March 19th, 2011

#2611: Just a few things.

Amazon no longer has any Illinois affiliates thanks to Illinois Democrats. Way to go, Democrats! Raise the price of doing business in IL! That'll fix the state's budget problems!

...by making it declare bankruptcy.

* * *

Another Spring 2011 anime preview.

SofTenni is sports anime about a girls' tennis team. We'll see how it goes.

I now have a pretty good idea what the spring season is going to look like, and I've got a short list of stuff I want to watch for.

* * *

After I finished the last post, I went to take a nap and ended up sleeping for eight hours. *sigh*

Well, the cats didn't bother me and the phone didn't ring.

...the "do not call" listing seems to be working. Little by little the number of spam calls is decreasing. Mom used to answer calls and tell the person she wasn't interested; what she never did was to say, "Please take our number off your list." That would have reduced the number of callbacks.

Oh well. Of course when I move to a new bunker, its number will be unlisted, and go on the do-not-call registry immediately.

* * *

Sixth Sense creeped me right the hell out, but as I was falling asleep this afternoon it occurred to me that I've only seen it one time. It'd be interesting to see it again knowing how it ends, because I could then see how Shyamalamadingdong handled some of the situations.

I mean, there's one scene where the kid is talking to Bruce Willis when his mother is there, and because of how things turned out--well, I can't explain it without spoilers. (I realize that just about everyone in the universe has seen the movie. Just in case the one person who hasn't seen it is reading....)

The scene that creeped me right the hell out was the one where the kid's mother is looking at photographs of the kid, and notices the "lens flare" over his shoulder in every one of them. That gimme the jibblies so bad I had to sleep with the lights on for more than a week after seeing the movie. (I'm not even exaggerating. I am a big vagina. Then again, this was before I had an RX for Xanax.)

Nothing else really bothered me--particularly not the "jump takes" where the kid was talking to some ghost and then the ghost turned or moved and you saw these big hideous wounds or scars. Bah. My friend's wife jumped and yelped when the one ghost kid said, "Let's go look at my dad's gun!" and turned and the back of his head was a bloody ruin; her reaction startled me more than the movie did.

Well, it's hard to present a story which is effectively creepy without resorting to the tricks of the trade. It has to be well-written; without that foundation the entire effort will fail, and Hollywood is all about polishing turds.

But the "lens flare" thing was damn good filmmaking, and if I ever see an entire movie about ghosts which is that effective, I'll never be able to sleep again. So score one for lousy writing, I guess, which is a first for me. WTF.

#2612: Holy crap

I have a feeling that my downloads should be a wee bit faster than they are. Maybe if this machine were to be directly connected to the modem....

Eh? Oh. That time again, eh?

It turns out the bunker is wired for AT&T's "elite" DSL plan. That's supposed to be between 3 and 6 Mbps, which amounts to roughly 375-750 KBs (little "b" means bits, big "B" means bytes).

But since I didn't want to do all kinds of carpentry and stuff when the bunker got wired for DSL, the old desktop connects wirelessly. And I needed a router, because more than one machine was using the connection.

Now, however, I could easily justify removing the router from the mix if I had a way to connect the desktop without it.

And there is now a cable drop in my room (for the satellite) and it wouldn't take much to run some CAT-5e and crimp on some ends. In fact, all it requires is a) the cable, b) the ends, and c) the tool.

That last bit is what's stopping me. I probably don't need more than about 50' of cable to make the run, and the ends are pennies apiece, but the damn crimper--

They're cheaper than they used to be, I'll grant that much.

Well, I don't know what I'm kvetching about. I don't have the money to spend on cable or ends, either, right now, so fuck it all to hell and gone. I'd just like to see if I can get more speed out of the setup without rearranging the entire goddamned house. *sigh*

Ah, who knows--maybe the Ethernet Cable Fairy will come along and grant me a boon. And maybe Santa Claus will bring me a pony, too.

* * *

That does explain a few things, though. For example, it explains why Sailor V was downloading WoW at approximately 2400 baud at his house, but it downloaded fast here. I think my Internet is better than his.

* * *

All of this came up because AT&T sent me a notice that their terms of use were changing. While looking through the e-mail I noticed that there's a data cap, and there were some other things--so I looked around.

The data cap was what I was really worried about. I download a lot of anime--well, it turns out that the lower-tier cap is 150 GB per month (total, both up and down) and there's no way I use 150 GB of bandwidth per month. And being on the plan we're on, I'd wager we have the higher-tier 250 GB/month limit, anyway.

All I know is, they send you e-mails when you pass the cap, and I've never gotten one.

They have a usage tool that lets you monitor your stats, but I didn't access it because I didn't feel like f-ing around with "update your on-line profile!" including a bunch of security bullshit. Maybe later.

* * *

If you've got AT&T you can check your connect speeds by logging onto the modem; the first page tells you your connect speed. (Other modems are probably similar, if not the same.)

It's no secret that the modem's URL is http://192.168.0.1/ as that's pretty much universal for everyone, and if you try to access my modem using that URL, you'll get your own modem instead. (Assuming that you've got DSL. I'm pretty sure cable modems are the same. Point being, you won't access my modem if you use that URL, which is why I feel safe publishing it here.)

* * *

I think this guy's going on the blogroll. No, I'm sure of it. This guy knows radiation and brings common sense to the whole "ONOES ANOTHER CHERNOBYL IN JAPAN!!!!1`" thing.

* * *

In debt to our eyeballs and the economy is choking.

* * *

And after looking over the last week's worth of posts at World's Only Rational Man I've got something that needs its own post. Continued in #2613.

#2613: That's it for nuclear power.

It was nice while it lasted.

"...Japanese finally admit that radiation leak is serious enough to kill people."

"Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted that the disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing 'several radiation deaths' by the UN International Atomic Energy."

and

"It is now officially on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. Only the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 has topped the scale."

Uh...Three Mile Island didn't kill anyone, not even statistically. So shouldn't Three Mile Island be classified as a "level 4" instead?

Even should this event actually end with people getting lethal doses of radiation, it still probably won't be as bad as Chernobyl was.

The relative danger of power sources. Coal is the A-number-one king.

Status of Fukushima Dai-ichi on March 15. The most worrisome part is the legend "(no info)" by "spent fuel integrity" for reactors 1-3. That's where the majority of the contamination will be coming from.

Reportedly #4's spent fuel pool has "boiled dry"; if you've got spent fuel exposed to air, that's BAD.

No...that's BAD!!!

Really bad.

Okay: standing next to a spent fuel rod will kill you dead in seconds if it's fresh from the reactor. Even after they've had time to cool down they're deadly. You can't send a person up there to turn a valve or hump a hose in, because he'll die before he gets anywhere near the thing.

I mean, he'll die, just kind of choke and slump over dead, as surely as if someone had put a bullet into his skull. No heroic struggle, no valiant attempt to crawl that last couple feet and shove the hose into the pond before collapsing.

Just plop.

At that point, there's exactly one thing you can do: bury the shit in concrete. And getting the concrete there will involve the use of helicopters, which themselves will have to be scrapped afterwards because of contamination.

Like Chernobyl.

* * *

Chernobyl was a disaster. The reactor was a graphite-moderated reactor housed in a metal shed. The graphite caught fire and that's why the radioactivity spread so far. It was the worst nuclear disaster in history, and it killed 57 people.

But we don't use graphite moderated reactors for commercial power generation. We use light water reactors. So it was relatively easy to explain to the almost totally non-scientific US public that Chernobyl can't happen here.

But the Fukushima plant is composed of light water reactors, and worse there are plenty of the same model reactors in use in the US. The American public won't accept that what happened at Fukushima is a one in a billion shot, particularly not with the mainstream media being anti-nuclear power and reporting the Fukushima event as if the entire contents of five nuclear reactors had been airlifted into downtown Tokyo.

The disaster in Japan--unlikely though it may have been--is enough "proof" for the anti-nuke crowd that nuclear power is unsafe. Forget the fact that there are no radiation deaths (not yet, at any rate) and forget that the release of radioactivity is nowhere near Chernobyl levels, and won't be. Forget the fact that coal mining has killed many hundreds of times the number of people that nuclear power ever killed. Those facts don't matter.

What matters is stories like these: Radioactive iodine in water! and Radioative contamination of milk and spinach! The contamination is minimal, but that doesn't matter; what matters is that it's above the natural background, and that means THE NUKES ARE KILLING PEOPLE LIKE THEY ALWAYS INEVITABLY DO!!!!!!

That's how the media is playing it; that's the message the uninformed will take from what the media solons are telling them.

Whatever work is being done on building new reactors will grind to a halt as eco-nazis and NIMBYs file lawsuits and orchestrate protests. Old reactors will be allowed to complete their operational lives, but new operating licenses will not be issued and plants will be decommissioned.

So pretty much, I think that's it for nuclear power in the United States.