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The Old Hack

Political Discussion Thread (READ FIRST POST)

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10 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

Not straw men.

If you think so, explain how.

I quoted several instances where you were, yet again, invoking an imaginary conspiracy of liberals who wish to take away every gun from everyone, and equating your opponent as being a part of that conspiracy if they wish to apply any restrictions to gun ownership (the straw man you seem to prefer as an opponent).  I do not wish to engage in a debate with someone who won't recognize most of the middle ground even exists, or who will do so briefly and then backslide into extremism repeatedly, nor do I wish to be insulted by being accused of extremism every other post that brings up that middle ground.  I saw no way for our debate to make any real progress after that post, so I am not interested in banging my head against a wall. I fear anything further will lead to nothing but eventual violation of the forum's courtesy rules, so I am stepping out. Please respect that decision.

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16 hours ago, The Old Hack said:

I must hasten to add that I did not mean education as a precondition for gun ownership but as a more general measure introduced in grade school (for example) to instill a greater sense of caution in children -- a caution that will hopefully stay with them in their adult lives. Guns are a fact of life. Not teaching children about them in the hopes they won't encounter one is like not teaching them to swim so they won't risk drowning.

When I speak of safety procedures, I simply mean drilling them into the heads of owners until they become automatic. A routine similar to the Eddie Eagle one we already discussed, devised after the KISS principle. Like, do not just set a gun down, lock it down. Always check if safety is on before setting gun down. Have firing chamber be empty. Just make it so that you need a minimum of two steps to fire the gun before you set it down, always. (I do not intend the aforementioned to be the procedure, I am merely tossing ideas out for what could be in it -- it needs to be simple and effective.)

Your ideas sound fine to me.  The problem of course is the people who do not take the safety courses. 

That's where well-meaning people might demand the safety course be mandatory before purchasing a gun.  I understand you were not proposing this.  It's something that has been mentioned in this topic before.so it seemed appropriate to address since we were in the neighborhood anyway.  

To be honest I am not sure how effective an involuntary safety course would be in any event, for more or less the same reasons why any involuntary education, training or therapy is likely to be ineffective.  At some point the individual has to choose to buy in or there's no effect.

It might surprise you to know that I do not own a gun personally.  My reason comes from understanding the responsibilities involved and respect for the inherent deadliness of the things.  I [can't/choose not to] put the time into responsibly owning a gun, so responsibility dictates I forego.  Doesn't mean my rights under the 2nd aren't important even if I am not currently exercising them.

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8 hours ago, CritterKeeper said:

I quoted several instances where you were, yet again, invoking an imaginary conspiracy of liberals who wish to take away every gun from everyone, and equating your opponent as being a part of that conspiracy if they wish to apply any restrictions to gun ownership (the straw man you seem to prefer as an opponent).  I do not wish to engage in a debate with someone who won't recognize most of the middle ground even exists, or who will do so briefly and then backslide into extremism repeatedly, nor do I wish to be insulted by being accused of extremism every other post that brings up that middle ground.  I saw no way for our debate to make any real progress after that post, so I am not interested in banging my head against a wall. I fear anything further will lead to nothing but eventual violation of the forum's courtesy rules, so I am stepping out. Please respect that decision.

When I first got into this topic, I was not the most civil.  But since I stopped myself, apologized and reset my rhetoric, I have not attacked you or in any way been rude or disrespectful to you.

There doesn't need to be an evil dark shadowy "conspiracy" of any sort.  There just needs to be a straightforward, push against gun rights.. 

The whole discussion is phrased in terms of what restrictions to adopt or not.  There is no considerations for innate rights granted by the 2nd Amendment.  There is no consideration for how to target people instead of classes of weapon.  Solutions from gun control advocates have seemed to always turn to banning classes of weapons and otherwise tightening restrictions uniformly everywhere.

If we accept that we cannot eliminate mass-shootings no matter what we do and also accept that each shooting will prompt calls for further restrictions and that some of these calls will succeed, there is only one endpoint.  Total ban.  I do not see how this labels anybody as an extremist besides those who can be counted on to demand restrictions at every turn and as you rightly point out those are a minority, not a majority.  This is why "where does it end?" is an important question.  If you have no clear idea what "too far" is, you can be moved there by people who know no such limits.

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8 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

When I first got into this topic, I was not the most civil.  But since I stopped myself, apologized and reset my rhetoric, I have not attacked you or in any way been rude or disrespectful to you.

There doesn't need to be an evil dark shadowy "conspiracy" of any sort.  There just needs to be a straightforward, push against gun rights.. 

The whole discussion is phrased in terms of what restrictions to adopt or not.  There is no considerations for innate rights granted by the 2nd Amendment.  There is no consideration for how to target people instead of classes of weapon.  Solutions from gun control advocates have seemed to always turn to banning classes of weapons and otherwise tightening restrictions uniformly everywhere.

If we accept that we cannot eliminate mass-shootings no matter what we do and also accept that each shooting will prompt calls for further restrictions and that some of these calls will succeed, there is only one endpoint.  Total ban.  I do not see how this labels anybody as an extremist besides those who can be counted on to demand restrictions at every turn and as you rightly point out those are a minority, not a majority.  This is why "where does it end?" is an important question.  If you have no clear idea what "too far" is, you can be moved there by people who know no such limits.

Again, please respect my request to leave me out of your gun discussion.  Thank you.

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They had an interesting story on public radio recently.  A guy taking a college course on government had to do a paper on Constitutional Amendments.  He found a chapter on proposed Amendments that had been sent from Congress to the state legislatures for ratification, but had not been passed by enough of them to become Amendments.  There was one, saying that Congress couldn't give themselves an immediate pay raise, it had to wait until at least after the next election to take effect.  It was proposed in something like 1789, only ratified by nine states.  So, he wrote about this for his paper.  And got a C.  He appealed to his professor, who declined to change the TA's grade.

So, he determined that he'd show her -- he'd get the Amendment ratified!  He started writing to state legislators.  And writing, and calling, and visiting, and eventually he got someone to sponsor a bill in one of the needed states, and it passed.  So he wrote, and called, and campaigned, until another state ratified it.  And another, and another.

It took him ten years, but the last state needed finally ratified the Amendment in 1992, and it became the 27th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

One guy.  One very determined guy.

And one professor who, when a reporter asked her if she had heard about this, or knew that he said he'd done it all because she'd given him a bad grade, was tickled pink that she had had a hand in changing the Constitution.  She wound up submitting the paperwork at the university they'd both long since left, to get the grade officially changed to an A+.

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Even a total gun ban won't eliminate mass-shootings as the wave of terrorism across Europe these last few years amply demonstrates

And a fair number of terrorist incidents have caused mass deaths without the use of guns.

There seem to be differences of opinion about whether reducing gun homicides by 1 while increasing non-gun homicides by 2 is an improvement or not. 

 

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Not just trucks. Aircraft, cars, explosives, incendiaries, and toxins.

There was actually a  bill before the Washington state legislature to blanket-ban unlicensed private ownership of substances that could be used to make explosives. One of the people testifying to the committee it was assigned to told them that he could walk into ANY of their houses and prove that they were in violation of this proposed law - that they ALL possessed such substances. The next witness, one of the lead guys on a bomb squad, started with "I don't know who that last guy is, but he knows what he's talking about." (The bill, thankfully, died.)

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The Moderator: I wonder if we should have a thread for poorly thought out laws. We have had a few of these in Denmark. One of my favourites was a law that required exotic dancers to keep their buttocks covered. For some reason it was extremely verbose and filled with all sorts of anatomical terms as well as trigonometrical definitions of exactly where the buttock began and ended. The result was a nearly unreadable mess that used up several paragraphs. It was actually signed into law but due to a copying error the final law, if carefully read, only made it mandatory for dancers to keep their left buttock covered. They could dance with the right one as bare as they liked, which was not quite the intention of the lawmakers in question.

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2 hours ago, The Old Hack said:

The Moderator: I wonder if we should have a thread for poorly thought out laws. We have had a few of these in Denmark. One of my favourites was a law that required exotic dancers to keep their buttocks covered. For some reason it was extremely verbose and filled with all sorts of anatomical terms as well as trigonometrical definitions of exactly where the buttock began and ended. The result was a nearly unreadable mess that used up several paragraphs. It was actually signed into law but due to a copying error the final law, if carefully read, only made it mandatory for dancers to keep their left buttock covered. They could dance with the right one as bare as they liked, which was not quite the intention of the lawmakers in question.

Sounds like they'd be ass over tit over the whole situation. :tongue:

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Badly thought out laws... in the US some years back there formed a notion that it would be better for parents to abandon unwanted newborn infants at hospitals or fire stations or other such places, as opposed to out in the woods or in a dumpster behind some restaurant, so laws were passed in a bunch of states allowing such abandonment (along with surrender of all parental rights) without legal penalty.

One state neglected to put an age limit on the children thus abandoned.

During the ten weeks before this oversight was corrected, 36 children who had already had their first birthday - and in quite a lot of cases their thirteenth as well - were abandoned in compliance with the deficient law. The oldest was 17. (But you do have to have some sympathy for the abandoning parent in that case - a recently-widowered father with nine minor children; he turned them all over to the state.)

Six of those 36 children turned out to be legal residents of other states, so were sent back to their parents; presumably the suitable authorities of those states were notified.

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An article came across my FB about an offshore wind turbine farm being retired that has existed in Danish waters.  The Old hack, being a Dane would naturally know everything about it.  :)

https://www.thegwpf.com/worlds-first-offshore-wind-farm-retires-a-post-mortem

According to the article, the actual power generated by the turbine farm over its 25-year lifespan was 22% of its rated maximum.  It would be unreasonable to expect it to constantly produce at its rated capacity for 25 years for many reasons.  Still 22% still seems a bit underwhelming.  Maybe the rated capacities of wind turbines need to come down to something more approximating their expected or likely performance?

ToH, do you know of anything important that the article omits?  Do you know of any factual  errors in the article?

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That article fails to include any of the indirect costs of fossil fuel plants in its comparisons.  The pollution from burning fossil fuels and the resulting effect on human health, the costs of climate change and its resulting increased sea levels and changes in weather patterns, none of that is included in the article's evaluation of fossil fuel power plants.

They're also comparing some of the very first attempts at a new technology versus plants with many decades of gradual changes and improvements to efficiency.  If wind power gets the resources for research and development, the numbers will change; I'm not sure there's nearly as much improvement left to be made to the fossil fuel technologies.

Plus, how much of the time does your car spend at 100% capacity?  Or your furnace?  You don't expect them to be at top speed or top power all the time, and I think that this writer doesn't really understand the difference between expectations for different technologies.  No one expects the wind to blow at top speed all day and night, every day and night.  He's setting up a completely unrealistic goal, which no one else ever planned on the wind turbines meeting, and then dunning them for not meeting it.  Smells like someone with an agenda to me, but maybe they're just incompetent.

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The Moderator: I am not aware of any specifics of this particular windmill farm but I know a little about how wind and solar in general are doing. My own energy company -- Danish Oil and Natural Gas, usually rather unfortunately abbreviated to DONG -- is about to change its name. Due to its heavy investing in wind and solar, and general changes in structure and divesting of less efficient assets, the leadership of the company recently realised that it no longer dealt in energy from either oil or natural gas to any degree of importance at all. An energy company with 'Oil and Natural Gas' in its name that didn't deal in either of these seemed a bit nonsensical to them, so in a month or so they will rename their company 'Ørsted' for the Danish physicist H. C. Ørsted.

Given the nature of such companies (i. e., they want to make money rather than lose it), I do not think they can be doing all that badly.

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On 10/20/2017 at 9:31 PM, The Old Hack said:

Given the nature of such companies (i. e., they want to make money rather than lose it), I do not think they can be doing all that badly.

Much depends on the behavior of government too.   Elon Musk has a residential solar energy company called Solar City whose profitability is (last I heard) dependent on government solar energy subsidies. (article is a couple years old.  Things could be better or worse now)

If the soon-to-be named Ørsted profits without need for government, that's fantastic.

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K^2    2
On 10/23/2017 at 11:21 AM, Vorlonagent said:

Much depends on the behavior of government too.   Elon Musk has a residential solar energy company called Solar City whose profitability is (last I heard) dependent on government solar energy subsidies. (article is a couple years old.  Things could be better or worse now)

If the soon-to-be named Ørsted profits without need for government, that's fantastic.

So this one's a bit complicated. I'm not touching politics of energy production with a ten foot pole, but I can talk about science of it.

First, the good news. Solar prices are plummeting. They are well bellow costs of coal after environmental fees and taxes are applied, and are expected to be bellow costs of coal in countries with no environmental regulations in just a few years. That's a projection based on technologies we are already using. Tech we have in the labs is expected to drop that by another order of magnitude at least, but ETA is uncertain. This is in sharp contrast to situation we had just over a decade ago, when solar barely broke even in terms of energy produced in panel's life time vs energy consumed in production. In early 2000's, if you were using solar power, you were simply exporting pollution to China. It was still profitable in some regions due to environmental regulations and subsidies, but it wasn't really green. Today's solar is. It's green, cheap, and it's going to completely dominate the market with government's support or without.

But it's going to be a slow road, especially without subsidies. The reason is that sun refuses to shine 24/7. Good for life on earth, bad for solar power. While total peak power consumption falls on the day-time, the night-time consumption is considerable, especially in colder climate where people use electricity or fossil fuels not to freeze. There is also great variation of solar availability by season, weather, and region. Which means that the consumer either has to store energy or have a backup. That means having a battery, having a generator, or being plugged into the power company's grid. This is why profitability of solar still heavily depends on subsidies and laws governing utilities.

Unfortunately, situation with batteries is pretty grim. LiPoly is expensive. There might be a few replacements coming in (graphene, glass electrolyte) which will be a huge improvement, but still not nearly enough. And that's already pushing electrochemistry to its limits. We might get lucky with nuclear isomer breakthrough, but in best case scenario, that tech is decades out. In many parts of the world, having a home battery just isn't going to cut it. (Although, in sunnier, warmer parts of the world, it totally will!) Most of us will have to still rely on power companies absorbing a lot of the difference. The most likely way they'll go with it is synthetic fuels used for storage. Methane is probably the best bet, as it can be burnt on existing gas turbines. But hydrogen's viable too. These technologies will still be carbon-neutral, but they'll be way more expensive than direct solar, which means that we'll still have to pay our electric bills. And the worst part is that it will take a while to build out the necessary infrastructure.

Not all is grim, though. Even if households will take some time to become near-100% renewable-powered, we have lots of industries and transit that rely on fossil fuels primarily during daylight hours. And that's a huge chunk of our carbon footprint that will be completely eliminated in the next couple of decades simply because it will be way cheaper for corporations to use solar power. This process has already begun. I'm sure, we'll be able to celebrate peak carbon before next decade is out. Whether that's soon enough remains to be seen.

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7 hours ago, K^2 said:

So this one's a bit complicated. I'm not touching politics of energy production with a ten foot pole, but I can talk about science of it.

First, the good news. Solar prices are plummeting. They are well bellow costs of coal after environmental fees and taxes are applied, and are expected to be bellow costs of coal in countries with no environmental regulations in just a few years. That's a projection based on technologies we are already using. Tech we have in the labs is expected to drop that by another order of magnitude at least, but ETA is uncertain. This is in sharp contrast to situation we had just over a decade ago, when solar barely broke even in terms of energy produced in panel's life time vs energy consumed in production. In early 2000's, if you were using solar power, you were simply exporting pollution to China. It was still profitable in some regions due to environmental regulations and subsidies, but it wasn't really green. Today's solar is. It's green, cheap, and it's going to completely dominate the market with government's support or without.

That's good, though the phrase of note is "environmental fees and taxes" on the one hand combined with government subsidies on the other.  Historically solar has been somewhere between a dreadful and questionable economic choice if it were to compete on a level playing field with other energy sources.  The fees and taxes on carbon-based sources have meant higher energy costs for everybody in the US and incurred loss of economic growth.  Solar subsidies have contributed to budget deficits in states like CA.

I do have to ask when solar would exceed coal in countries like the US if the US, say, dropped all environmental taxes and regulations, or rolled them back to regulating particle emissions only.  We have two non-comparable circumstances: Subsidy-supported solar is better than overtaxed and heavily regulated coal in the US.  Not too surprising.  And could exceed coal where it was never regulated in a few years.  But that latter group is very different from the US, so the two situations may not be related in any meaningful way.

In the short-term, coal production has returned now that the Obama Administration has given way to Trump.

In the long-term, the mark to beat is not coal however, but petroleum.  And from there natural gas.

Solar becoming more economical than coal is nice, but that only makes it a niche thing in those places where unclouded sunlight is common, like the American southwest.

8 hours ago, K^2 said:

Unfortunately, situation with batteries is pretty grim. LiPoly is expensive. There might be a few replacements coming in (graphene, glass electrolyte) which will be a huge improvement, but still not nearly enough. And that's already pushing electrochemistry to its limits. We might get lucky with nuclear isomer breakthrough, but in best case scenario, that tech is decades out. In many parts of the world, having a home battery just isn't going to cut it. (Although, in sunnier, warmer parts of the world, it totally will!) Most of us will have to still rely on power companies absorbing a lot of the difference. The most likely way they'll go with it is synthetic fuels used for storage. Methane is probably the best bet, as it can be burnt on existing gas turbines. But hydrogen's viable too. These technologies will still be carbon-neutral, but they'll be way more expensive than direct solar, which means that we'll still have to pay our electric bills. And the worst part is that it will take a while to build out the necessary infrastructure.

Any kind of storage has inevitable loss of energy involved in converting electrical energy into storage medium and back.  Certainly LiPoly batteries are best placed at solar generating sites where DC power from solar can be directly channeled into the batteries.  There are further inefficiencies involved in converting low-voltage DC into high voltage AC, but LiPoly batteries *like* low voltage DC so it's best they get it from the source.

You wouldn't want an offsite battery site that would have to step the high-voltage AC down to low-voltage DC for storage then reverse the procedure going back to high voltage AC to return the energy to the power grid.  Methane's ability to drive turbines would create the high-voltage AC straight away.  The inevitable losses to the generating process are probably less than stepping up from the low-voltage DC of LiPoly. 

Hydrogen....dunno.  Hydrogen leaks through almost anything because hydrogen molecules are small.  But it would save a step compared to methane.  methane production no doubt would use electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen.  The process of turning that hydrogen to methane is an extra step that itself takes energy to accomplish and degrades the efficiency of storage.  It might depend on how long you want your storage medium around.  Hydrogen might be a better short-term storage solution, methane would probably be better for medium.  Long term, methane might be better turned into a liquid like kerosene or cooled until it liquefies.

The cost of battery storage ought rightly be included when one discusses the economics of solar power and when one asks the question "which source is better?"  Coal may still win out over current solar when you throw in batteries.

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23 minutes ago, Vorlonagent said:

Hydrogen....dunno.  Hydrogen leaks through almost anything because hydrogen molecules are small.

I am still entertaining high hopes for hydrogen. Once a reliable and efficient way has been found to convert it into helium, Earth's energy problems should be resolved for the foreseeable future. Admittedly hydrogen does not count as 'renewable' as there is only a finite amount of hydrogen on Earth but the reserve is so vast that I do not think we will suffer a shortage in the next millennium or two.

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9 minutes ago, The Old Hack said:

I am still entertaining high hopes for hydrogen. Once a reliable and efficient way has been found to convert it into helium, Earth's energy problems should be resolved for the foreseeable future. Admittedly hydrogen does not count as 'renewable' as there is only a finite amount of hydrogen on Earth but the reserve is so vast that I do not think we will suffer a shortage in the next millennium or two.

 I have waited my entire adult life for fusion to exceed breakeven enough to be viable.  I really wish the money that went into solar boondoggles of the last few years went into fusion instead.

I have high hopes for the Skunk Works fusion idea but remain skeptical that "Cold Fusion" is genuine.

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The Moderator: I am temporarily locking this thread. This has nothing to do with this forum but is because I am dealing with some personal as well as local issues that have my temper more than a little frayed. As a precaution I am cutting down on potential stressors.

I am sorry for the inconvenience and hope to reopen the thread again soon. Thank you all for your patience.

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