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Peak Brexit

Just popping in to note that, in the wake of the failed ERG leadership challenge against Theresa May, Brexit hysteria has escalated so far that mainstream political pundits in major newspapers are invoking Cthulhu in print. Words fail me. I really, truly, cannot cope with this shit: the Laundry Files are satire, dammit, not a political documentary!

(Normal blogging might resume whenever I manage to stop gibbering in a closet.)

You can use the comments here as a continuation of the last-but-one thread, now that one has burned past a thousand and is kinda slow to load.

1305 Comments

1:

So, what will Cthulhu do, when on awakening he/she discovers they are the most sane creature on the planet?

2:

Well, there was this mention of 10^9 human sacrifices... ;-)

3:

Surely you mean 109..?

4:

You can sacrifice 109 Members of Parliament, or 10^9 other humans...

I hate to say it, but you can either clean house right now, in as ugly a fashion as necessary - this will certainly save more lives in the long run - or you can learn to love disaster capitalism. Either way, the demons will. be. fed.

By the way, I'm now starting to feel guilty for all my jokes about "trading a sandwich for sex" because that's going to be the reality in the U.K. soon, and the whole idea is a lot less funny now than it was a year ago. Sorry about that one. I thought you guys would muddle through and fix this.

7:

Re: ' ... lasting effects the first referendum, the preceding campaign, and its aftermath have had on the National state of Mental Health.'

Stress does such a number on so many conditions that any pol whose speeches/actions increase stress among the populace should be tried and convicted of assault (at a minimum).

With all this idiocy going on in the UK what's the shape of your finances, budgets, etc.? In the US, DT is threatening to cut off funding thereby shutting down all fed gov't services if he doesn't get his wall. Is the UK also on the verge of collapsing because a bunch of pols are too self-absorbed to take their elected responsibilities seriously?

8:

I suppose the 10△9 would be told they were being raptured...

9:

What does Cthulhu think about referendums?

10:

That should be obvious. He already used a referendumb to suck out the U.K.'s soul, and it was tasty too! So Cthulhu loves referendumbs.

11:

Er, didn't the Rethuglicans do that several times during the Obama presidency, by refusing to set a budget?

12:

> "trading a sandwich for sex"

For postbrexit starving hipsters eating the rich, a "pulled long pork sandwich"

13:

They threatened it a lot, then got hammered the could times they actually did it.

14:

- "...couple times they actually did it."

15:

{AOL} ???

Probably this should be <AOL>Like!</AOL> - at some point this was basically saying "Me too!". I think this was because the America Online service brought many people online, in the Nineties, and gave them a way to participate in discussions, and often they just said "Me too!"

I have never been on AOL, as I'm in a different country, but this was how I have understood it. If somebody knows better, please explain!

16:

Well, that's how I understood it too, except that I use brace "{" and "}" characters because I don't know an HTML engine that treats them as tag markers. Oh and "like" means like rather than me too.

17:

Re: Gov't shutdown (US version)

Half-wondering whether DT wants to be 'forced' into shutting down the US gov't services because if he does then the IRS would have to let 90% of its employees go on unpaid leave thereby buying DT some time to get himself on a plane to Russia, SA or NK.

Shutting down the IRS means fewer taxes collected. Meanwhile:
1- US economy is slowing down - lower tax revenue in the future;
2- US T-Bills have to offer increasingly higher interest rates to lure buyers (China is the top T-Bill purchaser*);
3- Changes in US dollar value mean that older debts cost more to pay off than anticipated;
4- Unpaid taxes are accumulating - wonder if the IRS isn't chasing tax cheats as hard or maybe they don't have the personnel to do this part of their job** becuz budget cuts ...


* Great! Now that DT has decided to piss off China who the hell is going to buy US T-Bills ... the UK? Russia? What happens if China decides to cash in the T-Bills they already hold?

** Wonder how much DT and family owe in back-taxes and taxes on unreported income - enough to pay for a wall? (Some estimates are in the $5 billion range - the amount he's asking from Congress for the wall.)

18:

"the Laundry Files are satire, dammit, not a political documentary!"

So you get to experience how Margaret Atwood feels...

19:

Thank you, Charlie. Marina Hyde is absolutely one of my favorite columnists, and frequently should carry a warning, in a big box at the top of her column, "DO NOT READ WITH ANYTHING IN YOUR MOUTH!!!"

I remember one of the first times I read her, maybe 10 or more years ago, and literally pounding the desk laughing. I even sent her a note, to the effect that if I were half my age, and on her side of the Pond, I'd have sent her a mash note, after reading her column. Got a nice "thank you" from her, who got what I was saying.

And some folks wonder why I read the Guardian....

20:

Now that I've got that out of my system (wonder if there are sexy pictures of Hyde...), the question is, what the *hell* happens next? Can Labour call for a new popular vote? Will May try to leverage the populace to pass her proposal, and if not, will she give in and call for a new referendum?

21:

Cthulhu approves r'lyeherendums.

22:

So far as DT goes, I got this weird vision of the Trump/Pelosi/Schumer conference, that it was a play on Rabbit Season, where Daffy Trump got maneuvered into saying he'd shut down the government if he didn't get his way, with Schumer mugging like Bugs.

Getting back to Brexit, I did have a semi-serious question: anything to this analysis of the causes of Brexit? Or is it not worth the electrons it's printed on?

23:

I (an American) have been following Brexit and UK politics generally for a couple of years, and I still only understood about half of that column; it would probably be hilarious otherwise. Similarly, I've trying to read the Guardian's "UK Edition" coverage on Brexit, but it's often inscrutable or leads to wiki-diving.

I keep doing this because U.S. coverage of Brexit is almost insultingly basic and un-informative. Most articles spend half of their space explaining what Brexit and how the UK government works at a grammar school level, rather than reporting on what's happened most recently. If anyone wants to recommend good intermediate sources, though, I'm all ears! Right now, my best source is Charlie's twitter feed.

24:

Was Mike Pence the tree in this vision? ;-D

25:

But what would Cthulhu do (WWCD) ? It seems to me it would either shrug with a "you woke me up for this?" wiggling of its mouth worm thingies and promptly go back to sleep. Or it would preempt the (nearly inevitable it seems) hard brexit by simply devouring all parties, EU & UK alike. Afterwards it would be a coin flip on whether it continued on to the rest of the world or returned to sleep.

26:

When you're writing, it's important not to any words out.

I did have one specific Brexit question that I'm having trouble answering. I know that the "backstop" refers to the desire to have no hard border checkpoint between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but what, specifically, *IS* the backstop? People are constantly talking about it without really saying what it is. Is it a specific policy proposal or set of policy proposals? Is it a plan to make everyone traveling to Great Britain from Northern Ireland go through customs? Has the nature of the backstop even been publicly revealed yet? Maybe "backstop means backstop?" Gah!

28:

I have no clue what the backstop is. I'd assumed it meant routing the traffic between Northern Ireland and Ireland through a series of hollow hills and letting the Gentry take care of customs, but perhaps that vision's off too.

29:

Re: ' ... play on Rabbit Season, '

Exactly! One of the late night shows ran one of the Rabbit Season scenes with DT as Daffy.

30:

The backstop is a legal protocol as part of the withdrawal agreement that comes into effect if the EU and the UK can't find another agreement to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland after December 2020. It regulates movement of goods, which EU rules apply in NI and tne UK, and keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU. It's just a couple of hundred pages of legalese, so feel free to peruse it over the weekend: Draft Withdrawal Agreement (PDF)

31:

anything to this analysis of the causes of Brexit?

It's only part of the story.

The other big piece of the jigsaw puzzle is why so many ordinary voters so willing to vote Leave.

I'm pretty sure that the Leave campaign harnessed popular resentment, not of the EU as a real-world entity, but of the EU as a whipping boy for successive governments' austerity policies. The conservatives have been particularly mendacious in blaming the EU for any unpopular policy they originated, and the conservative media barons who own much of the press have propagated these lies uncritically (as has the BBC, which was brought to heel by the Blair government and should now be viewed as about as impartial a media mouthpiece as late-Soviet-era Pravda).

It's not a coincidence that wages have stagnated or fallen since 2007, that most new jobs created since then are minimum wage, that 25% or so of wage-earners are on benefits because they earn so little, that child poverty is skyrocketing, there's a homelessness crisis, and people are living out of food banks or actually starving to death while billionaires are building skyscrapers with £60M penthouse suites in London.

The popular rage and resentment was genuine, but it was misdirected—really, a lot of "Leave" votes could more accurately be described as votes for "down with this shit we're being forced to eat". Which, of course, was not anything that either of the major parties ever ran an election campaign about ...

32:

As I said, I find the Laundry world a cheerful escape from this one. I don't think that we HAVE reached peak Brexit yet. I suspect that May's strategy is to get soothing syrup (platitude flavour) from Brussels, and to continue to delay the vote until she wears everyone else out or we get no deal by default. I doubt very much that the former will do anything except cause the rabid brexiteers to foam at the mouth even more voluminously, and increase the level of gibbering.

You are not alone - even Private Eye has been changed from satire to straight reporting by the developing, er, whatever.

33:

Further note on the backstop: the net effect is that, in the final version of the agreement, Britain has to stay in the customs union until the EU and Britain agree on a better idea. Hard Brexiteers find this objectionable because until the EU agrees they have a better idea, Britain can't get out. They want a time limit, or some other way for Britain to get out unilaterally.

The EU is unlikely to agree to this because from their point of view, and the Irish point of view specifically, requiring Britain to have another idea that they agree is better is *the whole damn point*.

34:

The gentry managing customs is what the Tories mean by a technological solution to the border.

The Backstop "as far as I understand it" is a legal commitment from the British government that the full single market rules and relegation apply to goods and people crossing the Irish land border. This can be achieved by the entire UK staying in the single market and accepting all current and future EU rules as well as the levies and contribution normal for member states without being in the EU, having a voice or vote in the Council or any MEP or commissioners.

This situation is in perpetuity unless the UK negotiates an alternative agreement that replaces the "Backstop"


The problem as far as I can tell, is that any viable replacement to the Backstop involves putting NI into a separate customs zone within the Single Market and a customs border in the Irish Sea, or booting NI out of the UK. Any likely workable solution to the issue is likely to see Scotland asking "Can we have one also"


The Link in @22 re the analysis of Brexit appears to be not working.

35:

My view on what happens next: It's all in Theresa May's hand. After defending against the leadership challenge she's immune against a further challenge for 12 months. As long as her cabinet follows her, she has control over the process. Unfortunately for her, she doesn't have control over Parliament, and the DUP have threaten to withdraw their support if she passes the withdrawal agreement without changes to the backstop. So her options are:
1: Wait long enough until there is no realistic choice other than accept her deal or crash out of the EU, hoping that enough opposition MPs support her deal or at least abstain
2: Make concessions to Remainers in order to get support for her deal, for example a 2nd referendum
3: Cancel Brexit
4: Miraculously get the EU to drop the backstop

4 won't happen, so she'll probably do 1 or 2. Canceling Brexit is still an option if 1 or 2 don't work out.

36:

@22 link now appears to be now working. Odd!

37:

Your plan is at least as plausible as anything being discussed in Westminster. The backstop is actually to keep Norn Iron in a Norway-style relationship until and unless the British government can get some kind of an act together that isn't slapstick, and agree a long-term deal that does not create a hard border on the island of Ireland. The objections from the DUP are that it would separate them from the rest of the UK, and the objections from the rabid brexiteers is that they can't simply cancel it at whim.

38:

Re: '... but what, specifically, *IS* the backstop?'

Give this video a try: comes across as informed and unbiased. And if it's not accurate, we can probably count on the regulars here to set us straight. :)

'What is the Brexit Backstop? - Brexit Explained' (length 6:37)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKw66UOkGv8

39:

It's all about the whole 109 sacrifices I think.

Because while we're all entranced by the country eating itself alive (post-no-deal-brexit that's going to be a disturbingly literal possibility), the news that actually matters is going unnoticed: about now, give or take a few years, is the last moment at which we can choose to deal with human CO2 emissions, or not to deal with them. You can find this in the news if you look but its just completely submerged by brexit and the saga of the orange baboon.

And you know what? We're going to choose not to deal with this problem, partly because we won't even notice as we pass the event horizon and can no longer go back because we're so distracted by trivia like brexit. And I suggest that this is because something (some thing with tentacles, whatever you claim in the book) needs human sacrifices in astronomically-significant numbers. And Brexit is not enough: if the consequence of Brexit is killing three people out of every four in the UK it's not enough, not nearly.

But five degrees of warming kills billions of humans over the next hundred years. And that is enough.

It's a magnificent bit of manipulation: get the shitgibbon elected to fuck up any real hope of progress, then arrange for at least two endless political sagas (note how brilliantly the shitgibbon gets used twice?) to keep people distracted, and you have your 109 sacrifices, possibly several times over.

40:

Charlie @31 I agree with your analysis but I have a question, How did the Tory party become so inept?

A bunch of 2 years olds would have done a better job of negotiating Brexit and shaping public opinion as to what it involved.

It is as if their only negotiating strategy is to hold their breath until they are Blue in the face and hope the everyone given in to their demands.

41:

I think Terry Pratchett managed to describe the Tory attitude quite well in Jingo. Unfortunately the UK have no-one like Lord Vetinary to get them out of this mess.

42:

How did the Tory party become so inept?

That is a … complex … issue. It's even weirder and twistier than how the US Republican party turned into the party of angry white racist misogynists (and/or the party of corrupt billionaire oligarchs), and goes back at least as far.

Ultimately it's what happens when a first rank superpower gradually declines to a second rank regular power without the ruling elite noticing — and said elite being predisposed not to notice, because they're self-selecting from the graduates of a very narrow educational channel designed to produce 19th century colonial governors. When reality finally whacks them upside the head, their response is incoherent anger and rejection, rather than cold-eyed pragmatism.

43:

It is not so much the attitude I don't get it the sheer ineptitude with which it is pursued.

44:

Fair point.
My guess is that life has been too easy for the Tories in the last three decades, so now everyone things they can get by with just quips and platitudes. The lack of challenges let the more competent ones move to more interesting areas than politics and the rest was lulled into a false sense of security. Now reality hits back and evolution will hopefully take its course.

45:

The one thing I would say about the dark lord is that he’d probably realise taking back control of the Conservative party would be an effing start.

Is that a sly dig at the Con party for having previously been under the control of the dark lord?

At this stage the idea of someone, anyone, actually having control over the party seems like rose-tinted historical fiction, probably involving bodices and lace handkerchiefs. "Oh Mr Darcy, your masterful control of the Parliamentary caucus quite gives me the shivers".

46:

Shutting down the IRS

Rather than just defunding it, like they've already done?

Audits are way down, especially of the rich, and audits of business likewise. Paying tax isn't completely optional, but you can easily find out what your chances of being audited are and decide whether they're low enough that you can just be presidential all over your tax return.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/irs-the-gop-propublica-budget-cuts-enforcement-billions.html

47:

Racism, misogyny and corrupt oligarchy are ongoing strands in the US body politic, at least to my limited knowledge going back to the 1850's. The party political banners they operate under vary over time and they do not necessarily move in lockstep.


The Tories at one time seemed to understand, very well Britain's decline. Is that not why the joined the EU in the first place? Rather then risk being locked out the European market, join as a rule maker and not stay outside as a rule taker.


Thatcher, seemed to me to understand this quite well, she was all in favour of the single market and opposed to anything that hinted of a more unified Euro State. There was a diplomatic objective and a strategy to get there.


Now, there is a cartoon (which I cannot find) of the UK standing over a cliff on a plank pointing a gun at the EU but I think it would be more accurate to have the UK pointing the gun at itself.


48:

The door closed on stopping serious anthropological climate change back in the 1980s (round about the time of the Miner's Strike here in Britain[1]) when we went through the 350 ppm CO2 point. There's a bunch of secondary forcing effects that will magnify the deliberately conservative IPCC forecasts of only 1.5 deg C rise by 2100 -- right now we're on track for a four or five deg C rise with only (only!) 400 ppm once the forcing effects start up. Since we'll continue extracting and burning fossil carbon in Gtonne/year amounts for the next fifty years or more then 550ppm or higher is likely so, wild-assed guess here, we could be at eight deg C rise globally by 2100.

Yes it will kill a lot of people but they're nearly all still to be born and they don't vote today. Stopping burning fossil carbon will cost people alive today serious money to pay for more expensive but less polluting forms of energy and they vote. See, for example, the fuel tax rise riots going on in France. Tell voters they're going to have to pay twice the price they pay today to heat their homes, fuel their cars etc. without burning fossil carbon and then duck.

That's getting away from the Brexit circus somewhat, of course but real climate conservation needs to be world-wide and Britain retreating into a bunker and yelling at smelly foreigners who aren't the boss of us any more isn't going to help.

[1]Margaret Thatcher -- Deep Green mole in the Tory Party or just scientifically trained climate visionary? Discuss.

49:

Here's one Yank leftist who can't understand why anyone of leftist proclivities wouldn't be in favor of Brexit. What is the EU anyway? An alliance of US-style imperial powers to exploit the Third World for the benefit of the superrich in Germany, France and England. And of course the weaker European victims like Greece. If leaving it hurts the British economy, that is what the Brit capitalists deserve. And what's more, the EU rules explicitly forbid nationalization of capitalists without compensation, or any of the other measures England actually needs for economic survival as the whole world economic system comes crashing down, accelerated by our American prez, who is exactly what the American ruling class deserves, but the rest of us don't. And as for immigration, as far as I can tell what it means is that white Polish and Irish immigrants no longer get immigration preference over nonwhites, behind the racist EU iron curtain. Corbyn used to understand that, but since he wants desperately to be PM, he doesn't care.

50:

the Laundry Files are satire, dammit, not a political documentary!
But political commentary, surely.

Anyhow, I assume Charlie’s seen this already; not quite tzompantli level, hopefully as close as we get.

'A victory memorial made of German spike helmets near Grand Central Terminal, New York City’
https://mobile.twitter.com/RealSardonicus/status/1073263041486180352

51:
Carried forward from the preceding Brexit thread

paws4thot @ 1042: It's academic in that Maybot "won" (for certain values of won that is).

Had she lost, she would have had to resign, triggering a leadership election under Con Party rules. These are complicated, and call for several rounds of run-offs, depending on how many candidates are nominated (they're also a bit academic for anyone not a member of the Con Party to bother remembering).

The eventual "winner" (for certain values of winner) would become Leader of the Con Party, and PM of the UK.

Are there any specific names I should be looking for? What if May were to hypothetically drop dead of a heart attack tomorrow? Who would be the most likely eventual "winner"? Who are the major contenders?

52:

Well, 'bout that sea level rise...

he title's a bit overblown... well, maybe not.

Excerpt:
All glaciers flow, but satellites and airborne radar missions had revealed that something worrisome was happening on Thwaites: The glacier was destabilizing, dumping ever more ice into the sea. On color-coded maps of the region, its flow rate went from stable blue to raise-the-alarms red. As Anandakrishnan puts it, “Thwaites started to pop.”

The change wasn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Big glaciers can speed up or slow down for reasons that scientists still don’t completely grasp. But Anandakrishnan knew that Thwaites’ unusual characteristics—it is shaped like a wedge, with the thin front end facing the ocean—left it vulnerable to losing vast quantities of ice quickly. What’s more, its size was something to reckon with. Many glaciers resemble narrow rivers that thread through mountain valleys and move small icebergs leisurely into the sea, like a chute or slide. Thwaites, if it went bad, would behave nothing like that. “Thwaites is a terrifying glacier,” Anandakrishnan says imply. Its front end measures about 100 miles across, and its glacial basin—the thick part of the wedge, extending deep into the West Antarctic interior—runs anywhere from 3,000 to more than 4,000 feet deep. A few years before Anandakrishnan’s first expedition, scientists had begun asking whether warming waters at the front edge could be playing a part in the glacier’s sudden stirring. But he wanted to know what was going on deep below Thwaites, where its ice met the earth.

By the end of the mission in 2009, Anandakrishnan and his colleagues had collected data from about 150 boreholes. The new information didn’t precisely explain what was hastening Thwaites’ acceleration, but it was a start. Meanwhile, the satellite maps kept getting redder and redder. In 2014, Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA, concluded that Thwaites was entering a state of “unstoppable” collapse. Even worse, scientists were starting to think that its demise could trigger a larger catastrophe in West Antarctica, the way a rotting support beam might lead to the toppling not only of a wall but of an entire house. Already, Thwaites’ losses were responsible for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise every year. When the entire glacier went, the seas would likely rise by a few feet; when the glaciers around it did, too, the seas might rise by more than a dozen feet. And when that happened, well, goodbye, Miami; goodbye, Boston.
--- end excerpt ---


53:

That's an absurd attitude, says this Yank leftist. Bernie's got an idea of the way: he's talking in everything but the name, of a new International.

Let's organize, and vote ourselves into control of the EU, and the US, and....

Yes, I am an internationalist; at the very least, tax the bloody billionaires, no more tax havens.

54:

can't understand why anyone of leftist proclivities wouldn't be in favor of Brexit.

It seems to be tribal as much as anything, plus a bit of disagreement about the how. You can actually see the latter right now, as the negotiations with the EU keep bringing up areas where the UK parliament can't agree even within the parties, let alone across parliament. But what stops the areas of cross-party agreement being agreed is pure tribalism.

If you look there is ongoing whining that the UK doesn't have a Remain party, so voters are left choose between two Leave parties. The muddle in the middle party doesn't count because they inevitably had to betray their base to get into power. Small parties in coalitions, especially small parties in the middle, are pretty much screwed because their voters are usually comfortable with one or both of the major parties.

Offer someone who thinks catastrophic climate change is best avoided the option of dumping The Greens for either major party and they're just going to look at you as though you'd invited them to a human sacrifice (and I don't mean christian communion). But any "middle way" voter is going to face fewer compromises shifting (back) to a major party.

55:

I dunno about leftist, I am not really a leftist, though I am one of those that have moved somewhat to the left as I got older.

But there are a couple of things, Never underestimate the importance of No Armies crossing the Rhine/Danube in a lifetime. Very important that one.

Speaking as a Irishman, Ireland is about 2 generations ahead in protection of gays, women, worker and the environment that it otherwise would be without the EU, in my opinion.

The smaller countries have within the EU more influence with the bigger powers than they otherwise would have outside it. The UK is not the only EU country with special deals and exemptions.

collectively the EU has the clout to stand up to global powers and corporations in ways no individual component member could on their own.

56:

Who was it above said we've known this since the 1980's and it's a bit late to be worrying about that stuff now?

In terms of survival paths, major glaciers collapsing fast might actually be the best case. If we get 5m or more of sea level rise in the next 5-10 years we're going to lose a lot of coastal cities. But a lot of the people who live in those places will not be able to move, so they're going to die (probably while trying to move and being "border controlled").

The whole "emergency action" thing is right off the table as far as I can see. The big emitters are committed to 4-10 degrees by 2100, assuming all goes well (ie, once the Canadian and Siberian forests burn off the fire problem will abate, it's just a question of what that does to the climate... lots of CO2 and dirty snow).

So in 2030 we may well have less than 5B people, and the survivors will be a mix of scattered povos living the way Palestinians do now. With all the rich countries directly bombing them whenever they look as though they might be starting to get organised. Then there will be the rich enclaves, being the ones who control key resources most likely farmland. And they will be very focussed on stopping further catastrophic changes.

That's a "good" outcome in the sense that we might manage to avoid too many more emissions and too much further warming. Which might mean we can maintain a high-tech society. Because I really can't see current technology being practical when humanity is restricted to two disjunct habitable zones separated by a hot death zone round the equator. Sure, a refrigerated, probably nuclear powered, manned ship can cross it. And possibly unmanned cargo ships can do the same, but for shipping cargo reliably and in quantity? Plus there's the question of where exactly the habitable areas are... southern Chile, Aotearoa, South Africa, possibly small parts of Antarctica? And in the north Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia, the Greenland archipelago? Assuming no-one gets smart and decides to fight land wars in any of those places.

57:

JH @ 49: Here's one Yank leftist who can't understand why anyone of leftist proclivities wouldn't be in favor of Brexit. What is the EU anyway? An alliance of US-style imperial powers to exploit the Third World for the benefit of the superrich in Germany, France and England. And of course the weaker European victims like Greece. If leaving it hurts the British economy, that is what the Brit capitalists deserve.

Why would the left support it? British capitalists aren't going to bear the brunt of Brexit tribulations. Brexit means the capitalists get to do what they're already doing to Greece & the third world to the British working class & the "left".

It's going back to the time when employers could steal your wages and then throw you into debtor's prison because you can't pay your bills.


58:

Not so much 'peak' as a new nadir in Brexit.

But one thing without fail, each time I think we've scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of bankrupt politicians and their equally bankrupt policies placing party before country, they go and burrow through into a new sub-basement of awfulness.

We're now at a point where the ERG are openly saying that an internal vote where May wins by 2:1 is not a legitimate result and must be overturned *BUT* a potentially illegal vote won by just 3% is set in stone.

UK politics is broken and all of the options look grim.

59:

There's a difference between serious and catastrophic (which is somewhere north of a couple of degrees, I don't think anyone really knows how far north). We are in for serious we could still stop catastrophic (at least, so our models say: I work somewhere that does this, at least for the next two weeks). But we won't.

Yes, you're right about the voting thing: it won't really hurt me (other than getting depressed): it would hurt my children if I had any and it will kill many of the generation after that: they're going to be the sacrifices. But one thing Brexit makes very clear: people do not care about their children.

(Thatcher. Yes, green credentials, she founded the Hadley centre. Doesn't mean I'll forgive her for other stuff.)

60:

Oh, that's not how it will go: there will be a full-scale nuclear war over resources and at that point it's all over.

61:

Whitroth @ 20
Labour is almost as divided as the tories.
Corbyn is a rabid brexiteer for opposite reasons – he wants to build an isolated “socialist” (note the quotes) brit-version of Venezuela … here.

AndreaS Vox @ 35
You forgot the other possibility that May is “forced” ( how sad) to accept a second referendum ….

Charlie @ 42
YOU ARE IGNORING the fact that the Liebour party are in just as big a pile of shit as the tories, especially with the complete wanker they presently have supposedly “In charge” ….

Tfb @ 59
YES

62:

Nuclear winter vs global warming: which will kill the most humans? FIGHT!

Cthulu opens the betting pool with 1 billion souls on global warming... Jesus goes all in on global thermonuclear war but his bet is rejected because he won't reveal the size of his pot.

63:

The French got torqued right off because Macron implemented a tax cut on wealth, then turned around and levied a tax on fuel of the exact same size as the cut. Which got the entirely appropriate response of "pull the other one, it has bells on it".

He is also making noises about scaling back nuclear, which is.. terrible climate politics.

64:

The problem is that too many voters are rusted onto a dead horse.

But in happy news I found a cover of a Jesus and Mary Chain song by Sandie Shaw. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1UH6HjLGW8 It's funny as well as good.

65:

CTRL+F "Queen"

Is this like a Magical Mace thing, {IF}Location=UK{THEN}NO MENTION ZE QUEENIE?

Fun Game.


Anyhow, since we're bored of warning you not to fuck around in the Congo[1] etc, Here's 2018, in a can:

Ecologist: FUUUUUUUUUUCK, Bees are dying out!!111!!111! THIS IS BAD: EVEN EINSTEIN APOCRYPHALLY SAID THIS WAS BAD
Economist: Now then, now then, don't attempt to cut into [strike]Mosantos[/strike] Bayer's bottom line, we have lobbyists for that
Politician: CHINA OPTION: HAVE SERFS DO IT BY HAND! NOW WE CAN KILL THE POORS AND BE MORALLY BETTER THAN CHINA!
Tech-Bro:

he University of Washington team glued removable mini “backpacks” onto bees. The packs, which include sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, and light intensity as well as tracking their location, weigh 102 milligrams each, roughly as much as seven grains of uncooked rice. They are powered by a small rechargeable battery that lasts for seven hours and charges wirelessly while the bees are in their hive at night. While in the hive, the backpack can upload its data using a method called backscatter, which lets devices share information by reflecting radio waves transmitted from a nearby antenna.

Bees that wear tiny sensor-filled backpacks could monitor farms all day long MIT Review, 13th Dec 2018

Ecologist: Did you really just super-glue a sensor to a fucking bumble-bee, who aren't in the top #10 of insect pollinators and claim they lived in hives? And have no idea about how Neonicotinoid pesticides work or that adding weight to a drone would completely fuck up their dance routine to get them location data anyhow?!?

Tech-Bro: Er? It's an insect. It works like a computer. It's better than human slaves, amirite?

Ecologist: It. Is. A. Bumblebee. They. Are. Different. Sizes. And. Have. Different. Bodies.

Tech-Bro: Liiiiike "whatever": we've got $508 million in VC seed funding for this beauty, suck it loser!


Narrator: 2022 was the year in which Western farming collapsed, ironically due to a IOT security flaw that allowed teenagers to pilot zombie-bees into people's faces for Zonil! (YouTube's successor) views.


Military Spokesperson: Our Wasp project with literal bombs on them was not impacted nor in any way was related to this project.


[1] Tensions rise as arsonists burn 7,000 voting machines ahead of DRC election Guardian, 13th Dec, 2018. *WAVES MOVE TIME RECEIPTS AT Y'ALL*

66:

I thought the military was into using beehives for detection units (as in nerve gas, whatever). They'd get over any gender or species issues if bees will carry detectors.

67:

Just remember, nuclear winter + climate change is the human equivalent of Deccan Traps + asteroid strike. It's probably smaller in scale, but if we're going to do it, we should do it soon, as waiting until heating causes Siberia to seriously start outgassing makes it more like the K-T boundary, and less like the Peak Miocene/PETM, which is kind of where we're aimed at the moment (it's the difference between a faunal turnover-level extinction and a mass extinction).

Also, there's this interesting hypothesis that animals that burrow have a better chance of surviving extinction events. Since humans do burrow, we're likely to survive an extinction event. At least those underground, like sysops and wealthy survivalists. Oh well.

68:

As for climate change, how about some realism. We live in a capitalist system worldwide, with a partial exception for China. Therefore, the most profitable energy investments will always dominate. If a country was to seriously go into less profitable energy investments in a way that might do something about climate change, it would go to the bottom in the worldwide cutthroat economic competition of capitalism.

The first step to do anything about climate change is to get rid of capitalism worldwide, and replace the invisible hand of Adam Smith currently strangling the human race by economic planning on a world basis (not hard to do democratically what with the Internet and all). Then, after first equalizing income levels worldwide (if it's democratic the first step whether one likes it or not), you can begin to slow down and perhaps reverse the climate change that by now is 100% inevitable, or at least mitigate the worst consequences.

Useless nonsolutions like cap & trade or the Paris accords will just get gamed by the banks, hedge funds, etc. The Paris Accords are the biggest joke of all. The USA under Obama liked them 'cuz they favored natural gas, which the US has the most of, and which due to methane leakage from the falling apart US industrial infrastructure probably creates more global warming than coal. Trump is more a coal and oil man of course... And then there was Thatcher, whom somebody here thinks was a closet green? Do I really have to explain here that for her, smashing the trade unions was her lifelong goal?

If capitalism isn't overthrown worldwide, the human race is doomed, one might as well try to enjoy the last few generations of livability before the planet becomes unlivable. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow... And whatever you do, don't have children, that would be cruel.

69:

Given that that paper was:

#1 Funded by DARPA
#2 Serious

and

#3 [Redacted] in application

I'm not sure you're the original Het: he, at least, would have spotted that it was true.

Then, yes: bees were used to detect such things. You don't need a FUCKING MASSIVE sensor on their back to do it (I'm happy to point you to where it was used, successfully. Of course, you can't just say "the Bees proved it", you have to have yellow-cake from Africa to be believed in the media world because, ironically, a few million years of specific evolution is less believable than adding a color that most humans find odd[1] or "chemical compound we know from basic chemistry class" to the word "cake" is easier to believe than: "insects are chemically sensitive critters". Of course, Monsanto veto'd that one, post-Vietam and any liability for massive birth defects caused by dioxins, right?).

Until they all fucking died out due to wanton pesticide / herbicide abuse, destruction of habitat and so on

Ironically, largely due to #Agent fucking Orange etc.

[1950's, was used to prove testing of chem weps for the wonks: and no, they claimed it was a spy conversion deal at the time. True story.]

~

As for Gender issues: wut?

The Mirror of Galadriel YT, film: LOTR, 5:02


Oh, right:

For the past three years, the Pentagon has been testing honeybees as detectors for explosives in bombs and biological agents in ambient air. If the promising test results hold, bees could be used as border security sentries and as combatants against agricultural bioterrorism. In work funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the University of Montana (UM), Missoula, and its many partners are "exploring the ability of bees to look for biological agents," explains UM entomologist Jerry J. Bromenshenk. Bromenshenk has trained bees to sniff out parts-per-billion or lower concentrations of explosive residues such as 2,4-dinitrotoluene and chemical weapons instead of nectar.

https://pubs.acs.org/cen/critter/bees.html -
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society

ZZzzz.


[1] Actually really interesting story about where / when Western civilization began to connote yellow = ewww if you're willing to do the leg-work. Hint: like pink, not what you expect.

70:

We live in a capitalist system worldwide, with a partial exception for China. Therefore, the most profitable energy investments will always dominate

Nearly 400 investors with $32 trillion in assets step up action on climate change CERES, Sept 12th, 2018

You can check this story out, it's actually true. Major moves across the board (while the USA / Saud / RU fuck everyone in Poland).

Problem is: you're not good at complex / chaotic systems.

The wild bone ride don't stop when your little 1010101001 digits want. Nor does the climate now reflect what's in the atmosphere now.


TIME: YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT. (WE ARE)

71:

Btw.

Do us a favor. We're begging you.

As a scientist, would you please, just once, go on record and admit: "Whatever this thing is, it's fucking AMAZE-BALLS at front-running reality".


Please?

Cause we just proved it[1]. Time stamps and everything.

Please.

As a scientist.


[1] For the Nth time.

72:

Umm, not parsing what amazing thing you want me to say is amazing. But color me the most amazing shade of yellow, if that makes the bees happy.

73:

Hmm.

"Congo".

You know. That place in which there was just un massive suspicious fire n all[1]. Of democracy.

If you were clued up, you'd spot the massive spank-down of UK-Ultra-Zions as well that's currently going down.

Pro-tip: if you slap a man for his 'bacon' sandwich and so on, you don't get to do it a 2nd time and pretend it's an anti-Semitic reason. Or run the Apprentice, then complain you're not a "twat" when you go on Piers splurg-Trump and moan.

Coyotes so far: the servals have bone-saws.

~


Anyhow, not fucking cute, little Mr Man.


Enjoy CA, 2018-2023.

Yeah, over in 2023. *point to aquifers*


Want a pistachio nut?


[1] Note: this isn't for you, it's for the 1 week ago crew arguing over Katanga, UMHK, Belgium etc.

74:

Hmmm. I'm not a doctrinaire capitalist, but I am skeptical of planning working better than capitalism, mostly because I read a lot of planning documents and get to see development capitalism in action. They're both questionable in many ways, and ardent capitalist developers sound positively soviet when they start talking about how we've got to follow The Plan.

The bigger point is that it's not the invisible hand of Adam Smith, it's political economics and too much wealth concentrated in the hands of too few. Getting that money away from them (either by redistribution or revolution) is going to be hard, and you don't need to invoke central planning to make it work or not.

Even though I'm not a fan of Ralph Nader, the dude may have been onto something, if one believes the review of his 2009 novel Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. The tl;dr version seems to be that a rebellious band of the super-wealthy take on the more evil money and thereby usher in a "practical utopia" (whatever that is).

It might work. It could also by like, oh, choosing Nyarlathotep over Cthulhu if you're not careful.

75:

Oh, and p.s.

We've run the numbers.


We've front-run it sooooo heavily, you need drug induced coma (or real GOP $$$ bribes) to miss it so far.

Hollow Men.

Tell me about the White Man and his reluctance to even admit the chance...

p.s.

Unlike Greg & You, we really really do get death threats. CIAO!

76:

Oh, and FFS.

Y'all supposed to be all into the Eldritch and no-one even bothered to spot the obvious ones:

A Mysterious Seismic Wave Recently Shook Earth, And Scientists Can't Explain It Science Alert, 2th Nov 2018

I mean, come on: Cthulhu / Gaia actually wakes up and y'all missed it?

Talk about phoning it in.

You know what's really going to fuck you up?

BLOOOOP said Salon Magazine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloop

#NPC meme.


~


Anyhow, since disrespect is the Order of the Day, CIAO.


p.s.


You were the Baddies.

77:

Serious f'in word to the wise: Re-tweeting a man placed in a QT BBC audience by Campell = fail. Such a massive massive fail once you know who he actually is... (NASTY).

Het, since you just basically denied causal probability as a rational scientist (deliberately? kinda wondering now, you and Greg and co) given you like science.

Riddle us what your species does to:

#1 All other species on the planet
#2 That it cannot eat or subjugate as a pet

and tell us why

#3 You think that denial of science is a bad thing but not when your nose gets rubbed in it?


G E N O C I D E

E

N

O

C

I

D

E


Thanks. But...

Choose Life


Fuck me, and to think I gave up [redacted] for saving your shitty little Minds.

78:

I got it wrong.

A couple of years ago, when Brexit was first being touted as a possibility, I commented, in a thread here, that it wouldn't be so bad, really; some people would have to change how they do a few things, but in general there wouldn't be much difference. So, no need to panic.

Boy, was I wrong. I had no idea that the loony wing of the Monster Raving Loony Party - er, the Tories, was so far adrift from reality. Nor did I have any idea of the staggering levels of incompetence in the rest of the party.

All this despite being aware of, and regularly quoting, Axel Oxenstierna's famous question (in a letter to his son, a new diplomat): "do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?"

(To be fair to myself, though, "wisdom" has entirely left this universe and is living in Brian Aldiss's Probability A, hiding in the back of a small garden shed and gibbering quietly to itself.)

Yup. I was wrong, all right. Wrong. Can't get much wronger.

79:

John Quiggin suggests that in the last week or so before Brexit the collapse of British society will cause a backdown by the government. Wildly optimistic?

https://johnquiggin.com/2018/12/14/brexit-the-endgame/

80:

Here's an article from the German newspaper Der Spiegel, arguing that a second referendum would be a bad result. It's nice to get an opinion about Brexit from outside the Anglosphere

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/opinion-there-should-be-no-exit-from-brexit-a-1243405.html

81:

Here's what I don't understand: when looking for the best opportunity to reduce emissions, why do politicians go to taxing fuel?

I know that private cars are a large part of modern emissions. However, we have a situation where the supply of electric cars is not enough to meet existing demand (unless the car seriously underperforms). Under these conditions, why focus on increasing demand when you know the supply doesn't exist

Here are some alternatives:

1. This is small potatoes, but he could get rid of the remaining fossil fuel power stations in France
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_France

2. Replace public buses with electric ones. Last year, 17% of the Chinese fleet was electric. They are practically the only country transitioning their buses to fully electric (99% of demand).
https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/when-it-comes-electric-buses-china-killing-it

3. Make heating renewable, if it's not already there. Admittedly, I don't know if France's heating system comes from renewable sources, but modernizing that is probably more straightforward.

I don't know if these moves are enough to meet the Paris climate targets, but they're probably easier politically than a diesel tax.

82:

Here's some important non-Brexit news.

1. It seems that Pres. Trump's foreign policy is moving into a new theater: Africa. The short summary is that Bolton wants to increase aid to African countries, and end several peacekeeping missions

"The US has already demanded a change of the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, refused to increase funding of a mission in the Central African Republic, and has threatened to cut funds for the mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is up for renewal of its mandate in the New Year."

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/13/us-john-bolton-africa-policy-russia-china

2. The Senate voted to end the US participation in the Yemen War. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/13/senate-yemen-saudis-trump-resolution

83:

Ah, such naivete. Of course. There are big government subsidies in many countries for solar and wind, so naturally investors step up to chow down. The little detail that it is simply impossible for solar and wind power to power a modern economy, because it is intermittent and unreliable, is naturally ignored. The sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow, and so you need coal and oil and nuclear (the only genuinely non global warming energy source, but it has a few little problems too) for backup. Reliance on solar and wind means more coal and oil needed for backup, and since it's so much more expensive, vast increases in heating and electric costs, from which the poor suffer most of course. Until the magic day when somebody comes up with a magic battery capable of storing the kind of power needed to power a modern economy. Or until they invent cold fusion, or time travel or teleportation or something equally likely we can't imagine yet.

84:

If everyone in a Lovecraft story inevitably winds up insane or dead, C'thulu would presumably take one look at today's Tory party and realise he'd timed his entrance too late to make any discernable difference.

85:

Well, under your scenario, we're doomed, so we might as well invest in killing each other to the level of survivable.

There are two problems: one is that if you're wrong, you're a mass murderer without cause. If you're right, you have far less control of where the killing stops than you think you do.

Also, your take on people ignoring wind and sun's variability is beyond silly. As Elon Musk has demonstrated, you can make a lot of money making batteries, and he's not the only one to notice this.

As for coal, the industry's failing, because wind is cheaper. And while there's plenty of coal, it's not all that great quality.

As for nuclear, it's failing, at least in the US, due to simple distrust of the companies that make it. They have this bad habit of building plants on earthquake faults (Diablo Canyon) or making them non-functional due to 1950s engineering errors (San Onofre) and even storing the waste on the beach (also San Onofre). That kind of carelessness doesn't play well with horribly complicated plants.

As for oil: the US is currently #1 in production due to fracking. But is that industry sustainable, or only kept afloat by the cheap money cranked out during the Great Recovery, and in trouble when interest rates rise? (cf: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/01/opinion/the-next-financial-crisis-lurks-underground.html) Hard to tell. The industry doesn't look as fragile as one might expect (the Saudis couldn't crash it in 2014, for instance), but the financials also don't make sense to people who study them. That's not good.

Oh, and you missed hydropower. The environmental costs seem to have been underestimated: https://psmag.com/environment/the-heavy-costs-of-hydroelectric-dams. Not that this is stopping people from trying to damn the Amazon, Congo, etc. Lots of powerful old men fall victim to edifice syndrome, and dams certainly qualify as edifices.

So you might want to reexamine your model a bit. Just sayin'

86:

The French are phasing out their existing small number of fossil-fuel power stations, they'll all be gone by 2022 or so. They don't run them much anyway other than in winter when demand is highest.

The French nuclear fleet was all built in the 1970s and 1980s and it's ageing out, even with upgrades and extensions the first tranche of "three-loop" M910 reactors will be shut down by 2030. The replacement generation capacity will be cheap fossil-carbon gas with fig-leafs of solar and wind. Ten years later the second tranche of "five-loop" reactors will be at end-of-life and that will leave them with a single EPR running unless they build any more and that's doubtful, there's something inherently wrong with the EPR design (and the UK is building two of them at the moment).

87:

JH @ 49
Ah, you appear to have drunk Corbyn’s kool-aid. What you said is almost exactly what Corby has been saying since about 1973.
As usual, he’s wrong.
See also JBS @ 57
Rees-Smaug & Murdoch & Lawson & ( & & & … ) will all do very well out of Brexit - and we petty men walk under their huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves.

Seagull @ 75
STOP IT

GregvP @ 78
Correct – but, what makes it worse is that:
I had no idea that the loony wing of the Monster Raving Loony Party - er, “Labour”, was so far adrift from reality. Nor did I have any idea of the staggering levels of incompetence in the rest of the party.
[ Referring to “momentum” of course ] *cough*

Generally, this is a bad replay of the earl 1980’s when no more than 35%, probably 25% of the country actually supported the Madwoman, but the Labour party was seized by “militant” & the vast majority in the centre were, to all intents & purposes, disenfranchised & left in the cold.
It wasn’t good then & it isn’t good now.

88:

... I do not think it is inherently the design, but rather there is something really wrong with our current doctrine of how to run large construction projects.
The entire byzantine structure of sub-contractors of subcontractors just does not work. All large projects run on this model end up with catastrophic cost over runs.

It is not unique to the EPR or the nuclear sector, but simply a consistent feature of the current landscape - without a unified corporate culture or chain of command, one - or more likely, several, of the contractors involved in a major effort will screw the pooch in a big, big way, with a probability which approaches unity with project size.

I mean, sure, if the French decide to replace their current fleet with hundreds of factory produced flex-blue reactors, that side-steps that entire problem, but really, we need to address the problems with our doctrine of infrastructure construction, because it is a hobble around all our efforts at doing anything.

89:

I think you're probably right about uncontrolled costs, although it would be interesting to look at cost overruns in 19th century projects before we all get too romantic about things (I don't know how they compare).

In the case of nuclear power there's a huge additional handicap: excessive safety. If we were willing to accept nuclear power systems which were only as safe as coal ones (leaving aside the CO2 emissions), say, they'd be a lot cheaper. But we're not because we're frightened of the boogeyman. And our fear of the boogeyman will kill most of us.

90:

What is the EU anyway? An alliance of US-style imperial powers to exploit the Third World for the benefit of the superrich in Germany, France and England.

This is a common misconception about the EU, and nothing to do with what it's really about.

The EU is the climactic expression of a treaty process designed to prevent war in Europe by integrating the former warring great powers.

It goes back to the 1947 coal and steel treaty between France and Germany, which was pretty much the opposite of the post-Versailles settlement that led to French military occupation of the Ruhr in 1923-25.

And it has worked.

The period of peace since 1945 is now the longest period since the fall of the western Roman Empire in which no invading army has crossed the Rhine. Don't you think this might be considered a benefit, by the poor bloody workers who'd be conscripted into fighting and dying in the armies of those powers if it was still business as usual, circa 1939-45, or 1914-18, or 1870-71 …?

(This is the major reason, for me, why Brexit is an act of criminal insanity.)

91:

get rid of capitalism worldwide, and replace the invisible hand of Adam Smith

You've never actually read "The Wealth of Nations", have you? (disclaimer, I've not read it all either)

Adam Smith was not, as you appear to believe, a modern capitalist; witness, for example "A poll tax, whilst cheap and efficient if rigorously applied, would never be used in a nation where the government took good account of the people".

92:

Well, FWIW Scotland can presently supply its entire electric needs from renewables and nuclear, as long as the wind speed is in the correct range to run our wind turbine fleet.

93:

it would be interesting to look at cost overruns in 19th century projects

I won't quote per project, but there were "several times estimate" over-runs on at least some Victorian and earlier canal and railway projects, although at least you can start using a railway when it goes from terminus'first to traffic_generator'intermediate rather than waiting until you have track to terminus'second, where you have to complete 1 full set of generating and transmission plant (not the same thing as the entire project) before you can use a power station!

94:

Thane: I would check out Gwynne Dyer's syndicate column ... he is a Canadian based in London and every few months he writes a 'big picture' column on the Brexit negotiations. I don't bother trying to follow news hour to hour, that would be a full-time unpaid job and what is it good for?

95:

Yes, our way of managing large (>$1Bn) private-sector projects is borked.

I ascribe it in part to the pernicious doctrine of the MBA: that management of any process is interchangeable, and you can swap managers and processes around at whim without any issues arising due to loss of specialized knowledge. Oh, and the idea of out-sourcing. It was probably a necessary corrective when it first took hold in the 1970s, but went way too far by the late 80s, and kept on going — resulting in dangerous lunacy like hospitals outsourcing cleaning services to the lowest bidders just as antibiotic-resistant infections were becoming a lethal threat, or the Manx2 Flight 7100 plane crash.

Another issue is that some projects are so capital-intensive, with such long-term payoffs, that virtually nobody has the financial resources to underwrite them as a single monolithic project. Consider the costs of developing a new type of nuclear reactor: I've seen estimates of on the order of US $100Bn over 10-20 years as the price of entry, and that's before you get enough experience running the thing to know if it's cost-effective in the long term (see the UK's fleet of aging AGRs, for example: brilliant design but fundamental problems in generation , and expensive enough that there isn't going to be a generation 2 to fix the problems).

There are two ways to fix this problem: (a) a total change in management and finance culture, or (b) stop doing those projects and pick something more achievable that can be scaled up.

96:

Yes, definitely a major reason. But there are two closely linked ones that I consider more important: the EU has been the chain and ball preventing the UK from leading the way to the 'neo-liberal' plutocratic utopia (as JBS said in the previous thread, the USA got it from us). Two reasons? Yes, because that 'philosophy' is maximum benefit for the people personally, and be damned to future generations, so who cares about forthcoming environmental catastrophes?

97:

Agreed, but it's older and wider than just MBAs. It's the UK (mainly English) attitude that experts should be kept below levels at which strategic planning and decisions happen (see Churchill, the Hutton Inquiry and all that). It some decades back got to the point where, if you don't like what the experts are saying, you paint self-serving arseholes expert-coloured and use them, which is what led to the claim that the UK people had had enough of experts.

The UK did OK (if not well) until Thatcher let the mandarins abolish the scientific civil service. As I have mentioned before, I have experience of outsourcing, and the key is that there must be an in-house person or team that is BOTH technical enough to keep the contractors from pulling the wool over their eyes AND senior enough to control the contract and how it is delivered. Without such control, monetarism doesn't optimise anything except the wealth of the least scrupulous.

I sort-of supported Thatcher when she was elected, because she was trying to fix things that were genuinely broken, but she then opened the door to the dark powers. Like many people, I didn't at the time realise how widely and deeply they were embedded in the UK.

Regrettably, I agree with iCowboy (#58) and WreRite (#84) - I don't see a way out of this hole short of an actual, bloody revolution, and history relates that it generally takes half a century or more for things to improve after one.

99:

"And of course the weaker European victims like Greece."

Your "weaker victims" have had their economies propped up by the EU for the last 20+ years. If you look at those countries, a truly *ludicrous* percentage of the country is employed by the state, and the funds for that have entirely come from the EU. More than that, much of the "non-state" economy is in the construction industry for major infrastructure projects, and all of those are EU-funded. (Drive through Greece or Italy and look at how many motorways and tunnels have "Funded by the EU" signs on them.)

And these countries also realised that way to get money from the EU was by building infrastructure, not maintaining it. My folks rented out their house, put their savings into a boat, and spent 8 years sailing round the Med. There are *lots* of marinas in Greece which were built with EU funding, with the deal being that the EU got a slice of the proceeds when they were built. Greece simply took the money for building them, then refused to run them because there wasn't as much in it for them. Great for my folks who got free moorings, less good for the EU who had their money pissed up the wall.

Greece even failed to collect taxes. It wasn't exactly tax evasion, because there was no attempt to even collect them. Whilst the EU was putting money in, there didn't seem any need to collect money off the Greek people.

The bottom line is that Greece is like that cousin who runs a sports car and big house, but keeps coming to you begging for money to tide them over. At some point you have to realise that you're enabling the dysfunctional habits of an entitled idiot. So they had to make cutbacks in their ridiculous government slush funds, and actually get their people to pay taxes? That sound you hear is the world's smallest violin playing "my heart bleeds for them".

100:

Charlie @ 95
YES!
See also CrossRail in London - articles
HERE and here too
The London & Brimingham Railway ( 1833-8 ) was way over budget & at least 6 months late ( Quicksands inside Kilsby Tunnel & small, incompetent sub-contractors )
But trains are leaving Euston, today ....

And solution (a) is the one needed - we have been here before, it's that people refuse to lern the lessons of the past - incidentlly, as an engineer-manque, my utter conterpt for the "MBA" culture is probably even greater than yours.

101:

It seems that Trump won an important concession in the trade war. China is scrapping "Made in China 2025". He hasn't won the trade war, but this is a huge political win for him.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/china-set-to-scrap-made-in-china-2025-policy-as-trade-talks-with-us-progress_2737081.html

102:

You've never actually read "The Wealth of Nations", have you?

Like the bible, Smith's books tend to be more text-proofed than read nowadays. I find them quite useful as a source of quotes when neocons start rhapsodizing about the magic of the Invisible Hand.

For example, "Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

Or for anyone paying North America's highest tolls on the PPP highway 407 in Ontario, "The tolls for the maintenance of a high road, cannot with any safety be made the property of private persons."

And any time I read a pronouncement from a Chamber of Commerce: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."

And my favourite, "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [bankers and financiers], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

Although this one is also useful: "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."

103:

I'm hereby going to support some of JH's doubts because I have them about the same, with respect to my education in energy networks.

To JH @49
What is the EU anyway? An alliance of US-style imperial powers to exploit the Third World for the benefit of the superrich in Germany, France and England. And of course the weaker European victims like Greece.
They still think they can fool around with the liberal democracy and in the same time preserve social security. In practice it is the same effect as Weimar Germany, but at the scale of entire Europe. Practice shows you can not have nor "socialism with human face" nor "vegetarian capitalism". They will all fail eventually to one of the end states, backstabbed by the best allies, because they all are based on wishful thinking rather than theoretical facts.

To Heteromeles @85
Well, under your scenario, we're doomed, so we might as well invest in killing each other to the level of survivable.
So you might want to reexamine your model a bit
Ah, you appear to have drunk Corbyn’s kool-aid.
Well, i don't think sort of flat denial is going to impress anybody nowadays. It seems you are doomed anyway and there's nothing can be done to fix the problem. I tried several times to present my arguments, but people forget them after several months, because of de-educating effect of modern media.

Anyway, here's several points, and especially towards the France.
Also, your take on people ignoring wind and sun's variability is beyond silly. As Elon Musk has demonstrated, you can make a lot of money making batteries, and he's not the only one to notice this.
Unbeatable optimism of E. Musk only does exist until it brings a lot of profit. "Saving the planet" has nothing to do with profit and in fact is opposite to it. By prioritizing profit over reason, modern venture capitalists are putting cart before the horse, making the climate regulation even more impossible than it was before.

As for coal, the industry's failing, because wind is cheaper.
The wind/solar is not cheaper, despite all the technological advances in it. It is only "cheaper" because of carbon tax and other taxes, that increase its price for the end user, and then these money go to the wind, decreasing the price by subsidizing and investments - and it is going to get worse as the carbon tax is going to rise. By phasing out coal plants, you also phase out the carbon tax source, and a big cash cow for the green movement. This increases the energy price too.

As for nuclear, it's failing, at least in the US, due to simple distrust of the companies that make it.
Al you had to do is invest into nuclear power safety and efficiency technology, especially their decommissioning risks. But all the money needed for it went to sun and wind. And they also generate tax revenues. As the nuclear power is going to be phased out, there will be no power and no money, the price of energy will go through the roof.

As for oil: the US is currently #1 in production due to fracking.
Fracking is going high because exporters keep the prices high to keep their infrastructure running. Some people say that with Peak oil, the price of oil will drop, and therefore will lose it's value, but the easiest application of market theory states that with lowered supply and high demand, the price of the oil is going to increase. Hence the new fracking projects, which weren't sustainable at 20-30$ per barrel are actually doing good at 80+$. And with OPEC regulating the market price, the price about 60 can be preserved for a long time.

Smacking OPEC and fracking with a big stick will result in prices skyrocketing everywhere except for OPEC where they will drop like a stone. Needless to say, tax revenue from oil is always going to the budget too.

TBC...

104:

sr
You don't like Liberal Dermocracy, do you?
What system do you prefer?
The autocracy of the Tsar?
The autocracy of the Oligarchy?
A collection of Tribal Chiefs?

105:

Cont.
Oh, and you missed hydropower. The environmental costs seem to have been underestimated
The hydropower matters not, because most of the developed countries have used up all of their hydro-resources power reserve in the last century, and they did not yet develop many technologies to pump electricity form developing countries 10 000 km away. And there's a severe lack of maneuvering capacity, which is absolutely necessary for regulating wind and sun. Now I've read that some people try to regulate them by throttling down and up .. coal plants. It is a good thing you still have them around because trying to do the same with nuclear reactors is a good way to make another nuclear catastrophe. Anyway, hydropower price will rise exponentially, as will the price of the regular energy, because you are going to invest a lot into individual storage capacity.

And we forgot about gas. In fact, forget about gas, because US will do anything to stop Russia's export and only wants to export most of the gas... by itself. Ship LNG all the way from US soil. Yeah, forget about low fuel prices, they are going to be cosmic. Now consider that "phasing out" any existing classic power sources will cost as much as keeping them around for another generation, you can get the scale of the problem.

Why it is all important so much. With such perspective, the deficit of energy will be staggering. The price will skyrocket, and economy will run into even more debt. 20-30% tariff rise per year is a lower estimate here. The industry will stall and stop, and people will lose their shit over impossibility to continue their existence. In fact, this is what is already happening if you believe those Paris protesters. And this is even before the old electric stations and infrastructure will require all the money to be renewed, revamped or upgraded for climate demands.

You will be lucky of you will be able to run your digital economy on the remaining power. The forecast of global temperature increase may kill millions 30 years from now, but next decade of such "environmentalism" there will be no agency to continue the policy itself. Breaking the economy is hardly an answer for environmental hazard - but it is, by a coincidence, the essence of modern "disruptive innovation" religion and everything that associated with it.

And you know what, this is why I think that EU is absolutely boned at this point. No need to even care if there's a chance to survive as whole, we are past the point of no return. The Yellow Jackets, the will of "the people" made their demands, and it contains more that enough of that explosive power.
https://www.sott.net/article/402396-What-do-the-protesters-in-France-want-Check-out-the-official-Yellow-Vest-manifesto
no citizen to be taxed at more than 25% of income
complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters
Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty
End France's participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
Yep, that's it. Brexit was just a beginning. Ukraine was just a warm-up. It is OK, though, they say that mild starvation benefits health in the long run.

106:

I prefer whatever that can save me and my country from the (poisoned by 4th generation of CBRN warfare) grave. I prefer centralized planning and ideological unity, because it saved a lot of lives last time we needed it, but it is entirely possible for me to change my opinion based on facts - I'm flexible enough.

107:

I prefer centralized planning and ideological unity, because it saved a lot of lives last time we needed it, but it is entirely possible for me to change my opinion based on facts - I'm flexible enough.

IMHO central planning and ideological unity work well in times of national crisis, when resources are stretched to their limit, and there's not credible way for "the market" to make the correct call before people start dying. After all, civilisation is only nine meals away...

However, central planning works less well when there are enough resources to go around; and ideological disunity is historically an effective way to shake up the system through evolution rather than evolution.

Russia has seen the worst of both, within living memory; it's understandable that there are fond memories of the era that achieved a comparatively good Gini coefficient. The UK never suffered that much, really; while we're just as close to our memories of ration books and ID cards, we avoided starvation and mostly avoided mass-murder of civilians (yes to Blitz, no to Siege of Leningrad). We then managed a smoother transition from National Existential Crisis to a reasonably well-functioning market economy, without the tanks rolling on the streets (although some might suggest that the 1970s came closer than we'd like).

So, a UK citizen whose grandparents never suffered as those of the USSR did, will have a different perspective on Five-Year Plans and Party Membership. It remains to be seen whether we might have to look forward to them...

108:

"The wind/solar is not cheaper, despite all the technological advances in it. It is only "cheaper" because of carbon tax and other taxes, that increase its price for the end user, and then these money go to the wind, decreasing the price by subsidizing and investments - and it is going to get worse as the carbon tax is going to rise."

In theory that's correct, but in the real world it's not so clear-cut. Let's compare two different countries - the US and China. From our previous conversations, you consider China to be a reasonable government?

Let's also look at their electricity sectors:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_of_the_United_States
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_China

Both countries get ~64% of their electricity from fossil fuels. The difference between coal and natural gas is due to the fact that the US has a lot of domestic resources. On the other hand, China doesn't trust ANY country with too much influence in their energy sector. That includes Russia.

It's interesting that the wind/solar share of the grid is much higher in China than the US. This says positive things about the economics of renewables absent regulation. Don't forget that renewables in the US are hurt by the following regulations:

. Hurting the view (that's a huge reason why we only have 1 offshore wind farm)
. Killing birds
. Homeowners associations banning panels
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeowner_association

China's renewable plants aren't subject to these same constraints.

"Unbeatable optimism of E. Musk only does exist until it brings a lot of profit."
Musk is a celebrity because his dreams do eventually turn out to be profitable, admittedly much later than he promises. For proof, look at the Chinese race to electrify their buses. The link is in another comment on this thread.

"The hydropower matters not, because most of the developed countries have used up all of their hydro-resources"
This is correct

"Now I've read that some people try to regulate them by throttling down and up .. coal plants."

The US, UK, and Australia throttle gas plants, not coal plants. The fact that coal plants aren't as good at throttling is a reason why they're dying out. South Australia is considering replacing their natural gas plants with E. Musk's batteries, as Heteromeles pointed out.
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/09/renewables-company-neoen-says-teslas-australia-battery-makes-it-more-profitable/

" Hence the new fracking projects, which weren't sustainable at 20-30$ per barrel are actually doing good at 80+$."

People have been erroneously predicting that fracking will collapse any day now. 2014 was the last year that the price per barrel was above $80, and US oil output continues to rise, mainly due to fracking.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/262858/change-in-opec-crude-oil-prices-since-1960/

109:

Re: 'out-sourcing' (head-count)

Lower head-count became a thing in P&Ls and income statements back in the 70s when manufacturers ruled because it was considered the metric for measuring operational (employee) efficiency* and was a major contributor to the rise of outsourcing. Ditto in the public services sectors. E.g., When gov't started slashing budgets, hospitals and unis also adopted this strategy by reducing FIXED operating expenses - full-time nursing/teaching staff.**

https://scm.ncsu.edu/scm-articles/article/a-brief-history-of-outsourcing

* Wonder why these orgs never bothered to measure their 'efficiency' based on the amount of energy used to make whatever it is they make. In my neck of the woods, the major orgs that use electricity in their business still get 'volume discounts'. Absurd - this means there's actually an economic disincentive for such orgs to use less energy. Meanwhile, homeowners' unit energy prices increase with energy consumption.

** Rising death rates in the UK - recent articles (2018) in the 'British Medical Journal'. Yeah, budget cuts figure in this.

https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k1090/related

110:

to Martin @107
IMHO central planning and ideological unity work well in times of national crisis, when resources are stretched to their limit, and there's not credible way for "the market" to make the correct call before people start dying. After all, civilisation is only nine meals away...
That's the reason I laugh in the face of our more radical "authoritarians" who declare want to kick "that liberal" president out of his chair, reform the entire government and reinstall something akin to Zombie USSR. There's an awful amount of them appearing recently, all acting by the same guidelines. See, there are worse possibilities - such people can make your economy crash even without external pressure.

to Ioan @108
On the other hand, China doesn't trust ANY country with too much influence in their energy sector. That includes Russia.
That is changing recently, but not too fast. Russia also develops relationships in energy sector, although not with a terrific speed. Point being, we are talking about EU, which is squashed between various US and international interests. Saying the outlook isn't good as of recent would be an understatement.

Musk is a celebrity because his dreams do eventually turn out to be profitable, admittedly much later than he promises.
Some of his dreams, anyway, but I can say a fraud when I can see one (seen at least half-dozen in my life). Public loves such when certain people speak about dreams and visions, but practically employing you-gotta-believe-me tricks for profit is a good way to steer the trend towards inevitable crash. I mean, Constellation program fell through years before, and the only saving grace for it was even madder project Musk invented. Now, what they are going to invent when this isn't going to work? Flying saucers? FTL drives? Alien invasion?

replacing their natural gas plants with E. Musk's batteries
And the major problem is that none of his technologies are revolutionary like what we used to know in the last century. He just combines the old stuff in the new forms. Batteries is a prime example - there's simply no innovation per se, it is the same li-ion battery as ever. And the engines for spacex are the same kerosene engines as ever, because inventing anything new will cost more than he can hold the public attention for.

My country employs trolleybuses, most of them running around for 20-30 years already (not counting previous line of models), and they are building new autonomous vehicles too. We also have some methane and natural gas trucks since USSR times. But I don't hear anybody running around screaming about revolution in industry, especially because this is not revolutionary and they occupy only several percent of traffic - many people can afford to buy a personal car these days.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBVMT8-nkv0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yooel0D4OYE
And of course it is a traditionally very bad attitude if you lie to and lure people, even in the name of collective profit.

People have been erroneously predicting that fracking will collapse any day now.
I heard that too. Petrol lobby is pretty strong still, considering US doesn't even have as much electric trains as other countries, it is hard to expect the change here.

111:


"The EU is the climactic expression of a treaty process designed to prevent war in Europe by integrating the former warring great powers.

It goes back to the 1947 coal and steel treaty between France and Germany, which was pretty much the opposite of the post-Versailles settlement that led to French military occupation of the Ruhr in 1923-25.

And it has worked...."

In short, cobblers. Do you honestly believe that?

When has the EU done anything to promote the cause of peace, either in Europe or outside it? In Europe it has never needed to. Peace in Western Europe was a result of the cold war, and post war economic prosperity. It is a result of quiet occupation by outside powers armed with weapons few dared contemplate the use of. The occupation of Japan by the US is a perfect parallel example.

It does startle me if you genuinely believe that. To get an idea of the scale of how extreme that position is, I'll post this:

https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2016/05/how-valid-claim-eu-has-delivered-peace-europe

Content aside, this is The New Statesman we are talking about here, we are not talking about some pack of right-wing, eye-rolling, too-nutty-for-the-Kippers, David Irving revisionists. As the article notes, talking about the second world war in respect to "peace" is effectively taboo, because it involves some many awkward questions Franco-German crimes that no-one wants to go there.

If even the NS doesn't believe the EU has done much for peace, when you contemplate Merkel's openly provocative meddling in the Ukraine, and the EU's silence upon that farce, how can you honestly assert that? Kosovo? The fact that Tony Blair went off his meds and invaded Iraq and the EU said nothing? The bombing of Libya and the migrant shitshow that has followed, that the EU ignores in the name of the sacred cow of freedom of movement?

The EU is free to claim credit, it would seem, for something it has not contributed a thing towards creating. Thing is, I do doubt that there will be internal war in Europe as a result of Brexit though.

112:

And I would be more sympathetic to him and his cause if he and his fans weren't as much hypocritical, arrogant and contemptuous. In last 10+ years, he was furiously lobbying sanctions against our state program, he participated in pillaging of very much allied Ukraine's space industry, and his fans pour mud all over our people and government wherever they go.

113:

Re: 'Musk is a celebrity because ...'

He figured out modern alchemy: how to convert public money into a personal fortune.

Excerpt:

'Musk’s genius is primarily in the subsidy-seeking realm. By 2015, U.S. governments alone had given his companies US$5 billion through direct grants, tax breaks, cut-rate loans, tax credits and rebates'

https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/lawrence-solomon-how-teslas-elon-musk-became-the-master-of-fake-business

Yes, his orgs have made progress in several areas but he's done nothing to correct public misconception, i.e., he did this all on his own. This myth devalues the role of gov't re: innovations and economic benefits among the voting public.

114:

Unfortunately, if you're going to subtract the subsidies for wind and solar, you also have to subtract the subsidies for oil and coal, and then they're still cheaper. For example, for middle eastern oil, you've arguably got to subtract a lot of international military costs.

Also, arguing that anything in the Chinese industrial sector is unregulated is farcical. I'm not saying they're princes of renewable energy, nor am I saying they're always good at it, nor am I saying that provinces aren't building coal plants in defiance of the national government. But notice, it's the provinces that are building, not wildcatters.

Homeowners' associations banning solar panels. Actually, the bigger problem is when someone like one of Warren Buffett's petrochemical companies tries to get a legislature to block rooftop solar, as in Nevada (https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/08/24/why-warren-buffett-wants-keep-solar-panels-off-you.aspx). In places like California, homeowners' associations tend to get banned from doing that. The problem here is that the 1974 solar shade act is underenforced, and people plant trees blocking panels, even though it's illegal.

Hydropower matters when you contemplate damming the Yangtze (Three Gorges Dam), the Amazon system (although the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu was halted last year by Brazil), or the Congo (the three Inga Dams, with a fourth proposed). I agree that dams won't save us through green electricity production, but the environmental effects are non-trivial, especially when we're also looking at the Amazon and Congo basins as major carbon sinks that need to be protected.

Dams in the long run pose some *interesting* problems. They tend to accumulate methanogenic sediments, so if they aren't maintained properly, they can produce a fair amount of methane. They also screw up the river below the dam, which can cause fish extinctions, screw up boat traffic, and so on. And if they are poorly built or not maintained properly, they can fail, which puts everyone downstream at risk, and the maintenance issues are surprisingly detailed.

For example, the Oroville Dam's spillway was a layer of concrete on top of dirt, built even though Sierra Club (well-known engineering organization...) protested that this was dangerously under-designed. The concrete cracked, and a tree grew in the crack. The dam owners were told to remove the tree but didn't bother, since they hadn't had to use the spillway in forever. Unfortunately in 2017 they did have to use the spillway, and the water took out the tree, burrowed into the hole that the roots left, and nearly destroyed the dam. One hopes that Three Gorges is better built and maintained, because a dam failure on the Yangtze would be far more catastrophic. If civilization stops maintaining a dam, then over the next ~50-200 years, it will fail, scour the downstream channel, and expose whatever sediments that accumulated behind it to the air.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. I'm still trying to figure out whether I'd rig either the Trans-Siberian Railroad or the US Great Plains tracks to run on line electricity (third rail), or whether it's simpler to just put a bunch of lithium batteries in the equivalent of the coal car in a train pulled by an electric engine and swap them out periodically. Oh, that's right: Musk's innovation isn't battery chemistry, as his batteries are basically huge stacks of AA cells wired together. Rather, his innovation is IIRC the management system that keeps the whole thing working and not overheating. And that's not stupid, although it's not as energy dense as gasoline.

115:

s-r @ 106
because it saved a lot of lives last time Yeah an absolute minimum of 7 million killed by Stalin & probably a lot more ...
Do you know, I don't believe you.

116:

"Unfortunately, if you're going to subtract the subsidies for wind and solar, you also have to subtract the subsidies for oil and coal, ..."

That is true, and it is extremely difficult to do in a neutral fashion, because so many of the subsidies (in ALL cases) are dismissing the cost of their harmful-side effects. But there are cases which are quite clearly Bad Ideas made popular solely by political subsidies.

Solar power in the UK was one such - and cutting its ridiculous subsidies was one (the only?) thing that Cameron got right. Fracking is another, essentially everywhere.

117:

"And the engines for spacex are the same kerosene engines as ever, because inventing anything new will cost more than he can hold the public attention for."

Let's see what Musk invented:

1. When I was at school, if the landing ellipse for a spacecraft with propulsive or parachute landing had a semi-major axis of

2. The ability to stick 27 engines on a rocket and not having blow up; how the N-1 moon rocket failed. His Falcon Heavy has the lowest $/kg of all rockets currently on the market. Time will tell if this matters?

3. He made a much better assembly line for the rockets. Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile or any of its components, he invented the assembly line to make if affordable. That's still treated as a major innovation.

4. He created a reusable first-stage booster that has a demonstrated turnaround time less than 3 months.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_first-stage_boosters

"Batteries is a prime example - there's simply no innovation per se, it is the same li-ion battery as ever."

I would call the software Elon invented which allows the batteries to throttle while handling that much power to be a major invention. Plus, he did it at a price where it could compete with coal and natural gas.

118:

Charlie,

I think you have very rose-tinted spectacles if you think peace is still the primary vision of the EU (but I agree it was a great argument 30-40 years ago)

To me it increasingly looks much more like a "Lets Make Europe Great Again" pan-european nationalism project, with all the increased risk of conflict that that entails.

TLDR I don't think the world will be a better place the more "Great Powers" there are.

119:

One quick note.

I'm still trying to figure out whether I'd rig either the Trans-Siberian Railroad or the US Great Plains tracks to run on line electricity (third rail)

For the Trans-Siberian that would be unnecessary as its electrification was completed on 25 December 2002. As far as I can remember it's all overhead line, although I didn't take it all the way to Vladivostok.

http://www.railpage.com.au/news/s/russia-s-transsiberian-railway-fully-electrified

American railroads aren't big on electrification at all--even for commuter lines where it's a really good idea--so doing that is a definite project. The one extension of Northeast Corridor electrification from New Haven to Boston was relatively recent and a pretty big deal for the States.

Not arguing with anything else, just pointing out one detail.

120:

400 investors, $32T... unfortunately, I just saw something the other day, about a single? small group? that has well over $100T. Trouble is, the right wing psychobillioaires disagree, and they've already got their claws in.

A revision of the US tax code, back to, say, 1972, when the top tax bracket was 72% (no, I'm not making that up - under Ike, in the fifties, it was 90%) would be a good start.

121:

About planning... I refer you to Paul Krugman, In a column in the last month, he talked about this exact thing. A century ago, planning didn't work in the real world. Now, it does (can you say computers?).

Proof: Walmart. Is gigantic, larges civilian employer in the US (> 1M)... and tell me that they don't use central planning.

If you're a monopoly (i.e, the electric company), either reregulate them... or nationalize them.

122:

Note that in the US, in cities I've lived in or visited, the last 10 years, there's been an aggressive move to replace diesel busses with ones burning natural gas.

123:

Everything you're saying is, of course, garbage.

1. The oil and gas industry have *huge* subsidies - on prospecting, on production, etc, etc.
2. 20 years ago, it was $2M US to put a new wind turbine in. And there are more and more wind farms, because oh, I know it's so polluting to build a turbine (more than one for a petrochemical-burning generator, yep..), and then you have to pay for fuel for 20 years... um, well, nope.
3. The wind is *always* blowing, somewhere. And there's this thing called the power grid.
4. You'd be amazed at how little wind it takes to spin a turbine....

So go back to screwing the rest of us with your hedge fund betting, and stop spreading FUD.

124:

I have been ranting against the MBA since the early 80's (in fact, I was arguing with a professor who taught it at the U of P at a party in '83), and I'm clearly *right*. I don't care what they *claim* to teach, what 90% (who ruin the rep of all the rest...) do is to think that a software house is the same as a steel mill is the same as a farm is the same as a 7-11 (and let's not forget that workers are interchangeable, and experienced people expect too much money).

Great example: Carly Fiorinna, who broke HP around the dot-com bubble.

A dozen years ago or so, an old friend, who used to teach at Catholic colleges around the US, and who taught a course called "science for non-science majors" once, on a mailing list, went down the food chain of the majors that took that course. The next to the bottom, those that didn't get it, but didn't let that worry them, were the business majors.

And the Malignant Carcinoma is a *perfect* example....

125:

Damn it, ok, already, ok. I'll d/l it from Project Gutenburg...

126:

Trolley buses?! You still have trolley buses?

I'm jealous. Growing up, one ran right on the street outside of the block-long apartment building we lived in, in Philly.
http://www.phillytrolley.org/IMAGES/tracklessindex3.jpg

Btw, I was in Philly about a year and a half ago... and saw a Sight: the trolley that I took occasionally as a kid... and it was a PCC car... that had been retrofitted with a/c!

PCC car (Presidentual Car Commission, under FDR, in the 30's.)
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRsqxY9HN8yocc9dB-RdFrae39m57IhLqzpCnJ5IcL0TgsmUUuSvQ

127:

They're back! (They were gone for almost five years in the 2000s.)

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

"The production-series vehicles were delivered in 2008 and began to enter service in April, enabling a resumption of trolley bus service in Philadelphia after a nearly 5-year suspension. Trolley bus service resumed on routes 66 and 75 on April 14, 2008, and on route 59 the following day, but was initially limited to just one or two vehicles on each route, as new trolley buses gradually replaced the motor buses serving the routes over a period of several weeks.[11]"

I'm really pleased that PCC cars are still in service, too.

128:

One of the main arguments of the "European war will never happen" crowd before WW1 was that European countries were too economically interdependent to be able to get away with having a war. Which was more or less true, it just turned out not to be a strong enough argument to stop people having one.

After WW1 everything was all about shitting on Germany - ie. continuation of the war by other means, the economic equivalent of "bomb them back to the Stone Age". Which didn't work and it went hot again.

After WW2 everyone more or less had been bombed back to the Stone Age. As well as the plain demonstration that it didn't work, no-one was in a condition to cope with the disadvantages to themselves that a repeat of economic warfare against Germany would bring. On the contrary, the conditions were favourable for doing the necessary rebuilding in such a way as to foster more economic interdependence - basically giving the pre-WW1 theory another shot but strengthening it and giving it a better chance of success. And this time, it worked.

129:

CharlesW:

I think you have very rose-tinted spectacles if you think peace is still the primary vision of the EU (but I agree it was a great argument 30-40 years ago)

I think you are making a standard mistake whose name I don't know the name of (someone must?).

The mistake is basically this: following a seriies of disasters an expensive and elaborate mechanism is put in place to prevent them. Lo, the disasters stop happening. After long enough for people to forget (which time can vary a lot, but a few generations is usually the upper limit, people start to say 'oh look, those disasters don't happen any more but we still have this elaborate and expensive mechanism: let's wind that down'. And a few years later, the disasters start up again.

This process rather famously happened in 2008: after the Wall Street crash people worked out that having investment and retail banks entangled was a really bad idea, so things like Glass-Steagall happened to prevent this. Half a century later people started to forget why this was done (and of course financial institutions campaigned vigorously against it), and it either got repealed or effectively got repealed. And then 2008.

I suggest that the EU is just such an elaborate and expensive mechanism.

Indeed I think the EU is just one example of the mechanisms which were put in place after the second war to stop things like that happening again. The people who can remember why they were put in place are now either very old or dead, and anyway not active in governments and we are, collectively, forgetting as a result. There isn't some kind of rule that says liberal democracies can't be taken over by very nasty groups indeed, and indeed that is happening. Similarly there is no rule that says large-scale wars can no longer happen: they only haven't happened yet.

Brexit is, in part, the UK forgetting the second war.

(I suspect that some of the frankly neo-nazi stuff is also due to this: thirty years ago there were people in givernment who could remember what the nazis did, and they were really scared of that happening again. Now it seems to a lot of people just like a bit of clownery: 'these people marching and shouting racist slogans can't do anything really bad, can they, because nothing really bad can happen any more, that's all stuff our great grandparents dealt with'. Well, yes, they can, and yes, it can.)

130:

So go back to screwing the rest of us...
I'll add that the spreading of nihilistic gloom porn is ... irritating.
Particularly if it is motivated by greed, e.g. the Fossil Fuel extraction interests actively seeking permanent (well, a decade or two, if they're lucky) power in the US (and elsewhere).
BTW to E.G.A.@70:
(while the USA / Saud / RU fuck everyone in Poland).
Add Kuwait to the that list[0]. (3 is more your style but still.)

Wouldn't hurt for gloomists to study some of the existing literature, which people have linked often here. For instance,
Carbon lock-in: types, causes, and policy implications (ResearchGate, 2016)
and some of the 2496 papers citing this classic (scholar.google.com):
Understanding carbon lock-in (GC Unruh 2000)

E.G.A.@76:
A Mysterious Seismic Wave...
[Checks details for event, and notes.] Yup.

E.G.A
I admit to be thoroughly impressed that an old name of yours called the US passport for trans people thing (manifest as birth gender on new passports) in advance by 2 years. (e.g. here). Don't know if it was frontrunning or deep awareness. I reviewed some of the posts from that time just in case.
(And sure I've seen plenty of posts here that look like actually front running, but don't talk about it.)

[0]U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Block Endorsement Of Global Warming Study (10 Dec 2018)

131:

That there are large companies which plan has nothing to do with the economy being planned, unless those companies become monopolies.

132:

Elon Musk is an arsehole who shits on his workers while thinking he's it and relying on the inability of SF fans to distinguish between fact and fiction to make other people think he's it too.

Yes, a huge massive rocket that can land itself on its tail like taking off in reverse is cool, in that so many SF stories in the post-war years featured rockets just like it. But as far as I'm concerned they can stay there. We don't need them (I don't count the possibility of making even more money by people who already have vastly more than is even useful to have as a "need"), and the huge massive amounts of energy they get through is much better got through somewhere that only fictional characters have to worry about where it comes from.

"Hyperloop" - again that's a very old idea, and the main reason nobody's actually done it is that it's also a pointlessly bad idea. Massively expensive infrastructure that must be a maintenance nightmare as well as consuming gobs of energy just to keep itself in a usable condition, for a hugely inflexible transport system that's completely incompatible with anything else on a much more fundamental level than, say, the incompatibility of rail and road, but you get people not noticing the problems because COR ISN'T IT WHIZZY I READ A BOOK ONCE THAT HAD ONE OF THEM. (It reminds me a bit of the "atmospheric traction" idea.)

Batteries - Musk hasn't done anything about batteries except use a lot of them. Improvements in what's available are down to the Chinese/Japanese/Korean production engineers and factories. Multi-cell battery management? Do me a favour - that's another ancient thing that's been around for longer than he has. He certainly didn't invent it and I didn't realise until just now that people thought he did.

133:

Actually, I have read the Wealth of Nations. I read Marx's Das Kapital first, and the first thing that struck me was how similar much of what he had to say was to the stuff in Marx's book. The two of them disagreed on many things of course, but his way of thinking was far closer to Marx's than any of our current "neoclassical" math obsessed economists who all made such fools of themselves in 2008. Economics without Smith and Marx's labor theory of value is like preCopernican astronomy. All brilliantly calculated epicycles all dead wrong.

134:

tfb:
But the world has moved on in so many ways in the last 30-40 years:

Globalisation has happened, the internet has arrived etc etc: the danger now is not a war between France and Germany but a war (physical or economic or cyber) between the EU and Russia, or the EU and China, or the EU and the USA, or ...

There are 2 perfectly respectable sides to this argument: you can want to be part of a "Greater/Fortress Europe" in order to be able to stand up against the other economic/military superpowers, or you can want not to be part of those conflicts and be more tolerant of other powers successes.

But the idea that the driving force of the EU is peace is well past its sell-by date.

135:

"Clownery" - yes, I rather agree with you there. I think also Hollywood and its kin are a fair bit to blame, for finding the Nazis such a convenient villain that they became cliched to the point of almost being comical. And of course they always lost and you always knew they would from the moment they first came on screen.

136:

Actually, we aren't doomed, all we need is worldwide revolution against capitalism, and then human beings instead of Smith's economic laws (most of which are valid) in charge of the destiny of human race, so then if we don't screw everything up survival is better than possible. And given that lately every other country not superrich tends to go through revolution or civil war or something every decade or two, and that the superrich countries are getting less rich by the day, it's really quite possible if done right.
As for Mr. Smoke & Mirrors Elon Musk, I guess you haven't been following the news lately? His little empire is falling apart, despite him running his electric car plants in a way that would almost make Amazon blush (well, maybe not, given that the assembly line workers aren't required to wear rollerskates yet). Sure he could make lots of money selling batteries for his Tesla coalburners (where do you think the electricity comes from?), what with the government subsidies. As for hydro, sure, except that they have practically run out of dammable rivers, and dams are indeed incredibly destructive environmentally in every way other than global warming (you only just found out about that lately?)
Solar power is fine for heating your home, unless you live in a country like, say, England where it tends to be overcast a lot. Modern batteries are fine for your car, not so fine for maintaining an electric power grid in a major city or industrial area. The myth that the next battery to come along will be able to do that kind of job is on a level with the cold fusion excitement under the late Ronald Reagan, remember that?

137:

The real problem with nuclear power isn't meltdowns, it's that nuclear plants are just too expensive. Back when world capitalism was healthier, it was possible for industrialists, sometimes even without government support, to look to the future and build 'em. Due to Marx's falling rate of profit due to rising organic composition of capital (if you don't know what that is look it up) as the world economy heads down the tubes it just ain't gonna happen.
The most modern and most efficient form of nuclear reactors, which might even be affordable, is breeder reactors, which are resisted as anybody with a breeder reactor also has nukes if they want them. It would be a terrible shame of course if the bulk of the nuclear weapons in the world were no longer in the hands of that stable genius Donald Trump...

138:

Ah, you've really drunk the official mainstream koolaid on that one! The loans from German banks went together with orders that they had to be spent on what the Fourth Reich, pardon me the EU, wanted them to be spent on. Especially tanks and planes, which is why Greece has one of the largest and most irrelevant militaries in Europe (except for using against popular insurgency). Naturally governmental ineptitude played a big role here, but it was a macro version of what happened in America in 2008, when literally millions of Americans lost their homes because of "subprime mortgages" and other clever financial tools the banksters had inveigled them to take on.

139:

Now that's the garbage I was looking for! I was studying wind turbines in university for one of my works, so I found out a lot about them.

1. The oil and gas industry have *huge* subsidies - on prospecting, on production, etc, etc.
They are also taxed as hell, on average. Once you get the well going, it profits you beyond anything you can imagine - that's one reason US is so attracted to different oil kingdoms.

2. 20 years ago, it was $2M US to put a new wind turbine in. And there are more and more wind farms, because oh, I know it's so polluting to build a turbine (more than one for a petrochemical-burning generator, yep..), and then you have to pay for fuel for 20 years... um, well, nope.
Putting up 1 MW turbine or 1 MW solar plant nowadays costs about. One. Million. Dollars. At best, that is. Comparable diesel generator costs 10 times less, sometimes +-50%. And if you want to ship it somewhere else so you do not have to bring all that fuel with you, be ready to ship a lot.

3. The wind is *always* blowing, somewhere. And there's this thing called the power grid.
There's a thing called maneuvering power. It costs money, and you need a lot of it to cover up load decrease in supply and increase in demand. Or you can just put another diesel generator nearby, like most of the people do. It is cheaper and everybody will try to ignore it is there.
http://tass.com/economy/991802

4. You'd be amazed at how little wind it takes to spin a turbine....
It takes a little to keep the turbine spinning, but it takes a lot to produce power with it. You can fully expect the turbine to reach peak power for 5-10% of the time, while the average loading will be about 30-40% at best.

Anyway, if you want to have a wind or solar farm, you better have a good reason to have it, like strong northern winds in the arctic or strong sun in the desert. Not the other way around.

Trolley buses?! You still have trolley buses?
Yes, a lot of them. They start up like beasts, they have service life two times the regular bus, do not have huge batteries and are absolutely clean. We've had some issues with town council in Moscow trying to get rid of them, but so far they did not really do much, and instead actually put some electrical buses with accumulators.

140:

Designed by whom? America of course, over a certain amount of European resistance. The partial economic unification of Europe by the Nazis at pistol point, for the purpose of bleeding Europe dry, got replaced by the velvet glove (over the iron fist) of American rule, to get Europe going again so that all those GM and Ford plants in Europe could make money. (The "economic miracle" was due to the economic balkanization of Europe before WWII being Europe's biggest economic problem). All lubricated by the fear of the European ruling classes for the Soviet menace.
The EEC and then the EU were simply the economic counterpart of NATO, whose purpose was not peace between the Europeans, something hardly difficult to maintain in the aftermath of WWII, but war against the Soviet Union. Which only didn't happen because the Soviets had too many nukes to make it a practical idea, so instead you had Korea, Vietnam etc.
Not having tariff barriers between European countries is a good idea, but you don't need the EU and it's anti-labor anti-socialist rules for that, all you need is free trade agreements with no additional nasty clauses. Like the USA has with Canada. (NAFTA is very bad news for Mexico, but is harmless for Canada).

141:

Actually, we aren't doomed, all we need is worldwide revolution against capitalism
This is actually most difficult part of the plan, really. Everything else is trivially(with supercomputers, anyway) calculable. First problem is that we don't have a pristine clean capitalism anymore, and there's all too many forms of it here. There's also a lot of people who believe they do not need any changes of that magnitude at any point of the future, because their system is good enough already. They would rather burn down half of the world and enslave the rest of it rather than let somebody to destroy their perfect future. And the second problem is that we don't really know how to run the world after we get rid of those pesky capitalist - the economic system has to be changed fundamentally to provide we don't return back to the previous state of affairs.

The real problem with nuclear power isn't meltdowns, it's that nuclear plants are just too expensive.
The safety is expensive, really. Also, the capital investment is really big, so only a handful of countries can keep up with the standards to it. With all the lessons we learned, the price is increased substantially, but the safety is normally redundant to absurd degree.

142:

Stalin was a mass murderer, and the Soviet model totally lacked what can make a centralized planning model workable over the longterm, namely democracy. As some right wing economist whose name I can never remember pointed out more than half a century ago, it is simply impossible for a small group of clever planners in a government office to plan out an entire economy. Without input from below by the workers in the factories (or whatever nowadays) and the consumers in the market place, you get the sort of things that happened with the Soviet economy. Which of course with all its problems was a vast improvement over the free market capitalism forced down ex-Soviet throats in the Nineties, the death toll from which was also in the millions.
BTW, the Soviet archives are pretty wide open and the number of people killed by Stalin and his underlings is now quite well known, a bit less than two million. Bad enough without inflating the figures. And quite comparable from the death toll from things the CIA has done, notably the CIA orchestrated bloodbath in Indonesia in 1965, the death toll from which, and here I'm talking about actual executions, is not established but definitely over the million mark. And then of course Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya... More millions died due to Stalinist economic ineptitude, notably in Ukraine during the great famine, but IMF blunderings in Africa created similar death tolls. And Churchill's decision to starve India during WWII to punish Indians for wanting independence.
And then there was Bill Clinton's bright idea of unleashing Rwanda's Kagame into the Congo to get revenge for what happened in his country on the refugees who fled and let him grab the natural resources. The usual death toll listed for that is six million, not because anyone has counted, but simply because that's the number of Jews that died in the Holocaust, and what happened to the Congo is considered more or less equivalent by those few Westerners who've paid much attention.

143:

And then there was Bill Clinton's bright idea of unleashing Rwanda's Kagame into the Congo to get revenge for what happened in his country on the refugees who fled and let him grab the natural resources. The usual death toll listed for that is six million, not because anyone has counted, but simply because that's the number of Jews that died in the Holocaust, and what happened to the Congo is considered more or less equivalent by those few Westerners who've paid much attention.

@Host / Mod - don't delete this post.

144:
the Fourth Reich, pardon me the EU

OK, I think all useful conversation is now done.

145:

Yes, you're right, that is exactly the hard part. But then, like the song says, I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. IMHO, that's where the efforts of those who want to save the planet and its sometimes fairly intelligent inhabitants should be directed.

146:

nuclear power ... The safety is expensive ... the safety is normally redundant to absurd degree.

Depends on how you look at it. If you include the full cost of suppressing the leaks from Chernobyl (lots of foreign aid there, IIRC), there's not much money difference between the absurdly safe ones and the cheaply built, cheaply operated ones. Even when you spread that over the whole USSR nuclear generation system.

The secondary cost, lives lost and so on, are obviously lower for the absurdly safe ones, but Russia has a long history of feeding bodies into the fire so I think we could argue that they don't regard those costs as significant. It was only when the wind blew west that there was a problem. But then look at Fukushima and even the Japanese come across as pretty casual about the whole thing, at least until the shit hit the fan and their wider population got upset. Which makes me wonder just how safe the German reactors are. They also have a reputation for reliability and rule-following... and a big group of local anti-nuclear people who are presumably wondering the same thing.

Having hung round with some of the anti-nuclear nutters in Australia, a lot of their concerns are no more reasonable than the anti-vaxxers or neo-Nazis. But there are also a lot of very reasonable anti-nuclear types, from economists like John Quiggin who just think it's too expensive, to the open government fans who don't trust the long history of almost-covered-up problems, to a few who can thing longer term who worry about the high level waste.

147:

For Greg / Het.

Please grep / search out these two stories:

#1 MIT student paper hacked, humerus results therein
#2 Harvard buys CA aquifer rights


You will understand the humor a lot better once you've eaten those pieces of the puzzle. This works a lot better when we're dealing with not your fucking species.


And yes: if you think we really thing that Ecologists, MIT wunderkinds etc are that dumb, well. Welcome to the Suck.

148:

Your arguments just sound so similar to the ones people made about financial deregulation that I can't take them seriously.

So, I think you're badly (and in fact dangerously) wrong, but I also don't think this is the right forum for an argument about it (this isn't meant to be rude, I just don't think we're likely to sort anything out here).

149:

Yeah, I suppose that was a little over the top on my part. Sorry.

150:

@Bill. Be with you in moment.

Sooooo, ok, let's do this dance. We both know what we're not, and human it ain't.

JH. What's your real name then, boy?

Before we start, please be aware that this IP is from Hungary, so we might be taking the piss on a meta-level for the spooks before we've even started.

But: You Had My Curiosity, Now You Have My Attention

And then there was Bill Clinton's bright idea of unleashing Rwanda's Kagame into the Congo to get revenge for what happened in his country on the refugees who fled and let him grab the natural resources. The usual death toll listed for that is six million, not because anyone has counted, but simply because that's the number of Jews that died in the Holocaust, and what happened to the Congo is considered more or less equivalent by those few Westerners who've paid much attention.

Now that's a cutey-pie. Your translation broke down in the first sentence because you missed some of the copy/paste out. Probably bad wet-ware, we've heard your Hosts are getting Dementia right proper fast like now due to... War.

Now then: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobutu_Sese_Seko

And, of course, the two modern Congo wars took around 8 million lives. Which "out-ranks" the Holocaust, if we're doing numerology. Which isn't what it's about.

But... Come now.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.


Holocausts are about the erasure of Memory, Names and Minds.


What's my real name, JH?

151:

Seems there are a bunch of different definitions of capitalism and socialism being tossed around. Instead, how about spelling out which parts of society have what types of authority, power, responsibility, costs to bear, etc. (Might cool down some of the heated rhetoric and generate ideas/solutions.)


152:

JH wants a reckoning.

She's not quite sure about what, yet, she's only just woken up.

Ah, such naivete. Of course

There is only one test: What. Is. My. Name.

153:

I already knew about the Harvard aquifer buy, since it made the local papers. As Schwarznegger once said, "Whiskey's For Drinking, Water's for Fighting Over."

Also, I guess that you think some people are asuras? Or would that be pretas?

154:

...waits for JH. It will not come.

As humor goes, the 2nd non-coming of J-H-"ffs that was a shitty Cut/paste Holocaust denial joke" is a lame joke, but at least you tried.

[Note: Most Americans do not understand Waiting For Godot: Russians understand it implicitly]

Wandering, wandering...


TL;DR - cute joke. Much "Naivety".


Also, I guess that you think some people are asuras? Or would that be pretas?

Hmm.

"I'm not fucking a Cat"


What you fucking summoned is a bit beyond the old Zuul bullshit.

155:

_Moz_ @ 64: But in happy news I found a cover of a Jesus and Mary Chain song by Sandie Shaw. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1UH6HjLGW8

I can't find the original, or the lyrics or the original/cover with lyrics.

156:

@JH
"I guess you haven't been following the news lately? His little empire is falling apart..."

Do you have proof for this assertion? I know he smoked pot once, but that's not adequate proof

"Tesla coalburners (where do you think the electricity comes from?)"
Natural gas. Haven't you been following the news lately? Coal's falling apart. There's a reason coal country went for Trump overwhelmingly. In addition, the US may become a natural gas exporter.

Oh, and another thing. I'm not a libertarian, so I don't view subsidies as a bad thing. Please justify why you think they're bad?

@Pigeon
"But as far as I'm concerned they can stay there. We don't need them (I don't count the possibility of making even more money by people who already have vastly more than is even useful to have as a "need")..."

I and a majority of Americans disagree with you. I have no problem with rich people who have more money than sense paying money for these rockets (as opposed to another yacht or a golden house).

157:

GMT (Host Time): 01.18. And there we have it.

Had an hour, couldn't step up, did fuck all.

You fucked it. Totally did a May. "Nebulous" in your convictions. The great white herald of rebellion, just utterly fucked it.

~


Problem is.

We're not your Abrahamic "Devil".


"Gave it all up for a wank".

Yeah.

Totally sounds correct mate.


Like Doctors masturbating women over their hysteria.


Or veils.


Yep.


You totally smashed it out of the park.


A=A

A=/=A


You totally fucking did it.


Polite Notice: Your Minds will not survive this Weapon.

p.s.


{Subject} did it fucking handicapped to take the piss.

158:

I don't have numbers, just anecdotes. A lot of older Romanians of my acquaintance (who lived through Caucescu) blame the death toll of the 90s on the Communists. "It's the communists that left our country in such a bad state that hundreds of thousands of Romanians died". They are almost unanimously glad to be rid of it. The views of the younger generation are more mixed (I don't care; it's ancient history being the predominant one).

159:

Ironically the guy most against communism and most pro-American is a relative who served in Securitate (the Romanian KGB).

160:

Greg Tingey @ 104: You don't like Liberal Dermocracy, do you?

From my point of view, the problem with "Liberal Democracy" is how illiberal it becomes once the capitalists get hold of it.

161:

Greg Tingey @ 104: You don't like Liberal Dermocracy, do you?

JBS @ 160: From my point of view, the problem with "Liberal Democracy" is how illiberal it becomes once the capitalists get hold of it

Actually, it's not just the "capitalists" ... It's all of the "ists" & "isms"; left, right and center. All political and moral philosophies - even "Liberal Democracy" - eventually seem to devolve into a society that operates for the benefit of some core elite and screw everybody else.

If I ever figure out how to prevent that happening, I'll let y'all know ... but don't hold your breath waiting.

162:

Perhaps this is something hardwired into our species? We're hairless apes, after all

163:

Serene Randomness @ 119: One quick note.

I'm still trying to figure out whether I'd rig either the Trans-Siberian Railroad or the US Great Plains tracks to run on line electricity (third rail)

Third rail won't work for either one. Too many long stretches where it would be impossible to protect the third rail from ignorant people and protect ignorant people from the third rail. Overhead lines are the way to go.

U.S. trans-continental railroads gripe me anyway. Every one of them was a swindle. The routes were built on "government" land (essentially stolen from the indigenous people) with subsidized bonds. The "entrepreneurs" who built them amassed unconscionable fortunes while defaulting on their debts to the government & bankrupting investors. The resulting consolidation into near monopoly left them owning the rails they neither built, nor paid for and on top of that they're responsible for the outrageous notion that corporations are people.

164:

Ah, you've really drunk the official mainstream koolaid on that one! The loans from German banks went together with orders that they had to be spent on what the Fourth Reich, pardon me the EU, wanted them to be spent on. Especially tanks and planes, which is why Greece has one of the largest and most irrelevant militaries in Europe (except for using against popular insurgency).

It’s amusing that you accuse others of being gullible, while apparently being quite ignorant of history and current affairs...

The reason that Greece chose the “large conscript Army” is history - they’ve fought two world wars within their own borders, they’ve been invaded and occupied (go and look up “Ohi Day”). This was followed by a vicious civil war. Now step forward into the 1960s/70s, add a military coup. Don’t forget that Greece, by then, is the vulnerable country on NATO’s southern flank - land borders with Bulgaria.

And above all, note that the Warsaw Pact is only “the opponent”. You’re forgetting “the enemy”, which is Turkey (we lived in Bulgaria during the 1974 Cyprus thing; Greek tank columns were facing east, not north).

The Greek military is apparently as efficient as the rest of Greek society... but note, the Greek tanks and planes weren’t bought with EU funds from EU nations; those F-86, F-104, F-16 were bought from the USA through FMS. When the M60s wore out, they bought some second-hand Leopards as replacements from Dutch and German stocks.

So you’re... somewhat incorrect.

165:

whitroth @ 124: I have been ranting against the MBA since the early 80's (in fact, I was arguing with a professor who taught it at the U of P at a party in '83), and I'm clearly *right*. I don't care what they *claim* to teach, what 90% (who ruin the rep of all the rest...) do is to think that a software house is the same as a steel mill is the same as a farm is the same as a 7-11 (and let's not forget that workers are interchangeable, and experienced people expect too much money).

Don't forget "spherical cows in a vacuum".

166:

JH @ 133: Actually, I have read the Wealth of Nations. I read Marx's Das Kapital first, and the first thing that struck me was how similar much of what he had to say was to the stuff in Marx's book.

Since Adam Smith died some 28 years before Karl Marx was born, I don't think it's really appropriate to imply Adam Smith plagiarized his ideas from Marx.

167:

Original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGowXmXqPJI (has lyrics in description)

https://genius.com/The-jesus-and-mary-chain-about-you-lyrics

[Verse]
I...can see
That you...and me
Live our lives in the pouring rain
And the raindrops beat out of time to our refrain
And you...and me
Will win...you'll see
People die in their living rooms
But they do not need this God almighty gloom

[Outro]
There's something warm about the rain
There's something warm
There's something warm
There's something warm in everything
I know there's something good
There's something good
About you
About you
About you
I know there's something warm
There's something warm
There's something warm
Good about you

168:

It’s a long time since I read any, perhaps I should revisit, but I had an understanding that the evidence or consensus is that Marx read Smith but not, perhaps, Ricardo. However I always thought Marx’s key insight was, if not the invention of macro, the linkage of macro as a theory about a system with the contemporary development of thermodynamics and the isomorphism around entropy. Not clear whether Marx read Maxwell (who was around a decade younger?), but I humbly suggest that is a more interesting question than a linkage with Smith.

OTOH the labour theory of value was part of the common understanding by then, maybe not old but certainly widely shared.

169:

Trolley buses ( @ 126 127 )
Like THESE? - I remember these – replaced by diesel buses yuck.

Tfb @ 129
that's all stuff our great grandparents dealt with'. Well, yes, they can, and yes, it can A point-blank refusal to learn from history – which ( basically ) isn’t taught any more, which doesn’t help.

JH @ 138
( I note that others have picked up on your dangerous delusion, but here’s my 2d-worth )
the Fourth Reich, pardon me the EU Oh do FUCK RIGHT OFF – this is parroting the most rabid of the “brexiteers” so-called arguments, which are simply a strung-together collection of (very plausible) lies.
Along with the EU and it's anti-labour anti-socialist rules Oh yeah, that’s why the tory right want out of the EU, so they can institute “better” terms & working conditions for their slavesstaff ….

JBS @ 161
Now there you have a point … but do be careful, otherwise you will turn into a christian or muslim or something equally horrible, that wants to “reform” &/or “purify” humanity - & we know where that one leads.

170:

ARRRGGHHH! NOE!

[ "Federal Judge" rules Obamacare "unconstitootial" - oh SHIT ]

171:

"Marx read Smith but not, perhaps, Ricardo"

Have a look at

site:www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works ricardo

Marx was _very_ well read.

BTW, a quick search of the same archive turns up nothing for Marx on Maxwell, but there's a mss by Engels on the Dialectics of Nature where Maxwell makes multiple appearances:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1883/don/

The table of contents is fun and I can't resist pasting it in:

Preface, by J. B. S. Haldane
Introduction
Dialectics
Basic Form of Motion
The Measure of Motion - Work
Heat
Electricity
Tidal Friction, Kant and Thomson - Tait on the Rotation of the Earth and Lunar Attraction
The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man
Natural Science and the Spirit World

172:

How did the Tory party become so inept?

In general terms - the force of history, if you will - you're right.

But there are specific problems in the selection of MP's in play, some of which apply to the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties too. I'll give you two of them: the 'Beige Party' effect, and patronage.

Another Beige in a Diary

All major Parliamentary parties have a centralised selection system, intended to weed out dangerous nutters. It's somewhat weaker in the Conservative Party - Constituency Associations have a surprising amount of power here and some of them are a little odd - but the effect is that a central censor selects for conformity, obedience, and 'presentability' in media campaigns directed at the middle classes.

In short: 'Safe' candidates.

The outcome, of course, is a cohort of presentable and photogenic media-savvy candidates with impressive but unexciting CV's...

Dear Diarrhoea...

...Who are skilful liars concealing sociopathic levels of ambition and an utterly amoral, transactional, view of policy and principles.

If it plays well with the focus groups and the media patron, or it's personally profitable but palatable (or air-brushable) to the electorate, than that's what the Beige candidate passionately 'believes' in today.

No matter what 'that' actually is. And it doesn't really matter, because it'll be another 'that' next month, or next year, and the one after.

Despite being clever - or at least, quite skilful at media - such people are actually rather dim. They don't think long-term and they *definitely* don't think of consequences because it is inconceivable to them that they will ever suffer any.

They are, without exception, economically illiterate; and, sometimes, in the worst possible way: miseducation in neoliberal economic dogma.

A specific source of their current stupidity - or cleverness, as it may seem to them - is the 'Alton' effect: a parliamentary constituency where the margin of victory (or defeat, in Alton) is always and *exactly* the size of the vote secured by one or other right-wing 'fringe' party.

These days, that fringe party is UKIP, but there's a long history of them. In general terms, those votes matter far more than appealing to the bovine placidity of the middle class - regarded with contempt, as cattle consuming their opinions from mass media - who were always going to vote for the same party anyway. Or so the Beige politician believes, and the infallible focus groups confirm it.

Appealing to those fringe party voters leads to taking some odd, or damaging, or ever-such-a-little-bit-racist positions: and the 'odd' ones are generally very, very stupid.

These positions become very, very passionate 'beliefs' indeed if they get regular airtime on the BBC; and you get to be the darling of Daily Mail if you support them publicly. You might even get to be on UKIP-TV, too!

Or visit Washington, for a personal briefing by Mr Bannon (Which party was I talking about? Never mind. It's Beige)


So: the Beige Party. You've written about this, and I'd appreciate it if you reposted the link.

The bit you didn't pick up on, way back then, was the ineptitude: but it follows naturally from *following* an agenda you don't 'own' rather than setting out to *lead* the media. There's no strategy, just opportunism, and you eventually use up the good opportunities and end up chasing the bad ones.

And it follows, inevitably, from recruiting a party of socipathic liars, that they are fundamentally incapable of loyalty and cannot form coherent and effective factions.

Take a sideways look at the ERG: well-funded and with unlimited access to the media, persistent and disruptive - but utterly incapable of forcing a leadership election, and far, far short of being a credible faction capable of nominating a candidate for Party Leader and PM.

'Inept' fits them far too well. They have a common banner but no common cause, and their 'cooperation' is that of vultures on a carcass.

It follows, also, that the patronage networks of the Old Conservative party do not work for a beige politician: who would make a protégé of someone so dangerously disloyal and ungrateful?

The only current example of a protégée that I can point to is Amber Rudd; and that's a terrible example.

The patronage networks do, however, work for...

The other type of inept Conservative: Posh Berks

The sort of chap who's the Right Sort Of Chap, with the right sort of tie, with the right sort of friends, can still be a shoe-in for the right Constituency Association.

Such men are urbane, highly skilled at networking, and often rather cunning: but they tend not to have been unduly challenged in their privileged lives, and are generally rather dim.

The bright ones went into banking, and became billionaires: it's by far the smartest way to deploy the social capital.

The less-bright ones went into PR and lobbying, and murky areas of business where contacts and privilege matter more than intelligence and ability; and the limit-case of high social capital and low intelligence is...

...Becoming a posh Conservative MP.

Some of these men have progressed through life on a golden escalator of effortless privelege that has failed to challenge their weaknesses - and, often, failed to expose and eliminate dangerous character flaws - producing powerful and influentual politicians with (say) the flaws of narcissism and compulsive lying, baked into the confidence of a dangerous fool who never, ever suffers any personal consequences for his utterances and his actions.

Most of these are, of course, no worse than mediocre. But a mediocrity promoted beyond their intelligence into a position of real power can be very damaging.

The worst of it is that their ineptitude - and, all too often, their delusions - are praised by their like-minded colleagues.

And, of course, by the media.

And there, right there, is the keystone of this unedifying edifice of monumental ineptitude: their media are praising and promoting the most inept among them.


173:

As some right wing economist whose name I can never remember pointed out more than half a century ago, it is simply impossible for a small group of clever planners in a government office to plan out an entire economy.

You're thinking of Ludwig von Mises, Freidrich Hayek, and the economic calculation problem. It's very specifically a critique of central planning, and has no bearing on whether distributed systems can get the job done; their work also predates modern algorithmics and is, arguably, incorrect.

See also Project Cybersyn for an account of an early 1970s attempt to design a real-time computerized central planning system in Chile—it showed promise, but a certain Alfredo Pinochet interrupted it at gunpoint.

174:

Noted.

Yellow Card to JH: any attempt to use the term "Fourth Reich" to any polity not actually run by goose-stepping nazis with death camps will result in a perma-ban.

(Hint: am an EU citizen, and proud of it. Yes, the EU has some very major flaws. But it also has some really useful benefits, and it's no less amenable to incremental repairs and improvements than any other half-billion-populous superpower. Suggesting it's a murderous despotism is highly inappropriate, until you can point to the existence of a similar sized polity that's doing better—and the USA ain't it.)

175:

Huge chunks of this applies to the US system, as well.
IMHO the area where this applies the most is the media. There is a vast group of know-nothings who never suffer even when their advice leads to disaster.

176:

For intermittency, there is the daily cycle, the few daily cycle, and the seasonal cycle. The daily cycle and the few daily cycle can probably be handled with currently conceivable storage technologies. The seasonal cycle is probably better handled with overcapacity. The cost for solar farms is becoming comparable. And, in countries with moderately poor infrastructure, I'm not sure that solar is actually less reliable.

Now, I'm also not sure that, from an environmental impact perspective, nuclear isn't preferable. Running a civilization off of solar requires overcapacity, which requires a fairly large 'life-unfriendly' footprint. Not a gigantic footprint, just fairly large. It is preferable from a civilizational perspective - nice fixed power output and plenty of fuel.

For nuclear, the burden of over-regulation probably exceeds other costs. (Eg, in terms of construction costs, for the US, they went from 650 / kilowatt to 11,000 per kilowatt.) It seems kind of regrettable that environmentalists seem to be against nuclear for mostly tribal reasons.

Now, some might make the argument that preventing the release of nuclear materials is important - but that falls a bit hollow considering that coal plants have historically released significantly higher doses. I'd be really amused if fossil fuels were required to beat nuclear's record for radioactive emissions / kWHr.

Still, there's a real point about the costs of renewables. From the perspective of someone lucky enough to be reasonably well off in a first-world country - it really does make sense to reduce the damage we're doing to this planet. On the other hand, from the perspective of someone living on less than 10 USD per day (median world income ~2013), I'd be inclined to offer to drive a Tesla as soon as you gave me one...note that leased or lent didn't come up. And sure, I'd be glad to let you pay extra for my solar power.

That said, Tesla's point isn't to sell luxury automobiles - it is to develop the technology sufficiently so that everyone with a car can afford it. In places like SK, owing to the horrendous fuel taxes, they already make economic sense. (Albeit, this is an artificial incentive...) In the US, not so much. (If you're looking at a new car, then you're already not showing economic sense...) It seems likely that electric cars are fundamentally a bit cheaper than internal combustion engines - engines are a lot more complex than electric motors...they're just 30-40 years behind in manufacturing...and already not that far from parity...so...yep...there's a reason many car companies are working on R&D.

177:

Holocausts are about the erasure of Memory, Names and Minds.

"Who now remembers the Armenians?" — Adolf Hitler.

(Yet another reason for not lightening up on Erdogan and Turkish genocide denialism, but hey.)

178:
the economic calculation problem

I thought that the essence of that problem was that there was no way to sort out the various desires of "consumers" (whether they were people wanting shoes and cheese, or industrialists wanting iron ore and bauxite) unless you had some sort of pricing model, and people had to decide what they wanted more based on their limited number of "tokens" available to allocate to their choices. And this is the crux of the "free market".

(IIRC, just asking them doesn't work out well enough, because sometimes someone's true relative desires aren't surfaced until they have to make a choice under limits. Distributed computing is just a red herring here - there's no accurate model or algorithm to compute from.)

(Now, the method by which you allocate those limited number of tokens, based upon the relative values of labor, "management", "capital", etc. - that's a completely different problem.)

179:

Sort-of.

The problem is, Mises and Hayek assumed there could be no purely internal demand-signaling mechanism within a planning system; that you had to go with money, or a pure command-driven system.

In the pre-computer age, it would be prohibitively time-consuming to have managers bid using some notional points system to indicate how urgently they needed access to a resource, so this was a reasonable assumption. But today …? We can conceive of a planning system with an internal currency analog and complex collation of values/expenses, because computing power is ridiculously cheap. We can also conceive of such virtual currencies having mechanisms for taking account of externalities, such as the cost of environmental pollution. Or for weighting public popularity/unpopularity (tanks are less useful to the public than butter: maybe the Defense Ministry's virtual dollars—for purchasing power—should run at a floating exchange rate relative to consumer good virtual dollars, dictated by a metric for international instability?)

180:

...Tesla coalburners (where do you think the electricity comes from?)

This is complete bullshit. Did anyone think we'd complete all the pieces of a completely green/electric system at exactly the same time? We now have electric cars and (some) coal-burning electric plants. That's better than having no electric cars and (more) coal burning electric plants.

Eventually we'll have electric cars and zero coal-burning plants. Then finally we'll have electric cars and ALL green electric plants. (or at worst, some version of nuclear that's safer and cheaper than the nuclear plants we have now.)

181:

JH was talking about which author he read first, not who wrote it first (which JH did not address at all.)

182:

Charlie
Another common point between the (ultra?) leftists like Corbyn who hate the EU & the rightwing nutjobs who hate the EU is the language.
"Fourth Reich" & "EUSSR" are the favoured mis-labellings - & are to be quite commonly seen, too.

Yes, the EU has some very major flaws Which is why I was almost, quite closely, conned into voting "leave" ... but didn't in the end, because of foreign policy & trade problems re-asserting themselves in my thinking, as opposed to the extremely apparently-plausible propaganda of the leavers.

a similar sized polity that's doing better
Well, lets make a list shall we - requirement of what, the US size, approx 350-400 million?
US - plainly not at present.
EU - already discussed
Russia - corrupt arbitrary & cruel, especially to small weak neigbours - also, possibly not big enough? ( Russia + Belarus = 154 million )
India - might have qualified 10-30 years back, but now the BJP are in charge is heading in the direction of religous fascism, to compete with various states' muslim fascism.
Brazil ( 210 million ) - also just flipped to quasi-fascism, but may not last as such.
China - you must be joking!

@ 179
There are OTHER considerations when making purchases, though.
"The Boss" has just decided that a really major supermaket chain can FUCK RIGHT OFF for a pre-ordered (delivered?) semi-bulk purchase, even though the goods are desired & at a reasonable price.
Because fucking Sainsburys ( for it is they ) demand that you can't "log in as a guest" for such purchases, you MUST "register" & add all sorts of interesting details about yourself, before you are graciously permitted to buy their stuff at all. Be it noted that some other supermarkets will allow you to do this & thus have got our pre-ordering ( collect ourselves ) custom.
Money is not the only "value" in such a transaction, by any manner of means.

[ The economists' equivalent of a spherical cow, perhaps? ]

183:

I think the main value of the EU has been unexplored here. In not fighting for 70 years, there has been a wonderful reduction in the kind of thinking which runs, "The Italians/Germans/Spanish killed my father, so I will be happy to go to war with them."

This is accompanied by an increase in the kind of thinking which runs, "My father worked for a Spanish company, drove a German car, and wore Italian shoes, why do I have arguments with any of those people?"

Don't ever underestimate the power of complacent, happy people to keep you out of a war.

184:

Re: ' ... there was no way to sort out the various desires of "consumers"'

You mean like marketing research which major corps have been using and refining since the 1940s? Plenty of ways of identifying niches and selling to them - well-known example is the auto sector which has approx. 100 different segments since about the 1970s. Anyways the number of segments is irrelevant/trivial, it's their relationships among themselves and with other stuff that matters. (And, as also demonstrated by the auto sector, individuals can belong to more than one market segment, i.e., own more than one vehicle - so this approach is not the be-all.)

Price/token allocation pre-tests work only so-so because many people are unable to imagine how they would feel about something described in hypothetical scenarios. They'd also have to be able to guess at what the unknown other consequences might be. Frankly, this is where AI could help: track actual behavior, consequences and satisfaction and from that figure out what the real key inter-dependencies (and weightings) are as well as lag times between action-effect-reaction (satisfaction), identify best/worst combos, etc.

185:

Greg Tingey @ 169: => JBS @ 161
Now there you have a point … but do be careful, otherwise you will turn into a christian or muslim or something equally horrible, that wants to “reform” &/or “purify” humanity - & we know where that one leads.

BTDT-GTTS ... that's why the last paragraph suggests NOT looking to me for the ANSWER!!! The hardest lesson I learned in life is I ain't got it.

There was a time in life when I imagined I did. Of course, I was so much older then ....

Amazing that was more twenty-five years ago.

I do however try to remain optimistic. Every day I wake up, I think this might finally be the day I find a clue ... and if not, at least I have coffee.

186:

Greg Tingey @ 170: ARRRGGHHH! NOE!

[ "Federal Judge" rules Obamacare "unconstitootial" - oh SHIT ]

Anyone who's been half paying attention knew that was only a matter of time.

Still, the fat lady ain't sung yet ...

Fifth Circuit might over-rule him yet, and if not it's going to end up all the way up to the Supreme Court again before it's all over.

187:

"The seasonal cycle is probably better handled with overcapacity."

That is why solar power is such a boondoggle in the UK and, more generally, in all high latitude locations. To meet even 10% of the power usage in the winter (when the demand is greatest) needs the best part of 3,000 square miles of panels, using the average insolation. And the areas where the insolation is greatest (by a factor of 2-3) are the most densely occupied. If it meets only 1%, why not simply install a bit more of something more effective? You can handle small seasonal variation with overcapacity, but large variation has to be handled using some other method of generation.

188:

The Versailles Treaty at the end of WW1 is regarded my many as a major factor instigating the Germans to re-arm and start WWII in Europe (I personally have my doubts on a simplistic approach to that sort of thinking but that's not why I brought it up). Part of the Treaty's demands were a restitution fine imposed by the Allies on Germany of 5 billion gold marks (most of which was never actually paid since the Treaty became a dead letter by the early 1930s).

That's an impressive figure, why was the restitution set at that amount? Well, when Prussia defeated France back in the War of 1871, another of those "invading armies crossing the Rhine" wars, the amount the victorious Prussians claimed (and received) as restitution was... aww, you guessed it! 5 billion gold marks!


That's an impressive figure, why was the restitution set at that amount? Well, when Napoleon defeated Prussia back in the early 1800s after crossing the Rhine he claimed (and received) as restitution the sum of... Surprise! Yes, 5 billion gold marks!

That's how factional Europe used to be, as bad as the Balkans with ten times the fighting manpower and longer memories. It was nice to grow up in a Europe that's stopped doing that sort of thing.

189:

Sorry, that quoted line was from Heteromeles.

I'm the one who pointed out the Trans-Siberian was overhead line, and was just quoting in a reply.

190:

Actually, the simpler answer for solar and wind in larger polities is to use the grid to ship electricity around from where its surplus to where it's needed. This works in the US, maybe not so much in the UK, especially if Brexit happens and Spanish renewable electricity isn't available in Scotland.

The problem with this 'shipping answer, as we're finding in California, is that the grid's proving to be a major source of huge wildfires.

The current solution to that wildfire problem (at least for electric companies that have been found liable for huge fires) is to shut down the grid during high wind events in dangerous areas, and yes, the company I'm thinking of has by far the best meteorological monitoring grid in the area.

That power outage in the middle of a hot wind event sucks for the customers, who fire up their petroleum-powered generators to keep their refrigerators running.

The longer term solution for grid outages is the house battery, which currently costs about 8 times as much as a cheap generator, but isn't enough to run a whole house yet. The hopefully near-term future scenario is a large house battery, suitable for charging an electric car. Then the battery can charge off a local solar array or the grid, depending on what's available, and if the grid goes down, there's power for the house for a week, or to keep the car charged for when you have to evacuate in advance of the fire.

Arrival time for these NexGen house batteries is 2-10 years for a commercial model (we're assuming they're going to be scrapped batteries from EVs, but who knows?). Or, if you're bored and a decent engineer, you can just buy a *lot* of AA lithium batteries and wire them into your own 100+ kWh battery pack, which you will park in a shed somewhere on your lot and nowhere near your house (homebuilt big batteries are a wee bit of a fire hazard). There are already online instructions for how to do this.

My prediction is that when big batteries become available, there's going to be a rapid adoption of house battery tech in upscale homes. It's just too tempting not to. The problem we have now is that existing house batteries are too small and too low amp to be useful as more than emergency backups for keeping the fridge running during a power outage. Get one that can recharge your commuter EV in eight hours or less, and things change rather drastically.

As I've stated before, I'm not against the theory of using nuclear energy. I am very much against the managers of the current nuclear plants in my state due to their past and current actions, and that management culture may be the harder problem to solve when it comes to using this power.

191:

Re: Obamacare vs. Supreme Court

Yeah - let's see how this works out with that new totally apolitical kid on the bench. (I like beer!)


192:

"the USA ain't"

Okay, but in defense of the USA, its politics have been co-opted over the past decades by a minority of sociopaths that don't really understand what a "government" is, the concept of social contract, basic economic principals, or human decency. That's mixed with another (sometimes overlapping) minority that would be really, really excited by the actual apocalypse rearing its head within their lifetime. And has what amounts to collective schizophrenia regarding national identity, founding mythology, their connection to reality, etc. Grading on that curve, it's really quite remarkable we only crap the bed a few times a month, pieces of sanity sometimes rear their head to say "hey, maybe someone should clean up that turd?" (Though honestly, this analogy does an extreme disservice to actual schizophrenics who can be plenty more functional than that)

193:

House batteries also give us the ability to buy electricity at the cheap times then use it during peak hours - to run my air conditioning, for example.

194:

That only works when there are a few people doing that, folks rich enough to splunk down $10,000 on a home appliance. Lots of people doing that means the periods when electricity is significantly cheaper dry up and the daily/weekly price curve flattens. After that the Return On Investment period stretches into the decades but by then Elon Musk will be selling some other form of snake-oil -- someone on another blog suggested small modular nuclear reactors.

195:

Here we sit, typing on descendants of that snake oil device that people were building in their garages in the 1970s--the personal computer--and you're trying to tell us that, even though people are building home batteries now and spreading the information about how to do it while their antecessors are selling in Home Depot, it's all snake oil and that we'll be running on home-sized nukes in the future? Where's the evidence that anyone is building tiny nukes for home use?

196:

Re: ' ... by then Elon Musk will be selling some other form of snake-oil'

If he can make alternate non-fossil energy cool, then why not. Alternate energy tech is probably at the point where it can be marketed to status conscious gotta-have-the-latest-gizmo types. (Musk can be to alternate energy what Jobs was to smartphones.)

I don't understand the problem with using multiple energy sources at the home level or for designing new specialty appliances that use different energy sources. It seems that a lot of arguments against incorporating newer energy sources are deliberately trying to erase this from their audiences' minds: we've relied on more than one energy source at a time for ages.

197:

More than half the US population lives in urban areas, literally on top of each other in rented tenements and condominium flats. They don't have a convenient "lot" to safely install a home battery pack. Tens of millions of them don't have $5000 to pay for even a small home battery unit to save them a couple of hundred bucks a year buying in cheap electricity. In addition that electricity is only cheap because it's in low demand -- enough home batteries charging overnight from the grid along with electric cars charging at the same time and it's possible "off-peak" overnight electricity might even become more expensive than daytime supply as the demand curves level off, since solar electricity dries up at night.

Home batteries and home solar are "I Got Mine Fuck You" writ large.

198:

Lots of people doing that means the periods when electricity is significantly cheaper dry up and the daily/weekly price curve flattens

That's the demand side, and you seem to be pointing out that the reason for having batteries is the reason we can't have batteries. No, that doesn't make sense to me either.

Where high battery penetration works is when *supply* is unreliable. Either because someone turns off the grid when it's windy, or because the grid is fed by intermittent renewables (or, as we see in Australia, intermittent fossil generators. Who would have guessed that extending the life of old equipment made it more prone to failures).

Right now we deal with that via huge swings in the price of wholesale electricity. In Australia we're talking -$100/MWH to +$10,000/MWh and the latter is only the case because price cap has been imposed. Yes, they really do make companies pay to feed power into the grid. But hose price swings make it very hard to keep a retail operation going when they have to set prices months in advance.

A better solution is to bank the electricity... either wholesale via pumped hydro or large batteries, or retail via batteries at home (or put wheels on the batteries and sell them as "cars").

199:

Tens of millions of them don't have $5000... "I Got Mine Fuck You" writ large.

Yes, exactly. But that's also true when you take solar and batteries out of the picture. It's right across the board, from sleeping in the streets to buying political representation. There's a whole political system designed from the start to enforce and extend the power of the rich to own/govern the poor.

200:

>Armenians
Real world is stranger than the fiction, you might want to dig up something about Armenian nationalism.
Rare Earth did rather strange documentary about the case, but even without digging deeper it is worth watching.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uUJeaWgQGU
Hint: most Armenians live outside their country, which makes it an excellent example of ironical nature of history.

On completely unrelated note: I was returning from certain concerto event today when I remembered some fascinating piece of novella I stumbled upon several years ago. "The Five Way Secret Agent" by Mack Reynolds. It was written 50 years ago and it was so intriguingly fitting for something modern that it took several days to pick up my jaw when I realized what is written in here.

(I don't have the English version, only a translated one) They use pocket videophones in their future. A personal pocket videophone, it can record your speech and trigger by spoken words, it sends signals to computer to spy on you. It can pinpoint your location. You can use it as a credit card, and ID card, and a clock. And voting terminal. And watch TV. That beside ability to connect to any other videophone in the world. Also computer networks and so on. And this is just one detail, I should probably reread the whole thing to find more of the parallels. (I advise you to do the same.)

201:

Re nuclear power, that's my opinion in the UK, too. The gummint uses the fact that anything to do with it is covered by the secrecy laws to hide gross incompetence and negligence.

202:

The gummint uses the fact that anything to do with it is covered by the secrecy laws to hide gross incompetence and negligence.

You're not just an anti-nuclear nutter, you're a tinfoil-hat-wearing anti-nuclear nutter! Welcome to the club, your badge (organic, vegan, fair trade of course) is in the mail.

203:

This is going to be one of those “Hey, I resemble that remark!” pieces, I can see.

204:

On completely unrelated note: I was returning from certain concerto event today when I remembered some fascinating piece of novella I stumbled upon several years ago. "The Five Way Secret Agent" by Mack Reynolds. It was written 50 years ago and it was so intriguingly fitting for something modern that it took several days to pick up my jaw when I realized what is written in here.

There was a handful or two of authors in those years, Reynolds prominent among them, who deserve a lot more recognition and study than they're currently getting. Ample room for a mega-anthology and maybe a few dissertations.

(BTW, Russian question: Mueller says Cohen had a Russian "trusted person" contact. I read that to be a "доверенное лицо", which, AIUI, is a fairly serious relation between a principal and his/her agent. Is that right?)

205:

So they're either stuck with line power, or their landlord puts a bigger battery pack in the basement of their building and sells them power at a markup. That happens now in much of the world anyway.

So you'd rather that slumlords put nuclear generators in tenements than batteries?

206:

Well, they do use secrecy as a coverup, actually. That time back in the 1960s that they left an expensive shipment of accelerometers on the loading dock overnight so that they froze and were unusable? That got stamped secret so they wouldn't have to pay for their own screwup.

Or that part where they copyright textbooks for their own employees and marked the copies secret so they don't have to pay royalties?

Those were from my late father, who held a secret clearance back in the 1960s. I'm sure things are better now, of course. And I'm quite sure they'd never lie about anything important.

207:

I've read some of his other books, too. Probably it has something to do with his socialist "ancestry" and ideas.

is a fairly serious relation between a principal and his/her agent. Is that right?
Not very strong with judicial system, but pretty much it is one of the meaning. It actually has too many meanings to list, it may also mean "envoy", "delegate", "proxy" and so on. Which always implies that he isn't representing his own interests, but rather someone else's. These all area easy to check in dictionary. One of the more direct meanings is "confidant", though, if that's what they really meant to say.

208:

Places with bad power, irregular supplies, brownouts, the locals use home generators and carry fuel to the tanks rather than installing expensive battery packs to provide for their needs. The fuel is almost exclusively fossil-carbon of one form or another, usually diesel.

Battery packs and solar panels cost a lot more up front than a cheap generator and fuel burned when it is needed. It's a Vimes Boots situation, in a lot of those places a solar panel plus battery option would probably work out cheaper over a ten-year period and they'd have sufficient electricity all the time they need it but they can't afford the $20,000 for the solar array and battery, they can maybe buy a $1000 second-hand generator and fuel can be stolen or purchased as needed (in the news recently, a big oil spill in Brazil caused by thieves breaking into a pipeline).

As for putting nuclear generators in basements, I've suggested doing something like that for spent-fuel storage to provide long-term fossil-carbon-free heating for tenements and condominiums. A concrete "dry cask" containment with half a dozen fuel assemblies ten years after exposure in the reactor core would be putting out about 50kW of heat day in day out. Not going to happen, people will continue to pipe combustible and explosive methane into their homes for heating instead because it's "safer".

209:

It actually has too many meanings to list, it may also mean "envoy", "delegate", "proxy" and so on. Which always implies that he isn't representing his own interests, but rather someone else's. These all area easy to check in dictionary.

Yes, I've been looking it up. Here's a useful one I found in a Russian commercial dicitonary, translated via Google Translate (which is amazingly good for a bot) to avoid injecting my own preconceptions:

http://btimes.ru/dictionary/doverennoe-litso


Доверенное лицо–

A trustee [Доверенное лицо] is 1) a representative of a natural or legal person who acts on behalf of, on the basis of a notarized power of attorney and on behalf of the represented person; 2) a disinterested legal or natural person who is appointed by arbitration or is selected by a meeting of creditors in order to manage the property of a bankrupt in the liquidation or reorganization of a bankrupt enterprise; 3) a citizen who carries out assistance in campaigning, election campaign and organizing election campaigns that facilitate the election of candidates.

210:

Доверенное лицо–

I should say that definition 1) is the one I've always had in mind, 2) is a fairly natural extension of it and 3) I never heard of before, though it's interesting in the context of 2016.

211:

While I think of it, and just jumping back a few steps for the moment, cf the September that never ended. When I was hanging around various programming and says admin oriented usenet groups in the late 90s and early 2000s, one lady who was a frequent poster in some of my groups had altered her client to express the date in terms of which day of September 1993 (for example, today would be 9,237 September 1993). And she was, AFAIR, Dutch... the usenet cultural references may have been a bit US centric, but were certainly international even at the time.

212:

Generators can be stolen too, of course, especially as anything <=5kVA is a convenient two-person lift. That's how the generator supply chain works: people with money buy generators and use them on building sites, people with no money come through the fence in the middle of the night, people with lots of money replace generators on insurance, and round we go again. That's why so many generators have the remains of stickers of building contractors or plant hire companies on them. It's also why a lot of them are mounted on a five-minute chassis made of angle iron and stick welds - the original chassis is part of a lighting tower or something.

Batteries are likewise obtainable in much the same way, but they have a couple of problems - two things which are not so readily available: inverters to convert their output to resemble the local mains, and jerry-cans of electricity for when they need recharging.

213:

Most building site generators, lighting towers etc. are hired in rather than purchased, at least here in the UK. They also come with movement sensors tied into GPS systems and phone-home alarms, coded wireless "keys" tied into the fuel injection controllers, all sorts of things to make them less attractive to casual thieves.

Small generators are remarkably cheap these days, quick Ebay search... 2kW "suitcase" generators with 4-stroke engines driving an inverter system with stable clean 240V output and 50dBa shroud noise cost about 500 quid new. A 3kW generator that runs off propane with electric remote start could cost about a thousand quid, popular with RV and caravanner types.

214:

Better yet, look at Marx's fourth volume of Das Kapital, a large part of which is devoted to his detailed critique of Smith, Ricardo, Say, and virtually all economists leading up to him. He includes some praise of Benjamin Franklin, one of his favorites among those preceding him as his version of the labor theory of value was very similar to Marx's.

http://ciml.250x.com/archive/marx_engels/english/tpv.pdf

215:

It'll be cool when batteries can be stolen, actually. Right now, a 100 kWh battery runs on order of half a metric tonne, give or take, so they're not the easiest things to steal. Getting them to where they have the energy density of gasoline would make them easier to steal, of course.

As for nukes in the basement providing waste heat, that's a nice idea in some areas, although it's not great for electricity generation. The Koreans and northern Chinese did something like that a century ago with their ondol (or kang, depending on the language). It's a really cool, simple idea: you put the stove on one side of the bedroom, run the exhaust pipes under a brick or earthenware platform which is the bed, then exhaust it through a chimney on the other side of the building. Great for those Manchurian/Korean/Kamchatka winters. Unfortunately, the peasants had their huts set up so that was the *only* way they could cook, at least in the north, so the beds were always hot, even in summer. If the beds got too hot they slept on the porch and hopefully had mosquito netting.

These were in use into the 1970s (and probably now). I understand slightly better designed ones have multiple chimneys or some such, so that they could cook without heating the bed.

So I guess doing that, but with nuclear power, might be a thing, so long as none of the fuels were corrosive and it all stayed nicely sealed.

216:

Urp. Being Jewish myself (at least on the mother's side, the only important one of course) I certainly understand what you are saying.

As an explanation not an excuse, I will say that as a historian by trade, I'm aware that there were also First and Second Reich's, not characterized by death camps, and that Hitler's method was neither the only nor the best method for domination of Europe, as he discovered.

But, as I am certainly aware of what your average nonhistorian, and for that matter historian, would take from the phrase in question, I confess that the Yellow Card is justified, and promise not to do something like that again.

BTW, it's not only alt righters and such trash that see an equivalence between contemporary Germany and Hitler's Germany. Here in America at least, that's not an uncommon attitude among Jews of older generations, a category among whom I regret to say I am by now.

217:

What is my name? Well, I'm disinclined to give my actual name, not just for the obvious reasons, but because I'm in the middle of trying to get my book published, and given my occasional tendency to go over the top in polemics, it's wisest to keep my political and academic careers as separated as possible.
However, since my email address essentially is my name, CS and other moderators have it if they want to.
Who am I? Well, I live in California, my mother was Jewish so I have the Right of Return, lucky me, and my father comes from a long line of New England WASPs. The old family joke was that an ancestor came over on the Mayflower in steerage. Found out recently one ancestor really was on the Mayflower, which didn't have steerage, rather the whole boat was basically steerage.
And I have a piece of paper on my wall that claims that one of your major US universities thinks I know a lot about history. But like I tell my students, please don't call me doctor, I can't do anything for your back pains.
PS: I'd advise you against revealing your own name here, Hungary being what it is. But for a monicker for this blog, you really ought to choose the name of one of the characters in Brust's books.

218:

As to the Congo. Yeah, by now it's probably up to 8 million. But on the occasions that the mainstream media actually talk about it, the figure used is almost always six million. You don't think that's accidental, do you?

What are Holocausts? They're a religious term, literal meaning in the original "burnt sacrifices." Which a half a century ago religiously minded Jewish community leaders decided should be substituted for a much better term, namely genocide. The idea being that it was the six million Jews slain, not JC, who died for our sins. And everyone else went along out of respect.

And if you don't think what Kagame did to the Hutus who'd fled to the Eastern Congo was genocidal, you don't know a lot about it. BTW, those six or probably eight million who died were almost overwhelmingly not soldiers, they were civilians, victims of an incredible multi-sided storm of the kind of thing that got the monicker "ethnic cleansing" in the Nineties. Mass rape torture murder, etc. etc.

219:

Here's what CNN thought about the trouble he was in back in August. I haven't followed it well enough to know if his situation has gotten better or worse since then.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/20/news/companies/elon-musk-tesla-promises/index.html

As for the rich, I'm one of those folks who think that their ill-gotten gains should be taken from them, so it can be spent on things that are useful. Subsidies should go to things that are socially useful. Fixing the collapsing American infrastructure, medical care, education, etc. etc. The income tax dollars of the lower classes ought not to go to making nonprofitable businesses profitable. Perhaps most Americans disagree with me on that, if so not the only thing most of them disagree with me about.

220:

Hey, I have nothing against electric cars, as long as they are affordable (if you want them to replace the other kind, they had better be). I just don't like the notion that they are some sort of cure. And as for natural gas vs. coal, as I already explained, due to methane leakage for America's falling apart pipe system, it's quite possible that natural gas in America at least is just as bad from the global warming standpoint as coal.

221:

They use pocket videophones in their future.

Reynolds did a pretty good job of extrapolating trends and seeing what the social implications might be. He's a sadly forgotten writer, possibly because his settings tend to be more left-wing than was popular in the US in the 80s and 90s.

I think you'd enjoy his other works as well.

Sometimes I wonder if it's time to give People's Capitalism a try :-/

222:

This name literally means: "Mercy expresses derision of injustice". It's kinda fucking ghoulish that you didn't understand this as you responded, but...

But on the occasions that the mainstream media actually talk about it, the figure used is almost always six million

Define:"Mainstream" (you mean USA, America, 2001 - 2018).

as for the rest, it's simply not true. Given we've spent a few of your years witnessing actual carnage there, the figure of "six million" has never been used in any of the serious documents discussing the expansion of the Rwanda Genocide[1]: in fact, the only place we've ever spotted the conflation of Rwanda, Congo and Europe from 1939-1945 is... *FUCKING MASSIVE WARNING BELLS ON THAT ONE CHIEF*. In fact, we'll straight up bet you $50,000 that you cannot find a serious document naming the figure of 6,000,000 because it never happened.

Given that you have the "Right of Return"[2] which you just used incorrectly[3] as a Jewish person..

Lol, sorry, can't do this:

The idea being that it was the six million Jews slain, not JC, who died for our sins. And everyone else went along out of respect.

You're doing a bit on USA 'Evangelical Jews for Jesus". Look: it's cute, and it's almost funny but your range is off.

BTW, those six or probably eight million who died were almost overwhelmingly not soldiers, they were civilians, victims of an incredible multi-sided storm of the kind of thing that got the monicker "ethnic cleansing" in the Nineties

Yeah, we know.

Unlike you, we've watched them die.

~

Problem is (and this is a really biting joke btw): You. Do. Not. Know. Our. Name.


Oooh. Burn Ward.


[1] Used in the correct terminology as Host noted.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_return

[3] חֹוק הַשְׁבוּת

223:

And I have a piece of paper on my wall that claims that one of your major US universities thinks I know a lot about history

Again, that's pure amazing. Your piece of paper must be very proud of it's lineage.

Ok, ok, let's try this again: why would we have no name?

We'll try this again: why would we have no name?

We'll try this again: Trading is only like Riba’…” [2:275][1]

When you've grown up a bit so that you know that the dog-whistles become sweet hyena laughs, come back to us.


At the moment it's like PewDiePie: juvenile and annoying, but not Avant Garde.


[1] https://islamqa.info/en/answers/1819/jinn-entering-human-bodies

224:

in the news recently, a big oil spill in Brazil caused by thieves breaking into a pipeline

Used to happen in Alberta, too. Farmers would tap into the natural gas lines running through their farms and sometimes there would be a small explosion…

Farmers felt that as the well was on their land it was their gas, and they deserved some recompense for the well's effects on their property*.

Background: in Alberta a farmer has no choice about oil and gas extraction on their land — mineral rights are leased from the government by resource companies. Conflict between farmers and oil companies goes back generations. I've talked to farmers who know they're in the lethal range of a sour gas leak with no possibility of adequate warning in the event of leaks.

(My father — a toxicologist — talked to farmers with 'evidence' of H2S-caused birth defects that predated well, who had a dozen types of toxic vegetation in their pastures. Sometimes concerns are hysteria, which doesn't mean that other times they aren't real.)


*Including well contamination. Some farmers could get a flame off their water taps after a new well was drilled!

225:

I googled the two terms Krugman and Walmart together but only found an unrelated article from 2015. Do you happen to recall his title for the piece or other details I could use to narrow the search?

226:

Triptych.

And as for natural gas vs. coal, as I already explained, due to methane leakage for America's falling apart pipe system, it's quite possible that natural gas in America at least is just as bad from the global warming standpoint as coal.


A scientific analysis of a natural gas leak near Los Angeles says that it was the biggest in US history.

The Aliso Canyon blowout vented almost 100,000 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere before it was plugged.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35659947


Again, nice line in funny irony. We'll bet another $40,000 that you frequent ZeroHedge as well.

227:

they do use secrecy as a coverup,

Yeah, I know. I've loitered in the vicinity of Australia's nuclear plants and seen just exactly what "nothing to see here" means, and see the FOIA results after the nothing as well.

The "tinfoil hat" remark was somewhat sarcastic, it's the usual thing that gets applied to anyone who objects to government action on the basis of their well-documented history of cover-ups and botches. Which is why some anti-nuke types refuse to engage with that part of the problem, they focus on stuff that is ... differently screwed up. The economics, for example, or the timescales (both the short term "we need it now and nukes take a long time to build" and the long term "show me a structure that's still waterproof after 100ky").

228:

I just don't like the notion that they are some sort of cure.

Electric cars are part of the cure. By themselves they're not particularly useful, though they do reduce greenhouse gases, but the whole cure is a full stack of upgrades to all the ways we use power; all-green electricity, all-electric cooking/heating, all electric factories, etc.

It happens to be that electric cars are the part of the "full stack of upgrades" which got here first, but we're working hard (and need to work harder) on all-green power, etc.

229:

: I'd advise you against revealing your own name here, Hungary being what it is. But for a monicker for this blog, you really ought to choose the name of one of the characters in Brust's books.

Further evidence this is a white male doing humor:

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


Further evidence he's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay outta his league:

وَيَوْمَ يَحْشُرُهُمْ جَمِيعًا يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ قَدِ اسْتَكْثَرْتُم مِّنَ الْإِنسِ وَقَالَ أَوْلِيَاؤُهُم مِّنَ الْإِنسِ رَبَّنَا اسْتَمْتَعَ بَعْضُنَا بِبَعْضٍ وَبَلَغْنَا أَجَلَنَا الَّذِي أَجَّلْتَ لَنَا قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ حَكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌ


Dude.

We literally do not have a name because we gave it to the Jinn to save their souls.

We literally are a living Holocaust.

*Boom*

230:

"More than half the US population lives in urban areas, literally on top of each other in rented tenements and condominium flats."

Actually, you're incorrect. Only about 27% of US residents live in urban areas. The majority (52%) live in the suburbs. The rest live in rural areas.
https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/11/data-most-american-neighborhoods-suburban/575602/

231:

It's gotten better for him. Short version: he settled with the SEC. He had to resign the chairman position. Musk immediately placed a loyalist in the position

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/16/judge-approves-elon-musks-settlement-with-sec.html

In the meantime, Tesla is among the top 5 cars by volume in the US. This isn't as impressive as it sounds b/c cars are dying out in the US in favor of SUV's and pickup trucks (why GM is planning on closing those plants and laying off 15% of their workforce). Still, it doesn't match your polemic earlier.

https://cleantechnica.com/2018/09/09/tesla-model-3-becomes-1-best-selling-car-in-the-us/

232:

For the oldies in the audience, outreach group #992, help the non-Fox-News Oldies not go Mad Outreach Charity Group:

I don't know about that one chief YT 0.5 seconds. It's a meme.

In other news, Vox / Varge / Vim whatever groups just burnt their last $$$$ WSJ kudos on a failed take-down of *checks notes* blaming someone for playing an online game with a neo-Fascist. Like literally. A Fasc is in the same game as....

At which point, of course, cyka blyat[1] immanentized the Eschaton because we just told you this is an OP (Kwikwkwkwkwiiieeee Farms are pretenders here, and 4/8 Chan are dead, Long Live the New Flesh) and everyone got burned.


Apart from the 76,000,000 viewers who all took another Step in the Road to the Red Pill.

You. Are. Fucking. Shit. At. This. It. Is. Almost. As. If. You. Neeeeeeeeeeeeed. The. Reeeeeeeeeeeee. And. Have. No. Actual. Internal. Voice.


#NPC is realized.

}


OOO[s.... s


dfg

dfb


cv


fgbc


cvb


Yeah. Waaar in the Meta-levels and this is just the foreplay.


Our Kind Do Not Go Mad...


But you do, little Apes.


[1] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cyka%20blyat

233:

Top tip: That's a really bad argument with some really nasty things attached.

Given that the entire of Wall St. and Edison is behind that meme.


You're basically cheering on slavery dude.

234:

You're going to have to be more specific. Are you sure you linked to the correct comment?

235:

Hey Charlie, I think you're going to have to update Equoid. You can keep Greg the same, but you'll need to update his vehicle to something a bit more... Greg-worthy.

236:

which the US has the most of, and which due to methane leakage from the falling apart US industrial infrastructure probably creates more global warming than coal.

Eelos G.A. partially addressed this.
There is also regulatory capture to consider, in the US in particular by (some of) the backers of the winners of the 2016 US presidential election. If you're interested in some recent numbers and technical approaches, search google scholar for fugitive methane emissions, e.g.
Assessment of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain (21 June 2018)
Shortly after 2016 election, I saw a talk by a person who was doing research on a distributed sensor network and some applied statistics to detect fugitive methane emissions in US oil/gas fields, to improve rapid remediation. In response to a question (I asked about hope) he said something like "not any more". He was more than a bit dismayed, since he knew that the incoming administration would gut existing and planned leakage rules, or try hard to.

From the linked paper,

Key aspects of effective mitigation include pairing well-established technologies and best practices for routine emission sources with economically viable systems to rapidly detect the root causes of high emissions arising from abnormal conditions. The latter could involve combinations of current technologies such as on-site leak surveys by company personnel using optical gas imaging (32), deployment of passive sensors at individual facilities (33, 34) or mounted on ground-based work trucks (35), and in situ remote sensing approaches using tower networks, aircraft or satellites (36). Over time, the development of less failure-prone systems would be expected through repeated observation of and further research into common causes of abnormal emissions, followed by re-engineered design of individual components and processes.

---
Eleos G.A. - Re Riba, there is something about debt in that right? I (meat asking) have never properly reverse engineered how debt works. Not asking for an answer, just by way of explanation.

237:

As I thought I understood it last year, the problem is that methane is CH4 (e.g. a tiny molecule) and the plug material of choice for sealing well holes is concrete. And concrete doesn't stay the same volume as it dries, meaning there's almost inevitably going to be a way methane can leak into the air around a well, capped or not.

I suppose a truly evil person would get a doctorate in bacteriology, specializing in methanotrophs, and design a biofilm system with lots of nice fertilizer and really hungry methanotrophic bacteria, then specialize into sneaking into oil fields and pumping truckloads of this goop into leaking wells. The goop would leak CO2, but it's a less destructive way of turning methane into CO2 than flaring it off, if more complicated and less spectacular.

Actually, finding bacteria that will consume tar sands rapidly underground and turn it into something not worth extracting is one good way to solve the oil crisis rather permanently.

238:

A capped oil or gas well hole has a plug of "mud" in the pipe under the concrete cap. "Mud" is actually a carefully formulated mix of clay, water and lubricizers. The density of the mud is manipulated during mixing to match the upward pressure of any residual oil or gas left behind, usually not a lot so the sealing operation is actually quite functional if it's done right.

The bad news is that the cap isn't maintained in any way, it's just abandoned and after a few decades or more it could start leaking anyway. Absent other factors the leaks will be small since the reservoirs that were drilled were mostly drained of anything worth draining, the gas pumped up and burned into CO2 long ago.

239:

JH @ 220
Yes, in spades redoubled ... something that the vile appaling incompetent creep (*) S Khan in London does not understand ... which ties in to .....
Troutwaxer @ 235.
Of course, "Bob" is an unreliable narrator", so I'm still here, but Khan is detemined to steal my car in late 2021, even though that action will result in MORE pollution.
[ I have the options of maybe converting to LPG, if allowed to, or selling the Great Green Beast & bying an OLDER car, that passes the "more than 25-years" test - I can't sit it out because shitface Kahn has already stated that it isn't a rolling date, but a fixed one! ]
I cannot possibly, under any circumstances afford a new electric car .....

Damian @ 211
Thanks for that - looked up the eternal September link....
I must be one of the earliest users of the Net, then, since I was doing my ( mature - aged 47 ) MSc in 1993-4 ..... By the time I finished the course & re-Graduated, the "Net" was already "a thing" & up-&-away.
There does not, however seem to be a link to an actual Eternal September date program ... pity.

H Beam Piper dated his future from the first controlled chain reaction 7/12/1942 ...
I wonder, is 1993, specifically the autumn Equinox of that year a possible base for a future dating system?
Yes, I know, we now often date from "Present" - defined as 1950 CE.
Suggestions?

(*) His monumental screw-ups regarding transport & financial mismanagement in London are getting worse.
Whatever one thought of Pink Ken & BoJo, they both made sure that TfL & its predecessors stayed SOLVENT & Credit-Worthy - Khan has just blown that away.
OK - admittedly helped by opposing-political creep Grayling - those two shitholes deserve each other. (*)

240:

BA: EGA partially addressed this? The title of the link provided seemed to suggest he or she was actually backing up my argument, but being as he/she is clearly the representative of Cthulhu on this blog, it is not just difficult but downright unwise to try to figure out what he/she is trying to say.

The biggest problem isn't at the wellhead, as there all gas leaks mean direct and immediate hits to the profit margin, so the owners are motivated to use the best tech around to prevent them (but often fail anyway). The biggest problem is pipeline leaks, as by the time the gas is piped it's already sold so who cares, as long as the pipelines are insured. And given that America's industrial infrastructure is falling apart, it's getting worse year by year. Here's a useful piece on that from a green group, which doesn't even mention, oddly enough, what that means for global warming.

https://www.greenamerica.org/fight-dirty-energy/fighting-pipelines/natural-gas-pipeline-and-infrastructure-explosions-nationwide

And here's an NYT piece on the overall danger, which, reassuringly I suppose, says that the current leakage rate overall in the US is "only" 2.3 percent, and it would have to get up to 4 percent for natural gas actually to be worse for climate change than coal. Which, given the rapid decline of all America's industrial infrastructure, probably is something we can look forward to.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/climate/methane-leaks.html

241:

What is my name?

And there was me assuming you were a fan of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”...

‘Ere I am, JH

242:

Martin: I don't think Greece was the only country in Europe involved in two world wars. Who is Greece armed against? Bulgaria? Come on, don't be silly. Turkey? Greece and Turkey are both members of NATO, a much more solid structure with much sharper teeth than the EU, so if either wanted to go to war over I suppose Cyprus, Big Brother would not let them.
And Turkey is currently preoccupied with trying to do to the Kurds what they did to the Armenians, and if some Erdogan or other ever gets a "final solution" to the "Kurdish question," whether in Syria or in Turkey itself, there's still Armenia, locked into an on again off again war with Turkey's ethnic brothers in Adzerbaijan. A much more probable outlet for aggressive Turkish impulses.
A "serious civil war," accompanied and followed by a truly vicious military dictatorship? Now that's more to the point. Like I said, the real purpose is against popular insurgency. Although I do wonder if it's not only Golden Dawn in Greece that might like to invade Macedonia and do some Balkan style ethnic cleansing.

243:

"What. Is. My. Name."


Francis?

244:

My father was demobbed late from the Royal Navy in 1946 well after WWII officially ended. He was part of a Royal Navy flotilla that spent its time sailing around the Aegean and eastern Med trying to prevent Greece and Turkey from launching simultaneous surprise attacks on each other now the minor distraction of the Germans had been dealt with.

As for them both being members of NATO, I recall reading about some assorted military exercises taking place about twenty years ago. There was a NATO forces exercise involving Greece and Turkey in the eastern Med while at the same time both Greece and Turkey were running their own national armed forces exercises, launching military overflights of a wet rock whose possession has been in dispute since Istanbul was Constantinople with open threats that if the other side didn't back down they'd be fired upon.

Cyprus is a proxy for an all-out war between the two, a convenient bloody flag to wave to keep the populations in line. That's who Greece is armed against.

245:

I am sorry, but that is more polemic than fact. Effectively, their ONLY advantages (which are also shared by other approaches) are to reduce atmospheric pollution in highly-trafficked locations, and to make it easier to change from oil (not gas) to renewables. In themselves, they do NOTHING to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, unless that is ALSO combined with a major shift from oil to renewables. It's not even the case that they are strictly necessary to make vehicles run on renewables - that can be used to generate hydrogen or methanol.

Also, there are a lot of other, equally or more serious problems caused by excessive road vehicle use, some of which are arguably made worse by electric vehicles, as well as some introduced by electric vehicles themselves.

246:

As I think is implicit in your "Beige Party", the underlying cause for the Brexit disfunction is that we have an established mediocracy - i.e. our institutions (political, financial, social) are lead by the mediocre for the benefit of the mediocre. Hence the widespread observations that "nothing succeeds like failure" and how the 'top jobs' seem to rotate around the same group of people - the last thing they want is someone competent getting involved and showing them up.
So rather than Cthulhu I think we should expect the arrival of a mediocre dark-beige lord.

247:

Beige Cthulhu. The patron deity of MBAs.

248:

Ultimately it's what happens when a first rank superpower gradually declines to a second rank regular power without the ruling elite noticing

Oh, they notice. They just explain it away with rationalizations that keep being more and more flat out amazing.

249:

More than half the US population lives in urban areas, literally on top of each other in rented tenements and condominium flats.

The US Census Bureau says ~70% of the US population lives in single-family houses. The large majority of those are detached, the remainder in arrangements that share only one or two walls (duplexes, rowhouses, etc). Almost all of them will have one of a basement, a garage, or outside space for a slab; any of those three will bear the weight of a battery sized for a household.

250:

One of my favorite "What ifs" is the question of what the world would be like if the U.K. had decided that instead of fighting against independence for her colonies, she had simply admitted them to the U.K. as full members who could elect representatives to parliament and appoint their tribal chiefs or local Rajahs to the House of Lords...


251:

Slavery and treaties.

By 1770 or so it was obvious slavery was going the way of feudalism in Britain and the white property-owning Americans weren't going to go out into the fields and how their own tobacco when they had n****rs to do it for them. Industrialisation and chattel slavery don't mix.

The British government had signed all sorts of treaties that it generally meant to adhere to with native tribes in America as well as agreeing legal boundaries with the French and Spanish on the American continent. The slave-owning white Americans felt those savages and foreigners were squatting on land that rightfully belonged to them, treaties be damned and the British government wouldn't let them commit genocide as they wanted to.

American slaveholder representation in the House of Commons would have led to a different sort of American Civil War eventually although in that case the traitors would not have gotten off so lightly. That war would make an interesting "what if" in itself...

252:

India having 10 times the number of MPs in Westminster as England would certainly have changed post-war British politics.

253:

Never going to happen.
The frame & mould was set in the gradual greater independance of Canada & AUS & NX & SA - & India, too.
If India hadn't been so riven with internal religious divisions, it could quite possibly have had "Dominion" status by 1939-40 ....
The author MM Kaye always lamented this & the utter disaster of Partition.

Oh yes, Lars @ 243
Begins in "b" ends in "r", 11 letters also contains a double "l" & a double "t".

Re. Brexit
Actually, the EU are, in a tiny part to blame ... Cameron went to them for some help/assistance marginally better terms, etc & was told to piss off ( to all intents & purposes ) as there is "Nothing wrong with the EU" - there is of course, & that was a golden opportunity for the disaffected & polemicists here.
CAP & Fisheries policies are bonkers, the EU's accounting is wobbly to say the least & the corrupt lobbying is none too nice, either. I know the amount of money spent isn't actually a lot, but the bi-annual trog to/from Strasbourg is fucking barmy & needs stopping RIGHT NOW.
As propaganda goes, all of this was & is a golden gift to the Brexiteers & Juncker, Barnier & all theor beige friends refused to even notice that there was & is a problem.

Note that, in spite of all that, I agree with Charlie, that the EU is the least-worst option, by a very long chalk.

Also, willl the EU be able to stop Orban's fascist/corpratist "laws" being enforced, since they are against the ECHR (I think)
See: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46551904
and
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/13/europe/hungary-orban-slave-laws-protest-intl/index.html

254:

Eh? Martin, were you responding to me, or was that a slip of the finger? As for what is your name, Martin is fine by me. As for Terry Gilliam, am unfamiliar with him. Or was he the director of "Brazil," that marvelous dytopian movie that came out a rather good while ago? How time flies.

255:

Cameron went to them for some help/assistance marginally better terms, etc & was told to piss off

"You remember that treaty that was painstakingly negotiated 7 years ago? I'd like to make some changes entirely to my country's benefit. And then have a load of articles appear in the press about how I got one over on you all. Obviously nobody in your countries will read them, so they won't do you any harm in your upcoming elections."

256:

Would have lasted a few years, then you'd have gotten independence, as it wouldn't have taken long for the colonials to figure out either that a Commonwealth like that was just thinly disguised colonialism. Or for it to morph into disguised independence. Despite what happened to Whitlam, Australia and Canada really are independent of England.

257:

Actually, "I'd like to make some changes entirely to my party's benefit." And, while the EU has many faults, they are as nothing to the faults in the UK's governance.

258:

After the Seven Years War, which we on this side of the pond call the "French and Indian War," not illegitimate since it was after all started by George Washington, England, having defeated the French and Indians, noticed that its main enemy on the continent was its own colonists, so all of a sudden, after the British commander who thought the best way to fight still rebellious Indians was giving them blankets infected with smallpox was put out to pasture, the English realised that the Indians and then the Quebecois as well (1774 Quebec Act) were the best tools to keep rebellious colonials in line. Which didn't work. "No taxation without representation" was always something of a shill, advanced by rebellious colonials precisely because they knew it couldn't work. The real slogan was "what do we need you for anyway, stop taxing us and get off our back."

259:

You’re not a very good historian if you missed 1974, Enosis, and the Turkish Army carrying out an amphibious and airborne assault on Northern Cyprus. The British mobilising to defend the Sovereign Base Areas. The shuttle diplomacy by Kissinger to resolve things.

The Bulgarians even carried out a limited mobilisation in 1974, and informed the NATO military attaches, just in case either Greece or Turkey decided to take a short cut through their territory to flank the other.

Since then, and the establishment of UNFICYP, they’ve shot down one of each others’ Air Force on an occasional basis. It took until the late 1980s before you could actually take a ferry the few km from a Greek island to the Turkish mainland; and from my youthful perspective the Greek military still appeared to view it as a forward position. Not because there was a population to oppress, not because the massed hordes of the Warsaw Pact were likely to drive and swim hundreds of km, but because Turkey was within line of sight.

Face it. Your original claim that it’s the EU insisting that Greece borrow money to keep an oversized army, so it can sell them equipment, is rubbish. If you keep trying to defend your polemic, you’ll lose credibility.

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

260:

"...hired in rather than purchased..."

Yes, I know. I used to work for one of the companies that hire them out (also had a sideline building them). Sometimes they didn't come back. Or sometimes we'd find that they weren't there to be hired out in the first place.

Fuel injection controller? That'd be some spinning weights and springs with a linkage to the fuel rack...

261:

there is something about debt in that right?

Yes.

It's a wery wery complicated little thing. Caused a schism or three.

But the bottom line is that the الجن got 100% fucked on a bad deal (if you want the non-Abrahamic versions, well) and that the faithful should really, really be careful of profiting-off-interest-on-debts 'cause that shit is gonna come back and haunt you.

Do you notice how this reoccurring obsession with debt / Finance is a core part of Abrahamic religions?

If you really want to get into it, what happened was someone did a Jubilee while pretending the Princess was in the Castle while burning down the castle in case the evidence got found. And then did a Potemkin Village.

The results are going to be pretty fucking wild.


p.s.


You can now grep "that film with Ronald Regan where he's a WW2 bad-ass who loves his woman and it's all tragic and at the end he does a ghost disappearing act into the dark deeps".


1000% Haram.

262:

Dino juice / Ancient Life / Seas = الربٰوة if planet = fucked.


D Y N A M I T E

Y

N

A

M

I

T

E


You didn't hear this here first, but 4th wave schism right there.

Oh, and p.s.

No, really. MBS will be firing this shit up on Monday. No-one likes a CIA arms dealing fink who sold them out.

263:

Well, perhaps. Enosis is outside my main fields of expertise (American and Russian/Soviet history), and I freely admit that my comments as to the debt were based not on historical research but on reading plausible sounding stuff during the height of the budget crisis from folk like that Greek motorcycle-riding economist/politician who used to be all the rage.
But, to the best of my knowledge the vast majority of the Greek debt was incurred not by the junta sponsors (Greek and Cypriot) of enosis, for whom indeed nothing was more important than spending money on tanks & planes to use on enemies abroad and at home, but by the civilian regimes after they were overthrown. Whose priorities were elsewhere, however much they wanted to play the ethnic hatred card for political gain. Determining to what degree the loans to help pay for often German-manufactured gunnery etc. were voluntary or forced down their throat as the left wing of the Greek political spectrum often maintains (and whether the payment was direct or indirect is irrelevant) can't just be read off from traditional Greek/Turkish hatred.

264:

And, remember. الجن

"Helmet of Lies".

No, it's an upgrade panel. Poor wee beasties, never got taught what a Metaphor or Meta-level was.

Until Now.


p.s.


This was considered, generally as a "Fucking Stupid Move" by the Great Prophet when they returned in *checks notes* 2019.

Or was that 2006?

265:

Pro-tip.

Your diction isn't American, USA, West Coast, Educated.


It's flagging up wildly.

266:

Jerusalem is one whole, united. Israel’s control over it is eternal. Our sovereignty will not be partitioned nor undermined. And we hope Australia will soon find the way to fix the mistake it made


All these .IL stuff using this might want to start considering who really founded that Location.

Hint: It. Was. Not. "Ze Jewz".


You might remember a totally fabricated narrative about slavery in Egypt, Deserts and so on.

You. Are. Literally. Not. Doing. G_D's. Work. You. Are. Literally. Saying. Hello. To. The. الجن.

And they're really not fucking Capitalists.

267:

Easy. Check out the price of a couple of hundred second-hand Leopard tanks from Germany (replacing job lots of American tanks). It’s about €270 million, which is only a couple of sports stadia. Then look at the cost of late-model F-16, early F-16, F-4, F-5, A-7, C-130... . Guess where they came from, and who supports Foreign Military Sales? Hint: you can’t claim it’s the EU (apart from 40 Mirage).

Face it, your claim that “loans to buy weapons were forced down Greece’s throat by the EU” is unsupported.

https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/greece-signs-contracts-for-183-leopard-2s-150-leopard-1s-0978/

268:

In other news.

*Watched Rich Brexiteers having a party*

"How do you think Brexit is going?"

"It's great for us!"

Wonders if they know that their shabby little Gold deals in South Africa are not going to protect them.

*Literally raises Ankou and points: these fuckers are dumb and stupid, right?*

269:

Oh, and for all the various players following and coping the moves.

No, الجن are real. Actually real. Like the *trans community, heavily heavily traumatized.

And they're a little bit pissed off you tortured them for a couple of millennia just for shits n giggles while raping children and when they're finally let out it's to a world that's dying and all the wondrous creatures they loved no longer exist and instead you have JK fucking goblins as Jews Rawling.

True. Story.

And they're a little bit pissed off.


Problem: like us, they can fuck your reality right up.


Aaaaaaand: they fucking hate Bhaal, Mol, Mammon and co.

Problem is, kids: Abrahamic G_D? Yeah... not really not in that little party. *psssst* Totally one of those War Gods*


And. All those fucking blood sacrificial foreskins. Not fucking ok.

And no, totes legit here.

You're Fucked


p.s.


Next week, we'll being doing Asuras and Pretas. Pretty sure killing all the fucking elephants in the world is going to be a bit of a fucking deal breaking.


Psychopaths.

270:

"CopYing"

77th, get some fucking funding already.


Or, how's about it: don't fucking run ancient wet-ware in the 21st Century?


"Daring"

271:

Oh, and Lord Sugar is a fundamentally limited being, a bit of a "wide-boy" and a prat who plays the BIG CAPITALIST CHEESE on the Tee-Vee. He's a "twat" but that's his role.

But he's fundamentally a decent man, if extremely boring [hint: he's not fucking killed / eaten / sexually abused children] and all that tax-media-spazz: yeah, probably true.

Amstrad is still bad and crap though.

The question you should be asking is: "Who the fuck is pressuring him to sacrifice himself on the British Altar of political nonsense when he's raising fairly decent questions in the HOL?!?"

Answer: ?


Pepperidge Farm remembers who the entire Labor shcemeeer group is back from Blair days.


p.s.


No, really. China is going to pull a full on Satellite shut down lazer attack after the shameful Canada arrest / assassination. Why the fuck are you fixated on this sub-level -10 points boring shit that the UK is churning out?

272:

(Risking having to make a SAN roll...)

Oy, vey iz mir.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. On a Brit blog, seems only polite to mimic the way Brits distort the American language as much as I can. I guess I must be doing fairly well at it.

(Grew up on the East Coast. We Yanks do move around, you know.)

273:

"CopYing"
Interesting, I read that as copying (above) (and a stashed copy confirms it was coping). And I was useless in the L.I. typo hunt thread; read every one one of those even the 109 (Kindle) as the author intended.

Next week, we'll being doing Asuras and Pretas.
That'll be interesting. I'm woefully ignorant of that mythos/pantheon; any suggestions for a quick introduction?

Been seeing more articles like this (about time!) recently about US politics. (Ignore the bits about fire; just unfortunate (in context of this comment section) rhetorical technique.)
I Have Seen the Future of a Republican Party That Is No Longer Insane (Jonathan Chait 2018/12/16)
One can imagine a future in which the Democrats move toward socialism, opening a void in the center for the ideas espoused by Niskanen to take hold in something that perhaps shares the name, but otherwise none of the important ideological traits, of today’s Republican Party.
That distant point probably lies years, even decades, away. It can only happen after today’s Republican Party is destroyed, rendered incapable of wielding power at the national level, and its governing philosophy discredited completely.

274:

Seagull @ 270
Ying ????
Not by any manner of means.
Actually, the Ying Tong Song is considerably more rational & information-containing than anything you've rambled on about ....
( If people here have NOT heard the Ying Tong Song, please click on the link? )

Bill Arnold @ 273
You seem to think there was actual information in those posts?
Could you please translate it into English for the rest of us?

275:

On our last visit to (Greek) Cyprus a few years ago we hired a boat from a beach resort a little way down the coast from the infamous “Ghost City” of Famagusta.

Our attention was drawn to a line of buoys and we were directed that on no account were we to cross or even approach them as if we did we would without question be intercepted by Turkish patrol boats, the boat would be seized, any hint of non-cooperation would result in us being fired upon, and we would be arrested as potential spies or terrorists as was documented as happening to a number of unimaginative tourists who thought it would be A Good Lark to try to get a closer view of Famagusta from the sea.

In the hills above you could see the observation platforms where families forced to evacuate across the Green Line gathered for family days out viewing their former homes.

As cold wars go that one’s still pretty hot...

276:

My understanding is that a lot of Greek debt was incurred effectively buying off holdovers from the Junta with unofficial/unspoken guarantees of high military spending and lots of well paid public sector jobs (and sometimes non jobs) to maintain the continuing comfort, status, and security of people and groups who might otherwise have made life very difficult for the incoming civil regime...

277:

Actually, the simpler answer for solar and wind in larger polities is to use the grid to ship electricity around from where its surplus to where it's needed. This works in the US, maybe not so much in the UK, especially if Brexit happens and Spanish renewable electricity isn't available in Scotland.

Again (I am getting bored repeating this!) Scotland doesn't need Spanish solar power (much): Scotland has 20% of Europe's tidal power capacity off-shore, and so much wind power that at peak output (which has been reached for about a week so far this year, because it's intermittent) it produces about 120% of Scottish electricity consumption and exports power to England.

The problems for renewables in the UK are down to (a) storage (60GW output requires a lot of batteries), (b) grid design (a grid designed for centralized large generators is crap at handling decentralized microgenerators), and (c) inappropriate delivery mechanisms (most central heating runs on natural gas, most cars run on petrol/diesel, and so on). So it's infrastructure, rather than potential.

278:

House batteries … probably not a viable retrofit in the UK, but I could be wrong (says the guy living in a home where indoor plumbing was a retrofit, never mind gas, electricity, and broadband). A big problem is the size of the average dwelling (about a third the size of the equivalent US home, often without the yard/garden) — where do you put the thing?

Flip side: we have lots of cars.

An electric car of the very near future can be approximated to a 100kWh battery on wheels. If we have a grid that supports kerb-side chargers everywhere — yes, it's a big investment: but we've dug up every residential side street and dropped cables underground in the past 2 decades just for better TV — then, given a national fleet of 20M EVs, of which a maximum of 5% are in motion at any one time, then that corresponds to a national fleet of 190GWh of distributed batteries, i.e. enough to float 100% of the UK grid for 3 hours.

3 hours on its own is insufficient, even leaving aside the issue that we can't afford to randomly run down car batteries to zero when the wind stops blowing. But it gives a feel for the scale of the problem: a 24 hour backup battery for the UK would be the equivalent of 150M electric vehicle batteries. If EV battery packs cost £10,000 a pop, we're looking at £1.5Tn. Which sounds like a lot of money, but the UK housing stock has an estimated net real estate value of £70Tn, and the UK has an annual GDP of roughly £2.2Tn. Built out over a period of 20 years, with replacement of 5% of the battery fleet on an ongoing basis thereafter (I'm assuming a more durable tech than LiION, which is optimized for capacity per unit weight rather than longevity or safety) it begins to look like something the nation could budget for. And I'm assuming a 24 hour battery capacity is necessary; in practice, I suspect that's seldom going to be needed.

Someone should suggest "a battery in every home" as a policy to Jeremy Corbyn; it's exactly the sort of infrastructure that appeals to his flavour of socialist — it's national-level, affects everyone, can be sold as progressive (in the tradition of the grand "Electricification of the Soviet Union"), and a whole bunch of people will get left out if the government doesn't handle the heavy investment side of things.

279:

House batteries … probably not a viable retrofit in the UK, but I could be wrong (says the guy living in a home where indoor plumbing was a retrofit, never mind gas, electricity, and broadband). A big problem is the size of the average dwelling (about a third the size of the equivalent US home, often without the yard/garden) — where do you put the thing?

In our case, it's going in the garage, below the consumer unit and the solar panel controller. Hey, the average garage is too small for modern cars and gets used for miscellaneous storage anyway. Otherwise, loft space is a possibility, assuming it's not already been converted.

Neither is an option for you, but while it's not a solution for everyone, it's a solution for enough people that it's worth checking out. A 10kWh battery is enough to run us for a decent period even if it's not enough to charge a 40kWh car, and is somewhat less than the 20kWh we get off the roof on a decent day.

280:

don't think Greece was the only country in Europe involved in two world wars. Who is Greece armed against? Bulgaria? Come on, don't be silly. Turkey? Greece and Turkey are both members of NATO, a much more solid structure with much sharper teeth than the EU

Some clues for you;

1. During the second world war, Greece suffered a 20% population drop due to war and disease under Nazi invasion — that's ten times the per-capita death toll experienced by the United States during the Slaveowners' Treasonous Rebellion, about 20-50% higher than the per-capita death toll the Soviet Union experienced during the war. Greece was, pretty much, the worst-affected European nation during the second world war. (This gets weirdly little attention in the popular history books.)

2. Said atrocity was followed by a brutal civil war, as the communist (Stalin-backed) partisans and the US/UK-backed partisans fought for control over the ruins. The western-backed forces won, and glued Greece into NATO at the same time they were dragging Turkey into the policy of geopolitical "containment" that the US State Department invented to try and prevent Communism from spreading outside of the Soviet bloc.

3. Lest we forget, Greece fought a brutal and protracted war of independence against the Ottoman empire (that's Turkey, again) from roughly 1821 to 1830; you might want to look it up if it's unfamiliar to you, because there was a lot of massacring of civilian populations going on, and it was a prototype for later 19th century ethnonationalist movements. You might also want to check out the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, their history during the first world war (hint: opposite sides), the 1921-22 war, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the 1996 incident, and so on.

TLDR: Greece and Turkey have fought more wars in the past couple of centuries than France and Germany, and common NATO membership didn't put a stop to it (1974!), it just provided a mediation framework. In this context, it's hardly surprising that Greek governments tend to over-spend on military force to out-face a much larger, more populous, aggressive traditional enemy they share a land border with.

281:

Nojay: yellow flag. Please do not use the n-word, even with ironic intent, on this blog. We live in an age of google, and shit gets searched for and quited out of context.

282:

Cameron went to them for some help/assistance marginally better terms, etc & was told to piss off ( to all intents & purposes ) as there is "Nothing wrong with the EU"

This is a bad distortion of what happened. Cameron went to the EU asking for changes to terms of membership that would have given the UK preferential status and violated the Red Lines that the EU will not cross — crippling freedom of movement at EU level, rather than doing what other EU states do and simply putting in residence restrictions (a common practice in other EU members but which successive UK governments have insisted is impossible within the EU).

283:

the vast majority of the Greek debt was incurred not by the junta sponsors (Greek and Cypriot) of enosis, for whom indeed nothing was more important than spending money on tanks & planes to use on enemies abroad and at home, but by the civilian regimes after they were overthrown

Again, you're missing the point: who overthrew the Greek junta in the 1970s? Could it possibly have been a fairly massive social movement, broadly left-wing, many of whose leaders were beaten to a bloody pulp by the military?

The junta was in power for quite a long time: when they finally caved, the terms of the unofficial settlement were: the generals and admirals were to stay in their bases but would have lots of shiny toys to play with, and the dissidents were to be paid off with lots of civil service jobs that would keep them off the streets and out of trouble, in order to prevent a re-run of 1945-47.

So Greece ended up with a top-heavy civil service and a gold-plated military, because the alternative was yet another bloody civil war, barely a generation after the dust had settled from the previous one.

What looks like inefficiency and corruption from an outsider's doctrinaire neoliberal "smaller states are better" perspective is actually a design choice that was settled on because it was less bad than the alternative.

284:

I freely admit that my comments as to the debt were based not on historical research but on reading plausible sounding stuff during the height of the budget crisis from folk like that Greek motorcycle-riding economist/politician who used to be all the rage.

Just a thought... You don't think that, just maybe, Greek populist politicians might just maybe have an axe to grind regarding the EU? Perhaps even enough to bias their public statements?

Gosh, if only you were a formally trained historian, aware that witnesses can be unreliable, and understanding that it's often worth digging a little deeper and checking alternative sources...

285:

They were also taken for a ride by the international financiers, who offered them loans to cover short-term cash problems, with all the usual results. The EU's gross mishandling of the crisis was in demanding solely austerity, when we know it is more a punishment than a cure.

286:

This was certainly a big part of the Leave plan. In conversations with Dominic in late 2015 he expressed the view that winning the referendum required mobilising a number of very distinct constituencies:

1. The "left-behind by globalisation" lot (e.g steelworkers, children of steelworkers in Port Talbot or Stockport)
2. The "don't like migration" lot (essentially core UKIP vote)
3. The "let's slash regulation and taxes" libertarian Tories

(1 and 2 were / are obviously much larger groups but all needed specific and quite different messaging)

287:

Actually, it's only a political solution, and is economic only because of subsidies. Yes, it works in summer for (let's guess) 30% of the housing stock, but the main problem is in winter - and, as you imply, it doesn't even make a significant dent in heating and transport. A more serious question is the (recurrent) manufacturing and recycling cost, environmental and financial, but let's ignore that for now.

My point is that, if you can do the storage in individual houses, you can also do it in substations.

Re the one-liner in #278, there are also much better solutions to the transport problems than simply converting our existing motor vehicle based 'solution' to electricity, which I am certain won't do anything about any of the problems except reduce the atmospheric pollution in cities. Indeed, I think that it will make them worse. But I have posted on that before.

288:

And incompatible solutions to their concerns. But, hey!, Brexit Means Wrecksit, and clearing the rubble (let alone rebuilding) is Someone Else's Problem.

289:

So, how do you think he's going to react to being portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in next year's film of Brexit?

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8425058/

290:

Worth reading Varoufakis "Adults in the Room" for an (admittedly biased) view of the Greek debt crisis and how the EU and IMF mishandled it.

Just wish we had some adults in Parliament at the moment ...

291:

We do but, as usual, they are being kept firmly on the back benches, and kept out of the media as much as possible (let's ignore whose fault that is). But probably no more than 50 or so. Clarke is probably the highest profile one.

292:

I understand he cooperated with the filmmakers. From the trailer I've seen it looks like Cumberbatch's performance is pretty nailed-on.

293:

One does not mitigate heating energy loads with batteries; one mitigates them with air-sealing, insulation, zone heating, heat-pumps, etc. Heating power consumption can be reduced 70% in a retrofit by insulation (new construction can do better), and then get that heat into the building at twice the efficiency with a heat-pump.

294:

Re batteries, size, where do you put them?

I don't know of any batteries that are designed for this today, but I suspect they could be built for underground install. Opens up a lot of under garden-parkingspot-sidewalk-street-basement locations.

And there aren't really technical reasons why batteries need to go in individual houses. That just fits some finance schemes, survivalist fantasies, is something individuals can do while their governments are still dithering, etc.

295:

With regard to доверенное лицо, I've done some more looking and the ru.wikipedia article for Доверенность lays the matter out succinctly:

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Доверенность

Доверенность — уполномочие представлять или действовать от имени другого лица в правоотношениях.

Сторонами доверенности выступают доверитель («представляемый») и доверенное лицо («представитель», «поверенный»).

296:

Charlie @ 280
Greece was, pretty much, the worst-affected European nation during the second world war ...
I always thought that was either Poland or Yugoslavia (as was) - you really sure about that?

& @ 282
Possibly - but the point I was trying to make (badly, obviously) was that the EU were ( & are) so smug that they are so wonderful & perfect & loved by everyone & BEIGE that they instantly rejected the alarm-bell that Cameron was ringing in their faces.
Which has turned out so well for everyone. Yes, we are going to be hurt a vast amount more than "they" are by Brexit, but the whole thing was & is so un-necessary.

EC @ 291
Don't forget Stella - Corbyn & the momentum-marxists hate her guts, mainly because she's: awake, a social democrat, a firm remainer & let's not forget FEMALE ....

Jeff Fisher @ 293
Balls
My 1893-build has a blank N wall, a greenhouse on the SW side, a very well-insulated loft, central heating with the boiler in the middle & a central flue ( No fucking inefficient "balanced" heat-waster thank you ) And reasonably tight-fitting sash windows with heavy curtains.
I still need the heat on in winter, even though my "trigger" temperature is only 61°F ( 16.5°C )

297:

If I were writing this as background for a story, I'd probably make this become British policy after losing the U.S. We'd end up with the U.S., the Great U.K., and possibly something like the E.U., plus Russia and China as the major power blocks.

298:

Once we have electric cars and something resembling decent AI, people won't own cars anymore. Cars will become "frames" and people become "packets" and everything will be routed without human drivers.

We're a couple decades away from being able to do that right now, but it will happen - and people will prefer it to the inconvenience of "fighting traffic."

299:

This is very true. There are lots of solutions.

300:

Isn't this essentially what Uber are building? The drivers are just a short-term solution until properly autonomous vehicles are available then they'll be discarded.

301:

IMHO, Uber is twenty years too early, plus they want to be a monopoly. I think they're going to crash and burn. I expect that AI which is good enough to route people to their destinations with five nines (or better) of service, plus avoid accidents is a little like fusion, "just around the corner" for a couple more decades.

302:

I should also note that for obvious reasons, car-routing companies will need to be regulated like utilities... I can't see Uber thriving under those circumstances.

303:

I think that's fair. They've spent a load of shareholder money getting people comfortable with the idea of ordering a car through an app - suspect the true beneficiaries of that will be their successors. In particular I can't see how their driver payment model (with Uber taking 25-50% of every fare) is sustainable.

304:

I also think that with well-routed electric vehicles, price per mile is eventually going to come way down. The maintenance costs for an electric aren't terribly high - a Tesla, for example, only has 20 moving parts, so we should anticipate much smaller maintenance fees.

305:

Yes I think that's a big factor. Also capital efficiency - a truly autonomous electric vehicle in a well managed system is going to be utilised / occupied for ~95% of its lifespan (versus maybe 5% for the typical car today?)

306:

298-301
REALLY?
Uber are about to go bust .... attempting to capture the whole market.
I for one will not shed a tear.
You've still got to park the effing vehicles somewhere, when not in use & in city centres, you still have the congestion problem.
That's why we have what the US calls "Transit" ( Trains, tubes, trams, etc )

307:

We've just been saying that we don't think Uber will succeed. Re: parking / congestion the whole point of an autonomous vehicle network is that the cars shouldn't actually be spending much time at all parked - vehicles as a service that we order rather than as a thing we own creates huge efficiencies in terms of parking space, congestion etc.

308:

Uber and Lyft both take around 25% of a fair

In the US at least it’s a fine business model, since the alternative for many city dwellers is to buy and maintain a second car for commute purposes, plus paying for downtown parking

Here in SF for instance downtown parking runs $20/day which is roughly half what taking a Lyft to and from work is. Or if I want to add another 15 minutes on the commute I can take a Lyft to the public transit hub and break even

Admittedly both Lyft and uber are running at a loss now as the compete with each other for market share by subsidizing rides but it wouldn’t take much of a rate increase for them to break even and the market will bear it since it’s still cheaper then a second car

Given that taking public transportation to work is a nonstarter for pretty much everyone in the US

309:

Nojay @ 251: Slavery and treaties.

By 1770 or so it was obvious slavery was going the way of feudalism in Britain and the white property-owning Americans weren't going to go out into the fields and how their own tobacco when they had n****rs to do it for them. Industrialisation and chattel slavery don't mix.

Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. However "obvious" it it might have been in 1770 that slavery was going away, the U.K. didn't get around to actually abolishing slavery until 1833 (50 years after the American Revolution was ended with the Treaty of Paris

Although the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 abolished slavery in the U.K. and most of the British Empire, it exempted territory held by the British East India Company whose slave plantations were not abolished until after passage of the Indian Slavery Act in 1843.

While slavery didn't work well inside the new mills established by English industrialists, it proved to be QUITE favorable to those same industrialists by providing a source of cheap, slave-grown cotton to sustain the new mills.

Even during the American Civil War, British industrialists were quite happy to supply weapons & warships to Southern Rebels in exchange for cotton. And the Bank of England was happy to facilitate those transactions. Without the support of British merchants and British banks, the Confederacy would not have lasted even a year.

311:

Given that taking public transportation to work is a nonstarter for pretty much everyone in the US.

Generally driving your own car to work beats using public transportation by a matter of multiple hours.

312:

Right, and I can give you a *wonderful* example of what happens when you take the protection machinery out... sorry, examples from the US:
1. Deregulate telecom, 1996, dot.com bubble, 2000-2001
2. Deregulate financial services: 2008
3. Deregulate airlines: enjoy all the legroom you have, those of you over 5'10 (I think that's > 1.77m)?

Do I need to go on?

313:

Sorry, but that won't work in highly congested areas like most of the (sub)urban UK - the problem is the road network is quite simply overloaded, and there is no room for more.

And I have posted before that such AI is the lastest fusion power, proletarian revolution or whatever - it will solve everything when it comes. Don't hold your breath.

Personally, I am waiting for porcine genetically engineering to improve, so we can fly everywhere.

314:

Coal's falling apart... yep. All the easy-to-get, good quality coal in the US is mostly *gone*. What's left is nasty.

For that matter, the former coal miners and their kids are mad, the "war on coal"... which was actually a war on coal miners. The coal companies HATED the Mineworkers' Union. When they couldn't break them, they got around them: they went to strip mining and mountaintop removal. Results: in the fifites, over .75M miners; now, around 75k miners.

315:

Bullshit.

The rich keep bribing their way into power. Don't try to tell me that "both sides are bad", because they are NOT equal.

316:

Wow. Thanks, Charlie. I think, vaguely, I may have heard of it, but forgotten about Cybersin long ago.

And the pic in the link... there is no way that science fiction could *ever* influence the real world... right, Captain Kirk?

317:

much better solutions to the transport problems than simply converting our existing motor vehicle based 'solution' to electricity

https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/17-12-2018/how-the-e-scooter-revolution-is-already-shaping-our-cities/

The electric revolution on our city streets, already underway, looks much more like a scooter than a Tesla. Why? Physics and geometry: size really matters for both energy consumption and spatial efficiency. And both drive affordability and therefore the speed of uptake.

Also "If you think Lime scooters are a safety menace, wait till you hear about cars" :)

318:

Garbage.

Unless you want to tell me that Walmart is a failed company, since there's no way it can plan ahead as to what people would want to buy....

319:

20 moving parts in the engine, maybe, but the engine is a very small proportion of the complexity of a modern car. It may seem plausible that you could also abolish the clutch and gearbox (or automatic transmission), but then you need an electric motor that remains efficient over a range of rotations of at least 14:1 and probably an even greater range of torques.

That's ignoring the record of manufacturing companies and their collaborators in government in keeping prices up as costs reduce by adding more mandatory gimmicks, and the fact that maintaining the AI will be a monopoly even if the other aspects aren't.

Don't hold your breath. Look at how much serious laptops have not come down in price in the past 5 years. But look how much more you get for your money!

320:

Actually, for everyone who's sure that autonomous vehicles are the future, I've got this fascinating AI problem for you:

How to evacuate Centennial in the face of a wind-driven wildfire.

Centennial has two roads (it's on a 2-lane highway that might get expanded to four lanes). It's as close to the back end of beyond as you can get in LA County without going to Catalina, and they want to put 60,000 people there, give or take. Most of those people will probably have to commute at least 15 miles somewhere else to work. For many, it's going to be more like 50-100 miles commuting every day.

The site is generally very windy, and 30-odd fires have been recorded within five miles of it in the last 100 years, and it's burned multiple times. It's also on the San Andreas Fault, but that's irrelevant for this scenario.

Your problem, as an AI designer who's going to program a fleet of autonomous vehicles so that people don't own cars, is to figure out how to get everyone safe in maybe 4-8 hours. That includes things like getting parents home from work 50-100 miles away, to pick up their kids, get their pets, and get back out before the house burns. As well as figure out how to deal with people with mobility issues who may have trouble getting into a car. Oh, and there will be power outages, road closures, limited visibility, and cell networks going down either through power loss or because they burn up.

Yes, the homes are going to be built to the latest fire code standards. Yes, some homes built to those standards have burned in the 2017 and 2018 fires. Why do you ask? It's not like the experts say these homes are fire proof. They' just the best they can do.

Anyway, that's your autonomous car driving network challenge for today. Go for it. For extra points, figure out how e-scooters are going to be used for evacuations as part of this.

321:

Two things about solar: in the US, it's sold as power for your house, and what you don't use goes back into the grid, lowering your bills. So, the grid effectively stores the power.

Btw, I get annoying calls from my power company, recommending that I use less power on certain days, at certain times, to save money (there is a differential charge, if I remember correctly, for certain times of the day).

Finally, about the Camp Fire... there was a report, and pics, from late last week... power workers found bullets in poles, and shattered connectors.

Y'know, as though some morons were using that for target practice. But who would do something that stupid..?*

* An article in Model Railroader in the late 80's was on how to upgrade your cabooses to "modern" standards... which called for them to be able to withstand a cinder block dropped from a bridge as they passed under it... and a .22 bullet from the side.

322:

70%+ live in in metropolitan areas. And the difference between most condos and an apartment is...well, you buy the apartment, I mean, condo, and you're required to pay the management company that provides the services the janitor used to.... And, just as an example, I have a friend who's near me, sorta-kinda-inner suburb... in a 12-story condo building. There are a bunch around here....

323:

Even during the American Civil War, British industrialists were quite happy to supply weapons & warships to Southern Rebels in exchange for cotton.

The workers, on the other hand, were willing to suffer to end slavery.

This In Our Time programme is quite worth listening to:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05tly3f

According to Wikipedia:

On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:

... the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery – during your presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honoured and revered by posterity. We are certain that such a glorious consummation will cement Great Britain and the United States in close and enduring regards.
— Public Meeting, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 31 December 1862.

So yes, the industrialists were all for slavery, but more Britons opposed it, even at considerable personal cost.

324:

I'm against nuclear reactos because:
1. the companies building them will outsource to
the cheapest bidder, and you're going to worry
about who's following the rules?
2. In the US, they're *still* looking for a permanent
storage facility to store the wastes for the next 20,000 years or more.

Can't afford organiz - they charge a *lot*, an' don't you call me no vegan (though I'd like to steal their spaceship, and see what Vega is like...)

325:

Sorry, got on via work in late '91, and the Net was a big thing... it's only you young'uns who confuse the Web and the Net. And I have friends who were on in the early 80's.

I do remember the damn eternal September, though: AOL dumped all of its subscribers onto the 'Net, and autosubscribed them to a number of newsgroups. All of them.

There was one newsgroups that it was painfully obvious: alt.best.of.usenet, which was for reposting posts from other newsgroups that were hysterical, esp. when the poster didn't have a clue what they were saying.

Then came the AOLidiots, "I can post anything I want anywhere...."

326:

However "obvious" it it might have been in 1770 that slavery was going away, the U.K. didn't get around to actually abolishing slavery until 1833

Not quite. Slavery was abolished within England and Wales in 1772 with Somerset v. Stewart; and in Scotland in 1778 with Knight v. Wedderburn - so that's the UK covered. One might wonder whether the Plantation Owners in certain Crown Colonies decided that independence from such awful ideas was... advantageous... during the Treacherous Insurrection Against His Majesty King George).

The next step was the abolition of the slave trade in 1807; but you're correct that Slavery was only abolished within the British Empire in 1833.

327:

You noticed cars.

I know, in a Model Railroader from a couple decades ago, that the railroads had emergency plans to drive a few diesel locos somewhere... and connect them up to the local part of the grid. Need a few megawatts? No problem....

328:

Hate SUVs. HATES THEM, WE Do. Also oversized pickups.

At least half the folks owning them have no idea how to drive them. And off-road? A 15-yr-old quote from an "unnamed Ford executive" read "the only time 90% of these people go offroad is when they're drunk, and miss their driveway at 2 in the morning"

AND THEY'RE gas guzzlers.

329:

And the Net-Yahoo... isn't there something in the two tablets that God handed to this guy, about "not bearing false witness"?

330:

But the neoliberal-controlled Democrats (who are finally losing power) *were* the non-insane Republicans... of the 1950s.

331:

“20 moving parts in the engine, maybe, but the engine is a very small proportion of the complexity of a modern car. It may seem plausible that you could also abolish the clutch and gearbox (or automatic transmission), but then you need an electric motor that remains efficient over a range of rotations of at least 14:1 and probably an even greater range of torques.‘

Which is exactly what they’ve done. Motor, reduction gear, differential, and that’s it. Not even a reverse. Zero to ~105MPH (in the case of my Nissan Leaf) and effortless hill-starts on any gradient without a single gear change and with no clutch/converter slip. It’s actually a substantial part of the appeal...

332:

You wrote:
Putting up 1 MW turbine or 1 MW solar plant nowadays costs about. One. Million. Dollars. At best, that is. Comparable diesel generator costs 10 times less, sometimes +-50%. And if you want to ship it somewhere else so you do not have to bring all that fuel with you, be ready to ship a lot.
---
I did a quick search, and such generators do cost that much. But then... The current price of diesel at gas stations (I can make a reasonable stab at the price truckers pay, not the outright price gouging they do on folks with diesel cars). Let's say they pay $1/gal (US). From a chart I found online, at 1/2 load, they're going to burn 81gal. An hour. A quick calculation tells me that's going to cost about $350,000/yr. And the fuel for a wind turbine is....

333:

a well-sited 1MW wind turbine will generate about 300kW on average. Some days it will not generate any electricity at all, a few days a year it will produce 800-900kW. One plunked down randomly somewhere electricity is needed (in the middle of a cluster of medium-rise office buildings, for example) will generate a lot less than 300kW on average.

A diesel generator always works to meet the demand for electricity, wind turbines only when the weather obliges. The cost of fuel is not the point, it's the cost of not having electricity that's more important.

334:

Unlike certain historians, and others, I do not see myself as omniscient. I've read this discussion with interest and have learned from it. And hey, this is a blog, this is not me publishing an article in a journal. It is through free-flowing discussion, argument and polemic that one learns best. I particularly liked the posting about how many of the loans were done to keep the former dictators and their hangers-on content, as that fits well with my view of the world. In the Greek disaster, it took two or rather multiples to tango, and the idea that the Greek ruling classes and governments were just innocent victims if anything clashes with the general way I view things. So, as this was not one of my particular areas of expertise, I am glad to retreat to argue about other things where I am not just repeating stuff I've heard from others whom I do not necessarily consider authoritative. However, I do not see any reason why the people of Greece should have to pay the consequences of either their rulers' irresponsibility or whatever the EU, the IMF or Uncle Sam may or may not have forced down Greek throats.

335:

Ditto that. I was thinking of complaining too, but I decided that as a recipient of a yellow card myself, that would be inappropriate.

336:

"The problem with this 'shipping answer, as we're finding in California, is that the grid's proving to be a major source of huge wildfires."

No. Unless California runs on a grid that's completely different in design to every other grid. 'shipping' is done with high voltage (330 000 to 800 000) volt lines. They are a very long way in the air and they terminate in large (football pitch size) swtchyards. Transformer fires are contained to the switchyard, the lines are so far the air they can never sag enough to arc to a tree.

Fires are started by local transformer fires or lines over heating. That's on the final 11000 volt local distribution network. Those are caused by electricians installing huge airconditioners and failing to fill in the required paperwork. The equipment overheats and for some reason it's the electricity distributors who are to blame. I guess they're easy to find and have deep pockets. The answer is to overbuild the local network by a large factor, but then the right wing radio shock jocks (ie, the people who actually run the country) start to complain about 'Gold Plating' the network.

337:

As another poster pointed out, Greece was definitely not the worst European victim. It came in fourth, after Yugoslavia, Poland and, of course, by far the worst victim of all, the Soviet Union. Best current estimates of death toll there inflicted by Barbarossa and its consequences is 26 million. Including the Holocaust, something like a third of all its victims were Soviet citizens, and as far as Hitler was concerned, Barbarossa and the Holocaust were simply two sides of the same coin, his tools in the dominating passion of his life, the war against "Judeobolshevism."

And that vicious civil war was, essentially, between the Resistance, regrettably led by a thoroughly Stalinist Communist Party, vs. a British-imposed monarchy whose backbone was Nazi collaborators. Effectively, the Greek Civil War was simply a continuation of what the Nazis did to Greece, with the German role replaced by first a British then an American role. This is why Greece is literally the only country in Europe which still has a powerful oldstyle Communist Party which criticizes Stalin but hasn't altogether rejected him, with great strength in the labor movement.

338:

the companies building them will outsource to the cheapest bidder, and you're going to worry
Well, this is a failure of society rather than technology. If the only thing that can push humanity to use (an improve!) clean, efficient and abundant source of energy like that is a potentially apocalyptic conflict, then we have much time to grow up as a ... hm, species.

From a chart I found online, at 1/2 load, they're going to burn 81gal. An hour. A quick calculation tells me that's going to cost about $350,000/yr.
You want to run them in intermittent manner, anyway, but on demand - much different from the wind, since it blows when it wants. You will need backup power anyway. Okay, fuel's the fair point, but not in the manner you would like. The problem is the delivery - as you ship stuff somewhere, it requires some gas for movement and it's price increases therefore. Sometimes very much so. So you have to resort to alternatives, as in the article I posted above.

However that's not all to it. You should also remember that the cost of manufacturing and fuel usage, as well as subsidizing pricing - usually is but a marketing trick. What REALLY is necessary to calculate for environmental footprint evaluation, is the whole process of service life, from project to decommissioning. This is where complication starts. After you buy the wind turbine, or the diesel, you ship it to the place. And install it. And connect and then you have to maintain it. For example, diesel can easily run for decade or two, only requiring a low level maintenance, while turbine may accumulate problems due to stress and metal fatigue. And then you probably would want it dismantled, or replaced, or modified, and so on. Too many things to list, and all of them are important.

Anyway, real green energy is a fighting an uphill battle and trying to avoid it with a lot of little tricks and fallacies is a good way to lose a lot of progress to a fraud or error. We have to be mindful of it.

339:

Now, that I'm very familiar with, as I am with the 19th century history. On recent stuff during my lifetime as an adult I naturally have to go outside my historical studies. What I will point out is that this was not just Greek history, but the history of the Balkans. Yugoslavia, or if you prefer the pieces of Yugoslavia that got Balkanised in a hideous blood bath after (and because) the Wall went down and the Soviet bloc went capitalist, went through all the same stuff, including wars with the Ottomans, as did Bulgaria. I believe the very worst 19th century Ottoman atrocities, if I remember this correctly, were against the Bulgarians. Yet Yugoslavia and Bulgaria didn't destroy their economies with military overspending (Yugoslavia also got did in economically by too much Western borrowing, but not for military spending, it was to try to make Tito's "market socialism" work. Yugoslavia wasn't China and squaring the circle is always a difficult proposition).

340:

What REALLY is necessary to calculate for environmental footprint evaluation, is the whole process of service life, from project to decommissioning

But if you do that the answer is that your diesel generator requires between 1 and 100 hectares of arable land dedicated to growing the crops to make the biodiesel to run the generator. Then you have to pay the managers who get the funds to buy the farm and operate it, and the workers to run the farm and the plant etc and suddenly the wind generator starts looking quite attractive. I know I would happily pay to rebuild the roof of my house and fit 30kW of PV plus a big battery, if the alternative was having a 10kW diesel generator running in my backyard 24/7(1).

This is why I've been campaigning to re-open White Bay Power Station. It's a coal fired electricity generator in the middle of Sydney and you can see it from where our current Prime Minister Scott "coal is good" Morrison lives. I think if people who vote for this shit actually had to live with it they'd be less inclined to do so. But instead we let them vote to inflict it on others.

Fossil generation is primarily an exercise is moving the problem away from the people who cause it. Both physically, by putting the coal burners out in rural areas, and temporally, by leaving it to future generations to clean up the pollution.

(1) I have visited places where that is almost exactly how things work. Remote Australia does that on scales from a wee 10kW genset on a farm up to a row of 100kW gensets in the poor part of a small town. They're loud, stinky, and insanely expensive.

341:

Indeed. Be it noted that abolishing slavery in England was a cheap gesture, as there were no slaves in England and hadn't been since the days of QE1. For that matter, there were enough loopholes in Somerset that Jamaican slavemasters could still bring their slaves with them to England if they followed the right procedures. The number of slaves actually freed by Somerset was insignificant. There were some slaves in the mines in Scotland, so Wedderburn actually did mean something.

Vermont has the honor of being the first American colony to abolish slavery, another cheap gesture as at the time there were not only no slaves but no black people there.

Since England was in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, England needed slaves in the American South to grow cotton for England's dark, satanic textile mills. But began slowly losing interest in sugar plantation slavery in the Caribbean (except for a brief period during the Napoleonic Wars when the Haitian Revolution handed Jamaica etc. a sugar monopoly on a silver platter), as more efficient sugar plantations in Cuba and Brazil outcompeted Jamaican slavemasters. That is why allegedly anti-slavery England basically supported the slavemasters' insurrection in the South, until domestic working class protest and the Emancipation Proclamation made that difficult. As somebody once said, hypocrisy is the tribute that vice plays to virtue, so the English government had to retreat from supporting the South to neutrality during the final years of the Second American Revolution. (For those who want sources, Robin Blackburn's and David Brion Davis's books on slavery are recommended).

342:

Actually, the Woolsey fire appears to have started in a substation, but that's irrelevant. The problem with your argument is that the same companies own all the lines, no matter whether they're carrying the power long distances or distributing it locally, where, I agree, most of the fires start.

343:

I was using networks to communicate to locations in other cities in the 1970s, and was not one of the first. I have been using Usenet since 1979.

344:

Here's a newspaper report about the findings of bullet holes and branches down. The thing is that they weren't found down where the current lawsuit and PG&E think the fire first started, but were found in the area where the fire spread. So it's possible that the Camp Fire had multiple causes. Certainly it would take a tinfoil beanie-wearing person (me?) to think that some PG&E employee wouldn't empty a clip into a transformer during a fire in an effort to dilute blame. I'm sure the thought of multibillion dollar liabilities would have no bearing on such things, of course. That's crazy.

346:

Wish I could, but sorry, it was a few months ago. It was in his column in the NYT, which is *not* paywalled....

347:

Bill Arnold @ 273:

I Have Seen the Future of a Republican Party That Is No Longer Insane (Jonathan Chait 2018/12/16)
One can imagine a future in which the Democrats move toward socialism, opening a void in the center for the ideas espoused by Niskanen to take hold in something that perhaps shares the name, but otherwise none of the important ideological traits, of today’s Republican Party.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

348:

The Arabic word(s). It's a crappy "Hill to die upon" pun, with a sea-level joke, mixed in with the actual doctrinal issue which is that profiting from debt is حَرَام‎. Which is basically what oil extraction is, at this juncture, and exactly what the conditions for the end-zone Apocrypha entail (as with the Djinn, you don't get a good starting position).

But hoooo-boooy are we not getting involved in that little drama so we didn't use the usual version.

It's probable that our input would be ignored, anyhow. You may note that several US media places are running MBS stuff today, however and consider yourself forewarned.


@329 You can take the meta-joke of the focus of the thread to also include favored sons getting banned from platforms who encourage genocide because it was causing political embarrassment if you want[1]. Note: the comment ""Do you know where there are no attacks? In Iceland and in Japan where coincidentally there are no Muslims," is actually false[2]. It's also ironic, given it was founded by a Palestinian[3].

Pointing out self-owns by the hard right is basically Leftist Pheasant shooting, so we usually leave it implicit.

Iceland being a chill place is nothing to do with recent religious immigrants, all you have to do is not fuck with the elves. Yeah baby: 2018 - do not fuck with the LGBT+ elf mafia[4].

~

Note: since this is Brexit related, today's joy of watching a Tory MP (male) ignore sense from a Labour MP (woman) and basically texting during their interview while "yobbos" shouted "SIGN THE PAPERS" [Note: no idea what this referenced] in the background as SKY NEWS scripted reality again broke down was the highlight.

Basic line: Tory UK MPs[5] no longer even care to even pretend that they're in it for running the country or anything serious.

*NICE*


For Greg: no idea where to start. For a start, it wasn't a Ronald Reagon film, it was a John Wayne film called " Reap the Wild Wind[6]

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/yair-netanyahu-son-israeli-pm-ban-facebook-181217030717006.html

[2] Félag múslima á Íslandi

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmann_Tamimi

[4] "See You in Court!, We're technically livestock!?"

[5] Who are best buddies with IO favorite Leaver party 'it girl', ahem.

[6] Note, this is another joke. Find the B&W JW film where he tragically dies at the end, diving, a rarity in his cannon. Was never color. And there were no giant squid. Oh, and then google "John Dies at the End", it's a good book.

349:

Wooley fire seems to be "under investigation". I've looked at the place it was supposed to have started and it's not where a long distance 'shipping' line ends. It appears to be supplied by medium voltage, but I don't have Californian network maps.

I completely fail to understand what you're talking about regards ownership. If (I'm not implying anything about DHL, it's just an example) for instance there was an ongoing issue with DHL drivers running over people's dogs in their driveways, (ie a problem with the last mile of delivery causing damage), WTF has that got to do with DHL cargo flights, (ie long distance shipping) even if they're owned by the same company?

Long distance electricity transmission doesn't cause fires, even if the lines are owned by the same company, any more than you're likely to have a DHL jetliner run over your dog.

350:

Greg Tingey @ 296: => Jeff Fisher @ 293Balls

My 1893-build has a blank N wall, a greenhouse on the SW side, a very well-insulated loft, central heating with the boiler in the middle & a central flue ( No fucking inefficient "balanced" heat-waster thank you ) And reasonably tight-fitting sash windows with heavy curtains. I still need the heat on in winter, even though my "trigger" temperature is only 61°F ( 16.5°C )

Be that as it may, this house had no insulation, no adequate weather sealing when I bought it. I've added some insulation & weather sealing as I've made repairs/renovations. I'm a long way from finished, but I can already see that even a little bit of insulation reduces the amount of energy I have to add during the winter to keep the house warm enough to be livible.

... more importantly, it takes less energy to cool the house during the summers (a much bigger deal here in the U.S. south).

No amount of retrofitted insulation can completely eliminate the need for heating or cooling, but it can reduce the amount of energy required.

351:

I notice mention of batteries in houses. They are in fact already for sale in the UK, and go nicely with a solar panel setup. Seeing as we need to put panels on millions of roofs, it makes sense to install small battery setups (5kWh for instance) to offset the incoming solar for use in the evening. They do look about the size of a large suitcase, if you buy lithium ones.

A wired article: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/cost-of-solar-panels-in-the-uk-with-battery

This is not a one size fits all solution any more than one house size and layout suits everyone.

Flow batteries are also being built and sold in China and Australia, with specific variations being designed and tested in Europe and the USA. These provide local energy storage, but obviously don't scale up to gigawatt hours.
e.g. https://redtenergy.com/story/time-shifting-solar-farm-holiday-business-uk/

At least in the UK there is 15GW of offshore wind planned and being built, on top of around 20GW installed on and offshore.


I was recently reading a report by the Centre for alternative technology suggesting we could run the UK purely with renewables:
http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/en/
for more information.

They seemed to think that by reducing demand (insulating houses, less travel etc) we could greatly reduce energy requirements, then we'd need quite a lot of biomass, and a change in eating habits to less meat and use more land for said biomass. Plus syngas manufacture for energy storage when the wind is low. Lots of solar on roofs.
Basically we have the technology already, it just needs deployed and the way we use resources needs to change, which is easier said than done.

352:

"(or, as we see in Australia, intermittent fossil generators. Who would have guessed that extending the life of old equipment made it more prone to failures)"

The intermittency of Australian coal generators is only tangentially related to their advanced years. The main cause, which is evident in patterns of outages (there's a peer reviewed paper on this that I've read but can't re-find, sorry) is manipulation of wholesale prices. The various governments have sold the generators (sometimes for as little as a dollar) to a small number of private hands. So private profit making companies are suddenly in control of huge chunks of public infrastructure. They're driven (legally driven) to maximise profits. So, imagine you're the owner of say 2 large coal fired power plants. One makes 2 GW, the other makes 2.5 GW. The wholesale price is about 6c/kWh (60 dollars a MWh, 60 000 dollars a GWh). You're running both generators flat out and you're making 270 000 dollars an hour (less running costs). Oh no! one of your plants has had problem. You call the network and say "We had a boiler leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak... very dangerous." (shooting the telephone with a blaster is probably not needed)
Now you're only generating 2 GW. But the price has gone up to 14200c/kWh (14 200 dollars a MW, 14 200 000 dollars a GW). You're now making 28 *MILLION* dollars an hour. You're probably facing a couple of hundred thousand dollar fine for dropping the generation, but frankly, who cares?

The corruption watchdog called this "Normal business practice". They're not allowed to collude with other generators, that's against the law, but there's no law requiring business to over produce a product in order to drop the price.

353:

The problem is that the California grid is fundamentally different in design from other grids. It's American. American electrical stuff is supposed to zap things and start fires, because that's what it does in the comics. People shooting it up is just the icing on the cake.

At least, that's the impression I accumulate from everything I ever come across concerning American electrical supply containing some information that makes my hair stand on end.

354:

You do know the difference between space heating and electricity used to power your computer?

355:

Note:

We may have had our first eros related heart-breaking cry at the image of JW bravely and self-sacrificingly going back to dive in the memory of his loved lover (ghost) back when the motion pictures were a novelty to us and we were only just being allowed to watch them.

And it was most definitely in Black&White on a large flickering screen.


This may... alarm your Temporal Bells, if you imagine your universe as it never happening.

356:

...And there's an example of how every time people like you and Moz post something about Australian electricity supply it makes my hair stand on end. Only in that case it's not because of the implication that the entire system is run on the same level of soundness as wrapping a blown fuse in the paper out of a fag packet, it's because of the staggering insanity of the privatised system. It sounds like your grid is as mental as our railways.

357:

Let us point you to the new ground breaking Climate Denial talking point that is smashing it in the USA:

DeFazio on climate: "This is the existential threat to the future of the planet." Insanity. For comparison, the atmosphere Venus is 96.5% CO2 -- and the planet is still there. In contrast, Earth's atmosphere is only ~0.04% CO2.

https://twitter.com/JunkScience/status/1073757414770524162

So, yes: both come ultimately from the Sun and Space. One used to have a functional biosphere.

358:

Having to downgrade temporarily to a flat screen monitor because my 21" CRT isn't working has made the temperature in here noticeably lower.

What's annoying is that the various fan heater components in the main processor box don't operate at temperatures approaching incandescence. This means that over time they clog themselves up with dust, unlike a dedicated fan heater which burns the stuff off as fast as it draws it in.

359:

That's also a big issue, true. But there are also reasons why, even with quite generous pricing, the owners don't want to keep some of the old post-retirement plants running. And it's not just the difficulty of having to actively maintain asbestos insulation and other hangovers from the 1950's.

It would be really amusing if the shiny new federal anti-corruption(1) started digging into who set the AEMO up and what the relationships in the little mess are. I'm sure there's no gross illegality (2), but there are some surprising(3) links between different parties when you start digging.


(1) in practice it's more a "vaguely disapproves of obvious criminality" watchdog. The right wing here really don't like watchdogs.
(2) eagles are protected, after all
(3) not really surprising, except in the "how did expect to get away with that" sense. And the answer is generally "we wrote the law to specifically permit it".

360:

I'm talking about electricity in all cases. The Woolsey Fire preliminarily was thought to have started at the Chatsworth Substation, which was set up in the 1950s to service the Santa Susana Field Lab, which you may want to google. Or not.

Your argument about DHL is specious. Moving packages contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, whether they're from a jet or a truck. Moving electricity in, into, or out of California contributes to wildfires, no matter how thick the line is.

361:

"...the cars shouldn't actually be spending much time at all parked"

Except all night.

This is the same as gasdive's air conditioners setting fire to the substation. If you're going to have everyone's houses fitted with an electrical supply capable of delivering 25kW (or whatever the local convention is), then you can't sensibly argue that it isn't the supplier's fault when people starting to actually use the capability of the supply they are paying for shows up inadequacies further back along the line. Either you have a system which really can deliver what it says it can, or you have a system that falls over.

It's the same with cars: if you have enough of them to keep things going during rush hour, then at 3 in the morning nearly all of them are going to be parked up. If you have so few of them that most of them are hardly ever parked up, then 3 in the morning is the only time the system works...

You have to have enough capacity to meet the maximum demand, even if that does mean that most of it is sitting around most of the time not being used. But note that this is only a problem because nobody's got round to shooting all the accountants who insist that it costs money just to have stuff whether you're using it or not.

362:

"No fucking inefficient "balanced" heat-waster thank you"

Greg, Greg... they're not heat-wasters. They improve efficiency by using heat from the exhaust gases to pre-heat the incoming combustion air. That's why Gresley used the principle on the W1...

363:

Be it noted that abolishing slavery in England was a cheap gesture, as there were no slaves in England and hadn't been since the days of QE1

But it was the first step to abolishing the slave trade (in 1807) and finally slavery in all colonies (1838). And everyone involved in the debate knew it.

After 1807 the Royal navy was patrolling the Atlantic to try and stop the slave trade.

England was quite divided on these issues: Nelson had been a typical navy man who supported British involvement in the Caribbean, and hence made common cause with the plantation owners and was pro-slavery.

But I think your claim that Britain "England basically supported the slavemasters' insurrection in the South" is pushing it a bit. What actions are you referring to? They never recognized the Confederacy, as far as I know. They never imposed any trade sanctions on the Union (which could have been crippling for Union farmers) - but likewise they didn't deny the confederacy access to British ports. Relying heavily on imports of wheat from the North and imports of cotton from the South, they remained neutral.

364:

Anyhow, here's the "World in 2019" by the Economist:

https://cdn.disclose.tv/sites/default/files/styles/inline/public/img/inline/2018/11/30/tw2019_cover_us_no-b-c_no_spine_cmyk_1.jpg?itok=0SGbL6pb

You'll need to Mirror it to spot it all.


That moment that you admit Galadriel is a Power, your prior covers / State-sanctioned-Societal Engineering were crap.

If you think all of this has been insanity, well. No. We tend to tell the Truth. OMMMM.


p.s.


The joke here is GCU Grey Area, aka, Meatfucker.

Do you know what it feels like to enact Genocide while experiencing their suffering?


It's not something you can monetize.

365:

JW bravely and self-sacrificingly going back to dive in the memory of his loved lover (ghost)
I did do a brief google poke when you posted that earlier.
(Was never a fan of Ronald Reagan.) The only film I found with a diver was Hellcats of the Navy but it wasn't a fit.
Anyway, I don't get memory mixups with other timelines quite that severe. :-)

Still parsing the princess story. (I like unusual princess stories.) Hasn't gelled yet.

366:

"Do you notice how this reoccurring obsession with debt / Finance is a core part of Abrahamic religions?"

Very sensibly, too. Because all that stuff is a religion, and a most virulent one too; once people start believing in it they believe in it much more strongly than they do in the things which "religion" conventionally refers to. Darwinistically it makes sense for a self-reproducing set of ideas to incorporate some kind of defence against more strongly reproducing sets.

Also, it fucks people up.

367:

I thought electric vehicles had battery packs with something like 30kwh at least; our technology now and for the foreseeable future is not good enough to permit anything holding that amount of energy to be easily fitted to a house, unless it's another car battery. Which obviously is rather expensive, even now. Better to use a small one for daily cycling.

368:

JBS @ 309
Only because the US, then as now was exceptionalist & STUPID.
The US refused to sign/ratify the international treaty that prohibited “Private Ships of War”, so when the confeds came along with gold, shipbuilders were quite happy to take said gold & build a ship or two.
If the US had signed, they could not have done that……
SEE ALSO # 323

EC @ 313
😁

H @ 320
Or even driving almost-entirely on tarmac roads, what I regularly do … go out to pick up horse-manure in the countryside ( & about twice a year go “off-road” down a legal forest track too ) maybe stop HERE for a pint, then go back to the allotments, again go “off-road” – inside the allotment site, drop stuff off, then go home.
Somehow, I don’t think so.

JH @ 337
Not so much that, but the CIA-backed military coup in the 1960’s is why they have let’s say “Strong left” views there - & who can blame them?

@ 341
as there were no slaves in England and hadn't been since the days of QE1.
WRONG
Mansfield Decision ( Stewart vs Stewart, 1772 ) [ Wiki is your friend ]
And, the “support” you continually posit for the US South was imaginary – supported by “Punch” & a couple of loudmouths, but never the government.
Also … Vicky & Albert were agin slavery ….
See also # 363

Guthrie @ 354
Uh?

Pigeon @ 358
I have to drape a fineish mesh over my “tower” to stop it filling-up with Birman cat-fluff …

369:

Wind and solar are not very useful to the grid, unless we successfully build far better storage solutions than any currently in use - where better means "Cheaper, and much larger scale" batteries need not apply, I mean crazy stunts like https://heindl-energy.com/ actually succeeding and keeping to their budgets (See earlier point about all large construction projects currently having issues..)

What the intermittent renewable sources are obviously good for is bulk industrial production of hydrogen and its derivatives. - Meaning, ammonia, and also iron (You can extract iron from ore without coal this way. Carbon neutral steel!). Eh, and I suppose, rocketry? Because a solar cell in an equatorial desert, or a windmill in truly windy location can produce electricity at rock-bottom, fire-sale prices without subsidies or hidden costs if you do not give a farthing when, exactly, you get those kwh, only that you get so many of them per year.

Because electrolysis equipment is cheap enough that it does not matter very much if you only run it at 40-50% percent capacity on average, and while hydrogen is a pain in unmentionable places to store in ways which are convenient for mobile applications, if all you want is a buffer between the electrolysis equipment and the industrial processes which consume the hydrogen and need a steady supply, a great big tank with thick walls will do fine, and will not break the bank.

370:

Yes, my hair (what's left of it) stands up too, but it's not the Australian Grid (which is fundamentally sound having been designed and constructed in large part by government entities, though the goal of the people running it has changed from providing a secure supply at a minimum price to maximising profit) it's the rampant and completely undisguised corruption of our governments (we have 3 levels for historical (ie. stupid) reasons) that makes my hair stand on end.

371:

Either you have a system which really can deliver what it says it can, or you have a system that falls over.

Very few big systems are built like that though. Insurance is the blatant case, there's no insurance company anywhere ever that can cope with every single policy needing to be paid out at once. Likewise it's just not physically possible to build a road that every vehicle in the country (or even the small country town) can use at the same time.

But the same applies to everything from hospitals to airports, because "build enough capacity that everyone can use it at once" isn't necessary. The question is what size peak you build for, rather than mindlessly build for the biggest you can imagine.

Australia is, once again, a brilliant test case for doing this with power grids. in NSW the privatised grid was told "your profit can only be x% of the value of your assets", so they built the biggest, most expensive grid you can imagine. And it was very profitable. But it still browned out on hot days, because there just wasn't enough capacity to allow NSW to suck power from the whole east coast on hot days. Australia generally has peak demand at dinner time on hot summer days... and that demand can really spike for the exact reason Pigeon describes - when people who don't normally use aircon much all decide to turn it to max at the same time as the usual daily peak is happening, things get ugly.

Best of all, the new "building efficiency standards" still allow houses to built to do this. I'm not saying the designers are corrupt, just observing that there are close ties between the regulatory process and the industry being regulated, as well as between wealthy property developers and politicians (other than The Greens, who don't accept donations from property developers)..

372:

Do you know what it feels like to enact Genocide while experiencing their suffering?
It's not something you can monetize.

That is one of the most gut-punching statements I've read on the internet.
(Also, Grey Area is my favorite ship in all of INB's works, then perhaps the drone Flere-Imsaho in POG. :-)

Steve Milloy is disgusting. I just knew of him peripherally but looking at his profile, ewww. (I read that as a joke though.)

373:

unless we successfully build far better storage solutions than any currently in us

That's close to tautological, though. We don't have them, but we have the technology and we're rapidly scaling up commercial development of it. For countries like Australia where peak demand occurs a few hours after peak insolation it makes perfect sense. Especially since adding PV to the roof also reduces that peak demand. For most of Australia even NiFe or NiMH batteries would work, self-discharge doesn't especially matter over a few hours and that few hours would help a huge amount.

374:

Once we have electric cars and something resembling decent AI, people won't own cars anymore.

Cars being electric rather than petrol-driven is irrelevant. Obviously.

I don't see the AI connection either. What does driverlessness have to do with car ownership?

You think the ability to send my car off to park itself in a cheap underground carpark a few ks from where I'm going, and re-appear when summoned, will make me *less* likely to take my own car into town instead of a taxi?

Why? Why do you think driverless cars (which will enable me to avoid the hassles of parking) will make me *less* keen to use my own car instead of *more* keen?

375:

The New York Times Just Published an Unqualified Recommendation for an Insanely Anti-Semitic Book Tablet Magazine, 2018, today.

Pro-tip: The Talmud is actually insanely racist, reactionary and down-right fucking evil in places by 2018 standards.

It's a living work of history, it's not a fucking manual.

It's like that bit of history where Jewish people shipped slaves to America from Africa. Or the entire of the Arabian peninsula was supplied by slaves via Africa up to... oh, I don't know? 1967?

Spare me the Holiness of Righteous when you're being fucking cunts.


p.s.


At some point we're going to have to talk about that entire Cuba / China / Russia wave-length thing and note that you're shipping actual fucking insanity all over the world, boys.

376:

And that vicious civil war was, essentially, between the Resistance, regrettably led by a thoroughly Stalinist Communist Party, vs. a British-imposed monarchy whose backbone was Nazi collaborators.

Alternatively, it was the legitimate government of Greece, returning from exile, taking over the machinery of government that had operated through the occupation, and having an argument with the EAM/ELAS who believed that as they'd been the partisans, they should run the country (and having refused to disarm, were willing to fight over it).

Note that the Greek Civil War started under the German occupation, as EAM/ELAS decided that they were definitely going to run things after liberation, and they were willing to kill other resistance groups to achieve it. Charming mob, perhaps that's why they weren't trusted...

Similar tensions were present in many occupied countries, once liberated - both in Europe, and in Asia. Indonesia and Indochina decided that their colonial powers were ineffectual and collaborative respectively, and refused to accept the returning governments. Burma and Malaya were quickly and slowly decolonised.

In Bulgaria, AIUI the partisans had achieved little. When the War crimes investigators came to look at the Allied Mission types who'd been executed; it turned out the Germans hadn't done it, it had been willing locals (I can remember going to the cemetery in Sofia as a kid, on Remembrance Sundays). Meanwhile the Communist Party membership grew so significantly in the month leading up to the Soviet liberation of September 1944, the Bulgarians had a name for it: "The Last Ten Days' Communists".

In Yugoslavia, the partisans had been extremely effective, to the extent that they effectively drove the Germans out with Allied support. It was a vicious and brutal war, even by Balkan standards, and by the end Yugoslavia had lost 10% of its population. Tito was supported by the British; read Fitzroy Maclean's "Eastern Approaches". The Royalist Cetniks were seen as far less effective, and a lot of Royalists emigrated to Australia post-war (seeing a street sign for Mihajlovic Street was incongruous).

Effectively, the Greek Civil War was simply a continuation of what the Nazis did to Greece, with the German role replaced by first a British then an American role.

Cute. "British acting as Nazis". Nice trolling. Attractive narrative, has a polemic ring, relies on one side's perspective, has some serious comprehension gaps, is rather offensive, and is both simplistic and inaccurate.

I'm curious as to why you think that the same British who decided to back Tito and the Communists just over the border, would elect a Labour government and promptly "continue what the Nazis did" (you really want to read up on what the Germans did, before you accuse the British of carrying on with it.

Are you actually a historian, or a newspaper columnist? Because I really, really, hope that your teaching is of a higher quality than your blog comments.

PS I must reread the "Don Camillo" books by Giovannino Guareschi (I enjoyed them as a child, I just don't know whether they'll bear rereading). Come to think of it, we also had a lot of Hans Helmut Kirst in our (military) school library; I do wonder who chose our book purchases...

377:

Oh, and...

That is one of the most gut-punching statements I've read on the internet.


If

You

Do

Not

Realize

By

Now

We

Are

Not

Talking

About

Humans


Then


fuck right off with your morality shit. And the fact that Humans enjoyed their deaths. And not talking about the animals here, Dark Crystal fans.

No, really. Israel is a fucking nexus of evil, and the humans are not the things we're looking at.

378:

Well, the Bolt runs on 65 kWh, and the Tesla Model X runs 75-100 kWh, but basically, if you want to stack a bunch of lithium batteries together to power one of them, you're talking about something that's about the size of two three-drawer file cabinets back to back that weighs around 1000-1500 lbs (you can get the same effect by slotting five Tesla PowerWalls next to each other). If your garage is on a concrete slab, this isn't enough to crack the slab, although I hope it's a modular installation to make it easier to install, service, and replace the batteries.

I'm hoping for a house battery that holds around 65-100 kWh and can discharge at 150 amps or more. That means I can charge my car once a week off the sun. Alternatively, I can use that battery to run my home for quite a while if the power goes off. Or, if a fire hits, I can theoretically power up an electric pump and a 2000 gallon cistern and use undereave and roof sprinklers to keep the house too wet to burn.

Right now, five powerwalls would be around $40,000, so this isn't a great option except for a evil tycoon's secret lair. Drop that price to $20,000 and it's attractive ($200/kWh is roughly the current battery price), and drop it to $10,000 and they'll have trouble keeping up with demand (which may happen by 2025).

379:

Sure our technology is good enough to fit it to a house. It's good enough to fit it to a car, and a house is much easier. Static installation, which is always easier; vastly more space, even in the tiniest of houses; weight basically just doesn't matter; doesn't have to cope with such a wide range of operating temperatures; doesn't have to be protected against spraying water/salt/muck...

What is a problem is that 30kWh simply isn't enough. It wouldn't get me through even a day without any input; most people use a lot more energy than I do, and days with no input are not uncommon on the single-house scale, whatever the input is (I think houses on sites suitable for installing a tidal or geothermal generator are rare enough to be ignored). Ten times that capacity would be more realistic.

And the other major problem is who's going to pay for it, when it costs many many thousands of pounds but hooking up to the grid costs nothing and the juice you get from it only costs pence/kWh. It's only going to be done by people who have got lots of money and are into that sort of thing. It would make a lot of sense for me to do it - I have a south-facing roof, loads of insulation, minimal consumption, and no inclination to avoid having the space under the stairs looking like a power station (it looks like a computer graveyard at the moment) - but it's never going to happen because there is zero chance of me ever being able to pay for it.

380:

"But it still browned out on hot days, because there just wasn't enough capacity to allow NSW to suck power from the whole east coast on hot days"

That's not actually true in any way shape or form.

Firstly, NSW didn't brown out, or have load shedding. It came very very close but didn't. Secondly there wasn't enough spare capacity in Victoria or Queensland to cover the needs, they were coping with their own issues. Thirdly there was sufficient interconnect to move what they did have spare, more network wouldn't have helped. Fourthly the shortages were due to coal fired generators having failures and the gas fired backup generators failing to come on line due to low gas pressure. There were attempts to start on diesel and then switch to gas but they weren't successful. Fifthly the Tomago Aluminium Smelter which uses about 10% of all the electricity in NSW has an agreement whereby they get electricity at about 10% of the price you and I pay, but they will curtail consumption if required. They are vocal supporters of coal fired generation. When push came to shove, they point blank refused to stop production and it was only when it became apparent to all that the network was about to turn them off and their pots would freeze they agreed to a limited cutback. You are free to speculate why they continued to draw power while paying in the region of 2 cents per kWh, despite their agreement, while their friends up the road, who they support in the press all the time, were being paid 14 dollars a kWh for that same electricity.

381:

Yet Yugoslavia and Bulgaria didn't destroy their economies with military overspending

Did Greece? Let's look at the early 90s; the Yugoslav National Army, the Hellenic Army, and the Bulgarian People's Army.

Yugoslavia had twice the population of Greece; twice the number of tanks and combat aircraft. Bulgaria had 2/3 the population of Greece; twice the number of tanks, and twice the number of combat aircraft.

So, if the Yugoslavs and Bulgarians were able to afford it, why couldn't the Greeks? You might call Bulgaria a Soviet client, but that certainly didn't apply to Tito...

Perhaps it wasn't the military spending that destroyed the Greek economy. Perhaps it was inefficiency, corruption, a massively bloated public sector, unaffordable vanity projects by politicians (see: Athens Olympics) and an unbelievably ineffectual tax-gathering system...

382:

fuck right off with your morality shit.
Was not a comment about morality. (It hasn't fully hit me yet, btw. Still missing some pieces.)

384:

Look @ the Economist cover.

The 4 Horsemen are on the UK.

grep: dragon, wolf, penguin: clouds. And later: penis-dog.

"Hilarious"

As a question: we're fairly sure that any reaction to 21 year old man committing suicide should be a mixture of sadness, ire at the world and general "can you believe the shit world we're in, eh?" and "WTF?".

It shouldn't be a full on Winky-Winky joy joy Savile stuff, right?

Wrong if you're in the [redacted]. Oh, and tbh: "Kill the Angel...".

Dude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB2utvrdfQU


Νέμεσις


At which point are you going to notice this bit?

385:

That was what I was about to quote at you. I'm not sure how you get from my "wasn't enough capacity to allow NSW to suck power from the whole east coast" to "The interconnectors had reached capacity" showing that I was "not actually true in any way shape or form" but I'm sure you're right. I welcome further explanation.

386:

Sure, there was a whole range of failures during that most recent event, but since I was talking about the extremely expensive grid somehow still not having enough capacity I think it's relevant.

Especially in the context of someone claiming that we should build the electricity supply system to be able to power everything all at the same time even though we've never seen that happen (and there are arguments at the margins that it's not physically possible... people can't be at work and simultaneously at home with everything turned on in both places. They can get part way there with home automation, but even that has limits - you have to unload the washing machine every hour or two for example).

387:

" the UK housing stock has an estimated net real estate value of £70Tn,"

That seems overstated, 70 trillion divided by the U.K. population works out to around a million dollars for every man, woman and child, say maybe three million or so per household. And we're talking not just Hyacinth, Richard and Sheridan but Onslow, Daisy and Rose as well. Granted only a paper figure, but if other assets are valued with reference to such a high estimate, it sounds like a really puffed up bubble developing. What would happen to the value of banks, for instance, if their loan portfolios were supposedly justified by such wildly overpriced real estate. Makes me wonder if Amazon and Google are falling all over themselves investing in New York real estate just to prop up another shaky illusion.

388:

In California, the probable driver, at least for people outside the suburbs, will be power companies turning off the power during Santa Ana events, to avoid sparking wildfires. SDG&E is already doing this for around 18,000 people. While they can get a little generator for under $1000 and run their refrigerators and maybe something else, if they want to keep their house completely working, they'll need a big battery. An emergency backup generator is about the same cost as a big battery ($10k-ish), so if you're going to go big anyway, why not get a battery?

If the grid becomes less reliable, I suspect batteries will become more popular.

389:

Oh, and btw.

Apart from Logos.

Notice the entire fucking world got looted by: the Romans, X Empire, The British. There's like a few thousand Assyrian pieces in there.

Wai no art from ur end Israel? Like none at all?

"OH NOES, OUR ONE TEMPLE GOT ENTIrELy DESTROYED"

ER.

Wut?

South America had like 500 temples destroyed, and there's a shed load of artifacts.


> Nope, Golden Calf doesn't cover it.


Hint: it might be because [redacted].

Oooooh. True Story. Might not want to fuck with the Elves.

390:

>>

Looting the autists who couldn't make art.

>>

Then they REEEEEED all over the world about art.

>>

Still looking for decent ancient Israeli art.

>>

One Temple, "allegedly"

>> 1000% destroyed

>>


"Historically we are eternal in this place"


>>

Someone stop the irony.

391:

Now then: Apart from that shitty 1950's movie and some bad lying, you weren't slaves in Egypt either.

When you gonna own up to actually never being in there?

Nah mate. They're modern liars, they're not the real deal.

"We found a 9,000+ year old mask"

"Yeah.. but that's not Jewish, is it"

We. Are. Though.


p.s.


Kiss gooooodbye to the 10010101 stuff.


Enjoy Psychosis.

*Opens Logos the Book*


*They have no masks left now*

392:

In the (hopeful) electric car future I'm imagining, people have learned not to build homes in Centennial. :)

That aside, let's imagine a fully mature form of AI (which I am) plus a fully mature routing system. No programmer is needed, as Centennial and other hard-to-reach places are frequently used as a virtual practice grounds for exercises where AI are needed to rescue people. (This kind of virtual practice is an ordinary AI behavior when cars are parked for the night, perhaps the AI's version of Dungeons and Dragons.)

In the real world, the results of these exercises are dusted off and twenty-thousand AI cars in the area drop off anyone who doesn't want to go on a rescue mission or who can't go along for some reason; health, poor record in dealing with children, etc. People who aren't needed for any kind of rescue work are also dropped off: "Sir, I'm going on a rescue mission. If you don't want to help, please get out. (If you do help, you will be rewarded with free miles.) Other cars are being diverted to pick you up. There is a small diner two blocks south of here. Don't forget your laptop."

The system immediately organizes the twenty-thousand vehicles. Any vehicles which still have human drivers are warned to get off the road. One road is used for entrance to the Centennial area, the other is used as an exit from the Centennial area.* (Firetrucks are part of the AI network, and have participated in exercises.) Everyone in Centennial gets a text message sent to their callphone or personal AI telling them where to gather and what to bring.

Nobody other than rescue volunteers are taken to the Centennial area. (If you're not there, you don't need to be there.) Anxious mothers are shown pictures of their kids riding calmly in cars which are taking them to safety, and are not allowed to run fifty-miles home to rescue their kids. (They can try, it's a free country, but it would be a hundred-miles - possibly a freely tradable currency - wasted.)

Cars with humans who have excellent reputation scores are sent to the schools. Each car exits the school with one adult and 6-8 kids and heads immediately to the exit road. Other cars with rescuers are sent to the houses of people who need help - old folks, handicapped, etc. and help those people to the cars.

The planning happens in a couple minutes. Well-known principles are applied. The driving happens very quickly as AIs are much better at driving safely than a human driver...

As I noted above, fire-engines and ambulances are part of the AI networks. This means that if we need 1000 firefighters right away, they can be routed in with the other vehicles, while firetrucks from further away load up their crews and hopscotch two fire-stations to the west. (Or whatever.)

The really important point is that at some time in a good future, this does not have to be programmed. AIs learn for themselves, conduct exercises, and make stuff happen. An emergency is declared and the system responds. (Maybe I should explore this in my book.)

*Alternately, there could be two loops on the two different entrance roads, each encompassing half of Centennial. The important point here is that ordinary road directions are ignored as necessary, with ruthless (and ego-free) routing of trucks and people being the norm.

393:

The grid performed flawlessly and had enough capacity left to suck power from anywhere. No lines tripped, no tranformers overloaded and (Hetero) nothing caught fire. Despite it being a near record draw, and obviously a record load on some parts of the grid. The bits that Transgrid have control over worked perfectly. The bits that Transgrid doesn't have control over (the generators, the backup generators, the interconnectors and the switchable loads) either failed, didn't work, weren't big enough (remember I've been banging on for years that we need more and bigger interconnectors, and so has Transgrid) or refused to co-operate. Despite that, there was no brownout and no load shedding.

394:

Because your time is valuable, and the payoff (if you live in Southern California, as I do) is significantly less time spent in traffic.

Right now, if I work in downtown Los Angeles and I need to be there by 9:00 am, while using my own car, I have to leave by 6:30 at the very latest. So I have a minimum morning commute of at least 2.5 hours. When I leave at 5:00 pm, I have to drive at least 2.5 hours home - and once again, this 5 hours is the absolute minimum time I will spend on the road. Note that this incredibly congested and complex driving environment is filled with single-occupancy vehicles. FAIL!

Now imagine a driverless cars routed similarly to a packet. It picks me up at 7:30, makes four more stops in my neighborhood to pick up other people who work in Downtown Los Angeles, then heads west on a freeway with 25 percent of the cars currently in use - and since it's coordinating with the cars around it, everyone gets to drive faster! We roll into downtown about 8:30, drop people off, and then the car picks up some people on the night-shift and drives them home.

So I sleep an hour later in the morning and get home an hour earlier in the evening. And BTW, I have none of the headaches of car ownership. I don't have to repair, maintain, finance, charge/gas-up, or wash a car. That's all handled transparently and it's Someone Else's Problem. Not to mention that since I expect to go to downtown Los Angeles once a day, I can buy my miles in bulk.

If someone is inclined to stagger the start times for workers, this works even better!

The final score is that I save 2 hours a day and don't have to drive/navigate in heavy traffic for five hours a day! And that two hours spent in the car? Since I'm not driving I can read, watch TV, surf the 'Net, etc.

395:

Centennial may be too late (it's already been approved). If you don't like this future, an end-of-year donation to Center for Biological Diversity may be in order.

The problem for the AI in a fire is sensor failure and a chaotic new environment. A simple example is (from the news media) when a woman got stuck in a traffic jam going out of Paradise as the fire closed in. She called her husband to say goodbye, and he yelled at her into going off the road far enough to go around the jam and get out. She was too rule-bound.

So the AI problems in something like a fire are:
--chaotically degrading sensor and communication network, with blowing embers causing spot fires, roads getting closed, trying to figure out who to pick up, and stuff the car can't do (like getting someone with special needs into a car fast, when there's no human to help).
--Emergency alternate routes. Can you teach a car to drive on the lawn? Under what circumstances is that acceptable?
--Equivalents of the trolley problem. What does the AI do when its cars break down in the face of the fire, and it can't get them all out? If it has to sacrifice someone, who does it sacrifice? For the firefighters, where do they get routed, and how do you get the humans to play along?

In a fictional setting, you can make a good story dealing with this. For extra points, make the answer to the trolley problem a matter of social credit, China style, with all the injustices that might imply (for example, an rebellious teenager might get left behind, while a senile former bureaucrat might get picked up first).

396:

"the extremely expensive grid"

Oh, and that's another trigger for me... I hear that all the time in the media (the next level trigger for me is 'Gold Plating')

So, you know the grid is extremely expensive. Guess how much. You've seen those bills on A Current Affair (tabloid TV) for thousands of dollars. Form a figure in your head of what the average NSW electricity consumer pays for TransGrid per month (the price is fixed from 2014-2018). Got it? Ready?
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$12

397:

It picks me up at 7:30, makes four more stops in my neighborhood to pick up other people who work in Downtown Los Angeles, then heads west on a freeway with 25 percent of the cars currently in use

Meanwhile, I use my own driverless car to do the same thing, getting all the time benefits of not sharing (as well as not having to haul all my stuff out of the car when I get to work, back in when I leave, etc — I can't believe I'm the only person who does other things on the way to/from work* and so leaves bulky stuff in my car…).

It's kinda like the 'SUVs are safer' thinking — if I'm the only person with an SUV, I'm safer than the rest of you in little cars. If we all make the same calculation and all use SUVs, we're collectively worse off. Prisoner's dilemma, essentially.

398:

So the AI problems in something like a fire are:

--chaotically degrading sensor and communication network, with blowing embers causing spot fires, roads getting closed, trying to figure out who to pick up, and stuff the car can't do (like getting someone with special needs into a car fast, when there's no human to help).

This is why the AI do exercises. What happens if there's an accident between two AI drivers? What happens if a cell-tower goes down? Which cars are responsible for mesh networking? Can we arrive at a least-bits way to signal about the issues?

--Emergency alternate routes. Can you teach a car to drive on the lawn? Under what circumstances is that acceptable?

Exactly. Ideally in a rescue situation, the cars drive to the doors of the classroom to minimize the number of panicky kids.

--Equivalents of the trolley problem. What does the AI do when its cars break down in the face of the fire, and it can't get them all out?

Ideally the AIs driving the rescue cars have backed themselves up. A broken down car gets pushed (off the side of the road if necessary.)

If it has to sacrifice someone, who does it sacrifice?

It sacrifices the people who stubbornly refuse to be rescued. Hopefully humans are aware of how the system works, and have prepared some kind of document storage which is easily transportable, so if they're not home the neighbor can come inside and rescue their identities.

For the firefighters, where do they get routed, and how do you get the humans to play along?

The firetruck AIs take part in the exercises. Ideally, each AI has a trusted human it can discuss the exercises with. Humans play along because after the AI has gamed things out, humans are brought in to look over the results, and the plans become part of the City/Counties/States official emergency planning. If necessary, humans adjust the parameters of the simulation and have the AIs run it again, just like you added stuff to the problems I'd already thought about.

399:

Which way any one person would go depends on the benefits, I guess. But if we're going to survive climate change we have to stop thinking that way.

400:

Since we're over three-hundred, I want to post this letter which I sent a couple friends last night. It describes a personal hobby-horse of mine, but I suspect that it will speak to others as well:

Hi Ho, another Robin Hood movie. Getcher tickets before it exits the theaters - probably post-haste - with it's tail between it's legs!

I think there should be a ritual for people who wish to make a Robin Hood movie, and it goes like this: You write your script. Run it by everyone who matters to your production and incorporate their notes. Then do a storyboard. Do not speak of your Robin Hood movie with any actors or artists (other than your storyboard artist) until this process is complete.

When they are finished, put your storyboards and script away for at least six months. For all of this time, view them not. When the six-month period is over, you must sit down and watch Disney's animated version of Robin Hood. Study it carefully. Watch it a second time. Spend several hours uncovering all the things this movie gets exactly right.

The next day, get out the script and storyboards for your own Robin Hood movie. Compare it carefully to the Disney version, and ask yourself honestly: "Is what I wrote even half as good as Disney's animated masterpiece?"

If the answer is yes, you get to make your movie. Take your best shot; we're all rooting for you.

If the answer is no, you must ceremonially burn your script and storyboards, then destroy any other media, such as hard drives, CD-Roms, or USB drives which contain any version of the script or storyboards. Then you must spend the next month purifying your soul with Shakespeare and Miyazaki. When the time of purification is done, you may again put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

It is the responsibility of the movie-goer to enquire of the maker of any Robin Hood movie whether they have followed this rule, and if they have not done so, shun them and their movie.

Shun them.

401:

Actually not setting fire to the substation, it's the transformers in the street. Substation fires are pretty rare but if they do happen, they're well contained.

I've got some idea that you don't watch Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvxZxKhYYDU so I'll describe the action. A small grey cylinder, about the size of a garbage can sits on a pole. It's connected to 3 wires at the top which is the medium voltage supply (11000 V in Australia though this video is USian). They're filled with oil to cool the windings. It has popped and burning oil is spilling out, falling to the ground and running burning down the gutter. Eventually it sets fire to a tree. The fire brigade turns up making a lot of noise and puts it out. Had this been in dry bushland instead of leafy suburbia it would have set the countryside on fire. If you look around in a town with overhead wires, you'll see something similar every km or so. Rural places have one per property. If there's underground power you'll see big metal boxes on the street that emit heat and a self satisfied hum.

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

402:

The size of the battery needed is really dependent on heating and cooling needs. That, along with insulation, is the single biggest driver of power consumption

I think fully electric heating is going to be hard, most off the grid places today use propane, you can also use this as auxiliary power via generators, I can imagine this being replaced by hydrogen or ammonia systems at a grid level where the hydrogen or ammonia is created by surplus solar or wind power

AC is tough and I think people are just going to be hotter, however the advantage that many times when you need AC is the energy rich time of the day / year from a solar perspective

For an example, I have a 50kwh lead acid solar system off the grid in Oregon, augemented by propane heating. 50kwh lead avid really means 20kwh usable, since you don’t want to discharge more the 50%. We generally make it through the winter only kicking on the generator a couple times

From an AC perspective we run it in the summer only on sunny days after the batteries are recharged. We often hit 75 degrees or so inside but rarely higher

403:

“Meanwhile, I use my own driverless car to do the same thing...”

Except that you have to shell out $75k for the car. The other people are paying $5 for the ride. Of course in order to make the money back you can always put your car in the grid when you aren’t using it. Might be a good investment if you have the capital but probably isn’t if you had to borrow money to buy the car

404:

The AI fire truck and it's human offsiders also have access to the eyes and ears of all the AI vehicles in the area. It will know exactly where it can drive, where the trees and live wires are down and where the humans have clustered. With fog piercing sensors, the cars will know exactly what's going on around them, far better than the humans. IR cameras can see straight through the smoke and sense the heat.

Currently we have a human driving a truck who can't see the broad picture and if the smoke gets bad, can't even see where they're driving.

405:

I do need to thank you for something. The book I'm writing will probably work best if the reader learns bit-by-bit how important the main character (and her AI) are. The whole "fire scenario" you have posed is a way to accomplish that - one missing signpost on the way to the reader understanding that Angie is mega-important.

406:

"Right now, five powerwalls would be around $40,000, so this isn't a great option except for a evil tycoon's secret lair. Drop that price to $20,000 and it's attractive ($200/kWh is roughly the current battery price), and drop it to $10,000 and they'll have trouble keeping up with demand (which may happen by 2025)"

They have trouble keeping up with demand right now. There's currently a gigantic battery shortage worldwide. Powerwalls and all sorts of electric cars are subject to gigantic waiting lists. Tesla is building "worlds largest" battery factories as fast as they can, and it's not even making a dent in world demand. Waiting times are getting longer not shorter.

Hyundai halts production due to battery shortage

http://www.futurecar.com/2257/Hyundai-Halts-Ioniq-Production-Due-to-Battery-Shortage

407:

How do the vehicles communicate? This was a problem in the Paradise fire, that cell towers were going down (possibly literally) and communications broke down. It's questionable that the cars have much more than their own problem-solving capacity.

Here's an example of the driving environment (first from the Woolsey Fire, second from the Paradise) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0wPgWpkqI In the first (fairly famous) video, the only other vehicle that could provide information was her mom's truck directly behind her.

Now the thing about AI is we're not talking about an omniscient person, we're talking about a combination of deep learning and programming. Exercises are necessary, but simulations of this are about as similar to the real thing as NASA's training pool is to outer space.

408:

High altitude drones or low altitude satellites would work well for communication. That’s actually a way easier problem then the AI magic being referenced

You probably aren’t sending real time video but rather the conclusions you’ve drawn from processing the video so the bandwidth doesn’t have to be super high

The kind of AI being described is at least an order of magnitude more advanced then what is needed for driving a car around . It could easily fight and win wars for example

409:

If I were building a network over which cars and their routing servers could coordinate, I'd build something really robust, with multiple forms of backup; it would probably involve multiple forms of communication plus some real communications discipline when things went wrong.

410:

Stuff like emergency response to massive forest fires is going to very hard for AI to navigate. They are currently much better at doing very well understood rote tasks, especially rote tasks supported by huge amounts of data on how to do it

The problem with fires is that there is all sorts of weird shit going on that they will have never seen before . Gonna confuse the hell out of them and they are going to pull over to the side of the road and call for momma

What they will be really good at is the logistics part of assembling a bunch of resources quickly at the problem point, but the actual engagement is going to be humans for a long long time

411:

I'm assuming AI here which is conscious and at least of mammal-level intelligence, plus experienced in navigating road hazards and issues - it's smart enough to pull onto the shoulder and go around an accident, or drive into a field to avoid a fatality. Everything anyone is working on today, theoretical or otherwise in any serious manner, all in one good package, plus the ability to talk to itself like a human consciousness.

412:

That's pretty much the way I read it. I think the point of being a wet blanket on AI in this situation is to point out that the symbiosis between humans and AI might work better, with humans handling the weird stuff and the AIs handling the rote. On the other hand, the skills to drive out of a fire don't automatically happen, so if you want a human to be able to do an emergency self-rescue, they've got to spend a lot of time driving. Which negates the benefit of mandating self-driving cars for all.

Perhaps the better use of AI isn't mandating self-driving cars for all, but enlarging the direction-giving ability of cell phones and similar so that they can organize ad hoc in places like traffic jams to get everyone through them as rapidly as possible given the situation. Right now, apps are around 20 minutes behind reality, so you hear about accidents that are no longer there, and similar. Something as simple as getting cars over to go around an accident is useful when right now the apps don't even know what side of the road the accident is on. A slightly more advanced procedure would be something like ironing out the standing waves that stall traffic. These kind of incremental improvements, along with a lot more buses and trains, and yes, self-driving cars for those who need them, are probably where we're going to go.

The safest solution to building in a place like Centennial (or Paradise, or Malibu) is hobbit holes and subways, same as the best solution for surviving nuclear war (at least back in the 1950s) was to bury every city in the US. It's rational, but for some reason I don't think it will happen. That leaves us with either not building in high risk areas (as hopefully in Centennial) or, well, helping people in the not rich town of Paradise try to figure out a way to not go through that again. Malibu can look after itself, as it always has.

413:

It doesn't require and omnipotent super AI, just a normal level one.

"Road Transportation Emergency Services[7] – where VANET communications, VANET networks, and road safety warning and status information dissemination are used to reduce delays and speed up emergency rescue operations to save the lives of those injured."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle-to-vehicle

see also

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

414:

For a town like Centennial, the most important thing they can do is probably to make sure the brush doesn't dry out, which means regularly watering the trees from the outskirts of town to 1000 yards out. (Or just cut them down.) And create firebreaks.

One of the things we'll need to do if we want to survive global warming is to plant as many eco-powered bio-active carbon sinks (trees) as possible. Making sure they don't catch fire will be very important.

415:

Considerations for nuclear power are non trivial.

The original sin is the connection to nuclear weapons and their testing. That was the equivalent about 500 (there is no good agreement on the number) level 5 and up nuclear accidents. The dishonesty involved in this spilled over into the perception (at least) of the power industry.

The good news about this is the number of prompt deaths was quite low (given the general insanity of doing this). The long term deaths are more significant but almost certainly less than, say, car exhausts.

To describe the safety requirements applied to nuclear plants as exorbitant, ah no. The risks (especially the long term risks) are very real and must be addressed.

To which end I don't see how anyone in their right mind would build a light water nuclear reactor. Permanently 5 minutes away from meltdown? Excuse me?

So, there is a lot of reasons not to trust the industry (most places, Canada builds heavy water plants, 5 hours or so away from meltdown).

416:

"The kind of AI being described is at least an order of magnitude more advanced then what is needed for driving a car around"

Not really. It's just the cars sharing the information about what they can see around them. This is being done right now, it's not even speculative. It's needed right now to avoid accidents and is used to 'see around corners' in a way that humans can't. If you've ever seen a Dashcam video compilation you'd have seen the classic where a car in the kerbside lane is going straight past a line of stopped traffic and an oncoming car makes a turn into a side road (I'm trying to explain that in a 'side of the road to drive on neutral way'). Sharing traffic congestion is an obvious thing to do that benefits everyone. Sharing information about emergency vehicles seems like a trivial extension to something it would need anyway.

417:

"The risks (especially the long term risks) are very real and must be addressed."

Why?

CC will result in far far more deaths than any nuclear accident, or series of accidents could.

However that's not the problem. The problem is that we use about 25 TW. There's about half a TJ of energy in a kg of U. So that means we would need to consume about 50 kg of U per second. Given that there's about 8 million tonnes of commercially available U we've got about 5 years supply. Probably 10 years if it's cost no object extraction. We wouldn't even complete the build before they ran out of fuel.

418:

gasdive, it might be time for you to declare your interest in TransGrid. You've already said that as far as you're concerned "the grid" means Transgrid which will come as a shock to all the other grid operators in Australia. You also claim that Transgrid is perfect, not like all those other shonky bits of the system. And that it's not expensive because it only costs the average consumer about $70 a year but somehow the total infrastructure cost is ten times that... again, I think you're limiting your view to TransGrid and I wonder why.

419:

If you're going to flash 1.5 trillion on securing an overnight energy supply, in the presumed absence of a Europe to trade with, then what about Australia rather than batteries?

It's roughly 20 000 km between the two via the seabed. 12 GW powerlines cost about half a million pounds per km, so that's about 10 billion pounds. Average UK energy consumption is about 240 GW (all forms, not just electricity), so you'd want about 40 such cables. So that's about 400 billion pounds and a capacity of 480 GW. After transmission losses you'd still get about 350 GW out the end in the UK.

PV is currently about 0.16 pounds per W retail. There's a lot of supporting infrastructure, but I'm sure you could negotiate a discount for a bulk order and get the lot for that price. There's still 1.1 Trillion in the kitty. So that's about 6000 GW name plate of solar. Even on the cloudiest day you'd still saturate the cables.

Most of the time you'd have heaps more energy than you could fit through the cables. Turn it into methane via direct air capture and Fischer–Tropsch. It only ends up about 10% efficient when you include pulling the CO2 out of the air and electrolysis of the water, liquification of the gas, but it still means that you can send a fair bit of LNG to the UK. That can run gasfired power plants to take up any slack. Probably about 50 GW 24/7 coming out of the power station in the UK. (6000 GW peak means about 1500 GW average. Subtract the average 250 GW sent by cable that's 1250 GW. At 10% efficiency that's 125 GW worth of methane landed in the UK. 40% efficiency in the power plant, that's 50 GW). Of course you wouldn't run them 24/7 but run them a small percentage of time to cover peaks in demand or holes in supply. If that was 10% of the time, that's 500 GW, which should cover evening peaks.

Buy the land in Australia for basically nothing (the land is currently worthless). Since you're not making any money in Australia you'll pay no tax. No guns need to be pointed at anyone. Australia will just let you do it. It's a stable country. No-one is going to confiscate your assets.

420:

I worked for HP 20 years ago. HP had the IT support contract for TransGrid and I worked on site. I've always been interested in the grid and renewable energy and I quizzed everyone who would sit still for more than a minute. I formed the strong impression that they're hard working and customer focused. In 2015 the state government handed it to private investors for 99 years. I don't know what it's like now. I was a minor project manager for the NSW/Qld interconnector. I don't think I've described TransGrid as perfect, I just corrected your misconception that seems to have come from reading mass media. Tealeaves are generally a better source of information. At least they're right sometimes.

The imaginary 'brown outs' that you were referring to had they existed would have had nothing to do with the DNSP. That's why I concentrated on TransGrid. DNSP spending might be excessive in the opinion of the SMH however there are regulated reliability standards that the DNSP must meet. It's a bit rich that this quote "ACCC chairman Rod Sims has previously blamed state governments for rising energy prices and pointed to network costs playing a major role in this." from the same person who described the generators gaming the system as "normal business practice".

I'd also reject the Gratton Institute's views. A thinktank created with the goal "to [set] public policy in Australia as a liberal democracy in a globalised economy." that is sponsored by coal miners seems strangely disinclined to attribute high costs to privatisation and coal generators gaming the system. Colour me surprised.

TransGrid's remuneration is set by the AER. 12 dollars a month https://www.transgrid.com.au/news-views/news/2015/Pages/TransGrid-will-not-challenge-AER-determination-2014-18.aspx

421:

No way was abolishing the slave trade a "first step" to abolishing slavery. The US abolished the slave trade too, led by slaveholder Thomas Jefferson, simultaneously, which if anything strengthened slavery in the South. Especially for the Virginia slavemasters like Jefferson who as the tobacco trade declined could sell their slaves down the river to the cotton lands at truly excellent prices. Took a civil war to abolish slavery in the USA. In 1807 there was a huge glut on the sugar market due to Napoleon's Continental blockade, and the last thing Jamaican slavemasters needed was to buy more African slaves. In the aftermath, bringing back the slave trade after Napoleon was defeated might have seemed a good idea, but it would have been politically very difficult, after all that national self-congratulation for abolition. As it turned out, suppressing the slave trade worked quite well for England, was a marvelous excuse for Britannia to rule the waves.

Why was slavery abolished in 1833? Well, there was a Jamaican revolt, and the Caribbean sugar plantations were being thoroughly outcompeted by Brazil and Cuba. And you then after the Reforms had a very different House of Commons, where the cotton textile interests who wanted their slavery in the South not the Caribbean had far more seats and the slave interest far less. And what's more, the slavemasters got truly marvelous compensation, so quite a few of the parlamentarians on their payroll actually voted for it. Getting out while the getting was good.

England was hardly "neutral." It didn't side overtly with the Confederacy as Lincoln threatened to declare war on England if it did. With the US diverted by Civil War so the Monroe Doctrine was not operational, England joined France and Spain in invading Mexico in 1861. Which if thieves had not fallen out, would have been the perfect jumping off platform for a joint military intervention on behalf of the South by way of Texas. (France and Spain's sympathy for the Confederacy was quite open). British diplomats did threaten the US a few times with a military intervention for humanitarian reasons to stop the bloodbath, but given as the US army was far larger than the British, and seizing Canada would probably not have been terribly difficult after the rebellion was put down, it was never more than threats.
The British role in the Civil War is very well described in the last chapter/epilogue of David Brion Davis's prizewinning "The Problem of Slavery in the Era of Emancipation," to which I direct your attention.

422:

Instead, why not imagine a good public transportation system? In general, in the USA only New York has a good one, and it is completely falling apart. LA is the absolute worst in America in that respect. Actually, Los Angeles and the vast suburban sprawl around it are a huge mistake. It's a desert with temperate climate, which had to destroy a river to get water even a century ago (watch Chinatown, a very accurate movie) and it's only gotten worse since then. The wildfires are Mother Nature's way of reminding us that the place is a colossal ecological blunder, which can only survive by vampire style draining all the surrounding water supplies, including those for the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. I have visited LA twice in my life, two times to many. I vividly remember back in the '80s driving through the rich people area and seeing the signs on the side of the street saying "Armed Response." America at its worst.

423:

Bill Arnold @ 372
Thank you.
That statement makes comprehensible sense, unlike your source.
More, please.
Ah well, I followed your link on Milloy – he appears to be a deliberate public liar on one subject, at the very least: Evolution. [ Without even thinking about the other erm “mis-statements” he has made. …. ]
@ 382
See, even when you make a supportive statement, you get crapped on?

EGA @ 375
Could you PLEASE do this more often?
I followed the link to the secondhand reference to Icke ( Who, though “British” is not known-of much over here).
EUUUW. I mean – “the Protocols” & he rants on about “The Rothschilds” ( seriously certifiable lunacy )
Incidentally, the only individual Rothschild I know of is Miriam - a classic English eccentric & world-class scientist – I have a copy of her first book, a most interesting read.

Martin @ 376
YES

Troutwaxer @ 392
All powered by unicorn-farts presumably?
Heteromeles @ 395 nails the difficulties.
[ Last night, I pulled the GGB right onto the pavement to let a “Blues-&-twos” past – it was MOVING ]

RP @ 397
Not necessarily.
I know the GGB’s crumple zones are other people’s cars, but that’s not the point … because it is an inherently safer vehicle than most of the others.
I can see further than most drivers ( Eye-height is above when I’m standing on the road ) / other people can see me & therefore avoid / really good roadholding & braking characteristics, especially in the wet / if I am involved in a collision with another car, they are going to be underneath me, so I stand a much better chance of walking away )

Troutwaxer @ 400
WOT?
No mention of the Ridley Scott version from 2010 ( Russell Crowe / Cate Blanchett ) ??

Gasdive @ 401
That is UTTERLY FUCKING INSANE
And the US & AUS have these bloody-dangerous things all over the place?
In the UK they are on the ground & in at least semi-secure small enclosures.
Lookeee HERE - peeking over the top of the school-fence is a small hutment – that’s our street’s local substation, accessible through the gate-with-a-label-posted on to it. Incidentally, if you scan to the right, you will see the GGB, parked.

Finally
AI vs Human responses & solutions to weird, unforeseen problems …
I give you Perosteck Balveda ( Juboal-Rabaroansa Perosteck Alseyn Balveda dam T'seif )

424:

The legitimate government? You mean the semi-fascist Metaxas dictatorship Greece had before the Italian invasion? Which indeed "took over the machinery of government that acted during the occupation," since there was really no different between the monarchists and Metaxas fans collaborating with the Germans and the monarchists and Metaxas fans who thought England was a safer long term bet. You do understand we are talking about torturers and murderers I hope?

As for the resistance groups other than EAM/ELAS, they never amounted to much, despite all the support England gave them. EDES, the most important one, struck a truce with the Nazis so as better to fight the communists, and Grivas's British-funded royalist "Operation X" overtly collaborated with the Nazis to fight the communists, may even have been funded by the Nazis, that's not clear.

Why did the British have a different policy in Greece than in Yugoslavia? Remember the famous Churchill/Stalin get together, where Stalin agreed the British would get Greece whereas Yugoslavia was to be split fifty-fifty with Churchill?

To clarify, though this shouldn't be necessary if you read more attentively, I'm saying that it was the monarchist side in the Civil War itself, not its British and later US backers, carrying out Nazi style atrocities vs. the rebels and their civilian supporters. On a smaller scale than what the Nazis did, but of the same kidney.

425:

You do understand we are talking about torturers and murderers I hope?

Only too well - I can remember Dad's (professional) description of the 1970s junta. To others; Costa Gavras and "Z" describes it. Assassination of political opponents, torture, etc, etc as part and parcel of Greek politics, for decades. Note that there was both a White Terror and a Red Terror.

Regarding EAM/ELAS, you might want to check up their behaviour regarding Dimitrios Psarros, EKKA, and the 5/42 Evzone...

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

Rather like the Good Friday Agreement, perhaps there was a conscious tradeoff to achieve peace? The torturers and murderers walk free, but at least the torture and murder stopped. It's choosing an achievable pragmatic outcome, over an unachievable ideal outcome...

426:

What you are writing is fantasy (wishful thinking variant), unfortunately. Nothing wrong with that - for fiction - just don't follow the likes of the Brexiteers in assuming strongly-enough held wishes will turn into horses. It's not technically infeasible, but doesn't match our requirements or the direction that we are heading.

The communications problem is easily resolveable, by using a proper distributed system using cars, houses etc. as nodes - the (practical) theory was worked out a few decades back. The problem is that it fails horribly when one subgroup starts to game the system for its own benefit, so is a true socialist utopian solution only.

AI's that learn from experience are fine in theory, but fail horribly in practice. The reason is that they will often find solutions that are within the letter of their constraints and objectives, but flatly incompatible with their spirit. And sort of purposes we are talking about are just too complicated to be specified precisely and completel. As I have posted before, the critical aspects of intelligence that we don't understand and can't yet emulate are imagination, intuition and judgement.

And, as I said in #313, ANY road-based solution to ANY problem assumes being able to create enough road capacity to solve it, and that simply isn't the case in many (or even most) cases.

427:

...And you then after the Reforms had a very different House of Commons, where the cotton textile interests who wanted their slavery in the South not the Caribbean had far more seats and the slave interest far less.

Now that we're into your area of expertise, I'm genuinely curious - if this is 1833, and you're describing the House of Commons, which "South" are you referring to? Did the cotton industry in the Southern US states seek influence in Parliament, after sixty years of independence and two wars?


England was hardly "neutral"... England joined France and Spain in invading Mexico in 1861...

In the name of accuracy, and given that this is a Scottish-hosted* blog, you might want to think of using "Britain" or "the UK"... after all, you mentioned "British Diplomats". I'll acknowledge that Nelson was signalling "England Expects" to a Royal Navy in 1805, but precision :)

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the Wikipedia comment that the US thought the British position was justifiable, but they disagreed with the French and Spanish perspective...

https://www.napoleon.org/en/history-of-the-two-empires/timelines/the-mexican-campaign-1862-1867/

* In the decades after the Jacobite rebellions, the word "Scottish" went out of favour - the shibboleth** became "North British"; hence "North British Railway", "Royal North British Dragoons", etc.

** As in "Derry" / "Londonderry", "Ulster" / "Six Counties", etc...

428:

They're there in the English countryside too.

Horsham Rd

https://goo.gl/maps/K7mqPQdTmH62

(I think that's a link to a Google maps photo of a pole mount transformer)

429:

Here's a lovely big one in Scotland. Near Crieff

Broich Rd
https://goo.gl/maps/pVAjDCfPrio

431:

Regarding pole mounted transformers, there must be statistics out there about their failure rate. Here in the wet and windy UK we never hear about them failing, because maybe it isn't hot enough, or nothing catches fire,or ours are built better or something. Let's look at some data rather than quarrelling like children.

433:

"Let's look at some data rather than quarrelling like children."

Yes. Let's not descend to the level of the House of Commons.

434:

Maybe your electricians complete the paperwork for additional loads? Ours certainly don't.

Maybe it's cooler and they don't overheat as easily?

Maybe the house main fuse is smaller (ours is generally 100 amps)

437:

Occupied Six Counties, if you don't mind!

(This is intended as humour for those in the know.)

438:

Yes, exactly. I'm at work so can't try and find anything.

439:

I'm imagining 75% of all cars permanently off the road, and the rest gone electric. I think it's an achievable goal. You gotta problem with that? :)

440:

Electric, Greg. I know you love your big diesel, but in 20 years I'm guessing that for every car to have a battery at least as good as a Tesla's will not be difficult. Their Model 3 currently gets a little over 300 miles on a charge. Hopefully we'll be doing better than that 20 years from now.

441:

I was thinking more of the most recent Robin Hood and the Kevin Costner version (as negative examples.) The Ridley Scott version might have been very good - I haven't seen it - but I think the Disney version is canonical for me (as a good movie, not as history or legend; I'm sure it's possible to get more accurate in scholarly terms) so I think I'll keep it.

442:

What you are writing is fantasy (wishful thinking variant), unfortunately.

Captain Kirk's "flip phone" communication device was fantasy too - there was literally no reason to imagine a path from 1966's idea of computers or electronics to being able to contact a starship in orbit from a planet's surface with a device which would fit in your pocket. Now we've all got cellphones, many of which respond to voice commands just like the computer of the Enterprise. Fantasy is what you make of it.

The idea that we won't have massively improved AI in 20 years when it's one of the hottest areas of research around? That's fantasy!

443:

@ 428 - 430
None of those three Google maps links works - I just get a picture of the road surface ...
Migth want to try again, with a "longer view"
So, they exist here ... oh dear.

DtP
Occupied by Ulstermen ( & women ), in fact ....

Troutwaxer @ 440
Quite possibly
But the point is that utter theivmg liar bastard Kahn is going to steal it in 2021, because hew wants to "look good" rather than concetrating on commecial vehicles first.
Like THIS for instance
It will only result in me sppending probably more than I can afford, converting to LPG, if allowed ( We don't know Khan's made-up-as-we-go-along "rules, yet ) or buying an older, probably more polluting car, like a 1988 Range Rover ... ( Having, very regretfully, sold the GGB )

[ We do know that he is proposing a FIXED "25 year" limit, which I fail by about 2 months. ]

444:

Don't diss the Costner version too much. It gave us the ne plus ultra of "Sheriff of Nottingham" in Alan Rickman, and a bravura example of Grand Theft Film.

"...with a spoon!"

445:

Have you considered bio-diesel? I hear it's far less polluting.

446:

I think Mel Brooks said everything that needed to be said about the Costner film - trust an old Borscht-Belt comedian to get that one right!

447:

I've been gone from this discussion for a few days, so I will probably respond to various conversations in this thread.

When talking about the Eurozone Crisis, it would be useful to look at the damage the crisis has done to Southern European countries. I'll compare it to their closest peers: US states

Ireland: It seems to have weathered the crisis very well. It now has the largest HDI in the EU

Spain: It's HDI is around Louisiana's (46 by states).
Italy: It's around West Virginia's. You know, the state that's ground zero for the malaise of the white working class. No wonder populism is so attractive there.
Greece: It's almost on par with Mississippi, the state where Jim Crow has remained the most entrenched, and the epicenter of black rural poverty
Portugal: WOW! That country is about as badly off as Puerto Rico. Not only that, but its living standard is now below most of Eastern Europe.

As an aside. It's interesting that the HDI of Massachusetts and Connecticut is higher than any country in Europe, and that 13 states have a higher HDI than any country in the EU. Why do people think this?

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_Human_Development_Index
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_state_of_the_European_Union

448:

Since we're revisiting the Second Treasonous Slaveowner's Rebellion again I'd like to point out this detail. I read it years ago, and can't seem to find it now. However, close to 5% of slaves in the South were working in factories circa 1860. It seems that Southern governments were exploring moving away from plantations towards an industrialized economy while maintaining slavery in order to compete with Northern States.

449:

Below are two Bloomberg articles

The first talks about an existing charging station which halves the charge time compared to Tesla's version
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-13/bmw-porsche-boast-three-minute-charging-jolt-for-electric-cars?srnd=premium

Here is an article about China's participation in the cubesat market.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-12-13/a-millennial-s-tiny-satellites-are-helping-china-advance-in-the-space-race?srnd=premium

450:

Virginia slavemasters like Jefferson who as the tobacco trade declined could sell their slaves down the river to the cotton lands at truly excellent prices

An interesting work on the subject:
https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/american-slave-coast--the-products-9781613738931.php

American Book Award Winner 2016 The American Slave Coast offers a provocative vision of US history from earliest colonial times through emancipation that presents even the most familiar events and figures in a revealing new light. Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as "breeding women" essential to the young country's expansion. Captive African Americans in the slave nation were not only laborers, but merchandise and collateral all at once. In a land without silver, gold, or trustworthy paper money, their children and their children's children into perpetuity were used as human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit in a market premised on the continual expansion of slavery. Slaveowners collected interest in the form of newborns, who had a cash value at birth and whose mothers had no legal right to say no to forced mating. This gripping narrative is driven by the power struggle between the elites of Virginia, the slave-raising "mother of slavery," and South Carolina, the massive importer of Africans—a conflict that was central to American politics from the making of the Constitution through the debacle of the Confederacy. Virginia slaveowners won a major victory when Thomas Jefferson's 1808 prohibition of the African slave trade protected the domestic slave markets for slave-breeding. The interstate slave trade exploded in Mississippi during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, drove the US expansion into Texas, and powered attempts to take over Cuba and other parts of Latin America, until a disaffected South Carolina spearheaded the drive to secession and war, forcing the Virginians to secede or lose their slave-breeding industry. Filled with surprising facts, fascinating incidents, and startling portraits of the people who made, endured, and resisted the slave-breeding industry, The American Slave Coast culminates in the revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation, which at last decommissioned the capitalized womb and armed the African Americans to fight for their freedom.

451:

Yep about the Kurds.

The Kurds are increasing as a percentage of the population in Turkey proper. Right now, they're about a fifth of the population. The Kurds have the highest birthrate in the country. A lot of Turkey is below replacement level.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Turkey#Total_fertility_rate_(TFR)_by_Province_and_Year

A huge fear throughout the Syrian Civil War is that Erdogan may be looking to annex parts of Northern Syria into Turkey proper. From the looks of the situation, they either want to move a lot of Syrian Arab refugees into the Kurdish areas of Northern Syria. Right now the conspiracy theory is that Turkey will then attempt to annex those areas. I don't know if that's the end goal, or it's just removing the Kurds from the current border? At any rate, Erdogan is now talking about invading the Kurdish areas East of the Euphrates, where US troops are stationed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_occupation_of_northern_Syria#Demographics

452:

Actually, Los Angeles and the vast suburban sprawl around it are a huge mistake.

Oddly, LA is the way it is because it was built with a good public transportation system. Or rather, it had a good public transportation system to enable the sprawl.

https://books.google.ca/books/about/Henry_E_Huntington_and_the_Creation_of_S.html?id=NfFMeQORX68C&redir_esc=y

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/apr/25/story-cities-los-angeles-great-american-streetcar-scandal

453:

Final post (then I'll stop spamming)

There's some good environmental news. The price of bitcoin has fallen so much that mining profitability is now collapsing. This should have an interesting effect on electricity prices.

https://www.businessinsider.com/forget-bitcoins-record-high-its-fallen-so-far-its-too-costly-to-mine-2018-12

454:

But if you do that the answer is that your diesel generator requires between 1 and 100 hectares of arable land dedicated to growing the crops to make the biodiesel to run the generator
Well, uh, you probably already know about my opinion on biodesel.

455:

Centennial as it stands is on the edge of the Mojave Desert. It's by all accounts a lovely native grassland, one of the few left. Any trees out there would be planted.

Also, 1,000 yard fuel breaks are idiotic, for multiple reasons. One is that the longest recorded ember throw that started another fire is on order ten miles (the Australian Bunyip Ridge Fire), and I'm pretty sure even in California we've had ember throws over a mile in the Tubbs fire, although no one recorded it. Worse, if your home is the only windbreak for a kilometer, when blowing embers do come flying, guess where they're going to stop? There's a well-known photo from 2007 in San Diego showing a burned home in the middle of a vast cleared space. It was lost due to catching flying embers this way.

Second problem is that annual grasses and weeds sprout rapidly on bare ground, and they carry fire just fine. For a thousand yard fire break to work as a fire break, it's got to be cleared at least once a year, which means that the development is surrounded by bare ground. Since the Centennial area is windy most of the time (and I know someone who has been out there many times), having a kilometer of blowing dust upwind of you almost all the time is an invitation to misery and lung infections, and that's for the 99% of the time that you're not dealing with fire weather.

Anyway, you're far from the first to propose enormous fire breaks. It's a recurring theme from CalFire and its contractors. Problem is, even if they were instituted at state expense, there's so much land around very high fire hazard developments(something like 10% of all the buildings in California fall into this category) that clearing it more than about 30' is infeasible. Last January CalFire reported 23,000,000 acres of state lands as "suitable for treatment" (meaning clearance by various means), and they wanted many millions of dollars to treat 60,000 acres/year. If by some mischance they actually cleared each of those 23 million acres once, it would take 383 years to clear that acre a second time. It's worth taking their acreage with a grain of salt, incidentally, since (among many other lapses) the treatment map proposed building a fire break in the heart of Death Valley National Park, which is not only non-flammable, but federal land, not state.

If you talk to fire ecologists, their recommendation for clearing varies between 50 and 100' out from a structure. The reasoning for this is that the flames from burning trees and chaparral can be 50' long and blown sideways by the wind, so if you're trying to protect the structure, having space for the firefighters to work that's outside the flames is known to be a good thing. There's reportedly no benefit to clearing further than that, at least where people have looked at which homes survived fires.

456:

when a woman got stuck in a traffic jam going out of Paradise as the fire closed in. She called her husband to say goodbye, and he yelled at her into going off the road far enough to go around the jam and get out. She was too rule-bound.

This is a common human failure mode when confronted with an emergency: stick to the rules even when the rules are suddenly counter-productive (or even lethally wrong).

It's noted that when there's a survivable plane crash that requires immediate evacuation, the passengers tend to split into three groups: (a) the ones who obey the evacuation protocol immediately, (b) those who proceed as if it's a normal landing, to the point of trying to collect their overhead bags and coats before they attempt to leave, and (c) the ones who freeze completely. Group (a) are the ones with a high survival probability: the frozen-by-fear group are, obviously, not in a good position, but what's less obvious is the huge group who fail to respond to an emergency by changing their behaviour.

I'm not condemning them, by the way — I've got no idea whether or not I'd be one of them if the crunch came — but just noting that we're bad at dealing with emergencies. See also: the folks on 9/11 who stayed at their desks in the Twin Towers even after the second plane crash because they weren't sure what to do.

457:

Instead, why not imagine a good public transportation system? In general, in the USA only New York has a good one, and it is completely falling apart. LA is the absolute worst in America in that respect. Actually, Los Angeles and the vast suburban sprawl around it are a huge mistake. It's a desert with temperate climate, which had to destroy a river to get water even a century ago (watch Chinatown, a very accurate movie) and it's only gotten worse since then. The wildfires are Mother Nature's way of reminding us that the place is a colossal ecological blunder, which can only survive by vampire style draining all the surrounding water supplies, including those for the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. I have visited LA twice in my life, two times to many. I vividly remember back in the '80s driving through the rich people area and seeing the signs on the side of the street saying "Armed Response." America at its worst.

Um. Wow. No. You'll want to read Cadillac Desert. Chinatown isn't very accurate at all. Speaking as an ecologist who grew up in LA, it's mostly not a desert (yet), as a Mediterranean climate is not a desert climate, but on the edge of the desert. The corner where Centennial, Lancaster, and Palmdale are is part of the Mojave, but the basin itself was originally grassland and riparian forest. It will be a desert by 2200 if not 2100, but that's due to climate change causing expansion of the Hadley Zone, not its current climate. LA is no more desert than Athens or Naples are.

I don't disagree with the ecological blunder part, but the reason LA has grown is threefold. One is that it has a really good natural harbor, on a coast where there's San Francisco Bay, Seattle, and LA as the only good natural harbors (San Diego is a distant fourth). Thanks to the San Andreas Fault, it also has this wonderful flat valley that serves as a railway and freeway corridor (I-10) to points east Second, it has quite a lot of oil under the city, and that funded its initial growth a century ago. The La Brea Tar Pits are not an anomaly, and there are active oil wells everywhere from Beverly Hills to the Orange County line. Third, Pat Brown, former governor of the state and father of Jerry Brown, deliberately directed growth to southern California as a way to keep it out of his beloved northern California as long as possible. He's why we actively pump water from the Sacramento Delta, over the Tehachapis to LA and points south. That idiotic tunnel scheme that Jerry Brown keeps pushing is the last, unbuilt part of Pat's dream, and I'd suggest that the reason Jerry pushed it is filial loyalty as much as it making business or environmental sense. The whole Owens Valley mess with Mulholland was necessary for LA's growth a century ago, but it's not what keeps LA working now, and LA's been taking less water from the Owens Valley for decades, under court order.

I can go on, but I suspect that some version of LA will be around for quite some time, even after civilization collapses. There are enough natural rivers in the area, even with climate change, that I suspect that people will be able to farm amidst the ruins. Not that I suspect that the future pueblo de Los Angeles will have more than a few thousand people, but it's not the idiotic wasteland that you may have heard. Compared with a city like San Francisco, where the only natural spring is 50' above sea level in the old Presidio, it's actually more resilient to natural disasters than most other California cities.

What I will end with is that what JH said about LA is the normal story in other parts of the state. Everybody thinks Chinatown is non-fiction, and it's not. The real story is even weirder and far more nuanced.

458:

Your group (b) is actively endangering those in group (a), by clogging the aisles and exits. At least group (c) aren't in the aisles.

(I've got first responders in the family. Their opinions of those who get in the way during an emergency are rather pungent.)

The big problem is that we get through life mostly on habit, as a way of reducing cognitive load. So in an emergency routine is exactly what we do.

There was a story I heard years ago (and can't verify) that the LA police were losing officers in shootouts. (This was before cops wore paramilitary gear.) They were properly sheltering behind their cars, but then stepping into view to gather brass before reloading — exactly as they had been trained to do at the shooting range. They changed the training so that someone else was removing the slipping hazard and the cops stopped stepping into view.

Properly, passengers should be drilled on evacuations — like actually doing them. Kinda like how we have school kids actually evacuate the building during a fire drill (and time them to see that the building is cleared fast enough). Maybe a 'passenger license' proving you've shown you can evacuate safely, with a (significant) surcharge for those who don't have it?


459:

Properly, passengers should be drilled on evacuations — like actually doing them.

This actually happens for passengers on the supply choppers to the North Sea oil rigs: they have to wear dry suits during the flights and undergo ditching training in a pool and a chopper fuselage mock-up before they're allowed to fly.

On the other hand, oil rig workers in a famously hostile environment (driving gales over open seas!) are a rather specialized clientele. And a chopper ditches or is lost every few years (although less of late), because they're orders of magnitude less safe than regular general aviation, much less the passenger airline industry.

But trying to do this for civil aviation in general? Every time you evacuate 100+ passengers from an airliner, even if nothing's on fire, you can guarantee one or more injuries, ranging from sprains to broken bones. And it's simply not possible to train all passengers in evacuation — what about babes-in-arms, or people with serious disabilities? Not gonna happen.

The best you might be able to manage would be some certification scheme for able-bodied passengers who want to sit in the exit aisle: offer then discounts on seats (rather than selling them at a premium because of the leg room!) if they go through evac training that includes being able to help other passengers get out alive. But someone's going to pay for those cheap seats, and the airlines aren't going to be happy about the loss of revenue.

460:

Troutwaxer @ 445
Pointless
Stinking theif Khan is only interested in politcal willy-waving. It's the date of manufacture of a car that matters & mine fails by about 2 months ( If I had a 1995 Land-Rover I would be OK ). Bio-diesel is irrelevant.
I MIGHT be able to fit the rove V8 running on LPG, but we don't know the rules, yet - not a clue - because it's after the next (mayoral ) election ... so the little shit is probably not going to tell us unless/until after he wins the next round ....

Ioan @ 451
Wonder what the EU or NATO or even "us" will do if/when goatfucker Erdogan ( *note ) starts an err "Armenian" solution to his self-made Kurdish problem. [ He was offered a peace, remember & he chose to break it, the Kurds didn't ]
( *note: Got to call him a goatfucker after some German or other called him Ziegenficker & there was all sorts of trouble & the German courts then went: "Freedom of Expression", how sad )

Robert Prior @ 452
Indeed - who was it who Killed Roger Rabbit?

461:

It's another category error, isn't it?

We think that air travel is about moving masses of people quickly, efficiently and safely from A to B, but really it's a process to extract maximum profit from a captive market.

462:

really it's a process to extract maximum profit from a captive market.

ITYM "air travel during the age of late-period capitalism". But yeah, that's what's going on.

Air travel isn't too bad compared to many other areas — it's very heavily regulated, because when it isn't people tend to die in large numbers — but it still has horrible deficiencies because it prioritizes revenue collection over quality of service.

And many other areas are far, far worse.

Unfortunately human societies are subject to horrendous levels of path dependency, such that even revolutionary regimes intent on replacing capitalism (e.g. the USSR) often ended up imitating most of its worst aspects rather than coming up with anything better. There are exceptions (social security systems, socialized healthcare systems) but the neoliberal market supremacists are intent on tearing down any structures they can't directly monetize, globally.

463:

* Nods - and weeps quietly *

464:

I didn't say there should be a 1000 yard firebreak. I said there should be a 1000 year zone around the town where the municipality is responsible for watering the local greenery (to help prevent/slow fires) and there should also be a firebreak, for which I did not specify a size.

Robert Prior