Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

A noble title. Sort of.

Ok just a quick, immature, infantile, profane, and and off color bit of what passes for humor in my sick little head.  Reverent and mature people: you have been warned.  You should probably stop reading here.  Or, if you want to pass this off as intellectual you can be fascinated by how the meanings of words and slang change over the years till a honorable family name becomes puerile humor.

This is, I am not joking, a furniture store near my house… http://www.badcock.com/store/index.jsp

And you know what is creeper than it being called Badcock?  Its called BADCOCK AND MORE.  Its the more that really scared me.  I dare anyone to call 1-800-BADCOCK and see if is the number for this store.  It is, however, a real name. Here is the family crest…

Medieval spelling was un-codified so people just sort wrote things as best they could. As such the Badcock name is a variation of Babcock. You probably haven’t heard of Babcock and Wilcox, but they are famous boil makers.  They made every boiler in every steam ship the Navy made in WWII.  They also make reactors, such as the one in 3-mile Island.

Still.  “Badcock and More” makes me chuckle.

May 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yet more TATA Nano stuff.

So I wanted to further complain about the carping being done about the TATA Nana.

Observe:

You probably haven’t heard of Goggomobil. Goggomobil was car made in Germany from 1955 to 1969. This was the period of time that Germany was still getting on her feet economically, not unlike India today. The Goggomobil was…

9’6″feet long and 4’3″ wide. It had a 15HP engine mounted in the rear (like a VW bug or the Nano) and 10″ wheels. It seated 4 and (unlike the Nano) had 2 windshield wipers. They made 250,000 of them, so someone liked them.

Then there was the Fiat 500 which was 9’9″ long, 4’4″ wide, and weighed a tiny 1100 pounds. They made 3.6 million of them.

Then, of course, you can’t forget the the Subaru 360

Which was 9’10” long, and 4’3″ wide. It weighed a whopping 900 lbs. Now, if the Subaru 360 looks like a bit of freak to you, you have willfully chosen to ignore history. This was not some Japanese only oddity. The Subaru 360 was the first car Subaru sold in the US, back in 1968. This is what launched Subaru US. (Consumer Reports said it was a death trap, by the way.)

All of the cars above are smaller than the Tata Nano. None of them are as fast, or as safe. The Subaru is unique in getting better gas mileage (66MPG by US test method).

Stop whining about how small the Nano is! It’s not small! It’s not (within its market segment) dangerous. It’s not polluting. Read some history. Read some facts.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Microcar, Small Car | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tata Nano

Automobiles are one of the single largest things we do.  Transportation is a huge slice of the economy.  Where roads and bridges can and cannot go is a huge social issue.  The design of cities, land use, environmental concerns, tax laws, sustainable wage… all these things are touched and shaped by cars.  So cars a pretty good pulse on society.

Enter the Tata Nano.

In case you live in a cave, the Tata company in an Indian super company. It includes 98 companies selling in 85 countries. 20% of global steel production is by Tata.  Tata’s dealings make up 3.2% of India’s GDP, making them the de facto majority shareholder of an entire country, much like GE here.

Despite all that, when Tata announced that their automobile division would make a car for $2500 no one really cared.  It was assumed that they would make yet another auto rickshaw.  But, Tata had been underestimated.  What they produced was not some spindly three-wheeler. It was a real car in every way. Observe the specs:

SOHC 624cc Fuel injected Twin

12″ wheels

4 wheel hydraulic brakes

Meets current India and EEU emissions and safety requirements.

So naturally, everyone hated it.  Now, I shouldn’t say everyone. The people of India were pretty excited, actually.  But people who will never buy one are really upset.

The number one complaint: because it is so cheap people who didn’t own cars before will buy them increasing global warming and reducing available fuel supply, raising prices.

Well, thats just plain dumb.  People who can afford the Tata Nano are using motorcycles and auto rickshaws.  The vast portion of which are fitted with early model 2 cycle engines.  World wide, two strokers make up about 5% of the engines.  And 32% of the pollution.  Replacing wheezing 2 strokes with Nanos reduces emissions.

Number two complaint: its not safe.

Again, just plain dumb.  Nothing is 100% safe. Life is risk. Successful life is risk management. Yes, driving a Tata Nano is not as safe as hidding in bunker.  Who cares? The people who are buying Nanos are people who were driving motorcycles previously.  They are safer in Nanos than on motorcycles.  Again net reduction in problems.  They also meet EEU standards.  Since pollution is based on parts per million of pollutants rather than pollutants per car, even that doesn’t tell the whole story.  A Tata Nano puts out significantly less pollution per car than a Volkswagen Golf, because the Tato has a significantly smaller engine of approximately the same efficiency per cc.

Third complaint: They will reduce global fuel supply.  *sigh*  Ok, there might be some truth in this, but I just can’t get my underwear in bunch about it.  As long as SUVs are the prefered form of transportation in the US, I don’t think anyone in the US has right to complain about a 12′ long car that gets over 50 MPG.

Fourth complaint: No, I’m not joking.  People really complain about this: the wheels are too small.  This is too is very dumb. To this issue and all the above I raise the issue of the kei car.  Kei cars are a special legal qualification of cars in Japan.  If a car meets certain kei car guidelines it can be sold as a kei car, saving both the purchaser and the producer a bundle of money. The requirements are 11′ feet long, 4.5′ wide, 6.5″ tall (they make kei spec vans and four by fours as well, hence the generous height) and a 650cc engines.  In one form or another the Japanese have been making kei cars for more than 50 years.  As of 2004, they were making 2 million of them a year.   Many a kei jidosha (light car) has the similar features to the Nano.

So why has the Nano raised such ire in a country it can’t even be sold in?

Here’s the human issue that the first paragraph eluded to: though people complain that they shouldn’t be sold because they are unsafe, I never here this argument about motorcycles and bicycles, which offer no protection what-so-ever in a crash.  So there must be an underlying emotional reason that people feel they are unsafe.  I think people have an emotional need to drive a very large gas guzzling car.  The existence of people who don’t have that need offends them, so they invent data (which is wrong) that says those people shouldn’t be alowed to buy the car.

The person who drives a car purely out of regard for safety and makes the majority of their other decisions out of a sense of what is safe, is leading a small boring life.  Relationships consist of risk.  People who take no risks have no relationships.  So these people end up pretty unfulfilled.  When they see people taking risks and getting more enjoyment out of their life, it really pisses them off, so they try and legislate any risks others might want to take about of existence.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Ecology, Microcar, Small Car | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illegal immigration

This is NOT a response to Pr3na’s blog about illegal immigration in India. I can’t speak for India (nor will I try to), but I can for the US.
Illegal immigration is fought for several reasons

1. Some people don’t like immigrants, period. In many countries, (America not included) a person may only move to a country if it can be proven they can get a job. They can only get a job if it is legally proven that all efforts have been made to higher a native.

2. People have ideas about law more rooted in childhood fantasies than in real life.

3. People believe it is not fair for people who have not paid into the system to collect socialist benefits (such as social security). In essence they think the collection of government benefits by non citizens is fraud.

4. People believe illegal immigration is analogous to a “gateway drug” and that people who engage in it are more likely to commit other crimes.

5. People believe that the lack of a tracking and screening function places the US in danger.

And here are my responses to the above arguments.

1. “Nepotism is the showing of favoritism toward relatives and friends, based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability, meritocracy or suitability” As human beings and Americans, we have an obligation to not prefer people who were born here for no other reason than their being born over here.

2. Making a law does not make people obey it. In the USA most car accidents are caused by illegal activity of some kind, yet there are around 17,000 per day. All those laws don’t make people obey laws. People chose to obey laws or not, as the situation warrants. Whether the law is not going 35 MPH in a 25 MPH zone or not crossing a shallow stream in the middle of the desert, (our Rio Grande) people weigh the risks to benefits and do what they want.

3. The statement, “It is not fair for people who have not paid into the system to collect socialist benefits,” is a true statement, made false by its association with the immigration issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with immigration. What about people on disability who never put in what they take out? According the Social Security Admistration 40% of disability cases are fraudulent. Thats more than 10% of the entire US government budget. Since I don’t hear any cries to have this fixed, but I hear about illegal immigration everyday, I can only conclude that the complaints of handout fraud are about who is getting it (immigrants) and not the fraud itself.

4. There had been no proof found that illegal immigration is a “gateway drug” to other crimes.

5. If everyone entering the country must be screened before entry and then tracked afterward, where will it end? Will the children of those immigrants be tracked as well? Since we are a nation of immigrant’s children, it is pretty obvious where it would go.

May 24, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Smells Like Hypocrisy

Ok, just a quickie:

US SENATORS DEMAND THAT US COMPANIES STOP PRACTICING SELF CENSORSHIP IN CHINA

US SENATORS DEMAND THAT US COMPANIES START PRACTICING SELF CENSORSHIP IN USA

Um…ah…..yeah.

May 21, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, skepticism, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I sneak up on it

Apparently, writing 4 posts about nuclear reactors then writing nothing for a week is a sure way to kill interest in one’s site. Oh well. This isn’t really going to be the post that changes anything. A sharp acquaintance of mine (the skepbitch) has pointed out to me I don’t really do “correct” skepticism. That is to say I don’t take a paranormal/spiritual claim and break it down with reason to show that is the paranormal/spiritual answer is less likely than one that fits into normal hard science. (I like applying skepticism to soft science like politics, but as the Skepbitch pointed out, that’s sort of dicey. I think this is because soft science generally lacks rigidity of principals. Physics is full of concrete principals. Political science has few truly concrete principals. Also, good research involves control groups and double blind studies. Ethics often prevents the use of both in the study of humans.)

Well, she’s right. I don’t normally do that. I am afraid to. Jesus said that if you cast out someones demons without putting the love of God in, then you have thrown a demon out and swept the house. When the demon comes back he will bring some buddies for a demonic hoedown. They will find the person’s soul in good order, ready to dominate. It will then be worse for the person than before. Abnormal psychology says something shockingly similar: Delusions form the beliefs systems we have. If you treat someone’s delusion but give them no new belief system to prop up them up, they tend to acquire a new belief system with new delusions that are at least as damaging, if not more so, then the first ones.

Anytime Jesus and and world wide school of psychology agree, I figure its got to be pretty right. I am afraid to, not for my soul, but for the quality of life of those I interact with. People are ready to abandon delusions when they decide they are ready, not when I can argue them into a corner. So I generally leave the big ones alone. I have made peace with questions that reality seems to pose to God and God to reality. Others have not, and unless a person asks me for my full opinion with chance to explain and develop context, I avoid clear questions and clear statements in public forums.

This leaves me to quibble about things that most people think are less important, like nuclear power and electric cars. But I am going to try and do one really truly classically skeptical post. It’s going to be my next one or so.

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power IV

Well, I am deeply enjoying talking to Tekknorg about the issue of nuclear power. I’m not sure if any one else is reading these posts, but we are having a spirited discussion.

So, I make this (hopefully final) post. Conveniently for me (and my ignored family) this post does not require 4 hours of research.

First, Nuclear weapons. The problem is, they don’t work. I don’t mean they don’t work in a literal sense of physics; they work quite well. I mean they are almost useless as weapons. Atomic warfare is the ultimate kamikaze attack. A big nuke would kill as many of the people shooting it as the people getting hit by it. While the people getting hit would die instantly, and the people doing the hitting would die over a decade, using nuclear weapons is like bulimia: suicide on the installment plan.

I am NOT a pacifist. I believe the statement, “Violence is never an option” is an apology for mass murder and slavery. There are some times when violence is, undoubtedly, the right solution to a problem. There are many times when violence is not the solution and will only make the problem worse, but never the less, sometimes violence is right and good The moral acceptability of violence is rooted in self defense, as part of the larger picture of self determination.

If the defender inflicts as much damage on himself, or the same damage with more suffering, then his act was not moral, but immoral. When violence is inflicted usefully for defense, it is moral. When a defender commits an act of violence so great that both he and the aggressor are harmed equally, then the defender is being ruled not by a reasoned desire for self defense, but a hatred so great his own misery is of no cost as long as the aggressor suffers as well. Vengeance and hate are NOT acceptable reasons for violence.

For this reason I say the use of nuclear weapons is immoral and stupid.

Nuclear weapons are made from nuclear materials. Nuclear materials come from nuclear reactors. Many proponents of nuclear power will claim that is not true, that the kind of nuclear reactors which make electricity don’t make the materials needed for weapons. This is somewhat true. But one reactor’s nuclear waste is another’s fuel for producing heat, electricity, and some weapon’s grade materials.

Fortunately, the reverse is also true. One reactor’s weapon’s grade byproduct is another reactor’s fuel.

Nuclear reactors do not make nuclear weapons. People make nuclear weapons. Nuclear reactors produce materials which people may put to moral or immoral uses depending on their personal temperament, opportunity, and social environment.

Is the nuclear power process dangerous? Absolutely. Does it involve risk? Absolutely. Are there greater risks to not having nuclear power? Absolutely. Soviet Russia was not known for its restraint in dealing with unrest in far off regions or within her own people. There were genocides and wars of opportunity which no democratic society would have embraced. Thousands, perhaps millions of Russia’s own sons and daughters died in Siberia. Aid was given to rebels to destabilize shaky governments. But not once, did the USSR ever deploy a nuclear weapon. Because the Americans had them too.

No chemical is moral or immoral, only people are moral or immoral. Perhaps someday, we, the naked apes, will drop our spears. Until that day, I want to make sure moral men appointed by functioning democracies have access to the same weapons as immoral men who rule by force.

You can no more ask a human being to not make a tool he might need than you can ask a female wolf not to go into heat, or a male ape to not defend his territory. And for the same reason; this is the way these species are. Living in a fantasy where laws and regulations and rules and disapproval can change the behavior of an animal (which man is) is a wonderful place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. While we are all waiting for man to evolve into the sort of animal that doesn’t need weapons, we sit on a pile of refined nuclear materials.

What do we do with them? We have these metals which if assembled properly can kill every man, woman, and child on earth and possible the earth herself. At any time, they could be stolen by some new dictator, terrorist, or other type of fool. What can we do?

Burn them up. Transmute the admittedly dangerous chemicals into less dangerous ones, and use the surplus power to make electricity. Electricity for all the pointless, useless, life robbing “convinces” which surround us, it’s true. But also electricity for the research labs which create new cures everyday. Electricity for the computers which save billions of hours of human life every day. Electricity for schools, for hospitals, for heat without CO2, and travel without fossil fuels.

I have not said this is the prettiest answer, just the only one which works. I don’t like nuclear power, and I despise nuclear weapons, but I dislike the available alternatives significantly more.

May 13, 2008 Posted by | Ecology, Government, Politics, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power III

The following is comment by http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/ that I have edited for clarity and made into an entire post.

To my statement that Chernobyl was steam explosion he responded:

Prof. Juli Andrejev (University, Vienna), one of the first liquidators on block IV in 1986 said, that the fuel assembly was destroyed from the inside. this could haver happened through boiler or steam explosion

Prof Juli Andrejev is physicist, not a nuclear engineer, or a destructive annalist, or a fire investigator. He said that he knew it was nuclear explosion because the fuel tubes had blown from the inside out. Politely, that is absurd. A nuclear reaction would not turn a tube inside out, it would vaporize it. He claims to have made this conclusion while staring into the the open reactor from the destroyed edge of the roof over Reactor 4. (1.) Which is odd to say the least. The graphite in the reactor was on fire for 9 days after the explosion, and when it went out the reactor was covered in 4450 tons of sand. (2.) How did he see into a reactor that was either engulfed in an inferno or covered in 4450 tons of sand?

There is also a British study from 1996 that states, that Chernobyl indeed was an atomic explosion with a yield from 0.2 – 0.3 kilotons. There are atomic bombs which have a lower yield. After much searching I find no evidence of this study. However, Wikipeidia, The Associated Press, The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, The UN, The WHO, The International Atomic Energy Agency, PBS, The BBC, and the TORCH report undertaken by the European Green Party, says that it wasn’t nuclear. I maintain an open mind and would enjoy reading the study. Peer review, however, is clearly NOT supportive of this stance.

400 times more than Hiroshima to be exactly.

I made the point in Nuclear Power II that this is not something that can be expressed exactly, however, again I find no documentation of this “400” number. I am guessing this is interpolated from the TORCH report, and is not a measure of volume of fallout, but total radioactivity of total emissions. That a burning nuclear source would provide more airborne radioactive matter than a complete nuclear reaction is hardly surprising. Between the steam explosion and the fire, over 2000 tons of material was released. The radioactive gases decayed out in seconds. To quote the TORCH report “Of the cocktail of radionuclides that were released, the fission products iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137 have the most radiological significance. Iodine-131 with its short radioactive half-life 2 of eight days had great radiological impact in the short term because of its doses to the thyroid. Caesium-134 (half-life of 2 years) and caesium-137 (half-life of 30 years) have the greater radiological impacts in the medium and long terms. Relatively small amounts of caesium-134 now remain, but for the first two decades after 1986, it was an important contributor to doses.” Remember that of all the information available the TORCH report is both the most generous and the least peer reviewed.

Some of the material was Pu241 which decays to Americum 5 – over 400 years halflife.

True. And what volume of this was released over what area?

In response to my statement that 3 Mile Island was a non-incedent, he says

Ask the American families, who were fighting for their (health) right at the court and lost, because of the IAEA, who said the same thing you have written.

May I be frank and admit that bureaucratic agencies who are funded to simultaneously police and encourage the same groups concern me deeply. The FDA also shares this impossible job description. I am not saying 3 Mile Island was not frightening for the residents, I am saying that their fright was far more significant a negative health factor than the minuscule amount of radiation released.

A reactor containment dome will support 28,000 kg the weight of a September 11th plane (American Airlines Flight 11 – Boeing
767-223 ER): 82,377 kg – 179,169 kg (max.)

Ah….no. True, the reactor containment is steel shell made to withstand only 200 psi. The missile shield which surrounds it is somewhat heavier, as it is made to resist a direct hit from a missile. Or a plane.

In response to my statement that the nuclear plants which make electricity best are the ones that cannot make anything else he said

5.2 Kg of Plutonium are enough.

I’m not quite sure what that is in reference to. I am assuming he as access to some source of average Plutonium production per reactor, a source I am unable to find. Regardless, plutonium is not “bad”; no chemical is bad. Frank Zappa once said “A drug is neither moral nor immoral…” What people do with them can be bad. Plutonium can be used as fuel in a nuclear reactor as well. Plutonium can kill. So can a lack of electricity: mighty hard to run hospitals without electricity.

I say again, a call for total abstinence is absurd. We don’t need to police nuclear knowledge, we need to wiki it. Developing nations want nuclear power for the same reason developing adults want sex: That which is forbidden is attractive. We cannot unlearn nuclear power, we cannot forget how to make plutonium. All we can do is learn to make it work for our species instead of against it.

Refrences:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TORCH_report

http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Features/Chernobyl-15/cherno15_main.shtml

http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/chernobyl.html

http://www.richarddnorth.com/journalism/science_risk/chernobyl1996.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5173310.stm

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/chernobyl.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Containment_building

May 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nuclear Power II (Reign of the stupids)

Why are people so afraid of nuclear anyway? Read the following taken from here

…A strong earthquake struck northwestern Japan on Monday, causing a fire and radioactive water leak at the world’s largest nuclear plant

…but the developments at Kashiwazaki triggered fresh concern about the earthquake resistance of Japan’s nuclear power plants, which supply nearly a third of the country’s electricity.

Well, how much radioactive materials? 315 gallons of water.

What kind of water? Water that had 1/1,000,000,000 the amount that they could legally dump in the ocean. A barium enema is significantly more radioactive, and it goes into the city sewer.

The sucking noise you hear is the sound of these people’s empty skulls filling with air.

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Ecology, Government, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power

I’m reading about nuclear power. A fellow blogger wrote a post on the general coolness of pebble bed reactors, and I’ve been trying to “get” the whole nuclear power thing. It’s strange to find what’s out there. I had no idea there were so many types of reactors, or fuel methods, or methods of operation.

And I hate to admit this…they scare me a little.

I pride myself on being able to divorce my emotions from a topic of consideration, but emotions exist for a reason. We tend to think humans are unique in having emotions (we’re not) or that emotions are useless (they’re not). Emotions help us make decisions in the absence of meaningful data. Survivors of traumatic brain injuries who have received injury to the emotive part of the brain find it very difficult to do simple things. They excel at things such as playing chess, but may struggle for hours to do something as simple as step into a room. Without an “Emotioner” they can’t determine the value of the data they receive, so the angle in which they cross a threshold is of equal importance to them as things like oxygen and not starving to death.

So, I am nervous about nuclear power not because I can’t get any data; far from, I am awash in data. The problem is deciding the relative value of each datum.

Some of the most common “facts” about nuclear power are, in fact, bologna. For instance:

Chernobyl was not a nuclear explosion. It was plain, old-fashioned boiler explosion in a pressure vessel which had nuclear materials in it. The same thing would happen if you took World War I locomotive, and put uranium in it, for the same cause and reason: heat something which is cooled by boiling water, let the water run out, and it blows up.

Chernobyl did not release more 30 times fallout of Hiroshima. It didn’t release any “times” more of anything. The differences between the two are large enough you can’t really pin it down with a mathematically precise comparison. You might be able to say “…the calculated mass of fallout from Hiroshima following a nuclear explosion was roughly a 1/30 the calculated mass of the total sum of all the radioactive materials that were vaporized without a nuclear explosion in the steam explosion and following fire at Chernobyl.” But even that is pretty misleading. A lot of the mass of Chernobyl had a half life measured in seconds. That is to say, in less than a minute, it was totally harmless.

Three mile island was a total non issue. Due to stupidity and laziness on the part of both plant designers and plant operators, the first three fail safes didn’t work. The forth kicked in fine, and there was still 5 and 6 to go. Was “radioactive material” released into the environment? Yes. About 6 bananas worth. Every person reading this who isn’t a nuclear scientist just went HUH??? Bananas are full of potassium. Totally naturally, some potassium is radioactive. The amount of radioactivity released was about the same as the total radioactivity of 6 everyday bananas, per capita.

The standard anti-terrorism yardstick is now “747 resistance.” No one will put it in those words, but in all seriousness, it is everybody’s terrorism related question. So yes, reactors are 747 resistant. The part of the reactor made to withstand high-pressure and high temperature from the inside will do about as well from the outside.

The kind of reactors which are the best at making a lot of electricity are totally incapable of making materials for nuclear weapons. This is not because of regulation, this is because of the inescapable laws of physics. You have a better chance of making nuclear materials in your backyard with home made equipment. Read the Radioactive Boyscout if you don’t believe me.

But then there is the other side…

However, the above much touted fact sort of obscures this one: the reactors which are pretty good at making power are also pretty good at making new fissionable materials. Many of these fissionable materials are only useful for electrical production, but some are the type needed for nuclear weapons, and sometimes (depending on the reactor type) these materials are presented in a relatively convenient way. (Note that this is how India got the material to build their bomb. They got this from a totally normal US/Canadian experimental reactor, which makes about 10 Kilograms of Plutonium a year.) England had a reactor commonly called a Magnox reactor. France, and North Korea use an identical design. It makes a lot of electric power and a lot of weapon grade material. The Magnox reactors is what the UK used to build their entire nuclear arsenal.

The reality of nuclear material recycling is this: we can recycle huge quantities of nuclear material. Nuclear physics allows us the near magical ability to transmute waste into fuel and use it again. So called “breeder reactors” are real and usable. In fact, they are used all the time. See above. The insurmountable fact, mentioned above, is the recycling process produces weapons grade materials. Now these weapons grade materials can be used in the right kind of reactor to make electricity, and more waste which can go back to the breeder reactor and continue the process. It’s fascinating, its exciting, and hopefully we can do it some day. But don’t be misled, it does mean weapons grade material.

Reactors ARE NOT “coal plants with nuke plants instead of coal burners.” Yes, the generator side of a nuclear power plant is identical to coal plants. Even the “feed water” pumps, without which, both coal plants and nuke plants will have catastrophic steam explosion are identical. But the differences come up immediately. When coal plants explode, radio active materials are not released into the air. Many reactors operate in non-intuitive ways. The Chernobyl reactor is a good example. If you cooled it off very quickly, it flushed out all the radioactive materials which had damped the reaction, and the reactor suddenly became more reactive. The Chernobyl reactor didn’t explode until they tried to keep it from exploding, after hours spent trying to make it explode. Seriously. Nuke plants are different.

Now this is the non-nuclear part and where my emotions come into play. People are stupid. I believe there is about 1 out of 10,000 people in the world who can truly create. That leaves 9,999 who are all destroyers. And at least 1 out of 10,000 of those disassemblers is a Newton or Einstein in their particular line of work.

When you read about nuclear reactors you will run into the words “Intrinsically Safe.” And that’s stupid. Three Mile Island was considered to be intrinsically safe…until it wasn’t. There is no such thing as “Intrinsically Safe.” My brother worked in a window factory. He ran a machine that had 6 “deadman” controls on it. (A deadman is a switch that shuts off if the person holding it is injured or killed.) This particular machine had a deadman for each foot, each hand, and each knee. You activated the moving part of it with you right knee, after holding down every other switch. In the 50’s this same machine had one foot switch. You loaded the material in and hit the switch. The reason the 90’s version had 6 switches was because consistently, over the years, people somehow kept getting one body part or another somehow injured.

Nuclear power will never be “intrinsically safe”. The cross roads of radioactive isotopes, high pressure/high temperature gases, huge machinery, and human frailty will aways be a dangerous intersection. Nuclear power is risky and anyone who says otherwise is a fool. The question is, “How does the risk of nuclear power stack up against other risks in this crazy life?” Quite well, actually. Thousands of people die every year in coal mining accidents. Around 40,000 die a year from car accidents alone. Life is a constant game of risk management. The winners get to add to the gene pool; the losers do not.

In the end, I guess my observation is this:

You can’t diffuse a bomb after it goes off. Magical thinking tells us that if we wish enough against something it will go away. Nuclear energy will never go away. Ever. If some killer virus killed all the human beings, in x number of years, a new species say, Proboscidea Sapiens (sentient elephants) will develop. They will have their Hiroshima. Even without us, nuclear power will be discovered. We need to accept the fact we have the power to kill ourselves, and choose not to. Prohibiting nuclear weapons while encouraging nuclear energy is not possible. Not because the reactors have to make the material. They don’t. It’s impossible because that’s the way man is.

Abstinence kills. Countries which teach “abstinence only” sex ed to their teens have the highest teen pregnancy. Regions which require total abstinence from hand guns have higher gun crime than nearby regions which are do not have total abstinence from hand guns. Total abstinence from alcohol (a.k.a. The Prohibition) reduced total alchohol consumption by only 60% (remember this was a total ban) and created organized crime. Countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands which have the least restrictions on pornography have some of the lowest crime rates against women.

I say again TOTAL ABSTINENCE KILLS. Total abstinence NEVER, EVER, comes from a rational mind. Total abstinence is an intrinsically unreasonable standpoint which says, “Even a little bit of ‘whatever’ is infinitively worse than anything that might be inflicted upon us to ‘protect’ or ‘free’ us from it.” People have drives. If abstinence doesn’t keep people from smoking, drinking, using drugs, masturbating, hitting women, killing people, or getting pregnant, I doubt, very seriously, it will prevent the drive to dominate a neighboring country and take their stuff by any means necessary.

We don’t need a ban on reactors that can make weapons grade nuclear materials. We need education starting at a grade school level on how energy works, nuclear and otherwise. Raise a generation of rationalists and nuke plants will be built and staffed by good people. Keep doing what we are doing and nuke plants, and anything else we need, will be prevented by legions of superstitions, fearful, illogical people who think they can make a problem go away by not liking it hard enough.

May 11, 2008 Posted by | Ecology, Government, Politics, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment