The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

May I ramble a bit?

I lost something the other day. No, not my dignity. I gave that up years ago. It was an hour. On Sunday morning, 2 AM never really happened. Because a second after 1:59:59 AM, it became 3 AM. Daylight Savings Time had begun and I got one hour less sleep that night. I guess I didn't really lose that hour, I had it taken away from me just as it arrived.

Does it really save any daylight? Can daylight be saved? Is it a physical thing that can be added to, stored away, deducted from? Daylight is merely the sun shining on the planet. Since the planet rotates, that shiny area appears to move but really doesn't. As we all know, the sun does not actually rise in the morning and set at night. It just seems that way to observers on the ground. So, no, the same amount of sunlight bathes the earth regardless of the time of year. Daylight Savings Time is a gimmick.

Problem is, I can't do anything about it. I have to go along with the crowd. If it is observed where I live then I must also observe it. So much for choice. I have always lived in places where it is observed. And, therefore, I have never been able to ignore it. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

With the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan has come a nuclear almost catastrophe. That "almost" may be edited out soon. This will trigger an emotional debate about the safety of nuclear power generation. It is something I have mixed feelings about. I suppose you could call me a NIMBY type. I think nuke plants are fine... but not near me.

I used to drive down I-5 past the San Onofre nuclear power plant quite often. I worried about it. I worried about background radiation levels. I even would roll up my car windows and shut off the vents. I know... silly. I worried when I read about the stress fractures in the containment walls. But I mostly worried about the personnel who worked there. Not about their safety. I worried about their work ethic. You see, I figure that these workers are pretty much the same as workers everywhere. We cut corners, don't we? We overlook safety for the sake of convenience. We don't always respond quickly to an alarm, preferring to finish our coffee perhaps. We don't always click that seatbelt or wear that hard hat, do we?

I worked for a telecommunications company maintaining switching equipment. When I first went into that job, the noise was almost overwhelming. At that time, the equipment used was electro-mechanical. It clattered, it whirred, it clunked, and clanked. And there were alarms. During the daytime hours, the alarms were almost constant. And, therefore, mostly ignored. In the evening and night shift hours, the alarms were much rarer and we paid more attention to them. But we also had some "constants", some alarms that were always there. These were problems that we had not yet resolved so we "toothpicked" the relays which caused the bells to ring. Some of them had been toothpicked for hours, some for days or weeks, some for months, and some for years.

As I recall, one of the problems uncovered at Three Mile Island were "toothpicked" alarms which allowed problems to, uh, escalate.

And that's why I am not a big fan of nuclear power plants. That and I don't know what we do with the spent fuel either.

No comments: