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December 22, 2021

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I've probably put up some of these before, but they're all within the last few weeks...

My local power authority issued an RFP for another 250 MW of solar, this time with four hours of storage included. Individual pieces as small as 25 MW will be considered, so long as they fit within the authority's (large for its customer base) existing transmission footprint. The authority's current annual generation is about 50% renewable sources, with a target of 100% by 2030.

Power Company of Wyoming is building North America's largest wind farm, and recently signed a lease for 1.5 GW of transmission capacity in the TransWest Express project. This will allow delivery of wind power from the east side of the Rockies to a point that can service Southern California. Myself, I believe that even though no one in California has said so, this is a big chunk of the replacement power they'll need when the Diablo Canyon nukes shut down in 2024 and 2025.

The UAMPS small modular reactor nuclear project to be sited at the Idaho National Labs has changed their design to use air cooling for the steam power generation loop. Current total construction cost estimates have crept past the $8B per GW level. The reactor design has been approved by the NRC. No ground breaking for the factory where the reactors will be built yet.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett say they will build a 365 MWe sodium moderated fast neutron nuclear plant in western Wyoming. Also an air cooled generation loop. Initial construction cost estimate about $11B per GW. The reactor design has not yet been submitted to the NRC.

The Georgia Public Services commission heard testimony on the Vogtle 3 and 4 nukes: another cost increase, bringing the total estimate to about $29B for the pair (about $12B per GW); another few-month slip in the schedule for starting fueling; the smaller owners of the consortium look ready to take Georgia Power to court, claiming that trigger conditions have been met and this most recent billion dollar overrun is all on Georgia Power.

our trip to the beach through rural central NC has always taken us through endless acres of tobacco and cotton fields. but in the last couple of years, thousands of acres of that farm land has been converted to solar farms.

there's more than 7GW of installed solar power generated in NC. second in the nation, behind CA.

while it was somewhat idyllic seeing endless fields of cotton. it's nicely jarring to turn the corner from a soybean farm and see ten square miles of glittering solar panels.

('installed' = potential generated power. things like clouds reduced what actually gets produced)

Salem MA just won a bid to be a marshaling port for offshore wind farm development. "Marshaling port" basically means a land base of operations for building out offshore wind farms. The marshaling yard will occupy a 40+ acre property that used to be the site of a coal-burning power plant.

I think the wind turbines themselves will be located off of Martha's Vineyard.

It's been possible, with hydro power, to turn the turbines into pumps, and put water back on the uphill side. Fastly lower friction losses than train mechanisms, too.

It's been possible, with hydro power, to turn the turbines into pumps, and put water back on the uphill side. Fastly lower friction losses than train mechanisms, too.

My local power authority has been approached by investors interested in building a sizeable (700MW, eight hours if the upper reservoir is full) pumped hydro storage system that would be served by the authority's transmission network. They would buy excess wind/solar/hydro* power across an extensive area at low rates to pump water uphill, then sell generated power for a profit during periods of higher demand.

* Dams usually can't time water releases solely on the basis of generating electricity. Sometimes they have to free up capacity for flood control, or to meet downstream irrigation demands.

Back during the 1978 oil crisis, NSF solicited proposals from the public(!) for non-fossil power generation. One of my professors at the time went over some of them for the class. His favorite(?) was the "Rocky Mountains Rock Wheel": a system for chipping rocks off the tops of mountains and using their fall to drive generators. I forget the details, but I think the proposal included a calculation that all US electricity for 500(?) years could be generated this way before the Rockies were leveled:)

--TP

TP -- I was only a literature major (Course XXI-B2, Humanities and Science, with a concentration in literature and a second concentration in history). But the first thought that comes into my mind is to wonder whether the proposal included the cost of the externalities of leveling the Rockies.

May I say "LOL"?

Rivers? Wildlife? Plant life? People who live in the Rockies? Weather patterns?!?!?!?!?

I quit even looking at Tech Review a long time ago because I got tired of the "rah rah tech will save the world" refrain. Don't these people know anything about history or hubris? (Another rhetorical question. Clearly the humanities requirement wasn't sufficient.)

I forget the details, but I think the proposal included a calculation that all US electricity for 500(?) years could be generated this way before the Rockies were leveled:)

Nope. Biting my tongue. Blood flowing down my chin, soaking my shirt, ruining the carpet. But I'm not going to ask to see the assumptions about how much mass was going to be moved what horizontal distances at no energy cost.

But I'm not going to ask to see the assumptions about how much mass was going to be moved what horizontal distances at no energy cost.

I didn't encounter the original, but I'd bet it was a first cut. That is, just take the mass and the height of the Rockies vs sea level. Never mind about finding somewhere downhill to put all that mass. Never mind that the surrounding groung (e.g. around Denver) is rather above sea level -- were you going to excavate that?

Calculations like that do serve a purpose: they can tell you relatively rapidly and easily when something won't work. But no competent engineer would even consider them for designs to meet specs.

There was a spoof theory in the early 1970's that the CCP was going to organize a great leap by the entire 800 million of their citizens simultaneously into the Pacific Ocean along their coastline and cause a catastrophic tsumami that would engulf the entire west coast of America.

It kind of happened, but by other means.

I gave a speech on it in Introductory Speech 101 freshman year of college. It was a refreshing break from dressing up like John Lennon and giving War is Over (If You Want It) speeches week after week.

I wish I had followed through on my idea of dragging a double bed into the classroom a la the Amsterdam and Montreal bed-ins and inviting the Japanese coed on campus named, yes, Yoko, to recline with me and be interviewed about the peace movement by my classmates.

I expect theories similar to the tsunami one to emerge soon as the conservative movement gins up a new Yellow Peril justification for nuclear war.

Wait, they've already started.

JanieM: May I say "LOL"?

Of course! It was the whole spirit of that class discussion. As proper coastal elitists, we were all laughing at what wacky ideas "the public" was offering to NSF. Unseemly contempt for the sturdy yeomen of the heartland on our part, of course, but we didn't know any better back then.

--TP

such as... building a dome over your town!

The trains are just a wrinkle on gravity storage. Needs convenient slopes; interesting, though.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_battery

I also like cryogenic storage, as it's just as scalable, and deployable more or less anywhere.
https://highviewpower.com/technology/

A lot of the inefficiency in energy generation comes from the entropy involved in operating "heat engines".

Cryogenic storage would be even worse: have to run a refrigerator (even less efficient, thanks to entropy) PLUS a heat engine to get the stored energy back. It would be more efficient to store your energy as super-hot rocks and then use the stored heat to run a heat engine, but still iffy.

The "gravity railroad" seems like a nightmare to me: too much mechanical stuff to go wrong/maintain for the energy stored.

At least with hydroelectric, if your pipes have small leaks, it's just some inefficiency; if a gravity train wheel (one of many!) bumps off a track, you have major problems.

And there's other uses for stored water.

If we're going to involve the Rockies, why not store energy by raising the entire mountain range by some very small distance. Let the mass do most of the work rather than the height. Raise the Rockies just an inch and you have a ton of potential energy!

flywheels it is.

If we make them out of black holes, they can be really small and still have lots of rotational kinetic energy. God, it's so simple.

But if they are too small, they can explode at any moment. Don't know whether there is an increase in Hawking radiation early enough to serve as a warning sign.

Based on what I see in my backyard, I’m pretty sure we could power the world with squirrels.

Plus, they work (literally) for peanuts.

There was a spoof theory in the early 1970's that the CCP was going to organize a great leap by the entire 800 million of their citizens simultaneously into the Pacific Ocean along their coastline and cause a catastrophic tsumami that would engulf the entire west coast of America.

Ripley's Believe It or Not did a piece called "The Marching Chinese" at some point. The calculation said roughly that if all the Chinese in the world started marching through a gateway, four abreast and at standard speed, the line would never end because the birth rate was higher than the rate of people passing through the gate.

The calculation was never accurate. Assuming 120 strides per minute, 30 inch strides, 60 inch rank spacing, 525,960 minutes per year, and four people per rank, something over 125 million people per year would pass through the gateway. Global births first reached that level in 1980, are forecast to stay above it until the end of this century, and then to decline.

Cryogenic storage would be even worse...

But what if everyone had a smart freezer, controlled by the grid, which could make the freezer colder when it had excess power, and let it warm up a little (to -16C say) when it wanted to use less?

Just realized; the "railroad" plan is actually NOT a railroad.
It's a funicular. Which is 'way cooler, if you could actually ride it somewhere.

Which, unfortunately, you couldn't.

IIRC, I've ridden funiculars in Switzerland and Japan. Maybe Belgium too. Always worth a trip.

But what if everyone had a smart freezer, controlled by the grid, which could make the freezer colder when it had excess power, and let it warm up a little (to -16C say) when it wanted to use less?

Demand management is a different thing than grid-scaled storage. Which is not to say that demand management isn't important, it's just different.

In an unexpected burst of common sense some years back, the FERC ruled that utilities could bid "negawatts" in wholesale electricity markets. That is, particularly during a demand peak, when peaking generators might be offering to generate only for very high prices, utilities could (on behalf of their customers) offer to reduce demand for less per MWh. And the SCOTUS held that Congress did indeed define "electricity market regulated by FERC" broadly enough to cover negawatts. I was surprised by the FERC decision and darned near stunned by the SCOTUS opinion.

The calculation said roughly that if all the Chinese in the world started marching through a gateway, four abreast and at standard speed, the line would never end because the birth rate was higher than the rate of people passing through the gate.

The calculation was never accurate.

Leaving aside how long the strides were, etc., how would they have the opportunity to, um, procreate, not to mention taking a break from marching to give birth, etc.

Leaving aside how long the strides were, etc., how would they have the opportunity to, um, procreate, not to mention taking a break from marching to give birth, etc.

How long does it take you to walk/past a post? The thought experiment didn't have them lined up and marching constantly, just long enough to each march past the post. Plenty of time for other pursuits.

flywheels it is.

Flywheels have those nasty failure modes where all the energy gets accidentally released in a very short period of time.

But the damages from a flywheel failure are tangential...

But the damages from a flywheel failure are tangential...

Essentially all failure modes result in things going high-energy linear...

Give Manchin what he wants, or the planet gets it.
https://slate.com/business/2021/12/manchin-build-back-better-environment-biden.html

What does Manchin want ?
Fnck knows.

What does Manchin want ?

Every last second of his 15 minutes in the spotlight, and all the money he can squeeze out of it.

He wants to be popular in West Virginia. And he wants to be rich. Destroying the planet, who cares?

Let's conjure a djinn and turn him (Manchin) into a poplar - and that into matches!

Still an open thread?

Hooked up the granddaughters gift yesterday afternoon: an A/V link between their house and mine using the code I wrote 27 years ago and recently resuscitated, and bits and pieces from the Raspberry Pi parts box in my closet. We talked three times yesterday evening after I was home. Other than the acoustic echo I expected, it all worked. The girls seemed to enjoy it -- or at least mugging for the video camera.

(Yes, Zoom and Teams and whatever. But with this I know where the data goes, and none of those places are a corporate server.)

Why Is John Roberts So Popular Among Democrats?
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/12/john-roberts-boasts-majority-approval-among-democrats.html

He’s just a more sophisticated grifter.
I guess the US just likes grifters.

If you view unemployment benefits as a serious incentive to not work, I suppose this makes sense
5 GOP-led states extend unemployment aid to workers who lose jobs over vaccine mandates

Workers who quit or are fired for cause — including for defying company policy — are generally ineligible for jobless benefits. But Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have carved out exceptions for those who won’t submit to the multi-shot coronavirus vaccine regimens that many companies now require. Similar ideas have been floated in Wyoming, Wisconsin and Missouri.

Critics contend that these states are incentivizing people to skip shots that public health experts say offer the best line of defense against the coronavirus.

Which is likely the point.

As a person who formerly worried about details of UI financing, I note that in many states the number of employees who leave your company and qualify for UI benefits has a (sometimes dramatic) effect on the business's UI premium/tax rate. (a) Wonder if those states fall in that category, and (b) wonder if the legislatures changed that part of the rule as well?

I guess there's a (c) as well: the financial penalties for all businesses in a state if the state falls out of compliance with federal rules on the UI program are pretty severe. Speaking from experience, nothing ruins a legislative staffer's day like getting a call from the federal Dept of Labor saying "Senate Bill 423, as passed and signed into law, does not conform to the federal requirements. You know what that means, don't you?"

I'm trying to learn Python well enough to do something useful. I'm a bit rusty after not writing much code for about three decades. For those of you still writing code, it would likely be close to a breeze to pick it up.

I had to learn Python when it turned out my children were being taught it. (For some meaning of 'had to'.) It's not difficult.

I'm trying to learn Python well enough to do something useful. I'm a bit rusty after not writing much code for about three decades. For those of you still writing code, it would likely be close to a breeze to pick it up.

I'm on the same page of Eric Raymond in the sense that being annoyed about the "white space has syntactical meaning" goes away after about 20 minutes, and I was writing meaningful code faster than any other language I picked up.

One of the very good decisions Guido made was when he decided that if it didn't include tkinter it wasn't Python, and to enforce that. So it's guaranteed that if you have Python, you can code GUIs. Larry Wall should have done something similar with Perl 5.

OTOH, if you want to crunch numbers you have to learn at least one, and possibly multiple libraries because the interpreter is too slow. And if you're in my situation, all of audio, video, pipes, and internet packets have different incompatible event loops. The A/V code for the granddaughters is a really bizarre mix of Python, Perl, and antique C.

"The A/V code for the granddaughters is a really bizarre mix of Python, Perl, and antique C."

Should put some APL in there, just for "compatibility".

I *still* want to hit the space bar 6 times at the beginning of each line of code. It feels so *wrong* not to. Maybe I should try Python, then.

(a) Wonder if those states fall in that category, and (b) wonder if the legislatures changed that part of the rule as well?

Given the general (in)competence track record of these folks, it would not be wonderful if they changed nothing there, nor even considered that there might be something to change. Why spare a thought on wasting their citizens' money on penalties? After all, they're willing to waste their lives.

Besides, they might create a test case to get the political hacks now in charge of the Supreme Court to toss the Federal requirements altogether. Maybe even a decision written broadly enough to gut Federal regulations generally.

Python code:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAy4zULKFDU

There are many things to complain about perl, but probably the worst is that if you learn perl first, you can never get past the fact that python's pattern recognition methods are an abomination.

"There are many things to complain about perl"

...all part of the "more than one way to do it" ethos, it's true.

In this video, Rep. Cawthorn claims he got married after a guy he met at a Russian casino scammed him into attending a CrossFit competition that didn't actually exist, but "put me in the same room with the girl who would eventually become my fiancee.”

https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1475583481778475012

Besides, they might create a test case to get the political hacks now in charge of the Supreme Court to toss the Federal requirements altogether. Maybe even a decision written broadly enough to gut Federal regulations generally.

Ever since Sebelius, where the Court decided that the Medicaid expansion was unconstitutional because the threat for not accepting it was so severe no state could afford to, I have been waiting for a state to challenge the unemployment insurance system. Basically, the threat for not having a conforming program is so severe that all states have such programs. The feds know it because even though there is the option for a state to drop out, and the feds would be required to take applications and send out payments, the feds have absolutely zero of the infrastructure to do that.

Several years back a state legislator here in Colorado made a floor speech on a Friday saying perhaps it was time for Colorado to bail on the UI program. The following Monday he made a speech in which he said he had been contacted by many of his constituents over the weekend and it most definitely was not time for Colorado to consider leaving, as the penalties were so severe.

The gutting the regulatory agencies case is West Virginia v. EPA and three consolidated cases, oral arguments in February. This is why Gorsuch was confirmed.

if the GOP no longer wants to exist, they will get rid of UI.

if the GOP no longer wants to exist, they will get rid of UI.

Well, that might work. But more sure-fire would be to embrace the folks who occasionally get up and call for abolishing Social Security. Or Medicare.

Why wait for that eventuality?

The GOP has already proved themselves worthy of physical extinction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGy7O5OaRaU

Finally, a fucking conservative tells us straight out what they plan to do with their weapons:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/gun-ownership-is-political-violence/

An armed society is one in which I shoot armed conservatives for carrying weapons in public they want to kill me with and for not wearing masks and not being vaxxed, in case they miss with the bullets, and then their corpses finally have the sense to shut the eff up and remain politely silent for eternity.

Public executions, indeed. Turn the sound up.

https://twitter.com/patriottakes/status/1475270184290062336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1475270184290062336%7Ctwgr%5Ehb_1_7%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailykos.com%2Fstory%2F2021%2F12%2F27%2F2071406%2F-Fascism-House-Republican-extremists-look-to-support-candidates-as-devoted-to-Trump-as-they-are

Bullets in flight are constitutionally-protected free political speech and I'll bet I can get five conservative Supreme Court Judges wearing bullet-proof vests to agree with me, given the trajectory of bullshit conservative movement juris(im)prudence in this disgrace of a country.

Roberts will crinkle his brow and recuse himself, but only because the other five justices are packing heat in his presence and he's a coward.

Just a reminder...

"Well, that might work. But more sure-fire would be to embrace the folks who occasionally get up and call for abolishing Social Security. Or Medicare."

That last won't work with the addlepated, psychotic sociopaths tearing the country asunder:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/12/oregon-secession-idaho-move-border/621087/

Key sentences:

"Counties such as Harney are hugely dependent on federal funding; Oregon’s second congressional district, which covers the entire eastern swath of the state, was the nation’s biggest recipient of Affordable Care Act funds."

These ilk can be stupid six ways to Sunday and each time time they add another layer of stupid to it, it inflames their authentic dumbass, oh so sincere passions all the more so.

They want to be martyrs, as all fake American Christians seem to. But at the moment of their martyrdom, nailed to the their crosses, they'll point out that they see their house from their elevated view.

Wait, that's Oregon. I thought the house came with.

From nooneithinkisimmytree's link to The American Conservative:

"Heavily armed men are a necessary but insufficient condition for the rule of law."

"Necessary"??? Hard to believe that anyone of even moderate intelligence, and a modicum of awareness of the world, could make that statement with a straight face. But apparently alienation from reality has progressed further than I realized.

If they don't like the way things turn out through the existing legal and constitutional processes, they'll overthrow it all.

The fact that most people really would rather not have it all overthrown is irrelevant, to them.

We've tolerated the development of private militias - bands of armed people not accountable to any civil authority - and this is where we've ended up.

If they don't like the way things turn out through the existing legal and constitutional processes, they'll overthrow it all.

Say, rather, they'll try to overthrow it all. But if they reach the point where it looks like they might succeed, they will discover that most people aren't fans. And simply won't put up with it. Likely to be rather a shock to their systems, having reality intrude like that.

And yes, "they" can equally well apply to rhe political hacks on the Supreme Court. Being a serious minority, and seriously out of line with the nation, simply won't work.

Say, rather, they'll try to overthrow it all.

I'd say it depends on whether military leadership can be co-opted. Cops as well, and that's probably a lower bar.

And short of overthrowing it all, they can FUBAR it enough to bring useful progress on any given topic to something between an extremely slow walk and a total halt.

See also COVID vaccination rates in the good old red states.

Being a serious minority, and seriously out of line with the nation, simply won't work.

I generally agree with this, especially long term. But a lot will get broken - is getting broken, has already been broken - along the way.

According to Plato those hoplites need a very thorough brainwashing and indoctrination to keep them from just taking over the state. To be precise, he compares them to guard dogs that have to be trained from birth NOT to attack their owners but only those the owners consider a threat.
And, btw, the hoplites were the wealthy citizens that could afford the kit. The poorer citizens could row the triremes instead. Iirc there was quite some tension after the Persian wars when those rowing have-nots demanded equal respect as the bronzeclad haves which the latter were unwilling to provide.

Say, rather, they'll try to overthrow it all. But if they reach the point where it looks like they might succeed, they will discover that most people aren't fans. And simply won't put up with it.

wj, sometimes I think your optimism will survive anything the world throws at it. Whether most people aren't fans, or are, will be immaterial. For "most people" to actually do anything to counter it, things would have to be so dire that it would probably be too late. If January 6th had succeeded, the Senate had not certified the vote, and Trump had been declared the winner after a week or two of crazy claims and constant reinforcement on Fox, I can't even begin to do the thought experiment about what would have come next. Would anybody else care to take a try, or is it just too close to the bone?

The difference between the hoplites and self-appointed militia bands is that the hoplites were accountable to the civil authority. The difference between the militia as a historical institution known to and familiar to the founders and today’s self-appointed militias, likewise.

Groups of people who, at their own initiative, take up arms against civil authority, are not a militia as understood by the founders. They are not the militia referenced in the 2nd A. They are insurrectionists.

Such groups were well known to the founders, see also Shay’s rebellion and the Whiskey rebellion. The folks who participated in those actions had legitimate complaints, but their rebellions were treated as insurrections and were put down, by force. In fact, they were put down by the actual militia of the time.

To GFTNC’s question, Trump’s attempt to remain in office by having Congress refuse to certify the election results was an attempted coup. It’s as close as this country has ever come to a failure of the peaceful and legitimate transfer of power. I have no idea where we would be had he succeeded.

If January 6th had succeeded, the Senate had not certified the vote, and Trump had been declared the winner after a week or two of crazy claims and constant reinforcement on Fox, I can't even begin to do the thought experiment about what would have come next.

OK, an optimist's view of a pessimistic scenario. ;-)

First, while the Senate might have contrived to reelect Pence as Vice President, the decision on who is President falls to the House. And I can't see the House, with a Democratic majority, setting aside the actual vote. So, Trump wouldn't have gotten reelected regardless.

To get himself reelected, Trump would have needed his shock troop to actually kill some significant number of members of Congress. (More precisely, some significantly larger number of Democratic members than Republican members. A level of precision I doubt they were capable of.)

Then, they would have needed the remaining members to agree that the reduced number were adequate to act. And that they were brave enough to, essentially, vote themselves out of existance -- because setting aside the election results in Trump's favor would have done exactly that.

And finally, the military, in particular, would have had to accept the whole charade. Which I don't see happening. There are, admittedly, some MAGA types in the ranks. But the upper ranks tend to take their oaths to "support, protect, and defend the Constitution" very seriously indeed. They would accept the election, or reelection, of someone they dispise. They would not tolerate a coup like this.

I would also note this. The 2nd Amendment crazies tend to favor Trump. And they have far more guns . . . currently. But I am far from the only citizen who thinks differently and has been trained how to use a gun. Sure, it would take time for us to arm up. But in a worst case scenario, we could and would. And we would be left in a situation not unlike the early Civil War: one side might have a head start. But the infrastructure for a war is mostly controlled by the other.

The way I remember it, the vote would go to the House but not on a 1-representative-1-vote base but by 1 per state, so the GOP would have been in the majority there.

The vote could go that way. But the criteria to get there are not crystal clear. And thwarting a coup attempt is a big motivation to interpret the rules so it doesn't. Which would outrage the MAGAots, but that's not really a disincentive.

The thing about all these descriptions of all the things that would have to happen for The Umber Menace to be able to overthrow the election result is that they assume that all of the plans have to work for the government to be overthrown. But that's not the case. They don't need to win, they just need to stop government from working and convince enough people to ignore the old protocols and we are left with a hollowed out patchwork of governmental functions that are strung along in order to prevent economic collapse.

The only thing that keeps the United States a functioning nation state is continued agreement to follow the protocols outlined in the Constitution. It doesn't sustain itself or enforce itself.

Most of the US would only bestir itself enough to keep the lights on.

They don't need to win, they just need to stop government from working and convince enough people to ignore the old protocols and we are left with a hollowed out patchwork of governmental functions that are strung along in order to prevent economic collapse.

Pretty sure they think they only need to throw enough sand in the gears, too. And from the perspective of the libertarian donors, that's quite possibly true.

But to keep Trump in power? There they, and you, are wrong. "Enough people" to ignore the old protocols is a lot bigger than either of you may believe. A Congress which does nothing will probably be tolerated. A violation of the peaceful transfer of power? Rather a different deal.

Put it this way. I would be, indeed I am, upset at the Congressional Republicans sabotage of our national government. And especially with the damage they have done to the judicial branch. I'm willing to work to defeat them, and to donate to defeat them. But that's it.

But a coup? Half a century ago, I took an oath to the Constitution. It didn't come with an expiration date. I don't own a gun, and I haven't fired one since I left the Air Force decades ago. But against a coup? Let's just say I've started thinking seriously about what kind of gun to get, should it become necessary. Somehow, I suspect that I am far from alone.

wj, I think you know I too am an optimist. Alas, there are some very disturbing facts to contend with.

Lindsey Graham's calculation that the GOP has no choice but to stick with Trump seems to have been widely accepted in the party. Probably he is right. Despite the structural advantages the GOP enjoys in the Senate and Electoral College, popular vote margins are very much against them.

I have never owned a gun and only once (at Boy Scout camp) fired at a target, though I am confident I could become proficient. Could I aim at another human being, though? I doubt it will come to that (there's that optimism again) but my predictions are not 100% reliable.

I'm grateful to have met you. Be well.

The Umber Menace has more power as a pretender to a contested presidency in a non-functioning ex-republic than he does as an ex-president in a functioning one. Biden has less power in a non-functioning ex-republic than he does as president in a marginally functioning one.

This is not about winning, it's about not allowing the other side to win.

I'm sure that many people would be drawn into a widening insurrection on either side, but a lot of effort would be put into preservation of the minimal function required to prevent collapse. If the shell of federal function continues, then the fight turns to trying to enforce civil rights on all of the disputed culture war issues.

Where will you take that gun? Where do the people that oppose the GOP go to try to force compliance? What's to be done if the governors of deep red states and the sheriffs of deep red counties just refuse to comply with federal standards?

It's not the willingness to take up arms I doubt, it's the ability to apply it in ways that allow you to control occupied territory.

Whether or not one side can rule, we are perilously close to becoming a failed state.

Where will you take that gun?

That is, of course, the challenge.

My suspicion is that it would end up from this side mostly being about defending those just trying to do their (government) jobs. Say at the county seat on election evening. Perhaps not my own county; but perhaps a nearby one.

What's to be done if the governors of deep red states and the sheriffs of deep red counties just refuse to comply with federal standards?

What happens whenever Federal law gets broken. Think US Marshals, FBI, etc. showing up with cuffs. If necessary, with as much back-up as required -- even a very red sheriff's department doesn't have the manpower to match the Feds. And it isn't necessary to go in every place. A couple high-profile arrests would have the same impact as a couple highly visible firings for failure to get vaccinated: most of the rest fold.

This may or may not be the appropriate thread for this link .... I can't remember which is which any longer:

https://www.wired.com/story/the-quest-to-trap-carbon-in-stone-and-beat-climate-change/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

wj, sometimes I think your optimism will survive anything the world throws at it.

wj is in California. I'm in Colorado and am probably at least as optimistic as he is. My friend the anthropologist and I discuss the topic of "western optimism" occasionally. Here's what my friend and I put at the top of the reasons why.

Economics. In the West, "urban problems" derive from almost unmanageable population and job growth. I suggest that the construction crane ought to be Denver's official bird; he points out that LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland all have higher crane counts. Back in the day when Amazon was doing HQ2, I read any number of East Coast pundits who said flat out, "Denver can't build that much office space in the 15-year Amazon window." Even without Amazon, Denver built that much in only three years.

Voting. Voting is getting easier, even in red states. Nevada, Utah and Hawaii have switched to state of the art vote by mail systems. California went to full vote by mail. Near automatic voter registration is the rule, not the exception. Consider a comparison between Georgia and Arizona, both states with Republican trifectas (Arizona's quite narrow). In both states several anti-democratic bills were introduced in 2021. In Georgia, they passed. In Arizona, they didn't.

Climate change. There is no public debate about whether it's happening. Drought, fire, and floods can't be ignored. States aren't waiting for federal action to switch to low- or no-carbon electricity. Even Wyoming, where 40% of US thermal coal is mined, is accepting that there's little future in coal. But they have the best onshore wind resource in the country, and the biggest wind farm in North America is under construction there. There are going to sell a lot of wind power to Southern California when the Diablo Canyon nukes shut down.

Distance from the main stream media. I used to make bets with people that on a given day, if they checked the NYTimes and WaPost to see what the main stream media thought was the important news of the morning, then checked six or seven big dailies in the West (eg, the leading paper in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Denver), you wouldn't know that they were talking about the same country. I won much more often than I lost.

I deleted a long, pessimistic post in which I ended up agreeing with nous's prediction @10.08 as the more likely but less extreme outcome than the one I feared.

Michael Cain, wj: from your various lips to God's ear, and I only hope for more than the west of the USA (which I guess could end up providing a shining counter-example to the rest of the country, after a while).

The western US, for all its growth and prosperity, has a lot simmering under the surface. California has a profound housing crisis and water is likely to become a serious issue. I see favelas in the not too distant future. Northern California, southeast Oregon, and Idaho have serious white sovereignty vibes and a deep anti-federal streak. Western Colorado coughed up the hairball that is Boebert. Utah has a deep COVID anti-government thing going ATM. Arizona and Nevada are going to have serious climate crisis. Montana and Wyoming are going to turn into greenwashed tax havens for the super rich, which is going to add fuel to the sovereignty issues in Idaho.

Optimism needs to roll up its sleeves and figure out a way to stitch together those divides or we will end up with a loose confederation of urban leagues trying to keep a lid on rural militias.

California has a profound housing crisis and water is likely to become a serious issue.

Thus nous demonstrating western optimism. ;-)

On any objective measure, California reached crisis status on water in the middle of the last century.** We built some enormous infrastructure projects, which kept us from moving from crisis to utter disaster. Temporarily. But the situation keeps getting worse. And the next supply source would involve an aqueduct across Oregon from the Columbia River. I don't see that actually happening. But it says something that the idea even occurs.

** Fights over water have been a staple of California politics my whole life. The only reason they weren't worse, and far worse for the environment, is that the folks where the water would go were small-government fiscal conservatives. Made it harder to get their votes for big government projects.

Optimism needs to roll up its sleeves and figure out a way to stitch together those divides or we will end up with a loose confederation of urban leagues trying to keep a lid on rural militias.

From time to time the rural radicals get separation items onto the ballot. And what happens? Except for the counties with the smallest populations, they lose. Colorado's 51st State movement got resolutions for the county officials to open discussions with the state on 11 county ballots. They won in five. Those five have tiny populations, less than 10,000 people. Collectively, across the 11 counties, the proposal went down in flames. There may be small groups of anarchists, but there are not broadly supported rural militia battalions waiting to roll into the western cities.

And the next supply source would involve an aqueduct across Oregon from the Columbia River. I don't see that actually happening. But it says something that the idea even occurs.

It's much easier (conceptually) to buy out enough Idaho farmers and divert a million acre-feet or so from the Snake. IIRC, only one relatively small mountain range to get over, and then it flows into the Green River and is downhill all the way to the Gulf of California. I don't remember the elevation changes, but believe it was feasible for the plan to be energy-positive. Not good for the salmon, though.

There may be small groups of anarchists, but there are not broadly supported rural militia battalions waiting to roll into the western cities.

I don't expect that there would be such things. What we will most likely have are increasingly frequent incidents of mass violence (shootings, bombings) and mass protests (armed and otherwise), selectively and differentially dealt with by law enforcement agencies that are largely sympathetic at the staff level.

Violence will be much more diffuse and much more tactical than open conflict. It's likely to be terror attrition aimed at wearing down public resolve and attacks on whatever critical infrastructure the groups oppose.

Look to the IRA/Sinn Fein for a model of what to expect (ironic, since the US right has been aligned with the Orangemen). Today's GOP is already operating in a Sinn Fein sort of mode.

Here's another bit of western optimism to brighten your day
https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/2021/12/22/redistricting-is-going-surprisingly-well-for-democrats

it's possible for a pretty small number of people to have a truly large impact on other folks' lives. see also, the Jim Crow era Klan and similar organizations. which went on for something like 100 years.

I won't pretend to understand the complaints of the folks who support Trump. they make up somewhere between a third and half the country, and appear to be more than sufficiently motivated to wreak havoc. See also last January 6.

Or, you know, see also a Board of Health session about Covid protocols in Beverly, MA, about five miles from me here in blue coastal elitist MA, which ended with threats to burn down the home of the mayor of Boston. Unclear what the mayor of Boston had to do with Covid protocols in Beverly, but mental clarity does not appear to a strong suit with some folks.

If they don't get their way, they'll FUBAR it for everyone. Guns or other forms of violence optional, of course, but not to be ruled out.

I'm not sure exactly what it is these people want, other than to not be bothered by anybody else. That's nice work if you can get it, but it's less and less likely that it's going to be an option, because there are more and more people around.

I really don't know where this all goes, but I have a hard time being as optimistic as you all.

The optimists (all two of them) are from the west. Personally, while hoping they're right, at least in that limited way, I myself am very pessimistic and becoming more so. Where the US is concerned, I fear 2022, and 2024 even more. I hope to God I am wrong.

Speaking of Sinn Fein

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/dec/28/sinn-fein-on-path-to-power-ireland

So I guess we should look forward to 2220?

I also have to make an observation about optimism and pessimism that I have had difficult framing because it is just an observation, folks will have to decide whether it applies to them or not. But optimism feels to me like it partakes too much of privilege. As Russell notes, there is a large chunk of the country that support Trump and that suggests to me that at least that many don't understand privilege and will view any attempt at fairer distribution and outcomes as being unfair to them.

The problem with both worldviews is that the 'evidence' of events doesn't really fall into neat categories. I'm heartened by the Chilean election and other developments in South America
https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/12/24/chile-election-boric-2021-latin-america-top-stories/

but I'm also thinking that what brought Boric to power was basically a rise in the mass transit fees
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/18/chile-students-mass-fare-dodging-expands-into-city-wide-protest

https://www.vox.com/world/2019/10/29/20938402/santiago-chile-protests-2019-riots-metro-fare-pinera

When we live in a time where a 4 cent increase in subway fares can trigger things like this, I find optimism a tough row to hoe.

I'm an optimist in that I'm a teacher - an inherently optimistic and idealistic pursuit if ever there was one. That said, I'm the sort of conservative that wants to err on the side of extra mitigation and margins of error when assessing long-term risks. I'd rather be less optimistic in my planning and be able to dial things back and feel sheepish when things end up better than I had planned.

Well, teaching has generally been a conservative endeavour in that you are teaching things that are thought worth preserving and passing on. Even if you aim at teaching skills, you are generally teaching skills that you feel have been proven to help.

This conservatism, at least here in Japan, came with a pretty high cost when there is the kind of disruption that COVID has brought. I don't have any idea of numbers, but there were more than a few teachers who would come on to some of the lists set up to help and say they had never used a computer or only used it for facebook and email, running their classes entirely with paper. This seemed more common in the big cities where a one hour commute to get to the school would be a minimum commute to get to the classroom. This was propped up by schools that often still did everything on paper.

A book(s) review:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/03/how-politics-got-so-polarized

I'm an optimist in the Nietzschean sense of accepting my life as I have lived it ... amor fati.

As for the next Civil War referenced in the review, I don't see that the conservative movement has given us any choice but to plan to kill all of them when they start it ... the macguffin being of course, as one reviewed book's author points out, that they already have, which would be obvious to us if we were reading about events in this country over the past several years .. let's go back to the Oklahoma City bombing, since the building I and my now-ex-wife was cased by the murderers .. as though they were happening in another country.

Our foreign policy establishment would be bracing for upheaval and chaos in THAT country, wouldn't they?

What if 1/6/21 had occurred in Ottawa? Hanh?

But, to allude to the article again, I'm still buying my conservative friends a chocolate malt on occasion.

Maybe I'm memorizing the whites of their eyes for when they are coming at me for less friendly reasons.

nous, your strategy looks sound to me. "Hope for the best, expect the worst" comes to mind.

russell mentioned "somewhere between a third and half the country." I doubt it's really that many, though it's certainly a larger number than I like.

What I cannot understand is the people who cling to Trump despite repeated humiliation and disdain. Politicians in Congress, OK, they are ambitious and want votes. But the people who work closely with him? What is their deal?

.. the building I and my ex-wife worked in.

It was bad enough that the husband of one of my best friends was murdered along with so many other innocents (public employees, now hated even more by the vermin conservative movement) in the actual bombing of the Murrah building.

All of the 1/6 crew of fucks are thousands of Timothy McVeighs.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/24/politics/january-6-video-capitol-hill-riot/index.html

And remember Democratic Party public servants were forced to sequester from the violence, from being fucking murdered by the Republican base, invited to the insurrection by a subhuman Republican President and his thug killers in Congress, with unmasked, anti-vax subhuman Republicans, the aforementioned thug tax-hating killers, breathing on them.

No chocolate malts for any of them.

Only bullets to answer theirs.

I'm not a Wall Street sort of optimist, the lying kind who insults our intelligence. I mean, I don't tell you the asteroid or comet that is going to destroy all life on the planet tomorrow at noon has been discounted by the all-seeing bullshit market and you should consider buying stocks of companies that sell, sunglasses, flame retardant, and pillows you can scream into, probably from a fascist pillow jagoff, in it for the very short term.

no1, you watched Don't Look Up didn't you? Take a break (or a Xanax? Just kidding.)

I wrote it.

I play the comet.

The conversation here has had Radiohead's "Optimistic" going through my head most of the day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1On-ZHfTWOo

russell mentioned "somewhere between a third and half the country."

The popular vote in 2020 was Biden 51.3%, Trump 46.9%. Trump got 1/3 of the popular vote in Massa-freaking-chusetts.

If you have information I’m not aware of that tells you my estimate is overblown, I’d love to see it. No sarcasm.

I'm not a Wall Street sort of optimist

I’m the kind of optimist who says the Black Plague killed as much as 20% of the human population in less than 10 years - 30 to 50% of the population of Europe - and we got through that, right?

It’s true, I’m no fun at parties.

The United States will get through this mess, which is to say, there will still be a country called that, located in North America, people will here and go about their daily lives etc etc etc. we’re not going to be reduced to a smoking pile of rubble. it’s just unclear what the damage will be, and what things will look like when we’re on the other side of it.

Assuming there is an “other side of it”, which is not a given. All of the folks supporting Trump didn’t just land here from some other planet, they’ve been here basically forever, and have been sitting on the toxic crap that Trump has tapped into for god knows how long. None of that is going away anytime soon.

I’ll be more sanguine if and when I see the principals behind 1/6/21 in jail. For example. That was, plainly, an attempted coup. If we can’t figure out how to address it forcefully and effectively, I’m not sure what the hell we’re about.

you watched Don't Look Up didn't you?

Worst case: we’ll leave the world to the tardigrades and methane-breathing worms. Them, and whatever evolves that can live on plastic. The crows and rats and cockroaches will feast on our bones.

See, optimism!

As if on cue:

https://www.americanscientist.org/article/the-bright-side-of-the-black-death

This made me laugh, which may mean it’s time to adjust my meds.

The popular vote in 2020 was Biden 51.3%, Trump 46.9%.

A lot of those votes were "against the other guy" votes(I voted against both of them). Such as, in Virginia, a lot of people who voted for Biden voted for a Republican governor.

russell, as I read your post it conflates voting for Trump with "more than sufficiently motivated to wreak havoc".

No sarcasm from me either, I just think the numbers in the latter category are much smaller. Sure, there are hotheads and nutcases but most of the crowd, I like to think, didn't plan to storm the Capitol. They got caught up in it, sure, and yes they were Trump voters, and yes, some of them were proud of what they did but I think (hope!) many if not most are at least embarrassed.

Do people really want a second Civil War? A few, yes, a large number, I think not.

Did anyone really want the first Civil War?

A few, yes, a large number, I think not.

But it took only a few weeks to get used to the idea and they couldn't make enough uniforms.

Though not of the civil variety, the mob, the generals, and many of the politicians leading up to World War I couldn't wait to suit up and hit the trenches.

Wars engulf societies in which very few had any idea it could happen.

It's more complicated than whether anyone wants it.

And by few, let's remember it was the fucking President of the United States and his conservative movement thugs in the fucking White House who were and are the fucking few.

A series of steps, missteps, and bad decisions, and events become a deus et machina out of anyone hands, which then seems inevitable to the historians.


no1, oh yes, I take your point, and there are Steve Bannon and Sidney Powell and too many others.

I don't deny that catastrophic outcomes are possible. Trump actually won an election after all.

I'm just an (a cockeyed?) optimist, remember, so I go on believing we'll avoid the worst.

russell, as for cockroaches, see this.

deus ex machina, that should read.

Like Robespierre's and Marie Antoinette's heads sharing a basket.

What was it they wanted?

"I'm just an (a cockeyed?) optimist, remember, so I go on believing we'll avoid the worst."

Good on ya, ral.

Cubs fan?

My mother-in-law believed we all muddle through.

Let's play two.

No sarcasm from me either, I just think the numbers in the latter category are much smaller. Sure, there are hotheads and nutcases but most of the crowd, I like to think, didn't plan to storm the Capitol. They got caught up in it, sure, and yes they were Trump voters, and yes, some of them were proud of what they did but I think (hope!) many if not most are at least embarrassed.

Do people really want a second Civil War? A few, yes, a large number, I think not.

The thing is, this is negative partisanship we are dealing with here. No one thinks that they are ruining the country. They think they are fighting to keep the other side from ruining the country.

My relatives were not there, but they knew people who were there - people who had gone not to storm the capital, but people who were there to make their voices heard outside because they believed that Biden had stolen an election. I'm sure a number of them were feeling a lot like wj. They were being forced by circumstances to have to save the republic from a direct threat.

Not excusing what they did. They should have known better. They have horrible media diets and a bad case of confirmation bias. And they have been radicalizing each other for years with anti-abortion polemics and anti-vax/anti climate change pseudoscience and skepticism, and homophobic conspiracies.

In their minds, the Orange Menace goes too far, and so do a lot of people on the right, but they have all been pushed so far by the tyranny of the radical left that things sometimes slip. But they are not going to let that unpleasantness distract them from their resolve to stop the radical left.

This is what comes of a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome fed by an abusive relationship with their own leaders.

So, yes, the ones who will actually take up the cause of violence are small in number, but I don't expect that to push the remaining core away from them. I think the cycle of violence will only draw them tighter into their narrative of being The Remnant. With that, they will excuse any excess their own side perpetrates because the rest of us have forced their hand. And so what power they have will be used to shield their radicals and preserve their movement.

They don't need to believe in their side, they only need to remain convinced of the other side's inherent evil.

What nous said, exactly.

most of the crowd, I like to think, didn't plan to storm the Capitol. They got caught up in it

This does not inspire confidence.

I don’t think there will be a civil war in the sense of two armies engaging in full-on battle. I think there will be - is - a lack of social cohesion, that will continue for an extended period of time. With enough acts of actual violence to make the threat of more violence palpable and credible. All of which will bring effective governance to a grinding halt.

I generally agree with nous’ 12:47, except I’d put it all in present tense. We’re there now.

I do not believe we are there quite yet.

Time will tell.

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