Linky Friday: Technopolis

Cities:

robot insect photo

Image by BAOCHUN.S

[C1] Joel Kotkin argues that you can’t turn Los Angeles into Chicago with old town revitalization, and instead focus on making the suburbs the best they can be.

[C2] The suburbs are dying! I hope nobody tells the millennials!

[C3] Los Angeles has a pretty basic problem.

[C4] Some industrious and tourism-minded city in the US should totally buy this and become an anime mecca. Someone on Twitter recommended Bethlehem. I think it would be especially brilliant for a city associated with steel.

[C5] What’s kind of interesting about this piece from Aaron Renn about the limits of what Gigabit Internet can provide cities looking to be tech hubs is that Kansas City enjoys a reputation as a pretty decent place to find tech work. Or maybe that makes his point, as a lot of it is on the Kansas side of the border rather than Kansas City proper (which has the Internet).

Religion:

Church of England photo

Image by bertknot

[R1] Peter Beinart explains how godlessness aided the rise of Trump and the current political environment. (Not that he would phrase it that way.)

[R2] Terryl Givens on the relationship between Mormonism and (other) Christianity.

[R3] All is not well in the Church of England.

[R4] This touches on why my wife has no interest in working in another Catholic hospital. Most places she’s been, the standard is “You don’t have to provide the service, but you do have to give them a referral.” As an ethical obligation, I think that’s about right in non-emergency situations.

[R5] Re look at faith and medicine in Israel, and Hmong in the United States.

Energy:

Tundra Alaska photo

Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

[E1] Of all the potential energy sources that could be developed, it’s turning emissions into energy that makes me the most giddy.

[E2] The US Shale Industry: Tan, rested, and ready? The drills are pumping in Texas again, as well as other places. Less so for North Dakota. (My man in Midland says “We’re still doomed.”)

[E3] I almost wonder if they didn’t actually discover this oil last year, and kept quiet for fear of a creative Executive Order, because the outlook for getting to drill sure looks an awful lot better now than it would have then.

[E4] Solar doesn’t need Uncle Sam’s help anymore, says Noah Kirsch.

[E5] Jacobin points to alleged Canadian misdeeds involving mineral exploitation and other things. Did Canada run over Jacobin’s dog or something, because they sure hate our neighbors to the north.

Space:

[S1] Fish, it turns out, don’t like space.

[S2] Watch the Earth hurl through astroids, which is actually less disconcerting than our solar system flying in space.

[S3] FiveThirtyEight has a really neat series on the effect going to Mars will have on humans.

[S4] Killjoy doesn’t even begin to describe Sam Kriss.

[S5] Back to the moon?

[S6] The story behind a Soviet mission to save a dead satellite.

Transportation:

Venezuela airport photo

Image by slash__

[Tr1] How United Airlines is going to great lengths to keep its crews out of Venezuela.

[Tr2] Commutes are getting longer.

[Tr3] Americans are not yet sure about riding in robocars.

[Tr4] When I was a kid and I got in trouble, I never lost the ability to drive, because preventing people from driving is a burden on everyone else. This is especially true for grownups.

[Tr5] Ambitious transportation plans in Paris and Berlin. And more

[Tr6] The solar roadway is not working out as well as we had hoped.

Technology:

robot insect photo

Image by Scammah

[Te1] This will end badly. As will this. I mean, seriously.

[Te2] So what is Twitter?

[Te3] Bring back your dead! Bring back your dead!

[Te4] I wish Hughes all the success with this. I don’t think I’ll be getting rid of DSL any time soon, but more options are better (and some people have very few options.

Feature Image by Dr.Colossus


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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94 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Technopolis

  1. TR5: Meanwhile President Trump promised a great infrastructure upgrade but is ending federal transit spending. This is the one aspect of American conservatism that I understand the least. A lot of American conservatives just seem to hate public transportation in any form. They want it gone and everybody in a car.

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    • My theory is that this is an outgrowth of the myth of the rugged individual. Our forefathers loaded up the family in the wagon and headed west into the wilderness, where they carved out a farm with no help from nobody, and most especially not the government. Or so the narrative goes. It’s utter bullshit, of course, but pretty deeply ingrained in the American psyche. If you take public transportation, you depend on somebody else to get you where you are going. Worse, the transit system is probably subsidized by tax dollars. If you get into your car which you bought with your hard-earned money, you can get where you are going with no help from nobody, and most especially not the government. This is bullshit, of course, but at least the subsidies that make the system work are more discreet.

      Then once we got to the point where pretty much all middle class folks had cars, it followed that only poor people used public transit. No explanation is required for the lack of enthusiasm for subsidizing a bunch of Welfare Queens.

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      • As Lee has pointed out in the past, it did not help that a lot of activists saw public transit as a social service instead of a public/transit service. But you are basically right except out of a few large cities/metros and even there, plenty of people drive into work.

        Plus minorities use public transit and they might use it to get into the burbs.

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      • The rugged individual theory on why American conservatives hate transit makes as much sense as any other theory. All of these speculation ends up just being a bunch of just so stories. Its bullshit because railroads were more important in settling the American continent than the family in the wagon and trains used to be regarded as American as apple pie. Johnny Cash sung about them. Its also bullshit because help from the federal government in terms of free land and the Army was absolutely necessary to settling the West.

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    • That link is speculating what Trump will propose, but conservative Republicans tend to see the motor fuel tax as a use tax for roads. Liberal Democrats tend to see the tax as part of a larger system to encourage people to transition away from roads, so they want that money to subsidize buses, subways and bike lanes as part of the larger policy objective.

      Last election, the State of Illinois passed a Constitutional Amendment by popular referendum (80% of the votes) requiring all state motor fuel taxes and fees to go to transportation. While that included planes, trains and automobiles, all of the discussion I heard was about crumbling roads and bridges and fiscal mismanagement. I voted against it, but it seems to me that most people probably do think motor fuel taxes should go towards car usage.

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  2. S1 – how are we going to recognize a military ambush otherwise, though?

    S2 – the Bad Astronomy post on the second video is worth checking out. (spoiler – the second video is bad astronomy)

    Te3 is going to end more badly than anything in Te1.

    Te4 – Hughes has been running some sort of space sat internet for at least 15 years now. Maybe this will be the thing that makes it more mainstream, but they still have the Iridium problem (i.e. the build out of cellular communications service in the ‘middle of nowhere’ happened much faster and much cheaper than anymore expected)

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    • Te3: True statement is True: “While a lack of evidence suggests that resurrecting dead people is impossible…”

      That’s just plain poor expostulation.
      and
      The experiment is on people who are only *mostly* dead… and everyone knows there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

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    • Te4 – yeah… Satellite is in a weird place; the data caps are what kill it for a lot of folks (self included). Without data caps, I’d replace DSL… but with Data Caps it’s the same as 4G with smaller Data allowances. Still fills a niche for Montana Lake house, but not for last mile issues. Seems to me a business with a shelf-life sell-by date (maybe a merger w/Sirius for affordable Auto package).

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    • Chesterton said that good writing reveals a lot about the subject, while bad writing reveals a lot about the author. R1 is bad writing. I found Beinart’s misreading of the right to be so bad that I can’t trust his analysis of the left. There’s something behind the statistics that the article cited, but Beinart’s not the guy to find it.

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    • What I don’t understand (really) is how Governor Scott can reassign the case to a different state attorney, circumventing an elected official. Or is this some sort of Dillon rule thing? (even though the internet says that Florida is a home rule state, and one of the stronger ones among them)

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        • That’s an even more extreme example. In New York, the governor had a “genuine doubt that the death penalty sentencing option would be employed,” though the prosecutor insists that he had had not made up his mind yet. That’s pretty close to giving prosecutors no discretion but to seek the death penalty; the oaks and the maples will all be kept equal by hatchet, axe and saw.

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            • The main thing I find interesting is the state’s attorney is subject to governor oversight; I understand why a governor might not like it. In my state, I don’t think this is possible. Several years ago a number of state’s attorneys in Illinois said they weren’t going to prosecute people for concealed carry violations and there were howls of outrage. I don’t the Governor attempted to do anything, nor do I think he could.

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      • That’s odd to me too. In Illinois, the state’s attorney’s authority comes from the Constitution and wouldn’t be considered subordinate to the Governor. It looks like Florida has a statute that considers the state’s attorney subordinate:

        If any state attorney is disqualified to represent the state in any investigation, case, or matter pending in the courts of his or her circuit or if, for any other good and sufficient reason, the Governor determines that the ends of justice would be best served, the Governor may . . . order an assignment of any state attorney to discharge the duties of the state attorney with respect to one or more specified investigations, cases, or matters, specified in general in the executive order of the Governor.

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        • Good find. One could argue that there is not a ‘good and sufficient reason’ in this case, but one could also argue that because its a close call, it’s the Governor’s call, and the Governor’s decision as to what a ‘good and sufficient reason’ (towards ‘the ends of justice’) should be deferred to. And I think I’m in the latter camp, despite not liking the death penalty and thinking that local elected officials shouldn’t be overruled in most cases.

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          • Yeah, there is a standard to debate; I suspect a judge wouldn’t second-guess the Governor here though unless the Governor took the State’s Attorney off traffic cases and civil matters as well. Just looking at notme’s link to the New York case, I can see how the Governor can wield a number of arguments based upon “equality” in an unorthodox manner.

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  3. R2: There is a decades-long campaign to mainstream Mormonism by de-emphasizing its more exotic features and presenting it as merely a variant of (white) American Protestantism: hence those TV commercials working hard to Mormons appear indistinguishable from Southern Baptists. This article seems to be a more sophisticated version of the same thing.

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  4. [C2] The suburbs are dying! No they aren’t. Aspects are, like malls as was said, but most people have always factored “affordability” more or as much as “location and lifestyle preferences”

    [S4] God what a buzzkill. The key point about space is that is so big, you effectively will have zero gov’t except in high density areas. The rest, as we say, will be the wild/dangerous open space. Besides, I feel no need to mend any destructive ways I allegedly have given everything will turn to ash when the sun dies. That’ll cover a magnitude of sins.

    [S6] This was a very interesting read.

    Tr2: My commute has stayed the same for 20 years……1 hour each way.

    [Tr3] AAA didn’t talk to me, but I have zero intention of having any autonomous or semi autonomous kit on my car. Period. Not for a damn while yet at least. Give the number of idiots on the road, a autonomous car couldn’t handle it. Nor will I tolerate doing the speed limit on roads that were clearly designed to used 20 MPH higher but the state set the limit lower.

    [Tr4] Seems like a reasonable idea.

    [Te4] I used to get calls from Sat internet services. I’d always ask if their performance was downgraded by using VPNs, which was mandatory for working from home with my company. They never knew what i was talking about. I didn’t see anything in this article to convince me they’ve fixed that issue either.

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    • Damon,
      re:tr3 — I’d settle for doing the speed limit if that was a consistent thing (including through intersections where possible).
      Also, the 20mph higher is going away even in PA. Dunno where that’s still a thing.
      (and, for the record, driving 10mph higher on certain roads is lifethreatening.)

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      • Most roads…”most” are graded/built for a specific speed, with margins. This speed usually has little to do with the speed the gov’t assigns the road. And don’t get me started about certain counties in my state that refuse to sync traffic lights to keep traffic flowing. It’s to “encourage” alternative transportation. F that.

        No one drives the speeds listed on the roads anyway. It’s just a question of how much higher their rate is. Driving is life threatening.

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            • I mean in the sense of:

              There are two kinds of drivers on the road – idiots and maniacs. Everyone driving slower than me is an idiot; everyone driving faster than me is a maniac.

              By which axiom it sounds like you interact a lot more idiots than maniacs on the road, and most people who interact with you on the road are dealing with a maniac.

              (Since the correct speed is at all times the exact one I’m driving at, by definition I will never encounter another sensible driver because we will never catch up with one another)

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              • “Everyone driving slower than me is an idiot; everyone driving faster than me is a maniac.” Well, that’s not my definition.

                Idiot: 1) Failure to keep the speed limit. Say doing 25 in a 40 because you’re talking on your cell phone and unaware there is a mile long line behind you. 2) Stopping 3 car lengths behind the next car in the left turn lane, blocking the through lane, causing EVERYONE to have wait for the light cycle to come back full circle. 3) Not understanding that when the traffic lights are off, it’s a GD 4 way stop. 4) Thinking flashing yellow means flashing red. 5) Driving all the way to the end of the merge lane and stopping while traffic passes you at 70, and then trying to enter at 15 MPH. 6) Having “choose civility” as a bumper sticker and then texting at the light so long that you miss your green arrow. 7) Passing me at 80 only to get in front of me, slow down (forcing me to slow down too), and then exit when you could have slowed down, got behind me and exited.

                I’ve seen all of this more than I care to count. Yes, I speed. So does the majority of the other drivers. It’s all the other stupid crap.

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    • I think the key to a wild frontier is that it needs to be costly to travel to, but not too costly. Space doesn’t work for us yet because its so hard to go to space, no one can do it. Space isn’t much of a frontier in Star Trek either, because the Federation’s ships can patrol a sizeable part of the galaxy.

      A frontier needs to be easy enough to get to for groups of motivated people to manage it, but not so easy that central authorities can claim and patrol it.

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  5. C5: I remember my first hard drive, back in the 1980s. It held an amazing 20K bytes. The question was what one could possibly do with all that capacity. The point of this trip down memory lane is that while it is true that Gigabit internet is overkill for the vast majority of present-day users, it is a good bet that developers will find a way to use it quickly enough, and this will exacerbate the divide between those places that have it and those that don’t.

    As for the specific case of Kansas City, the linked article includes talk from 2011 of fiber going to be put in. That’s six years ago. Delayed gratification sucks. I get that. But Silicon Valley was not built in six years.

    My town is installing fiber as we speak. It is scheduled to reach me by the end of the year. I am all aflutter with anticipation.

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  6. My God, that C3 article… the people quoted are utterly incoherent.
    -Opponents of exceptions say the new large developments only add in luxury units which speed gentrification and gridlock traffic.
    -Opponent complains that new developments nearby are limited his ability to raise rents.
    -Nobody goes to LA anymore, it’s too crowded!
    The nimbyism, it burns, the goggles do nothing!

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    • I don’t think Drum is connecting dots very well in the article (but that’s not really his job).

      That said, just looking at the Budget, I think its fair to say that it *is* a sort of performance art… its not (necessarily) “failure” if Trump signals he’d slash Dept X, but congress funds Dept X. Dept X is funded, Trump gets to campaign against Dept X *and* congress… all the while not paying a price for Dept X losing funds.

      Its still a weird game because there is little or only partial groundwork for slashing several (or any) of those depts… but I’m not sure failure is the right word if Congress ignores Trump passes a status quo budget.

      The real question is, what happens if Congress takes up Trump’s budget?… well, then its not a Failure by Drum’s standards. Basically, Drum’s definition of failure is contextualized wrong.

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    • Orly?

      A health care bill so gratuitously brutal it seems almost intended to fail. Please cite me where Trump submitted a plan to congress that they are debating. IIRC, this is all on the republican congress.

      A budget that’s very plainly just a piece of performance art designed to outrage liberals. How is this “trying to fail”. NPR reports that they don’t even expect the republican congress to give him this. If he’s trying to outrage liberals, wouldn’t this budget actually do that?

      A new immigration order so similar to the first one that Trump must have known it would be blocked in court. Yeah, except for the, Seattle was it, court that was ok with it. So we have two judges that rejected it and 1 that was ok with it. Yep, EXACTLY like the first EO.

      I’m going to stop there because really, it’s mother jones. I will say that one should never discount incompetence in a bureaucracy/politics. But you find that all over the political map.

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    • He’s not trying to fail, he just has surrounded himself (for the most part) with people that were not ready for the Big Leagues.

      To each bullet point
      – it’s Trump’s fault for bringing the Health Care bill to the forefront of the national agenda, but it’s completely negligent for a Republican Congress that’s been in power for either 6 or 2 years (depending on the chamber) to not have a prete a porter healthcare bill on day 1, considering they’ve repealed Obamacare like 40 something times already.
      -just because the budget is hated by liberals doesn’t mean it can’t pass a Republican House and Senate. (that actually means it has more of a chance to pass) (but we’re not going to hear about how terrible rotten no good very bad the Senate filibuster is anymore for at least 2 to 4 more years)
      – The new immigration order would have been contested again, but probably *not* have had the stays against it again, if the not ready for prime time players hadn’t said aloud that this immigration order is just like the last one.
      – Congress majorities will fund blank checks for their political allies.
      – The conspiracy theories are Trump’s fault, but also who Trump is. While they’ve been effective at being distractions, they’re not some sort of hyperdimensional chess game.
      – the same thing with the Tweets.

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      • There is not liked by liberals and there is starving grandma and grandpa. Though I suppose if Cleek’s Law is true, conservatives are now against Meals on Wheels. But there GOP has also declared this a DOA budget for now. But they have bent towards Trump in the past.

        Katy Waldman at Slate compared Trump’s team to dumb movie villains.

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        • The “lets outrage liberals” thing is silly. They aren’t going to put up an entire budget just to piss off liberals. To much work and why would they go to all that effort to hand D’s pitch perfect attack ads. Cutting Meals on Wheels!!! Major cuts to science and health research!!! Do you think D ad people all over the country didn’t just feel like xmas came early. The budget was a product of incompetence and ideology.

          One of my conservative cousins lost his mom to cancer a couple years ago. He loves to post bits about conservatives “destroying” liberals in debates and falls for every hit piece on SJW’s. Even he is going to be pissed off over hearing the R’s want major cuts to science/health research.

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          • I wouldn’t put it past Bannon and Miller to do so. That is how low my opinion is of the entire Trump team.

            There isn’t a day that goes by without them doing something that isn’t massively depressing or some new info that isn’t shocking. Like Gorka’s ties to Hungarian neo-Nazis.

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            • Oh yeah the Gorka thing is appalling and yet again revealing of what the beliefs of the admin are. However i think you are waaaay overestimating the importance of pissing off liberals. Putting together a budget is a big effort and when poorly done gives the other side easy attacks. Sure Trump wants to keep his base inflamed but every action is not about riling liberals. We’re certainly the enemy to them but they are aren’t’ revolving their lives around us.

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        • You know that this Cleek’s “law” is foolishness, right? As always I go back to Haidt’s observation that liberals are less likely to be able to articulate their opponents’ viewpoint then conservatives. This just seems to be a way to cover it.

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    • Just to pin another thought on this, what’s happening now is mostly an extension of the intra-GOP civil war that’s been going on at various levels of intensity since 2006. Everyone thought the long knives would come out after Clinton’s election, bu a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

      I only just remembered this afternoon that Paul Ryan backed into his current job, after Boehner quit, Cantor had already been primaried some months before, and McCarthy couldn’t take the job between the caucus revolting and some other specific thing that came to light at the time which I can’t remember.

      So Ryan is there because he’s everyone’s second choice, and Trump’s (elected) political allies are only allies of convenience, and the usual bench for administrstion jobs is less stocked than usual. (And the true believers he gotten for some jobs don’t have the skills to balance ideological zeal with a decent poltical sales pitch – whereas the minimum to do that would be to demonstrate command of the issues involved, even if you want to radically change the system)

      Like, e.g. DeVos. But also, most recently, Mulvanney’s budget hawk hardline would be a tough sell, but possible – though not with the substantial increase in defense spending. If you’re going budget hawk, go all the way (even if you’re only going to do discretionary)

      (And then there’s the really silly things like wanting to beef up both border security and the war on drugs but cutting the Coast Guard significantly. This administration can’t even be consistent within the bounds of their own narrow worldview)

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  7. C4 – San Diego just lost its football team, which was its most public identifier. It’s one of the ten largest cities in the US. It’s the home of Comic Con. It needs a Gundam.

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  8. Tr6 – I don’t want to say I told yo… Oh, no, wait, I totally do. Solar Roadways is bog fecking stupid, has been from day one, and the fact that politicians and bureaucrats spent even a dime of tax money playing with the idea just annoys me.

    Maybe in a decade or two, the materials science will be at a place where some kind of solar foot or bike path will be robust and effective (both in cost and generating efficiency), but nothing we have today is going to work for a roadway. And that is before we even get into ideas regarding maintenance of such a system.

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    • Solar Fucking Roadways. Brought to you by the same people who brought you a pot-smoking Elmo AND LasangaCat.

      It’s a scam, and a clever one, designed to bilk money out of stupid LiberalArts weenies who can’t be bothered to actually listen to an engineer or scientist.

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    • Wouldn’t it mostly come from reduced efficiency of the vehicles on top of it? For bikes, that’s probably fine….

      I guess gravity alone would add a little something.

      Honestly if I was going to be pushing some cutting edge solar company looking to monetize the concept, I wouldn’t be looking at roads. I’d be looking at parking lots and parking garages. All that empty, roofless space….Add a few charging stations up front, sell most of it back to the grid (you’d have to be in friendly states for that I admit) or supplement the building the structure was built for’s needs….

      A little work on drainage for storms, and some thought about insurance and heavier storms, and boom. It’s not sexy, it won’t make you a billionaire, but it’s a predictable return. Makes the parking structures cheaper (you can offset costs, either back to the grid or to the buildings), qualifies for tax credits in a lot of states, makes lots look more attractive (“No more getting into your car in the rain! Covered parking! So luxurious! And eco-friendly!)….

      And goodness……so much unroofed space, dedicated just to letting cars sit in the sun.

      And let me tell you, in Texas? 8 months of the year, parking in the shade is a freakin luxury. If that shade generates electricity, it’s just bonus.

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      • Saw that at a library in Huntington Beach, thought it was smart as hell. Library gets solar power, I get to park in the shade, win win. And it works with standard solar cells, rather that goofy tiles that have to somehow be tough enough to withstand multiple tons of rolling weight and provide traction while being transparent enough for the embedded PV cells to be able to produce electricity.

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        • Anyone got seed money? Houston is begging for this. :)

          (Seriously, it’s so hot and the cars get so baked in the sun down here that the biggest, most wanted feature I’ve ever seen on a car is a little solar-powered fan that vents your car interior when it gets too hot.)

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      • Except this isn’t some manner of pure research or materials science. It’s a device cobbled together by a electrical engineer and his wife, in their garage, with little to no academic or industrial support. AFAIK, all strength and performance estimates are based upon normal materials calculations, without any lab testing to validate the results.

        In my opinion, the whole thing is just above a scam that sucks up small business grant money tied to green energy & crowdfunding. I think the guy seriously believes in the idea, but is way out of depth to mature it, and since no serious investors will touch him. The only reason he’s gotten as far as he has is because of crowdfunding and the inability of people to critically evaluate the tech.

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        • Oscar,
          *shrugs* I assume when the venture goes tits up, that “the guy” will get blamed, and other people will reap the money they’ve skimmed off the venture. Somehow this stuff is legal (as in “call the lawyers before you run the scam” legal).

          This is a venture that runs pretty well on propaganda.

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        • I freely admit I know nothing about this particular project and from the bare concept it sounds idiotic. I was trying to make a larger point that a few million here or there by DARPA or one of the labs is worth sprinkling even on dumb ideas. Yes, every grant / loan guarantee / federal assistance needs to be made in the context of some kind of evaluation. But you know far better than I that the path of invention does not run smooth and we risk choking off interesting ideas if we demand too much up front.

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          • I’m not coming down against grants for long shots, I’m saying that this shouldn’t have gotten past the prototype stage because the engineering is fundamentally flawed. This is up there with people selling systems that are guaranteed to make your car run on water.

            I’m quite certain the electronics are sound, and might even be durable enough to survive, but the fatal flaw is the idea that you can have a glass surface that is transparent enough to allow PV cells to generate light while also being textured enough to provide traction to vehicles, and at the same time be able to withstand the loading of the road.

            Transparent glass is brittle, not ductile, it doesn’t deform very much before it breaks, so it would have to be thick enough to withstand both the vehicles passing above, as well as the shifting of the road bed. IIRC, we do have types of transparent materials that are strong and flexible enough to serve as a road bed, but they are very expensive and still suffer from the same lack of traction glass does, and the moment you texture a transparent surface to provide traction, you significantly reduce it’s ability to transmit light (i.e. it becomes translucent). And we haven’t even discussed how a roadway, bike path, or foot path will become dirty enough to make the PV cells useless 5 minutes after the first rain falls[1], or within a few days of traffic beginning.

            Perhaps if we had hovercars on raised roadbeds…

            [1] There is a reason solar cells are mounted on stands well above ground, and at an angle, and still have mechanical systems to keep them clean, or rely on the homeowner washing them regularly.

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            • Oscar,
              Darpa once had a grant running for a prototype to remotely turn on people’s televisions. Problem was, it kept breaking all the other experiments in the vicinity.

              So, yes, they can come up with much worse things than simply something that doesn’t work.

              (What i saw, last i checked on this, was the leastest money from the government possible.)

              And yes, the whole scheme is totally ridiculous. Unless your goal is profit, of course.

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            • Just to clarify, getting a couple of SB grants to flesh out the idea isn’t a bad thing, but it never should have gotten past that once the major issues were pointed out, and no real solution to those problems was offered.

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    • My Dad’d a civil engineer by training, and the few conversations I’ve had with him about roading were enough for me to come up with half a dozen objections to the concept. I can imagine what someone who actually knew what they were talking about would make of it.

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      • As I’ve said before, I used to work in the Civil Engineering department during my undergrad, and I picked up enough while there to spot the glaring issues like this. Roads have to handle massive amounts of loading and stress/strain. Making them more and more durable is a constant source of research at many institutions. Any electronics embedded in them have to be incredibly tough (like induction systems at traffic lights).

        I get the desire to make power generating surfaces, and when it comes to solar, we are better off making PV films that go on windows.

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  9. C1: Interestingly, when you use the Census Bureau’s 2010 population-weighted density figures, or the 2010 urbanized area density figures, the LA metro area is significantly denser than the Chicago metro area. Traditional metro area density figures, based on county borders, penalize LA heavily because large parts of the two counties making up the LA area are off limits: federally owned or too mountainous to develop.

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  10. Te4: I had satellite Internet for a while, maybe 15.years ago. 384k down, less up. The speed wasn’t the huge issue, although it wouldn’t be good for video. The big issue was latency. Two round trips to the satellite and back add at least a half-second to the response from clicking a link. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it breaks a lot of applications. Anything that’s real-time like gaming or Voip is out of the question. Also, it uses a proprietary protocol for the satellite links so it totally breaks the VPN protocol built in to the TCP/IP stack. I coaxed OpenVPN to work over it but it was glitchy and tended to freeze up.

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  11. Richard Hershberger:
    C5:I remember my first hard drive, back in the 1980s.It held an amazing 20K bytes.The question was what one could possibly do with all that capacity.

    I suspect it was 20MB. Even back in the PC Mk1 days with 16K of base RAM (768 if you spent a ton of cash), floppies had 160K or 320K of space (640K if you were really cutting edge).

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