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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. My opinion - not sure it counts as any kind of legal principle - (most of) those who stayed peacefully outside the Capitol might be considered legitimate protesters - neither rioters nor insurrectionists - but those that entered crossed more lines than one. Even the ones who followed after the police were overwhelmed, who clashed with none, did no damage, stole nothing, shouted no death threats were directly involved in something more serious than protest. No-one does thorough investigation quite like the FBI - arrest all that entered and let the courts sort them out. I said "most of" those outside would be just protesters but it may be some were working in coordination with others who had gone inside, eg as spotters watching for police or National Guard reinforcements to let those inside know. I am not aware of any but the more committed and organised elements might have done that. And yes, if elements of BLM - which, so far as I know, tries for non-violent protest - or extremist Antifa or Wobblies who don't - or whoever else who turns violent and destructive... arrest them and let the courts sort it out.
  2. I think that is exactly why most were there. Not knowing quite how that might be achieved, sure. Duped into believing they were "saving" America, sure. But I think the overwhelming majority were there hoping to prevent the President-elect becoming President - some directly but most indirectly, ie by chanting "stop the steal" and "hang Mike Pence" to get him to refuse to recognise Biden in his ceremonial role, supported by Republicans within the Capitol, but yes, they were there to demand the election result be dismissed to allow Trump to steal victory and participated in storming the building to do so. I call that insurrection. I don't disagree; those who advocate and provoke and participate in violence and destruction should be subject to investigation and prosecution. I suspect a reasoned and reasonable response to legitimate concerns would defuse the protests of the sincere.
  3. My view - those engaged in offensive violence and property destruction should be subject to investigation and prosecution, regardless of their political leanings. I expect BLM instigators of violence already have been or will be. But I do think there are differences here; Capitol insurrectionists were all there to overthrow the elected government and whilst not all were violent or destructive those that weren't were still there in support of that goal. The few instances of protestors acting to prevent cornered police being assaulted or murdered deserve some (faint) praise but not immunity from prosecution. Did the insurrectionists believe their actions were protected by the US constitution, even that they were defending the constitution? Although if armed citizens had risen up to fight off Capitol rioters that seems more in line with my (admittedly not-American) understanding of it. It seems like the "right" to take up arms against their own government would only ever be upheld if they succeeded - making the US no different to any other form of government; failed insurrection will always be illegal. They seemed - even reasonably - to believe they had the support of then President Trump and the Republican Party. That incitement seems the greater and more damaging crime to me and ought not be passed over, even whilst those on the ground should still be prosecuted. It was not all direct incitement but, in a time of extreme fire danger, tossing out incendiary rhetoric anyway makes them culpable - or should. I expect the inciters, if prosecuted at all - I doubt any that other than Trump himself will - they will be "punished" only indirectly, like civil actions for libel eg Dominion voting machine company vs Guilliani and Powell, or indirectly by Cancel Culture means. Trump may perhaps lose the right to run for US President - yay - but probably keep his Secret Service protection and Presidential pension. The insurrectionists - some of them - will actually go to prison and perhaps have their right to vote and to bear arms restricted, which may actually hurt more. No equality under law to be found there. BLM protestors - for the most part (the sincere ones) - appear to want equality under the law enforced, especially equality of treatment by the enforcers of law.
  4. A bit of mental arithmetic without checking... is that between 2.5 and 10 metric tons of lunar material to get 1 litre of water? I expect the soils in Earth's deserts have a lot more water than that. Any suggestion this will be sufficient to enable colonisation looks exceptionally optimistic to me.
  5. The temptation is to respond with ever more outrageously improbable variations - sarcasm to excess - but I suspect some would just think I was serious. Could require some judgement of whether they are capable of getting it. Could Qanon have begun just like that, as a bit of trollery that got taken seriously and has acquired a life of it's own?
  6. Any reflectors in space will need to have station keeping capability, ie have the means to move around ie be little (or very big) spaceships. Because any inert material will be pushed out of position (presumably Lagrange zone between Sun and Earth) by sunlight and solar wind. I don't think we could build up low emissions space launch capability even if there were funds for it - and is this to be an alternative to cutting emissions? Dumping dust in the atmosphere is just a thought bubble, not any kind of real option. It offers no alternative to shifting away from fossil fuels to clean energy - an approach which is already gaining momentum. Most leading climate research groups have doubling of CO2 making between 2 and 6C. The doubling depends on what we do, within discussion where action and inaction are inverted; we are acting to emit huge amounts of CO2, many times more than all other kinds of waste. I don't think we will die from methane - there isn't that much of it - but big releases would probably be a part of getting to 6C. As for what happens with 6C of warming? That is a world I find hard to contemplate - I live somewhere where summers can already get unbearably hot and drought and catastrophic fires are showing signs of increased intensity already, at 1C. If economies and societies are so fragile that a transition to zero emissions is fiercely opposed then how much more fragile with the 6C that unconstrained fossil fuel burning will bring? Which over land here could be 8C rise in local air temperatures; I think heatwaves would kill crops and livestock and remnant ecosystems. How do you feel about refugees? But the capacity humans have for making bad situations a lot, lot worse - good governance seems even more essential than ever. And if we cannot manage that now, how much harder in a world changed out of recognition.
  7. https://techxplore.com/news/2021-01-inexpensive-battery-rapidly-electric-vehicles.html Battery R&D is a huge deal now - and appears to be making significant progress. Of course commercial ie real world success is still to be shown, but - 400km vehicle range in a 10 minute charge, costs not known but claimed to be lower cost than existing Li-Ion - no cobalt or other expensive metals - and expected working life of >3 million km (2 million miles). Supposed to be because the (lithium iron sulphate) battery heats up to best temperature (60 C/140F) for charging and discharging. I have to say I had always thought raised temperatures was a problem for batteries, rather than a benefit - for most battery types. Some high temp batteries are out there but they aren't like anything I expect for powering our cars or homes. Fast charging is useful but I think for most users most of the time, not necessary. Not the biggest deal in my view. My own thinking is electricity network operators will benefit from EV's being plugged in whenever parked somewhere, to vary charging rates as the balance point between demand and supply shifts, and have access to (an agreed portion of) that battery capacity. For commercial vehicles - road freight - this could be very significant. I'd been thinking trucks might need quick replacement battery packs to avoid time at chargers, but batteries like this could make that unnecessary. I do think just on durability alone this would be significant (if it makes commercial production) - and not only for EV's. For EV's the usual car body, suspension, seats and trim would not last anything close to 3 million km - although improved durability would be a good thing. How that would work for a household with solar on roof interests me - the batteries we have (a different kind of Lithium Iron Phosphate) are expected to last about 15 years... batteries that will go 50 years? At large scale for grids that will be a huge factor for reducing lifetime costs.
  8. Am I correct in interpreting the US prohibition on Congress restricting the rights of a free press as affirming the right of media proprietors to express partisan political views and use their papers to promote them? That seems to include the right to NOT promote views they disagree with and even allowing publishing of falsehoods - with not very compensatory right (if you can afford it) to seek legal redress for slander. It is difficult for me to interpret the deplatforming by social media companies as different to a newpaper editor choosing promote some kinds and to leave out some kinds of content, or to refusing to publish letters to editor.
  9. It goes both ways - I think more a case of sea surface temperatures determining air temperature than the other way around. My answer is/was that global average temperature was and is an arbitrary choice for providing a simple, single indicator of change to the climate system; others might do as well or better (I would nominate Ocean Heat Content but the record doesn't go back so far), but weather records are our longest running direct measurements from which change can be observed. So, addressing part 1 of original question, yes it is useful. Is it a thermodynamically valid concept? I think that is probably a pointless question - temperatures are not the same as heat but when they are going up it clearly indicates gain of heat. How closely that temperature reflects overall change to the global energy balance? My understanding is... reasonably well. The extent and nature of local and regional change is a whole lot more complex. The implied question of whether an average temperature is a valid concept - ie the use of averaging samples from some or many places in place of measuring every place - seems to rest on the proposition that the places not sampled could have temperatures and trends of temperatures very different from those of the places sampled. In conspiracy theory argument, chosen for showing the trend wanted. In reality pretty much every place sampled around the world over a long period shows warming temperatures and that could not be random. I am not sure I can do this question justice but will say it is not just statistics, but about climate and weather processes - we can observe that nearby locations experience similar conditions, such that e.g. a cold air mass blowing across a region is not observed to cause specific locations to result in one place being cold, but nearby locations are not - other than where other geographic factors come into play like elevation, orientation, vegetation. And where those differences exist it is evident in the weather records of those places; it won't be randomly changing. The local conditions make their own local baseline from which change and trends of change can be observed. The number of samples matters of course - a single sample, or too few, for the whole planet would not give a valid result, but for these purposes there are (IIUC) more than 30,000 that qualify as long running and reliable. If I understand correctly averaging comes with uncertainty range - that decreases with the number of samples. It would be possible to select from weather station data in order to be deliberately biased - but because those showing cooling trends are so few (are there any?) you would have to exclude most records to NOT get a warming trend. I think basic honesty and a professional attitude is the default; presumption of incompetence or bias built into the supposed "skepticism" opponents of climate responsibility and action use are vile in my view.
  10. I think popular entertainment and the distorted representations of "reality" it provides - probably contributes; people spend a lot of time in the fantasy land of media news, entertainment and advertising - and the lines between those are increasingly blurred. They are also more and more tailored and targeted, to engage the hopes and fears and beliefs various sectional groups of people hold, such that any editorial balance is not within the 'feeds', but with the diversity of different 'feeds'; increasingly our preferred views get reinforced unless we make an effort to sample other sources of information. I think our societies have always run in step with and promoted rather fanciful and self serving and self congratulatory stories of "how things work"; heroes rising up, taking matters into their own hand, saving the innocent, the day, the nation, and exacting revenge, is a popular theme anytime. But with partisan media - who was it predicted the political parties of the future will be media companies? - other media telling it differently to a different audience are portrayed as enemies and untrustworthy, preventing, not enabling an informed, balanced view, let alone treating differences as legitimately different opinion. The supposed Constitutional "right" to take up arms against their own government may add to willingness of fired up citizens to engage in direct action in the USA, in ways other nations with elected governments and rule of law do not - I say "supposed right" because it would only be a right ever upheld if the revolution succeeds... making the USA no different to any other nation, where insurrection is always criminal, with the notable exception of where it succeeds.
  11. I think Trump's actions were criminal as well as dangerously irresponsible. In any nation where rule of law, truth and justice (and fair elections) are held up as their strengths and virtues, those holding relevant offices failing to address this behavior is... dangerously irresponsible. Possibly criminal in turn?
  12. A question for science based enquiry rather than a demonstrated theory? A scientific work in progress? It stands out as the only credible option - any panspermia, intelligent creation just shifts the goalposts back to how life or Gods began - but it hasn't been demonstrated. Abiogenesis is not the same as Evolution; we have good evidence of Evolution but none (excluding existing life as evidence) for Abiogenesis. Even demonstrating an example of it (say in a lab) doesn't demonstrate that was how life on Earth actually began, but would demonstrate that it is possible. So much room to argue about it - lab conditions are not going to be precisely the conditions, just a best imitation, that includes some intelligent (human) interventions, if just to raise the odds. But I suspect it may be something that only gets resolved indirectly, using modeling to determine possible chemical pathways. Certainly there is ongoing work on those possible chemical pathways. Most recently, from Scripps Research -
  13. Being known as a place that is free from disasters could lead to disaster if too many people from disaster prone regions try and move there. Walls and fences and border patrols can only do so much. In a trade connected and dependent world the problems of one region can and will impact other regions . But conversely, assistance from other parts of the world can flow back to alleviate that - if only to prevent the spread.
  14. Even 5 years ago I might have agreed but battery R&D has become a truly massive deal; the players in that game are serious and are seriously well funded. It may not be wise to put all hope in them succeeding spectacularly but assuming they must fail, with perhaps a decade before growth of solar and wind starts forcing the issue, seems especially pessimistic. 100% is overly optimistic - and most larger grids are unlikely to ever be 100% any one thing - but nothing in this arena is staying the same long enough to base future projections on past performance. Batteries in the pipeline in Australia are reaching towards totals of GW of power and GWh of storage, already more than 10 times the electricity market operator's predictions made just 4 years ago - and causing plans for new gas plants to be deferred or shelved. It has been suggested that South Australia - admittedly especially good solar and wind - already has about 1/10th of the storage capacity to run at 100% RE. Some pumped hydro is coming along too. I think if we can do cars with batteries then cities stop looking so difficult - each car will have more battery storage than most homes and many small businesses need to run overnight from rooftop solar. Perhaps better so for warmer, sunny climates than Canada's Winters, which may need other solutions in addition. It will be to the advantage of low emissions committed grid operators to have lots of EV's plugged in when not in use rather than fast charged and disconnected. This will be both to vary charging rates to smooth supply (and demand) variability and (under mutually agreed terms with day to day consumer choice) get access to a portion of that stored energy. Every office and street car parking space with an EV charge connection will be worth something to power companies, something more valuable than mere convenience to customers.
  15. Solar using mirrors work okay and can include thermal storage, usually molten salt - But I suspect the inclusion of storage has been premature and has not been good economically for these kinds of solar plants - in the absence of a price premium for that stored power. As the proportion of wind and solar grows the value of on demand power to fill the gaps will become more apparent. That will not be a market that suits nuclear; undercut on price during the day and forced to wring the bulk of revenues out of what remains - and that is a market for fast response, on demand power, not steady baseload; nuclear will have competition, including batteries and pumped hydro and even evolving flexible industrial practices. Meanwhile big PV is doing daytime electricity cheaper than these kinds of plants and big batteries are getting cheaper too - about 90% drop in price for Lithium Ion in the past decade and there are extraordinary R&D efforts underway to do batteries better. Tech device makers, cordless tool makers, vehicle makers, renewable energy makers plus government agencies all want better and are spending big to do it. Recent advances in relevant sciences is coming up with the deep understandings and clever tools to make big improvements not just possible but likely - and whoever cracks the next best possible battery will get rich beyond imagination.
  16. As serious as I think global warming is I have never thought it beyond our collective capabilities to deal with it or that dealing with it would be risking economic prosperity; rather, failing to do so has been and remains the greater risk to prosperity. Having a bottomless budget would seem to help, yet I suspect equivalence to all the military budgets would be overkill and potentially counter-productive; being cost effective is an essential requirement and an excess of budget could encourage wasteful expenditure. Use it to buy out the fossil fuel companies and shut them down as accelerated replacement clean energy comes on line, preventing the use of their revenues supporting Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking? Supporting those who will need new kinds of employment and investments? Diverting a lot of military R&D to clean energy sounds good - but simply supporting energy R&D better would do just as well. What might help is the kind of economy wide shift to war footing that occurred during WW2 - but would be a lot less disruptive, milder, less economically damaging. A deep commitment with forethought and planning would go a long way - and not necessarily directly planning specific tech pathways, but in policy and regulatory measures that encourage the massive investments in low emissions energy needed. For sure we are better placed now than proposing economy wide change 20-30 years ago - it is happening to some extent already. I would do as iNow suggests and have a progressive, predictable but inexorable ramping up of carbon pricing/tax - not aimed at end consumers of energy but aimed at the energy industry and investors. It would be a carbon tax that is, by design, intended to be avoidable by choosing investments in low emissions energy options. Subsidy for clean energy? A well designed carbon pricing system ought not need that, but that - and helping out those who's careers in coal and gas and oil are going to be lost - is okay with me. But like any allocating of the proceeds should be open to scrutiny, always, and subject to revision, always. I am personally not a fan of mandating how government revenues are allocated.
  17. Conditions are likely to favour offspring that are less neurotic or introverted despite the skewed initial population. It would not be "drift" - which refers to levels of random mutation, that, if benign or beneficial can passed to offspring, to become prevalent and ultimately fixed within a population. I'm not convinced neuroses and introversion are likely candidates for becoming fixed traits.
  18. I think this fundamental human flaw - that we recognise danger and target our enemies by outward markers like dress codes, skin colour, religion or politics - makes it more important to base significant actions on actual evidence. I don't dispute that there can be advantage to danger/crime avoidance at personal level and possibly small advantages to crime prevention/detection at societal level in profiling by appearances but I think there are significant downsides, including the reinforcing of prejudices and existing hatreds. If our society is not homogenous - most developed democracies with rule of law are not - and seeks to be inclusive, with ideals of fair treatment under law - most developed democracies do - it become important to be aware of that propensity to judge (wrongly) by outward appearance. Being routinely treated with suspicion on the basis of surface appearances undermines a sense of belonging. Those who feel unfairly targeted and excluded are more likely to get angry - whilst being subject to that same flaw as well; it may engender distrust of police and authorities in general rather than of specific wrongful acts or perpetrators. It becomes more likely they will turn to those experiencing the same prejudice for solidarity and support. More likely to feel that lashing out indiscriminately is justified, that any unwitting victims of that "deserve it" - because of the group the victims are perceived to belong to. It can also lead to acceptance of criminal behavior - where it targets victims that are perceived to "deserve it"; if people are treated like a thief whether doing theft or not then I think some people will be more inclined to steal without guilt when opportunity arises. That is what I think this short circuit in human behavior can lead to - a tolerance for and even satisfaction in harsh treatment of those deemed to deserve it by virtue of the community they are perceived to belong to.
  19. Inevitably we do invoke prejudices - the bearded, tattooed bike rider who is part of an organised crime gang will make us wary of the bearded, tattooed bike riders that raise money for charities and never hurt anyone. We can be okay, even pleased with harsh police actions - or vigilante actions - against bearded, tattooed bike riders in general, on the basis that all share responsibility and it will be a lesson to the ones who are criminal. We can be okay with that - even getting vicarious satisfaction from knowing police are targeting bearded, tattooed bike riders - but if we are bearded tattooed bike riders who never hurt anyone it is prejudicial and unjust. I think it is one of humankinds most serious flaws that we can feel satisfaction and even enjoy violence so long as we think the victim deserves it. Thinking they deserve it doesn't require investigation or weighing evidence; just being told that someone is bad can be good enough. Or having similar dress, appearance, ethnicity, religious or political affiliation to someone deemed "bad" can be good enough. When retribution for criminal acts can be applied to people who just look like someone who committed criminal acts then retribution becomes a crime all of it's own.
  20. Ken Fabian


    I was thinking "don't millipedes have an odd number of legs?" But that is centipedes. I had also thought the number of segments didn't increase - also wrong. Once upon a time you would have had to search a library for a textbook (if they have the right ones) or consult with a museum to find out. And remembering was more significant. Now we can fail to remember and just look it up each time we want to know.
  21. There are real feedbacks capable of continuing the warming after human emissions cease and determining what they might do is important. Whether this particular study has the number right or not the potential for natural Carbon sinks to turn into sources as a consequence of warming so far and carrying warming past a threshold into self sustaining is real, as are albedo changes from ice and snow cover. It would be good to know - and despite the extent of our knowing better but doing it anyway approach, the potential for science based understanding to inform policy is there. My impression is there is an expectation (but not certainty) that a sudden cessation of human emissions now will result in warming stopping, that those feedbacks are not yet so strong as to carry on much further warming - beyond potential for a short lived "spike" from the sudden reduction of atmospheric aerosols that come from fossil fuel burning, moderated by a reduction in atmospheric CO2 (and warming potential) from ocean uptake.
  22. Sure, we can model imaginary things, like (studiot) dams that have not been built or stars with planets of varying types and sizes, or global warming with varying emissions pathways that have not and may never happen - but these are built around fundamental understandings of the physical processes, informed and bounded by observable or experimental data. Imaginary things or imaginary physical processes could be modeled as well, in combination with real ones - what might happen if CO2 were not a greenhouse gas or how a Big Bang might propagate in a universe with different physical law for example - or with entirely imaginary physics, without any references to reality as we know it. Not sure what purpose the latter might serve - curiosity, sure, but they may give mathematical or other insights.
  23. Heat treating one and not the other to compare makes a kind of sense, however the characteristics of many "ordinary" metals vary greatly according to variations of heating and cooling. You may do better tracking down the specific characteristics of that specific metallic glass than attempting to get answers through experimentation.
  24. Ah, yes. Magnets not batteries. Batteries to power the electromagnets. I should proof read what I write.
  25. Probably battery powered, maybe with electro magnets that flip polarity in synch with the pendulum. Permanent batteries cannot be arranged in any way that results in perpetual swing of a pendulum.
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