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Comment Re:Two thoughts about nuclear energy (Score 1) 64

we are activating very slow bombs which will (virtually) never be deactivated (by the way, I guess that this is what your video is about. Unfortunately, the link does not work).

The film keeps being uploaded to Youtube, and then removed again by YT because of a copyright complaint. Many people feel strongly anough that the film should be seen that they keep re-uploading it, and so the silly battle goes on.

When you start a single nuclear power plan, you are triggering a set of consequences which the Earth and the future generations will be bearing no matter what during the next quite a few thousands of years.


The film is superb, and will likely leave you quiet and thoughtfuil for days afterwards (though perhaps you already know about it). The Onkalo project is ongoing, and won't be completed till most of us are dead - it consists of the construction in Finland of an underground repository for nuclear waste, designed to keep the waste safely away from unsuspecting individuals until decay renders it "safe". That is, for so long that all knowledge of the creation of the repository may have been lost, and all languages that might be used for creating notices about the repository have changed utterly. The challenges involved are sobering.

Search at Youtube for "Onkalo", and you will find a variety of video clips, full and partial, at any given time.

Comment Re:Two thoughts about nuclear energy (Score 1) 64

The reply about breaking walls of text into paragraphs is worth noting, especially in these days of soundbite culture and bloody tablet devices :-)

But your basic point is sound IMO. We have a serious energy supply problem: we cannot continue burning fossil fuels. Quite apart from the putative impact on the global-warming problem, fossil fuels are a dead-end road - we don't have very much left. Coal takes 400 million years to form (IIRC), and oil even longer. It's not just boiling water - pretty much every activity in modern civilisation (and especially our beloved Internet) needs electricity.

We need a way forward into the long-term future, and unfortunately (again, IMO) nuclear technology seems likely to be necessary.

The second part of your point needs emphasizing: nuclear technology is highly dangerous, and utterly filthy (certainly for fission) - and this is not being properly brought home to the general public. As has been pointed out, Chernobyl and Fukushima are now dead zones, and we don't want any more of that. Furthermore, even without disasters, fission power stations are extremely difficult, verging on impossible, and hugely expensive, to decommission. And nobody knows what to do with the waste products. All we can do is bury the damn stuff somewhere.

And at this point, it's time to refer the reader once again to the excellent analysis in the film Onkalo - Into Eternity

"Onkalo must last 100,000 years. Nothing built by man has lasted even one tenth of that time"

Comment Re:Or we could just deal with the problem cheaply (Score 3, Insightful) 64

telephone sanitizers

Those produce something useful.

Sorry - you are of course, quite right. I have indeed enjoyed having my telephone sanitized, by a specialist with the proper tools, on numerous occasions.

But their inclusion on the list was obligatory really - it's a B-Ark thing :

Comment Re:Or we could just deal with the problem cheaply (Score 2) 64

Send the most worthless and despicable members of society into deal with the problem

Politicians, lawyers, CEOs, Priests, Psychiatrists, priests, and the like

Excellent idea, no need to waste finely-engineered, highly valuable hi-tec robots - but your list forgot to include marketing morons, advertising "creatives", financial trader types, property speculators, environmental polluters, all other kinds of greedy, self-centered, planet-wrecking ignoramuses, and of course telephone sanitizers ......

Comment Re:Wounded Not Dead (Score 1) 232

On debian, you would use 'man inittab'

I hardly think Debian's inittab man page constitutes adequate documentation of the content, function and format of the damn thing. I've read it, and am not much the wiser.

I was trying to find out why the default runlevel in Squeeze is 2, and starts whatever GUI desktop you have installed, although runlevels 3, 4 and 5 are also available but do nothing different from 2. I'd have liked a clear description of how to tweak the file so the system starts multiuser but with just a dumb terminal console at first, only switching to GUI desktop if runlevel gets changed to, say, 3. Fat chance.

It's like doing 'man bash' in the hope of finding out what the bash syntax for a compound condition 'if' statement is :-) ... round brackets or square ones ? .... one set, or two ? .... 'elsf' or 'else if' ? .... 'fi' or 'endif' ? ...... These vaguely Algol-like languages just blur one into another after a while .... sh, csh, ksh, bash, dash, zsh, whatever that was on HPUX, etc., etc. .... anyway, as any fule kno, you search the web for that, only resorting to the man page if you have a burning desire to learn about arcane line discipline handling of weird escape characters.

Submission + - Solaris 11.3 Onwards Will Feature OpenBSD's PF Packet Filter ( writes: In his most recent article, Solaris Admins: For A Glimpse Of Your Networking Future, Install OpenBSD, Peter Hansteen points to leaked information (via a patch to a mailing list) that Oracle's Solaris from version 11.3 (expected this year) onwards is joining the ranks of OSes using the OpenBSD PF firewall. From version 12 onwards, PF will be the only packet filter, replacing the legacy IPF system. Which was the software PF was designed to replace, due to performance and rather nasty licensing reasons.

Submission + - For The First Time, SpaceX Will Land A Rocket After Launch (

schwit1 writes: On January 6, Musk’s company SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station. The launch itself is fairly unremarkable; SpaceX has had a contract with NASA for some time now to transport cargo to the ISS via unmanned rockets, as part of the Commercial Resupply Services program.

What SpaceX will attempt to do after the launch is what makes the mission so exciting. The company will try to land the first stage of its Falcon rocket on a platform in the ocean — a feat that has never been done before.

Submission + - TrueCrypt gets a new life, new name (

storagedude writes: Amid ongoing security concerns, the popular open source encryption program TrueCrypt may have found new life under a new name, reports eSecurity Planet. Under the terms of the TrueCrypt license — which was a homemade open source license written by the authors themselves rather than a standard one — a forking of the code is allowed if references to TrueCrypt are removed from the code and the resulting application is not called TrueCrypt. Thus, CipherShed will be released under a standard open source license, with long-term ambitions to become a completely new product.

Comment Re:while... (Score 2) 117

while 95% of the population still live in extreme poverty and could make more use of the billions wasted on this project

Nah, sorry, this argument doesn't work. Far more billions are wasted on completely useless military activity than the relatively miniscule space program of all nations put together - and the space programme at least has a use ...

As 'The Hawk' says, we urgently need to set up an off-world colony before the next asteroid strike wipes our species out. We had an unexpected visit from such an asteroid whizzing past inside the orbit of our geostationary satellites just a couple of days ago - this house-sized lump of rock was only detected for the first time about a week before it arrived. Who knows how long we've got before one of these things actually collides with us. Apparently such an event is now overdue in geological timescale terms.

More space programme please.

Comment Re:Bad Technology Is Bad (Score 1) 207

Thanks - didn't know about that one, and I'm grateful for the information .... It's been worrying me more and more that idiots (i.e. politicians) keep commissioning more and more nuclear power generation facilities without having any idea (and without even wanting to know) how we're going to clean up the aftermath. It's good to know that somebody has made at least one serious attempt to try it. Although ...

Still has the "what do we do with nuclear waste?" problem, but it was decommissioned anyway.

... as you noted, encasing the reactor vessel in concrete foam and burying it under 45 feet of gravel doesn't really cut it.

If you haven't seen it, there's a really instructive documentary ("Into Eternity"), made in 2010, about a nuclear waste storage repository ("Onkalo") being constructed deep underground in Finland, that is tackling - among other things - the extreme difficulty of figuring out how to construct signage ("Stay Away - Extreme Danger To Health") at the entrance to the facility, that will still be adequately durable, legible and understandable to descendant humans 100,000 years from now.

As the narrator says, "Onkalo must last 100,000 years. Nothing built by man has lasted one tenth of that time."

Another instructive documentary covers the herculean efforts made by the Russians/Ukrainians at Chernobyl to avoid a worse disaster than we already had.

It's a horrific story. They used soldiers to go up on the roof of the reactor building, each of whom could only risk being there for 45 seconds before getting their full dose for the year - enough time to chuck 2 shovelfulls of debris over the side, and then run away fast. In the end, they had to mobilise 500,000 (!) workers of all kinds to get the emergency cleanup done - and as we all know, even then it wasn't done very well, so much so that the EU is having to do it all over again.

I don't even want to think about how Fukushima's gonna go - it seems to be a worse mess than Chernobyl (albeit at a somewhat better designed & built power station). One fact that has stayed with me was how, at the time the tsunami took out the power, the on-site engineers had to go get their car batteries out of their own cars, bring them in, and wire them up in series so as to power up the control room instrumentation to find out what was going on in the reactors. We all owe those guys a beer.

It seems to me (somebody else coined this, not me) that our technological capabilities have advanced faster than we have evolved the ability to safely manage them, and we should just take a step back and do some very careful thinking. We can afford to reduce our lifestyles, wait a while, and revisit The Plan repeatedly until its perfect - we only have the one planet. It's the greedy short-termism involved in the rush to have it all that disgusts me.

Personally I imagine the way forward will involve giant solar panels in orbit collecting the Sun's bounteous energy and somehow transmitting it down to the surface. I have no idea whether that's just science fiction :-) .... it does of course require everyone to stop fighting wars, and divert all the money back into a proper space programme.

Comment Bad Technology Is Bad (Score 5, Insightful) 207

Yup, don't like fracking - it carries too high a risk of polluting my landscape, and quite likely turning a beautiful view into a rubbish-tip. In the UK, the government has even gone on record to say the extracted oil & gas won't reduce anybody's energy bills. It will, however, make a shit-load of money for some people who already have too much, and who seem willing to rig the deck to make sure they get their way.

Don't like nuclear fission power either - it produces *filthy* dirty waste, that we have no idea what to do with. AFAIK, not a single nuclear power station has yet been decommissioned and cleaned up anywhere in the world - quite a few are mothballed, while an alleged "decommissioning" process achieves almost nothing and stretches endlessly into the future at vast expense to the tax-payer (cos poor little private sector can't take the pain, so public sector has to take that task on, or private sector will take its ball home).

Both these technologies are amateurish, half-assed, ill-thought-out, poor examples of our abilities at this climactic moment of the 21st century, and I'm embarrassed to be a member of the same species that wants to do this crap. Come on ... we're capable of better than that.

For some reason, many of my peers in this /. community seem to take umbrage whenever there is any criticism of any industrial process if there is some kind of "technology" aspect to that process. There appears to be a belief that so long as a process makes money and is technological, it must be undertaken, irrespective of the impact on this one uniquely precious planet that we have here. I will continue to try to understand this point of view, but I fear its exponents are blinded by the flashing lights.


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