Monday, November 14, 2011

OWS vs. The Tea Party

Here's another roundup of OWS links, but this time it's focused on something more specific.

The Tea Party was supposed to be full of a bunch of violent gun toting rednecks.  OWS proves you don't have to own a gun in order to be dangerous,  And the Tea Party proves you can own a gun, carry a gun, and talk about how bad your government sucks and still be completely peaceful, even if you are surrounded by thousands just like you, and even though your huge group frightens a LOT of people.

And the simplest thing you can do is look at the arrest record of each movement.  I can't vouch for these numbers but based on the news, and I've been reading and watching voraciously, it seems accurate:

To be fair, there may have been ONE Tea Party related arrest.  If anyone knows of any others, I'd be glad to learn about it:  40alatariel at Live Journal

Imagine if these headlines really existed during the Tea Party Days: The Foundry: Over 2,400 Tea Partiers Arrested

Finally, there's this image, which shows the deeper, ideological divide, and only a few things in common (Click to enlarge):

It's interesting that, back in September and October, there were a lot of people drawing comparisons between these two things.  OWS seemed to be the left's answer to the Tea Party, and that made them so cool (to some people).  I knew better, but I didn't say anything.  Now, it's a different story.  I don't really read about people making the comparison in the greater medeia outlets.  They don't want to draw the comparison because it's not even fair.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Bunch of "Occupy" Links


Peter Schiff at Occupy Wall Street with a big sign saying: “I am the 1% Let’s talk”.
The man most vocal about the oncoming global financial crisis before it happened. Openly ridiculed from everyone in the MSM. He was right. Here he explains “Why the Meltdown Should Have Surprised No One”.
Peter Schiff is basically the ballsiest guy out there, for going out into the Occupy crowd with a sign that says, "I am the 1%, Let's Talk." Here are three separate videos, not all from the same day, so I know he did this more than once.

Two The "Meme" guy is kind of dumb but I give him credit for the awesome skateboarding reference.
Three "I pay more taxes than all the protesters in the Park combined."

Schiff posted another video from the Schiff Report where he says, "they are occupying the wrong street!"

We are the 53% who actually pay taxes. I am a proud member, but a little disgruntled about it:

Down with Evil Corporations! and the revolution will be Facebooked (a publicly traded corporation).

OWS = The Flea Party

And Robert Tracinski wrote a good one, too. My favorite part is about the possibility OWS people switching to the Tea Party because of all the freeloading bums. You know, the REAL bums:
...street people were actively recruited by the Occupiers as a way of adding to their somewhat anemic numbers. But the naïve young hippies who make up the bulk of the movement are quickly discovering what the rest of us, with the benefit of actual life experience, already know about "the homeless."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Git Yo Hand Outta My POCKET!

I should be more incredulous at the idea of people telling me who I should and should not offer my money to.  I know two people who are examples of those who seem to think that they know best who should be hired and for what.  When they tell me this, my response should be much more severe than it is.

One person, who we’ll call “Kevin,” thought it was wrong that I might have once hired a person who was, perhaps, not a United States citizen.  I say perhaps because I didn't ask, and I didn't care.  For all I know for certain, he could have been born in Kansas City.  I say that he probably wasn't a US citizen because five things I DO know for certain are that this individual did not speak English, had very, very dark skin, had the square head and jaw of a Mayan warrior, his first name was Heremenegildo, and fifth, he could lay tile like a ceramic-slinging Bruce Lee on amphetamines.

Like I said, based on these five things he probably (almost certainly?) wasn't a citizen, but I didn't bother checking, because again, I didn't care. He did a fantastic job, and I wish I could find him for another.

Another person I know, I'll call him “Mike,” seems to think that it is wrong that I bought a Toyota Tacoma.  Twice.  I don't know for sure, but he seems to think that he has the moral high ground because he bought an American made Ford Diesel truck.  Twice.  I don't know if he is aware that every vehicle I have ever owned has been made by either Toyota or Honda.  He seems to think that we should have a 25% tariff on all goods from China and my Toyota truck should have cost me one hundred thousand dollars.

At the time I hear these things, I know they are wrong, but my response is measured, calculated, and based on superficial grounds.  I made it clear to him that this was rather isolationist, and he eventually agreed, and I got him to admit that in the end, he would be happy if our economy just consisted of dollars, goods and services chasing each other and circulating within the confines of the United States only, with no imports or exports.

That was my response I heard what he thinks I should have paid for my truck, but the proper answer to such a thing is, "What right to you have to tell me that?"

I could go on and on about the practical, but more superficial, reasons why tariffs don't work the way the people who devise them think they will and how they have all kinds of unintended consequences.  I could say that throughout the history of economics this has been the case, and if only I could show him that history, he would see the truth.

But there is a more fundamental reason to argue against tariffs.  Tariffs are fundamentally, morally wrong.  It is not moral to demand a tariff for any product or service, and it is morally corrupt for a government to enforce such a tariff.  You cannot steer people's decisions the way you want.  This is true not just for the practical reason that people tend not to be steered in exactly direction you intend them to go, but because it is ethically wrong to try to steer them in the first place.

It is not right to make people's choices for them.  It is not justified, no matter how good your intentions are, to control people's purchases.  Just because you're doing something that looks a little nicer than pointing a gun in their face and saying, "choose this, or else" doesn't mean you aren't using force to control the economy.  It would be better if you put the gun in their face because at least that would be more honest.

This is a basic, fundamental part of a free economy, because it relates very closely to property rights.  You cannot tell people where they spend their money and how much they spend, because money is property used in exchange for something else.  It is fundamental to a truly free society.  And true economic freedom is not just freedom within a very narrowly, arbitrarily defined box of whatever happens to be made in the United States, or Arizona, or Maricopa County.  Economic freedom is freedom within the whole universe of available choices.  Telling me I have economic freedom to choose within all products made in America is just telling me I have freedom to do whatever I want within four walls of a prison cell.  How big that prison cell is is arbitrary, but it is still a prison.

Don’t get me wrong: I love America, I love being an American, and I DO believe in American exceptionalism.  But I also believe, like Harry Binswanger, that “Buy American” is un-American.

If I have a hole to dig in my back yard, and I choose to hire someone for the job, it is MY job to offer.  Not anyone else's.  Not “Kevin,” not “Mike,” not my nosy next door neighbor, and not the local labor police.  If I choose to give that job to a Mexican national, that is my right as a free human being to do so.  The corollary to that statement is that the Mexican national did not "steal American jobs" by accepting my employment.  The job did not belong to any American in the first place.   It belongs to ME, and I can choose whoever I want and pay whatever I want for it.  Jobs do not exist in outer space ready for the plucking out of the sky, for the taking of whoever feels they have the right to them.  Jobs exist because an employer created them, and has them to offer to whomever will accept the terms, and if such a condition exists, both parties mutually benefit, and are grateful for it.  No one has the right to claim the job as theirs until the agreement is mutual.

For someone else to disapprove of my choice of cars and to attempt to arbitrate the decision through tariffs, i.e. the use of government force, is to be the nosy next door neighbor, who is unhappy with my choice of hole digger, because he thinks I should have given it to the American, not the Mexican.  The government and the neighbor are outsiders.  They are third parties who have no right to tell me who I hire because it is my property to make what choices I see fit, whether I choose to do it myself, hire an American, a Mexican, a purple dinosaur from Mars, or even to not dig the hole at all.  This is no different than choosing a Japanese auto worker to make my truck for me over a UAW laborer at Ford.

Anyone who took the time to think about what would happen if the US shut down all of its importing and exporting operations and who knew anything at all about economics would realize that is a bad, bad idea.  There are too many things that people have outside the US that are beneficial to us, that cannot be made, grown, or mined in this country, and not at the same cost.  Further, there are too many things we make here and sell overseas that provide a living to Americans.  To think that we can shut this off and put a wall around the US is simply short sighted and naive.  “Mike” seems to think that this would make Ford Motor Company better off, and the US would be better for it as well.

Anyone who employed just a moderate amount of thought should see this, but these are superficial grounds.  The fundamentals are more important to understand, and once you grasp them, it is much easier to choose your values.  I value freedom.  I value prosperity.  Therefore, I value a dynamic, global market economy full of people doing what they do best, trading that thing with all others, to the benefit of all.

Cue music.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

OWS Is It's Own Monty Python Movie

Glenn Reynolds has a good post about the postmodern left, Occupy Wall Street, anti-Columbus nonsense, anti-colonialism, and pure, visceral hatred of the United States.

Anti-colonialism is central to postmodern Leftism.
The OWS effort is essentially postmodernist. (The Dems think they can exploit them; Obama is one of them.)
The postmodern Left sees the Israelis as Jewish interlopers from Europe who stole the land from peace-loving Arabs just as Columbus stole the USA from peace-loving Indians. (And Arabs and Indians also had sustainable economies that were replaced with evil free-markets!)
The postmodern left’s presuppositions are bad and their facts wrong. Lets set the record straight and unpack a few of them:
1 – So called indigenous peoples all over the world are better off under our system – as a result of colonialism – and in our culture then they ever were or ever could have been under their own. They all have longer healthier more prosperous lives.
2 – Jews are not interlopers and have lived in the Holy Land continuously for thousands of years. Very few Arabs had ever settled there.
3 – The so-called al aksa Mosque cannot possibly be the one in the Koran; it was built years after Mohamed died; it was dubbed the al aksa mosque by a Turk who was forbidden entrance to Mecca and needed another place to make a pilgrimage to.
4 – Arabs are the interlopers in the Holy Land and North Africa.
5 – The Crusades were a counter-offensive and not an offensive; they were waged to expel the invader and not to invade.

To me it's all just like a Monty Python Script:

"...apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the [Americans] done for US?"

So compare this:

To this:

Howard Stern clip via Breitbart.

This one is ripe for mockery too but don't watch it unless you are in the mood to loathe humanity:

Friday, October 14, 2011

MTB Strength Training Systems, Grand Junction, CO.

I can’t say enough about James Wilson and everyone at MTB Strength Training Systems. I drove up to that area this weekend to ride some of the local trails and to check out James’ first ever skills clinic.  I got a personal run-down on my strengths and weaknesses in my physical conditioning and as a mountain biker.    

I've always thought that in order to have good skills in any sport you have to be strong, and that’s why I have always used weightlifting to get better at whatever I do, even before I was a mountain biker.  It just so happens that strength training is the foundation of Wilson’s system. 

James is a fitness professional, and knows his business.  He knows the basics of training for any sport.  He has even posted about this in the past.  But he also thinks for himself.  When it came to his own sport and he realized that there was no good weight training program available for mountain bikers, he knew that there was a hole to fill and he has done that. 

On top of the excellent training for physical strength, though, James’ skills coaching is very good.  This is because his workouts are designed to replicate movements that must be used on the bike, and he bases his bike skills coaching on body movements and strength that is developed in the gym in the first place.  Everything is interrelated.    James explains skills in terms of basic, bare bones fundamentals, but on top of those, he will give you the correct coaching cues to pull off a move.  If you're like me, you will have new abilities simply due to his explanation of them.  This after many, many failed attempts prior to setting foot in the MTB STS facilty.

Everyone at the facility is good at what they do, generous, and accommodating. But for all of this, of course, it wasn't magical. I’m not a better rider over night.  I just learned about ALL the work I have to do to get there on my own.  That’s all you need a coach for, and it was worth the trip.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Social Security's Monstrous Lie

Rick Perry's description of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme is great, but it doesn't go far enough: Social Security is criminal.  I'm not the only one who thinks so. 

Social Security was long known as the “third rail” of American politics -- touch it and die. But now one politician is not just touching it, but grabbing it with both hands...
In some ways, it’s even worse than a Ponzi scheme. In his pyramid racket, Carlo (Charles) Ponzi fleeced only willing suckers, but Social Security taxes are compulsory.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Paul Graham: How To Disagree

Way more delicious than the food pyramid, it's the disagreement pyramid!  Written by Paul Graham, a computer programmer, I liked the section on Counterargument.

I'm going to start making all my arguments by working my way up the pyramid from the bottom top, in a crescendo of syllogistic devastation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunglass Style Sesh

The cool kids eat their Lucky Charms with their shades on.  (Full Album)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The San Fran Video

This is old, but I never posted it before, and some friends were asking about it.  I suggest watching it at full volume.  It adds to the experience.

Featured in this video: Coit Tower, Lombard St. (brrrAAAAB RAB RABubububub), the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and Reia at T minus 2 months, 13 days.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Good times on our 2nd annual MN trip. Only four pictures though. A lot of swimming (a mile every day) a lot of eating (ice cream twice a day) and a lot of campfires (always keep on hand a separate shirt and pair of shorts embedded with with 4 nights worth of smoke).

Economic Freedom & Quality of Life

Via The Blogfather Glenn Reynolds

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mike Rowe: Safety 3rd

"Safety First" is dead.  Risk is always first.  Managing it to get the job done is second.  Safety is third.

All you OSHA inspectors better not complain. Because hey, middle of the top 5 ain't bad.

If safety was always first, you could sit around and do nothing, not get any work done, and no one would yell at you as long as you were safe.

This is almost as good as Brown Before Green.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Netanyahu Urges U.S. Return To 1845 Borders

No, not really, but it would have been justified.  I would like to pat Netanyahu on the back for essentially giving our President the finger.

Monday, May 2, 2011

OBL, Guantanamo, and Waterboarding

Osama may have been caught using information obtained through Guantanamo Bay detainees (So says the NYT) and/or "enhanced interrogation" (so says AP)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trapster: Social Networking with an Actual Purpose!

Trapster is a smartphone app that helps locate speed traps and other road hazards WORLDWIDE.

As one who is passionate about the scope and role of government in our lives, I believe that speeding tickets are one example of misplaced resources and government out of control. I have very detailed and specific reasons for this which I won't explain here. Suffice it to say that if you, like me, wish to avoid speed traps as well as accidents, heavy traffic, and many other hazards, you should install Trapster on your smartphone and register a free account.

Even if you don't have a smartphone, you should go to their website (, register, review the Google Maps powered database often, and contribute to the community.

The free registration is not required to view the map on your phone or the site, but is required for you to contribute to the database, which I strongly encourage you to do.

And let me know what you think of it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thursday is Judgement Day!

Skynet becomes active tonight at 8:11pm. Giving us less than 48 hours to prepare for Judgement Day, and the end of humanity as we know it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

XKCD: Radiation Doses

I know, getting "important" information from a webcomic site is probably not a good idea. But if I was going to get it from any webcomic, it would be XKCD.

Even the author agrees: "If you're basing radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself."

It puts things in perspective.

And he gives sources.

And he's a physicist.

...but it's still a webcomic.

I'm just sayin.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Energy Industry Mechanical Engineer on Fukushima

Here's an expert's opinion on the nuclear situation in Japan. In his note at the end he talks a little about his background and credentials. I've been reading his stuff for years, which I get in a paid e-mail newsletter, but I found a permanent link to it online .

He feels the same way I do: the lives lost and the cost of cleanup of even the worst case imaginable (indeed, imaginary) nuclear accident are nothing in comparison to the lives lost and cost of cleanup of the real disaster that already happened.

Real Disaster, Fake Nuclear Panic
Japan's Nuclear Accident Pales Next to its Natural Disasters

by Jack Wakeland

The press coverage of the nuclear accident in Japan consists of panic over a vast radiological accident that isn't happening. The press has stampeded the people of Tokyo, who are emptying store shelves of emergency supplies, going about with masks over their mouths, or leaving the city to stay with friends to the south. Some foreigners are leaving the country. They've even got people buying potassium iodide tables on the West Coast of the United States (for which the Surgeon General should be fired). The weird juxtaposition of nuclear meltdown news with orders for the evacuation of 200,000 residents within 30 km of the plant and video footage of millions of displaced and dispossessed Japanese people shivering in the cold and patiently waiting for food suggests that the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi has something to do with the nation-wide misery.
It doesn't.
The sequence of the partial meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-3 is straight out of the nuclear safety analysis textbook for what will happen to a nuclear power plant during an extended station blackout.
A 10-meter tsunami inundated the four-unit Fukushima No. 1 site, destroying connections to the national electrical grid, tripping the operating reactors (Units 1-3 were in full power operation), and damaging nearly all of the emergency diesel generators on the site beyond repair. After a reactor trip, heat must still be removed from the nuclear fuel in the reactor core. Four hours after a reactor trip, the heat of radioactive decay is 2% to 3% of the rated thermal power; four days afterwards, it falls to about 0.2% or 0.3%. The heat that normally boils water in the core to power a steam turbine cannot be turned off. It continues to boil water in the reactor at a reduced rate.
The problem, in a station blackout (the loss of all AC power to the nuclear power plant), is that the emergency core cooling pumps required to keep the fuel covered with coolant are available only for a limited period. After several hours of operation, steam to drive the pumps and batteries to power the control systems in the blacked-out Fukushima Daiichi units ran low. On at least two of the units that first day, the inventory of coolant in the reactor also ran low, partially uncovering the reactor core and allowing the fuel to overheat.
In addition to causing fuel in the reactor core to overheat, the loss of all AC power disabled all of the pumps needed to remove the decay heat vented from the reactor vessel to the suppression pool at the base of the containment. (For the parts of this kind of reactor and their relationships, see this diagram.) The suppression pool provides a thermal buffer for heat rejected during and after an emergency reactor shutdown. The heat is rejected from the reactor coolant via steam flow from reactor safety relief valves which are automatically or manually opened to relieve pressure built up from water boiling in the core. In addition to venting steam, the reactor safety relief valves at Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-3 also vented hydrogen gas which was generated from overheated fuel assemblies. The large quantities of hydrogen vented into the suppression pool at Fukushima plant were the product of oxidation of zirconium metal fuel cladding in contact with high temperature (1600 - 1900 F) steam after the reactor cores were uncovered several times.
The excessive boil-off of suppression pool water—there are about 500,000 gallons of it in a torus at the base of the containment vessel—led to the pressurization of the free-standing steel torus located inside a reinforced concrete structure to levels that were probably more than twice the 58 psig design rating.
Emergency procedures in the industry direct operators to perform emergency containment venting when containment pressure reaches 200% of design pressure, but if the ducting or piping downstream of the vent valve isn't designed for it, it will burst, releasing the contents of the containment atmosphere into the mechanical penetration rooms. In a boiling water reactor, the penetration rooms are located just below the refueling deck near the top level of the reactor building.
At Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4, the Tokyo Electric Power Company joined many in the industry who decided not to harden the emergency containment vent line. So when operators opened the vent valve on Unit 1 at 210% of containment design pressure—pop!—the vent line burst, dumping vented containment atmosphere (steam, nitrogen, and hydrogen) into the top floor of the reactor building, just below the refueling deck. Low density hydrogen rises, and it made its way immediately to the top of the secondary containment structure over the refueling deck, where it found the oxygen it needed to burn. Concentrations of hydrogen above the refueling deck reached more than 8% in an air environment. The hydrogen mixture exploded, injuring four workers. The roof and steel structure of the secondary containment house over the refueling floor can be seen falling from a height of about 800 feet in the air after the blast.
At Unit 3, reactor operators began containment venting at less than 200% containment pressure (they did it at about 85 psig). But that pressure wasn't low enough, and the emergency vent line broke on Unit 3, just as it had on Unit 1, and an even larger explosion occurred above the refueling floor, which injured 11 workers. This explosion was probably larger simply because the Unit 3 reactor is larger, with 60% more fuel elements than Unit 1.
The powerful explosion of hydrogen vented from the Unit 3 containment may have caused the damage to pumps at neighboring Unit 2 which led to 140 continuous minutes of full core uncovery at Unit 2, one of the units that had, before Monday, escaped severe core damage. It may also have cracked or weakened structures in the neighboring Unit 2 and Unit 4 reactor buildings.
The hydrogen "explosion" that has been reported at Unit 2 may not have been any kind of explosion at all. It may have been the sound made by the suppression pool torus cracking after being pressurized to 102 psig (175% of the 58 psig containment design pressure), plus another 30 psig in water pressure from flooding the reactor core and containment vessel up to the top of the active fuel, an operation which is a standard long-term accident recovery procedure for the boiling water reactor.
Following recovery of reactor coolant level in Unit 2, work crews heard noises from the lower levels of the Unit 2 containment building and evacuated the unit. Unit 2 containment pressure immediately dropped to atmospheric level after the noises, indicating a rupture of the torus. This failure opens a path for the leakage of highly contaminated reactor coolant to the oceanfront ground water and to the sea. It also opens a continuous vent path for highly contaminated vapors.
The only good news in this kind of release is that it may end up being a relatively benign release mechanism. In the ocean, tides and currents will rapidly dilute the contaminated coolant.
The release of steam into the local atmosphere, steam containing radioactive iodine and small amounts of radio-cesium and strontium, will continue. Any radioactive xenon and krypton that could be released was released during containment venting. The good news is that the winds during most of these releases carried the vast majority of the airborne radioactive material, offshore, away from all humans (except the servicemen of the US Navy), where it has precipitated harmlessly into the vast Pacific Ocean—an ocean which, I assure you, already contains many hundreds of thousands of tons of highly diluted radioactive compounds.
The accident has now entered a slow-motion phase, in which skeleton crews battle to fill spent fuel pools.
Unit 4 was in refueling mode with a full core offload when the tsunami struck, so that the spent fuel pool, where the fuel assemblies are stored in 30 feet of water, had a relatively high heat load. The bad news is that spent fuel pool temperatures at Units 4, 5, and 6 have risen to 185 F, 145 F, and 140 F, respectively. The spent fuel pool liner and concrete structure are not designed for temperatures above 140 F and may develop leaks. According to a statement the chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission made to Congress, there may be little or no water left in the spent fuel pool for Unit 4, and he is undoubtedly correct. A day and a half ago, there was a hydrogen explosion on the refueling floor of Unit 4. The only source for hydrogen in the reactor building would be the product of zirconium alloy fuel cladding oxidizing in the air of the spent fuel deck because the fuel is partially or fully uncovered and the fresh offloaded fuel is slowly "baking off" the cladding at 1200 or 1400 F. This process also becomes a release mechanism for airborne radioactivity, which has previously made it impossible for emergency crews to approach the pool in order to run a fire hose into it.
The good news is that the site is becoming more accessible. The radiation field at the site boundary has dropped from 10 to 6 rad/hour on Tuesday, to 0.3 to 0.07 rad/hour last night, to 0.002 rad/hour this afternoon. This is very good news. Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government have, for the first time this afternoon, been able to expand the onsite workforce attending to the ongoing reactor cooling and fuel pool refill operations.
As for the radiation levels braved by the workers at the plant, they are indeed very dangerous, if a misstep leads to an accidental overexposure—but not if onsite workforce can stay within the exposure limits for emergency workers. This fact didn't stop London's Daily Mail from claiming that work on the site is "a suicide mission." One worker's boast that "we're not afraid to die" should actually have been: "we're not afraid to risk an additional 1.25% chance of death 20 or 30 years from now." But that would take the wind out of the sails of this hyperbolic story (one that has been repeated in various forms by several press organizations).
The chance of dying from cancer is increased by approximately 5% for every 100 rad of acute exposure and the Japanese health ministry just raised the limit on radiation exposures allowed for emergency crews working on the Fukushima Daiichi site from 10 to 25 rad. Therefore those workers are risking a 1.25% additional chance of death by cancer over the next 20 or 30 years. The other risks these workers are taking—from fire, explosion, falls from tall buildings damaged by hydrogen explosions—are far greater than the risk from radiation.
Overall, the consequences of the Fukushima meltdowns—including the $4 to $8 billion in corporate losses for Tokyo Electric due to the destruction of Units 1,2, and 3—fade into the background in the midst of a panorama of death and destruction along the shores of eastern Honshu, with 15,000 drowned and $100 to $250 billion in losses, about 4% of this year's GDP for Japan. There is a real disaster in Japan, a vast natural disaster caused by an earthquake and tsunami.
Back in the 1980s, a new branch fault was found near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant when construction was nearing completion. Fanatical environmentalists—who mounted riots, charged the fences, and vandalized the construction site—demanded that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission increase the magnitude of earthquake that had to be withstood in the design requirements, from 7.5 to 8.0. Pacific Gas and Electric responded that if there were an 8.0 earthquake in California, a nuclear reactor meltdown would be the least of anyone's worries. The NRC agreed and issued them an operating license for the two-unit plant based on its being able to withstand a magnitude 7.5 quake. Events in eastern Honshu are proving the wisdom of that decision.
The yelping from the anti-industrial left is growing to a crescendo, but in today's better political culture the results will not be severe. We can expect the NRC to take new regulatory action on the issue of the potential for vented hydrogen to explode in the secondary containment areas. We can expect them to require containment vent and purge piping to be re-built to withstand pressures of 150% or 200% or 250% of containment design pressure. We can expect them to require all licensed operating reactors to do a study on containment design margins, and we can expect them to look into forcing some types of modifications for plants in which some or all parts of the containment are free-standing steel vessels.
This will hurt the very strong economic performance of stations that are already operating, but it will not alter the profitability or economic practicality of the units because they've already amortized their gigantic construction costs. Units currently targeted by anti-nuclear activists to prevent license extensions will be under threat of losing their application battles for 20-year license extensions. These stations include Indian Point and Diablo Canyon.
Another place where the anti-industrial political forces may leverage the disaster in Japan (so that we get a small taste of that disaster here) is in the new construction projects for three new twin-unit plants that are going ahead in the US. I don't see how they can get traction against Summer 2 and 3 (in North Carolina) or Vogtle 3 and 4 (in Georgia), because these are AP1000 plants which require zero onsite AC power to safely shut down for a period of 72 hours. Furthermore, these four units are not being built as a purely economic proposition. Their owners are state-regulated utility companies who have already gained approval to recoup their investment from utility rates. Vogtle, in Georgia, is particularly invulnerable. In addition to the $7 or $8 billion in guaranteed federal loans each project is getting, one of the four owners of Vogtle, Georgia's state-owned electrical generating authority, got $2.3 billion in "Build America" bonds.
The South Texas Project 3 and 4 plant, however, is another question. The Fukushima incident has created political and contractual head winds for the primary owner, NRG, a for-profit merchant generating company.
The nuclear panic is going to have a long half-life, poisoning our political system for months or years. People will make repeated calls, with expressions of great and sober concern, for a "national energy policy" that is technologically invalid and will cost the energy industry tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in lost progress, development, and organization. And those of us with knowledge in the field have been sentenced to ten or twenty years of rolling our eyes and patiently explaining that the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns have been greatly exaggerated.
But first we have to endure weeks of surreal panic. The panic over Japan's nuclear disaster is absurd and contemptible. It is a panic that turns its back on a real disaster in preference for one that is imagined. The press is projecting onto nuclear power an imaginary man-made disaster which could never actually result in mass death—even total disintegration of the reactor at Chernobyl didn't kill as many people as a plane crash—while all around them thousands of bodies are being recovered from muddy heaps of garbage which only last week were the clean streets of the towns and cities of the industrialized world's most orderly people.
Author's Note: I'm a mechanical engineer doing analysis and systems engineering working in the nuclear power industry, and seven or eight of my 25 years' experience in the business have been at boiling water reactor plants of the same type as the damaged units at Fukushima Units 1 and 2. I am not the top industry expert you could reach on such matters, but I understand the different potential modes of failure for such a plant. The earthquake and tsunami on the east coast of Japan and the total failure of onsite AC power supply systems are the types events for which we all have done our best to prepare. I work for a prominent architect-engineering firm but will not use the name of my company because I do not represent them in any way in making these remarks. These are my personal observations.—JFW

Monday, March 14, 2011

Office Flooring Done

Holy. Mother. of God. It's over.


Part a) How long does it take to lay 280 sqft of bamboo floor?

Part b) How long does it take if the dorks who built your house put in 1/2in differential height from one foundation to the other, and you must flatten the floor to within 3/16in over 10 feet?

Part c) How long does it take if you already have an 8-5 Mechanical Engineering job?
-Note: Occupation of Engineer multiplies final product quality requirements by 5x, and therefore total time elapsed is affected by 10x. If you can see the GD&T callout for Part b) in your head, and make it into a "YOUR MOM" joke, multiply by an additional 3x.

Part d) How long does it take if you have a 1-year old?

Part e) How long does it take if your wife also has a 9-5 job and even though she'll take care of said 1 year old for 4 hours a night while you are off trying to answer Parts a) Through d) inclusive, still wants some time to eat, sleep, and have a personal life?

Answer: Well, all in all, you're into it from at least from Thanksgiving to about St. Patty's Day.


And correction: MY work in the office floor is done. Baseboards and moving outlets and patching drywall goes to some poor sap that won't be such a poor sap after I pay him. I want my life back. I'm done being Mr. Project. Mr. Project is gone. Mr. Short-2-hour-easy-fixit Man is still around. He's good friends with Dr. Likes-to-Mountainbike-Sedona-in-his-Free-Time Dude. Those two guys hate Mr. Project. They kicked him off the island. He's a lame, lame wad of big ol' boring bones.

So with Mr. Project gone, the small things can now get done. Like "enjoying my weekends." That kind of thing.

So here are the pics. Hey it's not splitboarding, but it was pretty much what I dreamt about for 3 plus months. (Why is there no entry for dreamt in the spellchecker? C'mon Google!)

Here is the evolution of the S corner view:

Laying different thicknesses of OSB and sanding:

Laying felt between the different thicknesses and felt over the top:

Underlayment over that:

Unpackaging the wood:

Laying the wood:


And Yes- in case you were wondering. There does indeed exist a CAD model of this office. I made it in Draftsight. Every flooring contractor needs a CAD dweeb. In my case, the flooring contractor IS the CAD dweeb. Heh.

The whole Picasa album is online, in case you want to see all the gory details.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Splitboard Lou Canyon 3/1/11

That's not a command. That's a fact.

Mark Thurston and I took a leisurely stroll up the San Francisco Peaks twice in one day last week, only to fall back down again. Fast. The first run was a little crusty but we found the right spot on the second run.

All of the pictures Mark took are here on Picassa. He took some pretty good ones! I have some video but it takes time to slice and dice the boring parts (there weren't many).

Thirteen hours of effort, but it's always worth it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Journalism

Below, an interview with Sheriff Dupnik after the shooting in Tucson. Courteous and discreet, yet she still managed to cut through the grey muck this guy was using to cloud the issue.

I've seen what Mad Dog Megyn is capable of. If she interviews someone and smells BS, she usually takes them on with a fury. Not this time. I think she did a good job here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lake Tahoe Snowrides

Justin Y and I are the best mismatched snowboarder/skier pair I know of, and we hit up another 3 days of tree dodging, powder swallowing adventure in Tahoe.

Land in Reno at 8, dressed and equipped at Homewood by 10:45. Homewood was where I first learned to board in the trees in 2001 with Pitterle (remember him?...really?). Everytime I go back I remember why.

The snow was heavy but steerable, and 6-12 inches deep where the trees are just dense enough to keep out the scaredycats. The snow fell all day but it was so wet it dripped off the lift chairs onto our heads and legs as we were carried us up the mountain. We had wet jackets and gloves by the end of the afternoon, but it was a small price to pay.

You know what? Never mind. Homewood sucks. You wouldn't like it. Don't go there. I'd rather keep this secret to myself.

Heavenly Day 1

We got to our S Lake resort (above) before a night of wind and snow and power outages set in. It brought 2 ft of new snow but it kept us from getting to the mountain until 9 or 9:30. no matter: we still got to the top in time to line up behind the ski patrol's rope barrier. When they let us under the rope, we and the other 50 people waiting became a mad throng of screaming wild Indians, leaving plumes of powder in the air and streaks in the snow behind us.

After swimming in, and and choking on, the snow on the lower face of Gunbarrel for 3 runs we cleared our windpipes and went further up the hill. After 3 runs there, we heard whispers of another lift opening up nearby, so we rushed over there, and found, yes, another ski patrol rope line just above the base of the Sky Express lift line. After a while they gave the go-ahead, and we again made our Indian massacre of the chairlift.

We got to the top and it was even better, drier snow. It was the perfect run. At one point I had passed everyone, and was all alone. All I could see in front of me was untouched wilderness of white powder approaching me as fast as gravity would allow.

We stayed in the Sky Express for the rest of the afternoon, until we were too tired to do any more. When you push past your limit, you make mistakes. Here I am just a few seconds after I crashed into a tree, contemplating my error, replaying the previous 30 seconds in my head, re-evaluating my place in life, meditating on Newton, etc.
Heavenly Day 2
On the second day, another set of lifts opened up, and it took us into the SkiWays Glades. It was the most surreal riding I have ever done. The whole place was peppered with squat pines, and in the space between them, windblown snow dunes. They were like natural quarterpipes, but you had to think on your feet if you didn't have the speed to get over them.

The snow is nice at Heavenly but what most people don't know is that there is quite a bit of wildlife there. Here I snapped a picture of the native Giant Sasquatch. Click on the image to see him closer. It was amazing.
The most interesting non-ski related thing that happened was the conversation I had with a guy on the lift chair. As soon as I sat down, he started speaking with an unidentified accent and the guy next to me, who was clearly American, would giggle. He asked me, "Where are you from?"

I said, "Arizona."

He said, "Ah, I am from a little country called Iran."

I repeated, to make sure I understood his accent, "Iran?"

"Yes, have you heard of this place" Another giggle from my neighbor.

"Yes. I thought the student protests there were going to be able to kick your president out of office, but no such luck!"

"Ah, you do not like the President of Iran?"

At this point, I think I am either an involuntary cast member of Borat 2, or this guys is just plain joking around, so I just decide to put it all on the line. I say, "No, I think your president is a Dirt-Bag."

The guy next to me laughs histerically, but the Iranian continues, "He doesn't like Israel much. Do you like Isreal?"

I told him. "I like Israel just as much as any other civilized, Westernized society in the Middle East, or in other words, better than all the rest!" More laughter.

He changed the subject said, "What are you doing for New Years Eve?"

"I will be in Las Vegas"

His eyes light up, "Ahh, Las VEGAS!"

"Yep," I say. "Home of the Spearmint Rhino"

He explodes, "AHHHHH! YeeeAAAAHH. Spearmint Rhino!" And followed this up with the craziest maniacal laughter I have ever heard.

"Wow," I said. "Whenever I hear a guy from Iran laugh like that, it scares me a little."

"We don't have Spearmint Rhino in Iran. It is forbidden."

I told him, "That sounds terrible!"

At this point, the lift was reaching it's destination, he made our farewell. He said, "You have a good day, and maybe sometime you and I can open a Spearmint Rhino in Iran! HahahHAHAHA!" More maniacal laughter.

After I got off the chair and told Justin about this exchange I think we both agreed this guy was faking it. After all, if it was real, I'm pretty sure he would have taken out a scimitar and chopped off my head.

The rest of the day we rode the Glades and wore ourselves out suprizingly late in the afternoon, considering it was our third day.

The view of the lake was as good as ever. That damn Sasquatch kept following me.
All in all I'd have to say that whoever thinks Heavenly is a snowboarders hell has not explored the place that well. If you're on blue groomers the whole time, yes, there are a lot of catwalks. But the more wild areas between the manicured runs have a lot of room to explore. We stayed on the California side the whole time for two days in a row.

Thanks to Justin's lady Tara for giving us the S. Lake resort hookup! It was a fun trip.