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Posts posted by OldChemE

  1. It seems to me the pew study, like some others asks the wrong question, and consequently the results are too undefined.  I've read the report, and it appears they asked whether or not the respondents believed in God.  That's a poor question.  Were they asking about belief in a Moral Being created by men to guide behavior? Or were they asking about a physical being that created everything?  I believe that people created the concept of God to teach moral behaviors, so you could say I believe in God, but I sure don't think there is some creature out there pulling the strings.  I make this point because I have been asked by people "do you believe in God" and I answer in the affirmative but certainly don't mean I think there is some creature who created everything.

  2. I very much preferred my flip phone and resisted for years, but finally got one of the new ones (I intentionally will NOT call it a smart phone-- it has no intelligence of its own!)

    I tested all the available models to find the largest that will still slide into my shirt pocket.  3.5" wide and 7" long.  The length comes in handy because I set the screen saver to show the  time as an analog dial superimposed on a picture of the grandfather clock in our home.

  3. Well-- we probably all have our pet peeves--but for communication in science we have to have some terminology-- even if it seems arbitrary.

    I "grew up" in engineering using English units, and got good at remembering the gravity to force conversion (32.2 ft-lbm/lbf-sec^2).  Then the US started using metric which I realized was neat because I didn't have to remember the weird conversions-- until I realized I had to remember the real units behind Newtons and Joules.  Newton and Joule should be honored to know that scientists thought so highly of them that they used their names to make metric units less transparent. 😏

  4. 10 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

    Let's not mince words, both of us know......


    You're getting a bit 'testy' here, which I can understand because it is a sensitive subject.  Actually, we both don't know for sure what we mean by military grade firearms, primarily because it will depend on whomever is in control of a legislature when a law is passed.  As for training, licensing and insurance-- that too is dependent on the whims of government.  But I have no problem with that because I voluntarily chose to be trained and licensed, and my liability insurance has no exclusions for firearms.

    Home defense?  In the 12 years I have lived in my current home I have never heard of a home invasion-- that's why my guns are unloaded and locked in the safe.

    But-- I joined this discussion merely to offer a perspective and I've answered your questions, so I think I will check out.

  5. 25 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

    Are you for or against providing citizens with military grade weapons? 

    That is a good question that I have not thought about a lot.  It's also a bit too open-ended to answer easily.  I see no sense in the proliferation of assault rifles (AR-15's and such) to the general public.  On the other hand, virtually any semi-auto handgun could be construed by someone to be 'military grade.'  The 1911 pistol was adopted by the US military in 1911-- the design is over 100 years old and still in use (and I own one).  If we ban public ownership of anything that is 'military grade' we probably need to go back to revolvers (I own several of those).  Assuming, however, we could work out a definition that could rationally be expected to prevent mass killings I would be in favor of the limitation.  Maybe we should just ban 'factory made' ammunition but let shooters buy the components to build the ammo 😏

  6. 6 hours ago, StringJunky said:

    I find it crazy that politicians wave the flag, call each other "Fellow Americans", but they need to arm themselves against their fellow Americans.

    Well, yes.

    Personally, I have long thought that the 2A will get repealed or heavily modified one of these days, and if things keep going as they are I might even vote in favor of the changes.  That, for me is a shame, because I am one of the many, many Americans that own guns as a hobby.  I own old guns and/or unique guns.  Why?  I like to work with my hands and restore/reuse old things.  Old cars are too costly and hard to fit on a work-bench in the winter.  Many old guns are, with all their drawbacks, marvels of engineering.  Ammunition is equally interesting, particularly if you have to search out the brass casings or modify newer casings to fit, and make your own bullets and run the tests to determine which type of gunpowder works best, etc, etc, etc.  And then, when you think you have everything just perfect, you can go out to the shooting range and kill pieces of paper, find out things are not perfect, and go back to the work bench for further improvements.

    And I don't carry a gun, and they go to the range unloaded and come home unloaded.  And I don't belong to the NRA either.

    I would say, however, that the oft-repeated thing about the huge number of guns owned in the US is a red-herring.  Many of us that own many guns are hobbyists such as myself, and most of those guns are old -- not the ones that are best for the killing.

  7. As noted by exchemist many explosives (including gunpowder) have a built-in oxidizer.  The primer in a gun cartridge does not provide oxygen-- it only provides the energy (fire in the case of a primer) to get the chemical reaction started.  So, if you really wanted some sort of similar reaction as your energy source you could use some controlled system that feeds discrete quantities of explosive into a chamber and then ignites the explosive using an electrically generated spark.  Essentially an internal combustion engine but using a powder instead of a liquid.

  8. As an alternative, try expressing the situation as an oscillation (I say/he says/.......).  When there is too much feedback the oscillation amplitude increases.  The goal of conflict resolution is to reduce the amplitude of the oscillation until it approaches zero.  In therms of a classical electrical oscillator, this means damped oscillation.  The appropriate equations can be found in electrical textbooks.  The point of using the oscillator analogy is that an argument can be de-escalated by making small concessions that gradually reduce the amplitude of disagreement (i.e. by turning the out of control oscillation into damped oscillation).

  9. My how times have changed.  The last time I saw verbatim answers to a math problem my school gave all 6 of the boys automatic zeroes on the assignment, and retrieved the stolen teachers edition of the textbook they were using.

  10. 23 minutes ago, Externet said:

    Hi all.

    When cooking something (just say rice, beans, potatoes...) to boil,  I believe the correct way can be applying high power until boil starts.  Then reduce the heat power to maintain just boiling without extra-energetic action as with higher-than-needed power. 

    Water in it will not go beyond 100C anyway and any extra energy applied to the cooking process will not speed-up cooking and is wasted energy.  Is that right ?  Food will not cook in a shorter time if left to boil energetically, right ?  🤔

    That's they way I've been cooking pasta for years.  Heat to boiling, toss in the pasta and turn down to barely maintain heating.

  11. 7 hours ago, swansont said:

    It may be difficult to tie a single event to climate change, much like you can’t tell for sure that seatbelts saved a life in certain accidents. But it becomes clearer when you look at the statistics of all the events.

    15 years ago (previous home, different State) one of my regular golfing buddies was a climate scientist who educated me some on what was going to happen.  His comments were very much like the above.   To paraphrase: 'We are putting more energy into the atmosphere and the oceans.  Its like heating a pan of water to a boil-- lots of exciting things are going to happen, due to the energy input, but we cannot yet predict, exactly, what they will be.'

  12. I don't seethe point of making gambling illegal.  There is a certain human pleasure in making projections of outcomes and testing them (Why?  I don't know-- maybe its something from our evolutionary history).  I have known a number of people who gamble in small groups of friends for tiny amounts of money just for the pleasure of it.  There used to be a small cafe near Oakdale, CA that I visited where the locals kept their jars of coins stored on the back of the counter for their weekly poker gathering.  This sort of gambling is social as well as challenging.  As a young man working for the US Forest Service we had our saturday night poker game:  You could only buy $20 worth of chips (25 cents each) and the maximum raise was $1.  We would play all night for less money than a trip to town.  In gambling, just as in drinking or using recreational drugs, the issue is excess, not the act itself.

  13. On 8/11/2023 at 5:14 PM, CharonY said:

    The issue is that it works quite well if folks have only minor health issues. But once it gets serious, folks are facing a double-whammy. The company might fire them because of lost work due to illness, (and the likelihood of being irreplaceable has been shrinking in modern companies), and losing the insurance can result in massive debt (there is plenty of statistics to show that). Before ACA, pre-existing conditions could also be excluded from coverage. So yes, if you have a good income, a great job with excellent coverage, it might not seem like a problem. But for everyone else, the situation kind of sucks and statistics do show the negative impact on overall public health, especially for those with lower income.

    That being said, public health is a team sport and if one lets someone suffer, sooner or later almost everyone will be affected negatively.


    I understand-- and don't disagree.  It just wasn't fun when the playing field got leveled and I found out my company health plan was one of the things to get leveled.

  14. I read your post-- but couldn't find any mention of the hypothesis.  What are  you trying to say?  My own observation from many years of commuting in an area subject to slow traffic is that the fastest route is usually the lane that is obstructed or being eliminated (as in three lanes going to 2).  There are always a certain percentage of drivers who are early adopters and change to the open lane early, leaving the others to wait and (politely) merge at the end.  Fewer vehicles in the lane that will be ending leads to faster progress in that lane.


    There is also the matter of distance between cars.  If you calculate the number of cars passing a particular point at, say 20 miles per hour, the rate at which cars pass the point is inversely proportional to the gaps between the vehicles.  This argues in favor of keeping as close to the vehicle in front as is safe.

  15. Personally, I am ambivalent on the benefits of government involvement in health care or insurance.  For over 30 years I worked for a very large corporation that elected to save money on health insurance by being self-insured.  They took a reasonable payment from my pay each month (slightly lower than typical premiums) and covered everything.  The beauty of that was that their profit motive required that they keep their employees productive.  They were very generous about health coverage simply because they wanted their employees at work, not on sick leave (they also went big on health maintenance with gyms located in their facilities so you could work out at lunch if you wanted, etc).  They also covered 'borderline' treatments, as long as it helped get the employee back to work (such as weight loss programs or surgeries).  Unfortunately, the requirements associated with the new insurance market under Obamacare forced them to stop self-insurance.  So-- in my case increased government involvement hurt.  My old employer still helps by paying a portion of my annual premiums, but now I too am subject to the profit motive of private insurance.

  16. I think you need to put the risk in context to make a good judgement on it.  For example, when I was still teaching I had roughly 200 students I saw regularly in the course of a day.  2% would be 4 students that I knew well.  If we were talking 2% risk of a deadly consequence - absolutely unacceptable.  But, a useful medicine with a 2% risk of children missing a few days of classes -- totally OK.

  17. 6 hours ago, CharonY said:

    I get what you are saying, and it is a general issue in public health that folks tend to think in extremes (e.g. deaths) but forget about health burden, loss of quality of life, and associated cost and drain on the health care system. After all managing a a disease for decades is often  more expensive than just dropping dead. 


  18. On 7/19/2023 at 4:10 PM, CharonY said:

    I am not sure why having a broad definition is an issue. In fact, it is rather necessary to assess health burden. I may be misunderstanding OP, but it sounds to me that it is potentially assumed that "chronic" is somewhat aligned with severity and should therefore be visible.

    However in this context the issue with chronic diseases is that they require ongoing management, regardless of severity. A lot of folks have hypertension, for example. Often it is well managed. Similarly, you would not easily notice folks with osteoathritis or osteoporosis other in their most extreme forms. Likewise, depression is a chronic disease, which has spiked a fair bit during the pandemic.

    And if you go down the list of common chronic diseases, it is rather easy to see how you would get to 40-60% of the population having at least one of the issues especially taking an aging (and/or overweight) population into account. It should also be noted that chronic disease information in various jurisdictions can vary or missing, so comparison between countries could be difficult. Some require multi-year treatment rather than 1yr to qualify, or could be based on self-reporting (as in some European databases).

    That being said, diabetes is a very strong indicator with enormous health burden and we can see here that the UK has a surprisingly low prevalence (about 4%), whereas Canada, Germany USA and Mexico are way higher (7.6, 10.4, 10.8 and 13.5).


    I believe the main issue with the broad definition is that it makes the problem more easily discounted or ignored ("What, 6 in 10?? politics!")

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