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Comment Like a cathode screen (Score 1) 30

The best reason that I can imagine for this occuring, is that the clouds can act as a giant cathode screen. Inside of a vacuum tube, you have a lot of volts on an anode, and there's a nearby cathode that the electrons are attracted towards. But at the cathode, instead of just being a plate, there is a fine screen or mesh. Then the electrons try to hit the cathode, but some of them pass it and continue on in the direction they were accelerated in. in the case with clouds, several large charges are attracted upwards towards a charge sink, and a conductive plasma column (lightning) forms and carries most of the electrons into the sink, but some of the adjacent electrons miss or are too late, and are instead accelerated into the thinner upper atmosphere, and there they ionize oxygen and cause these ephemeral flashes.
Just an idea.

Comment Re:There is no reason for any drought to continue (Score 1) 390

I came to say this as well, and add some personal experience. I grew up in Lancaster, and area called the Antelope Valley in the Mojave Desert, the high desert area halfway between LA and Bakersfield. When my grandpa was a boy, in the 1930's, the water table was between 3 and 30 feet underground. The area was excellent for alfalfa production, and farmers sucked up all of the groundwater, while simultaneously LA redirected streams in the mountains, that fed the aquifer, into their water supply. There are photographs from the 30's showing the region as arid, but black locust trees grew everywhere. Now the water table is below 2000 feet underground, and the region hardly supports desert scrub. There's one small hole in the ground, that if you drop a rock down, it rings thunderously for 10-20 seconds. And there's no more farming in the Antelope Valley, of course.

A huge el niño is forming, and there's going to be some relief, but the next time this happens, the rest of the state is going to be just like the Antelope Valley, because the legislature is doing nothing to fix the problem. Using up the groundwater changes the ecology, and it is really disheartening, because California is being ruined by these practices.

Comment Re:Nobody will notice or care, outside of the regi (Score 1) 265

This is according to an expert on earthquakes:

About 10% of great earthquakes trigger a volcanic eruption, and most eruptions are fairly minor, so the volcano risk is small compared to the earthquake risk.

I live in Olympia, and I like to say that when the big one hits, Mt. Ranier is going to blow, and as the black lightning-filled clouds tower over us in the east, all of the metal bands in town will climb onto the roofs of all of the buildings with all of their equipment and it will be the most Metal day ever. But it looks like experts believe otherwise.

Comment Re:It only works with no scarcity (Score 1) 503

Petroleum would certainly be mined if we did not use it for energy, but it's only heavily used in making plastics because of our interest in its chemistry and its historical abundance as a carbon source. We use less than 3% of petroleum to make plastics, and less than 2% of natural gas, and we could easily lower those figures if we had to, with vegetable sources. Back at the turn of the 20th century we would not have developed polymers to the extent that we did without abundant petroleum, but now we certainly could replace it if the economy moved that way.

Comment Re:How can I help? (Score 1) 99

we need a new pro-science party

A vote for me gets the IRS the microscopes they so direly need! I don't have PACS, just millions of grad students writing grants! Whatever is leftover from the campaign, I will use to build gargantuan cannons that run on superconductors, that fire invisible stuff! Also I recently read an authortative article that subverts whatever 'fact' you happen to mention at a social function.

Comment Re:Looks like the second stage ruptured (Score 2) 316

So? The bad people are everywhere, every goddamn "race" has them in probably exactly equal numbers because "races", just like borders, are imaginary. In Lousiana an entire parish has been refusing to marry anyone for months now, because they don't want LGBT weddings. The only reason they aren't burning people (any more: see ) is because of the pacifying effect of the US's relative affluence (which in turn only due to the recent conquest of this land's natural resources). It's Christians in Africa who are executing men for being gay. There is no more violence in Muslim countries than you could predict by looking at their economies (which we shape with our imperialistic might) and noting the statistical correlation between poverty and violence.

Comment Re:no ones really winning. (Score 2) 194

seersucker clad golfbag toting used car salesman marketing drone

I'm stealing this.
This was before my time, but I'm pretty sure that television nose-dived when pay-per-view came along. The television market was devised as radio + pictures, a one-way ticket as far as content. Computer networks were devised as tiers of peers, and once it's on my box, it's not yours. Pay-per-view functions, but it's fundamentally illogical. The content providers have to go through DRM acrobatics to sustain it at all. Premium channels overall make little sense. But online content is starving. Why can't we just pay artists, journalists, and FOSS programmers decent amounts of money? It's because of the seersucker clad golfbag toting used car salesman marketing drones, because some people are aggressive about making lots of money despite lacking skills that are actually useful, and I let them walk on me sometimes.

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.