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Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 35,732

About Me

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.

Journal Archives

The "freedom" of cars an illusion.

You're only free to go where you're allowed to go within the time constraints that bind you.

How often are you more than a few hundred yards from your car?

What do you see of the world beyond that?

Home, work, shopping, over and over and over again. It's hell.

When I was young and irresponsible I used to be an avid trespasser, walking, running, climbing places no one burdened by a car could go.

My own children and a good number of my nephews and nieces live in big cities. It's a joy to see them get around without their cars.

Cars allowed people who could afford cars to separate themselves from people who could not.

When the "wrong sort" of people were able to afford cars they were terrorized and harassed when they traveled.

How many relationships have become non-consensual because one of the parties couldn't get a ride home?

How many people have been killed and maimed by cars.

I hate cars.

It pisses me off every day that I have to own one to function as an "adult" in this society.

The car culture needs to end. It's killing us and the natural environment of our planet.

Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment

Since the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, an area of more than 4,000 square kilometres has been abandoned. That could be about to change, as Victoria Gill discovered during a week-long trip to the exclusion zone.

"This place is more than half of my life," says Gennady Laptev. The broad-shouldered Ukrainian scientist is smiling wistfully as we stand on the now dry ground of what was Chernobyl nuclear power plant's cooling pond.

"I was only 25 when I started my work here as a liquidator. Now, I'm almost 60."

There were thousands of liquidators - workers who came here as part of the mammoth, dangerous clean-up operation following the 1986 explosion. The worst nuclear accident in history.



This accident demonstrated how humans going about their ordinary business are worse for the natural environment than fallout from a nuclear power plant accident.

And now humans are returning...

I'm quite serious.

If anyone here wants to save the world, there are a few ways to go about it, mostly involving human rights especially for women, realistic sex education, universal access to birth control, and a broad scientific education emphasizing literacy, numeracy, and respect for the natural environment.

The ordinary activities of ordinary humans are more damaging to the natural environment than, say, tritium from the accident at Fukushima.

As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

If Trump had lived his life laughing he'd be much more appealing.

I know plenty of people Trump's age whose inner strengths and successful pursuits of happiness, no matter how rare, are etched upon their faces.

That dude Trump is a bitter, spiteful, old man who wouldn't survive a round of golf with anyone in my family, golf which is, I confess, sometimes more like Calvinball.

Trump gets off on cheating. Calvinball doesn't work like that.

Neither does life.

In the best of all possible worlds everyone wins.

When I was a kid Christmas time was the peak season of religious warfare within my family.

It's amazing how raw sexual attraction can bring people of diverse and conflicting faiths together.

My own "Christmas Spirit" looks a lot like PTSD.

My best Christmas ever I got the Hong Kong flu and everyone temporarily put their religious differences aside because they were afraid I was literally going to die. My dad's sister, and my mom's cousin had died as children in similar circumstances.

Alas my anoxic self did not get the Heathkit radio I most desired for that Christmas.

That may have been for the best. I later built a similar radio from scratch and that was immensely empowering.

My personal religion is equally scratch-built.

I graduated without debt, a very respectable university science degree.

My student fees were less than $1200 annually, thank you California, my housing was typically $80-125 a month, and I was pretty good at semi-skilled labor like loading and unloading trucks or maintaining crappy student housing, usually for $6 an hour or more. That was a lot of money then.

As a bonus, my grandma sent me $100 a month for food, and popcorn at the movies with a date, whenever I was actually enrolled in school. (My grandma was a hard ass about school, I was the first in her family to attend university, and she expected to make a good show of it, even though I was as bat-shit crazy as she was.) I also got a few grants for textbooks and the like along the way.

I once flunked organic chemistry because I could make too much money cutting o-chem classes Tuesday and Thursday to move furniture. My first hundred dollar working day was moving furniture deep into overtime when I should have been studying o-chem.

My kids had very hefty scholarships but they still graduated from college deep in debt, and the employment they found while in school paid considerably less than what I got in inflation adjusted dollars.

I think college and technical school should be free for anyone at any age. In this modern world of automation and other technological miracles there are simply not enough good paying no-skill and semi-skill jobs to go around. College keeps people out of trouble and has great potential for graduating people who will make the world a much better place, not just the science, medicine, and engineering people, but the language majors, artists, and philosophers too.

Television news is worthless in my opinion. All of it.

The U.S. television news networks, including PBS, were all complicit in getting Trump elected. They're all awash in dirty money; from the pharmaceutical industry, the political action committees, the fossil fuel industries, etc..

Quitting television is one of the better decisions my wife and I have made.

Our television is a movie player, that's all it does. No cable, no satellite, no broadcast television at all. No advertising.

Another reason I don't have cable or satellite is that I don't want ANY part of my subscription going to Fox News and the like.

We have one inexpensive medium speed DSL connection and two inexpensive cell phones with very limited data plans. Our only television subscription is the most basic Netflix, a single video stream of "standard" quality. (That's $8 a month for new subscriptions.) We never run out of entertaining things to watch on Netflix, possibly because we just don't watch that much television. We also buy DVDs in thrift stores or rent them from Redbox.

As my fellow DU cord-cutting extremists have noted, once you've quit television for a few years you never go back. Traditional television becomes intolerable noise. Television wears people down and conditions them to passively accept all manner of bullshit.

If MSNBC and CNN are suffering because of people like me, I don't feel bad about it.

Maybe I can convince the Fox News crowd to quit too for purely budgetary reasons. Cable and satellite television are expensive.

Gun fetishes are disgusting. Every time there's a mass shooting...

... the posts of gun fetishists only reinforce my opinion.

Listen to MineralMan.

If, whenever there's a mass shooting you just have to come to DU to defend your gun habit, then maybe you have a problem.

I don't respect the second amendment as it's now interpreted any more than I'd respect someone's right to own slaves. Yet at one time owning slaves was Constitutional.

Most people in the U.S.A. don't care enough about guns to bother owning one.

Most gun owners may have one or two guns safely locked away that they rarely think about, and wouldn't be offended by any reasonable regulation.

But the gun fetishists are keenly aware of any possible threat to their bizarre obsession and will leap up to defend their guns before the bodies of the last victims of the latest mass shooting are laid to rest.

Nice dream... but the math doesn't support it.

Adding even a few hours storage to "free" wind and solar power pushes the the cost per megawatt hour up through the roof.

The current Tesla "Power Wall" stores 13.5 kwhr and costs $5900. Optimistically that's enough to run a small window air conditioner (and nothing else in your home) for about 24 hours.

The basic problem doesn't go away with scale, it's the same for a private home or a regional electric grid. The sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. People off-the-grid tend to buy dirty fossil fuel generators as "backup" to their dream solar and wind systems and end up making a much bigger environmental mess than they would have if they just moved to the city. Urban and high density suburban living can have a surprisingly small environmental footprint.

Germany's ambitious wind and solar program has brought the price of electricity to about 35 cents a kilowatt hour for home and small business users, but it's a sleight of hand because heavy industry is exempt and use coal generated electricity at less than 5 cents a kilowatt hour. The problem is simple, if German industry had to pay for wind and solar energy they couldn't compete in world markets.

In places amicable to pumped hydro storage the cost of storage is about $150-$200 a megawatt hour and the lifetime of the plant is indefinite, provided climate change doesn't dry up the supply of water.

Big Lithium battery plants are about $200 a megawatt hour, and Tesla is aiming for $100, but the lifetime of batteries is limited and this does not include recycling costs. Last I heard, Tesla is claiming their batteries will go 5000 cycles before they reach 80% of their original capacity.

Lead acid batteries cost less initially but I don't know anyone who has had to care for them who doesn't loathe them, not to mention the extreme toxic lead problems they've caused in less developed nations where battery recycling technology is primitive and poisons entire communities.

Batteries become very problematic if they have to be replaced every ten years and stations have to install excess capacity to account for battery degradation.

Here's the thing to remember: None of these costly storage schemes are necessary if you have responsive gas and hydro power systems.

Batteries can compensate for less responsive power systems, but in such cases battery capacities are measured in minutes.

There are some interesting numbers and analysis here:


I'll put this movie on my list. Thank you.

As an aside, although there are no labs developing Kodachrome using the Kodachrome process anymore, there are still a few labs that will develop it in black and white. The color information could conceivably be recovered later by various means since the color information on the film isn't lost, it's just not visible.

There's been some progress in color processing of kodachrome but unlike the original process the color is not stable. Best scan it before the color fades. Some of the chemicals used in the original Kodachrome process are unacceptably toxic or no longer available.

The image will be lost if the film is never developed so it may be a worthwhile to have Kodachrome developed in black and white if you happen to find some never-developed rolls of kodachrome in grandma's closet.

Gun fetishes are a public health hazard just like smoking and drunk driving.

They ought to be treated as such.

Anyone who loves their guns, especially hand guns and assault type weapons has a problem.

For now, the law may not be adequate, but parents and children, spouses and lovers, friends and community can encourage gun fetishists to destroy their weapons, and seek help for whatever problems make them desire these sorts of weapons.

The law will follow, just as it did for drunk driving and smoking.

Gun fetishes are dangerous and disgusting.

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