Sunday, September 16, 2012

Arlington Road, deja vu all over again...

[From an Aug. 8, 2012 posting] "Two national security experts said in a Wednesday analysis on the CNN website that information collected since Sept. 11, 2011, suggests that home-grown U.S. militants pose a greater threat to acquire and use WMD materials than foreign terrorists (see GSN, June 22).
"After 9/11, there was great concern that al-Qaida or an allied group would launch a terrorist attack involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons. But in the past decade, there is no evidence that jihadist extremists in the United States have acquired or attempted to acquire material to construct CBRN weapons," according to Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland, both of the Washington-based New America Foundation.
"By contrast, 11 right-wing and left-wing extremists have managed to acquire CBRN material that they planned to use against the public, government employees or both," they added in the piece that cited figures from database established by their organization." [emphasis added]

Great.  And I thought the neighbors were such nice people...

The rest is here.

10 skills every backpacker must know...and you should, too

Some might sound kind of dorky, but check them out.  One of them could save your life.

Smart Grid for a more robust electrical grid

July 31 saw 1 out of every 10 people in the world lose their electrical power all in one country at one time:  India.  It was the biggest blackout in history and came on the heels of Washington, D.C.'s loss of power in June.

The number of people in India affected by the power loss:  600,000,000.  That's twice the number of people that live in the U.S.

But what if we could foster "a degree of customer energy self-management ... [getting] consumers (interested) in the various energy displays, time-of-use rates, smart meters and other tools"?

It would mean that you'd charge your electric car at night and sell any excess power back to the grid for a profit.  It would mean your dishwasher might have a timer built in (or you'd need to stay/wake up to set it to run at night).  It might mean cheaper rates for some times and things, but higher rates for some, too.

But it could make the electrical grid more robust.  And that's the biggest benefit of all; right now, the grid is fragile, waaay past duct-taping, and a major event such as a massive solar eruption like the one that happened in 1859 and caused aurora displays bright enough people could read newspapers by the light and caused telegraph systems around the world to fail, "in some cases shocking telegraph operators" [and] catching telegraph paper on fire spontaneously.  "Some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite having [no power]" according to the Wikipedia article on the event.   

The huge transformers that are an integral part of the power grid are expensive and hard to get, and the National Academy of Sciences calculates that a major solar storm could take out 300 or more of them, effectively downing the country's electrical grid.

2013 is calculated to be a year of solar maximum when the sun is at its most active.  Even though the chance of a massive solar storm is low, there's a seven times greater chance of one than the Earth being hit by a meteor.

Are you ready to live off the grid?   Might not be a choice if the sun acts up...

Gardeners beware: your zone may have changed

From article on how rising temperatures have made the USDA's zone map obsolete:

Gardeners and landscapers may want to rethink their fall tree plantings. Warming temperatures have already made the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new cold-weather planting guidelines obsolete, according to Dr. Nir Krakauer, assistant professor of civil engineering in The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering.Professor Krakauer developed a new method to map cold-weather zones in the United States that takes rapidly rising temperatures into account. Analyzing recent weather data, he overhauled the Department of Agriculture’s latest plant zone map released in January.

The new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which predicts which trees and perennials can survive the winter in a given region, was a long time coming. Temperature boundaries shown in the latest version have shifted northward since the last one appeared in 1990. But the true zones have moved even further, according to Professor Krakauer’s calculations.
Over one-third of the country has already shifted half-zones compared to the current release, and over one-fifth has shifted full zones,” Professor Krakauer wrote this summer in the journal “Advances in Meteorology.”

More here.

As goes Detroit, goes the nation....or world?