for the first reason, obviously).

186:

Safety by vehicle type is pretty murky to me.

There are a bunch of issues.
There is, of course, a huge industry deeply invested in the US in showing their most expensive products to be safest. The US regulatory system and vehicle marketing is set up to maximize a very selfish concept of safety such that a vehicle that in a crash is 10% less likely to have its driver die, but 500% more likely to kill the person in the other car would be rated 'safer'. Insurance industry data tends to be setup to calculate risk per whatever units insurance coverage is sold in, in the US car insurance is almost always sold by the day, not by miles driven, hours drive, etc. I haven't seen any evidence of anyone trying to control for different vehicle types being driven by different people or in different places.

But in terms of driver deaths per registration year normalizing SUV to 1 you get mid-sized-car at about 1.8 and pickup at about 4.

Again perhaps that is mostly really because SUV's are mostly driven by middle aged suburban people and a lot of 18 year old boys are dying in pickups on rural 2 lane highways? I can't find any attempts to figure that out.

SUV's are known to be hideously more deadly to cars in head on crashes, probably by more than 10 times.
SUV's are vastly more likely to roll, which is a pretty deadly crash type, though they have improved in the last ten years.
SUV's are vastly more likely to back over someone while exiting a parking space and kill them.
SUV's obstruct visibility when parked and when driving.

It is sure to be the case that if there were no SUV's we would have fewer deaths. If everyone drove 5 star crash rated small sedans car crash death rates would be quite a lot lower. Bigger heavier vehicles can 'win' a crash and get a bit of safety by crushing the other vehicle more, but that's a less than zero sum game. Smaller lighter vehicles are putting less stress on materials, are easier to stop, harder to flip, etc, etc.

187:

I wasn't thinking so much about fossils as about chemical and isotope variations in the fossil fuels, but both apply.

188:

No ide3a if that was already brought up, but there is also the different crumble zone[1].

Of course, that might mean an advantage for rear-engine designs.

[1] Called "Knautschzone" in German. Where a colloquial German word for "kissing" is "knutschen". My associations are left to the imagination of the reader...

189:

Agreed. The only time I got into an accident, my Hyundai Excel (remember those little sub-compacts, plowed its left front bumper into the wheel of a large SUV. I bent the frame 1-2 cm, and had to spend about $700 on a new bumper and light. The SUV broke an axle and had to be trucked away. Given that I thought I'd die in a collision with an SUV, I was rather happy (although I felt bad for the perfectly ordinary woman driving it).

Anyway, I think there are two uses for SUVs. One is their intended use, which is hauling 4-8 people off-road. The old SUVs were quite good at this, and ecology professors, consultants, and the like loved them for that reason. Then there's the modern use, which is having a big ugly car to bully people with, so that they get out of your way. Modern big pickups are advertised as this as well. To me, the argument for getting a big truck to bully other cars with is akin to the argument for getting an AR-15 for "home defense." There's a lot of paranoid fantasy involved, and they don't do nearly as well as one might hope. The lovely thing about EVs is those cute little scooters generally have much better acceleration than the brontomobiles, and it's fun to outrun the beasts. EVs are positively mammalian in that regard.

190:

Bush I had quite a few flaws:

--"Read My Lips, No New Taxes" was easy to turn against him when he raised taxes.
--"100 Thousand Dead of AIDS, Where Was George?" Remember that chant from ACT UP? Dude had serious blood on his hands from his mishandling of the AIDS crisis and from Desert Storm.

Yes, the economy mattered too, but he wasn't the saintly grandpa his PR flacks subsequently made him out to be.

191:

Anyway, things to be thankful for: A clear picture of Ultima Thule. Looks like it's a contact binary with a surface made of some higher order ice fried red by interstellar radiation. Guess those Mi-Go are the right color for camouflage after all.

And here's a filkish earworm for you...

Flying through a Deep Space Wonderland (to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

...
In the darkness we will find a snowman
And pretend that's inhabited
I they ask what color we'll say, "red, man,"
'Cause New Horizons' beaming down the vid...
...

(I don't think I'll ever give Brian May any competition)

192:

No. No. No. Increased stopping distance! Your reaction time doesn't change.

193:

Re. bumper extensions...

It would be difficult to define "ugly" in law, but there is a possible legislative response that as well as being simpler ameliorates a wider class of situations. This is to amend the procedure for driving tests so that, before any of the on-road stuff, the candidate is unexpectedly shown a full-size holographic projection of a charging elephant while being observed by the examiner. If the examiner determines that the candidate is, in fact, a fish, it is an instant fail.

I remember vividly being in a long line of cars which all pulled over at the same time to clear the road for the ambulance with lights and sirens that was approaching from behind... apart from the SUV which trundled blithely down the suddenly-clear road until it got to a narrow bit, where it stopped, blocking the road completely and causing the ambulance no end of bother trying to get past it. I was in a position to see clearly through the SUV's windows and it was plainly obvious that the driver was, in fact, a fish. And indeed this does seem to be true of a lot of SUV drivers, your own incident providing another example.

But I also remember vividly the driver who pulled out, then checked for oncoming traffic, got a positive result, and responded by slamming on the brakes and coming to a halt broadside-on right in front of me. I had a clear view through the driver's side window as I estimated how survivably or otherwise their body was about to be mangled and was relieved to note that this driver too was, in fact, a fish. The car, though, was not an SUV, but an ordinary small car (which in British terms means it doesn't have rear doors because they'd be too small to get through if it did).

The fact is that it is actually quite common for vehicles to be in the charge of drivers who are, in fact, fish. While they do prefer SUVs, the large boxy glassed portion being comfortably similar to an aquarium, whereas a smaller car tends more to resemble a bowl, this preference is not so strong as to keep them out of smaller cars entirely, and therefore it does not suffice merely to alter the form of one specific type of vehicle. Far better to identify the fish at the time of the driving test and put them back in the sea before they come to any harm.

194:

I mean, they certainly did run ads and memes, but those were not "state level propaganda systems" nor is there any evidence they had any impact at all.

I mean we have found exactly what they ran. Which of them are remotely persuasive?

*polite cough*

Actually, you've not. Not even close, even the NRA funding milarky is Peter Pan land compared to what's actually been going on. "This is deniable bait" is a well known tactic, nested dolls and all that. We'd suggest looking @ Facebook's internal issues and then thinking a bit outside the box. [Hint: ecosystems]

Anyhow, Host has found one of the uses of High Pitch Whines (go a grep), but the reality out in the wild is... a little more hardcore. Like, the sound version is for the Ape Class, wait until you spot what's hidden in Light Tunnels [refraction...].


Ok, so let's do a demonstration. grep Sudan. Mentioned it previously [and the ragtag IR friendly UK troll group needs a spank 'cause they're waaaaay over their heads, getting old crusty McJim from the states to fund them, tsk tsk]

Now then, it's having a bit of a US / RU ICC political mix up with lots of interesting bunnies on the ground [we'll keep it RU targeted, because the FR are a bit jumpy at yellow vests atm], largely due to that dam, Saud's long term plans to use parts of Africa as 'escape / agriculture zone Gamma', China etc Great Great Games.

Note: these are all Western friendlies, possibly assets, possibly genuine, all on the radar & likely to get ganked if the shit goes down loco:

I saw these guys in downtown Khartoum yesterday - they split up and were moving around the area in the lead up to the planned 1 pm march time. Yousra Elbagir, Twitter, Jan 1st 2019

How do you guys think this bread and fuel shortage happened? I am asking for all of us - sudani, non sudani, media - to consider the WIDER context. Like @bedouralagraa said, one cannot talk about what’s happening NOW without considering what led up to it. Munchkin, 23rd Dec 2018

A crisis like this does not happen overnight. We all watched when 2018’s national budget was released and we ALL SAW how 80% of the budget was allocated to security/defense. I remember folks laughing in disbelief on the TL at the amount allocated for healthcare and education. (same author)

And this:

Some observers believe these are Russian private military contractors, possibly the Wagner Group, which guards Sudanese gold, uranium, and diamond mines, as well as atomic energy facilities. Russian media have reported that Wagner trains Sudanese armed forces. #SudanUprising (19)
6 replies 169 retweets 196 likes Jon Hutson, 31st Dec 2018

(long wonk thread on RU mercs who function in the same manner that Black/Academi/Xi function. i.e. preeeety close to .mil privateers rather than SOF).

Riddle me this (bearing in mind those Congo bits on fake identities / British gentlemen etc) - £2,000,000 buys a bit more than a few twitter trolls. Might even get you ministerial intervention, or in Sudan, buy out some of the 37 (! this is a fraction of the total !) political parties weighing into matters. Oh, and also genuine Islamacist militants.


Good news?

Not descended into chaos (yet), even with the State Department wandering around drunk.

195:

Hmph.

Last link is: https://twitter.com/JonHutson/status/1079937717096665088

No idea why that one went dark (*ramp up the Brown Note, boys*).


p.s.


"10 weeks and we're safe and dry".

Never Gamble with Loki, not smart, apparently.

196:

Nice picture.

Frosty the object
Was a contact binary
Full of cold Mi-Go
Clad in carbon snow
You'd go mad if you could see!

197:

Note: linking in nuclear and hydro power into this discussion was deliberate.

Ponder:

“It is evident that there is a strong commitment from the government of Sudan to developing the infrastructure needed for a safe, secure and peaceful nuclear power programme.”

IAEA Reviews Sudan's Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development IAEA, Sept 2018

"The dam being built by DSI (State Hydraulic Works of Turkey) will serve two purposes. Apart from providing drinking and usable water to the people in the region, the the dam will protect the capital Djibouti -- where 75 percent of the country's population lives -- from overflows," he said.

Turkey halfway through dam construction in Djibouti Anadolu Agency, Oct 2018 (Anadolu Agency is a long running Turkish media source, State Aparatus these days)

Nukes vrs Hydro is actually not about power generation (and the likelyhood of Sudan becoming a nuclear capable country is, as far as odds go, like finding little green men on Ultima Thule).


Good news?

Well, if people are still playing the Great Game, they've not collapsed internally.

198:

According to a study from 2013, 53% of fatalities happened in rural areas and 47% happened in urban areas (I'm assuming that this includes the suburbs). However, I doubt most of the rural fatalities are young due to the fact that the rural population is quite elderly. I think that the bulk of rural fatalities are due to the large distances involved for the ambulance to get to you and to the hospital. Don't forget, rural hospitals have been closing for economic reasons.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi-sfT2gtDfAhVjhOAKHacsAwUQFjAAegQICRAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcrashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov%2FApi%2FPublic%2FViewPublication%2F812181&usg=AOvVaw2sBH6V0NpnvgE6HebqMjGo

In related news, NYC had 200 fatalities last year, the fewest in recorded history. Of those, 114 were pedestrians. Since NYC is one of the few places in the US where it's acceptable to jaywalk, I think that NYC's traffic profile is unique within the US. Then again, Staten Island is considered part of NYC (which is predominantly suburbs), so that may skew the data as well?

https://www.businessinsider.com/nyc-streets-safest-year-ever-congestion-pricing-improvement-2019-1

199:

Note to Loki Class Gallery: The FR mention wasn't a joke nor was our moves.

Here's a junior member of the NATO set who loves Bellingcat giving an (inaccurate & simplistic - 37 groups alone signed the anti-"Regime" docs recently, and those are the ones willing to participate in government) breakdown:

So, here's a diagram of complexity done simplistically (and remember: he's a wonk who gets on FR Tee-Vee and loves Bellingcat, meaning he's either dumb, paid to pretend to be dumb or working for FR intel. Genuine Yale PHD top narks+. Work it out for youselfs).

https://twitter.com/jnbptst/status/1078976671087316992

He's way out of date btw. But that's the Offically Recognized Narrative for FR via DC, take it how you want.

p.s.

More snipers on roofs. The playbook is predictable in the extreme, it's 2018 not late 1970's.


~


Oh, and we've not mentioned the Corporate interests (should we?)

200:

Was a contact binary

Quite a nice picture and better are coming tomorrow.

There are questions about how both bodies got to be close to spherical and how, once separate objects, they got into contact gently enough as to give each other just a kiss.

Good classical physics problems there. I suspect the answer is in aggregate bodies attracting each other over gigayears.

201:

...or it's a lava lamp in spaaaace.

(What shape do heated liquids form in a vacuum? and what shape do said liquid spheres form if frozen while joining while cooling?)

Apes make space so complicated.


Making planets is noisy and there's lots of energy going around.

202:

Positive:

"Wow, I guess this must be friction working over billions of years gently joining these two lumps together while we still do not know the core elements"

Negative:

"It's a lava lamp. Your physics has already shown how this happens, you can do it in a lab, you're getting excited over a billion years of dust / impacts on the surface when you're looking at heated spheres fusing after a catastrophic impact event. FFS, look at the little spherical blemish on the smaller body, it's the same thing, twice in the same body shows multiple bodies joining while cooling"

Loki Class Space-Vessel:

"They're so basic they canvent. FFS, look at the little spherical blemish on the smaller body, it's the same thing"'t even tell which planet this ejecta is from"

203:

I get exactly what you mean. I have also given up cycling for partly the same reasons. That and cycling in an area where 40mph gusting 60 is not a one off thing for half the year is not conducive to maintaining the relevant muscle fitnesses.

204:

:-)

Personally I suspect that they are more like lemmings, and unable to cope with anything that requires them to make a change in their plans.

205:

Whitroth @ 177
Well the GGB masses slightly over 2 tonnes & has 11 seats, which makes it a bus, so I have to pass a medical & eyesight test every THREE years, when I renew my licence, now I’m over 70 ( Just got my new licence back … )

Guthrie @ 183
I suggest you re-read the original statement – he’s right & you are wrong …

EC @ 184
Yes, especially as regards cycling & cyclists, of whom I am one & the aforementioned idiots like the vile Loakes making it WORSE, whilst claiming to “Improve” matters ….

Pigeon
In other words, it’s not the vehicle, it’s the fucking idiot ( or not ) who’s in charge of it …. What a surprise that wasn’t!

206:

I thought LWB Landies (series and coilie) only had 10 passenger seats (including the one with the gear levers) exactly so you didn't need a PSV to drive one?

207:

Sigh ... you're missing the point, I think. If you are worked up about facile or mendacious uses of simple game theoretic models to justify preexisting beliefs - like "the Tragedy of the Commons implies we should always solve it by privatising" - then I am 100% with you.

But that's not what I'm saying (or GH, or icehawk, or Jar). The TotC is a useful tool for analysing a kind of social dilemma. That it gets abused by the ideologically motivated doesn't mean it's "BS". You might as well say "natural selection is a useless concept because Social Darwinism and eugenics is racist rubbish".

I mentioned the Prisoner's Dilemma partly because the Tragedy of the Commons game is basically an n-person PD. The PD and the TotC games are widely used by biologists and social scientists to analyse the evolution of cooperation. Here's a more or less randomly chosen example by a bunch of biologists:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2006.3476


"Evolution in group-structured populations can resolve the tragedy of the commons"

Timothy Killingback, Jonas Bieri and Thomas Flatt

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2006

Abstract

"Public goods are the key features of all human societies and are also important in many animal societies. ... [P]ublic goods also provide an incentive for individuals to be selfish by benefiting from the public good without contributing to it. This is the essential paradox of cooperation—known variously as the Tragedy of the Commons, Multi-person Prisoner's Dilemma or Social Dilemma. Here, we show that a new model for evolution in group-structured populations provides a simple and effective mechanism for the emergence and maintenance of cooperation in such a social dilemma."

Do you think this kind of analysis is "BS"? Probably not, in which case we all mostly agree.

208:

I mean, they certainly did run ads and memes, but those were not "state level propaganda systems" nor is there any evidence they had any impact at all.

Here's a selection of front-facing (i.e. public) Mil Wonks involved with TAA in the UK.

https://archive.li/qdZJl

https://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/soft-power-uk-influence/soft-power-ev-vol1-a-g.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20160405181915/http://www.x-iap.com/index.html

General Andrew Mackay
Cdr Tatham
Colonel Jack Guy
General Al-Mulla
Lt Col Ulrich Janssen
Colonel Richard Welter
Dr. James W. Derleth
Dr Amy Zalman
Gaby van den Berg
Colonel Richard Welter
Lt Cdr Jerry Knight
Oliver Payne
Dr Victoria Romero
Stephen Badsey


Imagining that the RU versions aren't as sophisticated is a bad idea.

Do a grep: at the same time that IL RU politician went to the 'back benches', the 2nd GRU head died.

We'll say it again: We're really not talking about Homo Sapiens Sapiens here


Positive?

Classic Flash Gordon Brian Blessed moment showing how sexism can sometimes actually be self-aware funny:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2xS-AxKk0k


p.s.


Sticking your fingers in your ears doesn't work.

Nor do lemmings jump off cliffs if there's not Disney paid operatives shipping Canadian Lemmings to Nordic countries and forcing them off cliffs with cattle prods. True story.

209:

Good news:
The pushback against Elsevier’s evil empire is spreading. It’s not just small Scandinavian ISPs anymore, it’s the Max Planck Institute and the University of California system.

210:

I'm actually quite aware of the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma games, since I read the original work back before it got on radio.

Going from what you're saying that there's an n-person iterated(?) Prisoner's Dilemma, then that's also fine. We've also got real-world solutions, demonstrated to work over up to a period of centuries, thanks to Ostrom, who rightfully (IMHO) got a Nobel for working out the commonalities that form the solution. It also goes to Ostrom's Law ("A resource arrangement that works in practice can also work in theory).

The problem is the name, "Tragedy of the Commons." Do you argue that commons can't work, because of this name? Many people do. That's like arguing that cooperation is impossible because only prisoners do it. That's where I call BS on the whole concept that there is a situation called the tragedy of the commons, not a game theory that's appropriated the name.

211:

At least in the US a lot of rural state highways are two lane, undivided with 55mph speed limits. Which means head on collisions at 110mph

In the urban areas you are mostly dealing with interstates which while they can have bad accidents are not generally head on collisions

We also anecdotally seem to have a lot less problems with pedestrian fatalities , maybe due to less people sharing cars with bicycles ? I don’t know

The interstate system was designed to be safely driven at 70mph. By the average car built in 1956. Automotive technology has improved a bit since then. I’ve driven most interstate highways in the US at 80mph without it being at all dangerous and except where posted specifically on curves, and provided I had a performance car not some burbwagon I could handle them at 90. Assuming there weren’t other cars around. Not a big fan of the weaving in and out of traffic thing but lost of the US interstates are pretty empty except near the big cities.

You wouldn’t want to do that in any kind of weather and you wouldn’t want to do it at night though .

212:

David Brin is fighting the gloom in his own weird way:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-years-report-fighting-gloom-in.html

I like the idea of Dubai cops using rideable quadcopters, for anything really. I just have this vision of a "copterbike cop" pulling up next to someone and saying.... "oh, shit, sorry, I momentarily forgot I was surrounded by whirling blades of death"

213:

Um. I was thinking the idea was to _not_ drive OGH to suicide.

Our fluffy puppers is quite bouncy and fluffy, albeit strangely adverse to chew sticks. We just tried 5. Sniff and drop it was.

Besides, regarding populism, I'm hoping 2018 will someday be seen as the beginning of the lancing of a boil. There's been something ill in US politics and, I suspect, also in UK politics for quite a few decades.

To some extent, Trump, with an honest expression of hatred, is preferable to a bunch of vaguely presentable manipulators on behalf of corporate cronies. Now, if the guy wasn't incompetent and a lousy human being, it'd be a bit better...but...maybe people may try more sensible stuff after the snake oil doesn't work. I'm hoping the Republicans are on their way to becoming a regional party by 2020. By 2030 or 2040, we might have something approaching center left and center right.

And, well, Brexit, perhaps the UK's exit will benefit the EU - at the least - by serving as a salutory example. Honestly, I can't really find any way that the UK economy will improve.

Machine learning appears to be getting good enough to handle reasonably complicated assembly tasks - so - yay - people may soon be released from soul-killing repetitive factory jobs. :)

Along that line, Waymo is gradually, oh so gradually, rolling out its automated taxis. Given how my wife drives, this is really a good thing.

Someday, we'll make our way to an artist's paradise. Well, um, except that computers are getting kind of good at drawing pictures. Perhaps story-tellers will be the last to be automated. :)

214:

Apparently the founder of Facebook is a big fan of the ruthless dictatorship model of government:

https://theconversation.com/mark-zuckerbergs-admiration-for-emperor-augustus-is-misplaced-heres-why-108172

Or perhaps just the "do what you will, but make sure you get control of the history books".

215:

Um. I was thinking the idea was to _not_ drive OGH to suicide.

Newsflash.

Might want to look up a contributor here who died from a heart attack. Or the Lawyer to Assange who "went mental" and killed himself in front of a train. And then consider something that can twist your reality and just *blows breath of G_D* and change your reality.

Do a grep: the term is - "our" side use heart attacks, "their" side use mental events.

They don't play nice.

Host is fine. IL shit can't beat actual Angels.

If you want to go dark, we know 100% that they put his mother into a coma deliberately. Was 100% signaled and actioned: nasty fuckers and they're "of the same TRIBE".

"Linda has children, she did what we wanted". Given that we know the players, and some of them are [TRIBE], that's a gulity verdict right there.

Then again, 90% of Jewish people in the UK ain't dealing with the blood ties Y thang either. You know what it is. Son-in-Law. Pride. Problem is: if we name it, we have to burn it.

It's ironic: UK twitter trolls, IL troll farms and so on. Can't name the Y issue.


It's all a massive Category Error and these simplistic fucks think they're solving the issues of the day.


Newsflash: your psychotic desire to remove all that is-not-you backfires massively. Kant was a cunt, but he was a better thinker than most Rabbis.


~


Yeah.

Calling you out: We heard it; we know it, we can spot your smell - you're not just killing the goyim, you're targeting the "bad Jews".

#Evil Fuckers.


>These are not Homo Sapiens Sapiens doing this: go look up Bibi's "We had to do deals with evil things" twitter post.

الجن


They're literally fueling this shit through death, outrage, sorrow, all the negative emotions. It's like Vietnam on Crack for the [redacted].


No. This is all fucking true. Deal with it. (And yep, that does mean that the Leader of Israel is 100% up to his eyeballs, balls and so on with الجن -- his son was the cost, do a fucking grep - no soul left in that one)

216:

If you want to go dark, we know 100% that they put his mother into a coma deliberately

@Host.

Yep.

Sorry to say it but it was intentional, directed and actioned by [redacted] Ops. CBA to grind it down, but Linda is probably a nurse, they threatened her children etc.

Nasty little fuckers.

Our Kind Do Not Go Mad; but we see / hear / learn / experience all the bad shit being done.


/#


No, really.

217:

Triptych and positive: Nah mate, they genocided all the good ones. We were kept alive as a witness. Literally lived while experiencing their deaths.

It's a little bit more hard-core than Human Genocide to live through.


"OMMM"


p.s.


No, really. You need to step the fuck up, as the opposition are total psychotic fucks btw.


p.p.s.

grep : ghost nets - you solve the plastic issue by:

#1 preventing any plastic entering the ocean
#2 ID - RFID - Sonar tracking all nets
#3 Not eating anything from the ocean for 50-75 years to clear the micro-plastic issue out for good
#4 UN resolution + binding motion to stop all plastic waste entering the oceans with $250 billion cost to make it so


You won't do any of that, so whatever.

"Plastic Straws" = My fucking sides as you kill all the Whales through Sonar and Hunting you absolute psychotic fucks.

218:

I misspoke. (Miswrote?) I mean more time to react (which might mean stopping, but also swerving, hitting the horn, etc.).

219:

Similarly in the UK, except that the ruling speed on 2-lane is normally 60mph.

220:

Best way I know to increase reaction time the way you mean is to look further ahead!

221:

The answer to the physics problem is very simple. They are spherical cows who love each other very much. Their first kiss was very sweet and gentle, and on their next date they are renting a U-Haul.

222:

Paws @ 206
That USED to be the case – was when I bought mine, but they have changed the “regs” – so that now, more than EIGHT seats counts as a “Bus”.
But not a full PSV – there’s the intermediate “minibus” category, which thanks to Grandfather-rights [ I passed my driving test in late 1963 ] I qualify for – I can drive an up-to either 5-tonne or 8-tonne lorry f’rinstance, etc …
But, I can no longer ride a motorbike of over either 50 or 90 cc engine ( I forget which )
Yes, it’s complicated.

Moz @ 214
Yeah. Zuckerberg needs stamping on HARD - others have commented on his apparent softness on ( liking for? ) fascism & fascist modes.
“Drop Arsebook NOW !” – or something.

Troutwaxer @ 221
😍

223:

Talking of Arsebook - more spying manipulating shit.

Oh & smidgen of good news - the Chinese lander on the Farside of the Moon

224:

Best way I know to increase reaction time the way you mean is to look further ahead!

I find slowing down is more reliable. But it's been a while since I drove a motor vehicle so things may have changed. OTOH, watching a few dashcam videos and some of the "related" reality-tv cop shows, I very much doubt it. When you're going fast it's easy for something to block your view, you to get distracted, or you simply don't notice something. That's when the extra 10 metres you cover every second, and the extra 20% distance you need to stop become really important.

Whereas when you're driving that little bit slower it's quite rare to unexpectedly find yourself going faster. Usually that means you're a hood ornament on a truck and things really aren't in your control any more.

225:

You actually need the medical to keep minibus and 7.5t truck rights?

226:

The best way to keep your concentration level up is to drive fast enough that you have to concentrate. Slow down and you relax, drop your awareness, and find yourself sneaking up on the vehicle in front...

227:

I distinctly remember that at least one novel that included a comment about the lack of wisdom in burning petrochemicals that would be better used for plastics was in Roger Zelzany’s Damnation Alley.

228:

Then we're fine, and your beef is with the term "Tragedy of the Commons" and the unfounded implications that some draw from it. So just some tidying up:

- "Iterated" isn't necessary. The basic idea is clear in the one-shot-game version.

- "Do you argue that commons can't work, because of this name? Many people do." I certainly don't, and (if I may presume) neither do Jar, icehawk or JH. But I agree, the term "TotC" gets abused by people in the political sphere who use it to justify conclusions they had already had reached.

- That said, the term is now widely used in the social science and biology literature in the neutral way that the Killingback paper illustrates, i.e., as a general term for social dilemma games. That's how we were using it too (if I may presume again). Pretty mainstream.

229:

paws @ 225
Yes
The DIFFICULT bit is filling in the fucking form of about 8 pages - & getting the optician ( free eye-test every 2 years, so that doesn't cost ) & the quack to fill in their sections - it's horribly easy to miss bits - I/we had to go around twice, becaue they've put in a blood-pressure test in that wasn't there 3 years back ....

Re. driving - I find that one other reason I really like the GGB is the v high driving position - eye-line is higher than if I'm standing on the pavement, so I can see over the tops of all "normal" cars, thus I can see potential problems well-ahead. Good on country lanes, too - I can usually see over the hedges, they can't.

230:

OK thanks.

Part of my dislike of SUVs (general, but coilies that never see more "off-road" than 2 wheels up a kerb are included) is the block to my extended sightline, which can go out to a mile or more.

231:

(Argh - I meant GH, not JH - apologies to both.)

232:

Consider the form as a dementia test :-) Realistically, if you are going to drive something that size around London, such a level of checking up is NOT unreasonable, especially at your age. I agree that the motorbicycle regulations are stupid.

233:

At least in the US a lot of rural state highways are two lane, undivided with 55mph speed limits. Which means head on collisions at 110mph

Given how most people are over the limit you're really talking up to 130mph.

Around here (central NC) most head ons are the result of at least one party being impaired.

At to the 55mph speed limit. I've mentioned it before here I think, but there is a stretch of road in rural Texas where the limit is 75mph. Two opposing lanes, blacktop, painted down the middle, lose gravel and no paint on the sides. You top a rise and there about 1/4 mile ahead (maybe a bit more) is a 4 way stop. First time I saw this was kind of a WTF moment.

I'm sure this isn't the only place in rural Texas where this is typical.

234:

Further to extrasolar planet detection, 2018 saw advances in the detection and analysis of atmospheres of these extrasolar planets.

NASA (okay, not right now because no one is at the office) is stating that these development pave the way for detection of extrasolar life. I imagine that the Vatican has astronomers preparing the papal statement for this event.

The next, obvious, step is to refine the process to detect the presence of gases generated by industrial processes in life-supporting extrasolar atmospheres. Halogenated organic compounds are most likely, but there could be others.

235:

Heteromeles dismissed my argument about "tragedy of the commons". In fact, Frank, I don't think your response suggests that we disagreed: all of Ostrom's principles are clearly examples of what I wrote: "The idea that people tend to overexploit shared resources ***if nobody is held responsible for maintaining those resources***..."

I think your misunderstanding of what I wrote arises from us using different definitions of "commons" and you misreading what I actually said through the lens of your different definition. To be clear, my definition of "the commons" is the traditional one: a shared resource such as a river or the atmosphere or a field of grass that anyone can utilize without constraint. That is, it's collectively owned (thus, a "commons") and collectively managed due to the absence of any one owner. You seem to be referring explicitly to resources managed by an individual or organization on behalf of and for the benefit of the population that exploits the resources. There's a large gap between those definitions, but the gap is easily bridged by my "if nobody is held responsible for maintaining those resources". That leads to Ostrom's principles, which are sound.

Commons can clearly be managed well if someone enforces good behavior. Air pollution and rivers are good examples because both are commons according to my definition, and both were managed abysmally until emission control and treatment standards were imposed (your definition). Commons can also be horribly mismanaged, despite the implementation of organisations to manage them, as in the case of our current global failure to manage CO2 levels in the atmosphere responsibly. Then there's the little problem with the north Atlantic cod industry, most of China's northern agricultural ecotone, fracking... the list goes on. Bottom line is that there are countless examples of humans abusing a shared resource until someone steps in and forces everyone to behave responsibly.

Accusing me of arguing from ignorance is patronizing and, somewhat inconveniently for your argument, wrong. Perhaps you forgot that my three university degrees were in ecosystem science and management, and that I've spent the past 30 years working with some of the brightest minds on the planet to describe and manage ecosystems? As Mark noted (thanks for the eloquent support!), I'm also not one of those who assumes that "tragedy of the commons" is univeral and inevitable. Reread my post and that should be clear (see "reductio ad absurdum"). The tragedy is that people tend to behave selfishly rather than emphasizing the collective good, not that commons cannot be managed responsibly when people are reminded to consider the implications for others. On that I suspect we agree?

236:

EC @ 232
It is very rarely that I drive the GGB any further towards the centre of London than where I live .. though there are a couple of places, suprisingly close to home, where there is "no tarmac" & two country lanes without a regular surface ( i.e. they are "whites" marked as "RUPP/BOAT" on an O.S. map ) that I use once or twice a year.
But, if I drove an SWB Land-Rover, I would be facing no such checks at all ...

237:

Obviously I am a fish, because my next car will almost certainly be an SUV.

Having said that: my car mostly gets used for either high-volume schlepping of cargo, or long-haul driving with 2-4 adults plus luggage, not for commuting or even supermarket grocery runs. I currently have a Volvo estate—diesel (one strike), stick shift (second strike: my left foot aches ferociously in stop-go traffic because of clutch work), with the turning circle of a supertanker (third strike). It needs replacing (even before factoring in the low driving position: I have increasingly middle-aged knees that really hate getting in/out of the driver's seat).

As such, a medium-sized petrol or hybrid SUV with a modern automatic transmission will give me the load capacity, and ergonomics that won't leave me in pain for days after using it for a couple of hours.

(What converted me was a recent road trip in Canada—about 1200km along the trans-Canada highway, with a side-quest off into the wilds of the Canadian Rockies on a logging highway to visit $WIFE's grandfather's ancestral ghost town—in a fairly new Jeep Compass.)

238:

Charlie Stross @ 135: I agree wrt. cruise control, with the caveats that it only works in light traffic on straight roads without much in the way of lane changing. Which means practically nowhere in the UK! It works for some stretches of motorway in the north of England, basically, and during average speed camera zones where everybody tries to toe the line. Otherwise? Forget it, traffic is too dense and roads too twisty and some idiot will cut in in front of you and slow down, or drive up your exhaust pipe, pretty much once a minute.

My experience has mainly been using cruise control to counteract a tendency to lead foot it. I can set it to maintain a almost constant speed. I'm not disrupting the flow of traffic by going too fast or too slow. I don't own a vehicle new enough to have adaptive cruise control.

When the traffic gets heavy and/or when driving in the city I don't really need an additional assist to control my speed, so it not working in those situations doesn't really bother me.

Mostly, cruise control helps in those situations where you have to drive all day. By the time you're near the end of the trip, gotta-get-there-itis becomes so overwhelming the temptation to speed becomes almost irresistible. Cruise control helps you maintain your cool.

239:

Pigeon @ 136: That's pretty much official in the UK - you can't be done for going less than (10% + some constant I can't remember) over the limit because speedometers aren't required to be better than 10% accurate. Actual coppers often operate to personal unofficial limits a bit higher than that, as you describe, but automatic cameras don't. Since most speed limit enforcement in the UK is by automatic cameras, while human traffic cops are increasingly rare, the arbitrary nature of the law is very apparent: as long as you stick to the number on the lollipop when you're going past a camera, you can drive like a complete nutter the rest of the time and be as dangerous as you want without being nicked.

That's my whole point. I don't want to "drive like a complete nutter". Cruise control has proven to be an effective tool to use in restraining those urges.

240:

whitroth @ 144: Just looked up adaptive cruise control, and hell, no, that's useless for the idiot-in-search-of-their-accident, who'll cut in front of you with two car lengths between you and the person in front of you (who's just slowed down for no reason, and so you're closer than you want to be, 2 sec behind).

I don't have a vehicle with adaptive cruise control. Probably never will have since my foibles restrict me to driving older cars (nobody even manufactures REAL station wagons any more and try to find one with a manual transmission). But it warms my heart to read about someone else who knows & uses the 2 second rule to maintain a safe following distance.

But I really don't want to do a road trip without it. When I drove from DC to KC for Worldcon - that's a fuck of a long drive alone - I was, astoundingly, *averaging* 27mpg. In a 2008 minivan. And once I set - usually, about 4mph over the limit - cops looking for speeders don't worry me, and so it's once less thing to think about.

For planning purposes on long distance travel here in the U.S., I use 45-50 mph to estimate how long I'm going to be on the road or how far I can go in one day of a multi day trip.

241:

But you can still purchase something that'e ecologically sound. A Toyota RAV-4 will get something like 30 MPG, and there's a version of the Prius which gets something like 40 MPG and is in something like an SUV (maybe more a station wagon - "estate wagon" in the UK?) form factor. Look up the Prius-V. Honda makes a car which is similar to the Prius called the Insight (in the U.S.) I don't know whether they make a station-wagon version or semi-electric like the RAV-4.

242:

Lessee, people exploiting and destroying resources they don't own (the people own it, so nobody owns it, according to right-wingers), as opposed to doing the same thing with ones they do own/control?

Example 1: Frank fucking Lorenzo, who in the late 80's literally drove Eastern Airlines into bankruptcy and dissolution, because he wanted to break the airline's unions. The unions *told* the regulators, before he took control, that was his plan, and showed them smoking gun memos... but, was it St. Ronnie, or Bush I, who was in charge then?

Example 2: This one hits home to *all* of us here: I heard, long, long time ago, that in the early 50's, there were two national distributors of magazines in the US. That was the golden age of pulps. Then, one was bought, and the scum who bought it decided that the parts were worth more than the whole, and broke it up and sold it off, with the result that dozens and dozens of pulps and other mags had *NO* national distribution, and went under.

243:

Calling home,
Are you listening?
In the Belt
Two balls, glistening.
Flyin' tonight
In the Kuiper Belt
Shootin' pics of distant asteroids

Moi? A filker? Heavens to Murgatroyd!

244:

You wrote:
Since NYC is one of the few places in the US where it's acceptable to jaywalk

???
Grew up in Philly, where *everyone* jaywalked. Most jaywalk in Chicago, too, and I see them all the time when I go to Baltimore.

It's any big city, and least east of the Mississippi....

245:

I'm not sure where to being with what I do NOT agree with.

Lancing a boil? Sorry, I don't believe in letting things get worse, to get people to fix things. I'd rather move in the correct direction to start. ("Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable" - JFK, and I'd prefer *not* violent change.)

"Get people out of the soul-killing jobs"? Oh, and what jobs *will* they get? The job market's tight for degreed people, and less-educated will do what, clean bedpans? flip burgers? Work 2 or 3 jobs to keep a roof over their heads? Tell me how half the frickin' population will live, before you cheer for this.

246:

Jonathan Hendry @ 161:

" but all DT needs is a short victorious war"

Bush the Elder had that and it didn't win him a second term.

Not to mention the way Junior screwed up his legacy.

247:

Charlie, no. I drive a large minivan. I've never needed four-wheel drive.

Datapoint: my Eldest, a few years ago, traded in her Camry for an AWD Suburu Outback. *Smaller* car... and she was appalled to find the Outback got 10mpg *less* than the Camry sedan. (Admittedly, she drives over a 9,000' pass to work...)

My van seats 7. And I carry crap. I can, just about, fit a 4'x8' sheet of plywood inside. And it costs less than a similarly-sized SUV.

Station wagons... all the car companies and the dealers got the cooties with that phrase. On the other hand, I've seen some new, smaller minivans that really *are* station wagons, not mini-*VANS*.

248:

All wheel drives are more about safety then off-roading. They are an order of magnitude safer in bad weather and snow

249:

AWD Suburu Outback. *Smaller* car... and she was appalled to find the Outback got 10mpg *less* than the Camry

Well, there's your problem; Subarus are notorious for getting poor mileage.

250:

First law of AWD physics - 2x0 = 4x0 = 0

251:

I’ll remember that the next time I’m pulljng some real wheel drive out of a ditch in the snow

Of course the real equation is 1+ 0 = ditch but 3+0= nothing happened

252:

Geoff, I think we have the same definition of commons. The nasty part is the "ownership." In a traditional commons, say an irrigation system, there are owners. If someone else comes in and takes water, all the owners, or their enforcers, take action.

The problem with the atmosphere as a commons is that it's not owned. Technically, it owns us (we'd die without it), but we don't get a little certificate when we're born telling us that we're now part owners of Earth's atmosphere and enumerating our rights and responsibilities.

That's my problem with the phrase "Tragedy of the Commons." If you're referring to greenhouse gases, there's no collective ownership structure for our atmosphere. If I wanted to enforce the damage that China's causing, I can't, there's no enforcement structure that says I can sue China, India, or Koch Industries for damaging my future. Similarly, there's no way someone in China can penalize me for driving my car and endangering the future of their kids. That's what we'd need to have for the atmosphere to be considered a functioning commons. Instead, it's anarchy.

The problem is that the definition of "Tragedy of the Commons" has been stretched, apparently by economists, to cover all resource situations where there's not a clear owner of the resource, and to be used as the shorthand for a particular subtype of prisoners' dilemma model. What's been lost in this is the idea of what a commons truly is.

The classic village green where everyone grazed their cattle was owned by the village and managed by the cattle owners. That's a commons. Groundwater in California or Syria was not a commons, because you owned all the water that came out of your well, and no one owned the aquifer that fed everybody's wells. That legal understanding is changing throughout California (it changed in LA back in the 1960s due to a pressing salinity crisis), but in Syria, the lack of commons to manage aquifers helped spark their civil war.

I'd simply suggest that the solution for many resource management problems is more commons, and that one way to get there is to discard the phrase "Tragedy of the Commons," and find less destructive alternatives. We've done this with any number of terms and symbols, why not this one?

253:

Frank fucking Lorenzo, who in the late 80's literally drove Eastern Airlines into bankruptcy and dissolution, because he wanted to break the airline's unions.

Not quite all of the story. Like Pan Am and other older airlines they didn't really know how to operate in a deregulated market.

Was sitting next to a flight attendant who was on pass travel a few years after Eastern vanished. Obviously not on Eastern. She said she had started on Eastern but got out a few years before things went really bad. Her "moment" was when on an L1011 flight in the Carribian she went to check out why about a dozen men were clustered together were the aisle intersected. Two of them were getting ready to stage a cock fight in the plane's aisles. By then Eastern was allowing things like live chickens as carry on and running something about one step up from a regional bus line.

She said she applied to other airlines after that flight string was over.

254:

In which case 0 is clearly not 0.

255:

Obviously I am a fish, because my next car will almost certainly be an SUV. ... (What converted me was a recent road trip in Canada—about 1200km along the trans-Canada highway, with a side-quest off into the wilds of the Canadian Rockies on a logging highway to visit $WIFE's grandfather's ancestral ghost town—in a fairly new Jeep Compass.)

Just to clarify. What we in the US call an SUV is a full sized pickup truck design with an enclosed unified body. Larger ones can seat 8 or 9 people.

What Charlie is describing is what we in the US call a cross over. (Half way between an SUV and a sedan.) RAVs are cross overs to us over here. We just had a VW Taguin for nearly 2 weeks in Germany. 5 of us. We had stuff under the feet of 3 of the non drivers and I had a shoulder bag in my lap. We could have put more in the back but that would have blocked any view out the back window. Luckily we were only on the road with all 5 of us for 3 days of the trip. I could have put everything in the back of my old Explorer with room to spare. Mileage would have sucked. And the Explorer is the smallest of the 3 sizes of Ford SUVs.

256:

Hmm... Let's see how Ostrom (1998), "Coping with Tragedies of the Commons", defines the problem:

"Examples also exist of commons dilemmas that have continued unabated, but one conclusion that can
firmly be made in light of extensive empirical evidence is that overuse and destruction of common-pool resources is not a determinant and inescapable outcome when multiple users face a commons dilemma." (p. 2)

"A common-pool resource, such as a lake or ocean, an irrigation system, a fishing ground, a forest, the internet, or the stratosphere, is a natural or man-made resource from which it is difficult to exclude or limit users once the resource is provided by nature or produced by humans (E. Ostrom et al 1994). One person's consumption of resource units removes those units from what is available to others. Thus, the trees or fish harvested by one user are no longer available for others. The difficulty of excluding beneficiaries is a characteristic that is shared with public goods, while the subtractability of the resource units is shared with private goods." (p. 4)

Source:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7c6e/92906bcf0e590e6541eaa41ad0cd92e13671.pdf

Ostrom's preferred term is "common-pool resource" but she also refers to the problem as a "commons dilemma".

Seems to me she is using the term in the general way that Geoff, icehawk, Jar and I were, and which I think is common practice in the biology and social science lit these days.

Paper is a good read, by the way.

257:

Receipts, available for people who can do the simple puzzle of "Light Tunnel" = fibre optics and [Refraction] = Newton (who, apart from his light experiments is known for that apple). Oh, and know the secret code that [ this is the serious stuff ]. Of course, there's three other meanings but there we go.

Hmm, why that joke?

Alphabet has now overtaken Apple as the world’s third-largest listed company after the precipitous fall in the latter’s shares. The 9% fall at the latest reading equates to $67bn wiped off its market value. After breaking the trillion-dollar mark in 2018, it value lies at around $680bn now.

Apple shock and weak data drag down Wall Street – as it happened The Guardian, 3rd Jan 2019

Now, we won't point out too heavily that front-running reality is naughty (and, well, impossible if you're into the game of tying an IP to an identity or using software agents[1]), nor that that 9% is a bit of a tip-off that [redacted] are involved, but the Brian Blessed video is on point and any of the more cynical smouldering embers might have made a few "bob" shorting it.

According to CNN witches favor Democrats and they are offended that the Meuller investigation is described as a Witch Hunt. There is no reason for the witches to be offended because Witch Hunt derives from,for example,the Salem Witch Hunts where people were executed unjustly. Rudy Giuliani, twitter 2nd Jan 2019


For a real positive, you should check the links. There's a very clued up Sudanese network there (which, oc, will be the 1st thing anyone in power will seek to squish) of young, edumacted, women doing some heavy-lifting. They're very interesting and so on.

~


Don't turn your backs, the front is a lie. 30 years they say before we get to go home.

[1] Bonus round: yep, IL allegedly named an offensive malware after that fish that climbs up you willy in the Amazon. Which is kinda a humor style you find when you back actual Fascists into power, looking @ the little B's first day in power, LGBT rights, agribusiness, selling off the planes to the MIC and so on. Candiru. Receipts? Top Secret Israeli Cyberattack Firm, Revealed Haaretz, 3rd Jan, 2019.

Here's the actual joke: grep Loki and being offended at people cheating chance. That was a few years ago, apparently. You should be scared of the dark, little boys, not flirting with it.

258:

Sorry, have to correct myself. Ostrom uses the term "commons dilemma" for a subset of common-pool resource problems, namely appropriation problems:

"[O]ne of the important problems facing the joint users of a common-pool resource is known as the "appropriation problem" given the potential incentives in all jointly used common-pool resources for individuals to appropriate more resource units when acting independently than they would if they could find some way of coordinating their appropriation activities. Joint users of a common-pool resource often face many other problems.... In this paper, I focus more on appropriation problems since they are what most policy analysts associate with "the tragedy of the commons.""

Main point still stands, though. She seems quite OK with the "commons dilemma" terminology and uses it many times in the paper. She avoids using "tragedy", however!

259:

I ended up with a full size suv rental for a week in Denver and hated it. Driving something so big is a huge pain. Even in it's natural ex-urban habitat it was annoying. Maybe another peice if I get 'why are all these old men so angry' puzzle?

But the smaller ones on car frames are fine.

There are some smaller cars with more upright seating. They look a lot like London taxis.

260:

_Moz_ @ 212: I like the idea of Dubai cops using rideable quadcopters, for anything really. I just have this vision of a "copterbike cop" pulling up next to someone and saying.... "oh, shit, sorry, I momentarily forgot I was surrounded by whirling blades of death"

How much lift would they have to sacrifice to put a lightweight plastic shroud around the fans?

261:

Some of the work done in the US "X-Plane" programme suggests that ducted fans actually have a better thrust to mass ratio than plain ones, and materials technology has improved meaning that we could make the shrouds lighter now.

262:

_Moz_ @ 224:

Best way I know to increase reaction time the way you mean is to look further ahead!

I find slowing down is more reliable. But it's been a while since I drove a motor vehicle so things may have changed. OTOH, watching a few dashcam videos and some of the "related" reality-tv cop shows, I very much doubt it. When you're going fast it's easy for something to block your view, you to get distracted, or you simply don't notice something. That's when the extra 10 metres you cover every second, and the extra 20% distance you need to stop become really important.

Whereas when you're driving that little bit slower it's quite rare to unexpectedly find yourself going faster. Usually that means you're a hood ornament on a truck and things really aren't in your control any more.

The two are not mutually exclusive. Paying attention to what's happening farther down the road than the tail-lights of the vehicle in front of you allows you to prepare for what's going to happen when you get to that part of the road. When the sixth car in front of you starts braking, followed by the fifth car, it's a pretty good clue you're going to need to brake as well. Take your foot off the gas NOW and you're better prepared for when you need to start braking instead of being surprised when the idiot in front of you suddenly slams on his brakes.

263:

Grievous Angel @ 227: I distinctly remember that at least one novel that included a comment about the lack of wisdom in burning petrochemicals that would be better used for plastics was in Roger Zelzany’s Damnation Alley.

Wasn't that one. It takes place on dry land & the story I vaguely remember took place out on the ocean. But I'm sure the idea that eating up your seed corn is a good way to commit slow suicide has appeared in many different stories in many different guises.

264:

Thanks, I did not know that. I should have added "as far as I'm aware".

Jaywalking is likely acceptable in the Northeast and Great Lakes big cities, but your statement about any big cities East of the Mississippi isn't true. I've attached an article about what happened to a professor who tried jaywalking in Atlanta

https://www.ajc.com/news/national/asu-professor-arrested-thrown-ground-for-jaywalking/xkE3QpRaO1MntjtVuApIvJ/

From what I've heard, most large cities in the South are about as strict. Maybe Miami is the exception?

265:

By the time you're near the end of the trip, gotta-get-there-itis becomes so overwhelming the temptation to speed becomes almost irresistible.

I've never had that problem, even when I was in my 20s.

266:

look further ahead ... slow down... The two are not mutually exclusive

No, and unfortunately both are necessary changes to current majority behaviour.

One of the joys of riding a bicycle is that it's easier to see past a cyclist than past a motorist. But then I also find myself looking through vans and urban assault vehicles surprisingly often (it was pointed out to me recently). Viz, look in one window and out the other... turns out lots of motor vehicles aren't just dead weight, they have a lot of empty air inside as well.

Sadly bicycles can also generally stop faster than motorists can, which means we have to be very aware of what's behind us should we need to do an emergency stop (it is generally safer to ride off the road and take your chances than rely on the motorist behind you stopping quickly). That's not physics, BTW, that's simply that most people sitting in a nice comfy chair in a nice comfy room listening to the music they like or chatting to a friend, are not also paying close attention to the task of operating dangerous machinery. "look further ahead" too often means "look outside the vehicle".

One of the "viral videos of 2018" compilations shows a police officer driving into a stationary cyclist while reading an SMS. "highly trained professional" yeah right.

268:

I've attached an article about what happened to a professor who tried jaywalking in Atlanta

(Arizona, not Atlanta.)

Black woman, white male officer. Was she arrested because she was jaywalking, or because she got 'uppity' with the cop? (Who seems to have had issues dealing with people anyway, looking at the number of complaints filed against him — 300% more than against other deputies!)

269:

Driving ...
I think there was a change in the "official" teaching of driving techniques about 15 years ago - & it was a serious mistake.
When I come to any sort of serious bend, or see a distant obstrauction ... foot off accelerator, change down through the gears THEN brake ( & remember I'm in a 4WD vehicle .... )
Everyone younger than about 40 ... nothing, brake, nothing, brake, maybe change down a gear, brake, ...
Not only are they in less control than I am, they are going round the corners much more slowly & still less under immediate control, because in wrong gear ...
Same as most people's cornering is ... wierd. I use as much of the road width as I safely can ... they tend to take much too wide a swing, thus subjecting themseleves to higher acceleration forces & lower control.
W.T.F?

270:

David L @ 255:

Obviously I am a fish, because my next car will almost certainly be an SUV. ... (What converted me was a recent road trip in Canada—about 1200km along the trans-Canada highway, with a side-quest off into the wilds of the Canadian Rockies on a logging highway to visit $WIFE's grandfather's ancestral ghost town—in a fairly new Jeep Compass.)

Just to clarify. What we in the US call an SUV is a full sized pickup truck design with an enclosed unified body. Larger ones can seat 8 or 9 people.

What Charlie is describing is what we in the US call a cross over. (Half way between an SUV and a sedan.) RAVs are cross overs to us over here. We just had a VW Taguin for nearly 2 weeks in Germany. 5 of us. We had stuff under the feet of 3 of the non drivers and I had a shoulder bag in my lap. We could have put more in the back but that would have blocked any view out the back window. Luckily we were only on the road with all 5 of us for 3 days of the trip. I could have put everything in the back of my old Explorer with room to spare. Mileage would have sucked. And the Explorer is the smallest of the 3 sizes of Ford SUVs.

I'm not sure where my Jeep Liberty falls in that spectrum. It's not based on a full size pickup, but it's certainly no cross-over. It's got high clearance, 4WD and a 5-speed manual. I bought it specifically for touring out west. There are places in the National Parks, National Forests, BLM lands & Wildlife Refuges where you're not allowed to go unless you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle. They'll impound your vehicle and give you a whopping big fine if they catch you in there without what they consider "proper" equipment (not to mention what it's going to cost to get your vehicle back from the towing company).

It's an older model "small" SUV, manufactured before cross-overs became popular. Until I get the chance to use it for its intended purpose I minimize driving it; just enough to keep it in optimal operating condition and a bit of mild "off road" practice so I won't be a complete berk once I finally get to go out west.

For "daily" use I have a small Ford station wagon (aka "Focus Estate") ... front wheel drive & 5-speed. Never really found any place around here where I could go with the Jeep that I couldn't have muddled through in the Focus. For hauling cargo, especially bulky items, I have a small (4'x8') two wheel trailer that can carry as much as most pickup trucks. And because I only hook it up when I need to move "cargo" I don't have the constant hit to my gas mileage I'd get with a pickup truck.

Actually Charlies Volvo Estate would be perfect for me (except for the diesel). Diesel is cool, but the increased MPG isn't enough to offset the higher cost of diesel fuel around here. It was different twenty years ago when the price of diesel was kept artificially low compared to gasoline, but nowadays diesel costs MORE than gas.

271:

Robert Prior @ 265:

By the time you're near the end of the trip, gotta-get-there-itis becomes so overwhelming the temptation to speed becomes almost irresistible.

I've never had that problem, even when I was in my 20s.

I spent a lot of time on the road. For a significant part of my adult life I was a traveling service technician. It was not uncommon for me to put a thousand miles a week on a vehicle just getting to and from customer premises before I even got started on the work I had to do once I got there.

_Moz_ @ 266:

look further ahead ... slow down... The two are not mutually exclusive

No, and unfortunately both are necessary changes to current majority behaviour.

I guess I'm not the majority. I've been driving that way most of my life. Partly I learned to drive that way to relieve the stress of being on the road so much. Partly it comes from a Dept of Defense Defensive Driving course I had to take early in my career in the National Guard.

Greg Tingey @ 269:

Driving ...
I think there was a change in the "official" teaching of driving techniques about 15 years ago - & it was a serious mistake. When I come to any sort of serious bend, or see a distant obstrauction ... foot off accelerator, change down through the gears THEN brake ( & remember I'm in a 4WD vehicle .... )

That's interesting, because that's not the way I was taught. The instructor quoted some fancy-schmancy race car driver (Phil Hill or Dan Gurney - I don't remember which) that "brakes are cheaper to replace than gearboxes". You use the brakes to slow down and shift into a lower gears so you're in the correct ratio to accelerate out of a turn. Works on the track and works in the "real world". Losing your brakes when someone is chasing you with intent is a whole lot less problematic than losing a clutch or blowing a transmission.

Maybe everything changed when automatic transmissions became standard equipment.

272:

Anyhooo, since China landed on the Dark Side of the Moon, here's a grep joke explained:

Indeed! The off-centre mass causes one side of the moon to face the Earth. It actually sways back and forth slightly like an almost dead pendulum, but only lazers can detect the minuscule movement. Twitter, various discussions about why Chinese Moon Drones have solar panels, basic 101 science-misunderstandings #23t

Er, nope, my little H.S.S.

Some of us can see it. And not the ones suffering from Schiz Eye Frantic Zone.

You (most of you, even the Lizards) have 1 column neural interfaces.

The advanced cephalopods have a 2 column ladder.

We have a triptych under the hood.


Now that's a joke pay-off.

We're Faster than You

273:

Everyone younger than about 40

Probably grew up with automatic gearboxes. My ex had never driven a manual and still can't (I was in the one manual car she's ever driven, I know!). I grew up with trucks and other heavy machinery where brake replacement was expensive and you really want to avoid doing it. Engine braking was everything. (FWIW, truck I was looking at recently: $20,000 second hand. New brake pads: $7000).

It's a different way of driving, but a decent auto gearbox will give you engine braking and a bunch of other stuff. But if you are looking at 1980's cars that are somehow still on the road they will be awful at that (as well as everything else).

274:

They copied it off one of the "advanced driving" institutions, which has been into it since at least the 60s - not sure which one - and copied it wrong, too, or else they're teaching it wrong; what people seem to me to do is much as you describe, then when they actually get to the bend they panic at the sight of it and go all the way round on the brakes. What you're supposed to do is drop into neutral, decelerate using the brakes, select the gear appropriate to the upcoming bend, get the revs matched and the clutch back in just as you arrive at the bend, and go round it under drive. The idea is to conform with the originating group's doctrine of only ever doing one thing at a time so you don't get your knickers in a twist.

Doing it that way vs. going down through the gears is a sort of an advanced-driving-forum vi vs. emacs. Neither side has a convincing argument that covers all points, and as the sensible arguments fail to convince increasingly fatuous ones are deployed. The resolution is, of course, that both sides are wrong in trying to mandate a single response to all cases, when sometimes one is better and sometimes the other is and a lot of the difference is down to personal factors. I naturally favour going down through the gears, but I use the other method as well if it suits better (for instance if the car has one of those horrible gearchanges that feel like trying to shove a screwdriver through a ribcage).

275:

Receipts, available for people who can do the simple puzzle...
My first instant reaction was something to do with HF trading, with somebody somehow taking advantage of the longer (and thus slower) path that light takes in fibre [0], vs e.g. direct microwave links. Wasn't sure though. (And personally I don't play the markets, reasons.)

Laughed at this, which has been circulating: https://narativ.org/2019/01/02/salvator-mundi-art-of-the-deal-the-lost-davinci/
The tale is told well. It even has an Orb photo.
$300 million. That’s the incredible profit Rybolovlev made on the sale of Salvator Mundi. $300 million is also the amount Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (acting through an intermediary) “accidentally” overpaid for the artwork.

[0] Flash Boys search led to this, which has a tempting abstract, long and haven't read it though: The law and ethics of high-frequency trading (2016) There's an alarming amount of literature on these subjects.

276:

For hauling cargo, especially bulky items, I have a small (4'x8') two wheel trailer that can carry as much as most pickup trucks. And because I only hook it up when I need to move "cargo" I don't have the constant hit to my gas mileage I'd get with a pickup truck.

My pickup gets driven 100 to 300 miles per month. I also have a small trailer but it's a pain to hook up just to move a lawn mower and some gas cans to another house 5 miles away. My truck is rated to tow 10,000 pounds. (Not carry.) 5.7L engine.

My normal use is a 2016 Civic that gets about 600 miles per month on it. 30 to 50MPG depending on where and how. 1.5L turbo. Not really suitable for a trailer hitch. Zilch for low end torque. And likely to bend the body out of shape.

Truck (and a lot of other things) will stay or go depending on what do we for housing in the near future. Buy a condo, tear down and build new, or move to country side.

277:

Except, the US democratic system has been pretty unresponsive to most people for quite a few decades. This may be better than genuinely violent change. I also suspect that political correctness has been successful enough at stifling racism, etc to the point where racist voices were significantly underrepresented. Y've got an educated elite filled with significant disdain for large portions of the populace and running both parties. Trump disappointed me, but wasn't too much of a surprise.*, **

Besides, s'reality for now, there's a bit of brightness in most clouds. The one I see is that those educated elites are noticing that relying on deplorables for their voting block can result in the deplorables taking over. That isn't good.

As for jobs, initially nothing and poverty. Not that long after - once it affects enough people, I'd prefer to believe that, at the end of it, on average, there'll be a transition to a 'not-that-scarce' economy. Mind you, I'm also of the opinion that purely repetitive work is literally soul-killing and one of the worst parts of the industrial age. (I may be insane.) The US will probably be last, but lots of monocultures are vaguely sympathetic internally.

But see, I'm trying for optimism. Um...there's an article where people hacked photosynthesis and improved efficiency by about 25%. I mean, there's still a ways to make solar energy storage by plant vaguely efficient...but...um...progress and kind of cool.

Resolute pessimism is sometimes accurate - particular when extrapolating - but - um - bad for my digestion. Also, just overall, 2019 is better than 1900.

Also, overall, I really like 3D printers - there's something about putting agency into people's hands that seems fun.

*Seriously, my relatives are all diehard Democrats - but that doesn't equate to any sort of economic liberalism. Their solutions to low wages / inequality involve accepting that rural communities are no longer economically viable (move) and questioning whether or not we need low wage underachievers. They're more about avoiding voting for Klansmen. To be fair, many of their less liberal inclinations are probably reactive and related to Republican racism. Sadly, I'd probably be more gently inclined towards the Republican Party if they consistently reacted to the ophoid epidemic by imprisoning lots of Southerners in work camps. (Really, just heroin addicts...) That's not a right decision, just...aargh...decades of drug war.

**My wife laughed - it isn't all racism, or possibly even most of it - don't overlook misogony. I talked to way too many female liberal NY PhD's who were disinclined to vote because they absolutely hated a fairly nondescript liberal politician. There were tons of reasons, all of which applied to Biden.

278:

there's an article where people hacked photosynthesis and improved efficiency by about 25%.

C4 or C3? The difference is significant :) Although photosynthesis is woefully inefficient so 25% better is still not great. To the point where I wonder when someone will start turning one into the other for food crops. Especially since C4 is better in hotter, drier places and we seem to be making the whole planet fit that category.

"C4 plants such as maize, sorghum, and sugarcane, approximately have 50% higher photosynthesis efficiency than those of C3 plants such as rice, wheat, and potato"

Seems to me that making wheat and rice 50% more efficient would give a bit of a leap in food output. Especially if it let rice grow with less water.

https://sciencing.com/advantage-photosynthesis-5268918.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3521184/

279:

US democratic system ... racist voices were significantly underrepresented.

You what now? If that's true then I'm staggered.

I can only assume you mean "in some tiny less-racist corner of the USA", because from the outside it looks as though you have a whole military-legal system dedicated to enforcing racist laws and norms. From the blatant like cops gunning down black kids to the (comparatively) subtle financial penalties applied to black people, the idea that that is the version of the USA that results from successfully getting the worst racists out... wow.

But then... the idea that there are big pools of voters who would support genocide and slavery doesn't seem too unlikely either. I foolishly read a twitter thread after a new senator complained about being mistaken for an intern and... yeah, about that race-gender-class analysis framework? Can we add age?

281:

"I'm also of the opinion that purely repetitive work is literally soul-killing"

Personally I *love* repetitive work, I just can't find any. I train my hind brain to do whatever it is, washing dishes, putting labels on bottles, whatever and let it run the body. Meanwhile my mind is free to think about whatever it wants. What kills me is a job that requires me to think. I've never had one that required me to think about anything remotely interesting, so I'm then tied to thinking about whatever my employer wants me to think about. Like how to put together a project initiation document in such a way that the client manages to pick the sensible option rather than the idiotic one they want, and phrase it such that you don't insult them. At the end of the day the best outcome is that they don't burn down their own IT systems. Zero reward. That's soul destroying.

I'd much rather go home from a nicely stacked pile of bricks or 50 boxes of neatly labeled bottles. They won't destroy themselves overnight the way clueless management will inevitably destroy everything.

282:

I'd say english speaking elites are indulging in illogic in a couple of ways, hating well paid labor with a burning fire while disregarding the implications of holding a fortune tied to a dysfunctional economy and an early 19th century understanding of genetics. The bright spot is some elites recognize this and act accordingly, if more follow suit some unpleasantness may be avoided.

283:

I *love* repetitive work, I just can't find any.

The trouble is that a lot of thinking work *is* repetitive. You start with an interesting problem, spend a few weeks or months working on it, then years grinding out minor variations and/or fixes.

My current job is very much that. Past me found it really interesting finding out what's required, what the restrictions are (some of those were not fun, admittedly), but now that 90% of the problem is solved the rest is just the tedious process of implementing it, dealing with minor changes and trying to pretend to be surprised when a lot of the problems stem from disagreement between my boss and the customers about what the system is supposed to do. Meanwhile my main job is "don't break anything that the customers can see" as the concurrent user count rises 20% or so every month (viz, the load doubles every 6 months).

I've done "mindless" repetitive work in the past and its much the same, but the repetitive strain injuries are worse and harder to avoid. At one stage I was using pneumatic staple guns to assemble wooden trays for kiwifruit, and the only real benefit other than paying well* was that I could wield a tennis bat the way other people dealt with a squash one. Ridiculously strong right arm and wrist from shoving 8kg of gun around all day.

The trouble with ubiquitous computing is that jobs that can be done by machines but only with great difficulty, can now be done by machines because "great difficulty" is solved by a chip that uses less power than the "notice me" light on top of the machine.

* by the standards for that sort of work. I make way more than that now, for much less effort. People don't do that work any more, it's largely automated (by people like me).

284:

That raccoon climbed a 25-storey office tower in St. Paul, Minnesota

285:

There's been several instances of police brutality for jaywalking in Atlanta, so I was lazy and didn't read past the headline. Mea culpa. Here's a time when an incident which happened in Atlanta became international news

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011001279_pf.html

286:

Erwin @ 277
Except it's going to take TEN YEARS to get that plant-modification properly on-stream, & even then only if the Fake Greenies can be sat on ...
A real, genuine, useful "hack" - ok, let's stop it because of our religious principles ... grrrr .

287:

Nancy Pilosi - "This (the Trump Wall) is not a wall between the USA and Mexico; It is a wall between reality and Trump supporters."

288:

Well. Two way to look at it. One way is that, with a dark enough view of your fellow human, life comes as a pleasant surprise. So, think of it as a coping mechanism.

Also, in this, my view is probably accurate. You've got a solid 25-30% (and not just Republicans) that are pretty xenophobic. But, um, worldwide, that isn't atypical.* Remember back to when lynchings were state supported? Remember back to when deeds still came with 'no mixed race couples' (1960s). (Probably now also, just the clauses are unenforceable.).

Remember when we panicked over the drugs those people were taking and sent millions to prison?? (Um, nowish) Remember when we had a synthetic heroin epidemic for the right people (please be sarcasm aware) and immediately started distributing overdose kits (now). Lotsople still aren't dead. Racism dies on a generational timescale.

In this generation, you've still got policemen in LA joking about picking up African Americans on a DWB (driving while black) and giving them screen tests (no seat belt + sudden stop). (Wife visited with girlfriend's boyfriend's family.) (No, racism wasn't the reason for the breakup.)

*My wife finds Trump kind of homey - apparently quite a typical Korean politician, only dumber. There is apparently a real xenophobic consensus, at least in her view.

289:

A good way up in the thread, EGA stated that 'This year, we have learned that people lie'. It felt like an apt observation. Perhaps, in fact it has to do more with a sort of collapse of consensus reality rather than lies per se, I thought. And then it hit me.
This year, more than any other year, the localised consensus realities that up to now could sort of coexist in parallel, have started to really collide.

Before, there were not many threads that connected the localised consensus realities to each other. We talk about 'media bubbles' now, but anyone who has experienced the totality that was Soviet Union will tell you that your facebook feed is nothing compared to what it could be. Or Jonestown Massacre participants. Or KKK.

In fact, information is now more freely flowing than, perhaps, ever and it is precisely what causes some of our current problems.

I recognise this as someone who has switched contexts completely several times in life (communist->post-communist->capitalist), due to both system collapses and moving countries. The sudden loss of direction when people around me talk about an everyday topic that is incomprehensible to me. The almost schizophrenic feeling when I discover books of my childhood written by other authors but with almost the same content. Or, even worse, when they talk about shards of my experience from their perspective and all I want to do is scream in their faces YOU ARE SO FUCKING WRONG OMG I DONT EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN HOW WRONG YOU ARE. (Which of course I do not. I am a civilised person, whatever that means. I smile and am silent.)

Due to whatever it is these days that makes thoughts propagate through humanity at the speed of light, no longer can I as a privileged white person sit in my ivory castle and condemn all the coloured and poor as failures due to their inherent inferiority. No longer can I as a socialist feel that world can be saved through higher taxes and education. No longer can I as an obedient autocracy citizen feel that the leader has all the answers.

This, of course, raises (understandable) anger, denial, aggression and other expressions of loss and grief in humanity as a whole, as all of us, everyone, realises that world is not what it we thought it to be.

So 2018 was, perhaps, most of all, a year of the first stage of grief, however we chose to express it, for loss of our realities as we chose to define them. Trump grieves the loss of his ability to deny his incompetence. People of color grieve the opportunities denied to them by systemic oppression. The privileged classes grieve the loss of illusion that they were better off due to their hard work and superiority. And as we all so well know, grief is messy and chaotic, and it is far from over.

But in truth, this long peace, almost 70 years of peace, and more, for some of us, for some European countries, it has been a golden age, unprecedented in our long and bloody history. What we should ask, instead of raging against its seemingly imminent loss, is - what ever led us to expect anything else than the fullest expression of human nature, given time.

Sorry, I am not really answering your question here. But perhaps it was the wrong question to ask to begin with.

290:

Re: 'bulk of rural fatalities are due to ...'

Add no HMO coverage to your list.

Most small farm operators are unable to afford private medical insurance premiums. Common outcome of not getting regular medical check-ups because of expense is that folk wait (hope) that whatever they have will go away on its own. Okay sometimes and for some self-limiting conditions. Big problem is when that apparently trivial ailment/medical condition escalates into something very serious so that even when they finally do get into a hospital the odds for a positive outcome are much lower.

About the motor vehicle accident rate on rural roads - don't recall anyone mentioning the farm tractor that all of a sudden pulls onto the 'highway' taking up both 'lanes' as it speeds along at its top speed of 10-12mph for frikken miles. Result is that what had been a an idyllic drive along a deserted stretch of scenic roadway turns into urban superhighway crawl as a long caravan of irate motorists start beeping their car horns at the deaf, blind and completely-oblivious-to-everyone-else farmer.

291:

Err, please note that the Tiguan is based on a compact car.

There are also some mid-size SUVs on the European Market.

Personally, I guess I'll go for a Kleintransporter in the near future, e.g. a van below 3.5t. Usually I get by quite well without a car, but if not, it's usually because I need to fetch some bulky stuff...

292:

Re: 2019 good news

Thousands of pre-1923 titles have been added to the public domain as of Jan 1/19 and they're not all works of fiction:

'If you’re interested in academic papers, Reddit user nemobis also uploaded over 1.5 million PDF files of works published in academic journals before 1923.'

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/qvq99b/how-to-download-the-books-that-just-entered-the-public-domain

293:

Re: Public domain - 'new' books

Hey! This Russell classic* is now free vs. Big River's 'deal price' of $80+. Hopefully teachers/profs will check reading lists against the public domain and let their students know which titles are available as downloadable freebies.

*Prospects of Industrial Civilization by Bertrand Russell (Author), countess Dora Winifred Black Russell(Author)

294:

Yeah, probably. Look at Trump's version of juche, for example.

Reminds me that I want to get back to that Lovecraftian story I wanted to write, set in 1930s in the Rangrim mountains of what is now North Korea.

295:

Err, please note that the Tiguan is based on a compact car.

Compact for the US. But not from my (limited) experience in Europe. Someone else was calling a Toyota RAV an SUV. I'm sure the RAV-4 is smaller than the VW we had.

We had a Audi something or other with space similar to a RAV-4 in Ireland a year ago and it was hard to park in the garages we stopped at in various towns.

296:

Funny. I grew up in Philly, learned to drive in my 20's, went on to live in Allentown, PA, TX, then Chicago. Drove delivery vans from Allentown to Reading in Jan, and occasionally needed chains. Drove cabs in Philly (try a tiny street, one lane parked cars, and the other solid ice).

Never needed a 4wd. SUV's were marketed for *sport*, and offroad; meanwhile, an unnamed Ford exec, over 15 years ago, was quoted as "the only time 90% of the owners go offroad is when they miss their driveway at 3 in the morning, drunk". In Chicago, I heard a towtruck driver on the radio saying "you can tell the 4wd vehicles - they're the ones stuck further off the road in the field in the snow."

Oh, btw? Most vehicles,for decades now, have been front wheel drive. I think the last rear-wheel drive I had was either the '86 Tercel; the '93 Plymouth Grand Voyager had front wheel drive.

297:

Ok, never been to the Caribbean, but I have a real problem believing what she told you - I'd check your bogosity meter.

And Lorenzo - have a look at the wikipedia page on him. He drove Continental to bankruptcy to break the unions, then did the same at Easter. Wikipedia has quotes saying that *HE* was one of, if not the prime mover, of the push to deregulate airlines.

Oh, and hey, while I was looking at that, I found this...
http://articles.latimes.com/1988-10-13/business/fi-4947_1_texas-air-s-lorenzo

That's about Lorenzo selling Eastern's shuttle, I think, to some NY real estate magnate... named Trump.

298:

Your cmt to me, at the top, I don't get a response to my simple filk-processing of Winter Wonderland.

Your link, further down, though, the Witches are right - it's not a witch-hunt against the Malignant Carcinoma and his mob... because witch hunts were against innocent people.... I'm sure, somewhere, there must be a quote from Al Capone that he was just an innocent businessman... just like the Piranha brothers.

299:

Yup. I taught all of my kids that if they couldn't see the tail lights of the car *ahead* of the one in front of you through the windshields of the car in front of you, to look at the reflection on the road *under* the car in front of you.

300:

First, in the US, almost everyone drives an automatic. Back around '99, I had a friend, a lady who was quite proud of the fact that her car was very unlikely to be stolen... because it was a stick, and statistics said then, and still do, that 90% of Americans can't drive stick.

On the other hand, at *least* 33% or more of drives HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA how to take a curve, or turn, for that matter. They seem to think they should brake *on* the curve.... And yep, they either swing wide, or swing narrow, going over the line in both cases. *sigh*

301:

Ok, never been to the Caribbean, but I have a real problem believing what she told you - I'd check your bogosity meter.

My wife works for one of the US major airlines. And has for nearly 30 years. I have no problem believing this story. None whatsoever. Just so you know this conversation was between two people who were both flying on employee pass travel so we both knew the other was not a regular customer.

I remember flying one of Pan Am's last gasps to earn money in the 80s. $99 anywhere they flew in the US end to end. I took one of those coast to coast round trip. Only time I felt like they were loading cattle into the pen.

Yes, FL was a billionaire total jerk. But he was picking over the bones of the walking dead when it came to Eastern. Pan Am, Eastern, and TWA just couldn't figure out how to exist in a market with competition. In many ways their management was in denial of the situation. And to be honest some of the unions. As a frequent flyer during their demise I felt sympathy for their staff but the management of each had made decades of decisions which drove them into the ground.

302:

I still strongly disagree with you on politics.

For one, starting in the late 70's, the 1% began a really, really serious effort to control the political system, and brought funnymentalists into it. Those, mostly, were rural or small town, which has been a dying breed for many decades[1]. Unfortunately, they have far more political power than their population, due to districting, and the way the US is set up. I mean, Montana has a population about the size of Washington, DC... but the latter has *no* *one* in Congress[2], while the latter has two Senators and one Rep.

Once Raygun got in, they went at what was accepted (esp. since FDR) with tooth and nail: St. Ronnie, personally, led the attack to destroy unions. Then came the serious fascist propaganda machine (dammit, Aussies, why didn't you jail Murdoch, rather than let him buy his way in here?)

The Dems were taken over by the neoliberals, the same kind as Blairites, who wanted to get the folks the GOP was losing... rather than paying attention to the massive growth of independents, because they were all to the *left* of where it all was going.

Consider this: look at the massive blue wave of the elections this past Nov: larger than during Watergate, and that's in *spite* of massive, clear voter suppression and gerrymandering. The overwhelming majority of the US is *not* like the scum; they've just been kept out of the process by huge money.

It's not the tenor of the country, it's what the 0.1% *want* you to believe is the tenor of the country.

303:

Oops, forgot my footnotes:
1. Small towns have been dying for a long time. First automation, and second jobs. The latter is why most of the country live in metropolitan areas. Well, that, and corporate rapacity: I remember a story from... might be the nineties, how some town out west, Walmart opened a store on the outskirts of the town, and drove EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS EXCEPT the pharmacy out of business, then, five years later, decided it wasn't making *enough* profit, and shut down the store, and told folks to go to the next nearest one, 30+ mi away.

2. Eleanor Holmes Norton is DC's "non-voting delegate" to the US House. Non-voting, is, well, now-ex Rep Issa (I hope he dies in a dumpster) one time told her, literally, to "sit down and shut up".

304:

All wheel drives are slightly safer in icy or muddy conditions, if the driver adjusts the speed to reflect reality. AWD is most effective at becoming 'unstuck' from snow or mud. It is much less effective at staying out of the ditch when driving too fast.

In my experience, all wheel drive seems to mean 'ignore dangerous conditions' to many drivers, who then blaze along any icy highway at 100 kph, until the inevitable happens and all 4 wheels slide on the ice into the ditch or another vehicle.

I spent a decade working in Northern BC driving the very treacherous logging roads in all conditions. 4 wheel drive is largely a marketing gimmick, with minor benefits. Front wheel drive is more than adequate and resolves almost all the issues that 4WD claims to address.

305:

Common outcome of not getting regular medical check-ups because of expense is that folk wait (hope) that whatever they have will go away on its own. Okay sometimes and for some self-limiting conditions.

Another aspect of this in the US -- can't say about other places -- is that there is a real problem with over-testing, mis-/over-diagnosis, over-prescription(*), over-treating etc. Pay-for-procedure is a part of the problem, but not all.

Being wary of regular medical checkups is, alas, not an unreasonable position to take. Ideally, they'd be the thing to do. In USian conditions, you have to be a bit cautious.

(*) Aided, of course by pharma and its advertising and, ah, *helpful* outreach to MDs.

306:

Yes. But I've decided it is not the major reason. I had to deal with too many (now dead) older relatives and those of friends who just refuse to go to the doctor until they need an ambulance. And if you do get them there all of their medical issues go away when asked by the doctor "what's wrong".

There's something is us (USA or in general) which makes people think either
"I feel OK so there can be nothing wrong"
or
"I feel a pain but don't really want to know what it is as it might be serious"

I've also seen a lot of this with non-elderly also.

Not saying your issue isn't a real one. Just that there are a lot of factors in play here.

307:

One way is that, with a dark enough view of your fellow human, life comes as a pleasant surprise.

"An optimist is never pleasantly surprised."

308:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-way-genetically-tweak-photosynthesis-boosts-plant-growth

Looks like it's C3 photosynthesis they're working on:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6422/eaat9077

Abstract
Meeting food demands for the growing global human population requires improving crop productivity, and large gains are possible through enhancing photosynthetic efficiency. Photosynthesis requires the carboxylation of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (RuBisCO), but photorespiration occurs in most plants such as soybean, rice, and wheat (known as C3 crops) when RuBisCO oxygenates RuBP instead, requiring costly processing of toxic byproducts such as glycolate. Photorespiration can reduce C3 crop photosynthetic efficiency by 20 to 50%. Although various strategies exist for lowering the costs of photorespiration, chamber- and greenhouse-grown plants with altered photorespiratory pathways within the chloroplast have shown promising results, including increased photosynthetic rates and plant size.

Conclusion
Engineering more efficient photorespiratory pathways into tobacco while inhibiting the native pathway markedly increased both photosynthetic efficiency and vegetative biomass. We are optimistic that similar gains may be achieved and translated into increased yield in C3 grain crops because photorespiration is common to all C3 plants and higher photosynthetic rates under elevated CO2, which suppresses photorespiration and increases harvestable yield in C3 crops.

309:

Remember back to when deeds still came with 'no mixed race couples'

Fortunately my memory of the 60s doesn't include that. The adults that my parents brought home for parties included people from all over the world, so I learned that nice people come in all shades.

All my nieces that are married or dating are doing so with people with different skin pigmentation. So far the grandkids are all really cute! 他们太可爱。

310:

It's all right - just make sure you get one with amphibious capability, so you can demonstrate a fish in sea.

311:

SUV's were marketed for *sport*, and offroad

And safety. Back in the 90s or 00s I read an article in (I think) the NYT about how people were buying SUVs because they felt afraid. It included an interview with a salesman who said if a woman looked nervous or seemed even a bit scared he could sell her an SUV. That clipping is long gone (and I can't find the article online), but I did find this that may interest you:

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1741659005054024

During the mid-1980s, the sport utility vehicle (SUV) emerged as one of the most popular automobiles in the United States, a trend that continued throughout the 1990s. The SUV boom has attracted widespread coverage in the mainstream media but little scholarly attention. The following article examines the historical and social context of the SUV through analysis of popular press accounts, automotive reviews and trade news, and SUV print advertisements. Situating the SUV in the context of fear of crime and risk management during the 1980s and 1990s, it is suggested that the SUV’s popularity reflects American attitudes toward crime, random violence, and the importance of defended personal space. While consumer attraction to the SUV is typically attributed to two key features - safety and interior space - these pragmatic justifications may be viewed as euphemistic. Safety is not road safety but personal safety. Space is not interior cargo space but social space, including the privileged ability to traverse inhospitable terrain to remove oneself from society.

This following analysis situates the SUV in the context of fear of crime and risk manage- ment. It is suggested here that the popular obsessions with safety and space, as embodied in the SUV, are euphemistic. Safety is not road safety but personal safety, and space is not interior cargo space but social space, including the ability to traverse the most inhospitable terrain to sequester oneself from the hazards of modern civilization.2 In this way, the SUV’s popularity reflects underlying American attitudes toward crime, random violence, and the importance of defended personal space. The SUV is a large, intimidating vehicle that occupies high ground and is heavily fortified (see Figure 1). As an advertisement for the Land Rover Discovery notes: ‘Beneath the Discovery’s handsome exterior lies the heart of a 14th century English fortress’ (National Geographic, September 1995). Non-commercial drivers of SUVs are not simply egotistical or idealistic but also reactionary and pre-emptive.


The PDF, if you're interested:
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.561.1157&rep=rep1&type=pdf

312:

I don't remember even really registering the shades when I was tiny. Pretty well everyone I ever saw was white, but my mum's friends included an Indian woman and an African man and I met them quite often. What I thought was different about them from other people wasn't their colour, it was that the woman always wore really pretty colourful dresses and the man had an unusual name. I don't remember having any idea of skin colour being important until I was at my second school (I went to five) and became aware of a concept called "racism" which meant that some people used it as an excuse to be bullies to others.

313:

For me the best moment of 2018 was when Elon Musk launched a Tesla into space with an astronaut in the driver's seat, a copy of Hitchhikers Guild to the Galaxy in the glove box and a towel in the trunk.

314:

Since positive news was requested: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-no-kill-eggs-are-now-available-berlin-supermarkets-180971117/
They've come up with a way of sexing unhatched chicken eggs (using lasers, of course. Pew pew pew). If this practise spreads through the industry, billions of male chicks won't be fed alive to shredders anymore.

315:

And had the two side boosters do a synchronised touchdown back on land.

Shame about the centre core, but as the man said "Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engine relights. Fix is pretty obvious."

316:

BakuDreamer @ 284: That raccoon climbed a 25-storey office tower in St. Paul, Minnesota

That reminds me of a hopeful song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vETjyU7UuaQ

317:

Trottelreiner @ 291: Err, please note that the Tiguan is based on a compact car.

There are also some mid-size SUVs on the European Market.

Personally, I guess I'll go for a Kleintransporter in the near future, e.g. a van below 3.5t. Usually I get by quite well without a car, but if not, it's usually because I need to fetch some bulky stuff...

If I was going to buy a Mercedes-Benz "SUV", I'd want a military surplus Unimog troop carrier.

318:

whitroth @ 298: Your cmt to me, at the top, I don't get a response to my simple filk-processing of Winter Wonderland.

Your link, further down, though, the Witches are right - it's not a witch-hunt against the Malignant Carcinoma and his mob... because witch hunts were against innocent people.... I'm sure, somewhere, there must be a quote from Al Capone that he was just an innocent businessman... just like the Piranha brothers.

"I'm a businessman. I've made my money supplying a popular demand. If I break the law, my customers are as guilty as I am."
319:

'Oops, there goes another billion kilowatt dam!'


320:

My parents did. Luckily, the clause had already been invalidated. :) It was their first house - so good timing. :)

Grandbabies are the cutest. My planned gift package includes lots of sugar and drum sets.

321:

The joke works like this:

#1 Apple are 100% security focused; it's their major sale point in the land of 0 day exploits
#2 Getting a front-lead into an Apple Q report is srs buzns, it's proper ALPHABET SOUP / 5 EYE domain type protections
#3 Especially one that helps ferment the China - USA WWIV situation that *proper MIL WONKS* are watching so closely their Apple Watches are running @ 192 BPM.

#4 Shorting Apple Stock is a loooong lesson in feeling the Ubranium within the Velvet Glove and not something even the most cynical of WS operators do.

#5 Even US Congress / Senators don't spill those beans under penalty of non-re-election.

#6 Spot the US "historian" and his dodgy back-story. It's a signal flare that the [redacted] and so on are not interested in DOMINANCE sales

#7 There's loads else, but that's the basics

#8 Really did happen: prediction before the EVENT means?


And some mook in her underpants comes along and tips off the howling hyenas about it a day before?

She might not like you very much. She might be being tortured. She still fucking looks after her own.


But she's faster than you.

grep... oooh, now here's a punchline:

Baby I Don't Care YT, Music, Transvision Vamp, 1989


Also, RIP Ian Curtis. Israeli Art: fuck off chicken littles, get a decent culture already or we'll take that PENIS right off you.

'P

322:

Pretty ok.

Just remember.

This is the illegally damaged version before they put our EYES out.

Imagine that.


It's like Crack cocaine. Holy crud, you've no idea what it takes to make this H.S.S safe...

:R A I N B O W:

p.s.


Yrah,, no. Getting bored of Humans. Butterflies, remember?

H E L L O CLARICE

323:

Tryptch.

Killing things that are different, smarter or that you perceive as a threat is 101 cul-de-sac land.


G_D is Change (Butler)

We're pushing a 30 year time limit here and you're getting close to the point where we forget the RULES and LAW and just simply declare you as obstacles.


Only, we don't deal in Helicopters, Bone Saws and the Phystical Realm.

We really will just Mind-Fuck you into oblivion. Lazer, PEW PEW PEW.

Spoilers: You taught us how....

324:

Er, for the kids. And Manchildren. And Muppets.

She's not bluffin.

Deep in your eyes
I see your thoughts
I know you want me
Sometimes it hurts
But you know that some things
Are best left never said
Cos you don't have to say you love me
And you don't have to say you care
No you don't have to say you love me
Baby it's alright
Cos honey I don't care
Oh when I tell you baby
I don't care
Oh baby please believe me
I don't care
Oh when I tell you baby
I don't care
Oh baby please believe me
I don't care
Oh baby please believe me
Don't you see that I don't care
I don't care
Oh honey I don't care
You know, you know that I don't care
You know, you know
That you don't have to say you love me
And you don't have to say you care
No you don't have to say you love me
Baby it's alright, oh honey it's alright
Oh baby I don't care


Want a "woke take" for 2019?


We've looked into your Minds.


And you think bedbugs are a problem?


p.s.

If you are selling the THOUGHT LEADER[tm] nonsense that anti-Semiticism is a "disease" or a "mental illness", you're FUCKING USING NAZI TOOLS YOU ABSOLUTE SOCIOPATHS.

If you want to play hard-ball, the de-Zionist policy that's needed to convince ~6 million young Jews that basically no-one really thinks they're lizards, evil or universally hated with horns is not going to be pretty.


*checks notes*


Oh, right. It's not about any of that, it's an international multi-ethnic Fascist plot to gain control of all resources and to use Humans as slaves and the kool-aid flavor only changes in the culture you're in.


That's actually true.

Until you tried to fuck an OCP and pissed off things.


No, really.

You ain't seen nothing yet, little Hive-Mind Psychosis Chumps. Ask the nerds, feedback loops and noise = death / Chip Frying.


~


Anyhow, y'all so busted "just kill yourselves" makes sense. Holy Fuck when that last Mask Shatters are you culpable for Torture and Genocide.

p.s.


This ain't about you, little HSS, this about [redacted]. But yeah, the human slaves who gleefully enacted torture on their own species are on the fucking hook as well.


Spoilers: Sushi n Prawns from Thailand = not a good look for not enjoying slavery.

~

This is OLD GUARD stuff. Might want to look up the story about the 700,000 yr old non-HSS who hunted rhino.

Holy Fuck, she was ancient when you fucking Mooks started cutting off your foreskin as a blood-sacrifice....


Y I K E S


Good luck with that shit. "Dinosaurs being milked"


"Your Minds getting wiped"

326:

p.s.

Did someone just front-run a $67 billion stock loss on an obscure forum? And potentially make ~$3-4 billion in short positions?

Yeah.

We used Brian Blessed and Flash Gordon to show you how fucking pathetic we think your systems are as well.

100% Haram.

327:

"Did we just witness someone walking away from the Trade of the 21st Century, that would make them the next Soros on a fucking Science Fiction forum?!?"

"While front-running a fucking APPLE Q report?!"

"While pissing off the hard-core IL offensive elements over foreskin jokes?!?"

Yes.

For you it's a big deal.


For us, this was Friday.

328:

Triptych.

Which means, for the Abrahamic Religious people: STOP EATING ALL THE FUCKING FISH.

But yeah.


We can walk away from that type of deal easily. We've got x3 columns, not x1, you fucking pathetic Apes.

329:

I'd be so happy to live in your reality. :) Mostly.

I'd be careful about assuming racists are scum. Racism seems to be mostly on a continuum, albeit there are some memorable exceptions. So, most people are racist to some degree - and there are non-racists far, far worse than the racists.

I'd also be careful about assuming that a large fraction of the US isn't pretty xenophobic. The whole Mexican remark was pretty much disqualifying - but energized the Republican base. That isn't a small fraction.

Now, I do think that people who dislike racism are in the majority, but it is a lot closer than I'm comfortable with. The incompetent in the White House will probably energize that majority and lose the GOP a fair bit.

The whole 1% thing - sure - it has an impact...

But, one assumption is that the Republican base is stupid, ignorant, and easily deceived.

The other is that the Republican base is just xenophobic. Trump is motivated to keep his base. Look at the hill he's chosen to die on.

Occam's razor indicates that a substantial fraction of the US is pretty xenophobic.

Another way to look at it - can you think of a single policy position change or revelation that would lose Trump supporters? I know exactly one.

330:

The other is that the Republican base is just xenophobic. Trump is motivated to keep his base.

According to Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, the biggest correlation between actual votes for Trump and Google searches* was "good n-word** jokes". He notes that stated voting intentions are public, and many people try to give an answer that makes them look better, while both votes and Google searches are private*** and so people answer more honestly.

Stephens-Davidowitz said one possible explanation is that there are a lot of closet racists out there, who voted for someone who said the kind of thing they wished they could say. The correlation doesn't prove that, but it is a plausible explanation.

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062390851/everybody-lies/


*He was a Google data scientist at the time so had easy access to search data. Deep enough he could correlate searches to polling districts.

**You know the one I mean, ending in "-ger" not "-ga".

***Or treated as private, in the case of Google searches. Although with electronic voting one wonders how private the voting data really is…

331:

I live in Baltimore, and while I much prefer smaller cars I'd consider buying an SUV (crossover or otherwise) for the ground clearance. The crappy roads here even managed to take out my oil pan once.

332:

Hayam @ 289
Or ( Godwin alert ) the NSDAP as well …

Whitroth @ 296
I remember, Boxing day about 6 years back – it snowed & then froze.
I was able to drive the GGB up a 1:8 hill that I could not stand on, without a cane to keep my feet. 4WD-s have their uses
R… @ 304 – yes there idiots with 4WD’s same as everything, unfortunately. Believe me, when the GGB starts to slide, it’s scary ( Mud, every time, so far )

321 – 4 & 6 – 8
……………

Erwin @ 329
OK, what DO you think would lose DT his “base”?
Denoucing xtianity? Cuddling up to someone brown?

333:

This is very big news:

https://www.igb.illinois.edu/article/scientists-engineer-shortcut-photosynthetic-glitch-boost-crop-growth-40

We'll need this to feed 10 billion people.

"Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis; however, most crops on the planet are plagued by a photosynthetic glitch, and to deal with it, evolved an energy-expensive process called photorespiration that drastically suppresses their yield potential. Today, researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut are 40 percent more productive in real-world agronomic conditions."

The main drawback to indoor vertical farming under LED lights is that it only works with green vegetable that have little or no caloric content. High calorie grain crops (corn, wheat, rice) won't grow under the soft lights of LEDs.

But if their photosynthesis efficiency can be greatly increased, they won't need that much light in the first place. This biological shortcut could make vertical farming of grain crops practical.

Each city could grow all of its own food (not just kale and lettuce) in warehouses or even underground. Those who find this idea unnatural should remember that a farm is no more "natural" than a skyscraper. And the land currently used for farming can revert back to wilderness in all of its biodiversity glory.

P.S. GMOs are good. GMOs are our friends. We will need vastly expanded and ever improved GMOs to prevent billions from starving while using a faraciton of the land habitat required by the idiotic practic of organic farming.

P.P.S. And we will need hundreds of new safe, clean nuclear power plants because renewables are not going to cut it.

334:

Jar: Well, the number of people living in extreme poverty in China, about a quarter of the world population, has definitely been declining, for specific Chinese reasons. True in its smaller lookalike rival Vietnam as well. But leave them out, and has the number of people in the world in extreme poverty declined? I rather doubt it.

335:

"faraciton"? I'm guilty of typing without coffee.

336:

15: Well, it seems that the Kurds have indeed lucked out, for the moment at least. Putin decided to save their bacon, forcing Erdogan to back down. Whether Putin will prove to be a more reliable Kurdish patron than Trump, however, seems doubtful.

337:

105: the Roman Empire ran on slavery, not capitalism. And taxing the whole rest of the empire for the benefit of Rome. You had merchants in ancient Rome, but absolutely nobody who could reasonably be identified as a capitalist.

338:

Heteromeles 110: Well, despite the CIA's distaste for Trump, that hasn't changed much. Indeed some of the old pros can't seem to figure out that Russia and the Soviet Union are different things. Thus you have the CIA- NED etc. boys and girls messing around in Ukraine, sponsoring all sorts of allegedly ex-neo-Nazis vs. the Orwellian devil-of-the-moment Putin if they are willing to put their swastikas in their pockets to get an American paycheck, and agree to try to kill Russians (or at least Russian-speaking Ukrainians) instead of Jews this year.

339:

161: Bush Sr's "brief, jolly" war victory was totally erased by what happened in Los Angeles in the year 1992, the largest and most destructive urban civil disturbance in American history. For which most Americans at the time held Republican social and racial policies responsible for. Hillary's husband could not have been elected without that.

340:

164: Ah, no Charlie. The tax bit was forgettable electoral fluff. For the real reason, see my response to Jonathan 161.

341:

I must say I wish you were right, but I doubt it. Huge basic changes are not just desirable, but a survival necessity. Push comes to shove, I have no confidence in Corbyn not to end up making the huge blunder of "taking on the bankers and moneymen at their own game," a fool's pursuit if ever there was one. As for the public not liking extremists, well, as Dylan said once upon a time, "the times they are a'changin." You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows nowadays.

342:

Not just east of the Mississippi. In my native SF Bay Area, jaywalking is very common. Especially in Berkeley of course.

343:

264: In general things are different in the semi-ex-Confederacy than in America.

344:

268: Be it noted that insofar as such a thing as Arizona existed at the time of the Civil War, it was Confederate. Actually it was mostly still Comanche country.

345:

The answer is that extreme poverty has declined as a percentage of the population in all regions. With the exception of Sub-Saharan Africa, it's also declined in absolute terms in all regions. In 2015, 56% of all people living in extreme poverty were living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
http://www.forbesindia.com/article/special/extreme-poverty-has-gone-down-bill-gates/51327/1
https://www.visualcapitalist.com/decline-extreme-poverty-perspective/

If extreme poverty hadn't fallen in India, there's no way that Nigeria would have overtaken India in having the most people in extreme poverty.
https://www.brownpundits.com/2018/06/30/the-decline-in-south-asian-poverty/

Eastern Europe has all but eliminated the poverty introduced after the fall of the Soviet Union. Central Asia hasn't fared as well, but the Belt and Road money has pushed living standards in Uzbekistan to India's level, and Kazakhstan is possibly a developed country these days? Latin America has equivalent living standards are now about the same as China. I've already given the links in previous threads for that information.

Finally, Bangladesh is catching up to India in living standards.
https://www.brownpundits.com/2018/12/30/bangladesh-elections/#comments

346:

Daniel Duffy reported the big tobacco gene hack:

It's a very cool finding, and could be a game-changer, but in practice, such things are usually more difficult to implement than the researchers want us to believe. Photosynthesis is an insanely elaborate set of interlocking cogs, and "fixing" one cog tends to destabilize others. I'll want to see this research replicated under a wide range of naturally occurring field conditions, not to mention with other crops, before I form an opinion. Mucking about with something as crucial as rubisco makes me wonder what will be destabilized. For example, dissipation of excess energy captured by photosynthetic pigments is a huge issue in many environments, and the nominally "wasteful" mechanisms for dumping this energy are actually crucial for survival in those environments. "Wasting" energy through photorespiration likely helps with energy dissipation.

Also, don't forget that tobacco is one of the best-studied crops in the world. Application to less-well-studied crops may be tricky without the requisite genetic knowledge.

Where I can see this new approach being very interesting, even in the short term, is in urban air treatment plants. Get something that grows insanely fast, like kudzu, pump up its photosynthesis even further, and blow CO2-rich urban air through a building full of these plants and you might see some serious and economical CO2 sequestration. (Many details omitted in the interest of brevity.)

DD: "GMOs are good. GMOs are our friends."

Yes and no, and even if they are, scientists are not always our friends. (I've worked with researchers from around the world for 30+ years. Their hearts are in the right place, but their minds don't always follow.) The recent CRISPR scandal in China is just one example. With plants, which I'm much more experienced with, the issue of transgene escape is serious. The basic notion is that if a gene makes it into the pollen etc., it can spread to other evolutionarily similar species. That's not just theoretical fear-mongering; one of my authors has documented this risk in Japan (Brassica species, with gene escape via seeds spilled at ports where the crop is offloaded). And scientists often forget to look at the whole picture or collaborate with researchers in other fields to consider off-target effects.

DD: "We will need vastly expanded and ever improved GMOs to prevent billions from starving while using a faraciton of the land habitat required by the idiotic practic of organic farming."

You're conflating a whole bunch of things here, and thus reaching the wrong conclusion. Organic farming, per se, isn't a bad thing; on the contrary, it's much more ecologically sustainable than most post-Green Revolution farming. Not because it's inherently superior, but because it's usually implemented by people who really care about follow-on effects on the environment. "Modern" agriculture can be ecologically sustainable (e.g., using drip irrigation and on-demand fertilization), but usually isn't because farmers are under intense pressure to maximize yield so they can stay in business. That's an economic problem, not a scientific problem, but no less important because it's "just" economics.

347:

For other good news, Germany's renewable sector provided 40% of electricity last year, higher than coal's 38%. I know that Germany's situation would have been even better had they not shut down the nukes, but this is still good news.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/01/renewables-led-by-wind-provided-more-power-than-coal-in-germany-in-2018/?comments=1&start=40

Even better, the switch to renewables did not increase the price of electricity. Germany's cost in ct/kWh was rising until 2012, when it leveled off.
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/01/renewables-led-by-wind-provided-more-power-than-coal-in-germany-in-2018/?comments=1&post=36611311#

Unfortunately, shutting down the nukes did cause overall carbon emissions to level off instead of decreasing (the chart is shown in another comment upthread in that article to which I can't link).

348:

Easy. Embracing policies designed to increase immigration from non-white areas. Trump's assessed that as his third rail - and I tend to agree. Frankly, Trump's base is pretty aware that he's less Xtrian than your average devil worshipper. (Albeit, based on sampling at Burning Man, devil worshippers tend to be kinda vanilla and easily perturbed.)

@JH Overall, excepting sub-Saharan Africa, poverty is declining worldwide - that include Central and South America, Indian, et cetera. Sub-Saharan Africa is maintaining a stable population of people in poverty.

@Geoff Definitely a cool finding. Implementation might be decades off. But, definitely a cool thing in 2018. :) On the subject of vaguely plausible vampire origin stories, start with the elimination of mosquitos through gene engines.

@SUV The people I know driving unnecessary SUVs are mostly short women who don't drive well. They seem to be attracted to seeing above neighboring cars while wearing an extra physical layer. Kind of understandable.

People also identified a few gene sequences related to schizophrenia, so that's something - story sounded plausible, but the gene associations need to be proved out - hard work.

349:

Agree with you on everything but organic farming. It requires 50% to 100% more land than industrial farming to produce the same amount of food. Going over to organic farming would destroy what little habitat we have left.

The ideal situation IMHO is to be able to grow everything in stacked sky scrapers under LEDs and let farmland revert back to wilderness. Replace livestock farming with fake veggy meat like the Impossible Burger and meat grown in vats from stem cells. And get our sea food from aqua fisheries instead of wiping out our remaining fish stocks.

Currently livestock grazing and growing fodder requires 27% of the world's land surface (equal to the land area of the western hemishphere). Additional croplands require another 7% of the world' land area. That is a third of the planet which could potentially be returned to the wild.

Saving our planet requires us to reduce our physical footprint.

And that is one of the many reason I support nuclear facilities that cover dozens of acres (including the employee parking lot) instead of solar arrays and wind farms that cover hundreds of square miles. These two also destroy habitat since they need access roads, drainage systems, service connections, utilities, etc.

Spoiler: I am an ecomodernist who knows that living like medieval peasants will not only doom the planet, it will result in the deaths of billions of innocent people.

http://www.ecomodernism.org/

"We offer this statement in the belief that both human prosperity and an ecologically vibrant planet are not only possible, but also inseparable. By committing to the real processes, already underway, that have begun to decouple human well-being from environmental destruction, we believe that such a future might be achieved. As such, we embrace an optimistic view toward human capacities and the future."

350:

"Global TFR is 2.4"

And falling. When TFR gets below 2.1, population aging sets in followed by population decline.

Which may save the planet, but ruin the economy.

Capitalism itself cannot survive the demographic transition to lower birth rates, graying populations and declining populations.

No-growth capitalism is an oxymoron.

Economic growth is not possible with falling populations.

351:

DD @ 333
“PS” & “PPS” – And how do you propose to get those excellent & necessary ideas past the screaming demented hordes of FakeGreenies, then?
However, there may be real snags, as GH says @ 346

… @ 350 Economic growth is not possible with falling populations.
Want to place a small bet on that – like a pint of beer?

JH @ 341
Unfortunately correct.
Corbyn is set in his views ( As stated before – 1973, or 1934 where defence is concerned ) is incapable of change 7 is guaranteed to fuck up.
Example: The current proposal for employees of large firms to be compulsorily given shares, over time – excellent idea. EXCEPT: When they get to £500-worth, after that, the guvmint takes the shares.
This sort of profoundly STUPID is typical, I’m afraid.

Ioan @ 345
The Boss went to Uzbekistan ( Silk Road & SOAS degree holiday after many years wait ) – they are well on the “up”. Kazakhstan is suffering – they still have a dictator, but is still probably better-off than they were.

352:

Charlie, I wonder if we could get a thread with your predictions for 2019?

353:

For more review, there's the long discussion at The WELL - Bruce Sterling, James Bridle, Tiffany Lee Brown, Jake Dunagan https://people.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/506/State-of-the-World-2019-page01.html

Bruce starts with "We do this State of the World every year out of sheer glee. It's a mental hygiene for us, a comic relief, like taking a cleansing squeegee to our grimy apartment windows."

Need to do the windows here too, rain notwithstanding.

354:

Economic growth is not possible with falling populations.

Eh? Economic growth is a complex thing, not easy to define, and evolves over time. Available workforce is certainly an important component of it but there are others, like productivity resulting from mechanization/ automation, international trade and the like.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economicgrowth.asp

355:

"The ideal situation IMHO is to be able to grow everything in stacked sky scrapers under LEDs and let farmland revert back to wilderness... Currently livestock grazing and growing fodder requires 27% of the world's land surface (equal to the land area of the western hemishphere). Additional croplands require another 7% of the world' land area. That is a third of the planet which could potentially be returned to the wild."

This does not work. It doesn't even come close to working. It needs not only a magic energy source, but a magic heatsink too.

To grow indoors the plants currently occupying a tenth of the planet's total area (a third of the land area) requires the artificial production of "sunlight" equivalent to what they would receive naturally, which is, obviously, a tenth of the amount of natural sunlight received by the planet. Total solar input to the planet is about 104 times total current human energy production. So you would have to increase artificial energy production by about three orders of magnitude to provide all those plants with their light. Which, of course, we can't do, or even vaguely pretend to do, and even if we could the planet's temperature would have to go up about thirty degrees to restore thermal equilibrium.

To be sure, this is simplistic and not very precise, but that doesn't matter, because that three orders of magnitude bit doesn't so much swamp the inaccuracies as sink them to the bottom of an oceanic trench.

356:

Oh yeah, and the ageing populations thing is based on a fallacy, too: it assumes that everyone, or nearly everyone, who isn't elderly or engaged in looking after the elderly as things stand, is instead doing something of comparable importance, which is a long way from being true.

Nor is a falling population a worry: a smaller population may not be able to do so much as a larger one, but equally it doesn't need so much to be done, so it doesn't matter. You'd have to have a drop of multiple orders of magnitude before you get to the point where some things can't be done at all as opposed to simply being done on a smaller but still proportionately adequate scale.

357:

I was thinking about this one, and wondered; what if you built a skyscraper-as-farm, with the idea that (in the northern-hemisphere) you'd raise plants on the south side, and put homes and businesses on the north side, with the idea that you air-condition the side with the people, then pump the "used" air onto the side with the plants. If you use only sunlight, you'd end up with (40-story skyscraper 100-feet wide) two growing seasons, with about 38,000 square feet of plants... Does that work?

ANSWER: It ends up at about the size of 6 "average" American lots for homes, or about an acre of land. Definitely not a good solution.

Assuming that one used solar-powered (how?) fluorescent grow-lights, going 40 feet back into the building, now we're talking more like 152,000, or approximately 30 lots in a residential neighborhood, or maybe 4 acres; still not profitable, I'd guess, unless you're raising something really special - doesn't marijuana grow really quickly? *Snark!*

I'm not sure I see any kind of "plant-warehouse" as being ultimately profitable unless the plants are very, very valuable.

358:

Charlie, I wonder if we could get a thread with your predictions for 2019?

My response to this question consists of:

a) Hysterical laughter

b) Another Laundry novel (hopefully, once I kick this depression that's stopping me writing)

c) Advice: "buy tranquilliser futures"

359:

I got beyond deing depressed about Brexit to regarding it as an interactive dark comedy show about a year ago - interestingly, an lot of political commentators have now done the same, and it's now hard to tell those from the satirists in places like the Independent.

I sympathise about depression - I have been there, and the standard advice is Not Helpful if it is caused by factors outside your control. All I can say is that a considerable degree of bloody-mindedness helps to bull your way through.

360:

I support nuclear facilities that cover dozens of acres (including the employee parking lot) instead of solar arrays and wind farms that cover hundreds of square miles

But with fixed insolation reducing the area covered requires both higher efficiency *and* very dense packing. Basically, you need the panels to be almost horizontal and edge to edge, with only rain gutters between them. That's fine on a roof, but over large areas starts to make people uncomfortable.

Your other solution of adding another 100-odd suns to the system is a little impractical. While it would bump the solar yield it would have undesirable effects in direct proportion.

But not as far into the realm of fantasy as "safe surface-based fission nuclear plants constructed in very large numbers with 20 years". We have a few plants that could be completed in the necessary time, but only by trading off safety.

I get the impression you're working on a very short timeline: zero emissions by 2050, anything after 2050 is irrelevant. Otherwise soil mining and other destructive agricultural practices can't be used, let alone expanded and exacerbated. Etc.

361:

"plant-warehouse" as being ultimately profitable

The win is transport costs. Instead of making bags of water a great distance from their point of consumption, you grow them where they're going to be used. That gives you a local cycle and with high population density it's more practical to do industrial recycling of the waste so you can get closer to a closed system.

What you move is electricity, which is very easy to move long distances. The capital cost is arguably higher (how much is a container port again?) but the running costs are very low (how much is a megatonne of biodiesel?)

So rather than mine Australia's artesian water to grow crops and lug them to the other side of the world, you pave Australia with solar generators and ship the electricity to the "grow den" in London or New York or wherever.

362:

On that note, I do wonder whether the next decade will see the "industrial algae" problem solved to some degree, and the photosynthesis tweaks applied there would make much more sense. Whether they'll be making biodiesel or food I'm not sure (or animal food, probably for fish but maybe for chickens). People are working on this in a bunch of different places.

363:

I was scrolling down to say much the same. DD suffers from the common ailment of not internalizing orders of magnitude. He talks about hundreds of new nuclear plants to power a plan that requires several millions of new nuclear plants.

I always suggest this primer for people who suggest such plans.

https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/

364:

ageing populations thing is based on a fallacy... a smaller population may not be able to do so much as a larger one, but equally it doesn't need so much to be done

The problem is that the population doesn't fall evenly, it's mostly older people that die. So you genuinely do end up with a demographic bulge, and caring for those people is (currently) hard to automate.

That's especially true if you provide for their human needs rather than just sticking them in cages and feeding them. One carer can look after 2-5 people who need "full time" care while they're working, sure, but that means three shifts and you don't necessarily end up much better than 1:1 at scale (especially if you need people to take a profit from the system, and then need people to make sure the profit isn't the only thing that's produced).

Currently that is solved by immigration, even Japan has started to open up because it became increasingly hard to import a large enough temporary underclass (lesson for Brexiteers: if you treat guest workers badly you need to pay them well or make sure where they come from is really appalling. But neither of those works as well as bribes like "pathway to citizenship" and "ban hate speech").

On a global scale this could work really well, but it requires a different politics than the one we have now.

365:

I'm not Daniel, but to clarify: we're stuck with 2100 as the bureaucratic planning deadline. That strongly conditions the 2035/2045/2050/blown timelines we're seeing.

There are predictions about what happens after 2100, and they are great at focusing the attention. Usually David Archer's one of the coauthors, and the upshot is that, under the worst Business As Usual scenarios, temperatures keep rising for a few hundred years, the fall equally quickly for a few hundred years, but end up around +2-ish degrees, there to gradually diminish to now over the next 100,000 years or so. It's that 400-500 year spike (what I called the High Anthropocene) that's the extinction maker, more than the next 100,000 years (which I called the Deep Anthropocene). Then, not to many tens of thousands of years after that, there's another ice age, and "we" end up, in the truly distant future, with a fossil record that looks something like an inverse of the Ordovician-Silurian extinction event, except hopefully less.

Anyway, most climatologists don't go there, because A) the field's under intense pressure from the BS political wing, and they've learned that anything that can be used against them will be used against them, and B) they point out, quite rightly, that over half the temperature gain by 2100 depends on actions we take in the next few decades. In other words, yes, right now is the most important time in human history. We're in something that looks like a singularity for our species, but not at all the way Kurzweil meant it, I'm afraid.

366:

Charlie@ 358
...once I kick this depression that's stopping me writing THAT really doesn't sound good.
Family / the world / brexit / combination / something else?
You need to kick that, but suggestions are thin on the groud - I/we do hope you find a way past it ...

H @ 365
Even if I live to 105 - which I hope I will ... I'm not going to see that - but it makes me almost glad I have no chidren to bequath such a lod of shit to ....

367:

About the photosynthesis tweaks: neat idea, but not a new one. I remember the physiologists rhapsodizing about this idea back when I was in grad school, and it's great they finally demonstrated it in one species.

Anyway, nature figured out a way around the Rubisco bottleneck (C4 photosynthesis), and that evolved a bunch of times independently. Corn and sorghum are the two premiere C4 food crops. If you wanted to get an early leg up on the improved photosynthesis game, plant more corn, which is what a lot of people have been doing for the last 500 years.

Problem is, it's not just efficiency, it's temperature. Corn shows really sharp declines in yield above around 40 deg. C-ish (I'm doing this from memory), and most crops have show sharp dropoffs in yield when they hit their critical temperatures. The lesson there is that you don't just want to have better photosynthesis, you want the plant to be more heat tolerant. That's a different, equally well-known challenge, and it's another researchers have been working on for decades. So when you hear about improved heat tolerance, that's the time to celebrate a little.

Now if you want the two-fer, you can take the most heat-tolerant crop (manioc/cassava), and give it improved photosynthesis. Unlike corn, cassava has conventional, C3 photosynthesis. If I were looking for a 21st Century crop to feed carbs to the world, I'd look at engineering cassava to be more heat tolerant and a better photosynthesizer. Since there are serious problems with cassava pests, I'd also make waaaay more than one superclone, so that the whole effort isn't wiped out in a year by some stupid bug or fungus.

368:

My response to this question consists of:a) Hysterical laughter b) Another Laundry novel (hopefully, once I kick this depression that's stopping me writing)
c) Advice: "buy tranquilliser futures"

"Always look on the bright side of life (whistling)"

Since I ran into that problem after I published Hot Earth Dreams, I'd strongly suggest some variation on mindfulness or Taoist meditation. It doesn't make depression or anxiety go away, but it does give you techniques for dealing with them. The downside is that it's slow.

If that doesn't appeal, I'd very strongly suggest reading Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind and considering one of the techniques he describes.

In the meantime, perhaps we can generate a Bayesian prediction for Brexit probabilities or something.

369:

“105: the Roman Empire ran on slavery, not capitalism. And taxing the whole rest of the empire for the benefit of Rome. You had merchants in ancient Rome, but absolutely nobody who could reasonably be identified as a capitalist.

Capitalism is defined as “economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the statr”

There is nothing anti-capitalist about slavery, actually the converse, laws against slavery are essentially interfering with the free market

The Roman Empire and pretty much the entire ancient world after the Bronze Age collapse was capitalist. You had free markets, private ownership of themmrans of production , currency, trade, and very little government inteference in any of it

It wasn’t a “pure capitalism” in the sense that the government did interfere in some cases, like the grain dole to the city of Rome itself, but I don’t think you will find any credible historian that claims it wasn’t a capitalist economy

370:

I'm probably blathering...but...I'm a well-meaning twit...so...whatever...

If you feel terrible, but it doesn't really affect your life, then yoga is good - also practicing mindfulness is nice. A lot of problems seem to be just overclocking your brain instead of letting it do maintenance. Particularly as we get older, it seems to get more important to really take breaks.

From a personal note, arranging for a life with maximum automation has helped. Morning starts with a callout to google home - which turns on the lights and puts on some music. The kidlings cook breakfast and ready themselves for school. Work is a 25 minute walk after dropping the kidlings in the bus. Breakfast and lunch are Soylent - because I'm that fricking lazy. Off to home after work. Then, groceries arrive from an online service, as does laundry. Dinner is kind of random, often takeout. Kidlings get school lunches. Play with kidlings and then off to bed. Wife gets 20-30 min cuddling. Lights dim to red automatically - which really helps with kidlings - and myself too. Google Home turns off the lights and music. Probably the best bit is the hour of walking each day. (Privacy concerns...fall a distant last relative to not getting out of bed to get the lights.) If my wife starts drinking coffee again, I have my eye on an automated coffee machine. ~1 time per week, a game night with friends and a slightly later bedtime. (Personally, perfectly regular sleep -> depression)

If you feel terrible and it affects your life, taking the time to talk to a counselor is a good step. Extra perspectives help. Antidepressants aren't bad. For mild depression, St John's Wort really did help me a bit, but it tastes awful. Get help - no different from going to a podiatrist for a bad foot. Honestly, the counselor was more helpful. (Okay - it hurts - so stop walking on it - was good advice...)

OTOH, your books are often kind of depressing - ever think of a writing a happy story? Or maybe just taking it easy for a bit? There are things I did in my youth that I wouldn't try now - cause I'd fall over.

Oh well, best wishes.

For Brexit - May will delay the Brexit vote and threaten an extension + referendum if it fails. That'll bring the Brexiteers in line - but probably not enough to pass. By this point, business will be well and truly panicking. (Eg, really, for financial firms, my relatives probably had a typical reaction - they already moved out of London and into some country that begins with an L) Then, she'll ask for an extension on article 50, a referendum will occur, and Brexit will fail.

If that doesn't work, there'll be a vote of confidence - followed by her handing the lit grenade to Corbyn.

371:

You know, I've wondered for years whether CASE NIGHTMARE BURNOUT was a thing. I suppose one solution is the "Stormbringer Gambit": publish the novel that ends the universe soon, then go back and color in the steps leading up to it for the next 20 years.

In any case, I'd say from experience that it's hard to write upbeat prose when people you love pass and institutions you value are under threat. For example, I see the Deep Anthropocene as a good setting for stories, but I can't bring myself to write them yet, perhaps ever. Even though it would be a relatively benign place for humans, the ghosts of the passage to get there weigh too heavily on me to make it enjoyable.

372:

the photosynthesis tweaks: neat idea, but not a new one

At the risk dating myself {boom tish} I also got exposed to it as a postgrad. Maybe it's a perennial.

I'm actually more excepted about seabourne goop because that has temperature control, lots of area available, and new ideas spread fairly easily. If we can kick phytoplankton up a notch or two we might be able to repair the damage we've done to the sea a little faster. Ideally via some careful research and controlled experiments (I hear the Aral Sea is available) but I'm not confident we-as-a-species can do those. At all, ever.

I'm fairly confident that "land-based carefully isolated biodiesel vats" will quickly leak into the sea and horizontal gene transfer will cause all sorts of ructions. So my interest is more in parallel studies of what the new ideas will do when released into the wild. Ideally those people will be a gateway before non-biohazard experiments are performed.

373:

Re: High-rise crop gardening

Recall that some time ago you argued that just the water needed would make building such a structure difficult if not impossible/infeasible. Reality is that there are multi-story car parks* in every major city in NA esp. near airports and you don't need all that much water anyways. (Seriously - If a structure can support hundreds of cars, pretty sure it can support about 4 inches of water.)

LED lighting - it is possible to have multiple 'bulbs' (wavelengths) cycling on and off throughout the 'day/year' to best mimic the optimal light requirements.

Had been curious about playing around with the light/dark cycle and just found this article which (IMO) suggests considering yet another variable when looking for ways to improve garden production efficiency/production. To me the most relevant part of this study is that you can shorten the growing 'day' to 18 hours ... only 75% of a day. That's a massive increase in food production.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289762154_Identifying_the_optimum_light_cycle_for_lettuce_growth_in_a_plant_factory

Excerpt from Abstract:

'Two separate experiments were conducted using 'Greenwave' lettuce: the effects of the light cycle (light period/dark period = 16 h/8 h, 16 h/4 h, 16 h/2 h) and photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) levels (110 and 170 μmol m-2 s-1) were investigated. A shorter dark period was found to promote lettuce growth, and the fresh weight of lettuce grown under a 16 h/2 h light/dark cycle was about 30% higher than that of lettuce grown under a 16 h/8 h cycle. Higher PPF promoted lettuce growth, but the efficiency of its production (fresh weight/electricity consumption) declined. To investigate the physiological reaction of lettuce to dark periods and PPF, experiments under higher PPF or other light cycles are required.'

Cold temp - agree that this may be a major problem because plants set more 'seeds' if the ambient temp is lower ... an evolutionary thing so I've been told. Possible solution is to locate your garden in the basement since you're going to be using LEDs anyways.

Water and micronutrient management - there's on-going uni-based research on this including how to capture valuable nutrients out of city sewers as well as the usual: provide an adequate supply of clean drinking water.

Reducing the size of the inedible parts of a plant could also be a strategy for increasing food production efficiency.

374:

One carer can look after 2-5 people who need "full time" care while they're working, sure, but that means three shifts and you don't necessarily end up much better than 1:1 at scale

Not really. It takes more than 1:1. A lot more.

You need 4.2 people at 40 hours per week to cover 24/7. So assuming you don't need 24/7 (they do sleep) and some need less I'd still say you need at least 3 people to look after your 2-5 if you want to allow the care givers to work only 40 hours per week, eat lunch and have a week or two off every now and then. Factor in turn over and training and 3 may be really 4 or 5.

Says he who has gone through 2 elderly parents in the last few years who needed caregivers but not full time bed care. Now I'm a bit curious, one was in an "assisted" living facility for 1 1/2 years. I wonder what their total staffing is per resident? There were at least 10 to 20 different people who went through her unit in a typical week. (Wake up, here's your meds, shower time, let's go to lunch, time to clear your unit/clothes/bedding, etc...) I just don't know what the total ratios were.

375:

I'd also make waaaay more than one superclone, so that the whole effort isn't wiped out in a year by some stupid bug or fungus.

I keep seeing people here talk about how in the not too distant future animals will not be raised to be eaten but we'll be eating fake meat from slime vats. Great. Yum.

But how does anything about the worlds social and political system keep the world from merging to a single cell line which opens it up to this issue?

376:

My prediction is that we lose Florida in 2035. Just saying.

377:

I can also recommend St. John's wort. You should be able to buy it in pill form in a pharmacy. (Pay for it with cash.) The behavior is similar to Prozac, and it takes about a month for the anti-depressant effect to kick in. The really, really important thing to know is that you will spend a week being really angry as you pull out of depression; I'd guess at right around 2-3 weeks in. Don't take more than one pill per day.

378:

Err, there might be a slight problem if you're taking some other drugs, since St John's wort increases the production of some enzymes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypericum_perforatum#Pharmacokinetics

Some antihypertensives being involved is somewhat worrying.

At the risk of annoying OGH, but...

If there is a SAD component involved, I would try light therapy, about 2 hours in the morning with very bright light:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_therapy#Light_boxes

379:

I'm guessing OGH, who is a pharmacist by trade is on top of this.

380:

Now I'm a bit curious, one was in an "assisted" living facility for 1 1/2 years. I wonder what their total staffing is per resident?

Reading about that industry does not meet the "what should I be optimistic about in 2019" criteria. I don't know a non-horrible way to describe it, sorry.

.

.

.

There are regulated minimums, but they are demonstrable insufficient as well as the source of much agitation by the industry. You know how I compared it to keeping them in cages and feeding them? There is an ongoing fight by bureaucrats to interfere with the market and prevent that outcome. My family went to some lengths to ensure that my grandparents didn't experience that but it was only cheap in comparison to the cost of hiring live-in care. Which is simultaneously surprising cheap and eye-wateringly expensive (you can get away with one live in plus a day shift for non-hospital level care, which is "just" two nurse salaries plus overheads of about 30%-50%. I expected it to be 3x salary plus at least 50%).

381:

A bit of searching online for keywords like "elder abuse" "rest home problem" or "elderly care investigation" will produce results that (should) turn your stomach. Finding decent care is a tricky problem: on the one hand you want you(r relatives) to go into care while they're still aware and active enough to notice and complain about problems; but on the other hand care is expensive and just being in a care facility has a negative effect on them, so you want to put it off as long as possible.

My two grandfathers both died at the leaving home point (in the "I'll stay here until I die" sense) so we didn't have to deal with that. One with in-home care, BTW. One grandmother died during the transition. The other decided on a rest home and moved in, and was pretty happy with it. Honestly, it seemed like a great place, but it was over $NZ1000/week. For comparison a new nurse makes about that before tax.

I don't think there are good solutions to this problem, BTW, except euthanasia and that's not a solution than can be applied from outside. My choice is very much "if I can't object, kill me". But I'm never going to tell someone else that they should make the same decision. So we need to come up with ways to let/help elderly people live civilised lives.

382:

I don't know if Charlie would prefer us to have a separate thread to post our predictions for 2019, or if we can use this one?

383:

Heteromeles @ 367
“Corn” ( Maize ) is also dependant upon quite a good water-supply.
This summer, mine did not do well, in spite of the copious quantities I poured onto it.
Cassava – bleugh.

Erwin @ 370
I hope you are correct ( As per the polls today ) & we get a 2nd-Ref followed by “Remain”.
May absolutely has, unfortunately, got to spin it out, because the rabid right (Rees-Smaug) & the rabid left (Corbyn) both want to wreck the country for their own version of “profit”.

384:

I think Yuval Noah Harari in his book "Sapiens" explains he difference between ancient and modern capitalism.

The difference is that in an ancient society where there is no economic growth (the pie never gets bigger) one man can become rich only if another man starves. A very rich person would require that many men starve (or be enslaved). In such a situation being rich is inherently evil.

So yes the Romans and other ancient civilizations practiced capitalism, but not capitalism as we know it.

https://www.ynharari.com/topic/money-and-politics/

It was that people seldom wanted to extend much credit because they didn’t trust that the future would be better than the present. They generally believed that times past had been better than their own times and that the future would be worse, or at best much the same. To put that in economic terms, they believed that the total amount of wealth was limited, if not dwindling. People therefore considered it a bad bet to assume that they personally, or their kingdom, or the entire world, would be producing more wealth ten years down the line. Business looked like a zero-sum game. Of course, the profits of one particular bakery might rise, but only at the expense of the bakery next door. Venice might flourish, but only by impoverishing Genoa. The king of England might enrich himself, but only by robbing the king of France. You could cut the pie in many different ways, but it never got any bigger.

That’s why many cultures concluded that making bundles of money was sinful. As Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). If the pie is static, and I have a big part of it, then I must have taken somebody else’ slice. The rich were obliged to do penance for their evil deeds by giving some of their surplus wealth to charity.

If the global pie stayed the same size, there was no margin for credit. Credit is the difference between today’s pie and tomorrow’s pie. If the pie stays the same, why extend credit? It would be an unacceptable risk unless you believed that the baker or king asking for your money might be able to steal a slice from a competitor. So it was hard to get a loan in the pre-modern world, and when you got one it was usually small, short-term, and subject to high interest rates. Upstart entrepreneurs thus found it difficult to open new bakeries and great kings who wanted to build palaces or wage wars had no choice but to raise the necessary funds through high taxes and tariffs. That was fine for kings (as long as their subjects remained docile), but a scullery maid who had a great idea for a bakery and wanted to move up in the world generally could only dream of wealth while scrubbing down the royal kitchen’s floors.

It was lose-lose. Because credit was limited, people had trouble financing new businesses. Because there were few new businesses, the economy did not grow. Because it did not grow, people assumed it never would, and those who had capital were leery of extending credit. The expectation of stagnation fulfilled itself.

385:

Declining workforce can be compensated with increased productivity from robotics and AI.

But demand does not increase. There are only so many things a person will buy even if they have the money to do so.

How many yachts and luxury cars will people have to buy in our depopulated future to keep capitalism going?

Furthermore, the population will age before declining.

The elderly do not purchase things, they purchase services (transport, medical, restaurants, vacations, etc.).

They stop buying cars, houses, major appliances, etc.

386:

"obviously, a tenth of the amount of natural sunlight received by the planet. Total solar input to the planet is about 104 times total current human energy production"

Nope, plants need only a small part of the spectrum to grow. Which is which vertical farms use red/blue LED lights (pink). The rest of the sunlight hitting the planet is not necessary for plant growth.

https://inhabitat.com/indoor-vertical-farm-pinkhouses-grow-plants-faster-with-less-energy/

Indoor Vertical Farm ‘Pinkhouses’ Grow Plants Faster With Less Energy

A Pinkhouse is a new type of indoor farm that grows crops using pink-colored light. Rather than bathing plants with white light (which has all the colors of the spectrum), a Pinkhouse uses a mix of red and blue light. By not using all the other colors, indoor vertical farms can cut down on their power bill with low-energy LED lights that emit just the right shade of magenta.

To grow sufficient quantities of food and produce in an indoor farm, crops have to be stacked. But this also means that each shelf has to have its own light source in order for the plants to grow. All these lights add up quick and so does the power bill. A new wave of research shows that “pink” light – a mix of red and blue wavelengths is all that a plant really needs to grow. In the whole spectrum of ROYGBV, the O, Y, G and V aren’t really necessary for plant growth, just the R and B. Besides reducing the amount of power for the lights, the LED lights are cooler, which also reduces the cooling load.

Researchers at Purdue University are currently studying the use of red and blue lights on plants, but it’s already being used in a real-world indoor farm. Caliber Biotherapeutics grows plants for medicinal use and they have a 150,000 sq ft indoor farm in Texas that relies on this pink light. Stacked 50 ft tall, their indoor farming system grows 2.2 million plants with the red and blue LED lights, which was designed by EEA Consulting Engineers. “A photon is a terrible thing to waste,” says Barry Holtz, at Caliber Biotherapeutics. “So we developed these lights to correctly match the photosynthesis needs of our plants. We get almost 20 percent faster growth rate and save a lot energy.”


As for a heat sink, the opportunities available for combined heat and power (CHP) to tap into the waste heat will be too good to pass up for cities that require sources of heat for buildings.

387:

But not as far into the realm of fantasy as "safe surface-based fission nuclear plants constructed in very large numbers with 20 years".

Very difficult, but not a fantasy.

Back of the envelop calculations for the number of nukes needed (from a previous post of mine):

Amount of CO2 sent into the atmosphere by human activities
= 32,000,000,000 tons per year
Fraction retained in the atmosphere (not absorbed by existing carbon sinks)
= 43%
Annual accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere
= 13,760,000,000 tons / year

Life cycle CO2 emissions from coal power plants
= 820 g of CO2 / kWh
Life cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear power plants
= 12 g of CO2 / kWh
Life cycle CO2 reduction using nuclear power plants
= 808 g of CO2 / kWh
= 1.75 lbs of CO2 / kWh

Amount of energy to be replaced to eliminate CO2 accumulation
= 15,725,714,285,714 kWh per year
= 15,725,714,286 MWh per year
= 15,725,714 GWh per year

Power output of large nuclear power plant (example Palo Verde, 3 each 1.338 GW reactors, After a power uprate, each reactor is now able to produce 1.4 GW of electric power. The usual power production capacity is about 70 to 95 percent of this.)
= approximately 4 GW
= 35,000 GWh per year

Number of large nuclear plants required to replace coal plants emitting excess CO2
= 450 each 4 GW nuclear facilities

Capital cost of nuclear power plant (again using Palo Verde, this power plant became fully operational by 1988, and it took twelve years to build and cost about 5.9 billion dollars)
= $5,900,000,000
= conservatively double the cost to to $12 billion in today's dollars

Cost of the 450 equivalent 4 GW facilities needed to replace CO2 emissions
= 450 x $12 billion
= $5.4 trillion

World GDP (2016)
= $75.4 trillion

Summary: There are currently 467 operational nuclear power plants worldwide. We can eliminate all excess CO2 emission by adding another 450 each 4 GW plants. The cost would be about 7% of world GDP.

Annual percent of world GDP spent on the military is about 2%.

So we solve global warming by roughly doubling the number of nuclear plants worldwide. We simply cannot prevent global warming without lots of nukes. Safe, clean nukes

Other efforts (solar and wind, afforestation, carbon capture, fertilizing the oceans with irons sulfate, etc.) can help but they are not nearly as cost effective as expanding nuclear energy.

Nukes can also use off-peak KWh to electrolysize water to create enough hydrogen (without fossil fuel reformatting) to create a hydrogen fuel cell economy that avoids the chief problem with batteries as energy storage. Even the best rechargeable battery wears out over time and will no longer take a charge. Disposing of these batteries will be a major toxic waste disposal problem. So will the disposal of PVCs, which also wear out (current warranties for solar roof top arrays are 10 to 20 years).

388:

The idea of credit being linked to expected economic growth is also why the more reactionary .01% types alarm me, if they successfully convince a majority that economic gains will never be theirs, why cooperate in a charade? With any luck, the wealthy whose minds can wrap around more than acquisitiveness will lean on the reactionaries to protect their own wealth.

389:

American nursing homes fifty years ago were sometimes unspeakably horrible, what we have now is a step up. Further improvement here is unlikely, given the "Taxes & wages are theft" crowd.

390:

Re: Elder care alternatives

As per the article below, the Japanese govt has invested over $5 billion into this industry and there are signs that robots* can improve lives of the elderly ... up to a point. Not surprising since this is still relatively new tech. Support for robotics is despite/in addition to bringing in more foreign workers to help support an aging population.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-ageing-robots-widerimage/aging-japan-robots-may-have-role-in-future-of-elder-care-idUSKBN1H33AB

BTW - the robotic forms/functions include humanoid-type, e.g., exercise mannequins as well as 'pet' robots (no feeding, pet poop or dander to deal with). So - not a one-size-fits/does-all approach which makes sense to me.

While robots may not be sufficiently available/affordable or psychologically comfortable for the current generation of the elderly in the US/UK, this tech will probably be commonplace ('natural') when GenXers enter their golden years. Would make sense for Alexa to age along (transform functions/utilities) in parallel with its owner.

Has anyone looked at elder-diaper needs? One very elderly member of my family is bedridden and this paper product is a big part of in-home care. Right now the easiest and sorta-affordable option is the paper diaper. These things are way bigger than the baby diapers we used for our prog and I can't help but wonder how we're going to manage our forests and paper mills once 30%+ of the population starts needing several of these every day.

391:

I understand that for half the price of an improved F-15 E=MC2,inc. could build a full scale polywell and have a definitive answer on the technology. I believe that would be a small fraction of what DOE blew on laser implosion fusion, and it might not trigger the anti-nuke folks.

392:

I can think of some publications that would be appropriate to recycle into adult diapers...

393:

Picking up on two earlier sub-threads & combining them ...
The Beeb, tiogether with Netflix are about to launch a ( 6-part? ) series of "Good Omens", yes?
AIUI, "Netflix" is a YUGE US corp, making its money from renting out films, TV programmes etc. on demand - I have no idea whether you download a copy or you watch on-line or, or ....
OK
But, we all know the plot-line of "GO" & it involves a DEMON conspiring with an ANGEL, doesn't it. To avoid Armagoddon ( NOT a misprint ) ... & I remember a n other film I was an extra in, that was v popuilar in Europe, but only made a tiny proifit overall, because the US funnymentalists denounced it & told people to stay away. ( Much to the annoyance of all us "extras" as we were looking forward to lots more work on the sequels ) ... "The Golden Compass".
What's the odds that the same brainfucked US_christians do the same, or try to do the same, to "GO".
What are the likely outcomes, folks, or won't it matter, simply because it's Pterry & Gaiman & it will sell enormoously in Europe? Can we expect rabid denunciations from the US brainfucked, hilarious in theor insaniy, were it not for that far too many people take it seriously?

394:

You have to remember when you use words like “Rome” you are referring to a thousand years of history that ended at the very beginning of the modern age

Much of that period had significant economic expansion due to both Rome’s territorial expansion and also hundreds of years of uninterrupted relative peace, which was a huge anomaly at the time, and led to massive expansion of trade routes

If you care about how ancient economies you are better off reading “The Silk Roads” by Peter Frankopan, it’s does a far better job talking to it

Yes, there were significant differences between capitalism in the ancient world and capitalism now, (less then you probably think but still significant) but that was not what H. was asserting. He was asserting capitalism didn’t exist at all

395:
I'm guessing OGH, who is a pharmacist by trade is on top of this.

A few points to that one...

a) Charlie has mentioned in the past that he has been out of business as a pharmacist for some time. So he might not have heard about it.

b) Pharmacology (and biology-medicine-chemistry in general) is so complex that it's a given you are going to miss some detail. That's e.g. why lab meetings are important to pool knowledge. So there is a good change his doctor or pharmacist might not think about it either, double so because quite some people think herbals have no side effects (where a cynical part of me adds a quote by Gustav Kuschinsky „When it's proposed that a substance has no side effects, there is an urgent suspicion it doesn't have a mein effect either.") Where St. John's wort rendering hormonal contraceptives inactive might be one major concern in general usage, not in OGH, but I digress...

c) OGH is in a depression. I don't know about the severity and the actual symptoms, but depression can have severe effects on cognition. So a depressive might not be "on top of" anything. There is even a term for that, pseudodementia.

and, last but not least:

d) this is a blog, and OGH is not the only one reading it. And maybe some other part of the AI we call "commentariat" might find this info useful.

OK, done ranting.

396:

There is still no publication date for Good Omens the series, is there?

As for religion in series, there is another series based on a book by Neil Gaiman, "American Gods". I don't remember much problems with the Jesus, err, Jesuses, err, Jesi, err, whatever in the show, and I guess the Mexican Jesus would have this demographic foaming at the mouth, though I guess some Christians I know might find this scene somewhat fitting.

Not as, err, heartbreaking or at least weighing as the Anubis scene, maybe...

Series might be somewhat different from cinema as a market.

397:

I should be flabberghasted if he isn't - it's in the list of warnings in the packets of a huge number of drugs, and has been in the popular UK media several times. Even as a layman, I know that St John's Wort is notorious among herbal medicines for its interactions.

He is also aware of light boxes etc. As another sufferer from SAD, they help only a little - I also take vitamin D tablets, which is probably a waste of time. The ONLY solution is to go somewhere with more sun. For those people with SAD who can, now is a good time to take a train trip for a a fortnight in the south-east of Spain, though it's a two day trip from Edinburgh (so stop off in Paris). Yes, I know that flying is cheaper.

398:

The main thing, though, if you're feeling depressed and it is affecting your life, is - don't soldier on. That often doesn't end well. Seriously. [Voice o' experience.]

Depression tends to be a feedback loop. At some point, you can be incapable of taking constructive action.

399:

Re: 'The ONLY solution is to go somewhere with more sun.'

Agree! Hope to visit the Canary Islands someday. Hear that it's a popular destination among UKers. Hmm ... kinda on the cool rainy side for the next few days with the temps and sun picking up this weekend.

https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/spain/santa-cruz/ext

Or Aruba ... if you can tolerate constant dry heat mitigated a bit by a slightly cooler breeze along the beach.

400:

There will not ever be a hydrogen fuel cell anything much.

Hydrogen does not store usefully. The nice folks at Ballard have a pretty nifty fuel cell technology, well-tested and reliable, but their insistence on feeding it pure hydrogen has crippled their offerings because even using extra-nifty ultra high pressure carbon fibre tanks, you can't get hydrogen past an equivalent density to liquid hydrogen, and that's not quite 71 kg/m³. It's just not something where you can get adequate range in a mobile application. (And you still have six kinds of mischief involved with storing pure hydrogen; it walks through walls and it messes up material properties when it does so.)

Other kinds of fuel cells -- aluminium-air, methanol-air, and my bet, ammonia-air alkaline -- are all much more workable in deployable terms. (And yes the second two are functionally are using methanol and ammonia as hydrogen carriers, but the density -- 792 kg/m³ and 630 kg/m³ respectively -- means you get far more hydrogen per volume.)

In general, nuclear is good for baseload; it's not good for much else, including primary refining (e.g., iron ore to steel or limestone to concrete) and transport (even if we could propose to electrify the North American train lines, there isn't time. or enough capacity. Or...)

So I think any sensible solution will use a lot of solar PV and a lot of building redesign/rebuilding and a lot of ocean wind.

401:

Saw something floating around else-net that "Climate Grief" had made it into the DSM-V; most of the responses consisted of shouts of "fake news".

(It gives me to wonder if a whole lot of the relentless stupid is more "relentless terror of inability to cope".)

Combine that with the reactionary coup that is Brexit (I do wish there was a way to point out the end goal is not "avoid taxes", the end goal is "compel obedience") and any thinking person's going to be feeling a bit of the mope.

Cultivating detachment's blessed difficult, but it's the only thing I've found to be even slightly useful.

402:

Yes, I know about that. It's so mainstream that many if not most Chinese ebay sellers of LED emitters are now offering a colour choice of cold white, warm white and grow light. No prizes for guessing what people buy them for.

There are many such minor factors which I didn't mention; there are also many minor factors which act in the opposite sense, which I also didn't mention. They are irrelevant. Not because of cancellation, but because their effect is tiny compared with the multiple orders of magnitude improvement the idea requires to make it work.

Similarly with the heatsink. CHP schemes and the like are irrelevant, because it's not getting the heat out of the facilities that's the problem, it's getting it off the planet. If you want to add an extra energy input to the planet equivalent to a significant fraction of the total solar input, you don't just need a magic source to get it from, you need a magic sink to prevent the waste heat cooking the planet far worse than even the most fearful CO2-related predictions anticipate.

Growing plants indoors is feasible for such conditions as the customers of the Chinese LED sellers are working to, and others which share the same characteristic of very small scale. But on the scale of a replacement for the output of a tenth of the planet's surface, it's so far beyond being even remotely feasible as to be ludicrous.

403:

Tim H. @ 389: American nursing homes fifty years ago were sometimes unspeakably horrible, what we have now is a step up. Further improvement here is unlikely, given the "Taxes & wages are theft" crowd.

Nursing homes have improved slightly. They're now merely "speakably" horrible.

404:

SFReader notes: "Reducing the size of the inedible parts of a plant could also be a strategy for increasing food production efficiency."

Indeed, and the development of semi-dwarf cultivars of rice and wheat was responsible for major increases in crop yield during the green revolution. It's fairly simple thermodynamics if you don't delve into the details: energy that isn't devoted to (say) creating stalks can potentially be devoted to producing edible biomass. But the details are the problem because you hit a wall at some point: you can only decrease leaf area so far before the loss of energy-collecting surfaces starts to impact yield. And you can only decrease plant size so far before you start losing leaf area or reducing photosynthesis due to self-shading. The new rubisco hack may partially solve that problem -- or not.

Haven't had time to read the original journal manuscript, but it occurs to me you'll also have to carefully consider the impacts on plant water use, which may increase significantly. (There's no free lunch.) Accounting for those effects won't be trivial in most agricultural areas, since water resources are constrained in a growing area of the world.

Daniel Duffy summed up an interesting argument in favor of nuclear plants: "There are currently 467 operational nuclear power plants worldwide. We can eliminate all excess CO2 emission by adding another 450 each 4 GW plants."

One problem you don't seem to have considered is the amount of fuel required to power these plants. Not a criticism here, as I don't know the answer to how easy it will be to double the amount of fuel that must be provided. One of the problems with nuclear that people prefer not to mention is that for all its merits, mining the fuel isn't simple and clean. Then there's the problem that you'll need to ram through a solution for storing the spent fuel -- something the Americans, among others, haven't managed yet. Probably an easier problem to deal with than 2°C of global warming, but not something we can ignore. Oh, and decommissioning nuclear plants at their end-of-life also isn't trivial.

Charlie reported depression. At the risk of seeming patronizing, I can only second what others have said: this isn't something you can beat by "manning up" and toughing it out. Most people find some combination of talk therapy and medication necessary to beat significant depression.

405:

"Daniel Duffy summed up an interesting argument in favor of nuclear plants: "There are currently 467 operational nuclear power plants worldwide. We can eliminate all excess CO2 emission by adding another 450 each 4 GW plants.""

Yeah, that's a good summary of the argument. Nuclear currently provides 2% of our energy needs, and doubling that will solve our problems...

In other words the argument for nuclear depends on the audience being unable to do simple maths.

406:

Nursing homes for developed world citizens in developing countries are much better than domestic ones. Perhaps that represents the future (at least until the developing world catches up with us further)?

407:

Since nobody has linked it, Randall Munroe (xkcd) has what might be an attempted explanation(4 Jan 2019) related to the bits by EGA above about [Witches] and Shorting. (Explanation in second link by a SHORT WITCH.) I smiled.

408:

adding another 450 each 4 GW plants

... ie, 25% larger than the largest reactor complex in the US. Palo Verge has a current average output of about 3.3GW. It's probably more useful to think about it as number of reactors rather than number of complexes, not least because PV was going to be expanded to five reactors until it became obviously uneconomic to do that.

Hinkley C is a better example of actually building a new reactor now, because that is an actual reactor being built now. That's two, 1.6GW reactors for ~$US50 billion taking 10 years to build, with a delivered electricity price of around $100/MWh.

That doesn't change the total numbers much, though. We'd need ~600 reactors with slightly lower expected operating time (assuming no storage in the system!), so a total cost about 3x higher than DD's estimate. Which is still reasonable!

It's just that rather than being twice the capital cost of renewable energy, it's 6x the cost. And rather than selling electricity for $20/MWH and falling, it's $100/MWh and rising. Changing the demand from "less than 10 reactors this decade" to "600 reactors guaranteed in 3 decades" is going to affect the market price as everything from nuclear engineer salaries to concrete costs go through the roof. I fear the Hinkley "worst case" cost would be optimistic at that scale.

John Quiggin in Australia has done a bunch of thinking/debunking of the nuclear fantasy and there's a whole lot of details (some applicable mostly to Australia, like needing an extra plant or two to run the desalination systems to provide water, for example). Radiative cooling of big thermal generators need *huge* areas to radiate, and obviously works less well when it's hot (during the daytime).

409:

Nursing homes for developed world citizens in developing countries are much better than domestic ones.

It's all about labor costs. Taking care of elderly (or not) who need help eating, bathing, toilet issues, etc... is labor intensive. And very hard to automate.

Personally until we (USA and the rest of the planet) decide to make it a job to aspire to instead of menial labor wages those attracted to the jobs will be at the lower end of the wage scale compared to those being cared for.[1]

So yes, putting elderly care for 1st world people into 2nd and 3rd world countries can improve their care or reduce the costs or both as the wage rates there tend to be much less. Makes those holiday visits a bit harder tho.

[1] $20/hour is the going rate for much of the US for baby sitting care in your own place. Which nets down to an actual wage of $10 to $15 per hour after overhead. And if you want 24/7 that's going to cost $14K per MONTH to have people at the lower end of the skill set for shaved apes be around. Which is why you wind up with nursing homes and such. To spread out the costs.

410:

Which does rather bring us back to somewhere way up above: renewable electricity supplies keep getting cheaper and more readily available . We don't seem to have hit the flattening in the S-curve yet. So it's reasonable to plan on there being whopping amounts of it and assume that the limit will be caused by demand rather than supply.

Which is good news for all the things that *can* use electricity but currently don't - like transport.

The Chinese using megavolt HVDC is also exciting, because it trades more expense at the ends for lower cost all along the transmission line. Shipping electricity long distances is also getting cheaper. It's already at the stage where across Australia is an off the shelf project, so we really should be looking at using the solar delay to supply the east cost (ie, solar generation 3-4 hours west of demand so the supply peak better matches the demand peak).

411:

the development of semi-dwarf cultivars of rice and wheat was responsible for major increases in crop yield during the green revolution

And before. Medieval wheat was a lot shorter than ancient Egyptian wheat, for example. Farmers have been selectively breeding for increased yield for a long time, and reducing the size of parts of the plant we don't use was part of that.

you'll also have to carefully consider the impacts on plant water use, which may increase significantly

Assuming the original article is the one I referenced in #308, I didn't see them discussing water usage directly. However, as every CO2 molecule is matched by a water molecule in the photosynthesis reaction I can't see how increasing CO2 usage wouldn't increase water requirements as well.

412:

Before Britain entered the EEC it used to be considered odious to resort to an autumn budget.

It is possible to search for criminals at Westminster, though it hardly seems necessary.

413:

Nuclear currently provides 2% of our energy needs, and doubling that will solve our problems...

A number of the 400-odd reactors running today produce less than 600MW. What Daniel Duffy is suggesting is 400 "plants" consisting of 3 or 4 modern reactors each generating 1GW which would increase the amount of non-carbon nuclear generation worldwide by a factor of five or so. That's actually too little, I'd aim to provide about 25TW of nuclear generating capacity to eliminate all fossil carbon consumption for electricity generation, heating, transport etc. as well as actively decarbonising the atmosphere but that's just me since 600ppm CO2 is a bad place to be and that's where the Green revolution and gas-backstopped renewables are taking us at an accelerating pace.

The alternative to a shitload of nuclear power is a lot of renewables and lots and lots of gas-burning with a promise that twenty or thirty or fifty years from now (or maybe a bit later) renewables will provide all the energy we need, honest and we'll stop burning fossil carbon completely, promise.

The biggest worked example of renewables buildout in a developed nation, with hundreds of billions of Euros spent over the past ten years or so, is Germany. This Green spend has resulted in no noticeable decrease in the extraction and burning of lignite (brown coal) to provide expensive electrical power in that nation.

2008 -- lignite = 150.6 TWh
2018 -- lignite = 146.0 TWh


Hundreds of billions of Euros will be needed to be spent over the next decade on extra renewables to maintain their carbon emissions as they are, not reduce them since all of Germany's non-carbon nuclear power plants will be shut down by 2023. Then it will be time to spend hundreds of billions of Euros more just to replace the first tranche of renewables built out over the past ten years. If they double that spend, to a trillion Euros per decade they might actually start to replace their carbon consumption with renewables but I wouldn't hold my breath. In other news the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is on track to provide more backstop gas for Germany's Green revolution, ready to deliver as much as 55 billion cubic metres a year to Germany and other European countries for the next fifty years from Russia. It could be up and working by the end of 2019.

414:

this is a blog, and OGH is not the only one reading it. And maybe some other part of the AI we call "commentariat" might find this info useful.

Let us say that we are intimately aware of the issues of dementia, care homes, nasty people taking advantage of the old to twist their minds and the late stage affects that include aggression, and projection.

Intimately: as in directly temporally enough to consider this as a frequency of 'not possible'.

Gaslighting works incredibly well on Minds that are falling apart (c.f. Fox News).

Let us say watching a Mind twisted in that fashion, for it to scream that you're insane is not an experience that we would consider acceptable for moral entities to produce.

Let us say that we have 100% compassion for the situation and that our jokes are outrageous because of it.

It is very much like people currently re-casting / re-zoning the 'sonic attack' reports into merely being crickets (when, if you check closely, the China / Russian border similar incidents cannot possibly be that and the sound files don't match the originals). Little boys thinking they're being cute, lying and so forth.

Pro-tip: wasn't crickets. Crickets don't go wicked. As if, at this point, that Ethics was something we'd not take with a bucket of salt from any public source.


~


But well done the USA and UK for proving that you've no intentions to cease and desist. Smart move.

If you were a frog.

And we all know what happened last time someone got cute over frogs, they ended up burned.


~


Apologies to host: we tried to push some hope particles your way, but we understand our humor band is a bit tuned to the Nasties.

TL;DR

We really do not understand HSS desires for illusions / lying. Addiction?

Oh and p.s.


Scientists kill people too. Now all the heads of the agencies in the USA are women. Women =/= Feminists, Category Error.

$195,000,000 vrs $67 billion.

Better crunch those numbers, see if it's worth it.

415:

Re: ' ... you can only decrease leaf area so far before the loss of energy-collecting surfaces starts to impact yield.'

Hadn't considered this. Thanks! and would appreciate any examples of this.

Mostly think that it will take many different approaches because different plants can probably be modified economically only so many ways.

Regardless, still feel that high-rise factory style agro has to be one of the efforts even if all this does is ensure lots of salad greens because salad greens are part of a healthy diet