Linky Friday: Technopolis

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

94 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    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.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to LeeEsq says:

      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.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        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.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        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.Report

      • Joe Sal in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        Is that theory associated to Barry Shain?Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to LeeEsq says:

      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.Report

  2. Kolohe says:

    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)Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Kolohe says:

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

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

    • Marchmaine in reply to Kolohe says:

      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).Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    That’s a really dark joke in the Catholic hospital linkReport

  4. Oscar Gordan says:

    Not entirely sure what R1 is going for, but at least it isn’t just another round of bash the Atheists.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordan says:

      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.Report

  5. notme says:

    Florida Prosecutor Takes a Bold Stand Against Death Penalty

    How odd that she didn’t mention that during the election. Not too surprised that a liberal would hide something like that.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to notme says:

      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)Report

      • notme in reply to Kolohe says:

        I’ve seen cases in other states where governors have exercised that power. In one NY case it’s been litigated on favor of the Gov.

        • PD Shaw in reply to notme says:

          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.Report

          • notme in reply to PD Shaw says:

            The Gov didn’t want the prosecutor to take anything off the table without a good reason. Here, how can the Gov expect the prosecutor to zealously prosecute a DP case if she doesn’t believe in it?Report

            • PD Shaw in reply to notme says:

              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.Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Kolohe says:

        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.


        • Kolohe in reply to PD Shaw says:

          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.Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to Kolohe says:

            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.Report

  6. Richard Hershberger says:

    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.Report

  7. Damon says:

    [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.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      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.)Report

      • Damon in reply to Kim says:

        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.Report

        • Kim in reply to Damon says:

          The speed limit on a well limited road is about 5-10mph below what you can make on a decent day. It’s supposed to help when it’s pouring at night…Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Damon says:

          There being two kinds of drivers on the road – idiots and maniacs – I take it you encounter a whole lot more idiots than maniacs.Report

          • Damon in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Yes. But I also run into idiots at work…say executive mngt types.

            Rarely do I ever run into manics. That being defined as driving recklessly (note my definition is not the same as the state’s definition)Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to Damon says:

              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)Report

              • Damon in reply to dragonfrog says:

                “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.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      the suburbs are dying. The exurbs are dying faster. Affordability is something that is allowed to change, you know. and americans are growing poorer by the day.Report

    • Jesse in reply to Damon says:

      I think people misread the re-rise of the cities as the death of the suburbs.Report

    • James K in reply to Damon says:


      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.Report

  8. Richard Hershberger says:

    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.Report

  9. North says:

    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!Report

  10. Saul Degraw says:

    Kevin Drum wonders if Trump is purposefully trying to fail. His DOA budget proposals being the latest example:

    • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      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.Report

    • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      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.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      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.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe says:

        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.Report

        • gregiank in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          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.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to gregiank says:

            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.Report

            • gregiank in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              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.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          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.Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I agree with the rest. Don’t assign to malice what can easily be explained by incompetence.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      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)Report

  11. Pinky says:

    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.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

      Oh, totally, right in front of the convention center.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I’ve never been to San Diego, so I was just checking it out on Google maps. You’ve got a baseball stadium, a Hard Rock Hotel, a Children’s Park and Museum, a convention center, and a marina. Of course you put a Gundam in the middle. I’m gonna be offended if this doesn’t happen.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

          I was stationed in Coronado for a while back in the 90’s, and last year I went back for a visit. A gundam would actually fit (IMHO) in that area rather well. If they can’t buy the one from Japan, they should commission their own, get the Navy involved and have it sporting US Navy/USMC insignia.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            This makes sense. And since it’s a military facility, they could use it as a radar/transmission tower. It should probably have some basic weapons systems, and some mobility. I suspect that other countries will design similar structures, and ours should be able to hold its own in combat against them.Report

  12. Oscar Gordon says:

    Umm, what’s up with the link & blurb for E4?

    Also, E1: – Well, that one is coming out of the next Tech Thursday…Report

  13. Oscar Gordon says:

    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.Report

    • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      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.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      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.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

        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.Report

      • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

        I’ve seen lots of solar arrays on covered parking areas in AZ.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

          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.)Report

    • Francis in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Blue sky investment into radical new materials research is a perfectly appropriate role for the federal government. If all the investments are paying off, the govt is being far too conservative.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis says:


        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.Report

        • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          *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.Report

        • Francis in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          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.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis says:

            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.Report

            • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              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.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              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.Report

            • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              First, people will do anything incredibly stupid online: Just look:
              Second, holy shit, it’s been over a week and the video is still up!

              [AIs apparently can cultivate a sense of humor.]Report

    • James K in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


      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.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to James K says:

        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.Report

  14. Oscar Gordon says:

    S4 – He can stay here with the Malthusians and go extinct with them.Report

  15. Michael Cain says:

    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.Report

  16. Road Scholar says:

    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.Report

  17. NoPublic says:

    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).Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to NoPublic says:

      You are likely right. Memory (the wetware kind) fades. In any case, it seemed absurdly large at the time, and now seems absurdly small.Report

  18. notme says:

    California judge seeks to prevent immigration arrests inside state courts.

    Too bad, so sad.Report