Andy's insights

Opinions, thoughts, archivements

Tue, 27 Dec 2011

Economic Risk Management

The situation at Fukushima with its operator Tepco shows how economic risk managment works in edge cases. They had no clue how to handle such a situation. The report shows that the emergency service unit was not trained to handle blackout situations nor did they now where the hydrants are. This is dilettantish. The embarkments had a height of six meters even if an own study of Tepco showed before that this is not sufficient. But unless it’s regulated they didn’t do anything.

This is what happens in our economic system when there is a relativly low risk1 but an enourmous worst case impact: The risk analysis of the operators only looks at the financial aspects. They are quite low. The only reason higher standards are in effenct are because of goverment regulations.

It’s quite clear that this depends a lot on the goverment in question: Are they really independent? Have lobbyist infiltrated goverment?

We should really ask ourself: Is our local goverment good enough to ensure that our high risk sites (like nuclear power stations) are protected enough. Will they do their best to ensure all risks are identified and counter measurments are taken?

Anybody who claim that atomic power stations are safe ignore the single one factor that makes them unsecure: Humans. Not the workers, but the humans who have to decide. An atomic power station that is secure enough is not economical.

1Well experience show that there is about one maximum credible accident in 25 years world wide.

posted at: 14:28 | path: /politics/energy | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 09 Oct 2011

Git and Subversion

Thomas Ferris Nicolaisen published a very interesting talk about livin with Git and Subversion in parallel on Vimeo

On his website there is the text with the content of the video.

He shows to to work with a bidirectional setup with Git and Subversion: Automatically migrating commits into a Git repository and how to add the subversion repository into individuell developers repositories to commit back to subversion. This is a bit different from the approach used by Jon Loehliger in his book Version control with Git where a single gate keeper repository is used between Subversion an Git.

posted at: 15:40 | path: /development | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 11 Sep 2011

How To Destroy A Nation

About ten years ago I was supposed to write a text for my first intermediate diploma when I heard in the radio that an airplane hit the WTC. This day I didn’t work much on the text. Ever since this moment I read what I could get about this. Newsletter reports, journal reportages, and various conspiracy and counter conspiracy argumentation texts.

Even if it’s still not proved that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 terror act, whoever was responsible has had the same objectives: Disclose the weak points of the USA. And I’m sure the objectives did not only include to bring fear and powerlessness feelings to the Americans, but also to pressure the USA to specific counter-reactions: Start wars they can’t win.

I read that Osama Bin Laden aimed — an idea of Ayman al-Zawahiri — to entice the USA to Afghanistan. It was predictable that the USA would react like a cowboy (shoot back) and start a war in Afghanistan. A war they can’t win. In this respect the American were always easy to predict. Revenge is firmly fixed in the American mentality — that’s why they still practice the dead penalty.

I don’t believe in the big conspiracy theories. There are many unaccountable things and open questions so we can’t disprove all of them, but as someone said: The humankind doesn’t like the fact that a few terrorists where capable to shake a whole country or more all western nations. It’s easier if we can incriminate a hidden but powerful force1.

But I’m sure that the Bush government didn’t told the truth either: For once Bush himself was incompetent and his neoconservative advisors where either incompetent, selfish, or short-sighted. If it’s true what the chair of counter-terrorism security group Richard Clarke said, then the Bush government was more interested by the star wars program than by the danger of Al-Qaeda.

It also sounds reasonable that the CIA who know about some of the terrorist are withing the boundaries of the USA didn’t report it to the FBI. And whether it’s possible for an airplane to destroy a tower or not I can’t simply assess as I’m not a structural engineer. I’ll could only ask why not?

I think that the many outrageous conspiracy theories finally helped the government to combat all kind of doubt. It was a climate of “if you don’t believe us your are against us”. But some doubt is healthy: Not because the government secretly planned the 9/11, but because their incompetence and shortsightedness allowed them to happen. If this was going public they’ll lost the confidence. So they sweep unpleasant things under the carpet and removed some evidences. This again caused people to make up new conspiracy theories.

It’s also impossible to ignore the fact that 9/11 allowed the Bush government to do what they want: The president was allowed to make war without the need to ask the congress and spend nearly as much money as he liked to the war. The advertised revenge2 gave him backing from the people.

If you take a look on the timeline and correlate the Homeland Security Advisory System alerts with the real events you don’t find many matches. But if you correlate it with the resolutions of new laws restricting the liberty and empower the government you’ll find much more matches3.

The first election of president Bush was very close4, so we ask what if 9/11 had not happened? Would he be reelected? Could he reduce the taxes the same way? Where are the billions of money he spend on war?

If only a part of the money he spent on war were invested into infrastructure, public education and maybe a bit on welfare, the finance crisis a broad section of the population is suffering from won’t that magnitude. The unrestricted neoconservative thinking destroyed too much. Note that the USA increased the indebtedness about five quadrillion during rule of Georg W. Bush.

So far we can surely declare for the terrorists:

Mission accomplished


1Like the government or an powerful economic privy councillor. Note that is somehow related to religions.

2Hunting Osama Bin Laden, destroying the Taliban, declaring “War on terror”

3Das Magazin No. 35/2011, Beilage Tagesanzeiger

4Some say too close to be true

posted at: 01:41 | path: /politics | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 25 May 2011

One Year After The Oil Spill

More than a year after the oil spill there are some interresting facts. While the oil is not visible (thanks to core exit) the oil is still there

One fisher men tells about fishing only 15 tons of shrimps instead of 150 tons as usual. If you dig at the cost you’ll likely find a black layer of oil. There are huge layers of oil under water. People suddenly forget things , More Dolphins and other mammals than usual are found dead due oil.

I fear that the whole consequences are hushed up. When they are partially uncovered it’s too late that the public notice them.

posted at: 01:33 | path: /politics/energy | permanent link to this entry

Nuclear Meltdown Times Three

Tepco finally confess that there were nuclear meltdown in three reactors.

It’s not that we didn’t expected it already. The reactors are not accessible except for robots due the heavy radiation while they were cooled in a primitiv improvided way. It seem like the earthquake alone broke at least one reactor an it wasn’t the tsunami afterwards. This is an important part as this means that the possibility that a reactor build for a eight on the Richter scale won’t survive more is quite high. Here in Switzerland the reactors are built to withstand a seven on Richter scale (as I read somewhere, I didn’t found the source yet, but the operators don’t belive in more than that).

Tepco is again (after Tschernobyl) the prove that not only radioactivity is spreading from there but also lies. The authorities where too much connected to the energy corporations and ignored signals. Guess what: Here in Switzerland the situation is not better. The regulatory authority was intentionally weakened

This shows that the atom economy tries to externalize as much costs as possible: The risk, the dismantling costs, safety measures in construction, and the total lack of a solution for atomic waste. And all is based on dissimulation, lies, and heavy lobbying.

posted at: 01:02 | path: /politics/energy | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 27 Mar 2011

There Are Always Alternatives

During the last years and recently more often I hear that there are no alternatives to conventional coal, natural gas, and atom power plants. This is not true.

There are three major reasons why we should search alternatives: Global warming due CO₂, the safety concerns about oil and atom energy, and finally the problem with the atomic waste .

Of course we can’t just turn off those power plants over the night. But it’s possible in the near future if we really want. There is plenty of energy out there: Sun, wind, tides, geothermal heat, and plants.

Let’s have a quick look over them.


Alone the sune shines with more energy than a multiple of the whole world consumes. This is easy to calculate:

According to Wikipedia the annual world energy consumption is about 132’000 TWh (for 2008). The average sun insolation per square meter is about 250 W/m^2^

If we assume a poor efficiency factor for solar panels of 10%, we can calculate the required area required to provide the energy the world consumed in 2008:

132000 TW/h / (1000^2^ m^2^ * 250 W/m^2^) / (365 * 24 h) * 10 = 602740 km^2^

This is 14 times the area of Switzerland. While this is a huge area, we have plenty of desert space (with probably more than 250 W/m^2^). And more important: Not the whole area is required as we can collect energy with other sources.

When we talk about solar panels the critics always throw up the gray energy:
Producing conventional silicium based solar panels requires vast amount of energy: Usually a panel has to run about 5 to 10 years to collect more energy than it required to build. This is affortable as a panel is intended to work more than 10 years up to 50 years.

Besided that there is no need to use those silicium based panels:

One of the biggest problem with sunlight alone is the availability during day only. Energy storage is required.


There is a big potential for wind energy. As the wind wheels are quite loud they need some distance from populated areas (both men and animals). This calls primary for offshore plants. Unfortunately the wind blows irregular. The consequences are that either massive amounts of the wind energy needs to be stored or to build continental wide smart grids to distribute the wind better.


This is an upcoming energy source. The tides contain a massive amount of energy in a regular manner.


Another possibilty as long as they don’t trigger earth quakes. Iceland make heavy use if it. A part of it could be exported to Europe. Other geothemal zones in the world could do the same.


Plants could be used to produce biogas. Beside that plants could produce fuel. But here we have a ethical problem: The rich people will always have enough money to play for fuel that is produced on agricultural areas instead food for the poor. We must stricly forbid to produce bio fuel on areas that could be use to grow food. There are other possibilities to get biofuel: From bio waste and from algae. Last one could be produced in tubes in unfruitful deserts or on contaminated areas.

Energy storage and the grid

A central part of the variable renewable energy sources is a smart grid along with storage capacities. A continent wide smart grid routes the energy from the current available sources to the consumers. Storage power plants stores energy surplus and provides them later during phases of energy deficit.

There we see why it’s important to have a good mix of energy sources: The more energy is available, the less needs to be stored. Not only the sources should be mixed but also the sizes of the power plants: Starting from small solar panels on the roof of every individual building and ending with power plants the size of multiple square kilometres there should be different sizes.

While there are some more capacities for storage lakes in Europes north (Norway, Finland, Sweden) the capacities are limited without resettling millions of people or destroying valuable nature.

Beside the already known water storage power plants there are new developments:


We see there is still some research and engeneering required. If the demand is high enough this is solvable. The mankind has solved bigger problems already.

posted at: 18:15 | path: /politics/energy | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 05 Jan 2011

World politic

This is a joke that reflects the world politics quite good.

A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:

Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?”

The survey was a huge failure…

posted at: 10:53 | path: /politics | permanent link to this entry