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Comment Re:Submerged floating tunnel (Score 5, Informative) 120

No. Ocean engineer here. Currents have a lot of power (not energy, but power), but unless you mean the whole Gulf Stream, or a very long time period, the energy of the world's nuclear weapons is greater still. But it's kind of hard to argue with someone that isn't consistent with units.

Two ACs arguing about the energy content of ocean currents vs energy content of nuclear weapons, with neither one putting up a single number to back themselves up. Tsk tsk.

Lets see: total world nuclear arsenal currently about 6400 megatons, or 2.7 x 10^18 J. Gulf stream volume 150 million cubic meters/sec at Newfoundland (1.5 x 10^11 kg/sec), speed 2 kt, or 4 m/sec. Kinetic power of stream = 1.2 x 10^12 J/sec. Number of seconds for the kinetic energy of the Gulf Stream to equal the nuclear arsenals = 2.25 million, or 26 days. Is that a "very long time"?

But wait, there's more! The heat transport of the Gulf Stream is 1.2 x 10^15 J/sec, a figure 1000 times larger than its kinetic energy, so the time for the Gulf Stream flow to transport a "world nuclear arsenal" worth of energy is only 2250 seconds, or 38 minutes.

Comment Re:school loan need to be fee and late fee free (Score 1) 827

Then who is going to put up the money to loan to students? A loan agreement has to be mutually beneficial to both borrower and lender. If I am going to loan it to a student, there has to be some reason for me to do so rather than loan it to the doctor wanting to borrow money to buy an X-ray machine to treat broken arms, or the young couple wanting to borrow money to buy a house.

Easy peasy. The government. Like in Europe and Japan. If the government is going to back the loans it should make them, and not force the student to pay vigorish to a middleman who contributes no value.

And the government has a clear vested long-term interest in promoting an educated population, in a way that no private entity, much less a profit-taking business, has.

Comment Re:at some point... (Score 1) 827

Its already tipping as defaults are at an all time high but thanks to the changes Bush passed in 06 you can't even get out of debt with bankruptcy and that REALLY needs to change

This is always something that has really bugged me. Why exactly is it someone's right to borrow money and then not pay it back? If you borrowed it, you should have to pay it back. It doesn't make any sense to allow people out from under their debts that they made the conscious decision to borrow....

So you are on-board with eliminating bankruptcy entirely for everyone, and limited liability corporations too, right?

I mean, what right do corporate executives have to borrow money, and not pay it back? Why aren't they liable as individuals for the debts they choose to incur while running the business?

No one should ever have any escape from debt! Bring back the work houses!

Comment Re:It's a great idea if you ignore... (Score 1) 385

Sorry about your reading difficulties. If you can maintain attention, perhaps I can clarify.

The point was that large public construction projects happen in expansionary periods when empires is growing, resources are plentiful and economies are relatively free of both public and private debt as a proportion of actual GDP.

Any evidence to support his assertion?

The enormous 1930s Public Works Administration program was undertaken when the U.S. public debt/GDP ratio was at a (then) all time high.

The interstate highway system, that largest public works project in US history, was authorized in 1956 when the public debt/GDP ratio was 60%, just a bit lower than the 75% that will prevail over the next decade.

Large scale public construction project undertaken during a depressed economy, like now, lead to accelerated growth, and then sharply dropping debt ratios.

But your claim sounded plausible anyway. Truthiness is alive and well.

Comment Re:Pylons can't be static (Score 1) 385


My concern is the pylons. His drawings show them as passive entities. That simply won't work in California where the land shifts continually. Sometimes it's gradual as in fractions of inches each year and sometimes its catastrophic as in 27 feet in a few minutes...

Page 5 of the proposal: "Tucked away inside each pylon, you could place two adjustable lateral (XY) dampers and one vertical (Z) damper. These would absorb the small length changes between pylons due to thermal changes, as well as long form subtle height changes. As land slowly settles to a new position over time, the damper neutral position can be adjusted accordingly".

Please read the darn proposal before claiming to see flaws in it.

In case of a major earthquake the system would have to shut down until they can be checked out, like other commuter rails systems (BART, etc.) have to.

Comment Re:Sure it's a loopy idea (Score 1) 385

... Again: this will require a "no-man's land" security area around it - one that is not just barricaded so trucks can't easily get close, one that is actually fenced and secured to prevent people from getting close.


Really? Then why don't existing commuter rail lines have these "required" security measures? They don't you know. You can stop an SUV on the tracks.

Comment Re:Sure it's a loopy idea (Score 1) 385

So there's no secure area around the pylons? Anybody can just drive a tractor full of fertilizer right up to the pylons holding the tube up, and detonate at will?


Do you realize that there is no "secure area" around railroad bridges or the rails themselves today? You can already drive a car full of fertilizer right up to existing passenger line bridges or the rails and detonate at will. Heck, you can just park the car on the rails and cause a massive collision disaster.

Comment Re:Who the fuck is Alliance for Generational Equit (Score 1) 372

Indeed who the h*ll you they?

If you look at the website, available funding information, domain registration and anything at all about them you find that they have worked hard from the beginning to be completely obscure about who and what they are.

A look at the AGE website's "solutions outside of political parties and ideological partisanship" you find that their proposed solutions to health care costs are

  • "tort reform" - freeing medical corporations from worrying about being penalized for bad practices and actions. This policy is beloved by the right despite, a) lawsuits costs are only 2% of America's helath care bill, and b) being show to be ineffective in saving costs where it has already been in place for a decade (Texas). Corporatists just hate accountability.
  • Continue banning any drug imports. Those lower cost Canadian drugs are killers I tell you!
  • Do no, repeat NOT, reduce the payment rate of Medicare Part D that pays drug companies whatever they ask for.
  • But don't increase funding for the State Children’s Insurance Program, (SCHIP)!

Their Big Idea on energy costs? Not clear - it is simply to endorse whatever Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is proposing.

How to jump start the Jobs Crisis? Get this - expand the H-1 Visa Program and import more skilled foreign workers.

I could go on, but this "non-political": agenda is identical to those of the Chamber of Commerce, ALEC, and the numerous mouthpiece organizations of the Koch family, of which this clearly is one.

Oh, and about that study. What academic department and institution did it come from? Why the Economics Department of George Mason University.

The very department that has received $30 million from Charles Koch over the years, honoring him with a Doctorate in return, and hosts the Mercatus Center - an 'institute' with staff personally approved by Charles Koch and funded by him.

Check it out for youself

Astro-Turf by the truck load.

Comment Geotagging as an Invasion of Privacy (Score 1) 976

Geotagging law-abiding lindividuals in anything other than an opt-in/easy-opt-out arrangement should be considered a straight-up invasion of privacy. We do have privacy laws, and privacy standards in legal precedents and this would seem to already run afoul of them. If not, then some speedy legislation to clarify that it is should be enacted.

Even for people with criminal records though, there needs to be limits on geo-tagging. With the world's highest percentage of incarcerated people. the U.S. needs to be able to allow former criminals to reintegrate productively in society. This must be handled case-by-case of course, but former criminals have rights as well.

Comment Re:thats what you get for being stupid (Score 2) 173

It was the bank's fault that people took out mortgages they couldn't afford!

You mean this in some foolish sarcastic fashion I take it - but that is exactly correct.

The job of a loan originator ("bank") to make sure that a loan that is issued is sound - that experience and financial data show it is very likely to be repaid, and that the chance that it won't be is sufficiently well characterized that it can be covered by private mortgage insurance. That is what loan originators do. If they do not do that then they are likely engaged in some form of fraud (i.e. repackaging bad loans as top quality investment vehicles).

Comment Re:Prestressed concrete performs better under tens (Score 1) 322

... I read that when Hadrian ordered the construction of the current version of the Pantheon, the Roman engineers were faced with difficulty designing a dome that would not collapse under its own weight (again, tensile forces and concrete are not friends). The Romans overcame this by reducing the density of the concrete in the dome by using pumice in the aggregate and reducing the thickness of the concrete as the dome progressed....

That is not the only interesting weight reducing methods they used. They also used a form of hollow core composite construction - embedding hollow clay pots in the wall to reduce its density, and the done itself is a ribbed structure, with vertical and horizontal ribs framing those "decorative" (but highly functional) square indentations in the inner surface.

Some speculate that scale and partial full scale engineering models were used to perfect the design and construction techniques.

Comment Re:Prior art (Score 4, Informative) 322

Turns out its not the ash that mattered.

Its just the composition of the particular variety of ash they had on hand. Volcanic ash differs in various volcanic regions. Further, seawater was also key. You don't find much of that in the middle of continents.

This wasn't ancient knowledge at work at all. It was simply an accident of geography.

Is it really any different from the fact that availability of raw materials in any region is an accident of geography?

If you read TFA you will see that:

A) the Romans were well aware which ashes were the best for this purpose. Vitruvius and Pliny wrote about it. It is not as if they were mystified why this hydraulic cement was turning out so well. Sure they didn't understand the chemistry, but they tried many ashes and knew the ones that had special properties.

B) The researchers found this concrete in 11 harbors around the Mediterranean. This means the Roman were exporting their special ash to where it was needed for harbor construction.

Sounds like ancient knowledge to me. (Otherwise you are going to have to hold that none of the material production skills before modern times were really ancient knowledge.)

Comment Re:why dont cars have 100MPH bumpers (Score 1) 139

Weather related fatalities would be a more apt standard of comparison, don't you think?

Tornadoes come in number one as the cause of weather-related death over the last 10 years. And Oklahoma's tornado fatality rate is the highest in the country, three times the national average.

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