Updates from March, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • jimmy 9:42 pm on March 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , military, nato,   

    Now that we’ve bombed the hell out of Libya’s air defense systems (at a reported cost of $569,000 per tomahawk missile), the USA wants to transfer leadership of the no-fly zone to someone else (seems responsible, no?). The only problem? Apparently nobody can agree who should take the job.

    Can we finally admit now that it’s not JUST the USA pushing this whole “we’re so aggressive” meme? Multiple countries voted for the UN resolution to impose a no-fly zone on Libya, many more countries not sitting on the UN Security Council supported it (most notably the Arab League) and yet when it actually comes to, you know, LEADING the no-fly zone everyone looks at the USA.

    Food for thought.

     
  • jimmy 2:03 am on March 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: energy, , , solar, wind   

    I ran some numbers today. Numbers relating to the cost to build a new nuclear power plant. And the cost to install solar panels.

    To cut through the wordiness of both those links (mostly the former) here’s the highlight reel: since no new nuclear plants have been built in the USA in over 30 years, estimating costs is pretty much guesswork, but the 2007 guesswork puts prices at anywhere from $2/watt (lowest estimates, mostly from utilities and/or the possible contractors…in other words, people with questionable conflicts of interest) up over $4/watt ($4.3/watt via a later redacted report from a utility; and a S&P report that estimated “final construction costs” in 2007 dollars as $4.3-4.55/watt…that’s $4.57-$4.83 in 2011 dollars).

    Solar costs are much easier to pin down, since people are actually, you know, buying solar panels. That source there estimates that new solar costs around $4/watt.

    Wait, what?

    Here’s the best part: the cost of solar panels keeps dropping, while the construction costs to build new nuclear reactors (with things like 12-foot think concrete walls) keep going up.

    So here’s the question, if new nuclear and new solar cost the same, why the hell are we even considering a technology that has the chance (however small*) of blowing up and killing us all (yeah, that’s an overstate…unless “us all” is the subset of people living within a mile or two of the 104 nuclear power plants in America) instead of a technology that not only has no chance of blowing up and killing us all, but that can be installed in a decentralized grid, thus making our entire power system resistant to disruption from storms, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, or human error.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, commercial scale wind turbines cost $1.75/watt.

    They also have no chance of blowing up and killing us all.

    *There are currently 442 nuclear power plants in the world. There have been at least 6 “nuclear accidents” in the past 51 years. Simple math (I know this probably calls for more advanced math, but I’m lazy) gives the “accident chance” at 1.36%.

     
  • jimmy 12:59 am on March 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3d, , digital media, ,   

    I’m working on making dynamically breaking glass in Maya this week for my digital media senior project. Here’s a still image two frames (1/12 second) after the little ball breaks through the glass:

    Next I’ll be pulling this “stand-alone” test into the main scene file and work out the details of making it work in the larger 3D animation, but I liked the look of this really simple and uncluttered view of it.

    As an aside, this took less time to model/animate than it’s taking to render (basically taking the raw modeling/animate file and turning it into something you can watch on your TV), but that’s mostly because I’m using more effects (mostly related to the lighting) than are strictly needed. But it’s fun nonetheless.

     
  • jimmy 9:53 pm on March 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: computers, , networking   

    Although I probably should have, I never realized just how much my family uses the Internet until I made a few router tweaks yesterday and had to input new network passwords on all our wifi devices. That includes 5 laptops and 4 iPod Touches, all of which seem to have their own idea about how to behave in the face of a new network password (to be fair, the iPods seem to have handled the issue rather better than the MacBooks). I guess I should have known how much we use our network based on the fact that one consumer-grade router trembles in fear when asked to handle all the traffic, thus leading to my current two-router setup (my 6+ year old Linksys and my 2-year-old Time Capsule…neither of which can properly handle 9-10 concurrent wifi connections + multiple wired connections; the Linksys can do wired just fine, though, and the TC can do the wireless…so it all works out). I absolutely love managing all of this equipment, though, so I’m a happy camper. Errrr, IT guy. Whatever.

     
  • jimmy 8:19 pm on March 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , economy, , ,   

    I just love (sarcasm, btw) how in the face of $14 trillion in debt and a $1.3 trillion deficit the favorite target of some deficit hawks has become $10.5 billion in high-speed rail funding (I say “some” because I consider myself to be a deficit hawk and I don’t share this view). I really wonder if the governors of Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio were paying any attention whatsoever in school when they learned about how we got out of the great depression? Come to think of it, they probably went to the same schools as the people who thought it would really solve all of our economic problems to give a bunch of money (although calling trillions of dollars a “bunch of money” is kind of like calling the Pacific Ocean “some water”…it’s technically true, but grossly misleading) to the guys who created the problems in the first place (again with an analogy: “so, Mr. Murderer, what say we make your punishment a few days where we pretend to consider putting you to death, and then we give you an AK-47 and let you roam the streets again; sound fair?”).

    Interesting fact: Japan has the oldest HSR network in the world, and China has the largest (and fastest…did we still want to beat China? Because we’re losing this battle, too. Just saying.). Unemployment in Japan is 5.1% and in China it’s ~4.5% (as with all things China, it’s not entirely clear). In America it’s 8.9%.

    Oh I know unemployment probably has very little correlation with HSR networks, but I figure it’s as close as the HSR-deficit correlation, and it’s just as illogical.

    Speaking of illogic, I should remind the governors that I just got a carrier pigeon that the National Association or People Who’d Rather Live In The Stone Age is sending a “thank you” stone tablet in support of your bold deficit reduction efforts. It’s being sent by Norfolk Southern rail, so it should arrive within 36 hours.

     
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