O/T: One Down

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DGDevin wrote:

And, of course, it is very important that the local political classes, and all that proceed from them be "happy". How about local law enforcement not being required to uphold insane laws (like the majority of drug laws) so that their limited resources could be directed against murder and mayhem? If this were the case, I rather think they'd "need" far less "help" from D.C. In a related note, when the Federal saviors are prevented from passing mandate after mandate burdening local government with things (in direct contravention of the role of the Feds v. local govt) there would, again, be far less need for Federal "help".
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Larry Blanchard wrote:

I rather suspect my education - such as it is - is not lacking here. My willingness to silently watch the nation drown in behaviors that are illegal and damaging to liberty is not, however, lacking.
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J. Clarke said:

Actually, and you'll love this, it can be argued that we do - in the sense that knowledge gained and research done by and through NASA has affected our lives in ways that are far reaching and subtle. There are a number of products on the market whose development was greatly accelerated by and that are a direct by-product of NASA research. I'd like to see us make advancements into space even if only to find more planets to rape, pillage and dump our garbage on. We're running out of room and resources here, unless you consider every square mile of dry land seething with humans to the exclusion of all else to be a desirable situation. Do you believe the Hubble produces some interesting results? Try a manned moon base just across the transition zone on the dark side of the moon. The low gravity and lack of atmosphere and suspended contaminants lends itself to a broad variety of scientific research projects.
But here is another reason that should satisfy the chickenhawks. Since the dawn of the nuclear age we have had reasonably plentiful supplies of Helium-3. A light isotope of Helium not normally occurring in much quantity on earth naturally, it is a by product of producing tritium. He3 is used in a variety of medical, oil and gas detection, and low temperature quantum physics research facilities at home and abroad. Since 9/11 the supplies of He3 have been outstripped due to the massive proliferation of neutron detectors used to detect the movement of plutonium and other radioactive materials. The price has gone from $100-$200 liter to $1300-$1600 per liter and sales overseas are on a DOE/DHS approved basis - the majority of the 60,000 liters/annum being reserved by the DOE for research projects which are funded by "certain specific agencies of the US government." Researchers around the world have invested massive capitol into building facilities, such as the $1.3 billion J-PARC in Japan, which now cannot be supplied with the needed He3. Even dilution refrigerator manufactures cannot obtain sufficient supplies to continue production. It is also used during the MRI process, to touch on the subject of another current thread.
Guess what we've found in substantially higher quantities compared to the earth on and around the moon as a by-product of the sun's radiation and solar winds? Helium-3. We'll catch them evil-doers now.
Of course, I'm dismissing transportation and injecting ample sarcasm, but you get the idea...

Things have changed quite a bit since the founders wrote the Constitution. While I'm not going to even suggest that we usurp the basic tenets of that document, this is not the same world that existed in 1789. I believe they left sufficient wiggle room for adaptation. As for what is not funded by the Federal government, I know quite a few municipalities that would freak (and fold) if you told them Federal funds were no longer available. The Federal government disburses money to areas in need based upon needs and census. There are also numerous Federal programs and grants which promote development of various civil infrastructure needs.
Perhaps a confusing phrase, but community power consortiums are power boards and utilities which are owned by local governments, and thus the people who live there, and sell power, water, sewage, gas, and garbage service to the residents in lieu of private power/utility/gas companies. One such example would be from Newt Gingrich's launch pad in extremely "conservative" Marietta, GA. The Marietta Board of Lights and Water has been an extremely successful publicly owned municipal purveyor of services since 1906. They buy power from the grid at competitive rates and sell to citizens at below GA Power and Cobb EMC rates. The service is better as well as the locals know every power pole, water pipe and transformer in their city - and have to face their irate neighbors if service lapses.
And I do believe that the TVA, among others, qualifies as a "Federally funded power grid." They are, in fact, a prime link in the management of the US power grid. The TVA is one of the largest producers of electricity in the United States and acts as a regional power grid reliability coordinator. Most of the nation's major hydropower systems are federally managed. It's the coal, petrochemical and nuclear plants which are primarily private.

Controlling costs, believe it or not. Removing the impetus for fraud and unnecessary tests in order to pad bills, stuffing hospital beds to maintain a given profit margin, purchasing drugs at competitive rates. Canadians can purchase a script for Liptor for $33 and yet those in the US pay anywhere from $125 to $334. The final effect would be remove thousands of outstretched hands that expect a cut of the cash which flows through the health care system as it stands - which is the root cause of much of the objections heard today. Everything else is ginned up hysteria promoted by those who fear losing their cash cow. Health care is not an option - you cannot simply decide to forgo a purchase because you can't afford it as you can a new car or a tablesaw - unless death is a valid option for you. It is a captive market controlled by what is proving to be rank profiteers.
Additionally, acrimony aside, contrary to the private system a government run system allows citizens to have input as to what and how these things are run. Don't like the way things operate? You have the option of voting the incompetents out of office. Ever try that with a hospital, HMO, insurance company, or medical lab? Ha! Piss and moan too much and security will toss you're ass out in the street and the insurance company will drop your coverage, if they haven't already refused coverage for a given procedure. Currently, insurance companies are refusing to cover people who have headaches, mild depression, and other routine medical ailments. Commonplace operations that are so pedestrian that they've been performed on kitchen tables in the 1800s are now priced so high that victims have to sell their homes, enter bankruptcy, leech from their children just to pay the bills. The bulk of medical care is not MRIs and brain surgeries - they are common ailments that demand no unusual skills or treatment techniques. Removing a bullet used to cost a few chickens and a basket of apples - drag that into your local hospital and see how far you get...
FWIW,
Greg G.
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Greg G. wrote:

<buncha bullshit snipped>
So, since according to you we _need_ NASA to live, how is that in the approximately 99,950 years that elapsed between the birth of the first human and the founding of NASA, humanity did not become extinct due to lack of NASA?

<buncha more bullshit snipped>
So, what does it cost to make two tons a year of it by fusion or in particle accelerators? What does it cost to mine 200 million tons a year of lunar regolith?

If the idea is that someone is a loon, then, yeah, I'm getting it. And how is any of what you describe essential to life?

However the specific provisions of the Constitution have not changed. If you want to change it, change it. Ignoring it is a dangerous path.

That's true. It was not ruled by whining do-gooders with their hands out then.

Which municipalities would those be? And which funds?

In other words they businesses that have the power of government.

You can believe anything you want to but if TVA is Federally funded it's news to them.

By what mechanism?

By what mechanism would the goverment operating as an insurer bring all this about?

That's nice. Would anybody have even bothered to develop it for that price?

Which "hands" would be removed by the government acting as an insurance company?

When the Post Office stops bombarding me with junk mail get back to me.

And where, and when, exactly, has this resulted in improvement?

So how will the government acting as insurer change any of this?

And the government acting as insurance company will change this how?

Which is less than I paid for it.
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Greg G. wrote:
Slight correction.

If all the people on earth were stacked up like cordwood, they would fit in a cubic mile. (1 person = 10 cu ft, 1 cubic mile = 147 billion cu ft = 15 billion people per cu mile - allowing for some wiggle room)
If all the people of earth were living in an area with the population density of Hong Kong, they would fit in Mauritania. Population density of Hong Kong 16,500/sq mile, 6 billion folks / 16,500 = 410,000 sq mi required. Mauritania is about that size, as is Bolivia and Ethiopia. You could fit ten times the earth's population in the United States.
Therefore:
Virtually every resource is more abundant today than it was in 1980. See the Simon-Ehrlich Wager (Ehrlich of "The Population Bomb" book, Julian Simon of "The Ultimate Resource").
Conclusion: We are running out of neither room nor resources and that the fullness of time has proven wrong virtually every prediction of the prophets of doom (global cooling, Malthusian theory, oil, etc.).
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HeyBub wrote:

If anyone thinks the earth is overcrowded, they haven't driven through Nevada or most other parts of the western US. As my contractor Dad used to say, "Lot of room for improvement".
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HeyBub wrote:

So how much land does it take to feed all these people? Or are you one these damned fools who thinks that food appears by magic in grocery stores?
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J. Clarke wrote:

A decreasing amount. Thanks to people like Norman Borlaug, more people are fed better using *less* land than at any time in human history. Last time I checked, the US alone produces enough food to feed every person on the planet at the subsistence level. That's why farms can now be sold for other uses - we just don't need the land for farming anymore...
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J. Clarke said:

Yeah, right. Of course...

Yes, I want to live stacked like cordwood. That's a pleasing thought. Sounds like China and many other places in the world.

I also don't want to live at the horrific densities of Hong Kong - or New York City, for that matter. Good God, man, do you not realize the problems China (and others) have faced concerning overpopulation? What kind of distopian future do you want your children to inherit? And if I'd wanted to live like cattle in an AgriCorp facility I'd have had Vishnu send me back as a cow.
Cripes. Timber, energy, food, water. Diseases proliferating and adapting due to close proximity and monoculture. It's unholy, I tell you. And what about open land? I personally like mountains, streams, parks, trees, bears, butterflies, raccoons and birds. I wouldn't live in a city for any amount of money.
A world without the variety of these natural things, dominated by rats, roaches, crows and humans? Kill me now.

Uh - the first book warned that we _would_ run out and was overly dramatic. The other opined that we _would not_, and that rising prices would reduce demand of certain commodities forcing development of alternate resources and was overly optimistic. To some degree, they were both wrong - and both right. We have become more efficient at extracting resources, which has kept the prices down, but that doesn't mean they are unlimited. Only that while there is profit to be made, they will be removed until gone or too expense to extract - with absolutely no thought of tomorrow. The corollary to this is that only the rich will be able to enjoy what we take for granted today. It takes a non-pine tree 100+ years to grow to the size of those we now harvest. What do you think happened to all that old grown, tight ringed southern yellow pine and oaks and cedars? We cut them down and they are now gone. The elms and chestnuts devastated by disease. Do you want to build your furniture from the bones of dead politicians (don't tempt me...), old milk bottles, or two year fast growth SPF? I don't. I also don't want future generations to eat soylent green.

Timber, energy, food, water - all being stressed at this point. There are many countries where famine and drought are commonplace. I'm not claiming that we are on the precipice of disaster at this point in this country - we are lucky enough to have stolen a lot of arable land - but one chink in the weather, one year of out of season rains, cold or even an asteroid strike would press the US's ability to provide food to its own citizens, much less the rest of the world. This season alone was a disaster for many farmers due to unusual torrential rains. By most reasonable estimates we have already reached peak oil - even if not we are damned close. Do you really think the stuff is unlimited and never ending? If we've only used up 30% of the black gold, we did so in a scant 100 years. As reserves are depleted they become far more expensive to extract, meaning that, again, the wealthy will be the only ones to enjoy that which we take for granted today. No commuting, no cheap crap at WalMart, no black walnut to build your casket out of.

OK - What have you done with the real J.Clarke who was bitching about my other post? Or are you his doppelganger?
Greg G.
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Greg G. wrote:

People /do/ seem to huddle together. :)
Back in September a Chinese friend sent me a link to his vacation photos. Just as not all of the US is like NYC...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/41920747@N06 /
I think he enjoyed getting out of the city (Guangzhou) for a couple of weeks.
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A talking parrot... Ah yes, I can just see it.
What are you doing with that girl? I want to see at least a foot of air between you two. Where did you get that bottle? All you do is drink all day. You're a lush. Get off your butt and do some work for once. Go plow the back forty. Get that fat butt moving.
You see, unfortunately for you, you've chosen to live in paradise with a previously owned live in mother-in-law parrot.
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snipped-for-privacy@teksavvy.com said:

Ordinarily, that would be my luck. :-) But nah, raise 'em from an egg. That way you train them to spew the vile rhetoric of your choosing. Just never leave one alone in a room with talk radio. And NEVER let one read the wreck without a good filter in place. ;-)
Greg G.
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wrote:

Q. What's the ideal weight for a mother-in-law? - - - - - - - - - - - A. About 2.5 lbs, ....... including the urn. : )
Diggerop
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Greg G. wrote:

And be careful of the reading matter with which you line their cages--it may give you joy to have your parrot crap on the Washington Post but when your parrot starts spouting the party line you'll be singing a different tune.
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I hear yah, I can't imagine living in sight of another dwelling, unfortunatley in the winter, if I look hard enough I can see someone elses security light and sometimes hear their dog bark. It doesn't qualify for rural anymore.
It makes a person self reliant, my truck is the fastest ambulance around, there are no police prowling around and if you start a fire you better be equipped to put it out.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Oh, I perfer Elijah Craig.
basilsik
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basilisk said:

I have and do, but not by choice. Economies and such... Prefer to see stars and critters, not police choppers, gray air, and stray bullets. Run the tablesaw at 4:00AM? Cut up bowl blanks at 6:00am? Play music at 1:00AM? No worries - no complaints.

Self-reliant - Ha! The city dwellers I know here aren't much help anyway - assuming they show when you mention installing a transmission or humping a stack of shingles. But who do they call when their car breaks down? Last 5'2" girlfriend was handier than the guys I know. If it weren't for a hoist/chain lift and a strong back nothing would get done. A friend got married years back and I suggested replacing rusty old galvanized plumbing in his house as a wedding gift - they showed in slacks and dress shirts and drank beer while me and an old one legged Marine did the work. And I was a 5'10", 145lb geek.

Not tried it, but you've got three years on Knob Creek - and it's hard enough to find. Wild Turkey and Makers Mark are the most common in these parts. (Plus all the gaud-awful cheap stuff.) Any small batch 12 year old named after a southern Baptist preacher has to be tried. I'm heading down to the package store now. Just for a taste.
Greg G.
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Greg G. wrote:

You make a good point about areas where famine and drought are commonplace. But the fix is relatively easy - at least easy to say.
There has never been a famine in a democracy. Replace thugocracies, monarchies, theocracies, etc., with democracies and the famine problem goes away. As for droughts, this will be harder and require a change in the area's economy. In areas where droughts are common, the area needs to give up reliance on water for crops. That is, either change their crops from watermelons to moss or quit farming altogether. If the latter, they will have to import food from less radical climates.
In order to import food, they will need currency with which to buy it. That means they'll have to export something or find ways of bringing exchange currency to their country. Maybe they could mine for minerals or set up an international vacation spot. To my knowledge, neither the Principality of Monaco or the island of Hong Kong has farms nor mining enterprises, but they seem to be doing okay.
As for running out of oil, reserves increase every year. Even if we did run out, so what? The Romans denuded North Africa to make charcoal, then the Europeans did the same to their forests. When wood got scarce, they turned to coal. Coal fueled the industrial revolution until it became too expensive relative to imported oil.
When oil gets too expensive, we'll find something else. We always have; that's what humans do. We discover, we innovate, we improvise.
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HeyBub said:

Ah - The best laid schemes o' mice an' men. ;-)

Blind luck, most likely - at least as far as disasters are concerned.

Good luck with that - bastards are too profitable to do business with. It's worked well for some countries, not so much in others. I'm still waiting on the US to fully adopt Democracy. We are not yet equal in the face of the law - money trumps right much of the time.

Which is currently what most do - even if through foreign aid. Yet even that is problematic because of corrupt governments that divert aid into their own pockets while populations starve. It still happens. Of course, new technologies help, as do cisterns & proper management.

That's worked out well for Africa. Diamonds are mined by the locals who work for sustenance wages and the profit is pocketed by DeBeers. Myanmar sells natural gas to the French, US and Russia, but the workers are slave laborers.

Worldwide competition, including the boom in consumption from India and especially China, makes this unlikely. Usage is going up dramatically, especially with the poor efficiency of crude foundries and such used in developing nations.

This is historically true. But we have advanced to the point where it is unlikely we will uncover any new natural resources to exploit for energy. That puts the onus on science to come up with either a way to deal with nuclear by-products or figure a way to break the covalent bonds of water for hydrogen. Until some concrete promise in these areas is shown, it would be arrogant of us to ignore the possibility that we won't come up with that next step in the evolution of energy.
Not trying to be negative, just careful. (And argumentative...) ;-)
Greg G.
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Greg G. wrote:

You raise the point often made by the anti-nuclear crowd - We don't have a plan to deal with nuclear waste.
But we have several plans:
* Shoot the shit into the sun * Encapsulate it in molten glass and sink it in the Mariannas Trench * Mix it with liquid concrete and inject it into a salt dome * Sell it to China as a building material * Other
The fact is, we haven't done any of these things because we don't have to. There is no compelling need to take any action regarding nuclear waste and the longer we wait the greater the chance an even better solution will be found.
It would be a pity to dump the all the crud in the ocean, then find out next year we could use it to cheaply convert water to Hydrogen.
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HeyBub said:

Not a good long term plan for material with a half-life of 713 million years. There is somewhere around 60,000 metric tons of the shit, and we still have no plans for dealing with it long term. We import 85% of the uranium used - 42% from those crazy Canuckistanians alone - and fuel imports fostered a $370 million trade deficit in 2000 alone.

I've argued that for years - what better place? The cost factor at this point makes it prohibitive. Same as collecting He3 from the moon. Where there's a will, and a profit, however...

The French do it. Expensive and not my favorite but better than what we are currently doing which is allowing much of it to stand inside the plants in shallow steel wells. Talk about a security risk...

And then turn it into an Indian reservation. :-o (re: Uranium tailings in the west.) Again better than the current method.

Turn about's fair play. But seriously...

The same could be argued for the plants themselves. Most were one-off designs, modern inexpensive microprocessors and monitoring equipment were either in their infancy or just around the corner. Huge cost overruns during construction, marginal designs, short life spans, expense of decommission, and public outcry over Three Mile Island and Chernobyl all spelled the death of reactors build in the 60s and 70s. And none have been slated since, while existing plants fell dormant.
I kept hoping for some positive results from the Tokamak fusion reactors, but that fizzled - I think the Russians got one to ~10% efficiency before dropping the project as not cost effective.
I don't mind that we stopped development at that time, but with advancing electronics, CAD and simulators, new research and standardized designs that could be implemented at lower costs, it may well be time to reconsider investing in development of a new age of nuclear plants. Preferably something which produces waste with a much shorter half-life however. Science has yet to produce a solution.
Coal is a nasty material to mine and burn, and cleaning the exhaust of sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulates is marginal and expensive. And as the TVA ash disaster of last year proves, no existing technology is completely immune from waste disposal problems:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnJUSHpTm-E

After a 60 year history of 97% approval rates from local residents and customers, gross mismanagement allowed the accumulation of this crap in a retention "pond." 1 Billion gallons of toxic sludge (5.3 million cubic yards of coal ash) flooded neighboring communities and ran downstream to adjoining waterways. Nice!
(I can't believe no one mentioned this event in earlier discussions of the TVA - did no one notice or did Santa bump it off the mainstream news? I waited and waited...)

I wouldn't hold my breath - unless near the stack of a 30 year old reactor or coal plant. ;-)
Greg G.
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