atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7036: Well, we're still waiting, though.

Practical and commercial generation of power using fusion has been about ten or twenty years away for my entire life. Building an overunity fusion reactor is hard.

No, that's not true. The very first hydrogen bomb we tested was an overunity fusion reactor; the problem is, it could only be used once, for about fifty nanoseconds. So, to better state the problem, building a fusion reactor that contains a sustainable and controllable reaction is hard.

This does not change that. In fact, it sounds kinda like "cold fusion" did in the 1990s. Knocking apart boron atoms with hydrogen to create alpha particles--it all sounds lovely, but right now what they have is a theory. Mind you, it's an interesting one, but it hasn't been tested.

What you're doing is hitting a boron atom with a proton, which results in the creation of three alpha particles and a certain amount of energy. If you're going for that kind of reaction, this would seem to suggest that using deuterium and lithium would be a better choice, because it results in more free energy (about 165% of the proton-boron combo).

The article talks about how "hot" fusion has to be--it occurs at "crazy temperatures"--but the proton-boron reaction requires a hotter environment than deuterium-tritium does. But we're talking about a wisp of gas held in a magnetic bottle in a vacuum chamber. If that superhot gas leaked onto your hand, you might feel something; more likely that you wouldn't even notice it. There's that little of it.

Overall I'm pretty sure this is not going to be the huge breakthrough that the article pretends that it is. "I smell a whole lotta 'if' comin' offa this plan."

* * *

NATO has outlived its reason for existing. NATO was founded to oppose the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer exists.

The United States has spent trillions of dollars on defending Europe from the Red Menace, but that enemy is gone. I don't think that Russia presents the same peril to Europe that the USSR did, for a variety of reasons; I do think that there is little or no vital American interest in protecting Europe against the threats it should be protecting itself from.

Europeans always blame America for a good deal of the ills of the world. Perhaps if America let Europeans handle their own defense, things would be more to their liking.

In general I've always been in favor of retrenchment, of withdrawing the US from the postwar role it assumed as the world's policeman. Look: if a bunch of camel-humpers want to kill each other in some African or middle-eastern desert, why is that our problem? "War" should be a button we are reluctant to press, but when we press it, we should mean it--and that means we don't just go bomb a few targets and send in supplies, but go in and hit the enemy until they can't make war any longer.

And if we are not willing to do that, we don't go in the first place. The stuff about "spreading democracy" and all of that--half the places we hit don't want democracy; what they want is for Big America to come in and flatten the politically inconvenient people for them, and then go away and let the survivors get on with oppressing their former enemies. These areas are in conflict only because one group wants to rule at the expense of another, and they try to get America involved because America has resources and capabilities that they do not. But once America's done that, suddenly America is "interfering" if it tries to push the "democracy" thing any further. And so we're still in Iraq, still in Afghanistan, still here-there-everywhere trying to push people into the 21st century who want absolutely nothing to do with western civilization but wish merely to live as they always have. Just, without the people that America helped them get rid of.

Who benefits? Mainly the companies that make weapons and ammunition and equipment for the military. And the people in government whose jobs rely on specifying and purchasing it. And the people in government who oversee those people. And the people in government who study the situation and report on it to other people who oversee the people studying the situation. And the people in government who make recommendations based on what those overseers recommend. And the people in government who--

Without the US playing international policeman, all those people have to go out and get real jobs, in the private sector. You know, about whom Ray Stantz said, "They expect results." (Dan Ackroyd, Ghostbusters, 1984.)

* * *

Are you serious? I mean it--are you serious?

I understand that the fuel tanks of an airliner like the 737MAX are very large, and it's probably not easy to keep clean something in which a man can stand. But then I think about the literal hundreds of thousands of cars which are built, into which fuel tanks are installed, which are clean enough to eat from at the time they are newly made. No shit inside, no metal chips or shavings, nothing. But we're not talking about a little grime and grit, here:
Boeing had inspected 50 of the 400 MAX planes waiting for delivery once ungrounding occurs, indicating that some jets had rags, boot coverings, tools, and other debris in the fuel tanks.
Rags? "Boot coverings" probably means those little elastic thingies that fit over footwear to keep things clean, like what servicepeople wear when they come into your house. And "tools"? What kind of "tools"?


How big is the fuel intake strainer for a 737? How many rags and boot covers does it take to cover one, thus starving the fuel pump? Whatever the case may be, a fuel tank is not the place for foreign matter and it should be clean inside. Okay? Little tufts of lint is acceptable. Whole rags are not. This isn't rocket science.

* * *

I wonder if this fad will ever go away. A girl who is a tomboy is not actually a boy, for fuck's sake. She's merely a girl who likes things that boys do. That does not make her male, you fuckwits.

* * *

This would be funny, which is why you will never see it on SNL. Portraying Democrats as various characters from Green Acres--that would be pretty damned funny, because it fits, but because it doesn't make fun of Republicans, they won't do it.

They don't mind satirizing Democrats, but they laugh with Democrats and laugh at Republicans, and always have. This "Green Acres" idea laughs at Democrats.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reminded everyone that Bernie is a millionaire with three houses. Bernie said, "And like thousands of other Vermonters, I do have a summer camp."

His "summer camp" is lakefront property, a four-bedroom home with some long stretch of beach, and it cost over half a million dollars. Bernie paid cash for it.

How many "Vermonters" can pony up half a megabuck in cash to buy a "summer camp"?

Bernie Sanders is nothing but a full-fledged communist and do not let anyone tell you different.

* * *

I did indeed used to admire John Bolton. That admiration is gone. I liked that he was pro-America. Unfortunately, it turned out that being pro-America was just a schtick for him. Like many of the "neo-con" ilk, his "hawk" stance turned out to be nothing more than a way to keep his own rice bowl filled, and when presented with a truly and quite unexpectedly transformative President, he sold out for publicity.

I don't say that lightly. "Transformative President", I mean; when Trump first announced that he was running for President I was appalled and couldn't imagine a worse candidate. When my wife said she wanted to vote for him, my reaction was, "Well...that's your decision, honey."

...but as 2016 moved on, things kept coming to light that recast the whole thing for me. Besides, the GOP field in 2016 was composed of a bunch of useless dickheads, decidedly a lot of "more of the same GOP bullshit of the last twenty years" kind of guys. "We'll talk a good game to get your vote, but we won't change anything" types.

By the time of the Illinois primaries, my mind was made up: Trump would do. He had the advantage of being an outsider, not one of the GOP elite cronies, and my attitude was more or less that while I could not vote for one of them, I could vote for Trump in the general election.

And despite myself, I believed the polls that said we'd get Hillary. Come election night I avoided the TV, not wanting to watch the returns...and was shocked to my shoes when Trump won.

Since then? Win after win after win, everything just getting better. Despite the best efforts of the Democrats and their neo-con allies in the GOP, Trump's Presidency has been good for America, and the people know it.

So, yeah. "Transformative."

* * *

I hate to break it to you, but Obama is a Baby Boomer. Born 1961. Cutoff year is 1965, techically.

(As always, "technically" because I was born after 1964, but my siblings are all Boomers. I am part of their generation, not necessarily their cohort, but oh well. I identify as a Boomer...and am very critical of them.)

* * *

Speaking of which: Why millennials are not buying houses. "I'm not defending the stupidity or poor decisions of my generation, mind you. But the construction industry is still, in effect, building houses for Boomers."

Boomers in their sixties can afford $400k for a house. They've spent decades in less-expensive housing; started with a place at about $60k or so and moved up and up and up--so they sell a house for $300k and move into a house that's $400k and already own 75% of the property. Or, alternately, they sell that house for $300k and move into a smaller place (condo or something).

Timing is everything. I think about my brother, who bought his first house (built to order) for $250k, sold it a few years later for $350k to move into another house that was built to order. That house was built on a lot that had first been cleared of the house that had sat there; and up and down that street and throughout that neighborhood, perfectly servicable houses were being torn down in order to build newer, bigger, more expensive houses. And a few years later, when he moved to another location, they sold that house at a profit and bought a brand-new house that had been on the market for a while, and so got a fire-sale price on it.

Economically speaking, life has been pretty easy for Boomers. The World War II generation handed them an economy that was a smoothly-oiled, well-tuned, fine-running machine. Employment was easy to find and as long as you did your job and didn't screw off (or up) too much, you'd keep it. Work hard and get promoted, get your gold watch and retire comfortably. Having harnessed the atom and visited the Moon, and having provided their children with unprecedented plenty and ease growing up, the Boomers' parents handed over the keys to civlization to the Boomers and relaxed.

During the 1980s Boomers started making money. They got out of college in the 1970s and by 1980 a lot of them were taking over the reins of government and big business. Remember that? That was "the decade of greed" and you started hearing about the "me generation". A popular bumper sticker: "We're spending our kids' inheritance!" Yuppies. "Conspicuous consumption." Remember all that? Boomers, as a generation, made a lot of money in the 1980s. In the process, they systematically looted the economy, enriching themselves at the expense of everyone coming after them.

Example: TEFRA. In 1986, it was a tax increase coupled to federal spending cuts. What happened instead is that for every new dollar in taxes, the budget spent $1.50. The Democrats dropped this on Reagan's desk 24 hours before the government was going to shut down due to not having a budget, and they hadn't invented the "continuing resolution" horseshit yet. Reagan had a choice to sign it or shut down the government at a time when a government shutdown actually meant no welfare check going out, etcetera.

In the 1990s it was still easy to find a job, even after the two second-biggest tax increases in history. (George HW Bush's "no new taxes" bill, and then Clinton's bill a couple years later.) (Obamacare is the biggest now.) In fact, nothing really went wrong with the economy until 1999, when the Clinton Justice Department decided Microsoft was a monopoly and had to be busted. That was the trigger that the Dot Com Bust had been waiting for.

But the 1980s had been the decade of hostile takeovers and junk bonds and insider trading and-and-and, and the result was that by 2000 the American business environment was not what it had been twenty years earlier. Boomers were rich and enjoying the world but those who came after them had a much tougher row to hoe.

The days of company loyalty were gone. The days of being able to expect to take a job and keep it as long as you wanted were gone. Mass layoffs happened more often. Companies were bought, raided, and sold, solely to put money in the pockets of the people doing the buying and selling, without any thought for what it would to do the company's ability to turn a profit or even survive going forward.

Decades later, Boomers are critical of those that follow them. "You're just lazy! When I was your age, I had a house and a new car and--!"

...that's because, when you were that age, it was possible. Now it's not, and you shitheads are the reason why.

* * *

Speaking--as I said--as a Boomer myself.

* * *

HG Wells was a socialist and really I think Jules Verne was more of the inventor of SF than Wells was.

Besides, the first real SF novel was Frankenstein, anyway.

* * *

It's supposed to be about 50 tomorrow. I'm hoping I can do some Jeep maintenance.


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