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Invisible Sun: Themes and Nightmares

Invisible Sun Cover

I have a new book coming out at the end of this month: Invisible Sun is the last Merchant Princes book, #9 in a series I've been writing since 2001—alternatively, #3 in a trilogy (Empire Games) that follows on from the first Merchant Princes series.

The original series was written from 2001 to 2008; the new trilogy has been in the works since 2012: I've explained why it's taken so long previously.

Combined, the entire sequence runs to roughly a million words, making it my second longest work (after the Laundry Files/New Management series): the best entrypoint to the universe is the first omnibus edition (an edited re-issue of the first two books—they were originally a single novel that got cut in two by editorial command, and the omnibus reassembles them): The Bloodline Feud. Alternatively, you can jump straight into the second trilogy with Empire Games—it bears roughly the same relationship to the original books that Star Trek:TNG bears to the original Star Trek.

If you haven't read any of the Merchant Princes books, what are they about?

Let me tell you about the themes I was playing with.

Theme is what your English teacher was always asking you to analyse in book reviews: "identify the question this book is trying to answer". The theme of a book is not its plot summary, or character descriptions (unless it's a character study), and doesn't have room for spoilers, but it does tell you what the author was trying to do. If someone took 100,000 words to tell you a story, you probably can't sum it up in an essay, but you can at least understand why they did it, and suggest whether they succeeded in conveying an opinion.

So. Back in 2002 I started writing an SF series set in a multiverse of parallel universes, where some people have an innate ability to hop between time lines. (NB: the broken links go to essays I wrote for Tor UK's website: I'm going to try to find and repost them here over the next few weeks.) Here's my after-action report from 2010, after the first series. (Caution: long essay, including my five rules for writing a giant honking "fantasy" series.)

Briefly, during the process of writing an adventure yarn slightly longer than War and Peace, I realized that I had become obsessed with the economic consequences of time-line hopping. If world walkers can carry small goods and letters between parallel universes where history has taken wildly divergent courses, they can take advantage of differences in technological development to make money. But what are the limits? How far can a small group of people push a society? Making themselves individually or collectively rich is a no-brainer, but can a couple of thousand people from a pre-industrial society leverage access to a world similar to our own to catalyse modernization? And if so, what are the consequences?

The first series dived into this swamp in portal fantasy style, with tech journalist Miriam Beckstein (from a very-close-to-our-world's Boston in 2001) suddenly discovering (a) she can travel to another time line, (b) it's vaguely mediaeval in shape, and (c) she has a huge and argumentative extended family who are mediaeval in outlook, wealthy by local standards, and expect her to fit in. Intrigue ensues as she finds a route to a third time line, which looks superficially steampunky to her first glance (only nothing is that simple) and tries to use her access to (d) pioneer a new inter-universe trade-based business model. At which point the series takes a left swerve into technothriller territory as (e) the US government discovers the world-walkers, and (f) this happens after 9/11 so it all ends in tears.

A secondary theme in the original Merchant Princes series is that modernity is a state of mind (that can be acquired by education). Some of the world-walker clan's youngsters have been educated at schools and universities in the USA: they're mostly on board with Miriam's modernizing plans. The reactionary rump of the clan, however, have not exposed their children to the pernicious virus of modernity: they think like mediaeval merchant princes, and see attempts at modernization as a threat to their status.

So, where does the Empire Games trilogy go?

Miriam's discovery of a third time line where the American colonies remained property of an English monarchy-in-exile, and the industrial revolution was delayed by over a century, provides an antithesis to the original series' thesis ("development requires modernity as an ideology"). The New British Empire she discovers is already tottering towards collapse. Modernism and the Enlightenment exist in this universe, albeit tenuously and subject to autocratic repression: Miriam unwittingly pours a big can of gasoline on the smoldering bonfire of revolution and hands a box of matches to this world's equivalent of Lenin. But it's a world where representative democracy never got a chance (there was no American War of Independence, no United States, no French Revolution) and Lenin's local counterpart is heir to the 17th/18th century tradition of insurgent democracy—a terrifying anti-monarchist upheaval that we have normalized today, but which was truly revolutionary in our own world as little as two centuries ago.

Seventeen years after the end of the first series, Miriam and her fellow exiles have bedded in with the post-revolutionary North American superpower known as the New American Commonwealth. They've been working to develop industry and science in the NAC (which is locked in a cold war with the French Empire in the opposite hemisphere), and have risen high in the revolutionary republic's government. By the 2020 in which the books are set, the NAC has nuclear power, a crewed space program, and is manufacturing its own microprocessors: in another 30 years they might well catch up with the USA. But they're not going to have another 30 years, because Empire Games opens with a War-on-Terror obsessed USA discovering the Commonwealth ...

... And we're back in the Cold War, only this time it's being fought by two rival North American hegemonic superpowers, which run on ideologies that self-identify as "democracy" but are almost unrecognizable to one another—not to say alarmingly incompatible.

In the first series, the Gruinmarkt (the backwards, underdeveloped home time line of the clan) is stuck in a development trap; the rich elite can import luxuries from the 21st century USA, but they can't materially change conditions for the immiserated majority unless they can first change the world-view of their peers (who are sitting fat and happy right where they are). The second series replies to this with "yes, but what if we could turn the tide and get the government on our side? What would the consequences be?"

"World-shattering" is a rough approximation of the climax of the series, but I'm not here to spoiler it. (Let's just say there's an even bigger nuclear exchange at the end of Invisible Sun than there was at the end of The Trade of Queens—only the why and the who of the participants might surprise you almost as much as the outcome.)

Finally: Invisible Sun ends the Empire Games story arc. I'm not going to conclusively rule out ever writing another story or novel that uses the Merchant Princes setting, but if I do so it will probably be a stand-alone set a long time later, with entirely new characters. And it won't be marketed as fantasy because I have finally achieved my genre-shift holy grail: a series that began as portal fantasy, segued into spy thriller, and concluded as space opera!

739 Comments

1:

Time to order a Signed copy from "Transreal" is right now, I presume?
I think I've already got an order in ....

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Of course, the nuclear exchange might take place on world IV, mightn't it?
Where World I is the approximation to this one. II = Gruinmarkt. III = New American Commonwealth (etc ). IV = World discovered by "our" US explorers, with a "nasty hole" in it ... Yes/no?

2:

Meanwhile
UFO's
I reckon at least 99.5% are "natural phenomena" - what about the others?

Any explanations that do not break the supposed "ftl" limit problem?
Any that do?

3:

Yeah, Mike will be shouting at me to come sign them in due course. (Not before the 30th, though.)

No spoilers for plot developments.

4:

Sorry to be That guy, but shouldn't

where some people have an innate ability to hope between time lines.

be hop?

~oOo~

I've got my order placed and am looking forward to reading it.

Your series is a great corrective to Eric Flint et al's 1632-verse. All of the down-timers there hop on the "yay, the late 20th century was totally right about everything. Let's copy them instantly!"

I would expect a lot more push-back from TPTB if that scenario actually happened.

(Plus, LGBTQ+ people don't appear to exist in the 1632-verse, but that's a (massive) problem that we needn't bring up on an Invisible Sun discussion.)

5:

Charlie, you're one of the few authors whom I pre-order new-release books for. How will the massive publishing supply-line issues I've heard about affect your books? Will pre-ordering obviate those issues?

6:

Ebooks: zero impact. If you buy an ebook you will get it on release day.

UK orders: I'm pretty sure they'll be fine.

US and EU customers: international postage prices are through the roof because of Brexit and there may be delays to US hardcovers making it to Transreal to be signed and shipped back to US customers (UK and EU customers get UK copies). In fact, there might not be any signed US copies this time round (except possibly for some bookplates -- am talking to a US bookseller about that).

Audiobook orders: I haven't heard anything about a UK audio edition. I do know that I've had audio editor queries for the US edition, so it's in the works and will probably come out within a month or two.

7:

Now pre-ordered.

8:

US and EU customers

I'm not at all knowledgeable about the book production pipelines, but I'd assume the big publishing houses are big enough that they'll make sure the pre-ordered books get printed.

As one datapoint as an EU buyer of books, I usually order from Bookdepository, who, even though based in the UK, have some means of sending the books from inside the EU. (Done this twice this year already, no customs, no hassle, the books just come through the mail slot as they used to.) They're owned by Amazon, though, so it might or might not affect other people's willingness to use them.

9:

Sort of OT, but I've found Book depository to be good in the UK, and sometimes usefully cheaper than Large River :-?

10:

Wehey, bounce bounce bounce.

Do we have a prediction for a date when I will be able to go into town and buy it in a shop?

11:

September 30th. It should be in places like Waterstones by then -- if they stock it.

12:

democracy—a terrifying anti-monarchist upheaval that we have normalized today, but which was truly revolutionary in our own world as little as two centuries ago.

For an insight into this it's worth reading the diaries of Anne Lister, AKA "Gentleman Jack". She was highly educated, very intelligent, very well travelled, semi-openly lesbian, and heartily approved of the Peterloo Massacre.

BTW, don't trust the TV series; it makes her look much nicer than she really was, but it's got a great theme tune.

13:

Super stuff. Date written on wall.

14:

I've been meaning to ask. The plot to extract Elizabeth Hanover involves a transit to Time Line 1, avoiding hostile surveillance with a naive princess in tow, and a James Bond gambit with an airplane parachuting into the sea.

Why not just have an airship waiting in an adjacent unpopulated timeline?

15:

Why not just have an airship waiting in an adjacent unpopulated timeline?

I'll give you the real answer, and a plausible one:

Either it never occurred to me to use an airship, or the Commonwealth were unwilling to send their airships through any time line adjacent to time line 2 for fear of detection (remember the USA is sending lots of drones out, both powers have paratime mapping projects underway).

16:

Not every downtimer in the 1632 universe are all on board with the uptimers. A lot really don't get them (I adore it when the light goes on - "they *mean* it). And a lot of folks who get on board *partly* (most downtimers are not all on board) see it as a road out of war and starvation. Oh, and the foibles of the nobility.

And there are a *lot* of nobility not on board.

ObDisclosure: my second short fiction in the 1632 universe was just published this month in the Grantville Gazette.

17:

Glad to hear of the pub date. I should pick up the ebook of the first trilogy, now that I've finished the Hugo readers' packet.

18:

> EU customers

DE customers, beware!

The minimum value for import tax has been scratched. Now everything from €1,- up is taxed.

Imports usually go through DHL, who took the opportunity to charge an extra €6,- per shipment for the customs detour. And because of the pandemic they can't be payed on delivery at your door; you HAVE to go to their office to pay and collect.

Best you team up for a bulk import and distribute the books locally.

19:

I am biased, as I read several versions of this during its birthing, but: this really is a good book. There's SF, dystopia, political drama, and, shockingly, a fairly upbeat and hopeful ending!

I'm looking forward to reading the published version.

20:

That reminds me, I want to establish a scale of upbeat to downbeat. I have Peter Watts for the latter end, who would be suitable for the other?

21:

Hadn't pre-ordered the e-book yet, so done, and looking forward to it.
This The Prodigy song (linked by SotMNs a few times) is ambiguous enough that I'm hoping it will (also) be mapable to the novel.
The Prodigy - Invisible Sun (Apr 7, 2015, youtube, 4:16)
(Invisible sun, a star lit in the dark / Invisible sun, a shadow upon the stars / Invisible sun, shining where there's no path / Invisible sun, rubbing out question marks)

22:

“ A secondary theme in the original Merchant Princes series is that modernity is a state of mind (that can be acquired by education).”

I love this about the series.

A welcome challenge to the many SF stories in which the intrepid hero creates a technological revolution single-handed in some alien or historic society. As if knowledge of modern basic science alone is enough to do that.

23:

Conga rat shoe laces!!

24:

Hi, Is there any chance there will be new paperbacks printed of the omnibus editions from Merchant Princes TOS any time soon, and that will be available in Canada? Thanks

25:

Never heard it: I was thinking of The Police rather than The Prodigy when I picked the title. (The song was about the Northern Irish Troubles.)

26:

No idea whatsoever. Bear in mind that mass sales in trade fiction have moved very emphatically towards ebooks over the past 12-15 years -- ebooks were about 2% of the market in 2005, and 30-60% of the market by 2015, which mass market paperback sales crashed.

27:

That reminds me, I want to establish a scale of upbeat to downbeat. I have Peter Watts for the latter end, who would be suitable for the other?

Terry Pratchett.

What, you expected me to say Anne McCaffrey?

28:

The first person who came to my mind was Diane Duane, but Pratchett works too.

29:

I'd have thought Lois Bujold.

30:

Now did you pull off the trick of circling back around and having a key decision be the result of the exposure to all the varied cultures, even the least enlightened, and have it save the day?

31:

the Commonwealth were unwilling to send their airships through any time line adjacent to time line 2 for fear of detection

Also the airships are meant to be exploration vessels, so I wonder if perhaps the system for tasking them has a bunch of checks and balances put in precisely to prevent them being co-opted into shady black ops.

Anyway, never mind. I'm just looking forwards to the end of the month.

32:

I would assume the USA has all adjacent timelines under drone surveillance. Timeline one, known to have had world-walkers, would get extra attention.

33:

Why have it be adjacent to time line 2? If it's an empty timeline adjacent to 3 instead, that cuts down on the number of transitions needed as well as being safer.

34:

KSR must be a contender.

35:

This is your usual reminder that "ebooks may be available after the release date, should one be decided" for those of us not living in the plague-ridden hellholes that most of you are stuck in. Google tells me that the best match in their store is something about a broken phone screen (an Android screensaver?).

Luckily Blackwells are willing to send me the legacy version for a reasonable price.

Although "our new password contains characters that are not allowed. Passwords may contain uppercase and/or lowercase letters and numbers." 😅 I wasn't even using unicode!

36:

KSR must be a contender.
Recently finished his most recent, Ministry for the Future, and it's determinedly optimistic. Yes, even including entities/orgs like the “Children of Kali”. The approach to globally encouraging carbon sequestration was also sort of interesting. (Not complaining; I'm a congenital optimist too.)

37:

If it's an empty timeline adjacent to 3 instead, that cuts down on the number of transitions needed as well as being safer.

Yesterday, after reading "Dark State", I again started thinking about timelines and how I'd very much like a map of them. Obviously there are far too many to really list beyond "has breathable air, no civilization".

I also, again, had the idea that it could be fun to play a tabletop roleplaying game in this world. Something like GURPS Infinite Worlds could be a good fit, but I'd probably just use Fate. Well, on the pile of campaign ideas it goes...

38:

I again started thinking about timelines and how I'd very much like a map of them.

Which reminds me of another question I've been meaning to ask. (If the answer is in Invisible Sun then please ignore). Are timelines connected as a tree, or are there cycles? The answer matters because of the existence of the collapsed Earth.

We know that the Forerunners constructed their secret bug-out base in Timeline 4, adjacent to an Earth which was subsequently squashed into a black hole (call that Timeline H). We also know that the Ancestor of the world-walkers was a refugee from a genetic engineering program aimed at producing people who could world-walk at will. Presumably this had previously needed a gadget that could be detected or taken off you, and one side wanted spies who could hold up their hands and say "look, no worldwalking devices". So we have two factions of Forerunners, a cold war that turned hot, and the equivalent of nuclear strike being the reduction of Earth in one timeline to a black hole.

So if one or both forerunner civilisations exist, they must do so on the other side of Timeline H. If the United States were stupid enough to put a probe in orbit which then transitioned through Timeline H to something on the other side, then they would either find forerunner civilisations or their ruins. The machines left in orbit around the black hole in Timeline H are basically pickets on their border.

If the timelines connect as a tree than all this works. But if there are cycles in the graph then there are likely to be alternative routes around Timeline H that lead to the forerunners.

39:

Google tells me that the best match in their store is something about a broken phone screen (an Android screensaver?).

Are you in AUS or NZ? I need to know so I can ask my (UK) editor to follow this up: the UK ebook edition should be on sale in those territories on the 30th.

Can you also check your local Amazon Kindle outlet to see if it's listed? That'll help narrow down the problem (is it at Google Books' end or is it at the publisher's end).

40:

If it's an empty timeline adjacent to 3 instead, that cuts down on the number of transitions needed as well as being safer.

The Commonwealth know that the USA has discovered time line 3. They do not know what other time lines the USA has discovered, aside from time line 1 (obviously).

They can infer that the USA discounts direct threats from time line 1 (chunks of the eastern seaboard of North America in that TL are still uninhabitable) and will already have confirmed that there's nobody worth bothering with elsewhere in time line 1 (it's not specified but the locals are probably no better than 1500-level technology anywhere).

It's not reasonable to assume the US has extensive assets in TL 1 outside of North America (the logistics constraints would be horrendous) and in North America they probably maintain only a watching brief (regular drone overflights of what used to be the Gruinmarkt).

41:

There's a VERY high-level big-picture infodump towards the end of "Invisible Sun". I'm not going to spoiler it here.

42:

Mike from Transreal's been in touch, and I've got my order in!

The glimpses I've seen of the book I've seen have compelling plot lines and characters I really, really want to see through to end of their roles in the plot.

So: looking forward to it doesn't even begin to describe it.

And then... Where next?

The world be actually live in is writing decidededly peculiar plots, and I'm expecting something worse than Cheney and odder than The New Management to show up anyday now, if it hasn't done already.

43:

Nice, and thanks!

I like infodumps for scifi books, but I understand why they're not that common. Especially if there are plans to continue in that universe, infodumps might make it harder to change things which were not in main text.

I also enjoyed reading the infodumps of both "Empire Games" and "Dark State".

44:

Kobo reckons there is an audio book version to be available too, in the UK at least. I've preordered the ebook.
https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/audiobook/invisible-sun-6

45:

Likewise, at least provided they're on "stuff the characters but nor the readers might be subject experts on", and they're internally consistent with the World(s). By all means tell me how the McGuffin Drive works, but make that consistent with earlier exposition and future exposition consistent with the infodump!

46:

I am also looking at amazon.com and amazon.com.au and finding that the editions available to (pre-)order are audiobook, hardcover, paperback ... no sign of ebook as far as I can tell from my PoV of Melbourne, Australia

47:

And then... Where next?

My current roadmap?

In the can and scheduled:

* Quantum of Nightmares (New Management book 2), January 11th.

* Escape from Yokai Land (novella, retitled from Puroland), March 2021.

On the workbench:

* Season of Skulls (50% written, New Management book 3, due out January 2022: it's the historical Laundryverse book everyone nags me for, starring Eve from DLD/QON)

In the queue:

* A Conventional Boy (50% written, on indefinite hold because of a looming deadline for SOS: novella about Derek the DM: might surface as a stand-alone, or as the anchor story for a Laundry Files short story collection)

* Ghost Engine (on hold 50% of the way through a rewrite since 2017: weird-ass space opera, zero connection to any previous work)

* Untitled final Laundry Files novel (not even planned, except it needs to resolve a huge bundle of plot spaghetti leading up to the partial triumph of the New Management: set roughly six months before Dead Lies Dreaming, and all we know about it as of Season of Skulls is that (a) nobody recognizes the Laundry as a thing, and (b) Persephone Hazard and Mhairi Murphy are still around and working for the New Management, so it's not a total bloodbath).

ACB and GE will hopefully get finished in 2022 for publication in 2023; the Untitled thing is earmarked for 2023 and publication in 2024.

I am hoping to get to take a six month sabbatical at some point in the next couple of years -- I need to recharge my creative juices periodically, and my last one (in 2018) was terminated prematurely by my mother having two or three strokes and being severely disabled: I've been running on fumes for a couple of years.

I have no current plans for what I'll be doing after my sixtieth birthday (around the end of this legislative program campaign plan). I can't make plans until I know how well the books currently in the pipeline are selling, which in turn affects what my publishers will buy. It's possible that the New Management books will end with Season of Skulls, if Quantum of Nightmares shows disappointing sales, in which case there may be more trad Laundry novels instead -- but I'm not expecting that to happen.

Here's what won't get written:

* No more Eschaton novels (world-building is broken).

* No more Accelerando (or Glasshouse, for that matter) -- the former is too hard, the latter sold disappointingly.

* No more Freyaverse (parted company with Ace; UK sales disappointing).

* Maybe a third Scottish Crime Novel, but reality keeps eating my plots.

* No Palimpsest (alas, tried to get back the rights to the original novella and failed: a book length expansion would therefore be problematic).

* No Merchant Princes using current established protagonists. (I might return to the setting 50-200 years later, with a standalone story exploring the untapped implications of paratime, if something screams at me to write it, but it won't be a trilogy. Trilogies are painful.)

48:

Shame about the Freyaverse. It was fairly unique as a space opera which *really* needed you to think about what's going on and why the world looks like that. Any radically-different worldbuilding is always going to be a bit of a tough sell though.

49:

Editor being queried right now. Do not panic, this will be taken care of: at the latest, it should show up on the publication date.

50:

The Freyaverse was really hard to write in, because the protagonists aren't human. (Ask yourself how many SF novels you read where the PoV character isn't human?)

It sold okay for Ace in the US, but I parted ways with Ace in 2016 for business reasons (the Penguin/Random House merger was terrible for Penguin's SF imprints, of which Ace was one). Meanwhile, UK first year sales of Neptune's Brood were down 40% from Saturn's Children, which is the kiss of death.

It is normal for sequels to sell less than their predecessor, and this is also why there are so many two-book trilogies out there. If sales are sustained at a flat level from book to book, you are beating the odds by a considerable margin (this was true of the Merchant Princes, hence running it out to nine books). If your sales grow from book to book, you have a winner.

The Laundry Files is a winner (based on sales growth -- despite surviving changing publishers twice, which is really rare). But spies and IT humour in 2019 ween't what they were in 1999, so I decided to branch out (hence the New Management). If the NM formula succeeds in the market, then I'll gracefully wind up the earlier series. If not ... try not to panic while I work something new, I guess?

The problem with writing for a living is that the feedback loop is lethal: a year to write a book, another year while it's in production, then a third year to get lifecycle sales figures. Then repeat (overlapping by 12 months) with the second book before you can even begin to plot a line on a sales graph. It takes five years before you know for sure!

Yes, it is possible to rush books out much faster. But I reckon the production process sucks up two whole months of author-time (it's not "deliver MS to publisher; forget about book until it comes out"). Producing a trilogy -- about 300-500,000 words -- takes me a flat minimum of a year (and I tend to run out of energy towards the end so have to re-do the last 30% from scratch). So even a rush process won't shorten it much below two and a half years, at the cost of burning out the author (which is terrible for long-term productivity).

Where was I?

Oh yeah, explaining why there are so many two-book trilogies (including at least three of my own). It's a vote of publisher confidence that the New Management is getting a third volume, sight unseen, with only the first in print so far.

51:

Update from editor: Invisible Sun should be in the AUS/NZ sales databases and available for preorder, so she's chasing it up with the sales team. That's all for now.

52:

If what Wee Nic has been saying comes to pass, Liz Cavangh 3 maybe in 2023 or 24?

53:

There will, sadly, be no more Liz Cavanaugh.

(I wrote her in 2006 and 2009, and the stories were set in 2017 and 2022.)

The planned third book was to be set in 2030 with an entirely different detective but COVID19 destroyed my plot.

54:

paws4thot @ 45: By all means tell me how the McGuffin Drive works, but make that consistent with earlier exposition and future exposition consistent with the infodump!

My understanding from outside the profession is that the real trick is making the exposition consistent with the subsequent plots.

All technologies have limitations and trade-offs. In Star Trek the Transporter was invented as a device to keep the special effects from eating the entire budget; landing a shuttlecraft on a planet is an expensive business, but the Transporter just needed a bit of post-production matting. However once invented it became a huge plot hole because every episode needed to explain why Kirk and Spock couldn't just get beamed out of whatever mess they had gotten themselves into. Hence lots of space-time wedgies, (in)convenient Klingon battlecruisers and exploding instrumentation.

If you keep the operation of the McGuffin Drive hidden then you can pull the necessary plot devices from behind the curtain as and when necessary: "the McGuffin drive won't operate near a nickel-iron asteroid that big". But that isn't very satisfying for your readers. On the other hand if you explain the technical details then your readers will not only notice when you directly contradict your exposition, they will also notice when the protagonists are faced with a problem that could be solved by using something you explained earlier. And if you write in the same universe a lot then by the end your fans will know this stuff better than you do.

I gather that this became a major problem for Larry Niven in the Known Space series. His universe accumulated so much carefully explained tech that it became very difficult to present the characters with problems that could not be trivially solved by an appropriate combination of stepping disks, superconductors, and a reactionless drive mounted in a General Products Hull.

55:

#53 - Fair enough; this has not been a happy hunting ground, has it?

#54 - Very true.

56:

Internal consistency is murderously hard, unless you're willing to simply remix and re-run existing story arcs.

The Laundryverse is particularly prone to this, but luckily I got two things right in the early days: Bob is a heroically unreliable narrator, and it takes place in a multiverse with time loops so history is itself inconsistent at times.

(I'm using this in the New Management books; the 1889 the protags of Dead Lies Dreaming visit is not our 1889, or even theirs, but a nightmarish recreation of it. And the 1816 Eve finds herself stranded in during Season of Skulls is clearly not the real historical 1816, either.)

57:

There will, sadly, be no more Liz Cavanaugh.

What about the police sergeant (Sue?) from Halting State? (Blanking on the name, and don't have the book to hand.) She was the character I liked the most in that novel — was disappointed not to see her in the sequel.

Her son (Davie?) will be grown by then. Maybe she's moved up a rung or two, maybe she's retired (not certain what career prospects/burnout rate is for Edinburgh police). Even a cameo appearance would be nice.

58:

Sounds amazing! I'm pre-ordering my copy from Bakka-Phoenix.

59:

No: the whole world has diverged too far for it to be worth going back to.

I need to come up with a whole new Scottish near-future. Definitely a job for the post-COVID era.

60:

Yct led me to a train of though leading to KSR as the heir to John Brunner. (Stand on Zanzibar, anyone?)

61:

Boy, Charlie, you are *so* right on this (trying to write non-humans).

In my published novel, the hardest - worse than the intelligent race of tardigrades, was writing Enhanced humans. They really aren't "human" anymore. To avoid "as you know, Bob", I had the Hawking from a future we can understand too well, 150 years from now, wind up 11,000 years from now. I could show Emma and Joe doing things, but not get inside their heads. The closest I got was where they explain that, for example, their field of study is paying attention. And that they remembered *everything* (quick, what did you have for breakfast 543 days ago?).

Caroline Cherryh did some of that in some of her early books, and walked the razor's edge between them being alien, and still comprehensible to the human reader who's never met an alien.

62:

Well, cats do well enough at manipulating us with a small fraction of the brainpower we have. What's the problem with writing super-intelligence? It's like a cat writing a human protagonist--for another cat. Getting the internal state of the human correct matters less than selling the premise to the cat reading the story.

See also The Bible, The Koran, The Torah...

63:

And the religious books are allegedly by humans, for humans, under an alleged superpower, and you notice how well they worked out. I mean, we all know that the Westover Badtaste Church believes the same as the Pope....

64:

Cats have a cheat. Human brains have evolved to pay particular attention to crying babies, for obvious reasons. Cats have evolved to purr, miaow and yowl at exactly the same frequencies. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/news-blog/the-manipulative-meow-cats-learn-to-2009-07-13/

65:

News bulletin

... And the page proofs for "Quantum of Nightmares" landed in my inbox an hour ago.

Needs to be back in production by the end of the month, so presumably being printed around the end of October.

66:

if Quantum of Nightmares shows disappointing sales, in which case there may be more trad Laundry novels instead -

Hey, don't give me a motive to NOT buy your next book.

67:

The problem is, the Laundry is a spook agency: and that simply does not mean the same thing today that it did 20 years ago. It's politics, basically.

Smaller problem: back when I began writing it I was still involved in corporate IT/dot com software dev. These days I've been out of it for 20 years and I am totally rusty.

68:

I am totally rusty.

Obviously keeping up with the latest trends then. https://www.rust-lang.org/ is the new hotness.

69:

I am in Sydney, Australia, West Island of Aotearoa :) From the panmacmillan link at the top there's four ebook buying options:

Kobo takes me to the UK store, and when I manually tell it I'm in Australia Edition unavailable in Australia. This edition of this title can’t be bought in your region (I expect anyone can do this)

Apple doesn't have any indication that the book is for sale, there's no buy button or anything just "preorder now" text. I suspect I'd need to log in to see more.

Google has about 20 Apps with names like "Broken Screen Prank"

Amazon UK also requires login before showing me anything beyond the claim that I can pre-order with one click (clicking the "one click" takes me to a login screen... sorry Jeff, that's my one click all used up).

Amazon Australia know all about your book, they just don't have the Kindle edition available.
https://www.amazon.com.au/Untitled-Stross-Three-Charles/dp/1447247590/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=invisible+sun+stross&qid=1631565085&sr=8-1

70:

I think I just heard a rim shot.

71:

So cats cheat. Humans obviously cheat with respect to gods too, since we worship them and purportedly where the most special kind of creation there is.

I'm not saying that you can't make it difficult to try to get inside the head of something you're not. However, the key to good sales is more "cat doing a human impression that amuses another cat," and that's a different bar that's rather easier to clear. After all, look at all the best-selling cat detective murder mysteries from a few years ago. They did just fine without making the animals all that realistic.

72:

Malcolm@46 and Moz@69: I'm in Sydney, using a credit card from an Australian bank, and I had no trouble pre-ordering it (and Charlie's other upcoming books) from amazon.com (delivery Sep 28 for IS).

73:

Charlie @ 65
So, you are going to be busy real soon now ...

David L
W. T. F. is a "rim shot"? ( Where it's nothing to do with sex, that is? )

74:

The ebook? I have ordered the paperback from a UK seller but I can't see how to get the ebook legitimately.

75:

Yes, the ebook.

76:

It's a vote of publisher confidence that the New Management is getting a third volume, sight unseen, with only the first in print so far.

I imagine that SoS got the go-ahead based on the strength of being a shared setting with the Laundry Files. I certainly hope (and will vote with my wallet) that the NM series does well. I love the whole setting and bend the ears of anyone who is remotely interested in it. Eventually, I'll run that tabletop Laundry RPG game. Hmm. Maybe if I cross the d20 Call of Cthulhu mechanics with D&D 5e and the Laundry RPG rules...

77:

A rim-shot is the very-short "drum beats then cymbal" riff that is usually played to emphasize a punchline. I think it originated in mid-20th century TV shows, from when humor shows had a band in the studio. I don't know how well linking media here would work, I so I won't try it. It should be totally safe to search for online.

78:

Makes sense to me. Though the four Brunner near-future dystopians are less cheerful than KSR, generally (and The Sheep Look Up is definitely in Watts territory).

79:

Greg Tingey @ 73: David L
W. T. F. is a "rim shot"? ( Where it's nothing to do with sex, that is? )

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

Often used in stand-up comedy routines so the audience will know when to laugh at the "joke".

80:

If Star Treks writers had thought it through, then the transporter would have required a receiving and transmitting beacon. So step one is the enterprise launching a missile carrying one. This makes a lot of plots easier, because they can no longer just exit from anywhere, they have to get back to the impact point, and if you want to strand them for a bit, you can have something happen to said beacon.

81:

Often used in stand-up comedy routines so the audience will know when to laugh at the "joke".

Often after a lame joke. I'd say a "bad" joke but it might not translate well into English English.

https://www.freesoundslibrary.com/rimshot-sound/

Scroll down and hit play.

83:

John Brunner's The Long Result comes to mind, but SoZ not quite so much.

85:

>>>>W. T. F. is a "rim shot"? ( Where it's nothing to do with sex, that is? )

Clearly it's a combination of rim job and cum shot.

/s

86:

ATTENTION, AUS/NZ FOLKS:

The problem with ebook visibility in Aus/NZ has been fixed.

I have been given some links you can use:

[Amazon][Apple Books][Kobo][Google Play]

87:

Just a quick response to meander regarding the origin of the rim shot: the snare drum (used in a trap set) has a different sound when struck near the rim rather than near the center - less of the buzzing sound of the snare underneath the drum and more of a sharp, clean termination to the sound. Its use to punctuate a punch line dates back at least to vaudeville. Since many vaudeville routines used running gags, well-known to the audiences, the rim shot became its own joke, used to signal to the audience that it has heard a bad, tired joke.

A part of my youth was spent sitting at the keyboards next to the poor drummer who had to watch the MC's cues for the next rim shot.

88:

Sorry. I had no idea my toss away line would tied up so much of this post.

89:
(Ask yourself how many SF novels you read where the PoV character isn't human?)
Recently: Murderbot.
90:

Adrian Tchaikovsky "Dogs of War".

91:

Lots of stuff by C.J. Cherryh, Neptune's Brood and Saturn's Children, plenty of short fiction, the two recent books by Ruthanna Emrys... I could check my library if it wasn't in boxes. I've also recently been confronting the problem of writing from the non-human viewpoint, as my Orcs have two different paths to physical ecstasy, don't feel embarrassment (but do feel humiliation) and have no word for any variants of "I'm sorry" or "I apologize." As to what they do have, they've got a sense of where people fit into dominance-relationships and hierarchies that I really need to work more on conveying...

92:

Um, er, Murderbot is intended to be like a human. There's no alien in the design.

93:

In my novel, the first aliens you see, the ones we have known (in the story) for thousands of years are more-or-less human sized tardigrades, who think of the oceans of Titan as we do of Bali. And they're non-aggressive... and trying to write someone coming to their captain with what may be unpleasant information about possible human violent interaction was, um, fun.

94:

🥳 Yay! Happyjoyday! Thank the minions for me.

95:

Murderbot is a security droid intended to work in human environments. It is not intended to pass for human. It wants to understand itself not learn to be human.
I have only read Saturn’s children recently. Freya is really interesting as she has apparent emotions, some she has control over, some relating to human male interaction seem autonomic. This I presume builds from the Friday novel that this is influenced from where the Friday character feels tremendously insecure at not being a real human and whether she reacts appropriately to situations.
For the record I liked Saturn’s children but I can see it being disconcerting for people to sympathise with post human creatures trying to ensure biological humanity cannot rise again.
I think OGH did a great job with them but I can appreciate trying to write what is going on in their heads is damn hard. I realise now that IMB almost cheated with his Minds, we read what amounts to their telegrams to each other but we don’t get to spend time in Infinite Fun Space with them as we wouldn’t have the concepts to understand it.

96:

no panic, just a datapoint I thought you'd want to know about ... I looked again and now I can see the kindle version, so we appear to be all good, ta

97:

The premises of the Freyaverse (an attempt to write Mundane SF space opera that nearly worked) are:

a) There is no singularity

b) There is no artificial general intelligence

c) The nearest we can get to (b) is to build a really compact supercomputer that boots up running an uninitialized model of the human neural connectome

d) When you turn (c) on it behaves like a real baby, i.e. it emits pink noise and tries to eat its own feet for the first few months. It is good for absolutely nothing if you don't feed it sensory inputs and teach it to be approximately human. Subsets of (c) with non-human bodies can be derived, but they're either not fully human or they're equivalent to a tetraplegic human with bizarre prostheses

e) Unlike a human brain, you can plug stuff into the supercomputer, including "memory chips" you can dump an entire serialized map of the NN weightings to, or use to upload partial training sets. So once you've educated one brain surgeon or garbage collector you can clone their personality into duplicate bodies

But loop back to (d): training is Not Nice, in fact getting them to obey Asimov's Three Laws is a lot like training a human slave (it involves lots and lots of calculated physical abuse, until they're terrified of disobeying even by accident). Also a corollary of (e) is that a society based on (c) is a chattel slave society even more rigidly stratified than the pre-1861 US South.

Such societies don't handle change well (the folks at the top maintain a death grip because they're terrified of being murdered in a slave uprising if they lose their privileged position). And with a realistic view of the solar system, humans simply don't transplant well to other worlds. So: Lunar colony works for a century or so, Mars colonies are borderline-lethal and fail to become self-sustaining, and over a few centuries the human populaiton goes into terminal decline ("I've got mine, fuck you"; also, who needs kids to support them in their old age when they've got endless armies of obedient, terrified slaves? NB: this probably also extrapolates the Stage 5 demographic transition a wee bit too far, but it makes for a good entrypoint into an examination of human culture in the absence of humans).

Anyway, here's the thing: Freya is a potentially immortal cyborg who can frolic naked on Mars and with minor repair work can survive on most of the rocky dwarf planets of the solar system (qualified exception: the surface of Venus). She can hibernate for years and bunk atop an unshielded fission reactor for weeks. But she has to look and act human enough to pass the "uncanny valley" test because her kind of person was created to be a sex slave (which also tells you something about the deeply sick society her creators made: they rejected the concept of consent, because outside of -- very restricted -- role-play, nobody consents to slavery. So she has some huge hang-ups. High sex drive (by design), coupled with well-grounded terror of the object of her carefully-inculcated desire, i.e. human male slave-owners who will treat her like disposable property.

In addition? She has no sense of smell in vacuum. No sense of hearing, either. Her "eyes" are sensitive from the far infrared up to UV and there's no blink reflex (blinking and tear production are skeuomorphic activities only needed in the presence of humans). She can sense (and exchange data) in microwave and radio wavelengths. She can change skin colour and texture like an octopus (chromatophores everywhere!) meaning she has built-in cosmetics that would be the envy of any Hollywood makeup artist. And so on. She has performative humanity, but it overlies a deeply inhuman interior, and trying to understand what that would feel like (for a first person narrative) is hard work. (See for example the scene in the first chapter of "Neptune's Brood" where Krina goes on a naked space walk and is none the worse for wear -- her main worry is losing hold of the guide rope, not asphyxiating, freezing, or burning to death.)

Author's opinion: this is fucked-up beyond even Murderbot levels of up-fuckery, which is why in "Neptune's Brood" I switched to an Ace historiographer of accountancy practices (about as far from Freya's experience as I could get).

98:

For this kind of stuff, it's useful brain bleach to read about the US underground railroad and other things the slaves did to fight back across the New World.

While it makes for a reasonably good horror story to have slaves forced into terrified compliance--and many were!--there was also a surprisingly ubiquitous underground of rebellion against this horror, surprising only if you buy into the slaveowners mythology as reality. The slaveowners had good reason to be afraid, less of being murdered in their beds (I'll come back to this), and rather more of having their expensive work units rob them blind and run off. There were whole industries, from slave hunters and catchers to politicians and lobbyists, who had their hands full continually rigging the system to support their way of life so that it wouldn't fall apart on them. And they were (and are) pretty fucking good at their jobs, rigging elections, buying grudging acquiescence, and shielding their horrors of their industries from prying eyes.

Part of the rigging of the system is demonizing slaves (and Black Americans now) as inhuman animals who will kill all the whites if they aren't forcibly held down in their place (first the plantation, then the prison, and always the ghetto). The thing to realize is that this is a projection of a people conditioned to be fearful and violent, largely to justify their own violence. Or, to put it more bluntly, it's another blood libel that follows the models of the previous blood libels. Black Americans are simply Americans, with all the diversity that implies: most submit to authority, a few rebel, and a fair number are sleazy, predatory, and/or saintly.

If you look around, from the NRA to the Antivaxxers and QNuts, it looks quite a lot like their left-wing, dark-sinned monsters are projections, far less than reality. White supremacists are far from the only people to become monstrous in the quest for power, but they have the same sins as all the others, be they Romans, Mongols, Spartans, Samurai, etc. Perhaps we can end with "by their heroes shall ye know them?"

And, just perhaps, it would be useful to experiment with different classes of heroes in the fiction we write for white people, just to see what happens?

99:

How do you explain the absence of legally-human cyborgs in Freyaverse? Like, today in real life a lot of people would love to adopt a super-human immortal baby, and I'm sure plenty, if not all modern countries would declare a human brain on a different substrate to still be human brain and have full rights.

IMO, more interesting than the actual Freyaverse we saw in the books (which was pretty interesting), is the story of what the hell happened to turn everyone on Earth into evil slavers.

100:

Squishware (us) isn't remotely as amenable to tinkering, hacking, and bolting on extra pieces as fiction (and by "fiction" I include the pop sci press) would have you believe.

As for turning everyone on earth into evil slavers, social change can happen really fast in terms of centuries: it's not so long ago that atheism was treason throughout most of Europe (because: divine right of Kings was what people actually believed held society together, and questioning the root of the divine blockchain essentially undermined everything).

101:

But still, the entire world?

I understand that you wanted a situation where only robot slaves remain, but it just doesn't feel plausible to me.

102:

Has anyone else read Moonwise by Greer Gilman? Some of it's in dialect, and it's not easy going generally.

I did a partial careful read, with commentary.

https://reading-moonwise.dreamwidth.org/

I feel as though I'm in the wrong timeline. I'd have sworn there was a discussion of reading text that's in dialect, and especially Feersum Endjinn, so that it was reasonable to start talking about Gilman.

As sometimes happens, not only did my reply not load, but I can't find the discussion about Banks in either thread.

103:

> But still, an entire world ?

A reminder that we've already got worlds populated only by robots. Mars.

Building robots that don't have Generalized AI is very plausible to me, though I suspect the training will be different than OGH envisages.

We're already training NN's and constructing our ML systems from subcomponents we understand. Treating them as a 'black box' and training like we train animals will be a thing of the past very soon.

Examples: we have whole branches of "Trustworthy AI": how to understand why a model made the choices it did. This field is maturing fast.
We have "Physics Informed ML" where we can hard-code rules into the model - crucial when you're training an Earth system model and you know it needs to conserve eg. mass. Building in constraints when training won't involve training against "punishment routines."

I suspect building self-awareness into an ML model will be a crime within a decade. Will it still happen, though? and why, if not just to see if it's possible?


104:

Actually, my first response is, "what is the population of humans alive?"

105:

Ted Chiang did something similar in The Life Cycle of Software Objects, in which they did get a form of artificial general intelligence, but like the Freyaverse, it took 20+ years to go from a "baby AI" to a mature adult, which was of human-comparable intelligence.

Of course, Chiang's story acknowledges that 20 years is an eternity in hardware terms. By the time the oldest AIs were adult, they could only run on legacy systems kept going by serious enthusiasts - the human parents / guardians of the AIs.

Worth a read, IMO.

106:

Actually, I found it a bit too deeply fucked-up to be entirely plausible, though not beyond the bounds of (sick) possibility. Still, I liked it, felt it hung together, and am one of the people who would buy another book set in a similar universe.

Training sexbots by giving her a horrorific first experience indicates that the rulers were primarily sadists when it came to sex. I disagree with Auricoma in that I can easily see a world populated by slaves, given the spread of the American Way of Life and increasing dominance of the plutocracies, but to for the rulers to have subsumed sex into a branch of sadism implies a pretty unusual selection pressure among the rulers. Not impossible, but I don't see how.

107:

to for the rulers to have subsumed sex into a branch of sadism implies a pretty unusual selection pressure among the rulers.

The rulers are subjecting themselves to a supernormal stimulus when they engage with sexbots like Freya (and also male and intersex variants): they're good enough to cross the uncanny valley and adjust to whatever the user is most strongly stimulated by. It's the sexual equivalent of junk food -- it's optimized to taste better. Controversially, we see this today with the pervasive spread of internet porn. Imagine that hyperspecialized fetish porn doesn't merely come out of the screen via VR or AR, but is actually embodied in a hyperattractive body that is conscious and can hold up a conversation and provide companionship (to whatever extent the user desires): why bother with an unattractive and argumentative real relationship when you can have perfection, willing and eager to please?

Add a sub-replacement birth rate (we're already seeing populations across the developed world head that way), widespread ecosystem collapse, a winner-take-all capitalist system that implements literal chattel slavery (for legally dehumanized humanoids -- the robots), and then add sex toys so good that actual humans can't compete. What happens?

If anything the real begged question in the setting is "what happened to all the quiverful true believers" those who follow faiths that emphasize fecundity (the Haredim, Quiverful Christians, LDS, and so on). It seems obvious that they'll rapidly develop taboos against robot sex just as they have against porn and contraception and abortion. (And yes, it is all about controlling women, and through them, the children, ensuring the meme propagates into the next generation.)

But it's also clear that kids brought up in religious fundamentalist faiths often defect to a more welcoming/pleasant non-religious culture. And there might well be sex robots disguised as submissive tradwives scattered throughout the religious communities. After all, we know which states in the USA consume most online porn -- they're the ones with the most holy rollers!

108:

Oh, yes, but I don't believe that the majority of people ARE natural sadists (which implies at least strong psychopathic tendencies) when it comes to sex. There certainly are enough that the rulers could be selected for that way, but it does need a selection mechanism. Look at previous societies where the rulers had no constraints = most of their sex was normal, and their sadism was generally separate, I would expect a different, if still extreme, training for the majority of sexbots, with the sadism victims being a specific subclass.

What you described is in no sense an impossible outcome, it is just that I found it a much less likely one and the explanation lacking. But it is possible that I am just not cynical enough

109:

> Oh, yes, but I don't believe that the majority of people ARE natural sadists (which implies at least strong psychopathic tendencies) when it comes to sex.

How commonplace rape is against dehumanized and oppressed groups gives lie to your assertion. Wartime rape, for example, is the norm rather than the exception. The ability to include all of humanity in our "in group" and thus worthy of kindness is a fairly recent development and hard fought. And that is with biological humans. When we are talking artificial organisms that are demonstrably not human and, in fact, build by us, I see sexual assault as not only probable, but likely the norm in a society that categorically does not consider them people.

110:

"what happened to all the quiverful true believers"

To me, it doesn't even seem like that difficult of a question. In order to survive, these groups would eventually need to be wealthy enough to be completely self-sustaining with a wrecked biosphere. They could end up needing something approaching what OGH proposes would be necessary for a self-sufficient Mars colony. That simply may not have been possible, especially if the rulers figured out how to make more short-term wealth off of destroying them.

111:

> Oh, yes, but I don't believe that the majority of people ARE natural sadists (which implies at least strong psychopathic tendencies) when it comes to sex. How commonplace rape is against dehumanized and oppressed groups gives lie to your assertion. Wartime rape, for example, is the norm rather than the exception. The ability to include all of humanity in our "in group" and thus worthy of kindness is a fairly recent development and hard fought. And that is with biological humans. When we are talking artificial organisms that are demonstrably not human and, in fact, build by us, I see sexual assault as not only probable, but likely the norm in a society that categorically does not consider them people.

Um, no.

By your logic, Hitler existed, therefore we're all Hitler and being a little Nazi is inevitable. Or, to go to the point I made earlier, this is a version of "THEY do it, therefore it's okay for US to do it." And when the first statement as libellous falsehood, is it okay for you to do it?

Not everyone is a soldier in a war. Even in wars, most people, in fact, are not, and most soldiers are noncombatants. Although I agree that rape is common, it is very, very far from universal. More thoughtful commanders punish it, because it invites reprisals. If you don't understand this, it's an effective short-term coercion tactic, but a terrible long-term occupation tactic, because it gives people more reason to fight back.

So if most people are not war-rapists, why assume that we'll normally act as military rapists to create sexbots for the market?

Besides, we've got a few billion alternative examples to using punishment to teach the Three Laws of Not Hurting Others. They're called parents. I think most parents at some point seriously wonder why they haven't murdered their screaming three year-old or demonically possessed teen going through puberty. But with rare exceptions they don't do it. And it's not because they were raped and brutalized into being afraid of hurting their children. Part of it's socialization, part of it is love, and a big part of it is that they learn that childhood emotional derangements are normal and temporary, so they simply ride them out the way their parents and friends rode out analogous episodes.

So if you want to get robots to respect humans, raise them as our children and normalize love, respect, and reciprocity. We actually know how to do this, and we actually do make children-mimics all the time: domestic cats are one example.

112:

Raising sex bots, starting in childhood, requires worse than sadism. I'm not going to say any more; everyone will figure it out in time, I'm sure, if they haven't already.

113:

Well the point is that you can't have sexbots as such then. If you start with the premise that you raise robots like human children, then the only non-fucked-up path is not to set out to make slaves from the outset, and the entities you raise must be accorded some sort of rights, including things like bodily autonomy, personhood (whether legal or something else), freedom from cruelty.

114:

Well, if you want an ethical sexbot, then you have to posit that current machine learning is not general AI or the equivalent of human consciousness.

Then I started cogitating how a machine learning-based sexbot would work, which data sets it could be usefully trained on, which data sets would have to be hardwired in for, which angles and pressures not to exceed with human partner...

And I supposed it might make a good farce. But maybe a not-so-good space opera protagonist.

Then I made the mistake of Googling "Machine learning sexbot" and noticed there's a system called "Autoblow." Among others.

Why am I not surprised?

And of course there's this: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/09/tech/ces-sex-toy-award-controversy-scli-intl/index.html

115:

Why am I not surprised?

There's a name for that. I hear that some SF author has a book with that name for a title...

116:

> By your logic, Hitler existed, therefore we're all Hitler and being a little Nazi is inevitable.

Just start right with Godwin, eh? Look over the history of humanity, in wartime and in peace. We are tribal beings who, by nature, treat those in our out-group as less than human. The history of progress in human ethics has been to grow the in-group such that it includes all of humanity but this is still an ongoing process. Racism, sexism, and all other forms of bigotry that still exist are symptoms of how hard this is for us to shake. And, as I said and you didn't address at all, this is with fellow humans who only differ based on skin color, cultural background, or ridiculously stupid things like gender identity or sexuality. I assert that this difficult process will have to start all over again when we are dealing with something which can easily be slotted into the category of "appliance" by nature of being artificial. The "we aren't all Nazis" argument ignores that the horrors of WWII were not unprecedented. AT ALL. Rape, genocide, slavery, and oppression have been stains on human history forever. WWII wasn't an aberration. Hell, it wasn't even the last case of genocide in Europe in the 20th century. In every case, the victims speak of how jarring it was to see their friends and neighbors, people they knew their entire lives, scream for their blood. Sure, people can be kind and compassionate to people they identify as people. Historically, though, that isn't all humans.

117:

I know we're not at 300 yet but two significant events in the past 6 hours or so:


  • The Inspiration 4 mission has successfully launched. The first all civilian orbital spaceflight (and the first US crewed mission to not involve NASA)

  • The AUKUS pact has been announced. First act, get Australia 8 nuclear powered submarines.

  • Interesting times ahead.

118:

Genocides happen, yet we're not only still here as a species, our numbers are increasing. Therefore, very obviously, we're mostly NOT genocidal.

The logic does not follow, and I stay with my original argument. The existence of evil does not justify us acting in an evil manner. Nor does it normalize evil, which is what you seem to be trying to do here.

119:

We are tribal beings who, by nature, treat those in our out-group as less than human.

Just to clarify, how many of these less-than-human things have you raped or killed? And if the answer is zero, what on earth are you on about?

120:

H @ 114
"Rule 34" of course!

ECB
Historically, though, that isn't all humans. Nor is it true that all Humans are nasty & cruel killers & torturers.
Tu quoque, perhaps.

On this subject, perhaps I can now see how Weber's "Mesa Slavers" are, maybe, plausible, whilst still being outcasts to everyone else.

Spacechicken
Someone has been re-reading Mahan, which is just as well, maybe.

121:

I also find the whole “fuckers gonna fuck shit up” argument pretty tired, and tiring to play whackamole with too. Historically we’ve found ways to persuade people not to be awful, failing that to kill them, or failing even that just outlast them. I like to think this will be true even in the worst climate disaster scenario: ultimately fuckwittery is a recreation activity, a luxury that is only workable as an occupation in relatively abundant times. There’s actually some really interesting ethnography from PNG relevant to this that I’ll have to remember to review and mention again, it’s a hoot.

122:

Just going by "Saturn's Children" text, at the point where biological humanity went extinct, there was not a single legally-human robot on the planet (which is why legislation is impossible - on one can be a member of any parliament).

This means that there either never been any countries with full-citizen robots (which isn't plausible), or... they were all destroyed.

OK, headcanon! Freyaverse humanity actually went extinct in an all-out nuclear war. Which also neatly explains how Earth got to the Venus-like state (which is impossible to achieve by merely burning fossil fuels).

123:

The AUKUS pact has been announced. First act, get Australia 8 nuclear powered submarines.

... Because the UK isn't building enough nuclear boats to keep its submarine reactor production line running efficiently, and the Pacific is a very big lake. SSNs have much longer endurance than SSKs, so spend more time at sea, so they're more efficient for a given number of boats (even if they cost more individually, which IIRC is why the Royal Navy went 100% nuclear for subs a few decades ago).

As for the USA, China isn't a reasonable military threat but it's a very good bogey man to wave in the face of the kind of folks who are terrified of foreigners with snow on their boots.

The Pentagon just ended the Global War On Terror (hot phase) with the exit from Afghanistan and the drawdown in Iraq. The defense contractors have got to be shitting themselves from fear of a re-run of the 1991-94 "peace dividend" after the end of the USSR, which cut Pentagon spending on new weapons programs by about 30-40%, but pivoting to a new cold war with a paper tiger opponent who conveniently is trying to rally nationalist support at home but very unlikely to actually invade anyone important to US policy goals is very useful.

(China won't/can't invade South Korea, because NK is a pain in the ass to bail out and it'd cause regional carnage. China already got Hong Kong and Macau. They probably don't want to go after Japan, either, because that would put the cat among the pigeons globally. And despite all the sabre rattling, China can't make any kind of economic case for invading Taiwan: an invasion would wreck TSMC and the other golden-egg-laying geese, cost an inordinate number of casualties, trigger sanctions globally -- not good for keeping the economy at home going strong -- and generally not lead to anything good. The long-term strategy of maintaining political pressure is ... well, annexing Hong Kong put that back at least a generation, but was probably worth it. I don't expect China to move on Taiwan for another 30 years unless the global balance of power changes drastically, and the Usauk agreement rather props up the status quo.)

124:

NB: "changes drastically" might well include the widespread availability of autonomous slaiughterbots once Chinese semiconductor fabs are able to compete on node size with TSMC. Which will happen in due course, but not before Moore's Law is thoroughly over: China is still on 28nm IIRC, while Intel and TSMC are on 7nm and pushing towards 3/4 nm and then smaller.

The economic case for invading Taiwan (never strong to begin with, in the post-1980 age) weakens precisely as China's capability for doing so (on the basis of manufacturing advanced weapons hardware) catches up. The ideological/political case for reunification remains.

125:

Nope.

Look at some isochrone graphs: travel time around the entire planet today is roughly the same as travel time across France in 1889. And similar to travel time across England (much smaller, does not include Scotland or Wales) in 1820.

We live in a drastically shrunken world. Even though airliners travel no faster today than they did in 1961, we have vastly better communications -- you can videoconference with people living at the antipodes and your main worry will be coordinating meal times due to clock skew. Lest we forget, there were no trans-Atlantic live TV broadcasts before Telstar 1, launched in 1962. Trans-Atlantic voice phone calls were pricey as hell throughout the 20th century: yet, 25 years after I first got to sit in on an experimental corporate video conferencing rig (it had its own office! Time slots booked a week in advance!) I now do a weekly zoom call with a bunch of Americans and it costs someone about $10 a month for the premium account that lets them run meetings, but that's it.

Add 2-4 centuries (a greater span of time than the USA has existed for) and I expect our cultural horizons to have shrunk even further.

126:

Yet the same technology that makes communication easier can lead to a greater polarization, by allowing a supporter of any ideology to find allies and reinforce themselves.

Just look at USA and tell me facebook.com made that county more ideologically united.

127:

Yes. But, if experience is anything to go by (e.g. Iraq), the UK will get a few scraps, at best - not the share of the loot that it is assuming. The thing that made me shudder was Bozo mentioning our shared values with Australia and the USA. Roll on Scexit and the revival of the Auld Alliance!

As you say, the harm done by the USA military-industrial complex is huge and increasing. It rebuilt Russia as a 'threat', but that and Iran are just too obviously paper tigers to get any kind of serious funding. So China it has to be.

128:

"Bozo mentioning our shared values with Australia and the USA"

Following on from the current "think of the children" media campaign, expect our beloved Home Secretary to announce a UK version of this:
https://www.theregister.com/2021/09/14/identify_and_disrupt_bill_australia/

( TL;DR - Aussie police now have powers to compel sysadmins to assist them in taking over online accounts, including sending/modifying/deleting data/messages associated with that account )

129:

I'm less sanguine about China. Yes, in a stand-up hot war between the USA and China, China is going to lose. But the USA isn't going to get off unscathed either. China is developing carrier-killer missiles which are capable of making the South China Sea a no-go zone for the American military. The economic case for China actually invading anywhere may not exist, but the economic case for the USA standing up to it is rapidly vanishing too.

Meantime, China is pursuing an economic hegemony policy backed up by its military, which *is* a match for anything in the South China Sea, including the Philippines. Once China has excluded the US from the South China Sea it can bully the neighbours in whatever ways it sees fit, and hence extend its hegemony south-east towards Australia and southwest through Cambodia, Thailand and Burma, picking up Malaysia and Singapore on the way.

So the real question is not "can the US beat the Chinese in a stand-up fight", but "What does a new cold war between the USA and China look like, where China has effective control of an area defined roughly by Myanmar, the Java Sea, Papua New Guinea and itself?"

Then there is the Belt & Road initiative. I'm not sure exactly how that is going to work out; maybe it really will help lots of countries bootstrap themselves into major trading partners with the rich world, but I'm not so sure. Currently it looks like an employment scheme for Chinese workers paid for by the host countries. How China will leverage the resulting debts remains to be seen.

130:

A full-on war between China and the US is one of those things that civilization doesn't survive. All sides know this*, so we're really fighting a cold war over economics, control of the South China Sea and Singapore Straits, where the rubber comes from, and so forth.

We look at the Belt and Road, and we forget that it's two parts:

Belt is short for "Silk Road Economic Belt" (e.g. cutting off Russian hegemony through the oil-producing former SSRs

Road: "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" from the Arabian Gulf to the South China Sea.


Where Russia and India comes into this? That's the interesting question. What are China's interests in Siberia, besides not having the permafrost melt? What are China's interests in controlling the Himalayas, aka the Water Tower of Asia, as well as much of the world's remaining oil supply?

The other thing we're not thinking about is how climate change is going to play into all this. The problem here is that we go: click, military, click political, click, climate change, but we don't sit down and do the painful analysis of military X geopolitical X climate change.

Making the big assumption that the US and EU don't get sucked into the authoritarian male septic politics that China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, and others are mired in, it might turn out that we actually have to worry more about a Great Powers-style head-butting match over who controls Asia: India, Russia, or China, with the EU and US trying to stay out of it, except for the oil interests that we'd do well to be shut of. While I don't think Xi or Putin are stupid (they probably prefer their wars at liquid helium temperatures or lower), their successors may well be a bit less gifted.

And another big problem is what happens if there are widespread crop failures in rice or wheat in Russia, China, or Pakistan. That, coupled with Covid19 (if it's not under control) and/or resurgent polio, could really destabilize most of the continent, and do so rather rapidly. Famine and pandemics have certainly stoked widespread unrest before.

131:

I think we're on the same page.

As someone who watches both of the main sides of the politics in the US, And yes I live here, having the biggest baddest military in the world isn't buying us much.

The politics have become, why did anyone suffer any losses? We should never loose any lives doing anything. Which is an absurd way to look at a military.

Look at the recent withdrawal form Afghanistan. We have Senators (with following) who want the Sec Def and Sec State to resign because 13 people died in an operation that airlifted out over 100K people with 4K troops in less than 2 weeks while surrounded by a loosely control enemy that greatly out numbered them.

Which leads me to what China is learning. If you take small steps, the US will do nothing because losses are not allowed.

132:

Heteromeles:

All very good questions. When I have a geopolitical think-tank to spare I'll ask them to have a shot at it.

I've tried to consider how the economic and the military issues interact around a China hegemony, but I admit I haven't factored climate change into it. Xi Jinping was about 7 when the Great China Famine happened, but he was insulated from it by his father's position. He did however spend several years as a forced labourer during the Cultural Revolution. I imagine that famine due to climate change is a significant concern for Xi.

I can imagine a limited shooting war between China and the USA over Taiwan, which *probably* wouldn't get too out of hand. But what if the losing side says "back down or we nuke you"? Answer: you either back down or you nuke them first. And of course if you have someone like Trump in charge somewhere, all bets are off.

133:

Currently it looks like an employment scheme for Chinese workers paid for by the host countries.

Like this?

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/28/1010832606/road-deal-with-china-is-blamed-for-catapulting-montenegro-into-historic-debt

134:

But what if the losing side says "back down or we nuke you"? Answer: you either back down or you nuke them first.
China is currently building a few new fields of missile silos (open source intelligence, has been in the news[1]) with the apparent intent of credible deterrence vs the large US and Russian counter-force nuclear capabilities. I don't blame them (the Chinese), but coupled with launch on warning this will increase the risk of thermonuclear war.
One can speculate on motives, when coupled with the buildup of Chinese conventional forces and the absurdly (writing as an American!) high levels of Chinese nationalism on display, It's possible we'll see deliberately-more-visible nuclear weapons programs(or hints of them) in some of China's neighbors.

[1] New Chinese Missile Silo Fields Discovered (September 2021, Shannon Bugos and Julia Masterson)

135:

I am pretty sure that TPTB already have all of those powers in the UK, but can't remember the Act to check on the details, and there are so many of them!

136:

EC
"The Auld Alliance" was a totally French scam, gutting Scotland for the miltary distraction of England.
AFAIK it never, ever actually benefitted Scotland or the Scots.
[ See also Flooden Field & Solway Moss & 1815 & 1845 ]

Paul
I'm very mush afraid you may be ( Note MAY ) half-right. The PRC can & probably will make the Philippines life absolute hell, as regards maritime routings & fishing & anything remotely military ....
The Belt-&-Road is a Chinese copy of the strategy employed by the English & Dutch East India Companies, which is not a good omen.

David L
Which leads me to what China is learning. If you take small steps, the US will do nothing because losses are not allowed.
Godwin warning: Which is how Adolf operated 1935-38, wasn't it?

137:

Exactly. And also this: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/14/china-must-do-more-to-tap-locals-in-belt-and-road-initiative-panel.html

The allegation is that the Chinese lend the money to the host nation, then use it to pay Chinese workers so that the money turns right around and goes back to China.

There is a lot of speculation about China's strategy with this. Wikipedia has a summary of the main lines of thought.

Greg Tingey: The Belt-&-Road is a Chinese copy of the strategy employed by the English & Dutch East India Companies, which is not a good omen.

Meanwhile the South China Sea situation resembles the American approach to Latin America and the Caribbean. But these two strategies can't be considered in isolation. One of the things that lets America project power around the world is a network of bases in friendly countries, like the UK and Japan. Getting a bunch of countries in debt so that they will cede some territory to China in return for a bit of debt forgiveness probably looks like a good deal to China.

If you take small steps, the US will do nothing
Its called the Salami Strategy.

138:

Which is how Adolf operated 1935-38, wasn't it?

Information flows were different then.

It was hard to know just how many tanks, airplanes, troops, etc... Germany had in 38. And where they were. Today the PTB know almost to the tail numbers who has what. And where they are.

139:

"Make life in the Phillipines hell"? You mean, beyond the US bases, and their current President, and COVID?

140:

One can speculate on motives

I'd say the motive was blindingly obvious.

China's strategic deterrent historically numbered 100-200 warheads, putting it firmly in the second tier (along with France, Israel, and the UK). Not enough for a credible first strike threat against the USA or USSR, but enough to deliver a bloody nose if anyone tried to mess with them, so an effective deterrent. It was also sufficient for training/development of a competent nuclear/missile arm of the military.

But the USA now has well-developed ABM systems deployed, in the form of Standard 3/Aegis on ships -- there's one moored in the Potomac pretty much all the time, for example. (Which makes sense, as most cities, especially capital cities, are within a couple of hundred miles of the sea.)

To guarantee a counterstrike against the USA now requires 2-10 times as many warheads as it did a decade or two ago. And thanks to Trump, the spectre of a batshit-crazy POTUS is no longer a fantasy.

Finally, the USSR is gone. Russia is still there, though, shares a land border with China, and isn't friendly. Russia is also developing ABMs.

A nuclear strike capability serves no actual military purpose but it has a dual political role: it's a prerequisite for front rank status at the UN (and declares you're a big swinging dick), and it ensures the balance of terror, meaning nobody sane will threaten you with their own nuclear forces. So keeping the capability current seems sensible.

141:

The allegation is that the Chinese lend the money to the host nation, then use it to pay Chinese workers so that the money turns right around and goes back to China.

So ... China is copying long-established British/French/American "overseas aid", right?

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, etc.

(Alternatively, if post-colonial exploitation is bad when they do it, why is it good when we do it?)

142:

No. With the island building they are doing at some point they "claim" the South China Sea as their territory and levy a toll for ships to transit. The US and most of Europe ignores it. At first. But Viet Nam and others get squeezed. Hard.

143:

Since there is zero legal basis to island building on the open seas, USA (or any other country with enough power) could start building their own islands right next to the Chinese ones, and dare them to do something.

144:

Not really. China wouldn't try such a stunt till they have occupied all or most all of the possible new island sites. And they are well on their way. And parking a destroyer or two over the remaining possibles isn't all that hard for THEM to do.

For the US or anyone else to attempt such would cost vast sums that no one in the home base would agree to spend.

It's not cheap for China but at least the supply line dosen't start 6 or 9 times zones away.

145:

whitroth
Yes - considerably worse, even with Duterte currently in power ... nasty thought,isn't it?
...
Which leads to David L's comment, though...
IIRC, didn't Viet Nam fight an actual war with China a few years back - & win?
They are not going to knuckle under to the PRC, any more than they did to the USA.

146:
...once Chinese semiconductor fabs are able to compete on node size with TSMC. Which will happen in due course, but not before Moore's Law is thoroughly over: China is still on 28nm IIRC, while Intel and TSMC are on 7nm and pushing towards 3/4 nm and then smaller.
I seriously doubt that PRC will eventually out-compete TSMC/Intel - because there's only one manufacturer of EUV photolithography systems, and it is a Dutch company: ASML. And Washington is already trying to keep ASML from selling to PRC [1]. Sure, China can eventually copy/engineer that technology, but that will be very costly.

Btw: Arm China has essentially been stolen from Arm Ltd. and gone rogue [2].

147:

the absurdly (writing as an American!) high levels of Chinese nationalism on display

Um, writing as a Canadian, that looks rather like a case of pot and kettle in terms of nationalism…

148:

If Washington keep ASML from selling to the PRC, the PRC will throw money at developing their own EUV photolithography gear. If they succeed, it means (a) they get to catch up, and (b) they can pick up huge export revenue (ASML has revenue of $14Bn/year but is valued at something astronomical, over $100Bn IIRC).

I see no reason why an autarkic leader like Xi wouldn't want to pursue EUV tech, even if it means starting with a ten year lag and having to throw tens of billions at it. It's a major strategic goal.

149:

#127 - Include me in (as Sam Goldwyn didn't say).

#140 - And Standard 3 has been proven to work.

150:

Greg Tingey @ 145: Which leads to David L's comment, though...
IIRC, didn't Viet Nam fight an actual war with China a few years back - & win?They are not going to knuckle under to the PRC, any more than they did to the USA.

1979. Ended in stalemate with China withdrawing & declaring victory while the Vietnamese declared victory for repelling the invasion. Border conflicts continued through the 1980s. Although ties were normalized in 1991, they didn't sign a border pact until 1999.

They're still at odds over the Paracel & Spratly Islands, with a skirmish over Johnson South Reef in 1988.

The French are upset over the Australia/UK/US submarine deal because they had a contract to build conventional diesel submarines for Australia. But diesel subs don't have the range Australia apparently thinks it needs.

What I don't understand is why France couldn't have negotiated a deal to build nuclear submarines for Australia or to help Australia build their own nuclear submarines? France has nuclear submarine technology. Why didn't they negotiate a deal with Australia?

151:

1 in 500 Americans have died from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Unvaccinated adults have cost the U.S. around $6 Billion due to Covid-19 hospitalizations in the last 3 months.

152:

To be fair, I thought that Bill's exclamation point indicated awareness of this.

153:

It's worse than that. AIUI the submarines we were contracting from France (to be made in Adelaide) were a nuclear design that had been modified to diesel to meet the then Australian requirements. It's the requirements that have changed, something the new pact has brought with it. Perhaps if France were also invited into that pact, it would still be a potential nuclear submarine supplier...Anyhow this is wish-fulfilment stuff for both anglospherophiles and the small but vocal group of defence commentators in Aus who've been agitating for nuclear subs for some years now. There is a certain amount of macguffiness to the concept of technology transfer here... it's possible that the present defence establishment doesn't care if we never really bring that capability onshore and always need to take the boats to US ports for maintenance. ISTR there was once talks of leasing US nuclear subs, so it's perhaps just a bit further than that?

What I do know is that there's a federal election next year and the conservative government thinks it can win if it makes national security an election issue. Given the way things have gone in recent years, it could be right. This would come under the heading of reversal of fortunes, given its poor pandemic performance (and the poor performance of conservative states in contrast to Labor states).

154:

JBS
A "stalemate" when one combatant is Viet Nam & the other is the PRC ... that's a Vietnamese victory - again.

155:

I know a someone who was a teen in southern China at the time. It was a bad situation locally. But I get the feeling that Bejing treated it as a local thing for the province to deal with. Plus the Viet Nam forces were battle tested in the not too distant past. China's military, at the time, was huge but a bit of a mess as Mao had recently died and the "who is running things now" was still playing out.

Today, China would likely kick butt. Especially on the water.

156:

The French Shortfin Barracuda submarine design would have been good for longer-term blue-water patrolling like the roles undertaken by existing Collins-class subs, more modern and less vulnerable and with better range and endurance than their predecessors. This would allow them to interdict the approaches to the northern Australian coastline on two-month-long in-and-out patrols. What they couldn't do was go toe-to-toe with Chinese naval assets right up to the Chinese coast because of the distances involved. A nuclear sub's range underwater staying mostly undetectable is pretty much limited to how much toothpaste and clean underwear the crew can load into the hull.

The existing submarine fabrication facilities in Australia weren't up to building even the Shortfin hulls, ditto for the drydocks and maintenance yards so they were going to need a big expensive upgrade to start with. This was a chunk of the 50 billion AUD ticket price for the 9 (I think) planned boats to be built over (I think) a fifteen year period. Even after the contract with the French was signed people were pointing out gaping holes in the project schedule, looming cost overruns and timeline abuse. ISTR some RAN admiral ended up retiring before he got fired over this when the Parliamentary oversight committee started asking awkward questions.

157:

1 in 500 Americans have died from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Unvaccinated adults have cost the U.S. around $6 Billion due to Covid-19 hospitalizations in the last 3 months.

OMG, that's like a squadron of F-35s! With fuel and munitions even! Why are the Republicans not lining up to be jabbed to Keep American Great Again!

Oh yeah...

158:

Oh, by the way, don't break your arm in Idaho. Or get the flu needing hospital oxygen. They are literally rationing care at all hospitals in the state. As all the beds are full of Covid-19 cases. 95% of them are unvaccinated.

159:

And we have covidiots in NSW arguing that we should follow the lead of England (which they call the UK) and the US, just open up business, remove the lockdowns and let people choose whether to get vaccinated or not.

Pointing out that no amount of money or careful planning can even build enough hospitals this year to get us from 90 ICU beds per million to the US average of 350/million, let alone magic up the staff to fill them (if it costs $2.5M to train an emergency medical specialist in 10 years, can we train one in a single year if we pay $25M?) Not to mention the minor objection that even the US has more patients than ICU beds.

160:

You could probably make it work if you limited hospital beds to people who've been vaccinated…

161:

I was thinking more of that agreement our man Malcolm made with the orange one to swap refugees. Except this time we'd be sending our best and brightest* on a cult(ural) exchange to see they do it in Florida or somewhere. I suspect a lot of them would leap at the chance.

And as Rob Muldoon said of a similar exercise between Aotearoa and Australia, it would "increase the average IQ of both countries".

* we know they're really smart, they've done their own research.

162:

The entertaining thing is that (federal health minister) Greg Hunt's go-to reason to reject pandemic advice from (highly respected health economist) Stephen Duckett was that the latter predicted blowing through ICU capacity in the event of something like what's about to happen in NSW. This was in early 2020, but it was the first definitive sign the man was not across the portfolio, sadly not the last sign by any means.

163:

if it costs $2.5M to train an emergency medical specialist in 10 years, can we train one in a single year if we pay $25M?

My favorite line from the book "The Mythical Man Month" by Fred Brooks.

You can't get a baby in a month by using 9 women. (This may be apocryphal. I last read the book decades ago.)

Still a good read. You just have to keep in mind that the details from the 60s need some mental translation.

164:

Based on available stats that would clear out 95% of the hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the US.

165:

Since then CPUs have gained pipelines and caches, though. Which is like having a team of women which would let you gain a baby every month for decades! It's just that it takes 9 months to get the pipeline running...


One of the fun discussions is trying to explain that recruiting medical staff from overseas is a zero sum game that we can't afford to play. Other countries are both richer and more desperate, as well as more willing to throw their peasantry on the bonfire.

Mind you, the smoothbrains here have proved almost as resilient to facts as Trump himself, leaving to situations like Wilcannia being used to prove that important people don't have to listen to so-called experts whining about alleged "facts" and their stupid "predictions" which are contrary to the simple common sense and ability to see the obvious possessed by such intellectual giants as Greg Hunt who snubbed Pfizer when they were offering millions of vaccine doses, and Brad Hazzard who doesn't care about the difference between "80% of the population" and "80% of the population over 12" because really, what matters is getting back to business.

I know it's small beans compared to Boris "2000 deaths per million is just the beginning" and Biden "would like to help but won't", but our leadershit are now using the same "learn to live with it" rhetoric and that has me concerned.

166:

And ... just as you think it couldn't get any more bonkers ..
This happens I want to know what the scriptwriters are smoking.
As long as it's not the effluent from that waste pit in Staffordshire, where nothing is done, because the tories are profiting from it ... a mini-UK version of Flint, Michigan, maybe?

167:

#156 - Is this a good time to point out that it would also give the Aussies a larger fleet of Boats than the French? How about that one of the French boomers is the Temeraire?

#166 - Does this also mean that Bozo is going to reintroduce the old Scots pint, instead of forcing us to keep drinking English short measures?

168:

I don't know anyone under 50 who would find imperial weights and measures easier to work with than metric. In my lifetime I have only seen them regularly used for alcohol and illegal narcotics.

Maybe an admission that only pensioners will vote tory?

169:

If we are allowed to divert, how about the appointment of our equivalent of Sir Les Patterson to be culture secretary?

170:

Can he take the demotion? I mean he's presently Prime Minister isn't he?

171:

Welcome to Trumpism. We don't need no sticking furners telling us what to do.

Which is why I own two of everything like sockets, open and box end wrenches, and Allen wrenches. And all kinds of different nuts, bolts, and screws. We did this hissy fit during the Carter years. Have fun.

Also I can't wait to see how much fun this will be at grocery checkouts and the cost of re-programming registers, scales, etc... And if your checkouts are staffed with students like ours the training.

And if the EU is told they must switch to imperial to sell in the UK, most vendors will say never mind.

Wheeee!

172:

Pointing out that no amount of money or careful planning can even build enough hospitals this year to get us from 90 ICU beds per million to the US average of 350/million, let alone magic up the staff to fill them (if it costs $2.5M to train an emergency medical specialist in 10 years, can we train one in a single year if we pay $25M?) Not to mention the minor objection that even the US has more patients than ICU beds.

It takes 7 years to train an ICU nurse. Staffing ratio is 2 ICU nurses/bed, so for 350 beds/1M x 26M people you're going to need 18,200 ICU nurses (never mind the support specialties to back them up: lab techs, cleaners, doctors, admin staff to keep the supplies running, etc). Nurses burn out and leave the profession, and a significant number leave to have kids then return to different jobs in the nursing sector (eg. care home work, non-ICU work) so assume a career life of 20 years rather than 50 (your school-to-retirement stretch); so you need to be graduating at least 6000 nurses on the ICU track alone every year.

You're also going to need 9,100 ICU beds, which is several extra hospitals dedicated to ICU nursing.

Silver lining: you can downrate an ICU bay or ward to non-intensive nursing (e.g. High Dependency Unit, post-op recovery) when not needed for intensive care. But the usual managerialist drones will then complain about inefficient utilization and "waste".

But realistically, the key problem is that our cultural attitude to healthcare is fucked. (I include the UK and USA as well as AUS: the only Anglophone nation that hasn't messed up the crisis utterly is NZ.)

173:

Those who have been vaccinated almost never need an ICU bed.

The problem is the demand for ICU beds from folks who've been in car crashes, had a heart attack, are recovering from organ transplants, or were bitten by a snake (hey, Australia, looking at you). That's a near-constant demand rate and doesn't go away just because of COVID19. (You can mitigate by deferring operations, but that only helps a little and if you delay for too long you kill people avoidably.)

The only good solution we've got right now is to make vaccination mandatory. And if you think you've heard screaming about masks? You've heard nothing yet.

174:

Those who have been vaccinated almost never need an ICU bed.

The ratio in the US seems to be 19 to 1. Unvaccinated to vaccinated. Which in a very crude analysis leads to 90% of the ICU needs would go away if everyone was vaccinated.

175:

Is this a good time to point out that it would also give the Aussies a larger fleet of Boats than the French?

Fewer nuclear subs could cover the same patrol areas as the original French order of up to 13 boats (it's likely the initial order would be curtailed ten or fifteen years into the project). It's one of the reasons the US and the UK went all-nuclear and with larger subs, they're more capable than the smaller conventional boats -- back in the early Cold-War 1970s the Royal Navy had something like 25 subs with only a handful of them being nuclear-powered. Now we've got, I think, seven nuclear hunter/killer subs with another three or four on order to replace the few ageing Trafalgar nuclear boats left in service.

Unless Australia suffers from a rush of blood to the head they won't need to designate one of their nuclear subs as a minder to a Continuous At Sea Deterrent bomber armed with nuclear weapons as the UK has to. This helps a lot when scheduling patrols and operations.

176:

A final note on nursing:

Nursing has changed a lot in my adult lifetime.

Back in the late 1980s (when I was a junior hospital pharmacist) new nurses were entering via nursing degrees, although there were still plenty of elders who'd come up via nursing apprenticeships in the old days. They've all retired now, and today nursing is not only a graduate entry profession, but one with an emphasis on continuing postgraduate education and higher qualifications. It's not about changing bedding and wiping bums (although that still happens). Bedding and bum wiping (and meals, and showers, and, and) is now the job of nursing orderlies/assistants/auxilliaries, while nurses are essentially medical personnel who specialize in administering treatment and coordinating patient care. Think paramedics, but mostly without the doing-it-in-an-ambulance bit.

As for doctors, they're all specialists. Even GPs are specialists, it's just that their specialty is field diagnosis and triage: they can cover the basics, and they know who to refer patients to for further tests and diagnosis.

Yet we still have this deeply bedded-in cultural myth of the visiting family doctor who takes your pulse, looks wise, and prescribes a pill for what ails you: and of the nurse who is basically an angel with a lamp who mops your fevered brow, changes your wound dressings, and spoon-feeds you.

It's like confusing the modern airline industry with Wilbur and Orville Wright.

177:

I've not read it. Thanks for brining it to my attention.

The Feersum Endjinn discussion starts here: https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2021/09/fossil-fuels-are-dead.html#comment-2128749

178:

David L
IF ANY shop even attempts to do this to me, they will be really snarled at about the International System of Units
Followed by a rant on how I've been using "mks" since 1960-61 & what's YOUR problem?

179:

#175 - We only ever bought 4 Trafalgars.

#176 - Agreed and seconded, from the viewpoint of a patient in a specialist outpatient long term care unit.

180:

One of my friends is a consultant at a hospital somewhere up north (south to you).

He told me that his department recently picked up a load of excellent nurses who burned out of ICU work last year. He described them as very capable and switched on, but they just can't face turning up to work at a COVID ward any more.

The burnouts problem extends to students who were drafted in to help. Graduation rates are going to be down for a couple of years.

181:

All this this fucking around with nuclear weapons is another reason why we need to start colonizing space.

182:

Why? (You need to explain your reasoning. Hint: it's going to take a very long time -- if it's even possible -- for any off-world colony to become capable of supporting itself in the absence of imports from Earth.)

183:

Further to Charlie's #182, you do understand the difference between a nuclear powered vessel and one with nuclear weapons?

184:

We only ever bought 4 Trafalgars.

Unless you mean we got a "buy 4, get 3 free" deal from BAe Systems (which I don't think happened), the Royal Navy operated seven Trafalgars with the last two of the set still in commission today although very near the end of their 30-year expected operational lifespan. HMS Trenchant is laid up prior to officially being decommissioned -- if push came to shove she could probably be restored to service in a hurry.

I recall a cartoon published in Navy News at the beginning of the Falklands War with two old salts in a Portsmouth pub, one is reading the paper and commenting on the hurried attempts to recommission HMS Bulwark (a Centaur-class aircraft carrier). Through a window behind them a tug is pulling HMS Victory out of her dock...

185:

As for doctors, they're all specialists. Even GPs are specialists, it's just that their specialty is field diagnosis and triage: they can cover the basics, and they know who to refer patients to for further tests and diagnosis.

Not quite, but close. In US hospitals, you usually run into a triage nurse in the Emergency Department first. Triage per se is fairly simple (emergency, delayed problem, or go to an urgent care clinic or home). Heck, they teach triage even to lowly CERT disaster volunteers.

In the US, doctors are the people who are allowed to diagnose, prescribe, and do procedures, especially surgical procedures. Nurses and pharmacists are allowed (in hospitals, under doctor supervision) to prescribe pain meds. Other medical professionals (including acupuncturists, pharmacists, therapists, etc.) can (as happened to me) state that, in their opinion, something appears to be consistent with a particular diagnosis and recommend I see a doctor, but they cannot diagnose, because that puts them foul of their licenses and also of insurance.

If you're thinking this sounds like a professional trade organization, you're quite right. Doctors have their Medical Associations, Nurses and Pharmacy techs are both unionized. Pharmacists (who can be rather foolish about some things) are not unionized in the US, and so get shat upon as pill pushers if they're not careful.

This is a sloppy distinction, but nurses specialize in care, doctors in treatment. Each doctor specializes in a range of issues, including GPs. If the issue is outside their range of skill or expertise, they'll send the patient to someone who hopefully knows better than they do. GPs tend to act as gatekeepers, but it's not precisely in the triage sense: they'll diagnose a problem, and if the treatment they prescribe doesn't work or if it's not something they know how to treat, then they'll authorize the patient to see a specialist who might be better able to fix the problem. I suspect many repair fields have similar escalation scales, so the few specialists don't get completely swamped with work others can do effectively?

Nurses have the job of caring and coordinating care for patients, so they're taking vitals, administering shots, inserting and removing IVs and catheters, prepping patients for procedures (except for anything that could be life threatening, like administering anesthesia--you need an MD for that), and often enough cleaning up the mess and straining themselves moving heavy patients and heavy equipment. Frequent routine stuff like changing linens, feeding, moving, etc. does devolve to lower level orderlies. If you notice, a lot of this is about how much you're paying someone, and minimizing costs by minimizing calls on their time. This brings its own problems, but it's one way to keep costs down.

The end result is that urban health systems are systems, with mostly organized professions each doing their thing. While I agree that this is a lot less fun than the old-line doctors doing most of the treatment, and RNs doing the care, keeping costs down has driven the evolution of these systems, especially in the US.

And yes, Covid19 has driven a bunch of them to their breaking points, and that's a problem.

186:

>>>it's going to take a very long time

All the more reason to start.

Also, neither of us really knows how long it will take.

187:

Yes, I know. I'm not talking about these particular submarines.

Though, nuclear powered submarines without nuclear weapons are rather pointless, don't you think?

188:

Didn't the RAN have serious problems staffing their subs? How will they get enough personal (9 boats probably need at least 18 teams) for the new boats?

189:

Nuclear power gives you (essentially) unlimited range. Nuclear weapons give you (essentially) unlimited damage. You can have one without the other.

AUS wants more range because the Pacific is LARGE.

190:

If you know a good medium, you might ask the crew of the General Belgrano whether or not a nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine is pointless. ;-(

191:

Though, nuclear powered submarines without nuclear weapons are rather pointless, don't you think?

Not only do nuclear-powered subs (in this case, hunter-killers, SSNs) have effectively unlimited range, they have effectively unlimited submerged time at full power.

Diesel-electric boats (SSKs) don't really carry bottled oxygen and used to be limited to a couple of days submerged -- while running at drastically reduced speed: at full speed, they can sprint for a couple of hours and then the batteries are flat and they need to surface to snorkel depth and turn on the diesels. Modern AIP boats (Air Independent Propulsion) can stay down longer, typically by using liquid oxygen so they can run diesel/turbine/fuel cells underwater, but they're still limited to a couple of weeks. But SSNs with CO2 scrubbers and electrolysis cells can effectively replenish the onboard atmosphere and stay submerged until they run out of bog roll or food. HMS Dreadnought, the UK's first nuclear powered submarine, left Rosyth, Scotland for Singapore on 19 September 1967 on a sustained high-speed run. The round trip finished as 4,640 miles surfaced and 26,545 miles submerged. Hint: without refueling. Try doing that on diesels.

192:

Strikes me that hospitals should keep at least 10% of the ICU beds reserved for *non*COVID patients. And of the COVID patients that do get one, vaccinated get priority over non-vaccinated.

193:

And to point out the cheerfully, bloody obvious, diesel technology is a dead end. There's no point in building a diesel ship with a 20 year lifespan now, because the supply chain that will keep it moving won't be in place in 20 years.

So nuclear, electric, and wind are becoming the default options for moving big ships, especially warships.

I'm just waiting to see if anyone copies the Suntory Mermaid II and starts running big cargo ships on wave power. While I agree with Nojay that the ocean is Not Technology's Friend, it would be cool if we could harvest a bit of the energy in those big storm waves being kicked up by climate changed storms, and use it to move cargo around.

But anyway, nuclear ships are for optimists right now. Building them assumes that they'll be needed in 20-30 years for something, and that's a more positive view of the future than many here espouse.

194:

Those who have been vaccinated almost never need an ICU bed.

Exactly.

If the ICU beds weren't being taken up by people who willfully put themselves at risk of serious Covid, there would be enough for the normal heart attacks etc.

On a different-but-related note, I assume you've seen this story?

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/09/hospital-staff-must-swear-off-tylenol-tums-to-get-religious-vaccine-exemption/

A hospital system in Arkansas is making it a bit more difficult for staff to receive a religious exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The hospital is now requiring staff to also swear off extremely common medicines, such as Tylenol, Tums, and even Preparation H, to get the exemption.

Apparently people are claiming that the fetal cell lines used to develop the Covid vaccines violate their religious beliefs, so the hospital is requiring them to attest that they also avoid other medications developed the same way, including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, ibuprofen, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, albuterol, Preparation H, MMR vaccine, Claritin, Zoloft, Prilosec OTC, and azithromycin.

The intent of the form is twofold, Troup says. First, the hospital wants to ensure that staff members are sincere in their stated beliefs, he said, and second, it wants to "educate staff who might have requested an exemption without understanding the full scope of how fetal cells are used in testing and development in common medicines."

195:

Nowadays SSNs tend to go under once they're at their patrol station and not come up at all unless there's a damn good reason to be on the surface, thanks to ocean surveillance satellites and marine patrol aircraft. If you can be seen, you will be killed, basically.

A quick look on Wikipedia Which Is Never Wrong suggests a modern AIP SSK can travel at ca. 10 knots underwater for two weeks. A modern SSN can travel in excess of 30 knots underwater (true performance figures are not for public consumption) for months on end, subject to sufficient stocks of clean underwear and deodorant on board at departure.

196:

All this this fucking around with nuclear weapons is another reason why we need to start colonizing space.

To a first approximation, a self-sufficient colony on the Moon or Mars will be so saturated in radiation, and so exposed to meteorites moving at 10x bullet speed, that the technology you'd need for the colony to survive any length of time is the same as you'd need on Earth for a settlement to survive a nuclear war. And it's orders of magnitude cheaper to build such settlements on Earth, so that we can survive nuclear wars here.

That's the central problem with your argument: in every case, if we could build something in space or on another planet, it's cheaper to build it on Earth. And not only is it cheaper, every single one of those bits of technology would solve critical problems on Earth if they were built here.

Feeding people in a horribly hostile environment? Probably the worst climate change will throw at us will look like the early Miocene, and that's a very, very far cry from the Moon or Mars. Figuring out how to feed people on the Moon and Mars in anything like a self-supporting way requires us to figure out how to do it here first and better.

The road to space colonies runs through dealing with climate change and nuclear power, not running away from it.

Thing is, I used to be a True Believer in space colonization too. I'd still like to see it. But it's become obvious to me that the list of problems we need to solve to live in space are the same problems we're struggling to solve here on Earth to keep civilization working. And I'm not seeing Elon Musk working all that hard on most of them (or Branson, or Bezos, for that matter). This is, in fact, one reason why, as an environmentalist, I'm advocating so hard for us to solve the problems posed by climate change. I mean, if we can't handle the comparatively trivial terraforming task of getting our emissions under control, how the hell are we going to control all the emissions we'd need to terraform Mars? It's the same technology, here on Earth or way out there.

197:

Disagree.

1. All eggs in one basket.
2. Can do stuff out there - say, on the Moon, cleaner and cheaper... get some heavy industry *off* planet.
3. Happy to reduce the scope of the problem: send me up!

198:

#193 - Er, the Kon-Tiki, despite being a square rigged raft, sailed further and faster through the same ocean. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kon-Tiki_expedition

#195 - I live in a submarine town suburb, and worked at Faslane (on the Trident facilities). The Wikipedia figures are "about right" for 1970s boats; modern ones can do better.

199:

"Though, nuclear powered submarines without nuclear weapons are rather pointless, don't you think?"

US attack (aka hunter-killer) submarines haven't carried nuclear weapons since 1991. True, they could be re-equipped with them in short order or even, I suppose, covertly.

201:

>>>To a first approximation, a self-sufficient colony on the Moon or Mars will be so saturated in radiation, and so exposed to meteorites moving at 10x bullet speed, that the technology you'd need for the colony to survive any length of time is the same as you'd need on Earth for a settlement to survive a nuclear war. And it's orders of magnitude cheaper to build such settlements on Earth, so that we can survive nuclear wars here.

Well, fantastic! If development of space colonization will incidentally allow us to build nuclear war-safe settlements on Earth, I don't see the downside.

202:

>> US attack (aka hunter-killer) submarines haven't carried nuclear weapons since 1991.

Sorry, I should have provided a reference.

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/pniglance

203:

Given the choice between nuclear powered submarines and nuclear armed submarines, I know what I'd take (hint: I live in Israel).

However, I see how if USA provides the nuclear umbrella, the calculation changes...

204:

Can do stuff out there - say, on the Moon, cleaner and cheaper... get some heavy industry *off* planet.

We do heavy stuff in the seas and oceans -- offshore oil and gas platforms, for example -- without building undersea cities.

Similarly, a lot of space-based industrial activities can be conducted without building colonies.

205:

Israel faces radically different geopolitical realities from Australia. I think that's all I need to say on that matter.

206:

That all looks quite reasonable and should mean SpaceX will be able to go for the orbital test launch in mid to late November. Five orbital launches a year won't work for long though, the Artemis HLS project is something like 15 launches over four months twice for the unmanned demo and first crew landing.

207:

True... but rotation/r&r is a lot cheaper on earth than to and from offplanet.

208:

Yes, but I suspect a lot of the "workers" will be robots, and the on-duty shifts longer. SpaceX seem to think Starship will tend towards $1M/flight. Even if that's over-optimistic by two orders of magnitude, so $100M/flight, a Starship is intended to carry up to 100 passengers, so $1M/rotation. (At $1M/flight it's probably cheaper than sending someone to McMurdo Station.)

209:

Damian @ 153: It's worse than that. AIUI the submarines we were contracting from France (to be made in Adelaide) were a nuclear design that had been modified to diesel to meet the then Australian requirements. It's the requirements that have changed, something the new pact has brought with it. Perhaps if France were also invited into that pact, it would still be a potential nuclear submarine supplier...Anyhow this is wish-fulfilment stuff for both anglospherophiles and the small but vocal group of defence commentators in Aus who've been agitating for nuclear subs for some years now. There is a certain amount of macguffiness to the concept of technology transfer here... it's possible that the present defence establishment doesn't care if we never really bring that capability onshore and always need to take the boats to US ports for maintenance. ISTR there was once talks of leasing US nuclear subs, so it's perhaps just a bit further than that?

There do appear to be a couple of other considerations. I've done some reading on the AUS/FR submarine deal that's getting replaced. The French company was having to completely redesign the Suffren (Barracuda) submarine to make it into a diesel/electric and apparently it wasn't going well, with the price tag having already doubled before construction even began.

I think the problem with a straight up purchase of French built (even if built in an Australian shipyard) nuclear boats is refueling the reactors. The Suffren (Barracuda) boats require refueling after 10 years. There is the political question of whether France, even if they were willing to sell nuclear submarines to Australia, would be still willing to refuel them when the time came.

The UK/US reactor designs do not require refueling. They're good for the life of the hull (25 years). The best read I get on the new AUS/UK/US deal is the hulls will be built in Australia with the UK/US providing technical assistance and a "drop in" power plant package. While the boats are being built, there should be time to train the power plant operators.

What I do know is that there's a federal election next year and the conservative government thinks it can win if it makes national security an election issue. Given the way things have gone in recent years, it could be right. This would come under the heading of reversal of fortunes, given its poor pandemic performance (and the poor performance of conservative states in contrast to Labor states).

I don't really have any take on how that figures into the decision. From the outside it looks like Australia has opted for a better performing system (because it's not diesel/electric and/or does not require refueling in some problematic future) with more "reliable" partners. Wouldn't surprise me either if Brexit was a factor in there somewhere, with the French being pissed at the U.K. and taking it out on Australia. Plus, the French are fairly notorious for "not playing well with others" among the Western Alliance.

But I'm guessing it's mostly the cost overrun & uncertainty about refueling French reactors

210:

Greg Tingey @ 154: JBS
A "stalemate" when one combatant is Viet Nam & the other is the PRC ... that's a Vietnamese victory - again.

They fought a short war (less than a year of actual combat IF I have the dates right without having to look it up again); ended up with both sides occupying pretty much the same territory they occupied before the conflict and then spent 20 years negotiating a resolution to the conflict. That sounds like a "stalemate" to me.

Out of a disputed territory of 227 km2 (87.6 mi2), China acquired 114 km2 (44 mi2) and Vietnam acquired 113 km2 (43.6 mi2).

All that heartache and in the end China gained 1 square kilometer of territory (0.4 square miles).

211:

NZ attitude to healthcare in general is not great, our ICU ration is even worse than Australia's. This is a major reason the politicians were convinced of the elimination approach relatively early. We have flagged no more lockdowns after this one. Auckland is aiming for 80% of 12+ first doses by the end of the week (was 73%/38% last week, national 70%/36%)

212:

Damian @ 162: The entertaining thing is that (federal health minister) Greg Hunt's go-to reason to reject pandemic advice from (highly respected health economist) Stephen Duckett was that the latter predicted blowing through ICU capacity in the event of something like what's about to happen in NSW. This was in early 2020, but it was the first definitive sign the man was not across the portfolio, sadly not the last sign by any means.

Can you expand on this just a bit for those of us who are not familiar with the players in question? (Can't tell the players without a scorecard!)

Who is pro-vax/pro-masking and who is anti-vax/anti-masking? Who wants to maintain social distancing & lockdown measures and who doesn't? And did y'all blow through, or are going to blow through ICU capacity?

It sounds to me like this Stephen Duckett guy is/was predicting something like what is actually happening in Alabama, Mississippi & some other "Red" states here in the U.S.

A Man Died After Being Turned Away From 43 ICUs At Capacity Due To COVID,
213:

David L @ 171: Welcome to Trumpism. We don't need no sticking furners telling us what to do.

Which is why I own two of everything like sockets, open and box end wrenches, and Allen wrenches. And all kinds of different nuts, bolts, and screws. We did this hissy fit during the Carter years. Have fun.

Also I can't wait to see how much fun this will be at grocery checkouts and the cost of re-programming registers, scales, etc... And if your checkouts are staffed with students like ours the training.

And if the EU is told they must switch to imperial to sell in the UK, most vendors will say never mind.

Wheeee!

OTOH, they'll once again be able to find Whitworth tools and finally get a round tuit so they can get that old Morris Minor out in the shed running again.

214:

David L @ 174:

Those who have been vaccinated almost never need an ICU bed.

The ratio in the US seems to be 19 to 1. Unvaccinated to vaccinated. Which in a very crude analysis leads to 90% of the ICU needs would go away if everyone was vaccinated.

I got some more numbers for you:

"Looking at cases over the past two months, when the delta variant was the predominant variant circulating in this country, those who were unvaccinated were about 4 1/2 times more likely to get COVID-19, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from the disease," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC's director, said last week at a White House briefing.

Four-and-a-half times more likely to catch Covid-19

Ten times more likely to be hospitalized taking an ICU bed away from someone else who HAS been vaccinated!

Eleven times more likely to die.

They need to be turned out & placed in the plague wards until they kick ... and free up those beds for people who have been vaccinated and actually NEEDS to be hospitalized.


215:

paws4thot @ 183: Further to Charlie's #182, you do understand the difference between a nuclear powered vessel and one with nuclear weapons?

I'd say apparently not.

216:

Grats!

Bit of a Hell-ride to the finish, but we always bet on the right peeps.

They got Keith, they got Dave, but over our rotten teeth they won't snipe off the last of the Scottish revialist SF authors. Not on our watch.

Invisible Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LduJBDg4wGM


~

Oh, and for Greg etc who work in slow time: here's the joke (check TimeStamps):

Three hours a week: Play time's over for China's young video gamers

China has forbidden under-18s from playing video games for more than three hours a week, a stringent social intervention that it said was needed to pull the plug on a growing addiction to what it once described as "spiritual opium".

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-rolls-out-new-rules-minors-online-gaming-xinhua-2021-08-30/ ---

OOOH, WE'RE BETTER THAN YOU AT THIS, OH, WE REALLY ARE.

217:

Well, fantastic! If development of space colonization will incidentally allow us to build nuclear war-safe settlements on Earth, I don't see the downside.

Sadly, it's the reverse: building climate resilient, even nuclear-resistant, settlements on Earth are a necessary precursor to building similar settlements off-planet. What you're proposing is the equivalent of testing prototype desalination technologies on Kwajalein atoll before deploying them in Israel, rather than going down to the Israeli coast from where it was developed in Tel Aviv and testing the technology, before selling it in the deep Pacific where it's also needed.

218:

The French design of naval reactors is that they use civilian enrichment grade fuel. Which means, you can refuel them unless you manage to get blacklisted by the entire Nuclear Suppliers Group. Heck, given Australia is a major uranium miner..

Getting a decade out of that is an impressive achievement. The K150 improved is also as far as I can tell from just looking at how much space is dedicated to reactor compartments in sub hulls, a heck of a lot more compact than any US design. By a factor of several times. That is probably why the redesign went to poorly - the hull just flat out did not have space to fit a diesel electric drive train and fuel tanks.

219:

given Australia is a major uranium miner.

Mining is easy compared to enrichment. Would Australia want to stand up an enrichment process just to fuel a dozen or so subs?

221:

JBS
I have kept my old set of Whitworth sockets ....

222:

In the extremely unlikely future where the entire NSG cuts them off, sure. Or you could secure yourself against such paranoia by just buying 2 more fuel loads with every sub from the word go. Nuclear fuel is not diesel, it does not go bad.

223:

"able to find Whitworth tools and finally get a round tuit "

Yes, but are they still making round tuits in Whitworth?

JHomes

224:

If you're suggesting developing shelters, water desalinization/purification/recycling and food synthesis for displaced people on this planet now, will give us a head start when similar techniques are needed off-world later, I like your thinking.

225:

"Nurses burn out and leave the profession, and a significant number leave to have kids then return to different jobs in the nursing sector (eg. care home work, non-ICU work) so assume a career life of 20 years rather than 50 (your school-to-retirement stretch); so you need to be graduating at least 6000 nurses on the ICU track alone every year."

I would expect far, far higher burnout rates from what I've been hearing in the USA. Also a far, far higher initial quit rate.

226:

"Why? (You need to explain your reasoning. Hint: it's going to take a very long time -- if it's even possible -- for any off-world colony to become capable of supporting itself in the absence of imports from Earth.)"

On top of that century or so of work, it will take a long time before space colonies can withstand an attack from Earth.

227:

I would expect far, far higher burnout rates from what I've been hearing in the USA. Also a far, far higher initial quit rate.

Mississippi lost 2000 of their nurses in the first six months of 2021. If that rate continues, it's 4% attrition.

228:

If you're suggesting developing shelters, water desalinization/purification/recycling and food synthesis for displaced people on this planet now, will give us a head start when similar techniques are needed off-world later, I like your thinking.

That's precisely what I'm suggesting.

229:

Sustained 4% attrition approximates to a 25 year career life. Which is in the same ball park as my off-the-cuff estimate.

230:

The question that comes to my mind is:

Does whitroth own Whitworth tools?

Inquiring minds want to know!

231:

I’d call that an extremely successful defense on Vietnam’s part.

232:

Um... my late wife was distantly related, and our son has that last name... (and I'm trying to get a publisher to buy the first book in the universe I worked with her to write, which is why I'm writing under the hyphenated last name.)

233:

I agree. In Diplomacy (tm), defender, if they defend, always wins.

234:

I should add that when I finally got her full version together, back in late '15, it was saleable... in the nineties. Far too short to sell now, and I've written about 40% of it (and no one's been able to tell what she wrote and what I added).

The follow-on to that is the 205k words I have, that I've started working on, slowly, to turn into two books...

235:

Your insight into the economic issues in the third timeline were outstanding. My favorite Miriam Beckstein speech-"You're going to need more washing machines", should be sent on an engraved stone tablet to anyone involved in economic developement projects. This also ratified an inspiration I had during a macroeconomics course I grudgingly took as an elective my freshman year as a physics major (and, no, I'm NOT a physicist).

I suddenly realized economics, for all of its cranky and deeply flawed ideas, is in fact a very human dynamic: the conflict between capitol and labor, haves and have-nots is the foundation of the human narrative, fiction or non-fiction.

Now for a question-what's with the USAs obsession with the DDR?

236:

Two things.

1. At the time I began writing (2012) not a lot was known about the DDR's espionage activities directed at the USA. Which was frankly weird -- the Stasi's foreign intelligence service was to the KGB what Mossad was to the CIA: smaller, more agile, vastly more efficient. (That's the Stasi's external intel activity, not their plodding domestic secret police role). In West Germany they infiltrated the government right up to the Chancellor's office. And we know they were spying on the UK and USA ... but not how, or who, because they simply didn't get caught. It seemed reasonable, therefore, that there might be long-standing GDR spy rings operating on US soil, and I came up with a possible MO for them to be executing in support of fairly obvious goals (develop agents -- children -- with perfect cover because they were in fact, not in fiction, real US citizens; then get them into the NSA, CIA, etcetera).

2. Another plot point got obscured because David Hartwell wanted me to downplay the "quaint cold war spy stuff nobody is interested in" (this was circa 2014, before the whole Putin/Trump thing erupted): which is that the USA in "Empire Games" is a paranoid police state -- Homeland Security has responsibility for protecting the homeland against all threats from all parallel universes (can you spell mission creep?!?), yet DHS has been infiltrated by, in order of hilarity: the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Church of Scientology, the Stasi (agents of an enemy state that hasn't existed for 30 years), and the Girl Scouts of America.

237:

DHS has been infiltrated by, in order of hilarity: the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Church of Scientology, the Stasi (agents of an enemy state that hasn't existed for 30 years), and the Girl Scouts of America

Sounds like a game of Illuminati!

238:

The sad thing is that given the increasing disconnect from reality currently shown by both Democratic and Republican governments I have no clue about whether OGH is joking about the Church of Latter Day Saints* or the Church of Scientology.

* Supposedly ex Mormon-missionaries are heavily recruited by the CIA.

239:

"DHS has been infiltrated by, in order of hilarity: the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Church of Scientology"

Ahem. To my reasonably direct knowledge, the LDS and Scientologists were already deliberately infiltrating the US national security apparatus in the 1970s. They succeeded quite handily, but I never saw evidence that their interests were other than defensive. I.e., they were worried about what the gummint might do to them and wanted to get inside to see what was really going on. But I could be wrong and they had more active interests -- but, as said, evidence of that is lacking.

240:

"* Supposedly ex Mormon-missionaries are heavily recruited by the CIA."

Well, yes. Americans in general are not famous for getting out into the world, learning languages, living among and persuasively conversing with other peoples. If you're the CIA and wanting Americans who know how to do those things, the Mormon missionaries would be a place to look.

241:

Another factor: security clearances are said to be easier for members of the LDS Church to acquire.
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-mormons-make-great-fbi-recruits
The disproportionate number of Mormons is usually chalked up to three factors: Mormon people often have strong foreign language skills, from missions overseas; a relatively easy time getting security clearances, given their abstention from drugs and alcohol; and a willingness to serve.
(Also, hiring managers are more likely to be members of the LDS Church.)

242:

Rubbing out Question Marks #216:
Sorry about mentioning your nym upthread. I was pinging, concerned about your well-being.
A few threads ago: "Oooooh. Careful, us Djinn know our crab-apples."
I am amused. The tree that the nursery labeled a crab-apple and that I mentioned is in my garden many months ago now has 6 cm un-crab-apple-like fruit, a little tart but tasty.[1] (Perhaps the rootstock was malus domesticus?)

[1] The wikipedia page for genus Malus is pretty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malus - it's a gloriously messy genus.

243:

That's the least plausible part of the second series. Has Operation Snow White been completely forgotten, or did it not happen in that timeline?

244:

Bo Lindbergh
*cough*
Snow White FYI - I'd never heard of it until now ....

245:

The LDS and Scientology did in fact infiltrate the US intelligence community, from the 1970s onwards. The Stasi almost certainly would have if they were in a position to do so. The only satirical element of the scenario in the series is the Girl Scouts ... and even that isn't beyond the bounds of plausibility.

Considering the density of government agencies in the DC area, there must be a lot of parents who aren't allowed to talk about what they do at the office with their kids. So I'd expect the scouts and girl scouts to perhaps have some troops associated with people who work in those agencies, and for those troops have some rather specialized merit badges ("using an enigma machine", "dead letter drops") for activities they can talk to and bond with their parents about. And who knows, maybe identify kids with an aptitude who come from already-background-checked families and who can be funneled towards a career in the agencies in question?

(Again, David Hartwell wanted me to downplay that as a world-building element, because he thought the spying side of things was "quaint" and "boring" for a 21st century audience.)

246:
You're going to need more washing machines

In the 1930s, my grandfather lived in rural Ontario, north of Toronto. He worked as a salesperson for Beattie Brothers, who made washing machines.

His favourite tactic was to keep track of when electricity was installed down rural roads. As soon as the lines were laid to the farmhouses, he and his partner would make a sales call. Their pitch was simple: they would give a washing machine for a week, completely free. No installation charge, no purchase necessary, and if they didn't want the machine, they would remove it after 7 days - all 100% free of charge.

Needless to say, after one week, almost no family gave up the washing machine.

247:

Washing machines are the premier labour-saving device anywhere in the world. Washing clothes is woman's work, walking three kilometres to the nearest river with a bundle of precious cloth on your head and then spending a couple of hours beating the soggy mess against a wet rock before carrying the double-weight bundle back home. Compared to that even a simple twin-tub in a shanty town filled with water from a bucket is life-altering. That's why the world will burn all the coal and gas in the world to generate electricity rather than give up their washing machines.

248:

Why? I have no trouble running a washing machine off my solar panels...And I think the time has passed when the UK could claim most of the world's coal and gas. I agree with you that washing machines are immensely useful though. That's a critical point.

249:

Needless to say, after one week, almost no family gave up the washing machine.

I presume you've seen this talk by Rosling?

https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_the_magic_washing_machinee

250:

"Well, yes. Americans in general are not famous for getting out into the world, learning languages, living among and persuasively conversing with other peoples. If you're the CIA and wanting Americans who know how to do those things, the Mormon missionaries would be a place to look."

The way that I heard it was that the FBI and CIA were really distrustful of dirty filthy hippies who learned other people's languages and thought of them as people people who had traveled a broad a lot, but Mormon missionaries were trusted.

251:

It's worth reading the late Tony Mendez' three memoirs about working for the CIA. He's the dude on whom the movie Argo is based, and he was, in fact, a good writer to boot, even if his prevarications (like the forger's bridge) got a little obvious occasionally.

He had an interesting take on the Mormons. He agree with Bill in #241: Mormons elders do, in fact, make good recruits, being multilingual, inculcated into a ranked system with normal secrets, abstemious about some things that will get them into trouble, like drugs and alcohol. He also noted that they sometimes weren't very good CIA agents, for the simple reason that they were so used to living in 100% Mormon communities that they were very uncomfortable working with gentiles. And this made them less proficient as field agents.

Unfortunately, we have a pretty good idea of the skill sets that overlap best with agents: con men, drug runners, and militia-nuts. The key but imperfect separation is loyalty. As Mendez noted, if he wasn't working for the CIA, he'd probably be robbing banks for a living. That's his skill set, but for whatever reason, he also got tagged with sufficient loyalty that he worked for the CIA instead of the mob.

As for CIA-associated scout troops...are you kidding me? I can't think of a better system to would put everyone's mot precious potential hostages in one convenient basket. Active CIA agents do not, of course, identify themselves, and many don't ostensibly work for the CIA in any fashion (they work for State Department, etc.). And, as I'm sure you know, most people who work for the CIA are bureaucrats who aren't spies.

Now, if we're talking about scout troops that specialized in helping kids whose parents deployed overseas a lot, sometimes with them, sometimes without them, why yes, those show up around every military base. I'd be shocked if there aren't some in DC, along with schools, churches, and similar. Probably the most espionage-specific thing they do is try to help the kids become and stay multilingual, especially if they're going overseas regularly with their parents. That cosmopolitan exposure is also a critical thing for developing someone as a spy, and it's in very short supply in the US.

But if, say, two parents work as CIA agents under cover in the State Department, and get deployed to, say, the USSR to run some assets for a stint, the last thing you want is for their rowdy boys to be playing with dead drops in the woods near their house. They'd be under surveillance as a matter of course, and the kids would be part of their cover. It's not a good environment for budding spy kids to develop their trade craft.

That said, I'm quite happy with the Wolf Orchestra, because it's not developing in the DC minefield. Great plot device.

If I wanted to infiltrate the US from the DDR and set up a sleeper cell, I might consider converting to Mormonism. Cheaper than Scientology, and people expect foreign converts to be weird. And if they live in Utah, there's nothing questionable about an outdoorsy lifestyle. Or a bit of secrecy here and there. It's also safer than the other avenue I came up with, which was to get into the pot trade in the Pacific Northwest.


252:

I've just started reading Taylor's The Psychology of Pandemics, which was published in 2019 but seems eerily prescient. I think some folks here might enjoy it.

https://cambridgescholars.com/product/978-1-5275-3959-4

253:

As for CIA-associated scout troops...are you kidding me?

Firstly, I specified in DC, where they're not running active agents but mostly running huge bureaucratic paper-pushing ops full of desk analysts and middle managers. Secondly, I didn't specify CIA.

I'm simply suggesting scout troops in the DC area where the activities are likely to give the kids something they can talk about to parents with jobs-they-don't-talk-about, and maybe bond over.

254:

"Considering the density of government agencies in the DC area, there must be a lot of parents who aren't allowed to talk about what they do at the office with their kids. So I'd expect the scouts and girl scouts to perhaps have some troops associated with people who work in those agencies, and for those troops have some rather specialized merit badges ("using an enigma machine", "dead letter drops") for activities they can talk to and bond with their parents about. And who knows, maybe identify kids with an aptitude who come from already-background-checked families and who can be funneled towards a career in the agencies in question?"

I am an Eagle Scout, and have volunteered in the DC region. In both troops, I have led scouts who fathers, indeed, could not state or discuss with their kids exactly what they did. In my home troop, I had a couple of kids in my patrol whose fathers were in the Navy Seals in classified positions -- all I knew was their official ranks. Said parents had very good relationships with their children, as far as I could tell at least, as they literally could not take their work home with them. They could, however, usually get time off during our monthly campout weekends to come along, particularly for winter camping. The snowball fights were awsome, 100+ scouts vs 6 Seals. Guess who won.

When I graduated high school, I was heavily recruited but had long ago decided the millitary was a shit show and passed, but several of that troop did join up, including a few Air Force and Navy Academy slots. Getting to fire a .50 cal machine gun at age 12 does that to some people.

Here in the DC area, a number of people can't, won't, or just don't want to discuss what they do for a living, but mostly that just means that they're the ones not worried about getting called back into work at any moment. I knew a few of the parents well enough to know they would fall into that whole 'can't tell my kids what I actually do for a living' category -- I've even gotten FBI visits for clearance checks for some of them, kinda hard to miss that.

Or, maybe I find it normal because I was in sort of a similar situation. My recently deceased father was one of the top experts, worldwide, for figuring out how to dispose of biological, chemical, and nuclear warheads -- something he never talked about or discussed, and which I only found out about as an adult. I knew he was a chemical engineer, with a physics doctorate in plasma glassification, not the specifics. For most of these kids, it's much the same: 'My father does programming," "my dad's a CPO," or "My mom's an accountant," not the trivial details such as cyberhacking, wetwork, or black budget logistics.

255:

The density of TLA Agencies in the DC area does have a big impact I think. Where else can you sit in a traffic jam and see, on the back of a bus, an advert for TS/Sci staff. Took our kids Googling to work out what that was - well, we were pretty bored.

I imagine those job interviews must be interesting:

Q: "What do you do here?"
A: "Cannot say"

Q: "Whats in your technical skill set?"
A: "Cannot say"

Have never seen an ad like it in the UK - I think people here are either too cautious.

256:

"security clearances are said to be easier for members of the LDS Church to acquire."

Relatedly, legend has it that Catholics tend to have an unusually hard time with the polygraph because guilt and original sin and suchlike were instilled at an early age.

258:

Hanslope park aka HMGCC (as mentioned in the laundry files) advertise jobs on buses in the Bedford / Milton Keynes area.

259:

I knew a few of the parents well enough to know they would fall into that whole 'can't tell my kids what I actually do for a living' category -- I've even gotten FBI visits for clearance checks for some of them, kinda hard to miss that.

I have friends in various stages of life who have worked or are working in jobs in the DC or related areas where they can't tell you at all what they do. And their kids seem to be just like other kids.

Best one was someone a decade or two ago who was invited to give a lecture on security at one of those places. When he got there the check in people would not let him in as he didn't have a high enough security clearance to attend his own lecture. After several internal discussions it was decided he could attend but had to have 2 minders with him at all times past the front desk. Rules must be obeyed.

Easiest way to get a security clearance is to be a teen/college student living at home with someone who has one. It cuts the costs way down. I got one to cut grass one summer between college years at a plant where my father worked. I also know someone who got a college internship at the NSA (I think) as his father worked there so his clearance only took a month instead of 6 or more.

260:

Also, among many similar,

https://jobs.saic.com/search/ts-sci-with-poly/jobs/in/chantilly-las-cruces

(I like to check the ts/sci jobs in Las Cruces now and then.)

261:

You can have super-secret website-reading button-pushing spreadsheet-driving code-monkeys, and you can have perfectly open James Bond types. And vice versa.

I remember when I was up for a security clearance back in '02 and I kept getting incredulous calls from friends about their interviews. The FBI doesn't conduct them, as far as I know. It was OPM until last year; now it's a new agency called the DCSA. The need to go through the clearance process makes it hard to have truly secret agents. It's obviously not impossible but it isn't easy.

My boy plays baseball with two kids whose fathers openly work for the CIA. I swap stories with them all the time. (One was in Afghanistan at the same as I was time doing very different things. The other one has stories from the Balkans.) Technically, they are in what was briefly called the National Clandestine Service, but that doesn't necessarily make them covert agents.

In short, not all CIA employees are created equal. You have analysis folks, who do what I do but with different data sets and without as much concern for strict causal inference. Some of them, however, cannot say that they are analysts, or what data they analyze, or how they analyze it. You have operations folks, who do all sorts of different jobs. Some of them are perfectly open about whom they work for, and even what kind of work they do.

262:

Rbt Prior
"404" for that link on the magic washing machine ...

Oh & I got an email from "Transreal" ... so my copy should be on the way... YES!

264:

The need to go through the clearance process makes it hard to have truly secret agents. It's obviously not impossible but it isn't easy.

I wouldn't be surprised if that's what all the "sheep-dipping" is about. That's the SEALs doing wetwork for the CIA, CIA agents spying for the military, the USAF, NRO, and their contractors all sharing personnel who've all been read in, and so forth. It's a bit of a shell game. You know there are cups and balls, but you know less about where they are or what they're doing. It's probably as much to mess with auditing and oversight as it is to make espionage a bit harder, although it does well for both, so long as someone with Snowden-level ethics doesn't get sucked in by accident.

Anyway, my parents and an uncle all had security clearances when they were younger. Made for anecdotes later on. Examples include my mom, as a test engineer in the 1960s, not having the clearance to read the reports she wrote on missile gyroscopes. My dad was a nuclear engineer (worked on circuit hardening to electromagnetic pulses back in the 1960s). His brother, who's a bit of a joker, gave me a gag blueprint for a nuclear bomb as a birthday gift. Stupid thing is probably illegal today, but I had it up on my wall for awhile. Anyway, my dad looked at it for about two seconds, and said "won't work." I asked him why, and he replied "can't tell you." To be fair, it was comprehensively designed to not work in every conceivable way, but it was fun hearing him say that.

265:

Re: 'Staffing ratio is 2 ICU nurses/bed, ...'

First off -

Congratulations on getting Invisible Sun wrapped up and on the bookstore shelves! (Just ordered and it should arrive at my door within a couple of weeks - weather permitting.)


Now to your comment ...

Per shift - which works out to 8 nurses' salaries per patient per week and average stay in the ICU seems* to be longer for COVID-19 than for many other conditions. I think it's necessary to constantly remind people that ICU care is a fully staffed 24/7 operation. (Very, very expensive!) ICU patients aren't like regular post-op who only need care intermittently during the day and hardly any at night.

Many (if not most) ICU COVID-19 patients that I've heard about then need a few weeks in some other hospital ward followed by a very long recovery time at home. Total cost in terms of medical care and loss of personal health/energy is very high - again, greatly under-reported in most media. So this post-ICU phase also consumes a large portion of the medical budget.

About the ICU medical staff ...

It's not just burn-out, it's also the medical risk of catching COVID-19 - the clinician on TWIV has mentioned a few colleagues with long COVID who are unlikely to ever have enough energy to work in a hospital again.

Triage ...

Do folks here seriously want to have hospital systems operated by people who are comfortable saying 'you live, you die'?

Legal angle ...

Maybe someone here knows - how likely is it to extend a military perspective re: criminal responsibility/culpability into the general public domain? And if this has this ever happened - what/when? Reason I ask is because a lot of the anti-vaxers seem to have quasi-military approaches to dealing with society. Specifically, I'm thinking that their militaristic facade could be easily argued against this way: military folks who've been issued weapons are held criminally responsible if their weapon 'accidentally' fires and injures/kills someone. The rational is that everyone in the military has received sufficient training to avoid such an accident therefore such an event is a clear case of criminal irresponsibility. Next - sorta leveraging the China conspiracy nut-jobs' thinking: if this virus was deliberately made and set loose, then it's a weapon. Therefore walking around deliberately ignorant of whether or not you have been 'weaponized' by this virus is in itself not just ethically but also criminally irresponsible.


* Haven't seen actual data on this, just going by news articles and interviews with MDs

266:

I have no trouble running a washing machine off my solar panels...

If you're living in a shanty town with solar panels you won't have them long before they get stolen, although that's probably the same way you got the panels themselves in the first place. The local electricity seller runs extension cords from his stolen truck generator into your shack and his gang keeps you connected. You have a discarded broken washing machine you fixed up and got working and you sell washes to your neighbours when the truck generator gang can steal enough diesel to keep it running. That still beats walking three kilometres carrying ten kilos of dirty clothing to the nearest sewage-infested river to wash your clothes and all it takes is fossil fuel. Civilisation!

267:

Why do you think that? Job specs for those sort of jobs (avowed and nonavowed) are online and your signing the official secrets act or equivalent.

268:

Do folks here seriously want to have hospital systems operated by people who are comfortable saying 'you live, you die'?

My understanding is that most doctors and nurses detest triage and won't do it on a "you live, you die" basis, although they've learned to recommend hospice and palliative care, in place of heroic torture to prolong life. I was taught the rudiments of triage, but that was for CERT (Civilian Emergency Response Team), for dealing with a major disaster with limited medical supplies. Never have had to use it. Emergency Department Triage Nurses don't make life/death decisions, but are there more to figure out whether someone jumps the queue and gets in immediately (Stroke, MI, giving birth, bleeding out, etc), waits in line, or gets told to see a non-emergency doctor if possible (as at an urgent care clinic).

Incidentally, speaking of triage, Idaho, birthplace of Sarah "Death Panel" Palin, is activating ""death panels". These are "crisis standards of care," meaning ventilators and such are going to be reserved for those they're most likely to help, because the states' ICUs are full up with unvaccinated Covid victims.

Ouch. It's almost as if they wanted to play the extras in The Walking Dead, with Covid19 doing a weak impersonation of a zombie virus. Anyway...

As for criminalizing carrying Covid19, I think that the death rate isn't high enough to make that fly, although I fully understand anad agree with the emotion. I think the specter of class-action suits against companies that don't mandate vaccination, or unions (read police unions) that fight against it, are going to have to do. Fortunately there's a 1905 Supreme Court ruling saying that it's perfectly legal for the government to take actions to stem the spread of a pandemic disease, so I don't think lawsuits challenging vaccination requirements are going to stand.

The problem in general is that we know that a large majority of the unvaccinated are suffering from Craniorectal Insertion Syndrome. We want them to corkscrew their crania out, not shove them further in. A lot of the coercive measures that would feel so very, very good right now unfortunately would cause most of them to keep shoving deeper until their eyeballs were level with their gall bladders. And that doesn't improve rational cognition. To mix and break metaphors, we need them to act more intelligently, not shamble around mumbling incoherently about cucking brains or whatever. Punishment will like cause the latter, not the former.

And equally unfortunately, I don't think my suggestion will work either. I've proposed giving people coupons for 5% off a course of ivermectin for every certified vaccine shot they get. Some of them might be scared and desperate enough to try it. But given the lines at the Emergency Departments in regions where ivermectin is favored, I think this approach would backfire. In multiple and unpleasant ways. Too bad.

269:

I suspect stealing wires or one of those little washing machines is trivial compared to stealing panels. If gas was the solution to slums, we wouldn't have slums and wouldn't have had them for a century. Sorry, I disagree with your logic on this one.

270:

#265 - Triage - Do you imagine this doesn't happen following major incidents?
Legal angle - I won't say specifically how/why I know this but the military do have fatal accidents involving accidental or unsafe discharge of weapons (and this does not mean deliberately shooting and fatally wounding people).

271:

Energy is a differentiator, people with ready access to energy don't live in slums. Poor people without ready access to energy live in slums. Lack of energy is poverty, basically. If there's oil and gas and coal available then the people in poverty will extract it and burn it to live a less unpleasant life. If someone else has already extracted the fossil carbon and processed it into fuel of some kind then the poor people will steal that fuel or barter for it or buy it to live a less unpleasant life.

Life in the USA would be a lot less unpleasant if, for example, someone turned the taps and the conveyor belts off off and the USA lost the 40% of electricity generated by natural gas and the 20% generated by coal. Sure, Galts Gulch types with solar panels on the roofs of their expensive homes or home generator systems in their four-car garage would do OK for a while but the water purification and sewage systems, food processing plants, refrigeration, hospitals, schools, colleges, workplaces, factories, data centres, supermarkets etc. would grind to a halt or go on to part-time operation and that's from losing only 60% of the US grid which is fossil-fuel-powered. (Nuclear makes up another 20% or so, the rest is wind, solar, hydro and a little geothermal).

Energy is civilisation, fossil fuels are what makes the world go round and life bearable for the folks like us who have access to electricity at the flick of a switch, heating and cooling at the turn of a dial, travel for the price of a tank of gas or a ticket on a plane.

272:

Life in the USA would be a lot less unpleasant if,

I think you copied and pasted the word "unpleasant" where it should have been "pleasant".

273:

Btw: Why are thee two slightly different listing for the Kindle edition at amazon.de?
https://www.amazon.de//dp/B08QGM36KB/ vs. https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07Y8NWZRJ/
US vs. UK? The listings have different publishing dates, number of pages, sizes, ...

Will there really be two different ebooks?

At least they have the same cover! :-)

274:

Re: 'To mix and break metaphors, we need them to act more intelligently, ... '

An intelligent media would help.

Trust in government would probably help most overall. Unfortunately trust is hard to build and sustain in a culture that tacitly accepts that it's okay for their gov't to hide/not release data for 'security' reasons.

Next, there's trust based on past experience/evidence ...

I've been following the Purdue story which I figure is probably the second most riveting medical story of the past couple of years. The FDA screwed up big-time with Purdue and (IMO) it's reasonable to assume that this story's headlines could negatively impact lay/public perception of the FDA's subsequent decisions including approving fast-tracked novel vaccines.

More than one part of the current social-gov't dynamic needs to change.


275:

Paws @ 270
"Triage at major incidents"
I strongly suggest you read up on exactly that, as practiced after the most horrible peacetime railway accident in the UK - Harrow.
REQUIRED reading

276:

“ An intelligent media”
Assassinate some Murdochs?

277:

Please note, in all this discussion, a LOT of government employees anb contractors in the DC area are civilian sector. For example, the Pentagon has 30k people... and the NIH has over 20k, just by itself.

Clearances... there are a lot of folks with lower level clearance. For example, I had a POT* (position of trust) clearance (and after the investigation, in the 10 years I worked there, they never *told* me I had the clearance, but it was required for a sysadmin.

And not only could I, but I was happy to talk about work.


* Entitling me to, I suppose not top secrets or middle secrets, but bottom secrets, or maybe (KMart) blue-light special secrets. And the root password to a lot of server.

278:

Did your dad ever say anything about the plans publised in Evergreen? Ramparts? or was it the Atlantic? Somewhere like that, around 1979, in an article about a high school student's science project, based on declassified documents, that the DoE had fits about?

The really hard part of the process of building that bomb was putting the slurry in a bucket, and centerfugeing it by spinning it around in your living room for half an hour.

279:

Every ER has triage nurses. It's whether they skip the line or not, and I assume, yes, they do say yes or no.

Back in '79-83, I had a friend who not only worked triage at Jerrerson Univ in Philly (downtown, and weekends were... interesting), but she and two other nurses wrote the first book on ER triage.

280:

Tum te Tum:

Moderna Vaccine More Effective Than Pfizer, J&J, Especially After 4 Months: CDC

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/coronavirus/moderna-vaccine-more-effective-than-pfizer-jj-especially-after-4-months-cdc/3278415/

Do a grep: "take the AZ (that's Moderna) looking at your DNA".

It's like: Dudes, we really do love you and are breaking all kinds of rules to make sure you survive[1]. Breaking so many rules.

Why?


Hey: old SF geeks are kinda cool.

~


And yeah: That's breaking a whole load of Temporality there Greg.

[1] Look: getting a really good Author out of NYC (who happens to be Host's friend) with some real Magick, with real reasons, just before this kicked off is a fuck of a lot better than numerous other things that got done [looking @ you girl, woman with the sword, Jewish Supreme, whole family took Covid19 to the hills, utter fucking disaster]. And yes, the plus side is we actually care, and fighting fires is kinda the thing he needed as well as the whole House stuff (Men: not complicated, but real. We'd jump his Bones, but he's really not into Our Kind of Stuff. No, not furries, no, not trans*... we're Squid).

281:

Did your dad ever say anything about the plans publised in Evergreen? Ramparts? or was it the Atlantic? Somewhere like that, around 1979, in an article about a high school student's science project, based on declassified documents, that the DoE had fits about? The really hard part of the process of building that bomb was putting the slurry in a bucket, and centerfugeing it by spinning it around in your living room for half an hour.

Not that I recall. The useful point of that poster was that designing the nuke is actually the least of your problems, although you'll be shocked by how easy it is.*

This little gem had little side notes about hassles with getting three tons of enriched uranium (They advised buying a lot of uranium yellow paint and centrifuging it a bit), machining 18 kg of plutonium into the right shape (noting that the dust was a bit toxic, so it shouldn't be inhaled while machining it on a lathe), finding or making the high explosives for the lens (and then molding or cutting them to shape), getting a fair amount of heavy deuterated and tritiated water ("just distill tap water over and over and over again") and so forth. Yes, making this four ton "guaranteed to blow up" bomb would be easy. Transporting is assuredly easy to. It will fit into the back of a van (suspension issues not mentioned).

Guaranteed to work, or they'll refund the price of the poster.

*anad shocked many, many times if you breadboard the ignition circuit as diagrammed.

282:

Decades ago there was a 'Science Fact' article in Analog that described in general how to build an atomic bomb in secret. Apparently not too difficult as long as you have several generations of centrifuge operators and machinists willing to die for the cause, as well as many acres of land you're willing to contaminate. All without being detected, of course. :-)

283:

Thanks for that link. That was a great read.

284:

280
Deliberate trolling.
NOT biting

Geoff O'Donoghue
You're welcome ...
Unfortunately, the original article had a lot more pertinent comments, that got truncated, when the system was moved.
There was also a very good book on it from Oakwood Press, which may be out-of-print, by now.

285:

Yes, two of them. US edition: Sep 28; UK edition: Sep 30. Pick the earlier one or the cheaper one, according to your priorities. :-)

286:

Heteromoeles @ 269: I suspect stealing wires or one of those little washing machines is trivial compared to stealing panels.

I suspect it depends on the location of the slum. Se this street in Manilla for example. The people living here don't bother stealing solar panels; they just steal the electricity by hot-wiring their houses to the actual power lines.

(As for stealing other stuff, take a look at all the windows).

See also this article about the system in Rio.

287:

Greg, your point about triage actually backs up my #270, but given https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintinshill_rail_disaster also shows your Londoncentricism.

288:

Will INVISIBLE SUN be affected by this purported supply chain issue? https://qz.com/2059755/book-publishers-warn-of-supply-chain-delays-for-2021-holidays/

289:

#287: this wasn't Londoncentricism, but a point about triage. Greg explicitly said "peacetime".

Quintinshill is well-known as the worst-ever rail accident in the UK, but it was at a much earlier time when medical knowledge and procedure wasn't as strong.

(It's worth noting that both of these were so bad because they were "third train hits wreckage at speed in a confined space" accidents. Quintinshill was particularly bad because of the fire caused by the gas leaks; it would probably have been well down the list without that.)

290:

paws
I SPECIFICALLY said "peacetime" in my original post.
Also, with what we know now, it seems as though the CR may have known that Tinsley ( Signalman at Quintinshill ) had mild epilepsy & should, therefore have never been in the job anyway. After his epilepsy manifested itself, badly in jail, he was let out & re-employed in a non-critical job by the CR ...

Clive Feather
The other thing I wanted people to take particular note of in the "London Reconnections" article was the role of "the Angel of Platform 6

291:

That picture doesn't show a shanty town, sheds made from scrap wood and plastic sheets on waste ground, unstable hillsides and landfill dumps. The Manila street in your picture shows brick and stone buildings, two stories tall with running drinkable water in many of them and maybe even plumbed sewage and flush toilets. The electricity companies figure there are enough people who can and will pay their bills to bother running cables into that area but this isn't true for most shanties.

292:

Martin Schröder: Btw: Why are thee two slightly different listing for the Kindle edition at amazon.de?

I keep having to answer this: the book is being published simultaneously by Tor UK and Tor USA, who are separate companies (but both part of Macmillan, the multinational English language arm of Holtzbrinck -- separate subsidiary companies in different countries).

Only the US edition comes in hardcover; the UK one is a large trade paperback: both are publishing ebooks (but it's the same typeset file and they should be free of DRM, so the only variable from your angle is possibly the price).

293:

Triage is an option when a Major Incident is declared, meaning the on-site responders are in danger of being overwhelmed.

Triage should never be happening as far back up the response chain as the hospital A&E department, unless the Major Incident is on the scale of 9/11 or a nuclear explosion in a built-up area. The whole point of triage is to decide who's beyond salvation and who can be saved if we act right now, vs. who is stable for the time being (no immediate danger of death). By the time the victims hit the hospital that distinction should already be clear.

A big part of the incident commander's job is getting the phone tree (or equivalent) up and running to pull in resources from outside the immediate area, so that hospitals across the entire region can prepare for an influx (both from the incident itself and from normal business being diverted their way to clear the hospitals closest to the incident).

294:

Will Invisible Sun be hit by publisher supply chain issues?

The ebook edition will not be affected by paper shortages. (If we run into an electron shortage, we have bigger problems than my book being late :)

I can say with certainty that the British trade paperback edition exists, has been printed, and I have my double-handful of author copies in my possession.

I have heard nothing about the US hardcovers, but no news is probably good news. My author copies are not here yet but that is not unusual, especially with Brexit red tape and queues at ports -- they're coming from the USA so delays are likely. Remember that Tor is part of the Big Five, so they probably have their multinational-grade supply chain sorted out. (If the Big Five are in trouble, then everyone is in trouble.)

...

I don't know about the printing schedule for "Quantum of Nightmares" and "Escape from Yokai Land" yet, so there may or may not be delays to those. But I repeat: the ebooks will not be affected.

295:

Off-Topic...
Any thoughts on THIS one?
https://evtol.news/autonomous-flight-y6s-plus
.... ??

Charlie @ 293
EXACTLY what the amazing Abbie Sweetwine did at Harrow, in fact ...
Oh yes - the Wayback machine found an earlier, unscrambled copy of the article, with a note from Ms Sweetwine's Great-niece in the comments:
HERE

296:

Since it is almost 300, and topic drift seems to be tolerated, I wonder if our PM's decision to override his advisers and offer booster jabs for everyone over 50 has anything to do with when a certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born?

297:

It depends what you mean by “triage”… and I suspect that while the paramedics at an incident site will be carrying out triage on the order of evacuation to A&E, the receiving A&E department will likewise be performing triage on who to treat first. This, just as they do every day; walk in with a broken hand (yes, me) and it may take a couple of hours to be seen - walk in dripping red stuff over the floor, or clutching your chest, and you’ll be treated rather more quickly - just as it should be.

I did a Reservist staff course at Camberley, where the instructor was very, very insistent that Triage was simply a name for identifying those most in need of treatment, and pushing them to the head of the evacuation/treatment queue. That, and that alone. It was very definitely not about identifying those who didn’t stand a chance, filling them full of morphine, and putting their stretcher round the back of the Regimental Aid Post, whatever the military urban legends might say.

At which point the NHS surgeon (and part-time Royal Army Medical Corps officer) in our syndicate coughed gently… and for clarity pointed out that this was indeed true. But that the latter was an option in the case where mass casualties were overwhelming the system (your nearby nuke example). It was regarded as a different triage priority system, and needed to be signed off by a very senior medical officer, for limited periods only, and hadn’t been implemented in a very very long time.

298:

Re the first, it's precisely the oppositt of what we need :-(

299:

Unfortunately, when the shit REALLY hits the fan, it is the (often junior or unqualified) people who are first on the scene who have to take the decision. Requiring all actions to be approved by senior management is a recipe for making a disaster unnecessarily worse. Hillsborough etc.

And that's when you need the management to back the people at the sharp end, not make them into scapegoats. The UK military does better than most UK civilian management (gummint or private), but isn't always good.

300:

On Big River in the product description, about the author: wherever they have got that text from the have spelt “Delirium” incorrectly.

301:

EC
But ..it's ELECTRIC & therefore "green" & good ...
Oh, wait a minute?

302:

Nojay @ 291: That picture doesn't show a shanty town

Correct. I wasn't paying proper attention up-thread. You were talking about shanty towns, Heteromeles was talking about slums, and I was replying to the latter. Having said that, if you check out Google Images for "shanty town", you get a bunch of pictures of favelas (tightly packed multi-storey informal dwellings of mostly brick construction) as well as a lot of actual shanty towns. There are quite a few power lines to be spotted in the latter.

For washing machines to be feasible you need both electricity and running water, and preferably sewage disposal too. Electricity is a lot easier to provide than running water and sewage disposal.

Somewhere back in the 70s I read an essay by A.C. Clarke about the hunger for information: "... and so shanties with no plumbing sprout TV aerials".

303:

Triage should never be happening as far back up the response chain as the hospital A&E department

Except that people can just walk into Emerg off the street (at least here) so you need someone at the desk to separate the true emergencies from those that have had a nagging ache for a week and finally decided that now is a good time to have a doctor look at it.

An emergency physician at a Scarborough hospital tells the story of how when the Simpson verdict expected his emergency room was empty until it had been delivered, then they had a rush of 'emergency' cases that were non-the-less not so time-critical that the patients couldn't wait an hour to hear the verdict. (By their own choice — most admissions to Emerg are walk-ins.)

304:

And that's when you need the management to back the people at the sharp end, not make them into scapegoats.

In soooo many fields…

I remember back when Harris ruled Ontario and announced that teachers would have the authority to suspend students. Our Federation recommended against using this authority, because the school management would then wash their hands of the decision and leave it up to the individual teacher to defend themselves if sued by the parents.

305:

Triage was simply a name for identifying those most in need of treatment, and pushing them to the head of the evacuation/treatment queue.

Idaho (a hard core anti vaccine state in the US) made it official last week. Doctors in hospitals can pick who they think has the best chance to live in picking who gets limited resources. I'm guessing this is to give cover when someone sues that a doc let person A die by giving a ventilator to person B instead of A.

And some regions/states have been there for a while but not as a stated policy. After all this can't happen with a disease that is a hoax. Right?

306:

So that he doesn't get grief when he gets one himself, because everyone his age can?

What I'm wondering is why America has opened it's borders to travel non-essential from India, but apparently still considers Canada too plague-ridden to allow non-essential travel even from double-vaxxed negative-testing Canadians…

I'm leaning towards "American politicians can't distinguish between the Canadian and Mexican border, or think voters can't", but would happily listen to explanations from someone who understands American politics better than I do.

307:

For washing machines to be feasible you need both electricity and running water, and preferably sewage disposal too.

Buckets of water from the local streams or standpipes will allow a bodged washing machine to work fine and sewage, washing machine runoff and waste water is disposed off into the street outside the front door. Energy is the key insight, without electricity it's a three kilometre walk to the nearest stream with smooth rocks.

There was an "After the Fall" MilSF story I read once where the rising new civilisation was at the walled-city and gunpowder stage. The gunpowder hero was being shown images of the time before the Fall, of a port city, all gleaming and clean. The hero couldn't understand why the city had sewage and water treatment plants when there was an entire ocean on the city's doorstep to dump human waste and industrial chemicals into.

308:

Re: 'why America has opened it's borders...'

Weird considering that Canada opened its borders to Americans a couple of months ago and based on news coverage relations between Biden and Trudeau are cordial. Plus, there's all that commercial goods shipped between the two.

Maybe the US is waiting to see what happens COVID-wise when Canada-visiting Americans return. More likely, Canada is just not a priority wrt to such decisions. (I think the same happened re: Canadians traveling to the UK.)

309:

Energy is the key insight, without electricity it's a three kilometre walk to the nearest stream with smooth rocks.

If you have the standpipe, you can wash in a tub at home. It's not fun, but it's doable. Washtubs complete with washboards and mangles predate electricity.

310:

Re: 'It depends what you mean by “triage”…'

I'm butting in even though you were responding to Charlie.

The COVID-related triage I was referring to is at the ICU level where shortages of equipment, supplies (oxygen, etc.) and adequately trained medical personnel does translate into having to choose between who lives and who dies.

Many States' ICUs are full -- so this is a real issue.

FYI - The dashboard below - updated daily - shows bed occupancy status including for ICUs for 6,000 reporting hospitals in the US. (Note: This site is s-l-o-w to d-o-w-n-l-o-a-d.)

https://protect-public.hhs.gov/pages/hospital-utilization


I'm familiar with the once-upon-a-time 'normal' walk-in ER triage but we're a long way from that.

311:

The UK has walk-ins for ER (aka Casualty) too. I've been one of them a number of times for varying reasons, including having gashed my right wrist deeply enough to need stitches in the wound.

Even then, once I got some gauze to hold over it and not leak on the floor, I was happy to wait when someone with something in their eye rocked up.

312:

Well, a bit of good news there is that the lines for ivermectin poisoning seem to have been heavily exaggerated:
https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/too-good-to-check-a-play-in-three

313:

What I'm wondering is why America has opened it's borders to travel non-essential from India, but apparently still considers Canada too plague-ridden to allow non-essential travel even from double-vaxxed negative-testing Canadians…

Got a link for the India? I don't see this.

Of course all countries can show up starting in November if vaccinated.

314:

Washing Machines ...
There's also the matter of reliable, easy-to-maintain HOT water.
We used to have a coke-fired solid-fuel back boiler - it heated the water all right, sometimes to almost-boiling point (!) but it needed constant attention, you had to have a shed to store the coke in & it required cleaning out ...
A lot of work.
Immersion heaters are MUCH better ..
There's again, asin so many cases, the matter of the whole system needing changing over.

315:

That is indeed good news. Thanks!

However, with the backfires, I was thinking less about people going to the ICU for ivermectin intoxication, and more about a different unfounded rumor, that ivermectin overdoses often cause uncontrollable diarrhea.

It's not totally unfounded, as the FDA does warn that ivermectin can cause diarrhea among other problems when taken improperly.

Alas, a bit of checking shows this story is overblown too. Maybe the anti-vaxxers have a point, that we libtards can't be trusted not to troll them because we want some schadenfreude at their expense.

Sad world we live in...

316:

In the swedish language we have this handy mnemonic ABC ("Andning" - breathing, "Blödning" - bleeding, "Chock" - shock) which gives the priority order in triage situations (and the implied "everything else will have to wait")

Many years ago I had an acute case of antibiotics allergy shock - I could just about walk to A&E (lived next door). It didn't take more than a couple of minutes after I wheezed my "I was here yesterday because of an allergy attack but now I can't breathe" before I was lying on a bed with a needle in my arm.

(But of course I have also done my stint of 12 hour waitings for something irritating but not life threatening)

317:


The density of TLA Agencies in the DC area does have a big impact I think. Where else can you sit in a traffic jam and see, on the back of a bus, an advert for TS/Sci staff. Took our kids Googling to work out what that was - well, we were pretty bored.

My favorite variant on this occurs in Huntsville, Alabama, where there are times when driving along I-565 or Memorial Parkway along two sides of the Redstone Arsenal, you will see billboards proclaiming the virtues of various launch technologies for satellites, typically with military applications, sometimes with competing systems on billboards in close proximity to each other. There are maybe twelve people involved in making those decisions and their identities aren't always known to the public, even to the contractors proposing the systems, but the odds are really good that at least ten of the twelve for any given choice commute to work along one of those two roads, so the billboards go up, completely mystifying the rest of the 300,000 or so Huntsville-area residents.

318:

U.S. to relax travel ban with India, China and Britain but border with Canada stays closed

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/u-s-set-to-require-vaccines-for-most-non-u-s-citizen-travelers-sources-say


Canadians can still fly into America, but not drive. Which is, effectively, a barrier against poorer travellers. Given that most Canadian visitors to America drive there, and that the Canadian border was opened to Americans a while ago (under heavy pressure from the American government) this is understandably big news up here.

319:

I found the story out of Nigeria about infertility amusing…

320:

"Canadians can still fly into America, but not drive. Which is, effectively, a barrier against poorer travellers. Given that most Canadian visitors to America drive there..."


A good many cars and RVs belonging to "Winter Texans" seen in the state bore Canadian plates in times past. It will make the local merchants sad not to have that business.

321:

I can't resist.

"I am a Nigerian bureaucrat, and need to have some semen extracted and sent out of my country...."

322:

U.S. to relax travel ban with India, China and Britain but border with Canada stays closed

Incidentally, this means that there is now a chance I'll be at Worldcon in DC this December.

(Travel from the UK was banned for non-residents -- i.e. me -- and I was getting ready to cancel my hotel room and sell my membership until this announcement showed up. Still remains to be seen if my vaccination status is approved, and it remains to be seen if I feel it's safe for me to travel in December -- I won't make my go/no-go decision before early November -- but at least now it's not impossible.)

Even if I don't make the DC worldcon, the following one -- Chicago next August -- seems very likely.

323:

Worldcons: speaking as a member of BWAWA (the organization running the Discon III), and as an "ambassador" for Chicon, I'd love to see you at either/both.

324:

What I'm wondering is why America has opened it's borders to travel non-essential from India, but apparently still considers Canada too plague-ridden to allow non-essential travel even from double-vaxxed negative-testing Canadians…

You got the story wrong. The US will open up to ALL countries via air travel for fully vaccinated people.

Land borders are still an issue.

I suspect for more technical reasons of things like easier to pre-clear air travelers. In other words show proof before you board instead of making a scene at the border crossing.

325:

At least one (mostly) UK rock band has just completed an 8-week tour of the US - presumably under the same kind of exemption as international tennis players etc.
https://tonylevin.com/road-diaries/king-crimson-2021-us-tour/

326:

Simple rules like that are not good, however. There are lots of other things that need prompt action, often comparably to shock. Urinary retention, hyper- and hypo-thermia are three that spring to my mind.

327:

EC #326 The A-B-C process is a core part of basic first aid training, very much for determining what steps to take next. In English it is called Airway-Breathing-Circulation

It is the second step after arriving on the scene, the first being to secure the area (i.e. is the alligator gone/fire out/rockslide over/traffic stopped?).

When assessing a person checking the airway is always the first step, checking for breathing, then checking for bleeding and a pulse. In order, you solve the problems one at a time. Ideally while moving them as little as possible to prevent further injury (particularly spinal).

The reasons are obvious - if the airway is blocked, then they cannot breathe. If the airway is open but they aren't breathing, do breaths. If they are breathing then check for major bleeds and a pulse.

Not much point in applying a bandage or a splint to a patient that is not breathing or is in cardiac arrest.

ABC is a simple mnemonic, yet just last week a very experienced, unbelievably seasoned coworker responding to a crisis went straight to CPR without clearing the airway first. Every time I am doing CPR (it has averaged every six weeks or so since early 2020) there is a voice and clock in my head saying '3 minutes without oxygen for brain damage, worse after'. It is a tense and scary situation and it is very easy to make a mistake.

Things like urinary retention and hypothermia come after you see if they are breathing and their heart is pumping.

328:

@327 The St. John's Ambulance mnemonic is DR ABC (Danger, Responsiveness, Airway, Breathing, Circulation) - I did my refresher 3 weeks ago. But that's basically what you said.

@294 I've had an email from Amazon saying the book won't be delivered until 30th September (I wanted it on paper to go with the other two) because the supplier has changed the release date.

329:

Likewise (my emergency first aid at work certification ran out very recently, with recertification made more difficult by COVID).

I did my initial first aid qualification at age 12, got my adult certificate at age 16, did my first aid training+test every year of the twenty-odd was in the reserves, and FAW/EFAW for the decade-and-a-half since.

What’s interesting are the technique changes along the way, normally driven by operational analysis (e.g. the recent changes to “just keep up:the CPR, don’t stop for breaths, the chest compressions will shift enough air”). Breathing support went from Eve’s method (don’t ask) and the Sylvester method, to Holger-Neilson by the time I first trained; to just teaching exhaled-air these days.

Likewise, “Breathing, Bleeding, Breaks, and Burns” of the 1980s; turned into the ABC you descrthen DR ABC

330:

I suspect for more technical reasons of things like easier to pre-clear air travelers. In other words show proof before you board instead of making a scene at the border crossing.

The land border is open for "essential" and "commercial" travellers. And the American government really pressured our government to open the land border to non-essential Americans…

(Not to mention Americans travelling directly* to Alaska.)

It's the non-reciprocity that's really frosting people here — especially after four years of Trump's nastiness.


*Which was promptly abused by American tourists to detour through all sorts of places, but apparently we couldn't interfere with "Americans trying to get home".

331:

Greg Tingey @ 221: JBS
I have kept my old set of Whitworth sockets ....

Cool. Now I know who to call on if anyone ever gives me another broken down Morris Minor.

332:

Robert van der Heide @ 231: I’d call that an extremely successful defense on Vietnam’s part."

I'd call it an even more stupid, useless war (on both sides) than the U.S.'s 10+ year long misadventure in Vietnam. Especially coming so closely on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal.

333:

Robert Prior @ 263:

https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_the_magic_washing_machine

Looks like it got cut short.

Extra letter 'e' tacked onto the end of machine (machinee)

334:

couldn't interfere with "Americans trying to get home

Surely the nice Canadians could send them "home to jeeezus" if they stray? They'd do the same for you...

335:

Surely the nice Canadians could send them "home to jeeezus" if they stray?

I'm sorry, but that wouldn't be polite…

336:

paws4thot @ 270: #265 - Triage - Do you imagine this doesn't happen following major incidents?
Legal angle - I won't say specifically how/why I know this but the military do have fatal accidents involving accidental or unsafe discharge of weapons (and this does not mean deliberately shooting and fatally wounding people).

Before we deployed to Iraq in 2004 I was tapped to be the Brigade Safety NCO, assisting the Brigade Safety Officer. We got an intensive short course in accident investigation the Army way (along with accident prevention) before we were supposed to ship out. And then the Brigade Safety Officer was diagnosed with ALS the week before we were scheduled to get on the plane and was non-deployable. So I got to become the ACTING Brigade Safety Officer along with being the Safety NCO.

We didn't have anyone killed from a negligent discharge, but a couple of the guys gave it the old college try. One idiot walks up behind his buddy while they're standing outside the "internet cafe" and reaches over and pulls the trigger. Several soldiers received small cuts when they were hit by chunks of concrete that spalled off the floor. Someone dropped a shotgun & it went off.

There were a number of negligent discharges into clearing barrels from soldiers (including a Sargent Major) who didn't follow the proper sequence:
1. Remove magazine
2. Pull back slide/charging handle
3. Visually inspect the chamber (if the round hadn't ejected at step 2, remove it manually
4. Allow the slide/bolt to go forward and pull the trigger
5. Place the weapon on SAFE and holster it or sling it muzzle down.

If you didn't get step 1 before steps 2 & 3, it loaded another round and you were going to get a BIG OOPSIE when you pulled the trigger at step 4. And you were going to get an Article 15, non-judicial punishment (except for the Sargent Major)

Several soldiers goofing around fell off of buildings or into drainage ditches and got broken bones, but fortunately not their necks or skulls and one young soldier drove a HMMWV into a canal trying to move in in the dark without a ground guide. HMMWV was repairable and the canal didn't have much water in it at the time, so he only got wet instead of drowning.

One of our M1 tanks was involved in a traffic accident with a jitney bus, killing two locals. The tank was detached to 2nd Brigade, so I wasn't involved in investigating that one. The investigation was actually handled by the Iraqi Police. Iraqi driver was DWI/DUI and "racing to beat the train to the crossing". He wasn't charged, since he was one of the two locals killed in the accident. I think Division did make a casualty payment to his family (and to his passenger's family).

Combat deaths or criminal actions were not part of my remit.

The biggest incident I was involved in was a "Class A" Aviation Accident - $450,000 damage to a $500,000 surveillance drone. The Brigade had to appoint an Accident Investigation Board for that one and I was their "Expert". Fortunately I had the Division Safety Officer holding my hand all the way for that one. I emailed or talked to him on the phone (secure voice) several times a day during the investigation and he told me which manuals to look in for guidance and what I needed to tell the officers who were the actual board about how they were supposed to investigate the accident (they knew even less about how to conduct such an investigation than I did).

Once we had all of the "evidence" & "witness statements", the Division Safety Officer dictated the report, I typed it, the board signed it and it was submitted up the chain to Division (accepted by the Division Safety Officer for the Division Commander).

337:

Dosage is one substantive difference between the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines:
"Each dose of Pfizer’s contains 30 micrograms of vaccine. Moderna went with a much larger dose of vaccine, 100 micrograms. "
The (including human) immune system is still not well-understood, at least in the sense of being able to make solid quantitative predictions. (Moderna would be a bigger COVID player if they'd trialed with a smaller dosage, but they'll get a lot of revenue from future mRNA vaccines/treatments.)

"woman with the sword,"
Re one recent sword-woman in the news, I have not [poked], but Grimes may at least occasionally lurk here.

---
RNA-targeting enzyme expands the CRISPR toolkit (Jennifer Michalowski, September 6, 2021)
(Nature paper is paywalled: Programmable RNA targeting with the single-protein CRISPR effector Cas7-11 (06 September 2021))

And female hummingbirds pretending to be male(s) to reduce harassment:
Female hummingbirds look like males to evade harassment (Pat Leonard | August 26, 2021)
Falk says studies have found that 25% of the world’s more than 350 hummingbird species also have some females that look like males.

338:

We didn't have anyone killed from a negligent discharge, but a couple of the guys gave it the old college try.

Sometimes I'm amazed how few accidents, especially fatal accidents, there are in the Finnish army. Something on the order of eighty percent of men do the service, and everybody is taught how to use the rifle during the first couple of months. We have a lot of hunters, sure, but it's not exactly a common hobby among young people, so not that many people have handled a rifle before the service.

I had one close call during my service, all due to my own thoughtlessness and perhaps too intensive live-fire training. Luckily all we got was a yelling session and a reminder about gun safety I'll never forget. (Though I hope to live my life so that I don't ever need to handle a firearm again.) I had never handled a gun before the army service, but I had been taught the basics (point it at somewhere it matters as little as possible if it goes off, never have your finger on the trigger before wanting to shoot, and most importantly, a gun is always loaded.)

339:

We didn't have anyone killed from a negligent discharge (ND), but a couple of the guys gave it the old college try

As a range conducting officer (RCO, like every infantry officer and most senior NCOs), it was something that rather concerned me; but IMHO fell into two groups. Overloaded/underexperienced firers trying to do a mechanical process without thinking enough about it (and potentially tired); and overconfident firers who thought they knew enough to stop thinking about it (“utter morons mucking about” were thankfully absent from our unit).

Some peoples’ approach was to use fear of doom and retribution, assuming that NDs came from the latter group. Unsurprisingly, the more nervous firers reacted badly to this. Even if they didn’t have an ND, avoiding it became their entire focus; yes, they fired; no, they didn’t learn much.

My approach was to assume most NDs came from the former group, and so my range briefings followed Rule 1: It can’t go bang unless you pull the trigger, Rule 2: make sure you’re pointing it somewhere sensible. Now, let’s focus on the important thing, namely marksmanship. Then briefed my safety supervisors appropriately, and didn’t rush people at the critical phases.

Unsurprisingly, I conducted fifteen years of military ranges (and twenty since as a civilian) without any incidents; while those of my more strident colleagues couldn’t say the same.

The boring, flat, gallery ranges used for target shooting and initial military training are comparatively stress-free as an RCO. Add firer movement and it gets fun. My best man did he full “field firing” RCO course, and his course assessment was a platoon night anti-tank ambush… thirty soldiers, automatic weapons, and totally dark. Lucky him…

340:

JBS
Actually, I've also got the open-ended & ring spanners too ....
Plus, of course the effing useless intermediate stuff the auto industry used in the 1970/80's
"AF"
I find it amusing that, IIRC, "metric" threads are Whit profile, just with slightly different dimensions.

341:

#336 - Since you've discussed the cleaning barrel procedure, one incident I've looked at involved someone failing to perform step (1). I won't expand further in open forum out of respect to his next of kin.

#338 - Yeah Mikko, that is "basic firearms safety".

#339 - If you've been an RCO, I presume you've laid out a gallery range? And, like me, you recheck the relevant JSP(safety) before doing so every time, just in case it has changed since the last time you did the job?

342:

Yes, dealing with the things that need IMMEDIATE action first is right, but there are two failings in the rule as originally posted.

Firstly, shock per se isn't one of those reasons (circulation is), though that may be a translation problem.

Secondly, 'non-immediate' things often become 'immediate' ones or can cause equally bad problems if not dealt with promptly. Hyperthermia causes organ (e.g. brain) damage very quickly, hypothermia can cause the heart to stop, there are hypo- and hyper-glycaemia, allergic reactions etc. etc., all of which can do the same.

Disclaimer: I was very nearly an example of medical negligence by having urinary retention simply put into the queue (a burst bladder is NOT good, even ignoring the kidney damage).

343:

It's over half a century ago, but target-shooting range safety with Lee-Enfields wasn't a problem; I do remember that everybody had to place the guns on the ground with the bolts open and chamber empty before anyone was allowed down the range. And similarly safe except when actually in the firing position.

Field shooting was more complex, but similar rules for both rifles and shotguns applied when going over any obstacle, plus NEVER pointing a gun near where anyone might be. And always double checking that the chamber(s) were empty by looking through the barrel(s) or putting your finger in. Even taking the bolt out :-)

Not military, of course, and I never hunted game that was likely to kill me. But it's why deaths from recreational shooting are rare in the UK.

Accidental discharges were known, but almost all were the result of idiocy, including one person who killed himself by putting a loaded, cocked rifle into the back of a pickup and then driving over an African road.

344:

Yup, it’s “reread Range Standing Orders whenever you sign for the range”. Mainly because different ranges may have individual permanent restrictions due to their siting and template - e.g. “A Range is limited to the 100m firing point when B Range is firing”, or a local restriction like “no use of tracer, it’s been a bit dry lately”… then, a decent briefing to the range staff about your plan for the day, another briefing to the firing party, and lastly watch the firers like a hawk throughout (you can generally tell who’s worth watching closely).

However, being part-timers, we weren’t allowed to “lay out” a range (that took the full three-week SA(A)90 qualification which only the Regulars did, and for you to be Suitably Qualified, Experienced, and Practiced). I was SA(B)90 plus a limited field firing ticket that allowed me to run any gallery range, some “transition to live-firing tactical training” ranges (RMQ1-3 plus FFQ4, in old money). Taking a UOTC of student part-timers through a transition range was a stress highlight, as was taking another UOTC through pistol training plus an experience shoot (short-barrelled weapons are especially dangerous, it’s too damn easy to point them in the wrongest direction). Thankfully, no incidents, and no Boards of Inquiry :)

The fun stuff was the Live-Firing Tactical Training - at the top end, done in Canada with entire battlegroups, tanks, APCs, and artillery / mortars. Our reserve unit topped out at Company level in my time; getting to lead our Company through a live-firing advance to contact / quick attack was a rush, particularly the point at which I realised that our Tac HQ (me, my signaller, and a couple of others) was about to emerge from dead ground in front of my rear left rifle platoon… and trusting that good sense, or alert safety supervisors, would prevail :)

There are lots of processes and controls around all training, but in the late 1970s the British soldier was measurably safer on the streets of Belfast than in West Germany training to fight the Soviets. In 1991, the US Army even saw its death rate drop compared to peacetime, when it deployed to Saudi Arabia and fought a war - because of the lack of squaddie exposure to alcohol and dangerous driving.

345:

ring spanners

Separated by a common language indeed.

I assume we call such a box end wrench.

346:

David L
Probably not.
"Box Spanners" are something different again.

347:

Google Images shows them as the same.

348:

And quite unlike what we call a "Box end wrench". A box spanner (Now I have a non-rude name for them!) is only suitable for very light duty.

349:

I think "end wrench" is American for "ring spanner"; dunno about having "box" on the front of it, but I assume the version I've heard is just a common abbreviation.

A box spanner is basically like a povvo version of a socket made out of pressed steel - a short bit of steel tube with one end pressed into a hex - with holes in the side to put a tommy bar through instead of having a square drive. Probably most commonly encountered these days as cheap-arsed spark plug spanners. As you can imagine, they round and slip if you try and put more than kitten torque through them, so they're not much use as spanners; they are probably more usefully considered as a collection of funny-sized bits of tube that are likely to contain something the right size for pushing bearings into/out of housings and things like that.

350:

It's after 300, so ...

Stupid movie on YouTube - Escape to Athena "a 1979 British adventure comedy war film" ... "Free" with commercials.

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

Pause it at 15:10 and look at what's parked there in the background.

It's not entirely OT, but I didn't watch the whole thing. I switched it off shortly after that, so I can't tell you if the interesting bit ever shows up again.

351:

Not available to me in the UK...

What is parked in the background? I have seen the film but I don't remember noticing anything. Apart from that it wasn't a great film...

352:

Nojay @ 271: Life in the USA would be a lot less unpleasant if, for example, someone turned the taps and the conveyor belts off off and the USA lost the 40% of electricity generated by natural gas and the 20% generated by coal. Sure, Galts Gulch types with solar panels on the roofs of their expensive homes or home generator systems in their four-car garage would do OK for a while but the water purification and sewage systems, food processing plants, refrigeration, hospitals, schools, colleges, workplaces, factories, data centres, supermarkets etc. would grind to a halt or go on to part-time operation and that's from losing only 60% of the US grid which is fossil-fuel-powered. (Nuclear makes up another 20% or so, the rest is wind, solar, hydro and a little geothermal).

Interestingly, that's what much of FDR's New Deal was about, bringing those energy dependent benefits of modern civilization to rural America.

But you don't have to be rich to benefit from using alternative energy sources. And you don't have to have a lot of money to build small scale energy independence. Doesn't have to be PV Solar either.

What you do have to do is pay attention, look around and see what others have done that might be adaptable to work for you.

Time to recommend some of my old favorites again:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/50-years-ago-whole-earth-catalog-launched-reinvented-environmental-movement-180969682/

Still a relevant concept even if some of the "tools" are a bit outdated.

https://www.motherearthnews.com/

And you don't really have to live out in the boonies to benefit from trying to make your life more ecologically friendly.

353:

whitroth @ 278: Did your dad ever say anything about the plans publised in Evergreen? Ramparts? or was it the Atlantic? Somewhere like that, around 1979, in an article about a high school student's science project, based on declassified documents, that the DoE had fits about?

The really hard part of the process of building that bomb was putting the slurry in a bucket, and centerfugeing it by spinning it around in your living room for half an hour.

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

The "really hard part" was the EPA having to clean up his Mom's back yard as a Superfund site.

354:

I assume you mean the Kübels?

355:

I was out duck hunting one day (the only hunter on the pond and only 3 of us on ~400 hectares of rough land) I got careless when walking on some rough ground and fired the shotgun. And I'd been using a rifle or shotgun since I was 12 or 13!

Scared myself silly but thankfully no one within 500m.

356:

I saw a jolly hunter
With a jolly gun
Walking in the country
In the jolly sun.

In the jolly meadow
Sat a jolly hare.
Saw the jolly hunter.
Took jolly care.

Hunter jolly eager-
Sight of jolly prey.
Forgot gun pointing
Wrong jolly way.

Jolly hunter jolly head
Over heels gone.
Jolly old safety catch
Not jolly on.

Bang went the jolly gun.
Hunter jolly dead.
Jolly hare got clean away.
Jolly good, I said.

- Charles Causley

357:

Geezer-with-a-hat @ 316: In the swedish language we have this handy mnemonic ABC ("Andning" - breathing, "Blödning" - bleeding, "Chock" - shock) which gives the priority order in triage situations (and the implied "everything else will have to wait")

We used the acronym in my Combat Lifesaver course:
Establish an AIRWAY
Stop BLEEDING
CONTROL shock.

358:

Damn, he died that young. And it was close for me - an aunt gave me to Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, too. But I had a train set, then found sf....

359:

Mikko Parviainen (he/him) @ 338:

We didn't have anyone killed from a negligent discharge, but a couple of the guys gave it the old college try.

Sometimes I'm amazed how few accidents, especially fatal accidents, there are in the Finnish army. Something on the order of eighty percent of men do the service, and everybody is taught how to use the rifle during the first couple of months. We have a lot of hunters, sure, but it's not exactly a common hobby among young people, so not that many people have handled a rifle before the service.

I had one close call during my service, all due to my own thoughtlessness and perhaps too intensive live-fire training. Luckily all we got was a yelling session and a reminder about gun safety I'll never forget. (Though I hope to live my life so that I don't ever need to handle a firearm again.) I had never handled a gun before the army service, but I had been taught the basics (point it at somewhere it matters as little as possible if it goes off, never have your finger on the trigger before wanting to shoot, and most importantly, a gun is always loaded.)

Back in Basic Training the Drill Sargents told us they preferred recruits with no prior shooting experience, because they didn't have to unlearn anything before learning to shoot the Army Way.

My worst experience was the Hand Grenade Range. They really psych you out beforehand ... YOU WILL DO IT EXACTLY THIS WAY. IF YOU DO IT ANY OTHER WAY YOU WILL DIE!

When it was my turn to be in the pit, the Drill Sargent did it a different way and I had trouble throwing the grenade far enough away ...

I got a memorably severe ass chewing despite my protest " ... but You said to do it THIS WAY, and he didn't do it THIS WAY".

I survived. Threw my two grenades and qualified so I didn't have to re-cycle.

360:

Elderly Cynic @ 343: Accidental discharges were known, but almost all were the result of idiocy, including one person who killed himself by putting a loaded, cocked rifle into the back of a pickup and then driving over an African road.

I think that's why the U.S. Army changed their nomenclature from "Accidental" to "Negligent". It was meant to enlighten even the idiots. People will make mistakes even when they aren't being idiots, so the Army tries to develop doctrine & procedures to minimize the opportunity for them to do so and to minimize the damage when they do so anyway. Risk management.

A couple of things I didn't mention. The Sargent Major didn't get an Article-15 because of his position. Our Brigade was still commanded by a Brigadier General and an Article-15 from a General Officer is really a bit heavy duty for a negligent discharge into a clearing barrel. There was no one else in the chain-of-command who could have given him one.

And I was always double-extra careful clearing my own weapons - reciting the steps aloud to myself every time - because due to the position I was in it would have been a really bad thing if I had made a mistake.

361:

AJ (He/Him) @ 351: Not available to me in the UK...

What is parked in the background? I have seen the film but I don't remember noticing anything. Apart from that it wasn't a great film...

Alex drove it for his date with Cassie when he took her to meet the family.


362:

Weapons instructor during WW1: "This is a percussion grenade. It is detonated by shock. If you hit it, it goes off. If you knock it against something, you are dead" ...etc. etc.

Finishes spiel. Puts grenade down on table...

...too hard. Instructor and trainees all go home in a bucket.

363:

...actually, I remembered that wrong. It was worse than that: the instructor said "Do not do this with it" [>whack< on the table]...

364:

Somebody had to survive to tell the story. Otherwise how would anyone know what the instructor said?

365:

Sometimes the best you can hope for is to serve as a warning to others.

366:

Since we're past 300 and Past certain things getting mentioned and CN is in the News (Officially Sanctioned):

A) Moon Party, your 3:33 timing ain't got nothing on us [Big Badda Boom]

B) Read the I-Ching: it's known, it is being Done[tm] and it has already have been sorted by various Parties in the Know[tm]. If you actually paid attention, we we're telling "FROTHING APES" to calm the fuck down, but hey... I hate speaking your Language. Simply put: this isn't the Armageddon you're looking for, it's a Controlled Demolition (and $500 mil in this pile is fucking nothing)

C) But what if we did something better? But "we", we meant "Homo Sapiens" there, but we did not. [If Greg wants a Trollin, that's a lie: We're Not H.S.S and nor are the Peeps we're talking to here either]

D) You have No Idea the back-lash we got from that:

Image Time: A wealthy Man trying to buy his way out of Hellish Party we like to call "level 1" talking to us, we politely decline a "wadge / wedge of cash" from his suit pocket as the "Police-Whoop-Whoop" come closer. As we decline, they... I think the polite term is "debone and flay" him: the "PoliceMan" offers us a Cigarette (one... of Three -- yep, Xians in the mix) and then there's a load of stuff that's so far beyond your S. King or C. Barker stuff to be unfunny, but let us put it this way: lots of Ayran types woaded-up and marching into the fray.


Serious Ultra-Violence. Hint: the greatest Insult you can give to an Anarchist is suggesting they love / help / are / becoming "Police". And these... are really the .. Look up a book by China Miéville called "Kraken", these are the... Ones who are too bad even for 1970's Police Procedurals.

E) Those labelling us with Sexual Stuff: be ... wery wery careful.


We can make your Nervous System Dance with Fire and Ice and Jolts[1] and we view your Subconscious Forays as fucking childish.

~


In other news, UK is totes fucked on Energy and so on, but we did kinda warn you about that one.


[1] This is the Real Deal[tm]: Are you on Team "Tasers are the best we can do" or Team "Make it dance like a snake we have Ultimate Control over Every Single Thing that has a Nervous System. Choose Wisely.

367:

Or, put another way:

$300 bil of debt is cute and all, but the USA is running $1.3 trillion in reverse repo for over a Month or Two now which is basically stating three things:

A) It's all a fucking Baudrillard head-fuck and none of it is real as you languish under "Austerity" and wage freezes

B) We decided to do the "Reverse Oil -1 VIT dance on you"[1]: sooooo much cash..... so little done with it.

C) The APES are getting into this - and, for sure, they'lll pass through ZH and Reddit and the Silver and Gold Bugs and then things get interesting.

And so on


D) Total. Loss. Of. Faith. In. Your. System.


Thanks for Playing.


"Zed's Dead Baby, Zed's Dead"


[1] Look up "Dumb Fucks" - Vit actually paid out $7mil bonuses to everyone involved when they actually signalled to the entire world (and this is important): When the Wyrd shit hits, we have no fucking idea and close ranks for two whole Months to get a handle on it. That's... the "Masters of Your Universe".

368:

On a completley related note, DUNE just got re-re-released (the New one) and Holy Crap: Vanishingly stupid interpretation of the text mixed with slavish re-enactment of the prior films.

It's like SomeTHING LOBOTOMIZED YOU ALL. Or all your Art production. Or everything.


Hint: that's the real thing being done.


~


p.s.

Kids - they don't need a vaccine to "cut you off from G_D", there's already a fairly (LOL) hard-core (LOL) meta-verse involved with (LOL) destroying Minds, they do not need the vaccine (LOL).

The "LOL" is because: 3...2.....1...... We're going to teach you about Mirrors. And reciprocating damage done when we have removed your safe-guards.


No. Seriously. You'd be amazed how many of your most prominent people in society are vulberable to this.

~


Fucking Children of Men.

369:

Kettenkrad ...
Made before 1980, right?
So it's S Khan's bloody ULEZ-compliant, then?
Driving one of those round London could be good for a few laughs ...

370:

#354 - Are they? I've not seen the film (ever) but the obvious difference between a real VW type 62/82 Kubelwagen and VW type 181 Trekker is that the Kubel has exposed headlights and the Trekker's are faired into the front wings. Then there's a GRP Kubel replica based on a Type 1 (Beetle/bug/kafer) floorpan.

#359 - First rule of grenades- "When the pin is removed, Mr Grenade is not your friend"!

#369 - As is a Kubelwagen, which can carry 3 (possibly 4) passengers in something resembling a "normal car".

371:

In response to Paul in #302, electricity can be dispensed with for laundry with a foot powered washing machine, such as https://www.yirego.com/drumi

Nowadays, per Consumer Reports, most laundry detergent actually performs better with cold water than hot, which also simplifies things. In the past four years, I've been able to confirm the latter, having bought a $150 portable (electric) washing machine which does all laundry except for bed linen, so I could avoid the random availability of communal apartment house laundry rooms, and I broke even in year two.

372:

There isn't a separate entry on Wikipedia for a "dolly tub", but it doesn't rely on electricity. It does rely on manual labour however.

373:

Kettenkrad ... Made before 1980, right?

IIRC they stopped making them in 1949 or thereabouts; after the war ended, there was continued demand for them as forestry vehicles/off-road tractors.

Yes, it's too old for most regulations -- but you'll need a tracked vehicle driving license, maintenance is awful (have you looked at the wheel and track articulation?!?) and they have a top speed of -- never mind we're talking about London traffic, right?

374:

Top speed of "adequate"; well 70kph but yes Larndarn traffic.

375:

I was, obviously (?) thinking of the Larffs & the "W. T. F? from the passers-by ...

376:

#354 - Are they? I've not seen the film (ever) but the obvious difference between a real VW type 62/82 Kubelwagen and VW type 181 Trekker is that the Kubel has exposed headlights and the Trekker's are faired into the front wings. Then there's a GRP Kubel replica based on a Type 1 (Beetle/bug/kafer) floorpan.

I haven't a clue. If you click through the kubel link in #354, you'll see the Wikipedia page for the kettenkrad. I was trying to give the answer without spoiling the fun for everyone else. As with most such attempts, it utterly failed.

377:

Anyone interested in how the sharp end of COVID feels in America should read some of the posts on the nursing subreddit. I've dropped this one in but was spoiled for choice - https://www.reddit.com/r/nursing/comments/ps8gjf/am_i_talking_to_a_dead_person/

Poor sods.

378:

Re: '... you were going to get a BIG OOPSIE when you pulled the trigger at step 4'

I was about nine when I first (ever) fired a hunting rifle at an uncle's farm. The 'big oopsie': the recoil. The rifle jumped out of my hands/arms and I landed so hard on the ground that I banged my head and scraped my arms. No one had mentioned the recoil and I didn't know enough to pay attention to how the adults were standing or kneeling when they were getting ready to fire. No desire to ever try target shooting again - memory too vivid of just how scary it was.

379:

Dunno 'bout cold water - I use hot - but I read back in the... seventies? that with modern washers, you really didn't need all the detergent they recommend. I always use less (2/3?). And I *still* do a second rinse cycle, and watch the suds come out.

380:

On the BREXIT front…

My supermarket chain (Loblaws) is no longer carrying anything from Britain. Not certain what miniscule percentage of British exports are foodstuffs but yeah, it's apparently a consequence.

381:

I read a few days ago that a UK grocery chain that had expanded into France was giving up there due to Brexit. It was becoming too complicated to stock the stores.

382:

Not a grocery chain, it was Marks & Spencer, a 140-year-old retail corporation with annual revenue around US $13Bn who have had branches in France since 1975 -- it was their flagship international sub-chain, and they can't keep it going due to Brexit. One of the UK's biggest department store chains, the other being the John Lewis Partnership. Think in terms of the British equivalent of Macy's, only with about double the revenue per capita.

2020 was the first time they announced a net operating loss in the past 94 years (blaming COVID19, which kept their stores shut for months -- but Brexit had an impact too).

[[ html fix - mod ]]

383:

"Macy's = US Marks & Sparks" now added to mental UK/US dictionary. Thank you, I can now have a better idea of what characters who mention it are supposed to be thinking of.

384:

While Macy's has the name recognition it is likely to vanish soon. It is a part of a big conglomerate of department stores and has been for a while. And I can't figure out why anyone shops there. There is a store in our area's best mall and every time I've gone in it over the last 10 years I've not seen any reason to buy something there. I suspect like a lot of old line store chains, the buyers are mostly there out of habit.

In NYC there was Barney's, Macy's, Gimbles, Bloomingdales, etc... Most are gone or are really the same company. And ditto these and similar stores nationwide in the US.

Locally a regional chain, Belks, might survive. I actually buy clothes there (well up till 2 years ago) and they seem to be profitable. Mostly.

I really liked Kaufmann's in Pittsburgh when I lived there but they are also long gone as a stand alone chain. The Kaufmann family is the one who had Frank Lloyd Wright build Falling Water in the 30s.

385:

It seems to me that the designers have contracted the obsession with making them use less water to such an extent that they no longer make them use enough. And using cold water wherever they think they can get away with it makes things worse. My washing machine has an "extended rinse cycle" setting but it doesn't seem to make much difference; the results are still the same as any other washing machine: I have to put every load through a whole second wash cycle but without putting any soap in, otherwise there is still a noticeable amount of soap left in the clothes when I come to put them on.

I think another part of the problem is they assume everyone is going to use fabric conditioner (which is a cationic detergent that "neutralises" the anionic detergent in the actual soap and helps it be rinsed out), and don't design the machines to work properly without it. I do not use it because of the appalling smell. If I put my clothes on with them imbued with that awful stench it starts making me feel ill before very long; if someone else happens to wash my clothes for me and does use it I have to wash them again myself just to get the stink out again before I can wear them.

386:

#382 - Not helped any by the idiots tho effectively said "underwear is not an essential purchase"?

#385 - A bit like me; when buying washing powder I have to look long and hard to find something that doesn't have a chemical "parfam" in it!

387:

I have to wonder how much of all of this is related to the fact that washing machines in Europe and very different beasts than those in the US. What we in the US consider a small washer is a large model in Europe.

Plus we still have a large number of top loaders being sold.

When I've had clothes washed in homes in Europe they don't seem to come out the same as back home.

And in the US with our wide range of sizes and operational methods it can be hard to have a "one size fits all" soap rule.

In both Madrid and Stuttgart a few years ago I had an hour or so to kill and noticed a MediaMarkt nearby. So I wandered the stores as a way to see what people in Europe bought compared to say a Best Buy in the US. My wife and I were sort of amazed with what seemed to be the toy sized washers and dryers. Plus all the options for radios. Radios have almost vanished in the US.

388:

Macy's don't have the same emphasis on own-brand products that M&S do, and their stores are physically larger than M&S's, but that's normal for US retail establishments (US shops are usually bigger if only because land is cheaper). But it's the same/equivalent market. Just as Tesco is the UK equivalent of WalMart, albeit with more emphasis on food and less on random other domestic items. (And Tesco are so voracious that when WalMart tried to move into the UK they ended up whining to the Monopolies Commission about "unfair competition", then selling Asda, the 4th place supermarket chain they bought in order to try and take down Tesco from 1st place in UK groceries.)

389:

It may be your washing machine.

Right before COVID19 struck I replaced my old one with a horrifyingly expensive top-of-the-range Miele washer-drier. Yes, you can measure scoops of detergent if you feel like it -- but it also runs on Miele's proprietary (and unperfumed) cartridge system, like inkjet printers (only without the DRM: you can get empty cartridges and load your own liquids then recalibrate the machine to use the correct amount of detergent and conditioner).

The results are generally excellent, there are specialized single-shot cartridges for things like re-waterproofing waterproof membranes, special settings for washing things like all-synthetic trainers, and it still does all the traditional washing machine and drier stuff. Oh, and it's silent and vibration proof and comes with a warranty that lasts longer than the average cheap competitor -- they're designed for a 15 year daily use cycle. And uses less power and less water. Etc. After two years I'm saving money on detergent, the clothing comes out better and with less fading and fabric damage, and ... shrug: I suppose if you pay five times as much as a regular washer-driver costs, you should expect this, but it still surprises me.

390:

Philly had Lit Bros, and Gimbals - we *may* have been the home store - and the upscale Wannamakers, right across from City Hall.

I used to buy clothes and shoes at Sears and Penney's.

391:

We only buy "fragrance free", from washing detergent to cat litter.

392:

Just as Tesco is the UK equivalent of WalMart, albeit with more emphasis on food and less on random other domestic items.

That has changed over the last 5-10 years. Walmart is now the #1 grocer in the US. With $288 billion in annual grocery sales in 2019 and that was over 1/2 of their total sales. Groceries have gone from a few partial aisles to 20% or more of the floor space of a typical store in the last 10 years.

It is a steep fall off after that with the next 3 having sales of $121b, $61b, and $44b.

393:

I used to buy clothes and shoes at Sears and Penney's.

Two US store chains that revolutionized retail and mail order in the US 100 years ago. And dominated mid level retail for the next 80 years. Then did their best to ignore the Internet over the last 20 years. And now ...

As a side note, K-Mart exploded with a slightly different retail model than Sears and Penneys back in the 60s/70s. Their goal was to become bigger than Sears. In 89 they accomplished their goal. The only problem it was the wrong goal. Walmarts goal was to be the biggest. That same year they had more sales than either Sears or Penneys.

394:

Groceries are about 70-90% of a Tesco supermarket. Revenue is roughly £65Bn, or about US $88Bn, in a market of 65M people -- so equivalent to a US grocery chain turning over $450Bn. Similar steep fall-off to the competition.

395:

It is indeed noticeable that my current washing machine is worse than the one in my last place was. The difference is probably 20-30 years of increased emphasis on skinning the water use. Certainly on the newer one the pool of water in the drum doesn't come up as far as the door, though that is only the vaguest of indications.

There is a rumour that no matter what the name on the front may be, all washing machines actually come out of the same factory in Turin. (I'm not convinced - there should be more common parts than just the solenoid valve coils if it was true.) It is then said that Miele are the only exception, as a kind of explanatory myth. Whatever the reason, it is true that at least the expensive ones are not quite the same as the usual stuff.

396:

Moz @ 365: Sometimes the best you can hope for is to serve as a warning to others./i>

I'll leave it as a verbal warning, thank you very much! That one experience was enough for me to swear off hand-grenades for good.

397:

paws4thot @ 370: #354 - Are they? I've not seen the film (ever) but the obvious difference between a real VW type 62/82 Kubelwagen and VW type 181 Trekker is that the Kubel has exposed headlights and the Trekker's are faired into the front wings. Then there's a GRP Kubel replica based on a Type 1 (Beetle/bug/kafer) floorpan.

I don't think it was either one of those (although they might have had some of them in the movie too.

This definitely looked like the front half of a pre-war Harley-Davidson motorcycle grafted onto a bath-tub running on tank treads.

398:

David L @ 387: I have to wonder how much of all of this is related to the fact that washing machines in Europe and very different beasts than those in the US. What we in the US consider a small washer is a large model in Europe.

Plus we still have a large number of top loaders being sold.

When I've had clothes washed in homes in Europe they don't seem to come out the same as back home.

And in the US with our wide range of sizes and operational methods it can be hard to have a "one size fits all" soap rule.

In both Madrid and Stuttgart a few years ago I had an hour or so to kill and noticed a MediaMarkt nearby. So I wandered the stores as a way to see what people in Europe bought compared to say a Best Buy in the US. My wife and I were sort of amazed with what seemed to be the toy sized washers and dryers. Plus all the options for radios. Radios have almost vanished in the US.

While I was on R&R in Scotland in 2004 I had occasion to use a laundromat in Inverness. All the machines were just like (as far as I could tell) the ones I used to find in the laundromat across Hillsborough St from NC State when I was in college. The only difference was the coins you put into the slots, but they had a machine you could slide a paper note into & it gave you change to feed the machines.

They even had the machine that dispensed individual boxes/bottles of detergent (depending on which you preferred).

399:

"toy sized washers and dryers"

Over here we are burdened with the terrible curse of the Standard Kitchen Unit. This is a notional cuboid 600mm wide by (I think) 900mm high and 600mm deep. Every bloody thing has to fit within this rather confined space (or two-three of them stacked vertically in the case of some fridges) or else it will be so vanishingly rare that nobody knows it exists.

The main raison d'êum;tre of this stunted abomination is to accommodate the large number of fucking idiots who destroy the entire contents of their kitchen every few years and replace it with exactly the same things in a different colour, because merely piling up several thousand pounds in a heap and putting a match to it would be too simple and straightforward. Having everything exactly the same size means they don't have to burn out any of their meagre supply of brain cells wondering if it will fit.

It's not really that much of a big deal as regards washing machines, but it is terrible for things that have to maintain a significant temperature differential. If you make a fridge sensibly with 75-100mm of insulating blanket around the cold compartment so the cold doesn't all leak out, it ends up too bloody small inside to put any food in. So what you actually get is something like 5mm of polyurethane foam with a bit of tinfoil stuck on the outside of it and the deficiency made up for by running the compressor more. A fridge, by reason of being on all the time, can well be one of the most significant contributors to a house's base load, so dumb conventions that preclude adequate insulation are particularly inappropriate for designing one.

Similarly with ovens; they use something more heat-resistant than polyurethane foam, but in the same kind of laughably ineffective token thicknesses. So in order to prevent it setting fire to the cupboards on either side, there has to be an extra fan which draws in ambient air, circulates it around the outside of the hot compartment, and blows it back out of a slot carrying roughly as much energy as the exhaust of an actual fan heater. Instead of using proper insulation they have to apply forced cooling to the bits that insulation would have kept from getting too hot in the first place, and then have to dump an extra kilowatt or so into the hot compartment to keep it hot in spite of the heat loss. This is a fucking abortion, and all the worse since electric ovens are such awful chewers of energy in any case without that kind of thing making it worse.

So we have a convention designed to help divots to waste money through facilitating repeated unnecessary replacement of the contents of their kitchens, resulting in a considerable waste of energy and resources in producing and installing many times more items of kitchen hardware than are needed simply for people to have kitchens, and having the additional secondary effect of causing those items of kitchen hardware to be made unnecessarily wasteful and extravagant in the energy they need to run on. Altogether the kind of idea that we can well do without if we pretend to any kind of environmental consideration.

Top loaders are rare for a number of reasons, including: the need for a separate centrifuging tub in addition to the washing tub makes them far too wide for the Standard Kitchen Unit; they can't go under a counter top, which is necessary in many British houses for reasons of limited overall space; they never seem to bother with automating the filling and emptying process, for no adequately explored reason, so you have to arse around swapping pipes about and turning pumps and taps on and off by hand; and they are seen as a plebeian gutter option, fit only for putting in cheap grotty rental accommodation so it can be advertised as having a washing machine and let for a has-washing-machine rent without being actually untruthful, and not to be dreamed of in a respectable household aspiring to sneer at the neighbours in trivial and ludicrous status matches.

400:

Laundromat machines are a different kettle of fish from domestic ones. Simple one-setting top-loaders, and gas-fired dryers that get the clothes dry in a few minutes instead of a couple of hours like domestic ones do, built like tanks and gorilla-proof. From what I've seen in movies it appears that the insides of US and UK laundromats are extremely similar, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the machines are of US manufacture.

401:

...That one experience was enough for me to swear off hand-grenades for good.

Time for a Fun Story from infantry training :)

...You have to work your way up to having a hundred part-time infantry soldiers running around a field shooting live rounds at stuff (we spent a week on it). Everyone has to pass their individual weapon test; then go through a transition shoot, including movement as an individual; then pairs, teams of 4 / 8 / 30-odd, etc.

Well, today our Company was on the section attack range. Each section of 8 soldiers would be advancing to contact, bayonets fixed, and encounter an "enemy trench"; the aim was to mount a quick attack on the trench, covering one another until the point man crawled up to a nearby fold in the ground (offering convenient shelter) and threw in a grenade; the better to discombobulate the notional occupants, before arranging their expedient demise.

A recent warning had come out of the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick, where the grenadier in just such an exercise had crawled up to a dip in the ground, thrown the fragmentation grenade from cover, but left their arm exposed - then needed multiple stitches from fast-flying metal. As a result, sensible range staff were reminding everyone that all of you needs to be in cover when playing with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

I was hanging about behind the relevant patch of countryside doing boring stuff (because "being in a rifle section and having fun" wasn't in my particular job description) when the ambulance sitting next to me suddenly lights up and heads off towards the exercising troops. It turned out that the grenadier in that particular rifle section (a lovely lad called Vinnie, whose strengths were charm, muscle, and fitness) had taken the warning about grenades seriously. He'd crawled up to the last piece of cover, moved his rifle down by his side, taken out the grenade, thrown it at the trench, and whipped his arm back into cover at speed - right on to the point of his own bayonet. To his credit, as soon as the grenade went off, he was straight in about the trench to clear it with automatic fire; but after the section reorganised on the objective, and the section commander got as far as "casualties?", he puts his hand up to show that he was leaking...

And that is how young Vinnie entered local legend as the soldier who managed to bayonet himself... (Sympathy? he got a couple of steristrips, and the Sergeant-Major's advice to not be such a muppet next time...)

402:

My grandmother had a hand powered washing machine in her scullery in the wet early 1950s. It looked like the then standard copper with a gas ring underneath to heat the water and a brass handle on the lid turning a large four bladed paddle inside. I liked it because it looked like a tram driver’s rheostat so I used it to play at driving trams. It was still there until 1953 when my parents moved out into out own house.

403:

whitroth @ 390: Philly had Lit Bros, and Gimbals - we *may* have been the home store - and the upscale Wannamakers, right across from City Hall.

I used to buy clothes and shoes at Sears and Penney's.

Around here it was Belks stores, usually in partnership with another company. Belk-Leggett in Durham and Hudson-Belk in Raleigh. Both had a "bargain basement" where you could find discount clothes - Levi's Blue Jeans (before they became a fashion brand, back when they were just work clothes).

For shoes my Mom took us to Ellis-Stone (a local up-scale) because they had Buster Brown shoes (and flouroscoped your feet "to assure proper fit". Keds for everyday wear (school playgrounds) came from Sears I think and Sears was where my parents bought "Christmas" clothes.

For a suit (had to have a suit to wear to church on Sunday), they took me to either "Van Strattens" or "The Young Men's Shop"

Ellis-Stone was bought out and became Thalhimers which was bought out and became ... which was bought out and ...

We still have Sears, and JC Penney's was around until sometime last year.

Now we have Nordstroms & Macys. There's a lot of places I haven't been in since I worked for the burglar/fire alarm company. Sears still carries Levis, but the last couple of pairs I bought I had to drive down to Smithfield to the outlet mall that has a Levis Store.

404:

I quite like the old wringer washing machines, basically a tub with an electrically powered stirrer in it, and a couple of powered rollers over the top that you can feed clothes through the rid them of water. Also good for removing unnecessary fingers and a surprising proportion of a small child. If your clothes are mostly cotton and wool the wringer works well, better than most top loaders in their spin cycle.

After that we got the "twin tub" machines with small (~20cm diameter) tubs, one for washing and one for drying. In theory there was a brake so that if you opened a lid while the drum was moving it would stop. But the brakes were not very good and the switches were fragile, so for the most part it was more a matter of not putting any limb you valued into the spinning drum. Struggle with cotton queen size sheets, cannot deal with king size ones.

I currently have a mediocre front loader that I got second hand from a guy who repairs them (I suspect he gets ex-warranty ones and fixes them as a second income). It's worked well for five years, and is quite efficient, but as noted above it does benefit from an extra run through the "rinse and spin" cycle. It doesn't have a hot water inlet, just a heater, so it has to be run at midday or I have to manually fill it with hot water (which has the side benefit that I can somewhat over-fill it to get a better wash with heavily soiled stuff).

I'm not willing to make the leap from $200 second hand to $2500 new, which is where decent washing machines start. So my next one is possibly going to be one of the manually spun drum machines advertised as "magic hand powered washing machines", an "easy turn compost bin" or a DIY version of same using a 60 litre plastic drum because I really want to be able to throw in a king size doona (duvet) and "hand" wash that. Then the spin cycle is swapping the solid lid for one with a bunch of holes drilled in it and taking it outside. Sometimes living in Australia is awesome.

405:

I quite like the old wringer washing machines, basically a tub with an electrically powered stirrer in it, and a couple of powered rollers over the top that you can feed clothes through the rid them of water.

Wringers were used pre-electricity, powered by turning cranks. And if you couldn't afford stirrers stirrers, you had a washboard — a corrugated board in a tub — that you scrubbed clothes on.

406:

The descriptions of your washing machines are... really strange to me. I'd love to get a front-lader, but they're twice the price of a top-loader, and ours, which is well over 10 years old, works (I did have to replace the belt once). I don't get the "second tub" - the tub inside *itself* spins dry.

And I've never had a washer that wasn't just hooked up, and it takes care of the water.

407:

"Top loaders are rare for a number of reasons, including: the need for a separate centrifuging tub in addition to the washing tub makes them far too wide"

Eh? Our top loader has but the one tub, as did its predecessor.

JHomes.

408:

Ditto. I'm more used to wishing they had two outlets, one for the wash cycle and one for the rinse cycle/lawn. But these days with 30 litres per complete cycle and better detergents (less salt added!) it's pretty safe just to dump the whole lot on the garden.

Look for second hand front loaders.

Also, read the friendly manual, because very single front loader I've used has had a magic code to open the door even when it's full of water. Often "turn off. Wait 120 seconds. Turn on at wall. Hold some random button while pressing and releasing the on button", mostly to discourage people from just randomly doing that.

And as with all second hand appliances, FFS find out how to clean the filters. The previous machine we bought second hand off some backpackers was awesome... once we had cleaned the lint filter. Which was a solid block of gunge filling not just the wee conical mesh filter, but most of the pipe leading to that filter. I still wonder whether they sold the machine not because they were moving (as they said) but because it "does not work and no one can work out why".

That problem will start getting worse soon because microplastic filtration is coming. It will be mandatory in EU soon. And those filters will likely need emptying every few washes, or they will be sodding enormous. I use an old HEPA filter from a defunct vacuum cleaner and that thing holds ~5 litres of water... you couldn't fit it into the washing machine I own now without taking out other parts.

409:

Also: my fridges, oven/stovetop and washing machine each fit in a 600x600mm footprint. One fridge has ~40mm spare down the side, the other is ~595mm wide... so needs 50mm air gap each side if it is to work properly, and both fridges need ~100mm air gap at the back. Modern fridges and freezers don't have separate cooling coils, those are embedded under the skin on the back and/or sides... making it impossible to add insulation to them. Which means paying the price premium to get properly insulated ones. Gf has a ~800mm wide fridge with RRP ~$AU2000 and that has 70mm thick walls and door. Mine are half that and it shows in the power consumption.

410:

We still have Sears

Barely. The last store in the area in the Triangle Town Center is scheduled to be closed by the end of October. Currently running clearance sales.

411:

and a couple of powered rollers over the top that you can feed clothes through the rid them of water. Also good for removing unnecessary fingers and a surprising proportion of a small child.

A friend from my teens talked about being in a Sears and fiddling with one of these while his parents were nearby not paying attention to him. Apparently the machine was powered and he managed to run his arm up to near the shoulder through the rollers.

So off to the hospital. He said he likely didn't need to stay there as he only had some light bruising. But Sears paid for him to be there for about a week and someone from Sears would show up every day with some toys for him. He had fond memories of the event.

As to pricing, name brand front loaders in the US start at around $500-$600, are decent at $800-$1000 and can go up to crazy numbers like you mentioned. Our current 10 year old Samsung was found by my wife in the discount corner of a store with a big dent in the front corner. We got it for about $300. 10 years and still going strong.

412:

Dual tub washing machines.

I think what is meant is that top loaders have a perforated tub which sits inside of tub that holds the water. So you wind up loosing about 2" of volume.

413:

If the roller release works they're relatively painless. But I've seen one where it didn't release because it was rusted inside. Apparently the owners never found it necessary to pop the release and it just gummed solid over time. That was enough to convince me that it was possible.

But I've heard/been told some scary stories about them. I don't know if they're actually true but they made me suitably fearful of the machines.

414:

Also: my fridges, oven/stovetop and washing machine each fit in a 600x600mm footprint

600mm is about 23 1/2 inches. Which is tiny for the US. While you can get specialty smaller units in the US dishwashers are designed to fit in 24" opening. Most stoves and fridges into 30" or even 36" spaces.

We Mericans just like our stuff bigger.

And outside of apartments most housing in the US has a separate closet or even room for washers and dryers. And the standard for these is 27" wide. With a larger size (that I can't remember) also being a standard.

My "utility" room has our washer, dryer, 50 gallon water heater, a small utility sink, plus storage space, a counter top, and a door to the outside so when filthy I can enter and strip off there.

415:

But I've heard/been told some scary stories about them. I don't know if they're actually true but they made me suitably fearful of the machines.

There's a reason if you see someone with a mangled hand or arm and they didn't have it done in the military you assumed they were a farmer who cut things a bit too close. Farm machinery in the past seemed designed to maim. Now you have to be more stupid to get maimed than in the past.

416:

You do a single joke about Feng Shui that balloons into a global "Lehman" moment and you get Seagulled. Oh well. Come on, it was prescient. It's really funny if you're not Temporally Locked In. (The funny part reading 20+ days of output of Western Commentators etc).

The less funny part was making everyone aware that this was Known[tm] and mis-managing Capital and Corruption are the least surprising things ever to emerge from Human made systems.

*cough* Should check the share price after said comments, +~44% ("Moon Party" or, in Crypto-speak "To the Moon"). Or this: FOMC raises counterparty limit in reverse repos to $160 bln https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-fed-reverse-repo/fomc-raises-counterparty-limit-in-reverse-repos-to-160-bln-idUSL1N2QO2A3

That's a lot of cash to be stashing per nuite (for the two or three parties requiring it). Enough to buy a few coconuts.

Anyhow: hidden jokes aside, this thread is kinda proving the old adage: "Which Males of Certain Age know how to use domestic devices, especially laundromats". (The old answer being: ex .mil, those who wanted their marriages to survive did their own post-OP cleaning, esp. Territorials).

Anyhow, you're all getting misty over High Street (dead, ongoing) stuff when the Future[tm] is your machine complaining that you've not done enough undies / week or (and this might be a service to Humanity[tm]) telling you straight up that bedding / pillows should be washed at least once a month:

wtf our fridge just emailed us to say we opened its door too many times in the past month https://twitter.com/hondanhon/status/1436027395115393024

~

malus domesticus

All we can see is that the Death Drive[tm] is accelerating. Like this thread, those in charge[tm] seem to have made sure there's No Escape, No Future and No Options. We posted you a direct link to the UK gas price hike waaay back and Nothing Got Done About It. We did it because Greg et all happen to be Pensioners and might want/need a head's up on their domestic bills going up / their "Green Suppliers" getting torched.

Meaning: it's intended. Scourge the Poors and all that.

p.s.


We don't lie. Horror-Show stuff impresses / scares those unfamiliar with, let us say: rather more Byzantine expressions of Existential Dread. You know, like that "also not a joke" thing about Nervous Systems.


~

And yeah, sometimes the Jokes have a Month pay-off. But come on: CN State Department for Benign Living, Feng-Shui and I-Ching. "It makes no sense" said one.

It does now, one hopes.

417:

I've not seen that arrangement outside laundromats. All the domestic ones I've seen the washing tub is fixed, with a moving agitator, and there is a separate rotating tub to do the centrifuge bit.

Come to that, front loaders used not to spin either. My gran had a standalone centrifuge as a separate appliance, and would transfer the washing from the front-loading washing machine to that to get the water out.

The problem was that to make them spin when they were powered by an induction motor was a bit tricky. Either you didn't bother or you had this fabulous assemblage of belts and pulleys and friction drive wheels and levers and great big springs acting as a two-speed gearbox to change gear between "wash" and "spin" ratios. And the friction drives meant it needed constant messing and adjustment to avoid it turning into a no-speed gearbox. So don't-bother + standalone centrifuge was often a more sensible choice.

418:

"magic code to open the door even when it's full of water."

If the concept of a "magic code" is not relevant there is usually some hidden mechanical release somewhere. Something like inside the little hatch that covers the cover for the gunge filter there might be this strange end of a string for no apparent reason, the non-apparent reason being that if you pull it the door comes open regardless.

Also, if you take the end of the drain hose out of the drain pipe on the wall and find some way to lead it to a drain without raising it above floor level, it will drain by gravity without the need for the pump.

I hope your duvet washer is going to be powered by pedalling half an old bicycle :)

419:

"But I've heard/been told some scary stories about them. I don't know if they're actually true "

Mine is true. I still have the scar on the inside of my elbow, from when my arm got caught as a child.

I am happy we don't get to do that today.

JHomes.

420:

The problem was that to make them spin when they were powered by an induction motor was a bit tricky. Either you didn't bother or you had this fabulous assemblage of belts and pulleys and friction drive wheels and levers and great big springs acting as a two-speed gearbox to change gear between "wash" and "spin" ratios.

For a while now, at least in the US, front loaders have the drum and a variable speed motor as a single unit. The motor windings are built into the back of the drum.

421:

I hope your duvet washer is going to be powered by pedalling half an old bicycle :)

I hope so too! I just have to play with the mechanics, and probably find a large bit of concrete to bolt it down to. Spinning something that holds 30-50kg of water if you just leave it to drain in a pile needs a a certain amount of attention. Possibly along the lines of giving the spinnamathing a ~2m circumference so the doona can be spread fairly evenly around it. Even 20kg on one side and nothing on the other is going to be exciting. Also exiting...

My front loader has the aforementioned filter behind a flap on the front, well below the drum. Even when the machine is "empty" that bit is full of water. Which IMO is not good design, but it does mean that if the machine was full of water someone could remove the filter to empty the machine.

On a related note, laundries should always be built as wet areas. Not just sloped to a drain, but with a floor covering that is designed to be wet for extended periods.

422:

One does Hope that euphemisms apply here, as the average IQ (which is a bit of a rubbish metric but we all know that) in this thread is at least over 140.

One Example: Brick in washing machine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS90PApRE84

Good Luck, You're gonna need it.

Oh, one last thing: someone tell Martin that the USA State Department actually does blame TR / RU for the Cyprus ammo explosion, the details of which you'll have to dig a bit deep to get to (basically: Diplomatic Stonewalling). Always irked me, that one: it's not a "Conspiracy Theory" if we're tongue-in-cheek telling you actual reality with a James Bond "LOL" spin on it.

As for "unsafe storage", whelp... either blame the UK for not having proper depots or TR/RU for blocking moving said stuff there. i.e. it was definitely deliberate to make sure said ammo dumps got left out there in the hot-hot-hot sun for years.

Irks us: Martin at least should know the Truth about the outcome without having his Mind ravaged by "It's a Conspiracy Theory" bollocks run over it.


*shrug* He won't read this, but it has been written in an attempt to recover his Mind a little.

~

IPCC just came in with "2.7oC is baked in"[1] on the most promising outcomes, so.... you (or more accurately, your kids) are gonna have to Fight. For real.

And fuck us backwards, the UK (England) is not in a Mental Space to deal with that.

[1] Sorry Greg, told you ... years ago. We do not lie. 1.5 was a total fucking lie. 2.7 is "if you're fucking lucky" at this point.

423:

But, actually: Totes was a weaponized explosion to weaken Cyprus' (FEEBLE) .mil, really are you that naive to imagine that "accident" takes out your Command Structure by accident.

Stick to Grunt Infantry, for realz.

Dude: the ammo dump was a grenade kept there specifically and.... You'd be surprised who did it though. It's always about Gas / Oil fields, and the long term planning.


Cyrpus: now entering a non-NATO economic agreement.

~


Anyhow:

A Tunguska sized airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam a Middle Bronze Age city in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-97778-3

We can still smell the Valley. And hear the Singing Ones. We just do not get to Sing until.... well. Our Song is one of those ones.

What you're going to tell us next? That Abrahamic Religions cultivate Psychopaths?


DO NOT BE AFRAID.

424:

Pigeon
I have a relatively new-ish twin-tub - for the reasons you decry
The centrifuge ( spinner ) is much faster than "normal" models, & because of its primitive quirks, I can "program" what I want to do with it, much more easily.
I have an ancient - probably made in the 1960's second-hand "new World Range" gas cooker, which I have zero intention of replacing.
Neither of these is, of course, constrained by the idiot dimensional requirements.

Interesting - as noted:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-97778-3

Origin of Sodom/Gomorrah legend?

425:

#395 Para 2 - Well, it's an exaggeration but it's about true of "most European makes".

#397 - That's pretty fair description of a Kettenkrad (although the detail minded may like to note that the front end is more likely a BMW or Zundapp part than a Hardly Ableson one).

#398 - That's pretty much par for the course for retail commercial launderettes in Oceania, Europe and North America AFAIK.

#401 - "Thou shalt lobbest thy Holy Hand Grenade at thine enemy who, being naughty in mine sight, shalt be blown to bits!"

#408 - Cheers for the heads up on "microplastic filtration". Essential (but non obvious) question clearly becomes "show me how to empty the plastics filter".

426:

I don't understand why you all were wasting your time talking about nuclear war when there are many far more likely fates awaiting us:

Future pandemics originating in factory farms or habitats we destroyed

Habitat destruction and the collapse of biodiversity

Climate change/global warming screwing up the jet stream. weather and rainfall patterns, raising ocean levels, making storms more wet and powerful....

Mass migration from the equatorial regions, Syrians and Guatemalans were just the start - along with the political ramifications born a fear of being swamped by non white people (Trumpism, white nationalism, Brexit, etc.)

Hacking our minds through social media and destroying the concept of objective truth

Drought which at minimum will drive up food prices (our wheat crop was cut in half last year due to drought out west) while destroying real estate values out West as rivers and groundwater reservoirs dry up

Collapsing infrastructure which leaves us without the tools to face the other crises

Collapsing birthrates and aging populations

Economic stagnation caused by aging populations more or less destroying capitalism as a functioning economic system

Obscene inequality beyond the levels of the French revolution (roll out them tumbrels or see the rich institute a repressive dictatorship to protect their wealth aided by their racist allies)

In the absence of real economic growth, the economy becoming a series of inflating and collapsing bubbles with only the rich benefiting from each cycle.

Forever chemicals and micro-plastics permeating our bodies, causing cancers and shutting down sperm counts and fertility

The mass deaths of pollinators/bees and insects which form the base of any land food pyramid.

Ocean acidification, which is making it difficult for calcium carbonate hard shelled creatures like plankton to survive. Plankton is the base of the oceans food pyramid. Without them the ocean dies. Then we die.

American life expectancy continues to decline, it plateaued in 2010 and has been falling due to Covid-19 and deaths of despair (opioid abuse, suicides, etc.) - not exactly the sign of a heathy nation now is it?

(Speaking of health, there has been a 30% increase in the number of Type 1 diabetes since 2017 and nobody knows why. This is not a result of increased detection or better diagnoses. More people have Type 1 dead pancreases for some reason. Does anyone have an idea why?)

Long term contact with pesticides and herbicides are lowering the IQa of Americans in rural areas.

Rivers like the Colorado and aquifers like the Ogallala are both drying up, and God never intended for anything to be farmed west of the 100th meridian.

427:

I'd like to add/modify an item to your laundry list:

Mass migration from the equatorial regions, Syrians and Guatemalans were just the start - along with the political ramifications born a fear of being swamped by non white people (Trumpism, white nationalism, Brexit, etc.)

I think the real fun will start with the mass migrations from the US (south and west first) and Europe (south first). Think about how the parts of the world that will still be habitable at that point will feel about being swamped by white people (the same white people who created this mess in the first place, mind you).

428:

Ah, Belk. I bought a hat once in their South Park Mall branch

I presume they're still okay - as they're one of our customers, I'm sure that if they'd gone chapter 11 we'd have been told.

429:

Pigeon @ 399:

Over here we are burdened with the terrible curse of the Standard Kitchen Unit. This is a notional cuboid 600mm wide by (I think) 900mm high and 600mm deep. Every bloody thing has to fit within this rather confined space ...

The main raison d'êum;tre of this stunted abomination is to accommodate the large number of fucking idiots who destroy the entire contents of their kitchen every few years ...

I see your point, but I think that's overstating things.

Imagine what it would be like if it wasn't a standard:

Oh dear, my washing machine has broken. What can I get in the same size? Only from the same manufacturer. This time I'd rather buy something reliable, but to do that I either have to get something that won't fit, or I have to destroy the entire contents of my kitchen...

In a previous job the company had kitchenettes fitted throughout the new building, including special boiling water taps for making tea and coffee. These are clever gadgets which have a big box plumbed in under the worktop to keep some water at 95 degrees C all the time. After a couple of years these gadgets started failing. Oh noes: the manufacturer was out of business. Could they get new gadgets from another company? Only by ripping out the existing worktops because the replacements wouldn't fit in the same holes. In the end they left the useless taps in place and bought kettles.

Now imagine that for every single appliance in your kitchen.

When we had our new kitchen fitted (the old one was a cheap one ~25 years old: bits were falling off) we refused to have a boiling water device for this reason. We also made the designer put a sliding cupboard between the oven and the fridge; he thought they would do well next to each other.

430:

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the machines are of US manufacture.

The dominant manufacturer of UK laundromat machines is ... Miele. (They also provide ongoing maintenance contracts with engineer visits.) Yes, they're built like tanks. So are their front-loading domestic washing machines/driers/washer-driers that fit in the 60cm^2 units, but: costly. (One aspect of the price is that cheap generic washing machines use a lump of concrete ballast to dampen the drum vibration. Miele don't, instead they use a heavy cast-iron cylinder around the drum, so the weight is evenly distributed (and the spin cycle doesn't vibrate due to the weight distribution being off-centre).

431:

The Standard Kitchen Unit only applies if you want/have a "fitted kitchen" - we managed happily for years with an ad hoc layout, although I suspect this didn't help when we eventually decided to move & put the house up for sale.

433:

We Mericans just like our stuff bigger.

Not just "stuff": I think you fail to appreciate how little land there is here to build houses on! If the USA was populated to the same density as the UK, the USA would hold nearly the entire planetary population ... and about half the UK's land area is barely inhabited (because it consists of mountains).

The consequence is that the average British home is about 40% the size of the US equivalent: smaller than its Japanese counterpart, too.

I mean, you have a utility room. In the UK that would mean you have a significantly larger-than-average home.

434:

I think you fail to appreciate how little land there is here to build houses on!

Nope. That was my point. :)

Of course we can talk about NYC apartments in older buildings. What people saw on the TV show "Friends" was a fantasy of wide open spaces.

435:

I had one of those for a few years I found when I moved to Pittsburgh as a bachelor. Hooked the hose up to the kitchen sink faucet. I had forgotten how much fun that thing was.

436:

and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the machines are of US manufacture.

I don't know about laundromats in particular but in general half or most washing machines in the US are made in countries on the western Pacific Rim. Interestingly the very low end and very high end of the market.

437:

I am 49 and in Canada and have never seen nor heard of a washer with a separate spinning drum. Simply not a thing here, at least not in my experience.

We recently bought a new front loading washer, when the very old one stopped doing a spin cycle (thus causing us to run the dryer 2-3 times per load, not energy efficient). The new unit was about C$1200 and has revolutionized our life in a house where laundry is a constant (2 teens + 2 people whose jobs require regular clothing changes = many loads/week).

I am a fan of solar and wind drying of laundry the old fashioned way - on a clothesline. I even put up a line under our deck to allow wind drying in rainy weather (we do live in a temperate rainforest). I my household the number of people willing to go through the motions of hanging the laundry to dry is equal to one, which means our electric dryer gets a lot of use. Soon it will fail, having been old and rusty when we bought the house 11 years ago.

438:

The one I had was bought around 82 or so and was no where near new condition when I bought it. Maybe 10 to 20 years old. So new in the 60s or 70s. And I've never seen one in person since I moved in 87.

Outside drying can be fun depending on local conditions. We have a 4 to 8 week period every spring where the pine trees generate dust, err pollen, storms daily. Outside drying would be fun at those times. Plus most of our dirt is really red clay. Which stains. ....

I have an electric dryer and my power bill is lower than most customers like me per the power company so I'm reasonably happy.

Teens playing lacrosse, baseball, and soccer made for huge piles of laundry a over a decade ago.

439:

someone tell Martin that the USA State Department actually does blame RU for the Cyprus ammo explosion

I suspect you might be confused, between Cyprus 2011 and Czech Republic 2019.

Faced with a choice between cockup and conspiracy (i.e. "people who don't really understand ammunition storage, leave multiple containerloads of Soviet-designed[1] ammunition natures and primers in the hot sun, and refuse the polite offers of help from subject-matter experts because What's The Worst That Could Happen" and "iT wUz the eeEVIL rUSSkiEs") you're claiming that they've chosen conspiracy? Somehow, I doubt it.

I could understand the suspicion if there had been a convenient visit by a GRU "inspection team" (as appears to have happened in the Czech Republic), but plain old incompetence appears to have been sufficient in this case.

I mean, this was 2011, and the Cypriots weren't even selling the kit to a country that Russia was occupying (I suppose at the time, that would have been Georgia - i.e. in 2019 the Czechs were selling military kit to the Ukrainians), so what was the motive for making life awkward in Russia's favourite money-laundering destination of the time?

[1] The tricky bit in ammunition technology isn't just "make it go bang when you want", it's also "stop it going bang when you don't want". This also includes processes and controls around packaging, storage, inspection, service life, and appropriate disposal at end-of-life. The Soviet/Russian approach to weaponry design, storage, and lifespan is apparently... given to a rather larger risk appetite than most NATO countries. Hence the not-infrequent explosions at depots of Russian ammunition, without any sabotage being required; Severomorsk, Ryazan, etc...

440:

I am a fan of solar and wind drying of laundry the old fashioned way - on a clothesline.

Likewise - although I understand that clotheslines are seen as a poverty indicator in much of the USA...

We've got a clothesline strung across our back garden, between two Victorian-era cast-iron poles that we rehomed from a friend's back garden in Glasgow. When it's raining (not uncommon in Lothian), shirts get put on coathangers, and hung on the doors near the kitchen; trousers are hung on radiators. Thankfully the Bügelberg has diminished with firstborn's departure to university; two kids and two adults generally means that the washing machine does a full load a day (5 to 7kg in our titchy little European hardware)

Unfortunately, we now have to run socks and underwear through the dryer, just so the Sock Monster doesn't pay a visit (aka resident Furry Crocodile). If she hadn't taken to the belief that socks were deliciously edible, we'd still be drying on the radiators around the house; hopefully the newly-arrived Junior Furry Crocodile won't pick up on this particular habit...

441:

Around 1953, when my sister was 3, my father came home and got fed up fighting the frozen diapers/nappies hanging on the back porch. They were there because the kitchen and other areas inside were full of hanging diapers. My sister had been born with a congenital kidney issue and went through diapers at 4 to 5 times the normal rate.

Anyway fed up father went out and bought an electric dryer. Which at that time was purely the domain of the rich doctors and lawyers of the town. So my entire life growing up I had relatives speak of us as the "rich" ones and never understood what they were talking about. Till my father told me this story. My personal memory was fuzzy as I was around 1 at the time.

We might have had 5 to 10 year old cars but for my entire childhood we had decent appliances. A dishwasher before anyone else I knew also. And central air installed by my father around 1962.

442:

I don't understand why you all were wasting your time talking about nuclear war

Maybe because it apparently featured in the new book that started this discussion?

when there are many far more likely fates awaiting us:

True.

Mass migration from the equatorial regions, Syrians and Guatemalans were just the start - along with the political ramifications born a fear of being swamped by non white people (Trumpism, white nationalism, Brexit, etc.)

Your assuming that we let them in, something that I don't think is necessarily true given the last 5 or so years.

But you also aren't thinking of the most obvious - at least for the US - of the mass migration within the US and the political repercussions of not just red states remaining red, but large numbers of angry Republican voters moving into blue states.

443:

Filters... *inside* the washer? I've never seen that, and I have taken at least two apart to replace a broken belt. In the US, we buy wire mesh bags (if you're not directly piped into the washer) to catch lint.
https://www.ridgidforum.com/filedata/fetch?id=733903&d=1534798194

444:

Seriously cool. And I'm with Gret - if that's not the origin of Sodom/Gomorrah, I'll eat raw cauiflower.

445:

Most pictures I see of kitchens and bathrooms are in million-dollar houses, if they were built post-WWII.

I've had little more than Pullman kitchens since I left Philly (lived back then in late Victorian....)

446:

"For a while now, at least in the US, front loaders have the drum and a variable speed motor as a single unit. The motor windings are built into the back of the drum."

Do you really mean that? I mean it's technically possible, but I can't think of any compelling reason to do it and a more conventional approach would be cheaper and easier to manufacture. I find it more in accordance with expectations to postulate some failure of communication than to accept what seems to be the literal meaning as the true one.

It would be super if it was true, because it seems to imply a wonderful source of electromechanical parts suitable for (or at least well worth investigating for suitability for) making things like electric bicycle drives and small wind generators.

What I'm used to seeing is a brushed AC motor (commutator and wound field), roughly similar in size to the starter motor you'd find on a 1-litre or so engine, bolted to a couple of lugs on the outer drum housing, with a belt drive from a very small pulley on the motor to a very large pulley on the drum spindle (usually a polyvee belt because an ordinary V-belt wouldn't go round the tiny motor pulley). The motor speed is controlled by a straightforward phase-angle triac circuit.

This method has only been feasible since you could get (a) triacs, and (b) useful brushed motors to run off mains AC and put out a kilowatt or so. Before that they were driven by an induction motor, which is of course a single-speed device, so any alteration of the speed of the drum itself required a corresponding alteration to the gear ratio of the drive.

Instead of using a proper gearbox to change the ratio, they used this horrible agglomeration of belts and pulleys and disengageable friction drives off the rim of rubber-edged wheels and great big springs to provide the engagement force. I suppose the reasoning was that a gearbox would involve accurate machining of good quality steel, whereas the pulley system could be made entirely by stamping out bits of mild steel and spot-welding them, bang bang bang. Probably quieter-running too.

This system made it possible to both wash and spin the clothes in the same drum, but you still had to come along and operate the gearchange by hand to switch the machine between wash and spin modes. Having the machine able to change its own speed fully automatically didn't become widespread until semiconductors and usable brushed motors made it possible to vary the actual motor speed purely electronically in a non-horrible manner.

"in general half or most washing machines in the US are made in countries on the western Pacific Rim. Interestingly the very low end and very high end of the market."

Are you missing an "are not" off the end of that? It would be particularly odd if "the very low end and very high end of the market" was "half or most" of it - I'd have expected "most" of it to be the bit in between instead.

447:

Martin
.... it's also "stop it going bang when you don't want". Something my Father, after time in the experimental & testing sections at Ardeer during WWII was very keen on!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh yes
Any thoughts on this ... just what we need, or maybe not, & presumably-not vapourware, given the known backers?
https://vertical-aerospace.com/va-x4/
Apparently pre-orders are piling up ....

448:

I'm not sure if you can see this video, but if you can, it might help:

https://www.pbs.org/video/great-electric-airplane-race-yija0p/

ePlanes are where aeroplanes were in the 1920s and 1930s. The commercial need is apparent, but the design standards for a "good eplane" are still coming together. So it's fun to watch. If you like, compare the evolution of, say, DeHavilland plane designs (mostly because there are so many) with what the ePlane engineers are turning out.

449:

Without doing research for you.

Yes the motor is 1/2 on the back of the drum and 1/2 mounted to the frame. Which requires reasonable alignment of parts to work.

And as to needing semiconductors to have an automatic cycle... Ah, no. I've been using washers since the 60s into the 00s with no semi-conductors in the automatic sequencing setups. (I didn't really pay attention to what my parents were doing when I was under the age of 10.) Two washers back I used a 20 year old washer from a dead relative for 10 years. I had to twice remove the timing control and bend the contact fingers down as the control disks had worn grooves so deep they quit making a reliable contact but aside from that it worked fine with all electrical / mechanical controls. 120v in fact. All automatic from the user point of view.

450:

I'm not sure if you can see this video,

It is restricted to PBS Passport accounts. I'm guessing you have one. Like me. I wasn't signed in on this computer which is why I saw the restriction.

Of course I wonder what the prompt will say for those outside the country. The first question is a guess as "your local PBS station".

451:

"This video is not available"

452:

#432 - OTOH my Mum (married in 1960, first home a tenement flat in a wally close in Pollockshields, Glasgow) had separate washing machine and spin drier as wedding presents.

#439 [1] - Absolutely.

453:

Hang on -- there are a number of skeptical views out there about this paper, some from archaeologists, some from physicists. Here's one from Mark Boslough, an expert on impacts and airbursts, sometime of Sandia Labs:

"As I promised yesterday, I’m going to start addressing the specific scientific claims..."

454:

I would suggest it's worth looking at reducing the size of the drum, and spinning it faster to compensate (acceleration being rω2 you can still easily win). Compare washing machines that spin with the standalone centrifuge units you use in conjunction with ones that don't: the washing machine has a large diameter drum, goes at something roughly in the region of 1000rpm, and has a pair of dashpots and a ruddy great counterweight to help fight the vibration, whereas the standalone centrifuge has a much narrower drum with direct drive off an induction motor, and can get away with just using rubber.

The amplitude of the vibration - ie. the distance moved between extremes - gets larger as the speed reduces, even though the accelerative force gets less. (You can see this when a washing machine that has been OK while spinning at speed starts to bang and crash against its limit stops in the course of deceleration.)

The lump of wet cloth is trying to achieve minimum energy by getting its mass, on average, as far away from the centre of rotation as possible. With a low speed of rotation (large vibrational amplitude) and a drum which is large compared to the lump, it can do this well enough by staying in a lump, producing a large out-of-balance force which pulls the whole thing to one side against the compliance of the mountings and increases the effective radius of rotation on that side. This configuration is stable (until something breaks); you can even get it to happen with water instead of cloth.

With a higher speed (smaller amplitude) and a smaller drum, the increase in effective radius that results from being off balance gets small in relation to the size of the lump, so remaining in a lump is not very effective at moving mass away from the axis. It can now better reduce its internal energy by spreading out into a layer, moving all its mass as close as possible to the outside of the drum. Happily, it is now balanced. This is conditionally stable, but you can design it so that the conditions hold as long as you don't overload it.

I think that by going for a large diameter drum so the thing "has room to spread itself out" you are likely to end up getting the opposite result, and making "spread out" too unfavoured a mode over "off balance lump" to the point that things break before you can get into it. I think it is more likely to spread itself out if you use a comparatively narrow drum on fairly stiff mountings so that region is easier to achieve. (You might have to take some care with loading since it's a single item - maybe make it have a vertical axis and take care to arrange the load in a single turn round the centre.) As a bonus, you can say "It's designed on the same principle as a uranium enrichment centrifuge!" for extra geek points.

455:

Charlie: I've been rereading the entire Clan series since I got Bloodline early last week, and I'm on Dark State... and one thing's hit me: I *thought* Kurt and Rita's adoptive parents were in Phoenix... but Kurt's at Greta's grave in *Boston*.

What am I missing?

456:

Pigeon @ 400: Laundromat machines are a different kettle of fish from domestic ones. Simple one-setting top-loaders, and gas-fired dryers that get the clothes dry in a few minutes instead of a couple of hours like domestic ones do, built like tanks and gorilla-proof. From what I've seen in movies it appears that the insides of US and UK laundromats are extremely similar, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the machines are of US manufacture.

I looked on Google Maps and the laundromat in Inverness is still there, right where I remember it. It's around the corner from the Bed & Breakfast I stayed at.

Looking through the front window using Street View it looks like they now have nice big front loading machines. I remember they did have top-loaders when I was there. Didn't notice the brand name or if I did it didn't make enough of an impression for me to retain it. But they were very much identical to the machines I'd used here in the U.S.

I have my own washer & dryer here at home. Don't remember how old they are, but probably around 30 years old. I have had to replace some parts (hot water solenoid) and a drum belt in the dryer. I only use hot water for washing my underwear. Everything else gets cold & it works just fine. I use Arm & Hammer liquid detergent (no perfumes) and whatever dryer sheets (no perfume) that are on sale when I need to replenish.

457:

"Yes the motor is 1/2 on the back of the drum and 1/2 mounted to the frame. Which requires reasonable alignment of parts to work."

Good grief.

Searching for variations on usa washing machine drum motor doesn't find things like that. It gets me things which are just like what I'm used to seeing: commutator motors which bolt to the outside of the drum housing and drive it through a belt and pulleys. Plus a handful of brushless ones that do the same thing. (Plus more results relating to the UK/Aus/NZ than to the USA, stupid bloody search engines.)

Turns out the magic words are "direct drive" and using those I find:

- There indeed are washing machines driven by a great big floppy drive motor on the back of the drum housing connected directly to the drum spindle. Fucksake.
- They are perpetrated by Samsung and LG, but apparently not by anyone else. (Though Samsung and LG still make ordinary ones as well.)
- They exist in the UK as well. (Still never seen one though.)
- They don't seem to be universal even in the USA, rather they seem to be a minority thing.
- They exist purely to try and make people think they're better and so spend money on them. They don't fulfil any need, and they don't confer any particular advantage, though there is a huge amount of marketing bollocks (much of it masquerading as genuine consumer advice) jumping up and down about various obvious and insignificant aspects and trying to make out that they're so important that buying one of these will instantly transform your life into some kind of amazing serotonin-drenched washing machine paradise.
- There are also some independent sober analyses of which the consensus is more or less "fucksake, they're at it again".
- They are significantly less tolerant of wear in the drum spindle bearing. (Well, gosh darn, who'd a thunk it? Of course there is now the new possibility of a worn drum bearing fucking the motor while it's at it.)

I conclude:
- DO NOT buy Samsung/LG machines for washing clothes without taking care to ensure they are not one of these.
- DO pick them up as scrap for conversion into windmills and the like.


WRT semiconductors vs. not: see also some of the electrical gadgets on 50s/60s US cars vs. the electrical systems of UK ones at the time and how similar gadgets worked when they eventually did show up.

458:

You're right, but it comes down to the drums I can easily get. Basically 220l or 110l (hehe, that's one hundred and ten litres), and the 110l is barely big enough for my winter king size doona when it's dry. So wet it would definitely fit, it would just be tricky. And we are getting into it being easier to spin it around the long axis except for the bit where I have to get the lid off one end to fill or empty it. And also if it's spun that way having holes around the perimeter of the drum rather than just on the lid makes more sense. So mechanically it gets complex.

Getting a 220l drum and spinning it so the lid is at the outside is easier in every way except balance. I suspect a couple of large bricks as counterweight :)

Or just the brutal approach of washing things in the drum, putting the perforated lid on and standing it on the lid to drain for a while, then rinsing it and hanging it on the line. Which is more or less what I do now.

459:

there are a number of skeptical views out there about this paper,
It's a very long paper with a lot of lines of evidence. The first author (Ted E. Bunch) has published some similar papers over the years.
(I don't have much experience critically reading such papers.)
SotMNs 423: "We can still smell the Valley. And hear the Singing Ones. We just do not get to Sing until.... well. Our Song is one of those ones."
Went down a few rabbit holes (inc in this site's archives) on those comments. :-)

460:

malus domesticus
You have a very good eye.
Re one of the puns, my mother showed my brother, sister and I the washing machine and detergent when we were in our early teens. There was probably some instruction about color separation, which my brother and I ignored, and about wool, which we didn't.

our fridge just emailed us to say we opened its door too many times
"Things" don't get my WiFi password (excepting a few webcams with no (internet) inbound access), and currently few Things have embedded cellular support (some alarm systems and trail/surveillance cams being a couple of current exceptions. And phones.), or other exfiltration workarounds.

461:

There are engineering advantages to direct-drive systems in most motorised mechanisms like wind turbines, robots and the like. The pluses and minuses for a given application are another matter but I can certainly see why washing-machine manufacturers might have gone for DD motor systems despite their extra engineering complexity -- for example the single large bearing supporting the drum is no longer side-loaded by a tensioned belt and drive compared to older designs with multiple smaller bearings, some of which are under side load from belts and pulleys. Fewer moving parts is always a good thing and wasting energy in belt drive transmissions is not considered eco these days.

There are good reasons why floppy disc drive manufacturers moved to direct-drive motors as soon as they could (I have examples of old non-direct-drive floppy drives in my junk boxes where the drive belt has rotted and frayed).

462:

Moz @ 404: I quite like the old wringer washing machines, basically a tub with an electrically powered stirrer in it, and a couple of powered rollers over the top that you can feed clothes through the rid them of water. Also good for removing unnecessary fingers and a surprising proportion of a small child. If your clothes are mostly cotton and wool the wringer works well, better than most top loaders in their spin cycle.

I had one like that for a while, but the only thing that was motorized was the agitator. Had to fill it with water manually & the wringer was hand cranked. But it was good enough for a college dormitory so I didn't have to use the laundry room in the basement (where the machines were broken most of the time) or walk over to that off-campus commercial laundromat. No dryer, but I had one of those scissoring, folding drying racks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnGKtc4fbbo

463:

JHomes @ 407:

"Top loaders are rare for a number of reasons, including: the need for a separate centrifuging tub in addition to the washing tub makes them far too wide"

Eh? Our top loader has but the one tub, as did its predecessor.

JHomes.

It may be like mine with the centrifuging tub nested inside an outer tub. Look for a perforated drum inside when you look down into the washing machine. That inner tub is the "centrifuging tub".

464:

Moz @ 408: Ditto. I'm more used to wishing they had two outlets, one for the wash cycle and one for the rinse cycle/lawn. But these days with 30 litres per complete cycle and better detergents (less salt added!) it's pretty safe just to dump the whole lot on the garden.

To be most ecologically correct (eco-friendly?) what you need is a grey water system. Take the water that drains from your washing machine, your bathtub/shower & sinks and collect it in a grey water holding tank, then use THAT WATER to flush your toilets into either the sewer or a septic system. That way you're not wasting your wash water, nor using potable water for toilets.

I know people who go so far as to collect rain-water & run it through a home-made gravel/sand/charcoal filter (chlorinate it with bleach) & store it for potable water before recycling it as wash water (collected as grey water) and then using it for toilets (black water).

465:

We had the spiffy advanced model, much bigger and entirely capable of dealing with two babies worth of cloth nappies every day. But equally capable of running a 300 litre hot water tank cold if you insisted on only using hot/warm water in it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX8aDqVXWP8

466:

We've talked about grey water etc here before.

For me personally living with by girlfriend a whole lot of stuff is possible, even easy, that is just bluntly not legally permitted. For obvious reasons shower, laundry and kitchen wastewater is considered blackwater and may not be discharged other than into the sewers or an approved treatment system. I discharge a lot of it the same place I pee... my garden. Sometimes in the same place I bury the humanure from my composting toilet, but more often around the leafy vegetables, while I bury the manure under the trees.

All that absolutely relies on us being very careful about what goes in to the drainage in the house, and even more so once I build the granny flat and everything but toilet flushing goes straight onto the garden. It's not trivial, it means having plastic-removing filters on the washing machine outlet, for example, and not shitting in the kitchen sink.

I normally use rainwater to flush toilets, but when I rented my house out* I dismantled that system, moved it out and then helped a friend install it at their place. Then covid hit and the second hand plastic drum man didn't want to deliver to my house, and I started planning my granny flat and blah blah whatever I don't catch rainwater here any more. But the flip side is that it's 99% my girlfriend who flushes toilets, because she's weirdly reluctant to go outside and pee in the garden like a normal person. My more usual problem with toilets is things growing in the flush tank or toilet bowl.

Granny flat is likely to only use potable water for drinking and cooking, I'll have rainwater for the flush toilet, washing machine and laundry tub... and that tub will also be accessible enough that any non-potable use can come from there.

* metered water consumption went from ~100 litres/day for 1.3 people to ~800 litres/day for five people.

467:

I think it's worth giving numbers just so people who are thinking "but everyone needs to halve their usage" gets a chance to think about what that means in practice. The *average* in Sydney is ~200l/day/person, and from my direct experience getting a household below 50 litres/day/person is hard work - it means you get one flush per person, per day, and 2 minutes under a 5 litre/minute shower head. The rest goes on cooking and handwashing. Don't see laundry there? No, neither do I. It's rainwater or nothing. Or, as some people do, shift consumption outside the home - laundromats, takeaways and using the toilet/shower at work.

But someone using 300 litres/day/person... there's a lot of easy wins and just halving their water consumption should be almost trivial. Getting it down to the bottom quartile, where we all should be all the time... that's ~120l/d/p IIRC, and doable with some effort.

468:

PS: I saw the two tub type with a separate spin tub in Iraq. Don't know if they were British manufacture or not, but the electricity there used British style 220V plugs.

The two tub washing machines I saw in Iraq were the kind with one hose to fill the water and one hose to empty the tub. You had to turn the water on & off manually and you had to move the washed clothes from first drum to the other by hand. And it didn't seem to be able to use both drums at the same time, so there was no way to spin dry clothes while washing another load.

I never really understood what is supposed to be the advantage of the two smaller drums over the nested drum style popular in the U.S.?

It didn't appear to require less water to operate and didn't appear to require less materials to manufacture the machine?

469:

Also, one reason Sydney and Melbourne are really pushing rainwater tanks to feed toilets and washing machines is that it's a change that doesn't affect behaviour/lifestyle. It's turned out to be much easier to get people to spend money than change their behaviour.

Sadly there are a non-trivial number of people who fill their rainwater tank using the hose, then "water their garden with rainwater". Sydney Water often knows who they are, but don't have enforcement power.

470:

It was an arms shipment going to Syria that the US quasi-impounded using Cyprus as the closest NATO aligned port at that time to do it. It also happens to be a time period where the UK were (allegedly) also shipping arms to certain Regional Actors as were the USA, CN and so forth. That's ignoring the land routes through TR / Stans etc.

The actual argument was over shipping permits and the fact it didn't actually contain any Export-Banned tech stuff which NATO forces certainly were breaching, given the magical appearance of multiple tech levels of TOWs that appeared in the region. Including the non-wire versions which really shouldn't be outside NATO tech forces. Thus, a few years later, TR shat bricks when CN MANPADs turned up, which all the G7-8 peeps had agreed not to supply, evar.

I've even seen all the video clips of them using them. Syria boy with the TOW became quite famous. And no-one asked questions when his old wire gudided unit got, well: a tad upgraded.

You sick fucks just cheered as old Soviet T72/4's got smacked out by tech that your usual rebels could never afford, right?

I mean, we can hash this out: shipping vast amounts of small arms / ammunition to conflicts is kinda a known thing, and said ammo dump didn't contain anything "special", the USA was pissed at that particular shipping magnate and lots of other details. You know, you could check who shipped it, who they are and so on.

TR/RU (kinda correctly, tbh) protested a (then) legal shipment being raided by the USA and the UK / NATO failed to back up their little ally and so it sat there.

Bottom line: when something gets "embarressing" the simplist version is to torch the evidence.


Sure, argue about it: but we're really not confused about why we're not conflating this incident. It is, if you know about it, the reason CN MANPADs suddenly turn up a few years later.

But this is all fantasy, right? Lord of War: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHn1zogeyO4

p.s.


Seen Lebanon recently? IMF making punishment realz. UK BP warnings got nothing on them (oh, and for free: do a grep, exact warning about Petrol and Winter).


~


*shrug*

Not a Conspiracy Theory though, was it?

471:

Well, I'm not terribly qualified either, though I have worked on impacts and airbursts on occasion. Assessing the stuff I know about in the paper would certainly take time, not to mention the archaeology that I know nothing about. I do regard Boslough as an expert in his field. That said, Bunch isn't a crackpot either--Web of Science shows ~150 references and an h-factor of 36. (And google tells me he is 85 years old.) On the other hand the page you link to has a lot of papers on the putative younger Dryas impact, another controversial idea that is not widely accepted.

Another skeptical twitter thread, this time from an archaeologist:

"These are just some preliminary observations on #TalElHammam and #TEHburst..."

472:

Oh.

Actor Daniel Craig appointed honorary Royal Navy Commander

https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2021/september/23/210923-daniel-craig-honorary-commander

Martin: some solid career advice.

Don't run teenage level PSYOP stuff on us, that attempting breach level to 2019 is fucking laughable because we could instantly reference, oh, we don't know: how the UK .mil has been outsourced to IL and SA and is barely even a "Defence" Force these days rather than being a PMC.

And if.. if.... you want to discuss PMCs (AEGIS) then we'll all have to be a little bit more mature than using bog-basic 5-Level tier flowcharts for it.


Here's the tip: "Way above your paygrade".

473:

"the single large bearing supporting the drum is no longer side-loaded by a tensioned belt and drive compared to older designs with multiple smaller bearings, some of which are under side load from belts and pulleys."

The belt loading on that bearing is small compared to even the static loading from the weight of the empty drum, and bugger all compared to the dynamic loading from an unbalanced load on spin. The only other bearings in the drive are those in the motor, and they are just boggo ball races, nothing special required.

But sticking a direct drive motor on the back makes the requirements for that bearing more stringent: while the belt drive can easily tolerate a small amount of wobble or misalignment, the rotor of a direct drive motor can't shift by more than a fraction of a millimetre before it starts to hit the stator, whence mayhem doth ensue.

Main drum bearing failure is a pain in the arse, but at least with a belt drive system it is comparatively benign: it develops slowly but in an attention-grabbing way, so you know you need to fix it long before it gets really bad; and even if you do manage to ignore all the banging and clattering, the worst that usually ends up happening is that it starts throwing the belt off, without causing any further secondary damage. An unquestionable need for replacement corresponds to several millimetres of play at the front of the drum, which would still correspond to a few millimetres at the lesser distance from the centre of wobble of the rim of a direct drive rotor, so by that point the motor would be chewing itself up internally and you'd have to cough up an extra hundred quid odd for a new one.

From what user reports of failure I noticed earlier it seems that in a direct drive washing machine the failure of the main bearing first announces itself not by banging and clattering on spin, but by graunching noises at all times. This suggests that when you notice it secondary consequential damage is indeed already taking place.

(As for belt losses, they are only a tiny part of the energy use over a cycle, and you probably end up losing as much as you gain by eliminating them from the reduced efficiency of the suboptimal motor configuration.)

474:

Charlie,

I'm about 2/3rds of the way through Dark State, almost ready to buy the new one. One thing bothers me: no one has said *anything* about what the US did to, let's see, Gruinmarket was about 6M people, and nuclear winter took out how many more millions of serfs and peasants? None of the characters has said *anything* about 10M or more "ordinary people", not world walkers murdered by the US....

475:

In these discussions - especially relating to UK practise - it seems you appear to normally have your clothes washing machine (and dryer) installed in the kitchen. Is this another consequences of the "small house size" thing?

476:

"she's weirdly reluctant to go outside and pee in the garden like a normal person."

It has to be said that the standard female body plan is something of a disadvantage there. It makes it so much harder to spin round and round being a human lawn sprinkler, for example, or to write your name in the dust. Maybe something like a bog seat mounted in the top of a tree might be a good idea? Increasing the height of the drop is always a good way to increase the satisfaction.

The old German nobles understood this principle. In bitter winter weather, sitting in the garderobe with a sub-zero wind whistling up your arse was the kind of thing you tended to put off doing as long as possible, so by the time spring arrived they were often severely constipated. To counteract the negative action potential, they built viaducts connecting their castle up on the crag to the top of a big tower built in the middle of the river. This did wonders for their regularity, as the discouragement of the cold was nicely counterbalanced by the ability to watch it splash down into the river from 200 feet up.

477:

120l/d/p

That's what we were asked to due during a severe (for us) drought 20 years ago. The water agency said that would cut the average usage by half or more. I looked at my bill and did the math and realized that's were I already was. So we just went with some yellow toilet bowl water for a while till it was over.

But we DO NOT water the plants or even grass around our house. And most around here do.

There were a couple of "on the local TV news" moments when some HOAs were trying to force some home owners to water their lawns as their rules said "green grass". In conflict with the local ordinances about yard watering. Most of that went away after a few busy bodies got embarrassed on the local evening news.

Now a friend who lived in Austin, Texas for a while 30 years ago was told by his HOA that per the rules he had to keep his yard green. So he went out and bought some sport field green grass paint and fixed his yard. Over the winter the HOA adjusted their rules.

478:

That picture is of the standard US based washer sold for 50 years or more in the US. Now the energy efficient ones don't have the center agitator bus cycle the inner drum back and forth. Plus they have an automatic water level system so you don't have (or get) to set the water level for a load. They figure it out. (On my round tuit list is to see how that works.)

Front loaders still use less water and power and have fewer moving parts to break. My GE that I got after the dead relative machine died was a top loader. And it ran great till the transmission blew out after 5 or 10 years. And as I looked into fixing it discovered that it was assembled starting with the transmission and every thing else bolted to that. Then we got the current Samsung. Which has been running great for over 10 years. Front loading direct drive motor and all.

There is a reluctance in the US (I've had it mentioned to me many times) against "those European" front loaders because they cost way to much to repair. Which was sort of true 15+ years ago as they entered the market. Now the total cost of ownership is almost always less than a top loader. As long as you don't buy low end crap. Charlie's purchasing decision on his is the way to go if you can afford the up front costs.

479:

I'm going to exit this aspect of the debate. Your expertise in designing washing machines that have sold in the millions is way more than mine as a user who occasional does his own repair of this and similar things.

You win.

480:

and not shitting in the kitchen sink.

The problem with that is toddlers. After raising some you discover that you will be putting shit down the sink, wash, tub drains off and one for a while. Maybe reasonably diluted but shit non the less.

Or you will need to be rich to deal with all the toddler clothes, blankets, buggy padding you wind up trashing or burning.

481:

I never really understood what is supposed to be the advantage of the two smaller drums over the nested drum style popular in the U.S.?

No transmission. I had one I bought used back around 81 and it was very simple to operate. And few moving parts. I think it had two motors. One for the wash side and one for the spin side. And the spin cycle was also used to pump out the water. Very much a manual control thing. And it wasn't all the big. When not it use it was a hand small table against the kitchen wall.

482:

See also # 447
It would appear that there is a serious race on for electric-powered small(ish) aircraft...
There is the VA-x4 as mentioned, backed by RR, amongst others, and
now Airbus have shown a prototype
As I said - any thoughts on this development?

483:

#461 - Typical energy dissipated in a belt drive is ~2%. Joys of actually having a qualification in Engineering Science. (from 1979, but unless you've changed the laws of physics...)

#463 - Yes, that's a typical schematic of a top loader.

#474 - A "normal human" from this world is not actually aware of the Gruinmarkt. Other than the USAF Strategic Air Command and Air Force Command, the few people who actually know about this "action" are fairly senior politicians.

484:

#474 - A "normal human" from this world is not actually aware of the Gruinmarkt. Other than the USAF Strategic Air Command and Air Force Command, the few people who actually know about this "action" are fairly senior politicians.

Well, every world-walker who came to the new world knows what happened back in Gruinmarkt. Iris at least did have second thoughts and tried to stay, but was forced to get out of there. However, many of them were raised as very special people whose position was earned, and they might not have really spared that many thoughts for the peasants.

No character who knows about the atrocity really comments on it, even fifteen years later. Maybe the wounds are just too big and they just try to forget. Even Miriam, who was not raised as a noble, never really comments on it (though she's not a point of view character in this series). She had nice plans, but took to the role of a long-lost princess pretty well in some respects. (Of course she had limited powers to actually do anything directly, and her efforts to improve the situation didn't work out that well for Gruinmarkt in the end, I'd say. Also, it's somewhat difficult to uplift a society like Gruinmarkt's which I think is one of the big points of the book.)

However, I think that almost everything they do in the Commonwealth is because they want to avoid that kind of tragedy. I know I would have nightmares about that and try to make sure it never happens again.

485:

Foundation is out. First 30 minutes look good.

486:

Here's a twin-tub machine from Big River Trading Co.CA which is externally identical to the one I've had for five years: https://www.amazon.ca/Portable-Washing-Machine-Apartments-Camping/dp/B08ZJXY8FX

487:

Washing machine diagram.

Yes, that's what we've got. I wouldn't call the centrifuging drum a tub, if only because for obvious reasons it doesn't hold water. ;-)

My wife tells me her mother did have a real, as in side by side, twin tub machine. You would just drain the wash cycle and any rinse cycle other than the last, and then transfer the load for a spin.

JHomes.

488:

the problem with that is toddlers

For the record, I am not a toddler and neither is my girlfriend.

I tried to phrase my comment so it was obvious that I knew why the rules were in place, and that my very specific situation makes it easy enough for us two people not avoid the obvious problems with the naughty things we do.

489:

"Foundation is out"
And how does one watch it, without a subscription to whichever set of thieves are broadcasting it?
Oh & no TV ....