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The Lounge Rest in Peace, KathyGator. Aug 28 2015
17:53 (UTC)

The Lounge Let's talk about the Apocalypse Aug 28 2015
17:47 (UTC)

Well Lys, I suppose we could always burn lawyers for fuel.

I work in a hospital, and I would imagine that no matter what hospitals would stay open, so you'd think that my job would be secure.  Unfortunately I work in the IT department of the hospital.  No electricity means no computers means no job.

The Lounge Let's talk about the Apocalypse Aug 28 2015
17:36 (UTC)

PS: Most septic systems are underground, and thus gravity fed.  No electricity required.  They could go on for years before they fill up.  Once they do fill up you'd have to choose between pumping (or shoveling) it out or building a new one.  Pretty much exactly what happens today.  People on septic systems wouldn't have to worry about their sewage, only people on municipal sewage.

People in flood plains would have to worry about their sump pumps no longer working, and more troublesome, the city's storm drain and sewage sump pumps not working.  Sewage and rainwater would start backing up into low-lying areas wherever people are on municipal systems.

And of course, everyone would have to worry about how to get water.

The Lounge Let's talk about the Apocalypse Aug 28 2015
17:26 (UTC)

Okay. lets imagine that electricity is gone.  It just stopped working one day.  Not because of a MCE, just because it happened ("Those dame experimental quantum physicists went and killed electricity with their Large Hadron Collider").

Transportation would be gone.  No electricity means no car batteries means no internal combustion.  Planes, trains, boats, cars, motorcycles would all just be hunks of metal.  Eventually people would rebuild steam locomotives, perhaps steam cars and either steam or sail boats, but do you guys know exactly how much of modern civilization relies on transportation?  My grapes come from Chile.  My apples from Washington.  My everything that's not food comes from China.  There would be mass food shortages everywhere.  Where there wasn't mass food shortages the food would rot in the fields because there's no machinery for harvesting, processing, or transporting.  New York would starve while California would be buried under rotten strawberries.

And the next year it would be even worse.  You can't plow a field without a tractor, or spread fertilizer or pesticides.  Sure you could break into a museum and get an old-time horse plow, but you can't farm 2000 acres with a horse.  200 maybe, but modern industrial farms that currently supply 7 billion people with food would have to go back to the old ways.  Even with transportation somehow miraculously restored, 1920's technology could feed about 3 billion, max.  

So farmers are producing less, and can't transport it to market.  Good bye cities.

Cities will have no food, no wood to burn after the first winter (admittedly not such a big problem for Miami or LA), and no water (bye-bye water pumps).  New York actually has a gravity fed water system, so water will still be flowing as far as the 5th floor, but LA would be dry as a bone.  Eventually windmills could be used to get water flowing again, but at nowhere near the efficiency of the modern electric pump.

New Orleans would drown, as they are below sea level and only stay dry thanks to massive electric pumps.  LA, Pheonix and much of Texas would dry up and blow away.

Sewage would be another problem.  In the short term most sewage treatment plants would stop functioning.  They would instead release raw sewage directly into the water supply.  Diseases such as cholera and dysentry would run rampant.  Eventually this could probably be corrected, with a combination of methane capture and burning fuel such as wood or coal.  Sewage treatment is mostly done by bacteria, we just help by keeping them warm and well-fed. A few pumps, some basic skimmers and grinders, and some heat is all we really need to provide.

Medicine is another thing entirely.  Basically we wouldn't have any.  No insulin, no lithium, no Lipitor, no Aspirin.  A lot of the population, especially the elderly, would die within the first year. Type 1 diabetics would all be gone.  Type 2 could probably last longer, as there would be no sugar or processed food.  Hell, without antibiotics we're all doomed.

I don't know about you, but by the time I turned 40 I was the only one in my peer group that wasn't on some type of medication.

Eventually we'd get some medications back.  Most medicines now are produced by specially modified bacteria and yeasts.  This requires a lot of electricity to maintain and especially purify their products.  But bacteria and yeast are hardy.  Someone will eventually figure out how to maintain them and purify the medicines without electricity. Transporting the medicine would be difficult, and developing new one would be nigh-impossible.  But the lack of processed foods and forced walking (still no cars or elevators yet) would actually make many people healthier than they ever were before.  At least until they drank the water and developed dysentery. 

Of course, money would be worthless.  We'd subsist on a barter economy, at least for the near-term.  Office jobs would evaporate, but manufacturing and menial labor would multiply.  The computer programmer and stock broker would give way to the blacksmith (do you know how few blacksmiths there still are?).  

And then there's fuel sources.  We can only rely of burning wood for so long.  Europe was stripped of its trees even before the industrial revolution came along.  Coal would be king, but current coal mining relies on big machines and lopping the tops off mountains.  It would take a while to convert back to picks and steam shovels again.  Oil can both be pumped and refined without electricity, it just can't be done as efficiently.  Of course gasoline would be worthless, but kerosene would still have a use, as well as grease, machine oil and asphalt.  Iron ore can conceivably be mined and smelted without electricity (though once again, not particularly efficiently) but aluminium would be gone.  On the other hand, we'll have enough rusting out hulks that we wouldn't need to mine metals for a good few years for our greatly reduced populations.

But once again transportation is the big problem.  How do you get your products and food to market?  There's only a handful of blacksmiths left in this world.  Who's building these steam engines?  How are the roads maintained?  

I suppose it wouldn't be impossible to invent a diesel engine that uses something besides electricity to light the glow plugs. 

The Lounge Science is Sexy, Quantum is Magic Aug 26 2015
11:02 (UTC)

So the department of defense has built themselves an android robot.  It can walk, run, climb, use tools, open doors, etc.  Can the Terminator be far behind?

Atlas is a high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain. Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces. Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use. Atlas includes 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso. An articulated sensor head includes stereo cameras and a laser range finder.

And they've just completed an upgrade to make it quieter, stronger, and upgraded it's power source (no word on whether it uses an iridium nuclear-energy cell).  All it needs now is an Arnold skinsuit.

The Lounge 2015 Gardening thread Aug 25 2015
15:47 (UTC)

*Sigh*, my tomato plant gave me 1 tomato, approximately 1.5 inches in diameter.  I needed at least 3 to break even on buying the plant.  Oh well.

On the other hand I have a bumper crop of chives, rhubarb, raspberries and (soon) apples.  I have so much rhubarb right now I don't know what to do with it.  I've been making rhubarb pie, rhubarb cake and just so, so much rhubarb jam.  More rhubarb jam than I can possibly eat in several years.  I guess I know what I'm giving away for Christmas this year.

Does anyone know of a good recipe for Rhubarb wine?  It's been a few years since I decided to stop making wine because I only drink like, 2 bottles a year and my basement was filling up with dusty several-years old bottles, but I have to do something with all this rhubarb.


The Lounge Science is Sexy, Quantum is Magic Aug 24 2015
13:12 (UTC)

Brain immortality anyone?

Science is continuing to try to upload a brain into a computer. And they have succeeded ... with the brain of a nematode (worm).  Basically they mapped the brain of a nematode, marked every connection between every neuron, simulated that map into a Lego Mindstorm, and then watched as the Lego robot behaved exactly like a nematode.

They basically coped the brain of a living organism, put it in a machine, and watched as the machine behaved like the living organism.  They actually uploaded it's mind into a robot.

Now granted, the nematode organism only has 302 Neurons with a possible 5500 connections.  The human mind has over 100,000,000,000 neurons and the number of connections can be measured in the hundreds of trillions.  So they're nowhere near ready to copy a human brain.


Here's another researcher that's working with IBM to simulate a brain.  He's working with rat brains.  Specifically he's built a machine with 2000 computer chips that simulates the 300,000,000 interactions between the 10,000 neurons in a rats neocortical column.  A single neocortical column controls a single function of a brain.  For example, one neocortical column is used to see the colour red, or to move a single muscle, etc.

So they've built the basic building block of a brain.  Link a bunch of those together and you get a real brain.  

But to build a human brain simulation will require .... a computer that can process  200 times more data than Google currently uses, and it will consume 3 billion dollars worth of electricity a year.  Compare that to the human brain which is less than a liter and a half of meat that uses 25 watts of electricity.

So there's still a ways to go.  But as technology advances and computer processing power increases it gets easier and easier to map a human mind.  The guy working with IBM estimates that it will take him years to be able to fit a human mind down into a single computer.  How many years?  10.

So in 10 years they'll be capable of simulating a human mind in a single computer.  What will happen 10 years after that?  Will humans be capable of functional immortality?  Uploading their brain into a computer which can run on indefinably after their meatbag body dies?

Probably not, as there's no non-destructive way of recording a persons brain.  They can build a human brain inside a computer, create an artificial intelligence, but they currently have no way of recording your brain and plugging that into a computer.


Here's a quote from the second article:

“If we build this brain right, it will do everything,” Markram says. I ask him if that includes selfconsciousness: Is it really possible to put a ghost into a machine? “When I say everything, I mean everything,” he says, and a mischievous smile spreads across his face.

The Lounge Let's talk about the Apocalypse Aug 24 2015
11:24 (UTC)

Thanks to years of camping experience, I have the equipment to go offline.  I've lost electricity for days before in mid-winter and I emerged fine.

But rebuilding from a MCE would take more than days.  It would take months.  The entire power grid would go down.  There's been some improvements since the blackout of 2003, but not a lot.  A lot of the suggested improvements haven't yet been implemented.  Believe it or not a lot of the current power grid was put in place in the 1920's-1970's and hasn't really been upgraded since.  I read an article once about how some parts of New York are still using the original equipment put in place in the 1880's to 1920's.  The pictures were amazing.  

Once that goes out, it'll be incredibly hard to replace.  And you can't just pop in a new transformer and pull everything back online.  For one thing, there's only a limited supply of spare transformers that they keep on hand.  And without electricity, where would they be making more?  With no electricity to the Chinese manufacturing plants, who would be capable of making more spares? Does anyone know how to hand-wind a transformer anymore?  And with the foundries offline where do you get the copper wire?

Oh don't get me wrong, we'd recover.  It wouldn't be Armageddon.  But things would be difficult for a while.  No elevators in New York, no cellphones (or even landlines), no computers or internet for months.  The GPS would be offline and would stay that way for conceivably years.  Air transport would be gone for a good while, but ships and trains would still work fine.  Trucks and cars might be in trouble, especially as the gasoline supply would be impacted.  The stock market would of course crash.

Hospitals would have their own emergency systems that they could bring online.  They'd have to rig up some battery operated lights in the OR, which wouldn't be ideal, but there's no such thing as an OR that uses natural light, they're all deep inside buildings.  More problematic would be the lack of access to medical records.  These are all electronic now.  Even filling a prescription would be difficult.

Then of course there's the human factors.  The looting, the yahoos and survivalist running rampant while screaming "I told you so!  You can't rely on the government.  Now we get to take over!". 

There'd be hardships, but we'd mostly recover in a few months.

I had read about the 1850's event and it was amazing.  At the time electricity wasn't used much.  No home electricity, they pretty much only had telegraph.  But the telegraph system was taken out worldwide.  Hell, it was melted worldwide.  And then caught on fire.

The Lounge A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem Solving Aug 18 2015
15:38 (UTC)

I got the correct answer, precisely how they said, thus joining the 22% who weren't afraid to be wrong.

What that says about me I don't know. 

The Lounge Meanwhile in places that aren't Florida Aug 17 2015
11:10 (UTC)

Lady steals Baboon from the zoo because it made her son smile.

The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2016 presidential primary elections Aug 13 2015
11:50 (UTC)

Trump/Romney?  We could call it the billionaires club?

The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2016 presidential primary elections Aug 12 2015
21:01 (UTC)

Oddly enough I think that would be a decent pairing.

For scarier pairings how about Trump/Palin?


The Lounge School days? Aug 12 2015
11:44 (UTC)

In our current school system, you're bused in if you live more than a certain distance from the school.  I want to say 1/3 Km but I may be wrong.

But there's a catch.  The distance it in street miles, not a circumference.  For example, we lived about 5 blocks from the school, which would be well within walking distance.  But my kids were eligible for busing because of the way the road ran.  The road zigged-zagged up a hill and following that road put us outside the 1/3 km (or whatever the distance was).  Meanwhile there were walking paths that lead almost directly to the school.

At the time I worked evenings, so when school was out I'd walk down to the school, then walk back with the kids.  Any time I wasn't going to pick the kids up like that I'd have to call the school and they'll tell my kids to take the bus, and then the'd tell the bus driver as there was a head count that they had to do before the bus was allowed to leave.

The walk back was great (though uphill), as there was a plum tree on the way back.  We'd climb the tree and pick the plums and that would be our after-school snack.

In winter (and this is a Canadian winter) we couldn't walk because the walking paths weren't cleared of snow, and with a snowfall that's measured in feet these paths were soon impassible.  Sometimes the bus couldn't make it up the road, and would have to take an alternate route.  Then my kids would have to walk up to the top of the hill and meet the bus there (about a block).  The driver would normally call beforehand to tell us that our street was impassible.

Now in the really olden days when I was a kid if you lived in the city there were no school buses.  City kids were expected to take the city (metro) buses. I was living in a rural area at the time, so I got bused into the city.  School buses were (and still are) free, but the city kids would have to buy a metro pass.  That's changed now.

School started (and still starts) the Wednesday after Labour Day.  The Tuesday after the school would open, but it was just for the teachers.  The students didn't attend until Wednesday.

When I was a kid we'd get a long Christmas break and about a week in Easter.  That had changed by the time I was in grade 7.  They shortened up the Christmas break and lengthened the Easter break.  We used to get out of school about a week before Christmas, and not go back until Old Christmas Day (Jan 6).  Now my kids get out of school a day or 2 before Christmas and go back an day or two after New Years.  Meantime, there's almost 2 weeks at Easter.

I seem to recall the last day of school being the end of May when I was a kid.  Now it's mid June.  On the other hand, the kids get an extra day day off every 4 weeks as there's a teacher improvement (training seminar) that they have to attend.

The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2016 presidential primary elections Aug 07 2015
17:01 (UTC)

Somebody asked "What's the scariest 2 words in the world?"

The answer was "President Trump".

The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2015 Canadian Election Aug 07 2015
14:39 (UTC)

Apparently I missed a few parties.

I'm old enough to remember the old Rhinoceros Party of Canada.  They were a fun group.  They decided to disband when they got their very first candidate elected, because "Hey, we're in it for the fun.  Now you're telling us there's going to be actual work involved?  Someone seriously voted for us?  Screw this, we're dissolving the party."

I can also remember the old Natural Law Party.  They pledged to abolish the Canadian military and protect Canada with a "harmonic shield" put in place by everybody in Canada meditating at the same time, thus eliminating the need for war.  I saw a demonstration of their Yogic flying at the local university once.  It was a laugh.  Fun to see them all flapping their legs around to jump off the floor.  The sad part was that this was a serious party and was not in any way joking about their intentions.

The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2015 Canadian Election Aug 07 2015
14:23 (UTC)

This is not technically a political article, but amusing none the less.  BC Polygamist to receive $40,000 thanks to the new federal child-care benefit and his 121 children.

The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2015 Canadian Election Aug 07 2015
14:20 (UTC)

Well, since he wants to break up Canada and have Quebec become its own province, yeah, something's up with him.

Canadian politics are fun.  You have the rabid Quebec separatists in the Parti Quebecois, the radical left-wing NDP trying to move more into the center while still maintaining its socialists roots, the environmental Green party trying to prove that it also knows about the economy and things other than the environment, the (apparently) foundering Liberals a soft-left party slowly losing its electorate to the NDP, and the Conservatives, a right wing party inching its way towards Tea Party level hard right.


The Lounge A flamboyant thread w/ razzle dazzle about the 2015 Canadian Election Aug 07 2015
10:53 (UTC)

So who watched the debates last night?

First impression:  Where was Gilles Duceppe?  I'm assuming that because the debate was in english and/or not taking place in Quebec he decided not to attend.  Whatever, the Parti Quebecois will never be anything other than a regional player anyways.

I have to admit that going in I was rooting for Justin Trudeau.  But it was Tom Mulcair who really caught my attention.  Justin was relying too much on talking points, repeating the same information almost word for word in response to multiple questions.

It was good to see Harper being grilled on the economy.  He's taken the position that he's the best choice to lead the economy in Canada, that he's been doing it for the last 10 years and everything is rosy under his stewardship.  It was nice to see him being taken to task for saying that everything's hunky-dory when we're still running a deficit, and have been for pretty much ever since he first got elected to PM.

The Lounge I said, "You're holding back, " She said, "Shut up and Chat with me!" Aug 06 2015
15:14 (UTC)

yeah.  Besides, who would get 50,000 sharks as a wedding gift.

The Lounge I said, "You're holding back, " She said, "Shut up and Chat with me!" Aug 06 2015
15:03 (UTC)

I was trying to think what someone could do with 50,000 toasters, then I found this.

Allergy Remedies
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