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Messages - mjmsprt40

Forum Administration / Re: Bye.
It's getting close to my turn to say  :bye:. Not because of any irritations here, but because everybody has a set time to live and it appears mine is running out. Terminal cancer got me, little can be done beyond comfort, so-- wait for time to run out.

I have been from Jan. 12 until today without computer access, now that I am back online I'll try to keep up and put in an appearance while I can.

mjm, who the hell ever wanted or proposed to do that?

Well---actually---- in the early history of American rail, they did exactly that. Seemed every railroad had its favorite gauge, and if you wanted to take train from one place to another you might have three or four different gauges between rails. Some passenger cars were built to be able to run on this, they had wheel sets designed to run on different rails systems. This didn't work as well as one would hope (no surprise there) and some notable incidents were caused when one of these "compromise cars" wandered a bit and got out of sorts. This was back in the days when cars were made of wood, and warmed by a coal-fired stove in the car--- so any accident during the cold months usually produced devastating fires into the bargain.

A few really bad accidents later, they settled on 4'8.5" for standard gauge between the rails in the US.
What's important is that, whatever measuring system you use, everybody on the project (in this case, putting together a functional train system) gets on the same page and sticks with it.

Here, standard gauge between the rails is 4 feet 8 and a half inches. As long as that gauge is used both on the rails and on the wheel and axle sets that ride them, all is well. Let things get out of sorts because somebody thought they had a better idea and implemented that without telling anybody he did, and you can bet tragedy will result. "Oh, you thought 5 feet between rails was a better idea? OK, great. Now who is gonna clean up this mess and care for all these injured passengers, hmmm?"
One bugbear that stops high-speed rail here is 19th century planning, Grade crossings might have been OK during the time when most folk either walked or traveled by horse, and a "fast train" could do maybe 25 mph. Our rail system is loaded with grade crossings where cars and trucks can meet with trains--- with tragic results.

I remember a few years back there was an accident between an Amtrak train and a truck hauling steel coils at Bradley, Illinois. The train did slow a bit, but still hit at 60 mph with predictable results.

Now imagine a high-speed train going at 175 mph and it hits that truck. Oh, man, the carnage! You'd be safer if you'd been kidnapped by ISIL.

Railway design MUST change if high-speed rail is to progress. The grade-crossing has got to go.

Quickie add-on: The driver of the truck survived, the train hit the trailer about half-way back. Turns out the driver wasn't the sharpest tack in the box, he was running for three different companies and keeping multiple log-books. He had gotten maybe 3 hours of sleep in the past 36 at the time of the accident. Thought he could beat the train. Want high-speed rail? (The line from Chicago to New Orleans could be perfect for that.) Grade crossings have got to go, they're a relic of a bygone age.

Something to chew on: It's been quite a while since any part of the United States was a colony of any European power.

To chew on? Most of Europe was a colony of Germany far more recently. :P

Germany was trying to grab more, too. The whole reason for the Eastern Front was to attempt to grab as much of Russia as they could. Figured if they could knock off Russia, the UK would have to sue for peace.
Something to chew on: It's been quite a while since any part of the United States was a colony of any European power. Nevada, when it was a colony, was part of the Mexican/Californian segment of Spanish holdings. The Southern states West of Georgia were likely either French or Spanish. The only part of the US that RJ could rightfully claim as "ex-colonies" is the 13 colonies on the Eastern Seaboard and that part of the Upper Midwest that England and France kept sparring over.

North of the US-Canadian border--- I hear tell that Canada still swears allegiance to the Crown. Though the province of Quebec occasionally wants to argue the point so they can be French.
This is something I somehow hadn't expected to see this year. We have another Polar Vortex coming to the US Northeast and Upper Midwest.

As anybody who can look at the weather knows by now, El Nino has been ruling the roost since September or thereabouts, making this one of the warmest winters in this neck of the woods. We got no snow for almost the entire month of December, did get a few inches at the very end of the month. January is a bit chilly so far, but not really what you'd call cold for this time of year. This is on account of El Nino being in town and moderating temps across the entire continent.

Now here comes a Polar Vortex. It'll be cold, maybe get some snow out of it. Then, probably back to El Nino conditions within a week.

I think the country is well out of sync with the general world where progress is the order of the day and they cannot all be wrong. Know all the usual stuff about distances and so on but the power of the motr car industry was something else.  Even in other places where the car is taking off rail is still a big and constantly modernising thing. Unfortunately the plot has been essentially lost over there unless it is just freight traffic.

There's the problem. Freight traffic is profitable for the rails here, so it gets priority. Long-distance passenger traffic--- not so much. The head honchos in the front office do a cost-benefit analysis and come up with the idea that it would cost fantastic amounts of money to build high-speed rail, and they're not at all sure they can recoup the investment much less make any profit.
There's something to think about. Areas around Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of California are all but designed by God for high-speed rail. Set up the rails, build the trains to run on them, and there's no reason you couldn't have speeds out West to rival anything in the Eurasian continent. But,,,, they won't build the thing so there's an end of it.
Chicago has the same kind of problem. The CTA is atrocious for time. I have a brother who lives on the far North Side by the lake. I live in the Western Suburbs. I'd have to mark out half a day to get there from here by trains and buses, the same job can be done in an hour (I visit him on weekends) by car.

From Chicago IL to Lincoln, NE.

How many km?

It's really strange that by train you take the double of time than by car unless you take the "mail train" that stops for half an hour at each and every small location. Another reason would be if your travel forces you to change trains for ten times...

Express trains here (not TGV) runs around 150 - 170km per hour, yours must be around the same thing. Cars hardly can do such average and it's impossible to do it in half the time.

I dont use trains anymore while they don't finish with the stupid and abusive non smoking totalitarian law.

I just dealt with what Google Maps gave me for travel times. Amtrak is notoriously bad, and you have to link in a couple of buses into that time too. There's the matter of catching the bus from O'Hare (my start point) to Union Station downtown for example. Then, at Lincoln there has to be another bus or you have to call a friend to get you to the destination--- a factory on the outskirts of town. All of this while hauling a 1,500 lb pallet of freight with you--- so you see why that doesn't work for me.

Edit; add-on: Amtrak is considerably slower than your trains, too. We're talking 110 to maybe 120 km per hour when the train is moving. Track conditions won't allow faster times.
The Sahara Desert--- oh, man, think of the length of the cables to transmit that power! That's just to Europe. Here, the only comparable deserts are in the Western states, and running cables to transmit power from Death Valley to New York City ain't gonna happen. It would feed LA, SF and LV alright though.

Wind farms take an enormous amount of land

Ever heard about off shore wind turbines? Are you short of land?
Same problem with solar power.

We really need a scientific moderator... before we return to pre history.

Bel--- setting up solar panels to supply YOUR HOUSE with electricity is one thing. Probably mount the panels on the roof. Utility-level power is quite another thing. Go ahead---- tell me I'm wrong. This is one time I know I'm right. Com Ed simply can't supply the entire Chicago Metro Area with solar panel-generated electricity without gobbling up land that used to be farmland.
Try to build a hydroelectric plant around here and the very first thing that will happen is the "Green Nimbys" will be all over the proposed site looking for birds and bugs and plants "unique to the area" that prevent building the structure. It would take decades just to clear the paperwork--- if it can be done. Not to mention that most major rivers here in the Midwest are transportation corridors, shutting down the Ohio to build a hydro dam is a non-starter as a fer-instance.

There is the TVA of course, but that was a late 1920s-- 1930s  project to build that. There weren't so many Greens around, and with everybody looking for any kind of job they wouldn't have been listened to then anyway.

Wind farms take an enormous amount of land to produce anywhere near acceptable levels of power for general use. Same problem with solar power. Sure, you might get acceptable power to feed your house from one turbine and battery-pack, but the utilities have to try to feed an entire region with power. For the immediate future here at least, that still means coal, oil, gas or nuclear-fired boilers providing steam to generators to get the level of power needed to supply everybody. Each of these methods have their unique problems to overcome, ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
It is a lot harder to die in an auto accident than it used to be. Cars are a lot safer today.

Seat belt use is "by law" in most if not all states. Collapsible steering columns became law in the late 1960s-- before then, cars were built with a steel shaft that ran from the steering gearbox right up to the wheel in your hands, in the event of a head-on collision this shaft would come in through your chest and exit your back, making survival unlikely. The steering wheel itself contained a number of sharp items that, even if you didn't get harpooned by the shaft, made getting into an accident likely to produce injuries.

No padding on the steel dashboard--- vinyl-covered padded dashboards came in about the same time as the collapsible steering column did. No air-bags. Air-bags came in during the Reagan administration, before then nope.

The combination of the three-point seatbelt and air-bags cut the death rate remarkably. Before then--- if you were "riding shotgun" there was a good chance you'd go through the windshield in the event of an accident, serious injury or death would be your lot.

You can still get killed in an accident--- but it is harder to do today than it was then. So--- auto-accident death rates have dropped. I remember as a young man reading of automobile-accident death rates PER YEAR that rivaled the number of service-men killed during the entire Vietnam war--- now it's down to 10,000 or less according to the stats posted here. Remarkable.
China doesn't have a lot of cars. At least outside the big metro areas. Or a lot of roads to drive them on. Or a lot of people that could afford a car. For China, buses in the metro areas and trains for going from one city to another makes sense.

China is a Socialist country trying to form its own version of a capitalist economy. That requires them to do things we've already done here (railroads in the US were in their passenger-hauling prime from the 1850s or thereabouts to almost the mid 20th century).
OK--- shoulda chose another metaphor. EF-5 tornadoes are not man-made, can barely be predicted reliably even to this day, and the only way to reliably survive a direct hit is to get into underground shelter. How about standing in front of that thing and shouting "Stop"--- or passing a law to stop them (I don't know how you'd implement such a law).

Does that work for you?

Lately I've been a might curious about whether certain of you would be willing to stand in front of an avalanche, hold up your hand and shout "Stop" to the avalanche. Surely men have this power, don't they? Pass a law and avalanches will stop. Anybody who doesn't believe this is an avalanche denier.

This metaphor seems to be tailor-made for being turned around on you. :devil:

Doubtful. I know enough--- having seen enough avalanches on TV which is a good place to see them--to know that standing in front of one trying to stop it by holding up your hand and shouting "Stop" won't do any good. I worry, though, about those who think governments can pass laws that can stop a moving avalanche from doing what it does. They just might try something like that.
So now the big confab at the Tower of Babel-- whoops, I mean Paris-- is nearly done. Men think that by getting rid of fossil fuels they can stop climate change. Gotta hand to them, they never read a history book in their lives.

Way back in the dusty old days of England, when kings were thought to be placed there by God and no edict of the king was to be questioned, King Canute ran an experiment to show his people that the power of the king was indeed limited and could not match the power of God. He placed his throne between the high and low tide marks at the beach, then commanded the tide not to rise and wet his shoes and robe. Of course the tide rose and got him wet, showing that the tide at least paid no attention to the king's edict.

Lately I've been a might curious about whether certain of you would be willing to stand in front of an avalanche, hold up your hand and shout "Stop" to the avalanche. Surely men have this power, don't they? Pass a law and avalanches will stop. Anybody who doesn't believe this is an avalanche denier.

I think much the same about climate change. We have great hubris thinking that any law we can pass will stop climate change. The climate is going to keep doing what it has always done since creation, and no law that can be passed by men will change that. For that, I am called a "denier" and declared to be hopelessly ignorant. For stating a truth that doesn't gel with the present AGW/CAGW mindset.  OK, so be it.

Odds are you might look back on the eight years of Obama with nostalgia.

Obama has been a terrible president. He won twice because the Republicans managed to nominate two of the worst candidates possible.

We're in a long slide from the look of things.
Hilary looks to be heir apparent to the Democratic nomination.

Trump says the most outrageous things, still front runner in the Republican race.

We're in an awful lot of trouble.
Smiley has guns. THAT causes a sleepless night or two.

About the rest-- he can speak for himself. There's lots of Americans that do care about what goes on elsewhere--- if for no other reason than lots of Americans still have relatives "over there".

There is a point where I agree wholeheartedly with Smiley: I don't give a hoot what RJHowie or Belfrager thinks of us. They and people like them are going to hate on America and Americans regardless of what we do, so to heck with them.

Free from Europeans who think they can tell us how to live. That'll do for starters.

You are Europeans. *grins*

Only partially. I seem to have Chippewa on my mother's side of the family.
Here's another one. Ozone hole--- global warming. (Sorry pal, not gonna leave CAGW out of this. It's so much a part of what we're talking about that to deny we're talking about it is similar to buying a new car without an engine. You may feel justified in pushing it--- but most people wouldn't.) See below:

I think the term you're lacking, Jochie, is "relative risk"...
I was trying to politely hint that your attempt of diversion is not appreciated. Thus is a gun thread.

If we had a thread about airline accidents, would I expect someone to bring up car accidents? Suh acs "Don't worry about airline accidents because we have so many more car accidents?".   :D

Blame Smiley for this one. He's the one that brought in the stray. And, yes--- in an attempt to deflect from the main subject.

About the recent slaughter in San Bernadino, I suspect nothing could have been done to stop that. There are underground sources where you can get doggone near any kind of weapon you want, and this couple managed to "fly under the radar" until they struck. Further, they managed to get info for bomb-making from the Dark Web, where-- once again-- it seems you can get doggone near anything.

I will take this moment to argue with those who say if somebody in the building had a concealed gun this might have turned out different. I don't think so. This couple was wearing body armor, and that sort of armor is designed to protect from small-arms fire. A more likely story is that the person with the concealed gun would have been targeted as soon as he/she pulled out the weapon, and would be counted among the dead. Concealed carry just can't go up against people who come in wearing armor and using military-style weapons.

How quickly we forget: Some years back, some bank-robbers did a military style raid in Los Angeles. Full body armor, seriously heavy guns, the whole military bit. The police found themselves hopelessly outmatched with their standard-issue handguns and shot guns, and had to go to gun-stores to get heavy weapons that might stand a chance of bringing the bad-guys down. The bad guys had no trouble shooting at the police however, their weapons easily pierced the sides of squad cars, so hiding behind the car offered scant protection.

Now you think a concealed pistol is going to stand a chance against terrorists who have come in open for business. Hate to tell you this, but you're gonna need a bigger gun.