5SpeedRacer5 comments

Posted in: Amid tumult, Trump leaves on first presidential foreign trip See in context

You know, it occurs to me that the last president we had who was divorced was... Reagan? And before that? I would have to look it up. I know most people posting here do not even see divorce as a moral failure, but in most of the world, somebody who has repeatedly bankrupted and repeatedly married and divorced would be regarded as something like an animal. You can dress it up and put money on it, but here is a guy raised in a civilized country who has chosen to live without honor and humility. He has broken bread, partnered in business, and shared beds with people he betrayed.

Well, this will not mean much to people in Western countries, but there are people looking at this situation and regarding him as a representative of Western values. Is he? Nobody seems to be commenting on this at all, which is pretty sad.

The people Donald Trump is likely to inspire are not people who are likely to inspire others.

They are laughing at him.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Amid tumult, Trump leaves on first presidential foreign trip See in context

"his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, "

They will set up a booth and hand out brochures explaining business opportunities in America for immigrants with a lot of money but no green card. Balloons and all beef hotdogs for the kids. Come on down!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Toyota, Nissan, others get behind fuel cell push in Japan See in context

" on affordable home hydrogen making units which people with solar in their homes could use"

I checked these a few years ago, if you can believe it. They exist. Two problems. First, the amount of hydrogen they make is minimal. Second, they are not anywhere nearly cost effective.

The purity of hydrogen has to be really high, so the only systems that can make it are intended for use in scientific labs. They are regulated and certified for that use. Labs only use small quantities, so that is what they are made for anyway. And labs have big budgets, so there has been no big push to make any for consumer use.

Just FYI, you should also know that HOME USE fuel cells have been on the market for at least 10 years. Google BLOOM BOX if you want a lot of English language information on a fuel-cell like contraption that produces electricity from natural gas. Some Japanese companies marketed similar devices.

And I will add to my open question above that IF Fuel cell vehicles were plug in vehicles, you could at least partially charge them easily using solar power from your rooftop array. You would need less hydrogen, and you could live a greater distance from a hydrogen filling station.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Toyota, Nissan, others get behind fuel cell push in Japan See in context

"I fear it is too little too late."

I am seeing a lot of this lately. As a practical matter, it changes nothing. If it really is too late, then it is possible that whatever we do, however small, might have some effect at some time. It might make some future solution easier. Or not.

And if it is not too late, and we are simply surrendering to despair, then we would be doubly damned by posterity not only for lacking foresight and judgment, but also for lacking courage and diligence.

Given any existential threat, we should expect everyone to do their duty.

By the way the quote you referenced bugged me as it bugged you. I think people have "marketed" green technologies for the short term, and not for the long term. That leads to a lot of this weird despair and ennui among greens in the West, and a lot of sparky anti-nuclear friction. The heroes of green technology and economy are going to be Japan, China, and maybe eventually Australia and India because they are slowly but surely transforming into green economies over long-term transformations rather than quick fixes and bold (then broken) promises. You see a lot less hyperbole from China and Australia, for instance, about their solar and wind programs, but you see far more wide-reaching results, than the guy producing a few thousand hobby cars in the Nevada desert. When all the (coal) dust settles, China and India will be really green AND really nuclear, and showing environmental records that will be better than half of Europe.

The green alliance with the political left is making a laughing stock of a lot of people, and showing them to be "green consumerists". For some reason, marketing of green "products" and a lack of smart infrastructural investment has revealed the Euro-green movement as a pretty cynical ploy against established capital. In places where that capital has been used to improve infrastructure, the environment, and quality of life, Euro-greens are not giving credit where it is due. Don't bother them with data about how nuclear power and natural gas are vastly better than coal. They just want more subsidies for more "Green" consumer products for rich people.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Toyota, Nissan, others get behind fuel cell push in Japan See in context

Serious question for anyone who wants to answer. I don't really know the answer, so feel free to play the guessing game.

As far as I know, nobody has produced a PLUG IN FUEL CELL vehicle. Now I think there are some where you can plug stuff into your car and it can provide power for home appliances and stuff like that. You can do that with some EVs and plug in vehicles too. You can use your battery or your generator to watch TV in your house if you have an extension cord, etc.

No what I am talking about is plugging in your car and charging it up to go 60 km, and then using hydrogen and fuel cell if you want to go to the next prefecture or something. How come no cars do that? I think it would be easy to do because these cars ARE electric, but nobody does it, and I am not sure why.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Toyota, Nissan, others get behind fuel cell push in Japan See in context

Sure. This was expected.

The lack of stations is really the holdup, and that appears to be changing fast. As vehicle production picks up, more and more people will adopt, and we will move on. From the very beginning, Toyota has been planning stations according to the number of likely customers in the area. A very .... cold and practical policy that dampened a lot of enthusiasm. Not a headline grabber. Oh well.

I have stated before that I think the best way to produce hydrogen is to use "leftover" energy from coal and solar generation, which Japan already has a lot of. We have had a lot of warm, not hot, sunny days recently and I have come to wonder how the utilities are dealing with all that solar power coming into the grid and so few people using it for air conditioning. I think it might be wasted, but who knows. Everyone gets paid just the same, but I wonder about it even if nobody else does.

We have to get beyond batteries, especially in Japan. Just thinking seasonally, we have high winds not only in winter, but also in spring and late summer when we don't need air conditioning so much. There are not enough batteries in the world to store that much power to wait for summer. And Japan's solar peak is really in April and May... before air conditioning season gets started.

But if you could store all that generated resource as hydrogen, you could run your cars and your whole grid with it eventually. Or a good share of them. The capacity could be huge, and nowhere nearly as expensive as batteries. Basically, gasoline production from oil is already managed seasonally. Doing so with hydrogen is not only doable, I am sure somebody could do it starting tomorrow.

So we will start with cars and small generation and distribution facilities, but this whole thing could scale up to let renewables generate 70% of the nation's power or so, not just the 30% or so that people are seeing as the limit today. A decade? Two decades? Possible.

Who was the guy who looked at an iphone and thought "hmm. These are neat little batteries. Let's power all of our cars with them. That would be cool!" I guess it seemed like a great idea at the time, but I look forward to the day when that idea looks really really dumb. It will just be obviously dumb, like disco.

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Posted in: China, Japan extract combustible ice from seafloor See in context

In a recent renewables debate, there was an opinion that "Japan should not be importing hydrogen from someplace else because reasons." Well, here is a case, and probably the ONLY case whereby Japan has enough resources that can be accessed to provide self-sufficiency.

It will probably never NEED to do so, but given a large enough scale of methane hydrate production, Japan has the technology to use this hydrogen resource and various renewables to supply all or almost all of its energy needs.

This is an important effort.

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Posted in: China, Japan extract combustible ice from seafloor See in context

Methane hydrate is not new research at all. The Japanese effort is probably two decades old, if not older, but it has moved along slowly because there has always been a better resource grabbing more attention. The Chinese effort has moved quickly because they can throw huge amounts of money at stuff like this and copy the progress of leaders in the field. It also gives them an excuse for claiming and defending all of their ocean areas. So there is a lot of politics there.

The upside is huge. Before anyone gets too jealous and angry at the Chinese, people should stop to realize that there is, probably almost literally, enough methane hydrate to go around for a long time. Japan has enough, just in its coastal waters, to last for a thousand years or so. Russia and Canada have HUGE resources in their arctic areas. Given those huge resources, they will likely be developing and selling them to everyone else at rock bottom prices. Which is good....

Because methane is four hydrogens and a carbon. Remember that coal is a carbon and that oil is a lot of carbons and a few hydrogens. The more hydrogens you use, the more water you make and the less CO2 you make. Got it? So burning methane is A LOT better than burning oil and TONS better than burning coal. Or you can use the methane to produce hydrogen for use with fuel cells, and you can put away the carbon instead of letting it get into the air altogether.

Chinese efforts have not broken any new ground, but if China pushes everyone else along a little faster, it is going to make us ALL better off. Capitalism does a great job of innovation in most cases, but China is doing a lot of things just to brag about doing them... like the US going to the moon... and that will have good effects for all humans.

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Posted in: China, Japan extract combustible ice from seafloor See in context

First of all, let's shoot the author for trying to get this "combustible ice" simile into wider usage. That is like calling coal "burning rock" or calling oil "sludge you can light." Let's not be actively trying to make people dumber than they already are, m'kay? It is methane hydrate.

I see a lot of hillbilly green in the posts above. "I don't know what this newfangled ice is, but ahm agin' it! Sounds like nukular to me!" Apparently someone thinks methane hydrate must be dangerous because a carbon with two extra hydrogen molecules.... well that is like a hydrogen with two extra neutrons, right? Taint nachural!

So many opinions are offered by people who have so little knowledge! Why does that surprise me?

Here is the deal. The world has a lot of methane. And a whole lot of it is trapped in bubbles under the ground, under frosty ice, in the stomachs of cows, and in your intestines, and under mud in lakes all over the world. That is all gas. It bubbles up from them all the time. That is going to come out into the atmosphere and nothing can stop it. Global warming, your steaks, and Taco Bell are all going to make that worse.

Today, from most oil production, and gas production, a lot of methane leaks into the atmosphere and it is often not economical to capture that gas. It is too bad, but energy companies block legislation to limit those leaks all the time. There is one gas complex in California that is THE WORST offender and nobody does a thing about it.

Now compared to THAT, the hazards posed by methane hydrate are minimal, like nonexistent, because hydrates are NOT gas. The only way that methane hydrate can become a gas is when it is processed by reducing pressure and increasing temperature. Think of it as dry ice that will STAY dry ice until you are ready to take it from under the ocean floor. You can monitor and control methane emissions easily because it does not become a gas until you want it to become a gas.

So the downside could be classified as nonexistent unless somebody is brutally reckless, as I suspect some Chinese operators might be. But maybe not. Let's try to remember that huge amounts of capital and technology are involved. One would suspect that these operations will get a lot of regulation. And the resource itself will be expensive. Why waste the methane once it is processed?

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Posted in: Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, colluding with Russia See in context

"n even worse bungle not to have Bernie as the candidate, IMHO."

I know people have this opinion. I don't agree, and I am not sure that people with this opinion really know how things work. Bernie is an ideologue. Hillary is a technocrat. America does not need the former, no matter how feel-good that might be. Frankly, technocrats are also not great at making huge changes, but America just cannot afford that now anyway.

Boil it down, and Bernie would have been bogged down despite his support. I don't think he would have been effective, especially with this congress, and people would have gotten tired of some old guy who could not get anything done. It would have ended badly.

So I won't be distracted into some kind of love-fest with Bernie or into dumb comparisons with Hillary. I said what I said, and Hillary was the choice America did not make. And the nation pays for it every day.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, colluding with Russia See in context

I have kind of a betting game running with a guy I know on how long Trump is going to last. Compared to Nixon, Trump has almost nobody to guide him through beltway politics, where he is absolutely blind. Trump also has few supporters to fall back on. Nobody wants to touch him with a pole. So one would think that Trump is not going to last as long as Nixon did... a year or so... almost two years.

But Trump has that "Manhattan decency" that will make it seem perfectly fine to stay in office for four years no matter how much he is reviled and punished. We already know that he believes a lot of stuff that go way beyond the pale of decency, and he loves doing nasty things because he knows he can get away with them. Nixon was not like that. He had about half the self awareness of most people, but 100 times more self-awareness that Trump has.

So it is a fun subject to think about. How long is Trump going to hang in there even though nobody really wants him? Can Congress get organized enough to get rid of him? Somehow I doubt it, and the GOP has not been showing even mediocre judgment for the last decade.

The suspense is killing me. We all know where this ends, but not really how, and that will be interesting to watch.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, colluding with Russia See in context

I want to stay pretty detached from all of this. All the partisan bickering at this point is not going to accomplish much. Specifically, this is a legal matter. But there is a larger issue.

About six months ago, I posted here and gave my reasons for supporting Hillary, and they were solely based on her qualifications, experience and competence. Oh and people were making such a big deal about some made up transgressions related to emails and Benghazi or some such nonsense. I noted that Hillary would be making things happen in Washington from day one. And at the very least, the US government could hum along and people could get on with their lives. Trump, I predicted, would take at least 6 months to figure things out and at least a year to get anything done at all. I was wrong. Trump refused to listen and learn, so he is just as much of a noob as he was on day one.

And now here we are. There are a million reasons people might dislike Trump. I mildly care about those, but no matter how all this Comey thing comes out, we can't escape the reality that the Trump administration is dead in the water. Entirely in chaos. He has not gotten people appointed. He has not moved ahead on any initiative other than ACA, and that has stalled. He is wildly unpopular. He will spend at least the next year fighting accusations 24/7 if he does not step down before then.

This is what happens when you elect a noob, people. I called it exactly. If it was not Comey, it would be something else, but this guy does not know what he is doing. He has no deep support, even from the GOP, or from the American people.

And I will double down and say this. Take Trump out now and put Hillary in UNDER THE EXACT SAME CIRCUMSTANCES, and Hillary could find a way forward. She could get back to a legislative agenda. She could build coalitions. She could right the ship and get it moving again. Trump just can't do it, even with House and Senate majorities. Being a politician is DIFFICULT and a lot of people can't do it. Hillary has been doing it her whole life and she is good at it. It was a historical bungle not to elect her.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: Car mows down Times Square pedestrians, killing 1, injuring 22 See in context

"Drunk driving kills more people in the US than terrorism."

Drunk driving kills and injures more people in the US EACH YEAR than have EVER died in terrorist attacks on US soil.

I don't know if that is true, but anyone want to stand up tall and challenge me on that?

You know, it seems close... could be true. But honestly, I would be that drunk driving deaths have been inching downward over the last 20 years. You just don't get the carnage from drunk drivers that you used to be able to count on.

I helped prosecute a drunk driver who came through our neighborhood in a Range Rover a few years back. He apparently fell asleep and woke up suddenly, panicked, hit a barrier on the left side of the road, veered all the way around a bus stop structure on the right side of the road, took out a hedge on the left side of the road, and hit a tree head-on. I HEARD the crash from a block away, and it was amazing. When I got to the scene, the guy was picking up pieces of his car and saying, "I'm so sorry." over and over. Then he tried to get back in his car and drive away. Forget that... I called the cops and they came and took the guy away. The one other guy who bothered to come and see if the guy was ok just left because he did not want to get involved.

The guy was blotto. Delirious. At 3 am. I hope he did not fight the prosecution. If he had gone another 100 meters or so, he would have hit a dead-man's curve going downhill at about 70 kph or so. And if that would not have sent him over a cliff, then I bet he would not have made the bridge after the curve, and he would have plunged into a river anyway. He was lucky. He killed nobody and did not even kill himself.

This guy in Times Square? Just a drunk. Drug addict. It is so nice to live in a society free enough that dumb people can kill one or thirty people for no reason whatsoever, isn't it? Enjoy your happy hour and thin the herd. It is a terrible shame, but alcohol is a terrible drug.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: 'Conspiracy' bill set to proceed after no-confidence motion fails See in context

People who WANT Japan to be vulnerable to foreign influences will oppose this law. I want Japan to have stronger laws to get rid of criminals or deport them. It is pretty clear what Russia has done to the US. It should not happen in Japan.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Posted in: 'Conspiracy' bill set to proceed after no-confidence motion fails See in context

I see a whole lot of bile here over not very much at all. It seems like half the time people scream that the government should do something, but then the police don't have the charges to put the bad guys away.

I have not read the law, but I would imagine it is something like RICO laws in the US, which are extremely useful against all kinds of white collar crime, terrorism, fraud by groups, etc. In complicated cases, it might be hard to find an exact law that some co-conspirator has broken, so they can't be charged or even questioned properly. We can't have a situation where criminals are safer the more people they have in their group. It has to be the opposite.

Anyway, Japan is really late to the party on this one. I think the US and European countries have similar laws, and have had them for over 30 years. In this age of modern communications and information exchange, this law is probably necessary just to stay one step ahead of criminals of all kinds.

One other thing. I don't see a lot of Japanese terrorists, but I can imagine that Japan would be useful for terrorists in terms of support, finance, etc. North Korea uses Japan for that purpose. To prosecute aiders and abettors, this kind of law would be useful.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: Missile defense 101: N Korea could hit with little warning See in context

People need to change how they think. "Missiles COULD hit with little warning?" No. I think it should be CAN. It is not a matter of fear, it is a matter of fact and people just need to get used to it. I know the water is cold, but just jump in. Get past the crazy and the unthinkable. Looking at it won't make it go away.

I grew up on a nuclear bullseye. It is not comforting to think that some war might happen and obliterate your existence, but that is the fact, so there is not much use worrying about it. It is very unlikely to happen, much like a 9.0 earthquake or a huge tsunami. You can prepare for it somewhat. If it happens, then you deal with it.

If it makes anyone feel any better, North Korea's bombs and warheads put together make up a fraction of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, so we have all been living under a sword of Damocles since we were born, and not much has changed at all.

Knowing that China is the only country able to influence NKorea, why are people not boycotting Chinese goods or taking such measures? I don't understand why people are content to be fearful, and yet do nothing about the problem. Oh. No. Wait. I DO understand why people are like that. It is easier to worry and be afraid than to do something. Right?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Kansai Electric restarts reactor at Takahama nuclear plant See in context

"The first reactor at this plant was started in 1974. This reactor (#4) was started in 1984. This reactor is 33 years old and built with a 40 year life span. "

Well, just off the cuff, I will say that I don't see a reason why most of these reactors can't last until 60 or so. What few people here will understand is that utilities will just shut them down when it no longer makes financial sense to run them. That is happening in places in the US, and it is a quiet process. Sometimes it is better to get rid of the old Volvo than to keep painting over the rust. Sometimes a rusty Volvo is all you need.

Some reactors in Japan will never be started up again. Others are in pretty good shape and have obviously not had much wear and tear for the last 6 years. Decommissioning is a huge cost that utilities want to avoid for as long as possible, too, so there are financial reasons for NOT declaring an end to their useful life. Balanced against that are the huge costs of upgrades that need to be made to keep them running safely. A lot of these plants have spent the last 6 years getting expensive upgrades, so I would expect them to be used longer than their rated lifetimes. PG and E shut down their San Onofre plant for financial reasons. It happens.

I have a weird opinion about this. I think cutting off the plants at 40 years is overly harsh, but if utilities ask to extend a plant out to 80 or 100 years, I would almost certainly oppose it. It would be great if these nuclear reactors could be replaced with something else at the same site, such as an LFTR, but even offshore wind would be pretty cool. Nuke power plants have a lot of infrastructure beyond the reactors themselves.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Posted in: Kansai Electric restarts reactor at Takahama nuclear plant See in context

"As a resident of Kansai, this is not what I wanted to read when I woke up"

So don't be a resident of Kansai. Everybody in the world lives where they live because they like it, or they just shrug and stay out of inertia, or they are in a prison of one form of another. There are countries that do not use nuclear power. Anyone who feels as though their life is endangered has a duty to their family and children to go there. There are even parts of Japan where no nuclear power plants are operating. Fukushima is one such place.

I have personally made that decision. I have weighed the evidence and decided to live in an area with nuclear plants, even a damaged one. I encourage everyone to take this matter seriously and CHOOSE their lifestyle according to their principles. Why protest? Why groan and moan? Vote with your feet! I did. You can too.

What is left unstated in your worldview expressed in the quote above is that a lot of people in Kansai are seeing this as happy news. Things are getting back to normal. The safe reactors there are even safer than they were 6 years ago, and everything is ready to move ahead. Kansai will be producing LESS CO2 and will be spending less to import fossil fuels.

I hasten to add that this is a big step along the way to curing Japan's.... arrhythmia.... and getting back to the pulse of progress it was making in reducing CO2 emissions. For a lot of people, nuclear power has meant "Fukushima", as if that is what this is all about. As reactors start to come back on, people will realize more and more that nuclear is better than coal. It isn't perfect, but it is a step along the path to a better future. That view is so "normal" that it is the prevailing view, the consensus, in countries that use nuclear power around the world.

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

Posted in: Riding high: Toyota eyes 'flying car' future See in context

Not sure what to say about this research project. I don't want to shock anyone, but there are RUssian hobbyists making personal flying machines all over the place from tractor parts and old helicopter blades. The flying part is not really the trick. Finding gas powered motors to do the job is not hard.

Obviously, the problems are safety and reliability, which the price tag is supposed to take care of.

Does everyone remember jet packs? They made them and they really work, but nobody uses them. And some guy came up with the fire hose jet pack about a decade ago. Fun for entertainment. What is the problem? Well, cost, infrastructure, safety. A lot of times, these new ideas get produced, maybe get used militarily, and then get discarded.

Oh well. If you think the price tag is high, just wait until you try getting insurance.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Riding high: Toyota eyes 'flying car' future See in context

"You were in the red last year despite government safety nets, top selling car models and trade policies tipped in your favor."

Oh my goodness gracious. Are you talking about Toyota having lower profits LAST QUARTER? Because the recent news you are probably referring to had Toyota reporting lower profits LAST QUARTER.

Your post is entirely groundless and based on your misconceptions. You were asked in another thread about evidence for "safety nets" and I recall you mentioned none. And what are those trade policies again?

To my knowledge, Toyota has not been "in the red" since 2011, but the Thai flooding in 2012 might have extended that period by a year.

Let's clean up the snark and try a little harder. If you want to be snide, you have to be correct.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Japanese government says Toshiba, Western Digital need to get along See in context

"Wow. Ten years ago you couldn't even find a Western Digital hard drive for sale in Japan"

Hmm. Well, things change. 20 and 30 years ago there were plenty of WD drives used in Japan. I used to know the history of all this pretty well, but I have forgotten most of it. In the days when innovation was really popping, before they became commodity items, the American firms did really well even in Japan. As in most industries, they eventually got buried and the US firms either failed or got bought. I seem to remember Quantum got bought up by a Japanese manufacturer too.

Not sure what you mean by "for sale." As a peripheral component, WD has never sold their drives in Japan, well, at least not 10 years ago, as far as I know. But if they have been installed in computers produced in Japan or Taiwan, they probably had WD drives.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Posted in: Japanese researcher shows future of EVs with new wireless technology See in context

Wow. Big long article that basically comes down to "let's change the roads and change the vehicles and everything will be fine."

This seems to be, more or less, like giving everyone an electric trolley car and letting them move around on a grid, getting power as they move along. Um. But without wires and using a lot of electric fields instead. The article gives only ONE SENTENCE that casually mentions problems, which are basically SAFETY, EFFICIENCY and COST. Oh. OK. I would add TIME in there because anything that might be unsafe and expensive is not going to happen on its own. Unless it is a war.

There must be some good ideas in there, but the whole concept is never going to fly. It is an attempt to work around the problem of batteries, which are bulky, heavy, and expensive. People DO UNDERSTAND that batteries are a dead end, and they are trying to get around it. Allow me to suggest hydrogen instead, as I always do.

Something that was left out of the article is how people are going to pay for their own mileage. If you put up these roads that anybody can use, how are you going to bill them for using your electricity?

I think we will figure out that changing OURSELVES is going to be the greatest hurdle. We are not short of technologies today, or financing, or general support for ideas. But apparently, people are loathe to change their habits. Probably we need to adopt systems that do not make radical changes to infrastructure or daily life. We need to replace THIS with THAT with the least disruption possible. If I am right, then we need electric trains, nuclear power, rapid investment in wind and solar, hybrid vehicles and hydrogen vehicles and a smattering of natural gas and electric vehicles. That is just a practical perspective. People (even 50%) won't support anything else. Everything else is disruptive, expensive, unsafe or whatever. People are lazy, and why not? Most people in developed economies have a nice life, why wreck it for them with all this "newer and better" whatever, right?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Study: Taking abortion pill at home as safe as in a clinic See in context

RU 486 has been used in Europe for maybe.... 20 years and more. I was a little discouraged to see it called "abortion pill" over and over again without any mention of what it actually does.

I think people might not only get the wrong image. People will also have no way of figuring out what it does, so here goes, from a very benign source:

"RU486 is a synthetic steroid which works by blocking the effects of progesterone, the natural hormone which is required to maintain the lining of the uterus during pregnancy. RU486 starves the womb of progesterone, the lining of the womb breaks down, and it is lost along with the developing embryo or foetus."

If used very very early in a pregnancy, I can't see how this is controversial. If used late in a pregnancy, one could understand that it would be controversial for all kinds of reasons. Your controversy may vary.

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Posted in: Gov't eyes banning entry of gambling addicts to pachinko parlors See in context

Hey. Good luck identifying gambling addicts. I have a suggestion. Find all the people who are stimulated by watching balls bounce against pins hour after hour, forgetting their social and family responsibilities, ruining their health, and deriving no net financial reward for it. Those are your addicts. Problem is.... Those are your customers.

Gambling is designed to get you hooked and make you act against your own best interests.

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Posted in: Shizuoka City launches project for local production/consumption of energy See in context

"mandatory solar panels on houses"

Why don't governments do this? Well first of all, why would they? The status quo is that people can do it if they want to, and most people don't. What more needs to be said?

On the other hand, isn't forcing people to spend their money to put up solar panels the same thing as forcing people to pay taxes to support some government program to put batteries in schools? Well, in a way it is.

The beauty of Japan's policy is that it supports private individuals who WANT to use solar power for whatever reason, and it compels utilities to buy that power. All the give and take gets sorted out and contracts are signed and we move on as a democratic capitalist society.

I don't think there are many local governments operating more efficiently or effectively than the average public utility. Letting local governments go through a lot of complicated processes just to avoid paying public utilities for power does not seem wise.

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Posted in: Shizuoka City launches project for local production/consumption of energy See in context

This is a complicated story that winds up describing nothing more than a jobs program justified with a lot of "estimates" that mean very little. Maybe I can clear some of it up.

First, let's all just assume that local generation / local consumption is some important goal. I am not sure it is, but if you do not accept this, then this is all basically a waste of money.

Second, a LOCAL government (city) is doing this without REGIONAL or NATIONAL support, which also implies that it is a waste of money that probably would not be approved by more accountable governments. But, some local person is making some money on the project.

Third, if you melt down all the buzzwords, the city is contracting to get energy from people who already generate power, and then they are going to install some batteries and some software to run the whole thing. The batteries are (each?) about the size of a plug in vehicle battery and are likely to be expensive. If you charge and discharge them 10,000 times (twice a day for 13 years), then you will pay about 10,000 dollars (each) to save a few pennies each day, if that much. This kind of crazy expenditure is ONLY justifiable if you put them in schools and call them a "safety measure." You will not get your costs back, probably ever.

Fourth, the power you are buying from the local sources is very likely to be more expensive than the power that is bought from the utility today (see three above). Utilities have worked for a century to bring cheap power to people. It might be possible to undercut them, but it is difficult.

Fifth, one is left to conclude that the economic benefit here is in buying and installing these batteries, which is likely to create jobs, and buying the power from local sources, which might also create jobs.

All this project is doing is "replacing" power that they would normally get from the utility. Why is that worth spending a whole lot of money for? The technology is nice and all that, but not really cutting edge, but there is not a lot of economic merit in doing this.

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Posted in: Would you be willing to eat agricultural products from Fukushima Prefecture? See in context

The fact of the matter is that I HAVE been eating Fukushima produce and a lot of people have also. It is not at matter of "would we be willing (if)...." It is a matter of most people already doing so and having no qualms about it. The burden of proof is squarely on the people who think they know more than the government, scientists, professional testers and all their technologies, and satisfied consumers. No person has ever been proven, or has even claimed, to my knowledge of being harmed by food from Fukushima as a result of radiation. It is a FALSE claim that there is any reason for caution whatsoever.

I understand that these questions are supposed to be controversial, but go be controversial someplace else and leave the fine people of Fukushima alone.

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Posted in: Australia to drug test unemployed in trial welfare crackdown See in context

"Australia becoming a nanny state. "

Well, it is all part of the package. I have to confess that it all seems to be getting out of hand. Here we have rising claims against the government (taxpayers, you and me) and increasing promises from the state to claimants. And eventually the government (taxpayers, you and me) will have to crack down and create a whole class of OTHERS. In this case, they are unemployed drug users.

See how that works? One SHOULD wonder what the flaw in the system is. I happen to think it comes at the CLAIMS/PROMISES stage. People are asking too much of others and becoming clients instead of responsible citizens. Or it might be the classification of OTHERS that is wrong.

I am not trying to compare Australia with Japan, but it seems that Japan has controlled people's ability to make claims, has made fewer promises, and therefore does not go to too much trouble to classify OTHERS. I am sure people will disagree, but then, what explains Australia?

There was a time, and they were not such good old days, but there was a time when people made far fewer claims on government, and government more or less left people alone. I am sure people will disagree with that too.

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Posted in: Toyota's profit falls 6.6% in 4th quarter See in context

"no other is heavily subsidies and given tax breaks as the US market, almost $3000 for every vehicle produced in the US, compared to around 1500~$2000 for Germany/Japa"

This is the first time I have seen data like this. I am ashamed to say that it confirms my bias, therefore I believe it. Haha. I will actually check this out someday, but let me offer the observation that Ford and GM don't really seem to care anymore. Every year, Toyota and VW duke it out, and Ford counts its profits from unit sales that seem to be dropping like a stone. Their shareholders love it, but they might not be making cars 20 years from now. GM is more or less run by their unions. Hidebound. They are still interested in mass production, which is heartening, but they cannot change quickly enough.

I don't know what it all means. Governments support their car companies because they pay taxes and create jobs. Which is true of about everything else. And the companies want to point fingers, but they are all on the take. So I guess I admire the companies that seem like they are trying to make better cars and keep their costs down. Toyota seems to do that.

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Posted in: 91-year-old man, driving wrong way on expressway, dies after head-on collision See in context

I have a close relative who is 98, and I think she stopped driving at 93 because.... everything moves faster than a 93 year old. She did it right, though, and marveled at how easy driving is if you don't make left turns (would be right turns in Japan). Sounds crazy, but you would be the nut if you disagreed with her. Many major delivery firms worldwide use this strategy to increase efficiency and reduce accidents.

She has never had an accident, which is quite a bit better than most people. Her daughter would ride shotgun and let her drive. That is how... reliable.... her skills were, even at 93.

You know. I am not going to say that over 70 is too old. Or even over 80. If we want to choose a cut-off age for people, I hope we don't rely on anecdotes. We certainly have the data to make a reasonable choice about it as a society.

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