Thursday, November 29, 2007

The fun of deep earthquakes

If you must have an earthquake go off near you, pray that it is deep! One such earthquake has just happened in the Caribbean. These earthquakes tend to be very large in terms of Magnitude (this one's an M7.3), but just a big rumbler at the surface. Old, crappy buildings may collapse, and people will feel it in high-rises far away.

In fact, this earthquake was such a good transmitter that is set off all the phony earthquake alarms in California! If you look at all the seismograms of the North American seismometers, you will see a very strong signal.

Deep earthquakes are born along the subducted oceanic crust, when it goes for it's big plate-tectonics recycling. After the crust gets crunched up and compacted, it moves along the conveyor belt to get melted. This factory belches out any waste through its chimneys conveniently disguised as the numerous volcanoes in the Caribbean.

Hospitals now rated by Death

This one goes into my Lies, Big Lies, and Statistics file. Seems you can now rate a hospital by how many body bags exit the back door. Reminds me of the time I talked to a University admissions person, and how everything they did was to jig the Maclean's Ratings. I'm now thinking of hospitals....

"OMG! Don't let him in here, he looks like he's about to die!"

Chocolate cartel

OMG, is nothing sacred? And just in time for Christmas! You won't be able to bite into your delicious Choco-Addiction, without thinking about how much you were hosed. Way to spoil things Big Choco-Business! Quit reading the Conrad Black Manual of Nastiness!

Here, the male is the meat in the Meat Market

This article is hilarious. I can imagine the male saying, "Get away from me, you bunch of crazy females!" At least, that's what I always have to say...

Neato computer controversy

I don't normally dip into sordid US politics, but this one has an interesting computer angle, related to another article I just did. We had just discussed how you should be careful with your old hard drive, but this guy new what he was doing, from previous investigations. He got someone to do a 7-Level Wipe, on all his hard disks, and that of his cronies. He professed that it was for a virus! I love it!

The real joke is that this guy was a total Bush-crony, and he was investigating Karl Rove, the uber-crony! In the comments of another blog, this made the Hillary-haters go nuts, because they thought he was her crony! The joke is that if he is wiping emails, there are probably a million copies somewhere else.

Christmas idea for those with lots of money

Do you know somebody with a fancy Windows laptop that they claim is too slow for the hoggish MS Word? Are they thinking of getting a new laptop with Vista? Save them from wasting money, and let them waste money on something else.

Get the Yoggie Pico (that's a name?) and reinstall a clean XP without software virus protection. Their old laptop will run like the wind, and they will have better security than crappy Vista. Yes people, Linux has advanced so much, that it can hide in a USB key and protect the hapless Windows users. No need to worry that every other Web site has malware. You can even continue to use the deadly Internet Explorer, knowing that you are safe in your Linux cocoon.

Getting rid of your old computer

Whenever I put an old computer on the street, I always take out the hard drive, put it through my giant old tape-erasing magnet, and hide it in the regular garbage. This little article tells why I do it, and old hard drives are worthless anyway, since you can always get a new one with ten times the storage at little cost.

Fish ladder fun

This is a cute article about fish. Since I can't engage in ineffective fishing for the season, I fish for articles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Asus now all clear with Linux

Asus has released the ridiculously named eeeeeeeeeeepc, which is a sub-notebook running Linux. It's more of a notebook-appliance, and it seems to be popular. I think if you just want to do your Facebook, while sipping coffee at Starbucks, then it is perfect. It might be quite good for high-school students, since they can't type anyway. It will certainly keep you away from the Vista horrors! (and don't ever give them Sims2!).

The other alternative is to pick up old laptops from companies who want to run Vista (ha ha!). Then run Linux on them and they are perfect! I use the generic Debian release, but there are a lot of distributions that make your life easier.

Computer security

Computer security has always been one of my interests, as well as general Linux-Unix systems. I would love to be offered a job by somebody wanting to get off the Microsoft treadmill, but I'm not pushing it. Like most things, I've generally found that organizations don't really want something that works, but just appears to be working good enough.

I just read quite a few articles on computer security. Seems that malware attacks on compromised web sites is the big thing now. These sleazy sites have found a way to be number one on Google searches, so you must now assume that any site is trying to kill you.

So many of these exploits go into the guts of the unholy alliance of Windows-Explorer incest, that virus checkers are useless. The best way to break this is to use Firefox, which requires a different effort to break.

I do all my secure stuff, and insecure web surfing with Linux, which can't be broken easily (if at all!). I was also interested in reading that XP outperforms Vista in lab tests, but I'm sure they didn't use the typical rat-infested XP setup that is in common use. One person I new (rich people), bought a new fancy laptop, because the old one had completely ground down. But when they took Norton off the old one, it was much faster than the new one!

Mud volcano keeps on going

This was always an amazing story. An oil company taps into a volcano, the mud starts flowing, and it never stops. I don't think I've ever read about this sort of thing happening naturally, although it must make an interesting geological formation after it stops.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nobody shows up to Yuk-yuk hearings

In a presage to future hidden Bruce Waste Deep Geology Thingie hearings, it turns out that nobody is turning up at the Yuk-yuk Mountain parties anymore. I can understand it. Nobody feels it's going to happen, and nobody thinks their voice will be heard.

I sense there will be the same enthusiasm when they finally hold the hearings for the Bruce mess. Nobody cares, and once they try to dig into that dangerous piece of broken rock shit, it won't happen either. It's just me and my tiny little blog... :)

Whitewash on 3 Gorges

Whew! The Chinese have gotten over their unusual bout of 'soul-searching flu', and are back to normal. The original whistle-blowers have been trotted before the state-controlled media, and have recanted.

Reminds me of other times, in other situations. Nothing worse than a giant bureaucracy leaking out some bad news... :)

Depression leads to bone loss

Depression is the general lack of serotonin, and other such goodies. This causes a loss of mass from the brain, and now, it appears to cause bone mass loss. I'm always interested in these stories, because of my family history. Nearly all of this can be reversed with some simple little pills.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vista piece of sh*t!

Like I've said before, I am forced to have Vista 64 on the daughter's new computer, because of her addiction to Sims2. I suppose I could have been 'retro' and put on XP, but it just didn't seem right to me.

My problem is that MS buried IPV6 deep within Vista, so you can never really turn it off. They did this to 'hard tie' in with their business communication software, thus extending their monopoly. Nobody else has this working, so it's a perfectly 'legal' scam, especially if they use their own 'flavour'. So, no matter how hard you try, it barfs out an IPV6 packet once in a while which can destroy your whole network. I could never get any of my wireless PCI cards to work in Vista, so I went with an external wireless bridge, and Vista even manages to hang that thing up!

Now I read this, where an old exploit was never really fixed, or it was fixed once and then started up again "Hey, what was this code for?". I have ditched MS as much as I can, without dumping the kids!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More weather disasters in a warming cycle?

I really don't understand the physics behind statements such as these. If you really could place a uniform thermal blanket of gas around the world, and it started warming, then why would there be more storms? Would you have less storms in a cooling cycle? Or a static phase? I know that on the US east coast there have been hurricane cycles that are independent of anything else. What drives them?

The world has always been in warming cycles, cooling cycles, peaks and troughs. I must come to the conclusion that there is more money available whenever anybody plays the 'guilt card', and so it gets played for everything.

Actually, I think that ocean currents are really underplayed here, so this big push for oceanic mega-bucks might be more than a mere money grab.

Dam watch system

My intellectual problem here, is to wonder whether this is a legitimate improvement, or just something that looks good. It sounds like there is a major problem with economic externalities, which in this case covers the liability of a dam, with a cheap owner. The concept of private dams might not work when there are people living downstream, since it is very difficult to calculate how nasty one should be in turning the screws on the owner.

With all of this, they put on a nice gloss of dam monitoring. A good physics understanding of the system, with rain gauges would be sufficient here. After that, you really have to figure out the behaviour of each dam.

Status of 'One Laptop'

This is a sign of the Wall Street Journal opening up. It's a very good story of an idealistic machine versus the monopoly nasties, who can still try to kill an idea by pouring in lots of loss-money.

No matter what happens, the floodgates are open. Taiwan should unify and flood the market with Linux machines on generic processors, such as the successful Walmart computer. The monopolists can't fight everybody!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nice fishing story

Even though it's getting cold, and I've changed to my lined pants, I have to keep up the 'fish' part of the name. I like this story, because there has been a lot of effort to remove useless dams from rivers to allow the salmon to have their run. Still, we have those pesky beavers!

Undersea landslide

This is nice science. These huge mass flows disturb the ocean floor, and probably generate huge earthquakes and tsunamis. I'm always amazed at how far they go, and over such gentle slopes.

Toronto ditched trolley buses, Vancouver picks them up

Yep, those trolley buses don't work in the winter. Which makes them an unusual choice for a Canadian city. The streetcars have the single conductor, which grounds in the tracks, so they work better with a bit of ice on the lines.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Radiation whimps

Afraid of a little radiation are you? Thinking that some unmeasurable uranium atom might come floating over and ZAP you? Death by some horrible cancer monster? Do you think that billions of people had 2-headed babies from the atomic bombs?

Well, perhaps you should read once in a while. This is quite a comprehensive article, and I think it's fairly true. I suspect that Humanity sprang from a zone of fairly high radiation, and took care of it. Our fear of radiation is much greater than a fear of smoking, and this is irrational. As more studies are done in the cess-pools of radiation accidents, we will know what the human body can take. And for us old guys, a good hike to the top of Mt. Everest, and the attendant heavy dose of cosmic rays probably zaps out any old cancer cells lying about.

So, have a crème brûlée, pour a brandy, light up a cigar, and forget those radiation scares.

Greens may have something

Those crazy Greens have another report on nuclear power. But this may have a kernel of truth. A bit like the old half-empty half-full glass thing, but it is a cautionary note that those who hype new nuclear plants really don't have clue what they are doing (did I say that out loud?).

Cyber Monday

Well, in the States, the old blog readership is going to take a dip on Monday, as everybody shops. How about putting a nickel in the box for the old guy? Actually, I think my readership (yes, the one or two of you, plus the spam bots!), is too smart to click those stupid ads. More's the pity....

The science of rain in the land of Oz

This story is about Broken Hill Australia, and it's effort to secure water supplies. Now, I hesitate to mention anything about Oz, especially with the millions of people there who read my blog, but I found this interesting.

They have mined almost everything out, so this city now lives on tourism, which means gardens in the desert, and lots of air conditioning. So, they need water, and there are many innovative ways to conserve it (including the 'liquid solar blanket' concept). But what I find surprising is that there is a huge cotton farm sucking up all the water! This is like growing rice in the deserts of California. The ancient concept of water rights for ridiculous farming is the main culprit behind most water shortages, including the Everglades.

ps. I doubt whether this 'silicone monolayer' thing is that great for dams. Wouldn't it heat up the water tremendously? Wouldn't lots of little plants love that? I'll have to wait for the Ozi-ites to chime in.

Humans try to beat evolution

I like this story. It's a bit like the big-science effort to bring back the dinosaur (I made that up!). Although they try to bring it back, it then comes down with root rot. Can you beat the evolutionary roll of the dice? Why doesn't some horrible blight kill all the dandelions? Stay tuned...

Sony continues to pour money into PS3

I'm just writing this because we have one, and it is a fantastic machine. You can see that Sony is losing tons on each one sold. Although the boys play games on it once in a while, I've put Linux on it, and have it as my main console computer for the big screen. It'll be even better when Sony start playing mpeg4 (xvid, divx) movies natively.

This is a fine example of a third-stage bureaucracy pissing away their money, and spreading the wealth! I'll be happy to take any more heavily subsidized hardware!

Three gorges dam starts killing people

The landslides have started, and these recent one got a packed bus. This landslide, of course, is nothing compared to the potential of monster slides activated by the headpond. Of course, this always was steep terrain, and always had landslides, but the filling of the reservoir changes the scale, and consequences of monster landslides. The chief social benefit of the dam was to reduce flooding, so in order to do that, they must lower the headpond by 11 m before the rains come. This up-and-down of the water level is the ideal way to tickle landslides!

But, as usual, the main reason for the dam was to keep the communist elite in clover, but generating electricity. This could come to a swift end if a monster landslide causes a monster wave that wipes out the plant!

Problems at OPG

In my recent paper, I mentioned how we can only get hints of whether an organization is in the third stage. Unfortunately, my worst fears become true, and this hits me right in the pocket-book. I knew things were bad, when all the politically ambitious people flocked to the Plant Life Assurance division, which I quickly dubbed the Life-style division, because of their parties and free t-shirts. Still, they became my best hope for getting something done, until Gregory Smith jumped, or was pushed. Now, the hope that anything will happen lies on the slim chance they can find a Smith replacement for a tenth the going rate, somebody like Bob Lutz.

In the meantime, they have delayed any decision on the rather hopeless Pickering life-style extension. We can get a hint that Pickering is hopeless because the whole station is dragging down OPG. Of course, I have personal knowledge of that, but nobody would ever believe me how bad it is, so I just shut up.

Now, my hopes lie on the effort to build a new nuclear plant on a tiny postage-stamp piece of land, right beside an active monster-quarry. This effort won't be helped much when they go into the hearings about the Bruce nuclear waste underground hotel. (And it becomes obvious how hopeless that is!).

Still, I enjoy watching, and commenting on the whole mess, and wait my turn to help straighten it out! :)

Still no earthquake scenario

The prov. gov't is blaring how good they are at emergencies. They even have teams trained in heavy lift for collapsed buildings, etc. But, they've never treated the earthquake scenario intelligently. Hopefully, nothing happens to show them how woefully unprepared they are...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Everglades project on last gasp

As the one guy said: "The government is broke". And all those nasty Canadians keep buying the land to put in manicured lawns! They would probably get further if they didn't subsidize sugar farmers, but that's another story...

Shaft testing for new bridge

They are actually moving ahead on replacing that rusty old bridge that collapsed in the US. Newer bridge designs like to put a lot of weight on narrower supports, so it is important to see how much the rock can take. And the rock there appears to be pretty bad.

This bridge appears to be having the usual problems getting any money, which was the reason the old one collapsed in the first place. I was quite interested in the concept that they hit high-pressure water in one shaft, so they made the next one shallower. Wouldn't you hate having a shaft end right on top of a water pocket?

The general collapse of US infrastructure offers some excitement for us geotechnical engineers, as they have to replace things when they fall. The cities and states just run up more debt to do it!

Facebook continues to squeeze

As I've said before, all the kids have gone from hotmail, to msn, to facebook, because it offered tons of goodies for free. Now that they've burned through their venture capital, Facebook must make some money. They have blundered fairly badly in this department.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blah, blah, Internet looming disaster

Yet another self-serving study that has been picked up by thousands of no-brain media outlets. This group says that the main backbones will choke, yet they want more broadband access for everybody. Who is paying them? Who do they want the money from? Government?

I was into the Internet on Day One, and it has always had it's doomsayers. We went through this whole useless IPV6 thing because of them. I suspect that Cisco is behind this latest thing, and they want billions of gov't money for more super-routers.

The bureaucratic cycle - Part 3

-continued from Part 1 and Part 2

We are interested in the latter part of the cycle, and how it destroys wealth and talent. Most companies cannot survive a slide to the third phase, because of factors that give immediate feedback. Depending on the strength of their monopoly, they can have a very long middle phase. As well, bringing in a brilliant talent at the top can reverse the cycle, since pockets of beleaguered talent can remain for some time. An example is the recent uptick of GM under Bob Lutz (who revived Chrysler for a while).

A typical story about talent destruction is as follows. Brilliant young thing (BYT) enters company. They are capable of bringing in 10 times the revenue of the average mediocre employee. BYT starts shaking things up, saving tons of money, etc. But, by definition, they have to go beyond the system to get things done, such as Internet access, hours of work, conferences, etc. Soon mediocre employees whine: why do they have Internet access, come in late, talk to directors, etc. Company clamps down on everyone.

Sometimes BYT has protection of some upper management, most likely not. They become bitter and cynical. One in ten succeeds, and this becomes food for the propaganda machine. When you talk to BYT's, they express great frustration.

Organizations with a political mandate can go on forever in the third stage, but now something can really kill them. Mainly, that they can no longer find large numbers of BYT's to burn, since BYT's trapped on the inside can now communicate with each other. The collective intelligence of these places goes down to that of a poodle. More and more big disasters happen. Their mandate becomes questioned by the dumber politicians, and they descend quite rapidly.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wind power is a disaster for Ontario

Anybody who can stare at the Pickering wind mill all day, knows this for a fact. The damn thing never rotates when you need power. I remember whole summers when you could hang limp laundry on the blades!

Now, there is more data on the entire Ontario fleet, and it's not pretty. With wind power, it never rains, but it pours, and it does so everywhere all at once! When we are locating seismometers in Ontario, the only thing we look out for are trees, because wind can blank out the whole array. Anything else, such as trains, cows, farmers, etc, only happens to one seismometer at a time.

Getting power from this is like trying to harness lightning. What do you do when there is no wind? What do you when there's lots, dry the clothes in the dryer? Close the windows and put on the air conditioner? All the time on the highway, I see these huge wind turbine blades being transported to somewhere, and I know that somebody is making a lot of money...

Interesting science

I just love this site! I read an article in the Economist, and then looked it up. It's just another one of those neutrino detectors, but the scale is amazing! As well, I like the stories of life at the South Pole.

Infrastructure at the limit of decay

I find articles like this interesting. If an infrastructure has decayed to the point of self-collapse, then it has no margin for earthquakes. I don't think Chicago has a high seismic hazard, but New York and Boston do. So much money is generated from these cities' economies, yet they cannot tap the necessary 5% for infrastructure turnover. As mentioned in the article, these places have only coped by robbing Peter to pay Paul, and now their debt interest is so high, they have no money to clean out the rust.

New coal plant to poison the earth

I don't know, but it doesn't strike me as a great idea to turn that big smokestack on a coal plant upside-down, and stick it into the earth. Who thinks that this will be 'clean' CO2? Who thinks it will stay there? Who will determine when the earth is full, and is about to belch it all back again? Do you trust coal companies?

Dutch ban Wikipedia!

Sort of. This story would make me split my sides, if it did not bring out stabs of pain, as well. I mean, this is truly the attitude of all terminal bureaucracies. If you ban Wikipedia, then you must ban everything, where there is a chance for outside communication. Terminal bureaucracies must never allow anybody from the inside to leak anything out! It is the essence of their survival, but it always becomes a more difficult fight.

Self-serving studies

I'm detecting a rise in the self-serving 'scientific' study. This genre died a slow death at the hands of Microsoft, but now the Media is lapping it up again. As we remember, MS funded all sorts of 'independent' studies, showing how fast, how cheap, how secure Windows was. Eventually, the Media was ridiculed whenever they splashed the results of these, so they gave up.

Now, all sorts of groups are getting in on this, and the Media is all over it again. The latest comes from the Bridge Construction Money Suckers, and says that all the bridges in Ontario are about to collapse, and lots of money has to be funneled to the group! As if they were about to come to any other conclusion!

Another was the recent Port Hope Uranium study. They picked the worst people, and shipped it off to some lab, in the 'hope' of finding a uranium atom. Then the Media splashed it everywhere, for a big hoopla! Would there be any other conclusion?

I think the Traditional Media are in third-stage decline. They never really recovered from Conrad Black...

Bureaucracies, Part 2

- following from Part 1.

On the surface, then, organizations could have three rankings:

-has a purpose in life, attracting new talent

-has a natural advantage, doesn't need new talent
-internal political weasels take control

-destroying talent, no great purpose

This might not be enough, since organizations can go through cycles, and it is difficult to plot them on the hopelessness scale. The Growing and Milking stages are boring, I prefer to concentrate on what happens at the beginning of the Decline stage (and the various sub-stages!).

All organizations that are truly entering the final stages, must be secretive. They follow the maxim: 'Don't air your dirty linen in public'. This is not necessarily a conscious decision, but rather, the company folds in upon itself. The process is usually accompanied by a growth of the Public Propaganda department which handles all outside communication.

This is a necessary, but not sufficient condition, since many efficient organizations are also closed and secretive (the Mafia!). Take for example, large drug companies which are mostly in the third stage. I know a brilliant young guy who has entered one for a work term. He has redesigned their processes, and fixed up their plans for new buildings. Yet the company totally blocks access to the Internet, and he spends his time getting around all their silly blocks, so he can get required information (as well as the usual other stuff).

The need for secrecy is extremely important, for both the milking and decline stage, since nobody on the outside must know what is going on. This is even more vital, when they are actively destroying talent. A company can continue to destroy new talent, as long as they offer good benefits, and attract innocent hordes. The example is WWI, which was the stupidest fatal destruction of talent ever. As long as nobody knew the truth of what was going on in the trenches, they could sing patriotic songs, and get more bodies to fill them.

The big problem is that these companies are running into the Internet, and it is my thesis that they are running down the decline stage much faster than they used to, mainly because the talent finds out, and shuns them. (to be continued).

Weird earthquake injuries

We finally know why all schools should practice 'duck and cover' drills for earthquakes.

Los Alamos continues to die

This would be one of those organizations that have lost their way, and would be high on my rating of hopelessness, if I could ever figure out how to rate these things.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roller compacted concrete for dams

This is just a cute little article on something I knew nothing about. Instead of pouring concrete, they make it up as stiff as asphalt, and they smash it down. It looks quite ugly, but it's strong.

Poor New Orleans at the mercy of the Pork Army

It's quite an important point to know if New Orleans is safer than it was before. Somehow, I doubt it, since I know who is in charge. My guess is that they will abandon that place in their effort to throw around $23 billion dollars in new water-pork. Nobody lives in that city anymore, so why bother?

Alberta nuclear fun

This is fantastic entertainment! Those Alberta liquor people have started drilling, they got a small lake they can boil, and all sorts of things. But most important, they got their own wacky protesters, complete with fake Simpson barrels of nu-clar waste!

What do we have in Ontario? Nothing! We've got a rock-solid politician as an energy minister, and rock-solid people in charge at OPG. With all this rock, I don't think anything will move! I would love for them to prove me wrong...

Instant divorce, or Computer Screens are Evil!

This is funny! Can you imagine letting such a computer into your kitchen? For sure, I'm with the guy who said he'd be divorced in 3 weeks if he let that into his kitchen! Personally, I think we need to make a stand on attention-grabbing devices. We have raised a fine family by having a primitive cottage, with no electronic things. The kids learned to play cards, and have conversations!

We also have the hot-tub which we use every night. This acts as a family 'campfire' where we can talk. The default action is having the kids attached to their computer screens, playing games, or using face-my-space!

Non-pdf book reader

I am sure Adobe extracts a huge price for devices that use pdf. That's why you can't find an cheap laser printers with pdf, and might be why the new Amazon book reader doesn't do it either. So perhaps pdf is the ultimate Trojan Horse?

So is this the year that book readers take off? I doubt it. Perhaps one day, they will be colour e-ink in a 100 gram flexible package, equipped with wireless. Will this be enough? Most likely not, since the book sellers, such as Amazon, will want to sell downloads at a price comparable to hard-media, much like current music cds, and movie downloads. Eventually, there will be general-purpose computers that can be used to read books, and people will find a way to download for free. No pdf restrictions there!

The bureaucratic slide to hopelessness

Time for another long boring story. I've always been fascinated in the progression of societies, families, organizations and companies. Most tend to drift in common patterns.

The most fundamental drift is in family wealth. The founder of a wealthy family is usually a tremendous talent who created wealth out of nothing, by providing something useful to society. Their children were raised middle-class, and usually consolidate this wealth, perhaps by ruthlessly extending the original natural monopoly. Their children were raised in wealth, and are usually totally useless. Their role in society is to piss all that money down the drain, thus boosting the economy, and spreading the wealth.

What is fascinating, is if an entire country becomes locked into the family cycle. This is the case with Japan. The founders rose after the war, and created new wealth. Their children expanded and consolidated the empires. But Japan refused to take in immigration, and now the third generation is mucking everything up.

A country, such as Canada, can avoid this fate by immigration. Each new wave of immigrants follows the same cycle, until their children become corporate lawyers, but the new waves create wealth.

If an organization becomes a closed society, it, too, follows the same cycle. Think of NASA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and old Ontario Hydro. At the beginning, they have a purpose to life, and attract the best brains. The second generation are usually their children, and also have dedication, but less brains. Finally, the third generation, are the idiot cousins of the president, and have no brains.

From a high level, these are general truths, but it is most interesting to look at actual scientific markers, and determine exactly where each organization is in the cycle. As well, there might be ways for sub-societies to avoid or delay this fate. (Next time!)
Part 2 Part 3

Sunday, November 18, 2007

RCMP becomes an incompetent bureaucracy

Ok, I don't want to get into political commentary, but on a purely technical basis, don't you feel that something is wrong here? This is not the only thing, there has been a string of incidents that indicate a great incompetence. I've been involved with incompetent bureaucracies all my life, and they have certain common elements, which we all know, and I don't have to list. But the most lasting impact is that the talent is no longer attracted.

Throwing laptops around

I love this article about people worrying because a laptop was thrown in the streets. They should be worried! Laptops could puncture tires, or pieces from them could hurt people! I just hope that laptop-throwing doesn't become a popular thing...

Toronto condo bubble

I just like this article. The condo bubble in Toronto has gone on much longer than I ever thought it would. It is probably inflated by massive fraud, just like the US, and all the rats will shake out, once things assume their rational course. But it could go on for some time yet, since the reason the Canadian dollar is up, is that foreign oil money is pouring in.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More slop from the US Army

I wouldn't say these guys are the worse engineers in the world, because I haven't made an exhaustive search. But this giant civilian techno-bureaucracy, with a tiny coating of military people, sure likes to screw things up. Hands up anybody who thinks New Orleans will do well in the next big storm...

Spectre of earthquakes raised for US nuclear plants

I was waiting for this. The US (East side) hasn't done a speck of work on earthquakes in the last 30 years. Now they want to extend the life of decrepit stations, and build new ones. Finally, somebody is raising the obvious questions about earthquakes. Now, if only somebody in Ontario would do this...

Friday, November 16, 2007

No money, no place to dispose of dead nuclear plant

One of the essentials for a nuclear plant is to put a bit of money under the mattress for eventual cut-up and disposal. In Canada, this money is a cause for joy and happiness, for world-traveling bureaucrats! But what if somebody raided the kitty, and there was no money?

This seems to have happened in the good old USA, who wants to build more nuclear plants, without cleaning up the mess they already have. Vermont Yankee has a pitiful sum of money (probably all invested in mortgage funds!), to dispose of itself. And there's no place to put it anyway, since Yuk-yuk Mountain hasn't got a prayer! But no worry, they say they're allowed to hang a cheap 'No Trespassing' sign on the radioactive property for 60 years, and 'the money will come'. And all those people worry that Yuk-yuk won't last for a million years, when they are going to have all this scum scattered around the country!

More lawsuits than water!

As a geotechnical engineer who loves 'good' dams, I've been following this story for a while. Seems they don't have any rain down there, and a big lake is draining. The fight is over how fast the lake drains down to nothing. My favourite guys, the US Army bureaucracy, is in charge. Needless to say, there are lots of lawsuits. With this latest news, they have decided to drain it a little bit slower, which makes all the downstream people mad.

Von Braun

As I was born in Canada from German parents, with a somewhat murky association with the Nazi middle class, I am always interested in any books on Von Braun the Rocket Man. Since I never have time to read horribly long biography books, I just skim the reviews, and this looks like a good one.

I always like it when a review tells a lot about the book, so now I can pretend to be an expert on his life!

Coal rules the roost

We can thank whatever for the Jurassic and Cretaceous. The incredibly high carbon levels of those eras laid down mega-goops of coal. Now, we can bring back those good old days by burning it all again! This article mentions that coal is still a big thing, despite all that Gore-nagging!

OPG's earnings down

Rats, now they can't afford a new nuclear plant! But they still have lots of money in the nuclear waste slush fund!

Drilling for nuclear plant starts in Alberta

Holy cow! They're moving faster than anybody in Ontario! Energy Alberta, with their ridiculous plan for a nuclear plant has started geotechnical drilling. I hope they know what they're doing. They're visiting Bruce Nuclear this week, where they hope to learn the art of shoving seismic under the rug, with the regulator....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Accretionary Wedge #3 is out!

This is a monthly collection of geology articles, and this month's theme is Geology meets Biology, or some such thing. I put in my own Geology meets biology article! I still don't think I have a major geology contribution until the nuclear program starts to move a teensy bit, and then I'll have some fun! (mainly because they haven't done a speck of the required long-lead-time geology and seismology!).

When things get expensive, change the analysis method

In California, nearly all the old hospitals were rated as collapse hazards, if hit by a decent-sized earthquake. And amazingly enough, they do actually collapse! As such, they were ordered to upgrade or close.

Of course, California has no money, since all the movie stars voted to have no taxes (duh!). All these hospitals would be forced to close down, and the medically uninsured would no longer have their last-ditch kick at Dr. House. Naturally, this was unacceptable, so they have decided to change their analysis methods. They are pinning all their hopes on the HAZUS methodology, but I think this is just a delaying tactic, since most likely the new method will give the same results. Most of these hospitals are constructed of loose brick, and located on deep soft soil.

Yuk-yuk Mountain - money down a rat hole

They've built a shiny new courthouse for the hearings on rad waste. Some say it's a waste of money, but I say it can always be converted into a casino later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Google is Evil!

I just put in that headline for the Google scanners. They hate being called evil, it might bring their stock down from a zillion dollars to a zillion minus one!

Actually it's probably a big misunderstanding. On the surface, the new Google Android software stack for mobile phones has the appearance of fracturing the Java standard. This would be true evil, on the scale of Microsoft! I'm sure that once all the protests get around, Google will say "I was misquoted!".

Big earthquake strikes Chile

An inland M7.7 at moderate depth. Normally, you would expect massive damage, but this seemed light. Lots of people were able to phone in their observations, which is unusual. They might all be on firm foundations, but we'll have to wait for more details.

Time for the winter blues

Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I actually suffer from unipolar depression with season attributes. In other words, things get worse in the winter. This article is quite good and talks about things to improve the situation. I find the lightbox helps about 10-20%. If you are really having problems, then see your GP, and ask for a referral to a psychiatrist, who can give you some simple pills. These pills are actually healthy, since they beef up vital nutrients to the brain, and regrow some sections.

Lots of water in Northern Ontario gets people bitchin'

Poor OPG can't win. For years, Northern Ontario has been generally dry, with low snow-packs. This has resulted in a horrible lowering of the upper Great Lakes. Some people on Lake Huron have completely lost their access to water. Naturally, everybody blames OPG for draining the water!

Now, there appears to have been some rain, and the feeder lake levels are high. Naturally, everbody blames OPG!

NYC does some earthquake microzoning

There's a tiny bit of action on the earthquake front. They are trying to find the soft pockets of soil in NYC, similar to work done in Ottawa. They might eventually find the same results, that soft pockets in basins amplify the ground motions 10 to 100 times! Of course, none of this is going to mean anything until the next big earthquake.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Linux PC sells out

The $200 (US!) linux PC at Walmart has sold out almost instantly. It also has great reviews. They were only selling 10,000, but I'm sure another batch will be out soon. I switched another machine at the old homestead to Linux, and it's working out quite well, although the significant other is whining about wanting the 7 year-old Word back. But nobody at home likes the Vista 64, especially with its habit of turning off the network now and then. I keep telling them that you have to move on...

Port Hope residents stealing valuable Uranium

Yes, when they built the first nuclear bomb, they scattered uranium all over the place in order to hide it, but they knew they were going to come back for it one day. Little did they realize that those tricky residents would start sucking up uranium atoms. Now that they got it, how can you make more bombs?

Seriously, there is no greater mess than all the old bomb sites, scattered over North America. In those days, it was fun stuff to play with! Still, the levels are very low, and there is no greater amount of cancer there, than downtown Toronto (cough, cough!).

I sure hope this doesn't slow down my plans to make Port Hope the nuclear waste capital of the world!

Airlines pouring out tons of CO2 for bureaucratic silliness

I always remember working in a big bureaucratic mess, that at the end of the year we had to spend our budgets on anything, or risk 'use it or lose it'.

Now the airlines risk losing their coveted monopoly airport slots if they don't run empty jumbo jets across the Atlantic. Then they charge the remaining passengers fuel surcharges to cover this! So much for trying to minimize CO2 emissions! Who needs expensive carbon schemes, if you can just stop this crap! The airlines are totally to blame, since they live by the existing airport slot system, which allows them to charge extra high. The government goes along with it, because it's more money for them.

Trees love carbon dioxide

The leaves sprout earlier and stay longer if there is more carbon dioxide. The oceanic plankton also loves the stuff. Of course, you never know if the levels are rising too fast for these things to make a difference, but at least somebody is happy!

OPG goes super-cool

Hey, if you are addicted to corporate PR videos, then you should check out Ontario Power Generation videos on Youtube! They have their finest bureaucrats talking about nuclear power, nuclear waste, and lots of other fun things.

Dinos in the news

Two articles have been printed together, which raise some interesting questions. One states that the Deccan Traps may have been the smoking gun that killed the dinosaurs, and another says that a flood of efficient grazing mammals came from India.

It's all a matter of timing. India could evolve mammals because it was totally isolated throughout the Jurassic, and only 'docked' about 10 million years ago. At that time, the mammals could have flooded the earth, and taken over.

Then there's the massive volcanism of the Deccan Traps, about 65 million years ago, which is the latest hoopla about killing off the dinosaurs. What about those mammals people? They were stranded on the Indian ship! If you are going to kill all the dinosaurs in the world from India, I wouldn't give anybody nearby, much chance to live.

Personally, I think this is all crap anyway. Dinosaurs were a creature of plate tectonics. They loved it when all the continents smashed together, and had a big oceanic crust bake-off. This gave them tons of warmth, tons of carbon dioxide and oxygen, and lots of water vapour in the atmosphere. When the continents started their slide apart, the party was over. If, by chance, there was some final blow, it was irrelevant, since the dinos would not like today's cold, thin, dry air.

Monday, November 12, 2007

OPG starts to move

Yeah! I see a flicker of hope that we'll have a nuclear plant by the time my future grandkids get old! OPG has bought some extra property out east. But perhaps they just want to grow some tomatoes??

Nov. 9, 2007
OPG has purchased property in Clarington, near the existing Darlington
Nuclear site.
Sixty-one acres of land has been purchased from a private vendor, in the
area of the proposed Clarington Energy Park (near Osbourne and South
Service Roads).
"The site is an appropriate location for possible future needs that OPG
may have for office facilities, in support of the nuclear generation
program in Clarington," said Glenn Temple, OPG's Vice President, Real
Estate Division.
OPG currently operates three nuclear stations in Durham Region - two in
Pickering and one in Clarington. As directed by the Minister of Energy,
OPG has also begun a business case study for potential refurbishment of
the Pickering B station. Environmental assessment work is also underway
for potential new nuclear build at the Darlington site. "As these plans
progress, OPG will finalize a timeline for the development of the land
in support of our projects," said Mr. Temple.
Clarington Mayor Jim Abernethy is pleased with the announcement. "This
is a positive step for Clarington in developing the Clarington Energy
Park. Having OPG establish an aspect of their operations in the Energy
Park is a wonderful fit and is the type of business that our Council and
Staff see as playing an important role in establishing the area as an
energy hub. This announcement will help us to achieve our goal of
expanding our Industrial/Commercial tax base, thus reducing the burden
to the residential taxpayer."
Regional Chair Roger Anderson echoed Mayor Abernethy's thoughts. "OPG is
a strong partner of Durham Region and a valued corporate citizen in our
community. OPG has significantly invested in the energy industry in many
Durham communities. The purchase of this property is a commitment to
their continued investment in the Region and the industry."

Sweden to solve nuclear safety problem by adding a new executive

Yep, I always find that the 'hire executives' approach always works. That, or the other good one: "Reorganize and hire more management".

Poor Sweden, they are also having trouble hiring a Chief Nuclear Officer. Perhaps they are following the OPG pay guidelines? I hope they don't hire away our Miracle-Guy, that we are so desperately waiting for.

As for Ontario, I have scanned everything, and find no activity at all. I think we can safely say that our nuclear opponents can sleep soundly in their beds.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Crumbling California hospitals grasp at straws

Probably the weakest buildings in California are the hospitals. They can be knocked out of action with very low seismic shaking, and be in total collapse with severe shaking. California wants them replaced, but without putting in any money, which they don't have anyway. As one hospital says "How do you pay for this, when 20-30% of your patients are uninsured?".

As usual, we will have to wait for a disaster, and then they will use Federal debt money.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Kincardine's mayor gets trip to Switzerland

And so he should. This town should get all the information it can from it's single source. Why shouldn't they benefit from the generosity of their benefactor? I think everybody involved in nuclear waste should get wonderful trips, and I'm sure they do! And the local people, playing the role of opposition, should get trips as well. All in all, everybody is happy!

Microsoft denies it is doomed

"Google is not ahead of us". So says the big guy, in Japan, where nobody wants a PC anymore. I'm still waiting to see whether the super-cheap Google computer at Walmart will sell. If it does, there's another nail....

Volcano fizzles out

Well, I was wrong (first time ever!). That darn volcano just fizzled and gave up. Everybody is happy now, and can go on living beside a giant bomb. It'll probably make it even more difficult to move people the next time a volcano starts to get restless, but it sounds like they are doing more forced evacuations. Had it happened in the States, everybody would sue for being forced to move....

Bruce nuclear is moving ahead

Unlike OPG, who have yet to hire someone (Miracle-Guy) who can speak to the public, Bruce Nuclear is gabbing! They want a new build, or a rebuild of Bruce B. Will they open up the can of worms, of being on the worst geology in the world, or will they be able to continue running over the regulator like a steam roller? This will be interesting....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Carbon Dioxide is Good for us

I have this vague feeling that this site is supported by the Australian Coal Mines Association, but what the heck. It provides some alternate explanations, so that we are not all going to die in Coke fumes!

I would suspect that there are very few places on earth where the availability of carbon dioxide is limiting growth. My fish tank is one, and greenhouses are the other. Most other places lack water, minerals, or nitrogen. Still, the Jurassic was high in carbon dioxide, and it enjoyed tremendous plant growth, even though I think it had a lot of water, as well. Age of the Dinosaurs anyone??

Facebook is doomed

All of my daughters friends left MSN and went to Facebook, because the place was burning venture capital, and offering everything for free. Now, Facebook is attempting to pay their bills! Trying to squeeze money out of this bunch is hopeless! Their major purchasing power is to nag the parents into letting them have a cell phone, and they all have one. None of them actually buy anything, except clothes, and they don't put much effort into that!

I expect that Facebook will greatly annoy them, and they'll move to this new Google arrangement, which will be free for a year or two. Even Google is just living on the hopes and dreams of advertisers. I certainly can't squeeze any money out of my readers! :)

Neato Christmas gift!

Ok, right after you tell your wife how much smarter she is, you pop her with this for your Christmas list! This is the first gift I've seen that makes me salivate! Of course, I wonder how many open Wifi places there are, but you just walk into a Starbucks, and your camera is automatically unloaded! Probably uses a lot of battery juice.

Nobody wants nuclear waste

The interesting thing in this article, is that Finland found a place with nuclear plants and suitable geology (unlike the Bruce!). Nobody else has managed to do this, and so, nimbyism rules the roost!

100 worthless US dollars laptop starts production

I really like this project. You can make fun of the fact that it's not 100 dollars anymore, but what does $100 US buy anymore, anyway? I think it's best use might be in books and Wikipedia, which can be loaded on the local village server. Female education should be the main beneficiary, since we all know that girls are smarter than boys! (At least, that's what you should always tell your wife!)

Report: Abstinence not curbing teen sex

This is just about some stupid American thing, but I just love the headline!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No Bays Allowed

eBay wins a knock-off law suit. The site 'had nothing to do with ebay'. They said the name invokes 'a bay filled with perfume', or some such thing.

I'm thinking of starting a site I would sell things such as my wonderful advice about earthquakes, and earthquake alarms that say "Kiss your ass good-bye!". It invokes an image of San Francisco Bay shaking like a big bowl of jelly, throwing buildings into the air. Perhaps I could auction things... It has nothing to do with eBay!

Civil engineering chickens come home to roost

Ok, does this look like a real building to you?

Wouldn't a civil engineer say: "This is going to be a real bitch in an ice storm!" Well, the loonies that commissioned this half-collapsed thing, are suing the architects. Citing numerous things that a true arteest would ignore (mold, ice, water, etc), they want their money back!

Of course, they will say they are innocent, stupid victims of a sadistic conspiracy. This might be a bit rich, coming from MIT, but what the hey! (Wait a sec, I know the Dean of Architecture there!)

3 Gorges Dam - Bit of a Disaster

This interesting article states that the Chinese leadership is backing away from the 3 Gorges dam, doing the Bart thing: "Wasn't me!"

I had followed this right from the beginning. At the time, our geotechnical department was very friendly with the Chinese, and we had talks about the project. Eventually, our manager left the company, and went over to do a lot of work on it. The most amazing thing was the huge unstable slide areas over all the gorges, and these might be activated by the project. Each one of these slides could sent a giant wave that would overtop the dam! Of course, none of this stopped the dang thing from being built.

Now, the cyclic water level changes is activating one of these slides. I was surprised to read that it actually rumbled like an earthquake! Now, that's one heck of a slide! These things can't be stabilized by a California pin job, so it's just a matter of time...

Big volcano might be an oozer

The volcano gods are really having their fun with this volcano. Now, they think it might just ooze out the lava, instead of its usual pattern of big explosions. I find this difficult to believe, since a leopard can't change its spots. It would have been better if they had long-term tilt measurements, then you could see if it was blown up like a balloon, or not. If this really is just a volcano wet-fart, then it saves a lot of people.

Monday, November 5, 2007

SSA annual meeting 2008

This looks like a juicy meeting, complete with some good special sections. Sure wish a retired guy could afford to attend! Maybe if somebody clicked the weird ads! Maybe if Ontario pulled the collective fingers out and started on a new nuclear plant??

Carbon Dioxide Disposal

No need to worry! A use has been found for CO2, that will ensure that it will all be mopped up! That's right, it's a beauty treatment that may soon put to an end, the practice of growing botulism spores. We don't have to inject CO2 deep into the ground, just into Paris Hilton! And the more the earth warms up, the greater the demand, since these Hollywood starlets will be drying up like old prunes!

New PC is off the Christmas list

I wonder how good old Microsooft is going to survive now. Personally, after a hell of a time wrestling with Vista 64, I can understand that nobody wants a PC anymore. I do a lot of digital photography, so that is my main Linux PC use now, but all the teenagers are happy with Facebook, and taking pictures with phones. There is still a need for a keyboard, and the students have to write their essays, but a lot of this can be handled with a bare-bones Internet appliance, with the Google operating system (cleverly disguised as the independent gOS!).

Volcano lake boils over!

Now, here's where we really have warming! Mt. Kelud has been on the verge of eruption for quite some time now, but it looks like the big blowup is at hand. The volcano is being very nice by spilling over boiling water as a warning, which might actually get the people to leave! If we are lucky, it will have it's eruption without killing anybody.

Active faults attract houses

Yes, the best place to live in California is right on top of an active fault! You get the best views, and there's that nice radon gas, that gives you a buzz. Of course, when the earthquake happens, these people will just go to the federal government for handouts, since they are rich enough to sue everybody. The miserable poor don't get much.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The deceit behind global warming

Wouldn't it be a hoot if the earth starts cooling now? What would the scare-mongers go after next? Do all these guys forget about our good old Sun?

I'm tired of these people who put 100% weight on carbon dioxide, and zero on Sun energy and general water vapour. What about all those really hot times in the past. If we peak up at the 1930's level, the mid-US is a dust bowl, and California won't have any more fires, because of no trees left. Lucky for me, the cottage is fine, because Southern Ontario is always in the battle zone between the cold dry northern air, and southern Gulf breezes.

Girls water polo

Of course, the love of my life is to watch the daughter play water polo. Here's a great video of her shooting this weekend, and bouncing the ball off the back of the goalie's head!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New Brunswick student of OPG

Point Lepreau has learned everything on what not to do from OPG, with regard to polishing up old stations. Should be interesting, and I'll be following this with great interest!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Space-can to be patched together with duct (duck) tape

It had to come to this. The world's worst handymen are working out in space! Of course, I fix everything with duck tape...

Newspaper comment urges nuclear to hurry up

This guy is a much better writer than me, and so, he gets to appear in a newspaper. I agree with him, but perhaps we are all pissing in the wind. As far as I know, OPG is still trying to hire a 'Steven Jobs' -type person, for a tenth the going rate. When they find this person, I shall be totally enthusiastic that we are marching towards the promised land!

Luring people away from a volcano

As much as it is possible to predict, Mt. Kelut is as close to blowing as you can get. Still, a lot of people don't want to leave, so they are trying to have big rock concerts at the evacuation camps. Perhaps the music will finally stir the volcano gods??

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Highlights of October BSSA

I get this journal from the Seismological Society of America. This month two articles stand out for me. First there is an article on the Seattle Basin. That is one heck of a basin! This article is unusual in that it says the basin amplifies ground motions by a factor of 10, in general! I've always know that, and if you add soft soil on top of that, you get a factor of 100! Anyway they have a nice picture of the basin.

Another paper tells all about California, and how the hills are composed of harder rock that is basically extruding over the softer, younger basin deposits. This causes general slumping and landslides, and gives an impression on the gps that the overall seismic deformation is larger than it should be (since everything is moving!). They had a nice picture, as well.

Duke nuclear plant running out of water

Boy, they have to lengthen the pipes! McGuire nuclear plant (which I saw from a distance, once!) is running out of water. If they can't lengthen their straws fast enough, they'll go thirsty, and have to shut down. Then, it's the Dust Bowl all over again. I wonder what water all those new nuclear plants in the US will use?

Forests spewing carbon

A rather ridiculous interpretation that dryland forests were big carbon sinks, and now they aren't because of global warming. If you looked at the airphotos of these forests, you would see they are a dynamic entity, with huge tornado tracks, and old burns everywhere. The only thing that makes a good carbon sink around here is a swamp. Massive burn-outs are probably the best thing for an insect-infested forest.

Cheap Linux computer tries again

I really hope this computer succeeds! It's perfect for those who would otherwise just add to the zombie army. On my last two computer builds, I had to do one with Vista 64, and one with Linux. No comparison! I'm still doing the necessary 'tweaks' to try and get Vista working, and there is no hope with older Wifi cards! I'm just about to upgrade to a dvd-writer on the Linux machine, and expect no problems. (knock on wood!)

More on Gerry Phillips

Yeah, a true politician's politician! We won't have any of that thinking stuff interfering with new nuclear. Why do the tree-huggers think that the Pickering-B refurbishment will wash out? Have they been reading my blog? I never said that! I haven't gone anywhere near that horrible project, since I was hoping to make some money from it, when they mucked up the seismic aspects. Oh well, greenpieces thinks it's doomed, and that's good enough for me. :)

Kiss of the Spider Woman at Yuk-yuk Mountain

Well, Hillary has driven in the final nail of this sorry effort. However, once she is in power, she may feel different, especially when there is no alternative, and no nuclear plants can be built. Sort of like, you-know-who and the coal plants!

What are they going to do? Get NASA or the US Army to make a new site? Ha!