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Comment The most important part of this system... (Score 1) 99

The most important part of this system is the issue tracking feedback, as it provides positive reinforcement to the reporting party, and it provides incentive to not just blow off the report to the city.

Systems such as this, but without the feedback loop, exist in many cities; without the feedback loop, there's no way to detect the difference between an ignored report and one which is scheduled for a fix (including a "cable TV guy" style estimate as to when).

Comment Then they are using the wrong technology. (Score 1) 99

Then they are using the wrong technology.

They should have cold temperature relief valves, and use PEX piping, so that it can freeze without damage. The building itself should be equipped with an excessive flow shut-off valve, such as the Dorot 100FE (which is an entirely mechanical design, mediated by water pressure differential over time).

Then they could leave the water on, and not have a problem.

BTW: if they had excessive flow shut-off valves throughout the system, the broken water lines would never have risen to the level of a problem in the first place; the first they would have heard about it would have been complaints of not water.

The reason that a fire hydrant doesn't freeze is that there's no water in it; it's called an "anti-siphon valve" and it's located below the frost line. When water is shut off, the valve drains the water out of the plug; the same thing should be employed in structures so that when the excessive flow cut-off triggers, the water drains out of the system, and it's protected against freezing.

You could literally abandon a properly equipped building for yeas, it'd get close to the freeze point, and the entire plumbing system would protect itself.

Such systems are common in areas where a power failure could result in a loss of heating; I've seen them used in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (among others) for apartment complexes and horse stables. You'd think that Detroit, having so many mechanical engineers at one point, would have adopted this into their building code already.

Comment Re: Your laws ignore my rights (Score 2) 250

Considering that they were the 0.1% of their day, they'll probably be all right with it. If you look at the history, you'll notice that their main beef was with taxes. And taxes are usually only something people who have lots will be riled up over enough to start a revolution. Poor people start revolutions over things like food.

Comment Re:Who are these people? (Score 2) 250

socialist wealth redistribution

Often they just say 'wealth redistribution', which is the phrase that annoys me more than any other in political discussions. The people who say it are always implicitly in favour of wealth redistribution in one direction and often opposed to things that slow it, not just things that might reverse it. If I have $1m, and I invest it at a return 1% above the rate of inflation (not so hard when you have $1m), then I make $10K/year just from having money. If I have $10m and I make the same investments, then I'm making $100K/year, which is more than most people who work for a living, again just from starting with capital.

The average net worth of US senators in 2011 (I couldn't find newer figures) was $14m, for senators it was $7m (before anyone jumps in with partisan claims, the average for Republicans was higher in the Senate, but lower in the House). These people are earning more from their investments than most of their constituents. They're all - on both sides of the aisle - very much in favour of wealth redistribution, as long as that wealth keeps flowing to them.

Comment Re: Um. (Score 1) 99

There is some truth to that. Republicans hate children. Just look at what they want to do to WIC.

Is this why they are such strong supporters of Planned Parenthood?

Seriously, quit ascribing properties to the right wing nutjobs that are even nuttier than reality, or no one is going to believe you when you cry "Wolf!" and there's actually a wolf there...

Comment Re:How? (Score 1) 250

That is what I mean by saying we don't give enough of a fuck about where things come from.

Fortunately, over here enough people do, the ecology movement of the 80s took care of that. Markets exist and in fact are thriving. About two years ago, they opened a night market near my home, which so far I've only known from tropical asian countries. It's a much bigger pleasure to go there than to a supermarket.

Comment Re:Who are these people? (Score 4, Insightful) 250

capitalism as we used to have it, as it used to benefit average people, and lift them out of poverty, is pretty much dead.

What makes you assume this was ever the purpose and not just a side-effect?

It is very, very visible here in Germany. In fact, it's so transparent that you would have to be completely blind to not notice it.

Germany had very strong social systems and a good distribution of wealth. There were poor and rich, but very few very poor and very few crazy rich. Normal people could afford a house and a car on one salary from a regular job. Unemployment money was high enough that you wouldn't lose your home and pensions were so that retiring didn't mean becoming poor. Universal health care? We've had that always and it was adequate. Doctors were so good we exported them to other countries. Basically, a lot of people could actually afford those Mercedes and BMW cars we make.

After the fall of communism that all changed. Politics intentionally created a new low-cost labour market. Unemployment benefits dropped, lots of social benefits were dismantled, and when you are of working age, you are being bombarded with advertisement telling you to buy into this or that investment scheme because your pension will not allow you a good life anymore. All of that happened in less than 20 years. It started almost exactly after the re-unification, which provided a nice excuse for some measures ("it's so expensive, we need to save money").

What you learn from that is that all of this has been a front. The reason capitalism in Germany allowed for a good life was not inherent to capitalism. It was added benefits that were included because West Germany was too close to communist East Germany and the western allies needed to make sure the west german people would not look to East Germany and see something better, but the other way around (which, btw., worked).
Once the threat of people actually desiring communism disappeared, the facade came down. Now we see what capitalism is really about, has always been about. It just stopped pretending.

Comment Re:How? (Score 4, Interesting) 250

I don't know about you, but 90% of the things I buy to live (Food, Toiletries, shelter) are owned and made by 13 companies. Unless you can afford really expensive boutique goods how the hell do you boycott? And if you can afford that TPP is good for you...

For food, you can go to local markets and buy it directly from farmers. At least here in Europe you can.

There are also local products in many categories, but they are often more expensive and sometimes only available in select shops (look for eco shops and sustainable products, that's a first pointer). But again, in this area there is so much scamming from big companies that you have to do research to be sure.

And that's the problem. We don't want to do that. We don't give enough of a fuck about the stuff we eat or use to care where it actually comes from.

Tell me how the hell to fix our politics...

Give back your nerd card. Robert Heinlein wrote a little book in fucking 1946 about this very problem, and little has changed since then:

My computer can beat up your computer. - Karl Lehenbauer