Tuesday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A body inside a barrel was found over the weekend on the the newly exposed bottom of Nevada’s Lake Mead as drought depletes one of the largest US reservoirs – and officials predicted the discovery could be just the first of more grim finds.

    “I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains,” Las Vegas police Lt Ray Spencer told KLAS-TV on Monday.

    Better than Al Capone’s vault. Maybe they’ll find Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Musk seeks to use less of his fortune with bid for more Twitter funding

    A week after Elon Musk finalized a $44bn deal to purchase Twitter, the billionaire is working to secure outside funding for the acquisition that would tie up less of his personal fortune.

    The world’s richest person is in talks with large investment firms and high net-worth individuals to take on more financing, Reuters reported Monday. Though Musk has an estimated net worth of about $245bn, much of his fortune is tied up in stocks.

    The Tesla CEO disclosed last week he had sold $8.5bn worth of stock following his agreement to buy Twitter. Additional financing, which could come in the form of preferred or common equity, could reduce the $21bn cash contribution that Musk has committed to the deal as well as a margin loan he secured against his Tesla shares, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

    The banks that agreed last month to provide $13bn in loans based on Twitter’s business balked at offering more debt for Musk’s acquisition given the San Francisco-based company’s limited cashflow, Reuters reported last month.

    I’m sure it means something, but I hesitate to venture a guess as to what. However, buried in the article was this little bit:

    Investors have been fretting over whether Musk will complete the Twitter deal given that he has backtracked in the past. In April, he decided at the last minute not to take up a seat on Twitter’s board. In 2018, Musk tweeted that there was “funding secured” for a $72bn deal to take Tesla private but did not move ahead with an offer. Musk would have to pay a $1bn termination fee to Twitter if he walked away, and the social media company could also sue him to complete the deal.

    Twitter shares rose 1.2% to $49.63 in afternoon trading in New York on Monday, closer to the $54.20 a share acquisition price, as investors interpreted the news on the new financing as more certainty for the deal closing.

    So some folks think it’s good news.

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  3. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Nah. Isn’t Hoffa supposed to be planted under the Meadowlands Complex? A cornerstone of the organization, one might say.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Supposedly somewhere in New Jersey, which I wonder why they bothered. I’m not being serious. Besides, if they were gonna throw him in a lake, Erie is right there and Huron is just a hop and a skip further.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Forgot to add that my groundless speculation does have a slightly more serious side to it in that I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if more than one mob victim turned up in that lake.

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  6. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Oh, absolutely.

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  7. JohnSF says:

    On the subject of Twitter: I wonder what will happen if (when) it gets crossways of China on some topic or other, and Elon finds Beijing has his balls in vice re. Tesla production and sales?

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    For the past few weeks, Nazeer Ahmed has been living in one of the hottest places on Earth. As a brutal heatwave has swept across India and Pakistan, his home in Turbat, in Pakistan’s Balochistan region, has been suffering through weeks of temperatures that have repeatedly hit almost 50C (122F), unprecedented for this time of year. Locals have been driven into their homes, unable to work except during the cooler night hours, and are facing critical shortages of water and power.

    Ahmed fears that things are only about to get worse. It was here, in 2021, that the world’s highest temperature for May was recorded, a staggering 54C. This year, he said, feels even hotter. “Last week was insanely hot in Turbat. It did not feel like April,” he said.

    As the heatwave has exacerbated massive energy shortages across India and Pakistan, Turbat, a city of about 200,000 residents, now barely receives any electricity, with up to nine hours of load shedding every day, meaning that air conditioners and refrigerators cannot function. “We are living in hell,” said Ahmed.
    ………………….
    The heatwave has already had a devastating impact on crops, including wheat and various fruits and vegetables. In India, the yield from wheat crops has dropped by up to 50% in some of the areas worst hit by the extreme temperatures, worsening fears of global shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has already had a devastating impact on supplies.

    In Balochistan’s Mastung district, known for its apple and peach orchards, the harvests have been decimated. Haji Ghulam Sarwar Shahwani, a farmer, watched in anguish as his apple trees blossomed more than a month early, and then despair as the blossom sizzled and then died in the unseasonal dry heat, almost killing off his entire crop. Farmers in the area also spoke of a “drastic” impact on their wheat crops, while the area has also recently been subjected to 18-hour power cuts.

    “This is the first time the weather has wreaked such havoc on our crops in this area,” Shahwani said. “We don’t know what to do and there is no government help. The cultivation has decreased; now very few fruits grow. Farmers have lost billions because of this weather. We are suffering and we can’t afford it.”

    Meet our new normal.

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  9. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Our reservoir got lower than we’ve ever drained it last summer, several barrels showed up that we didn’t know were under there. I checked every one, just in case. 😛 No bodies. I did find some cool arrowheads on the beach areas that haven’t been exposed since they built it in the early 1900’s, though!

    We have to drain it all the way this summer. I’ve been trying to figure out what I should leave as a “time capsule” for whoever has to drain it in another 100 years or so.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Musk’s twitter propose deal, leaves him financially exposed and possibly could result in the cratering of Tesla’s stock price. Musk is the world’s richest man based on the value of Tesla stock and how much of the stock he owns. He has also pledged Tesla stock as collateral for the bank loans to buy twitter. Given that twitter’s current profitability will barely cover the debt service on those loans, any decrease in profits, could result in the banks asking for more collateral i.e. Tesla stock, or Musk may need to conduct a fire sale to raise the money to keep the banks from foreclosing. Both those events can and likely would result in a drop in Tesla’s value.

    Given that Tesla’s market value is being held up by helium, that is Musk fanboys/girls who believe that he walks on water, and the P/E ratios and predictions of future profitability don’t justify the current price. Which is why there are so many Wall St types that short Tesla stock, as it is viewed as overvalued and destined to fall. Kind of like Apple in the 90’s where the stock price was buoyed by the markets belief in Steve Jobs, the same thing is happening with Tesla. The iPhone, justified the markets belief in Jobs, not Mac computers, will Tesla have their iPhone, because the cars are Tesla’s equivalent of a Mac.

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yeah, a few days ago when Tesla and Twitter stock prices started showing adverse reactions to this deal, I mentioned that part of what sunk Ken Lay was margin calls on loans he had taken out with Enron stock as collateral. I said then that Musk would do well to pay heed to those dangers.

    I hesitate to read too much into anything that happens just now, not just because it is still very early but also because I have at best a layman’s knowledge of this stuff.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Thousands flee New Mexico wildfire as blaze breaches containment lines

    Scientists say the climate crisis is turning wildfires into a year-round risk for much of the US west, with high temperatures drying out soils and turning vegetation into kindling.

    More than a million acres have already burned across the US since the start of this year, more than double the total for the same period last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

    “Climate change is taking a situation that would be bad for us normally,” said Gregg Garfin, a climatologist at the University of Arizona, “and turning the dial up”.

    And Republicans fiddle while the American west burns.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: No bodies? Damn, that would be a story to tell.

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  14. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    You could always leave a body.

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  15. Scott says:

    US military equipment to Ukraine (a/o 22 Apr). Nice graphic in case you need a refresher:

    Infographic: The weapons and equipment the US has given Ukraine so far

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  16. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    By analogy, Tesla’s iphone was the Sinclair C5.

    Maybe Elon can do it right, in between delusions of grandeur and punching down.

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  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    The Boston Globe is reporting that Susan Collins is shocked…

    “completely inconsistent” with what Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch told her during their confirmation processes.

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  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Sleeping Dog: She’s naming and shaming, which is more than I expected. Interesting she doesn’t name Barrett. I didn’t read the whole thing because paywall.

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  19. Jen says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Collins didn’t vote for Barrett.

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  20. Beth says:

    In what is probably a stroke of cosmic luck today, my half and half was spoiled so I didn’t get to drink my usual half gallon of coffee this morning. Now I’m stuck living living like one of my ancestors and drinking tea. Thankfully I fit about a fistful of honey in the mug to make it better. Oh, the huge manatee.

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  21. inhumans99 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Just want to pull this quote out of your post: “The iPhone, justified the markets belief in Jobs, not Mac computers, will Tesla have their iPhone, because the cars are Tesla’s equivalent of a Mac.”

    I am so not a Tesla fanboy, but I wonder if the batteries that were supposed to be used by folks using solar power to store up energy so it does not go to waste and can be used to power equipment or heat/air condition a home at night, stuff like that, was or still will be the Tesla product that eventually becomes the real money maker for Tesla?

    Apple has the iPhone, Amazon quickly realized that charging folks to use their computers when excess computing capacity was available would be an eventual gold mine for them, and I think Tesla still could see gold in them thar hills with their focus on power storage batteries. It is just not happening as quickly as it did for folks like Apple and Amazon.

    I also can’t help but wonder if Musk re-focused his energy on providing solar panels and batteries to store the energy to places suffering from extreme heat waves, like those locations in India and Pakistan, instead of having Twitter on his mind all the time, if that would be a much better use of his money, products produced by Tesla, and his brain power.

    Yes, I am being flip, of course the world would be better served by Musk putting a huge chunk of the money he currently has ear-marked for Twitter towards helping places that would have you roasting like a chicken if you spent more than 30 minutes in direct view of the sun. He has so much money and he is squandering so much of it with his obsession on buying Twitter, what a waste of energy.

    He clearly wanted to help the world go green by popularizing electric vehicles, so why stop there, help third world and other developing nations keep their lights on, and refrigerators running so folks can have food to eat, again, such a waste that he is focused on Twitter.

    The lack of water in these regions is still a huge problem, but Tesla could certainly help with the no electricity part of the problem.

    I get it, Musk does not “owe” it to the world to help power up regions in Pakistan and India, but if he is going to start using up his vast reserves of wealth, I think we can all agree that helping farmers in India and Pakistan beats helping Trump get back on twitter.

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  22. Kathy says:

    @Beth:

    Depends on what you mean by “tea.”

    Real tea has a sufficiency of caffeine*, and can have an ok flavor considering the handicap that it isn’t coffee. Herbal “tea” is flavored hot water, sometimes of pleasant taste. But it provides little nutrition and no stimulation.

    I make Lapsang souchong, when I have it, on weekends after lunch sometimes instead of coffee. herbal teas, like apple-cinnamon or mint, are ok when it’s cold and I want something hot but no caffeine, like cool winter evenings.

    * It may require multiple cups.

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  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    She opposed Barrett.

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  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Jen beat me to it and no edit/delete function.

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  25. Mu Yixiao says:

    @inhumans99:

    I am so not a Tesla fanboy, but I wonder if the batteries that were supposed to be used by folks using solar power to store up energy so it does not go to waste and can be used to power equipment or heat/air condition a home at night, stuff like that,

    I give you the Powerwall for home use. And the Megapack for grid use.

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  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @inhumans99:

    There are investors that believe the long term value of Tesla is in the batteries. The cars simply provide a use for the battery tech. Because Tesla had a first mover advantage, it captured the EV market, but as the mainstream manufactures have entered the market, Tesla’s share is dropping.

    A risk for Tesla on the battery side, will be as battery tech changes and they need to weigh the advantage-cost of the new tech v. the sunk costs that they have in the current tech. That bow wave of depreciation which they will be writing off for several years, may trap them, as it has others in the tech industry.

    IIRC, Musk had a solar panel company, that we haven’t heard much about lately. Of course the solar market is now owned by the Chinese.

    There are a lot of things Musk could have done with his money that make more sense than buying twitter. That is a pure vanity move. Few will be surprised if his investment drowns in a sea of debt and he takes a beating. If that happens there will be lots of schadenfreude.

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  27. Kathy says:

    @inhumans99:
    @Sleeping Dog:

    There’s been speculation, right here at the OTB comments sections, that Elon will use SpaceX and in particular Starship to populate Earth’s orbit with orbiting solar panel power plants to beam electricity (via microwaves) down to Earth.

    I’ve heard no official word on it. It seems something worth doing, but there are plenty of complications and trade offs involved.

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  28. Gustopher says:

    I was hoping the Roe v. Wade news would be enough to get people to stop talking about Musk’s midlife crisis for a while… alas.

    Man’s wife leaves him for someone else (a transgender woman, no less). Man feels irrelevant. Man buys shit to feel relevant.

    The only excitement here is that he already has a fancy car.

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  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    I believe, the concept of orbiting solar panels has been around since at least Tom Swift Sr entertained my father. I do wonder about the practicability of the concept given the amount of space trash that orbits the earth. The panels would be continually pounded by junk. Also I have no idea about how efficient microwaves would be in transferring electrical energy across that distance and though the atmosphere.

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  30. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    We can talk about the ongoing pandemic a lot of people seem to think has ended. Cases are higher than they were two years ago, when it was gathering steam and still frightening all of us, yet here we are.

    I ordered 100 new KF-94 masks (I feel they give the better seal than the KN-95 masks, and are more comfortable than the N-95 ones). I’m also the one sole person in the department still wearing one. As far as I know the mandatory use of masks hasn’t been rescinded at the office, but you see lots more people not wearing them, even in common areas.

    Yeah, we’re better protected through vaccination and prior infection. But reinfection and breakthrough infections are a thing (reinfection is a breakthrough infection, really). And we were about as well protected right when the Omicron variant hit. Letting the virus run wild without any measures to prevent transmission is a bad idea. We may get lucky and not see any more large outbreaks, or we may birth a new variant yet more infectious, more dangerous, or more both.

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  31. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I think it’s been around since there were solar panels.

    To my knowledge, no one’s tried even a proof of concept experiment. One would have been small and unimpressive enough not to draw any attention, but the same is true of other such tests I have heard about (like ion engines on space probes, or solar sails).

    The thing is that there must be a sweet spot where a satellite is high enough to be in unobstructed sunlight for a long time each day, while being close enough to transmit energy back efficiently. What that spot is, I’ve no idea.

    The problem is the satellite moves across the sky as seen from Earth, so how long will each be in range of a receiving station? Part of their time, the satellites will be over the ocean, out of range of any land-based stations. A satellite in Clarke orbit would be motionless in respect to the ground, but that’s like 30,000 kilometers up, and is the orbit used for communications satellites.

    See? It’s complicated and involves many trade offs.

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  32. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    @Sleeping Dog:
    @inhumans99:

    There’s been speculation, right here at the OTB comments sections, that Elon will use SpaceX and in particular Starship to populate Earth’s orbit with orbiting solar panel power plants to beam electricity (via microwaves) down to Earth.

    One of those speculators being me.
    Though I nicked the idea from Charlie Stross.
    Better engineers than me seem to think it works re. orbital debris (primary collectors in high orbit avoid lots of the junk) and transmission (using a maser array tuned for low absorbtion).

    Copy of a posting I have saved locally:

    While doing a bit of research on energy sources, which is a topic of massive interest in the UK right now, given our methane supply costs have risen 183% since August and electricity recently spiked to over £400/MWh, came across some interesting speculation by Charles Stross re. Elon Musk’s medium term plans.

    He pointed out that the Starship system is capable of massive payload lift (100 to 250 tonnes depending on mode) and also amazingly rapid turnaround times:

    …even crazier, the Starship system is designed for one hour flight turnaround times, comparable to a refueling stop for a long-haul airliner. The mechazilla tower designed to catch descending stages in the last moments of flight and re-stack them on the pad is quite without precedent in the space sector, and yet they’re prototyping the thing. Why would you even do that? Well,it makes no sense if you’re still thinking of this in traditional space launch terms…

    Stross reckons that the only thing that makes sense for a system like this is for a Manhattan Project/Apollo Program scale approach to setting up a solar power satellite array.

    I’m not sure if the sustained launch scale and costs can beat other options, but I suspect Charlie is right about what Musk is thinking.
    (Then on to God-Emperor of Mars, baby!)

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  33. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Recall seeing something lately that due to various problems Tesla is switching some products to less energy dense LFP batteries.
    And also indicates again his exposure to potential Beijing displeasure re. Twitter.

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  34. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    While out in Devens, MA, MIT is constructing a fusion reactor based generating demonstration project. That is likely cheaper and nearer reality than a space based solar array.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: If you want to talk about the Muskrat, talk about the Muskrat… it feels like a wacky side character getting his own show though.

    Like if Newman from Seinfeld got a show. There’s not much there.

    Muskrat is best served in small doses for me.

    Or the first three years of Star Trek: Discovery where Michael Burnham makes the same mistake of insubordination with terrible consequences over and over after staring into the camera at an angle with a blank expression to show that she’s thinking deep thoughts.

    I assume there is something fascinating about Musk that I just don’t get. It’s like the “is this dress blue or gold?” thing from a few years ago — I was glad when it went away.

    On Covid, containment has failed. I kind of get the fatalist “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude some people have, even if I don’t agree with it. Wearing a mask and avoiding a few places I kind of wanted to avoid seems like an easy mitigation.

    And we need to get paxlovid availability worked out. Biden touted test and treatment at pharmacies in the State of the Union, but we aren’t there yet. That needs to happen.

    Long Covid is real and can be debilitating, and we don’t know if it more likely with more exposure. We aren’t structured to care for that many disabled people, and I expect it will go badly if we don’t come up with decent treatments.

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  36. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    … fusion reactor based generating demonstration project. That is likely cheaper and nearer reality than a space based solar array.

    I hope so, personally.
    Whether MIT or JET, who are pushing hard now.

    IMO powersats have too many vulnerabilities to be a good choice for a civilisational base.
    (Though may be useful secondary source for remote sites?)

    But fusion always seems just over the other side of the next hill.
    Still, there’s always good old fashioned thorium breeders to fall back on…

    My personal long term speculative side bet is for DHR geothermal as the best of the whole lot.
    Maybe.

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  37. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Near term, I’d bet more heavily on solar than fusion. For one thing, we can get energy out of solar panels.

    But, yeah, space based solar arrays would be neither cheap nor easy to build and run. They’d have to both spend more time in sunlight and capable of transmitting energy down to Earth at a reasonable efficiency.

    Consider, solar panels are now good enough to use to power probes as far away from the Sun as Jupiter*. That would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. Meantime fusion seems to be perpetually 20 years away.

    We’ll see.

    * Two Mars rovers use nuclear power (thermoelectric) for two reasons: 1) to keep systems warm during the very cold Martian nights (days are below freezing, often, too), and 2) to prevent the problems of earlier rovers, whose solar panels were degraded by dust.

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  38. Just put solar panels in orbit with really long extension cords back to Earth.

    Easy-peasy.

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  39. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t give a f**k about Musk, but I like SpaceX.

    Anyway, I think the dress was white 😉

    Test and treat is not as simple as it sounds. There are legal issues about who can prescribe medication. As far as I know, pharmacists can’t. The thing is to make the drugs easily available, and for some reason to inform physicians they should prescribe them as a first line of defense, not as a last resort.

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  40. JohnSF says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Ah, so you’ve heard about space elevator towers then?
    🙂
    Space elevators also present a way to generate potentially massive amounts of solar electricity.
    Zoning rules, that’s the big problem, though.
    LOL.

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  41. dazedandconfused says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Using extension cords would doubtless save the lives of
    countless birds. Can’t imagine invisible gigawatt microwave beams would be much appreciated by bald eagles and such..

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  42. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That’s actually not as impossible at it seems. But it requires far-out vaporware not currently available: a space elevator.

    Clarke optimistically says in the afterword of The Fountains of Paradise, a novel about the construction of a space elevator, that it might be possible to build one in the 21st century. The producers of Foundation, on the other hand, have it as a symbol of Imperial power 20,000 years from now.

    Anyway, a space elevator would be fixed in place, and it would be simple for solar power satellites to beam their microwaves at it. Then you send the power down through superconducting cables, over 30 thousand kilometers long (non-superconducting wires would be hideously inefficient).

    It gets easier if you build two of them, on antipodal sites. Build four, and you can construct a low gravity ring supported by them.

    this all sounds more credible as fiction.

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  43. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:
    @Kathy:
    And I honestly don’t know that much about Musk.
    Except that I find him amusing.

    And I suspect he is rather concerned for the long term prospects of Tesla now the behemoths like VAG, Hyundai-Kia, Renault-Nissan and Stellantis are beginning to elbow their way to the lunch counter.
    GM, Ford and Toyota are rather slow to get int the game, but even they are showing signs of waking up.
    Plus of course the rising Chinese producers, who will simply steal what they can’t develop in house, and then try to brute-force their way to production engineering it, based on a home market advantage.

    Tesla valuation looks a tad overblown to me.

    “I will not turn into a sandworm. It never helps”

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  44. dazedandconfused says:

    Speaking of invisible things in the air brought to mine on of my semi-childhood memories. I was only in 5th grade at the time and my dad was a pretty young man still. Only 30. One sunny windy day he took me to Alki beach, with a stop at a toy store along the way.

    He purchased a large box kite with short wing extensions and 10 full rolls of their best kite string. Damn near a mile of line. After assembling the kite on the beach walkway, we easily launched to in the 20mph wind. For a bit we played with it, and then he started adding line. We got all ten rolls on. The kite was not invisible but so far away, and due to the bend in the line, well above the arc that the line seemed to be aimed at so it was very, very difficult to spot with the grey overcast.

    He then tied a few old ribbons to the line to draw attention to it and tied it off to the hand rail of the walkway. We then retired to the fish and chips place across the street to eat lunch and watch all the people stop and wonder at this string that goes up into the sky by itself.

    God I miss him.

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  45. Scott says:

    @Kathy: In the Mars Trilogy (90s, Kim Stanley Robinson), the space elevator cable on Mars was severed by terrorists (or freedom fighters, depending on your perspective), fell to Mars proper, and whipped around the planet, causing all kinds of devastation.

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  46. JohnSF says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    They’ve actually tried microwave beaming on a test basis.
    As long as said birdies don’t hang about in the beam for long periods they should be fine.

    The thing about cooking with microwaves, is you need the frequency to be tuned to excite the oscillation of water molecules in the food, 2.45 GHz.

    If you are off that band, it won’t do any damage fast (if at all: need a proper phyics expertise for precision, not my amateurish approximations).

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  47. @JohnSF: @Kathy: Yep–I am aware of the concept.

    Mostly I was just being whimsical about a bunch of orange extension cords hanging down from the heavens.

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  48. JohnSF says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Trip hazard!
    🙂

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  49. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Oh, I laughed.

    But then I tried to picture it, and the space elevator naturally enough followed, and then I rambled a bit.

    @JohnSF:

    Microwaves have been used for communications for decades, and birds seem to be in more danger from house cats still. Though microwave repeater towers have been replaced by satellites and fiber optic networks.

    Remember, too, radar uses microwaves (the ovens were a spin-off of radar technology). If these were dangerous to birds, airports, where radars are used extensively, wouldn’t have bird problems. Neither would airplanes.

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  50. Mimai says:
  51. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    Clarke claimed a space elevator on mars would regularly crash with Phobos, unless usage were scheduled so the structural harmonic vibrations of the tower moved it out of the way, or something along these lines. Me, I’d move Phobos to a more convenient orbit.

    I haven’t read the Mars trilogy. I suppose it accounted for that.

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  52. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Yes, the cavity magnetron.
    One of us Brits cleverer pieces of work.
    Pity we didn’t keep the royalty rights 🙁

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  53. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    But fusion always seems just over the other side of the next hill.

    Yes it does.

    @JohnSF:

    If you are looking for a luxury EV, the Tesla S is no longer the car to have as the Benz EQS makes it look like and economy car and then there is the Lucid. As far as the more egalitarian part of the market, there are many, many good choices.

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  54. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Personally I have a hankering for the Porsche Taycan.
    But my bank manager begs to differ.
    If I was looking for a pure EV, the Fiat 500e or Mini Electric might be a bit more realistic.
    But being the cautions type, I’ll probably be looking for a second hand plug-in hybrid when my current drive turns up its toes.
    Cupra Leon looks interesting, and should be reasonable used by then.

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  55. Beth says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I had an eviction trial last year where the tenant decided to stop paying for electricity, it cut into her meth operation profits. So she ran a whole bunch of cheap-o extension cords out her window down to the patio and plugged them into the common area outlet. She had the audacity to complain that the landlord unplugged them. The judge was not amused.

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  56. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    This is pretty tasty https://youtu.be/xyyHqhAeuF4

    Alas the Cupra won’t be in the US for 25 years.

    ReplyReply
  57. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    Don’t settle. A cane is for plebs.

    You have a walking stick like a person of refinement and taste. Which also has a hidden rapier concealed inside. Maybe some microfilm. You are a secret bad-ass.

    Think the first Kingsman movie (but not the last ten minutes of it).

    I have a walking stick with a hidden sword. I bought it at a con when I was in desperate need of a cane. The result? I still couldn’t walk, and now my hand hurt, too. Walking sticks are for pretentious pricks. I’m a curmudgeon with arthritis. I don’t need to be a secret bad ass if I’m able to crack skulls and dislocate joints with my OG bent-wood cane. 🙂

    Besides… the OG cane makes the opposition underestimate me.

    ReplyReply
  58. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao: sword canes are illegal in Washington State, as the only concealed weapons you are allowed to have are guns.

    I have not looked into the laws on open carry for swords.

    (Also, we had a period where sword canes were illegal, but bestiality was legal… we are encouraging the wrong villains in this state)

    ReplyReply
  59. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: There’s also a rumor about Hoffa playing the role of a piece of rebar in a bridge piling as somewhere.

    ReplyReply

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