atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1907: What's wrong with microwaves?

I guess it's just not futuristic enough unless it involves lasers.

Most of the extant concepts for solar power satellites (SPS) involve beaming the power to Earth using microwaves. The receiving antenna has to be pretty big--acres--but it consists of a mesh of wire on poles and you can use the ground underneath it for farmland, pasture, or WTF-ever. If the beam drifts, you lose power, but no one is hurt.

But what about a laser? How tight will the beam be? What frequency of light will penetrate the atmosphere without being scattered? What if the beam drifts?

"If misdirected, microwaves could cause widespread damage, effectively cooking anything in their path." Sure, if you use microwaves of around 22 GHz--which you wouldn't because, lo and behold, our atmosphere is full of water vapor. Here's a hint: try using a microwave frequency to which the atmosphere is transparent and you won't have that problem.

Morons! Screeching morons!

* * *

The Japanese are down on Sony because there's a myth that Sony products have a built-in "kill switch".

I have heard this story about Microsoft OSes, and I don't believe either one. However, in recent years Sony quality has taken a severe slide, and the old saw about "it broke; the warranty must've expired" exists for a reason: most of the time, the warranty is based on how long the manufacturer expects the device to experience no failures.

Longevity is always a crapshoot, but with a manufactured product you can take steps to ensure an average mean time between failures (MTBF) that's acceptably long. Most of the time, the product your factory turns out will last for years--but there will be units which die the instant they're turned on in QA, and there'll be machines which work fine at the factory but which die as soon as the consumer attempts to place them into service, and no one can tell which ones will do this until it happens.

A "factory refurbished" unit is one which died in QA or right after someone got it home. You can confidently expect it not to die on you again, as the weak component has already failed and been replaced and it went through factory adjustment and QA procedures again.

To save costs, manufacturers want their output to be just good enough. Let's face it: if you're in the business of making DVD players, you're not going to specify mil-spec components for a player which is going to carry an MSRP of $50. You want the product to work well and last a couple of years in moderate service, but you're not going to spend a lot of time and effort making sure the performance of the thing is perfect. It will contain a lot of cheap parts and probably be mostly plastic. You'll make sure to quickly replace any unit which comes back as defective during the warranty period, and probably you'll just recycle the failed units.

If you also make a $300 Blu-Ray player, that unit will have a lot more metal in it, and it'll be where you do most of your "factory refurbishing" on returned units. You'll do a better job of working to reduce MTBF with this unit than with the $50 one.

Obviously, the cheaper you can manufacture a product, the more profit you'll make. This is where a lot of big companies fall down; they over-pinch their pennies.

I have no trouble believing that this has happened to Sony; and it could easily lead to a consumer perception like the linked article describes. Make stuff too cheaply and it breaks more easily, and your hard-won reputation for quality goes out the window.

* * *

President Gaffe-o-tron is convinced the Democrats will be fine this November. Oh, excellent, excellent! It's perfect if the President continues to think he can do whatever he wants without paying for it come November.

The Democrats in Congress may have other ideas, though. And that's wonderful, because it means the President will expend energy trying to work Congress, and Congress will expend energy trying to resist the President's initiatives (because they want to keep their jobs) and nothing major will get done. It's win-win, I tells ya.
Berry recounted meetings with White House officials, reminiscent of some during the Clinton days, where he and others urged them not to force Blue Dogs “off into that swamp” of supporting bills that would be unpopular with voters back home.

“I’ve been doing that with this White House, and they just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”
That's right: it's the same-old-same-old: "Socializing medicine failed in 1994 because the wrong people tried to do it. Now that we are here, we'll make it happen!" It has nothing to do with the measure being immensely unpopular, oh no....

And there won't be any fallout for Democrats who socialize medicine against the wishes of the American people, oh no, because Barry "Boss Tweek" is President this time!

Keep believing it, weasel-in-chief. Please.

* * *

The Democrats are still planning to socialize medicine. They did their best to look as if they were backpedaling, but they weren't. I'll say it again: the Democrats need this. They need it because otherwise they face the possibility of being voted out of power again, as happened in 1994, and they don't like that.

* * *

March 27, turn on every light you own. It's another stupid "Earth Hour", with all the asininity and foolishness that entails.

For one of the previous exercises in futlile gesturing, someone said that it had "saved" 5,000 tons of carbon.

Annual carbon budget of Earth's atmosphere: 206,000,000,000 tons
Annual human contribution to same budget: 6,000,000,000 tons
Savings from whatever prior "Earth Hour": 5,000 tons
Net carbon budget for whatever year that was: 205,999,995,000 tons warming is so over now!


* * *

Dinner tonight was yakisoba. Having been up stupid-late last night I slept until 3; I woke up hungry, and I immediately got out of bed and began making yakisoba. It simply didn't make sense to do anything else, not when I had planned to make it for dinner today anyway.

So I had a heaping pasta plate of yakisoba for breakfast. Well, WTF.

...last night I watched the new-and-improved playlist:

Telepathy Girl Ran
Excel Saga
Big O
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
Haruhi II

TGR is nearly over; there's one ep left. It's nothing earth-shattering but it's an okay series.

ES is still insane.

BO: I saw the first half of this series and was eagerly awaiting the second half. Then I lost my job at Rockwell, and couldn't afford I missed buying the second half of the show when it was released. The last thing I remember of this show was from ep 13, showing a half-dozen megadeuses coming ashore...and that was like 2000 or 2001. So I've only had to wait nine, ten years to find out what happens.

TAGnR: Steven thinks moderately well of this series, and having seen the first ep I understand why. I suppose I'll have to check out the prior series (To Aru Majutsu no Index) even though the two series are reportedly very different in tone.


...I really enjoyed the first ep of the second season. Reason #1 is that it's a very well-executed time-travel story, something you rarely see anywhere; it's nicely self-contained, breaks no continuity, and is 100% within the bounds of the rules set for the Haruhi universe.

Also, I just plain like the characters, except possibly for Haruhi herself. I still don't know about her....

* * *

After the snow melted off, we got snow today--about an inch, maybe. Heh. Well, it's winter; what do you expect?

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