Friday Linkzookery – 19 Aug 2005

More Red-on-Red
Sunni militants fighting al Qeada. To protect Shiites. In Ramadi.
More please.

Just give me the billion dollars
Five billion dollars could either fund a five-way competition to get the US flying economically into space, or it could fund the Shuttle program for one year. Whether it flies or not. Buckethead knows which he prefers. I think he’s right.

Comments were out of control at IN THE RED ZONE
A lot of them were pretty bad. So Spence Publishing deleted all of them and closed all comments on Steven Vincent’s site. It’s too bad that it came to that, but they were pretty bad.

Viking ship built of ice-cream sticks to set sail
Fifteen million popscicles gave their lives for this project. No, this isn’t the first DD(X).

Solar Power Becoming Reality?
A major 500MW project near LA. More please. And let’s build some more nukes while we’re at it.

How violent is Iraq?
Well, it’s pretty damn violent. But the numbers show us something that wouldn’t be apparent from the nightly news. (45-100)x250=(-13,750)

U.S. Army Encounters Strange Recruiting Patterns
Guess which states (Red or Blue) supply more recruits?

Is China building a carrier?
They seem to be doing a lot of work on that uncompleted Russian carrier they bought a while back. Some think they’re trying to learn how to build their own flattop. Ghost of Christmas future?

Two U.S.-Built Destroyers to Join Taiwan Navy
Two Kidd-class, originally built for the Shah of Iran, will help bolster Taiwan’s military. The other two ships of the class will also be going to Taiwan. Hmmm. Anti-air and anti-sub capabilities. I wonder who Taiwan’s worried about.

Computer virus writers at war, security firm says
Red-on-Red in cyberspace.

Scientists develop pee-powered battery
A few drops generates 1.5 volts for a disposable healthcare test kit. This should be added to the toilets on the energy-producing homes I linked to in a previous Linkzookery.

$50 laptop sale sets off violent stampede
People were hurt. One woman wet herself rather than give up her place in line. A man hit people with a folding chair. All for a 4-year-old iBook.

London Tube terror game sparks outrage
Online “Stop the Bombs” game. Jerks. At least no one could accidentally get shot by the police or something.

“To Kill an American”
From Spirit of America. Send a buck or two in their direction from time to time.

Serviceman in Iraq demoted over blog
Look. You can’t give out company secrets or post inside info about your co-workers if you work at a styrofoam cup factory. Everyone knows this. It’s about a gazillion times more serious when your job is “soldier”. I don’t know what this guy wrote, but I guess I’m pretty willing to give the Army the benefit of the doubt on this sort of thing. And his site is offline now.

The rec.puzzles archive
Tons of puzzles by category. This could chew up some time.


  1. That 500MW solar farm is cool (I like solar furnaces), but do realize that it covers something like 9 acres and provides a fraction (1/4? 1/6?) of the power of a single nuclear reactor, and most reactors are built in groups. If you have the space, and lots of sunshine near where your power is demanded, solar is great… but if you need 216 acres to provide the same amount of power as a single 4-reactor nuclear plant, that’s a little extreme. Imagine the maintenance and security required for a place that size… Still, the biggest requirement is just heaps of mirrors 🙂

  2. Nicholas, If these things were on taller poles you could park your car under them. Think about how many parking lots there are in america. We can’t park our cars under a nulcear reactor now can we. Also consider than several hundred thousand acres are available for growing crops in the U.S., which essentailly are forms of solar power too; the Solar Stirling tech just takes out the Biomass Burning Middle. Harvest the sun!

  3. Well, you could build a parking lot under a nuclear power station but that would be a big security risk, so it wouldn’t be a good idea. I think parking under a solar farm wouldn’t be so straightforward either. It would complicate security and maintenance. You’d have to reserve a fair amount of space for the support structures and fences around them so people wouldn’t bump them. Plus, it would only make sense if there were small solar farms dispersed all over the place – since why would you want to park under one if it wasn’t near somewhere you wanted to go? I agree directly utilising sunlight is a much better idea than growing something and then burning it. Burnt fuels should be reserved for vehicles, which need a readily transportable form of energy. Electricity generation is much more flexible.

  4. I figure they could be built on top of existing parking lots and be not much different from trees or other poles normally on the lots, similar to the lower levels of a parking garage, only more roomy. There are other types of solar systems which also work like this, the most likely would be this heliostat: similar idea, but uses photovoltaics instead of stirling, and is flatter and if encased could survive heavy winds better. One thing in the article which caught my eye is that this particular facility is -unsibsidized- yet still competetive. If Coal and nukepower had their subsides & tax breaks revoked, and were required to pay for their respective insurance and cleanup costs (instead of my tax dollars), the market choice would be clear. Still one big adavantage with these types of solar (over centralized coal & Nuke plants etc.) is that they can be decentralized, limiting any kind of attack from an enemy, and making unnecessary any kind of grid expansion in the communities, reducing construction, transmission and distribution costs.

  5. Yes, it’s an interesting idea, and I think it could be made to work, but I fear it would be expensive. Still, that’s not a very good excuse. It’s worth paying money for what’s effectively large amounts of free energy. I fear nobody will try it, however, because of the amount of work involved. Not until there’s some kind of government mandate or massive subsidisation. Yes, solar energy is cheap enough to sell on the open market, but it’s still a lot more expensive to build per MW than most kinds of power plant, and with your decentralised proposal, a lot of deals will have to be made and a lot of people will have to drive around testing and maintaining the systems. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be given a try on a small scale, now that solar furnace technology is fairly mature, to get an idea of how well it might work if they were installed everywhere. I wonder what to do if it rains for weeks on end? It would be necessarily to duplicate the generation power of all the solar plans somehow, or else it would be necessary to build an enormous battery (pump water up into a dam with excess power and let it run down when there’s extra demand?)

  6. on days that it rains, electricity demands are usually much less…at least in Cali. But if power is needed on a dark or very cloudy day, there are also NatGas micro-turbines, which can also work in a decentralized environment, and are steadily reaching efficiencies-of-scale comparable with the big boys.