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Forsight vs hinsight
Thinking_J   5/7/2013 8:52:37 PM
 "science" of earth's geology , power generation, risk accessment, etc... All are continuously evolving.

The knowledge of earthquakes over 100 years or 1 million years is extremely limited. Anything we "knew" 40+ years ago on these subjects (when the facility in Japan was being designed) is completely different now.

Same is true of cars, airplanes, etc...

"Defining the risks" accurately is equally impossible as placing a monetary value on a human life. We try to act in a responsible, caring manner... that is all that can be expected. (yea .. sometimes we can "guess" correctly - the definition of an "expert" - three apparently correct guesses in a row)

Don't like the risks? Pay someone to re-assess until the risks are exceptable. Even using the most knowledgeable and honorable people.. the risks will still be changing... because the "facts" (knowledge base) continues to change.
Even the "value" of the money (standard to which we are assigning value of life) is changing.

"Truth" in the sciences isn't stationary... even when is is agreed upon.

Creating examples to prove a position after the fact.. isn't valid or even helpful.


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bobjengr   5/7/2013 6:20:55 PM

EXCELLENT POST CHARLES- I have a good friend who was a math major in college.  He completed his undergraduate degree and went for his master's at Stanford.  His specialty is risk analysis.  We were talking the other day and he indicated he has seen more and more inquiries from companies and consulting engineers asking to calculate the risk relative to operation of products supplied to the market place.   Of course, this work was up front prior to manufacturing.  His service was basically providing FEMA analysis, with statistics, for baselining the probability and severity of any one of several occurrences.  He is now making a living serving the engineering community. 


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Auto deaths
Rob Spiegel   5/7/2013 5:00:55 PM
Good points, BillyMoore. I think the reckless drivers would be just as careless if they were in smaller cars. I think it has to do with a false sense of safety drivers feel simply because driving becomes so familiar. 

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dbg   5/7/2013 4:21:36 PM
Yes, the plant performed surprisingly well considering the size of the disaster. But if you quantified the cost of stabilization, cleanup, etc., it will be an astonishing sum.  On that basis alone additional measures should have been taken to protect the plant.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Auto deaths
Rob Spiegel   5/7/2013 3:41:44 PM
You're right to bring up texting, Intersil_Bill. I have now learned the telltale signs -- doing 20 in a 40, swerving in and out of lanes, a delay in getting started when the light turns green. High consequences have made some progress in driving down drunken driving instances (though not enough by far), perhaps stiff consequences might bring down the accidents, injuries and deaths related to texting.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Auto deaths
Rob Spiegel   5/7/2013 3:35:13 PM
Good points, Jwa. I recently spent considerable time helping my daughter prepare for driving. She took four months worth of training lessons and I kept a running instruction during before and during her training time with a permit. Given all this, she was surprised by the tons of examples of bad driving she saw -- and often worked to avoid -- by drivers of all ages. So many drivers don't seem to be aware how dangerous driving is. The carelessness I see can only be explained by inebriation or a failure to understand the nature of the danger involved in driving.

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Getting Real
ChasChas   5/7/2013 3:20:31 PM

Life in an environment where there were no manmade things was the most dangerous for mankind. They lived short brutal lives.

Manmade things improved the odds immensely, but we still suffer from untimely deaths. Elimination of the odds is impossible and if it were possible , life would be very boring - no thrills.

The balance is where life is the most fun for the most survivors.

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Re: Makes you wonder...
patb2009   5/7/2013 11:26:00 AM


if you knew much about radioactive isotopes, you wouldn't be asking these

questions.  Radiation contamination is different from chemical contamination.

Many areas have natural arsenic, chromium, lead, copper, in the water and

it tends to be very stable because it's leaching out of aquifers.




however radio-isotopes have a half life,  and over most periods of geological time, these half lives go away.  Cs-137 has a 30 year half life, so it's a decay product from 

reactor operations and a few other activities,  


if you bother reading the map, it's also a nice distribution of the downwind effects of Fukushima.  


the skeptical observer is useful for denying reality, but, for anyone who is consistently denying the reality here, all they need to do to prove their beliefs is start feeding their grandkids food products from Fukushima.


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Re: Auto deaths
BillyMoore   5/7/2013 11:10:10 AM
You want auto safety on par with airline safety?  Easy.  Replace airbags with explosives.  Airline safety is largely predicated on the fact that a crash usually means instant death.  No such deterrent exists in auto travel.  In fact, it's just the opposite.  Cars are becoming larger, faster, more isolated, more capable in acceleration, braking, and cornering.  Result: drivers who drive in a way more risky manner (agressive driving, texting, etc) because the vehicle largely protects them from such irresponsible behavior.  In fact, many specifically select larger, more protective vehicles just so they can operate it in a more irresponsible manner.  And the consequencies of such behavior is largely borne by others.  The airbags, crush zones, seat belts, and vehicle mass do a great job of protecting the irresponsible driver, while the vehicle is wreaking destruction on everything around it.

No, I'm not actually suggesting replacing airbags with explosives, but the situation we have now, with auto related deaths surpassing those from all crime and all but a couple of diseases, is clearly not the answer.  How much is a life worth?  Apparently, not as much as people's sense of entitlement in driving how they wish.  So the "How safe is safe enough?" question, when it pertains to auto safety, is almost impossible to answer, given that improvements in safety are often defeated by human nature.

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Re: Auto deaths
Intersil_Bill   5/7/2013 10:53:35 AM
The industry has been under pressure for decades to produce safer cars and they have had amazing success given the price restraints they have to work with.  The problem remains having a 2 ton machine that can go over 80mph being controlled by an organism that can't exceed 30mph on its own and, historically, probably was limited to closer to half that.  Remember that despite clear statistics and years of mandatory use laws, there are still a substantial number of drivers who refuse to use a seat belt and it absolutely astounds me that there are so many drivers who try texting at the wheel.

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