John Michael Greer: The God Of Technological Progress May Well Be Dead

 …there's always holes.


Chris - you have once again overestimated your abilities.  No amount of "observe, think and decide" will trump real life experience.  Keep telling yourself that though.  Run off and quote me some more Jane's Defence Weekly articles, or maybe get FoodBabe to offer her expert opinion on submarine operations, but understand that at the end of the day, two people had a conversation about submarine and carrier battle group operations.  One person had no experience with either, but has read articles.  One person had 34 years (and counting) of experience and read the same articles.  One person drew conclusions from no experience and a few articles, one person offered clarifying and amplifying information based on first hand knowledge and over three decades of experience to question the accuracy of the conclusions.  Two people had a discussion.  One had a more accurate picture of truth.  They both know who that was.

Of course I remember Fukushima.  You were the first off the blocks with an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach.  Your 'crack of doom' was a fire, and yes, while the containment boundary had been breached, the reactor pressure vessel had not.  You were not witnessing a full meltdown.  Your conclusions were largely in error and even to this day you refuse to acknowledge that.  Chris, you flat out blew it on Fukushima.  Abysmally and utterly.  You need to own that.

Plus you got more thumbs up on your comments than I did, so you get to be Prom King.

Seems we are well past being objective and into Ego territory here.  Either way, no way in hell I'd sign up for tin can duty in the Gulf knowing what I do now. Seen enough software snafus to know that I would not want to be looking at a few dozen vampires inbound, let alone a hundred.  Either way this is going to play out, I'm sure we'll all know soon enough.
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

I'm detecting a belief system has been activated,since there are clearly emotions involved.  

Feel free to swing away, but you do not get to make up your own facts to support an alternate reality:

Muon scans confirm complete reactor meltdown at Fukushima Reactor #1

Mar 20, 2015

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has announced that its muon tomography scanning efforts at Fukushima have borne fruit, and confirmed that nuclear plant’s Reactor #1 suffered a complete meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

What today’s findings confirm is that nuclear fuel rods inside the reactor underwent complete meltdown. The image below shows a before-and-after shot of what a reactor looks like in normal operation and then after partial meltdown has begun. Note that the water level inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) has dropped and the rods are melting as a result. This began to happen in Reactor #1 within hours of the tsunami. Subsequent analysis over the past few years has confirmed that there seemed to be very little nuclear fuel remaining inside the RPV.

No, I did not blow it.  I got it exactly right.  You of all people should be aware of what it means that there's very little fuel in the Reactor Pressure Vessel.

Not sure what's driving you here, but it's not facts.


Seems we had similar experiences in the Persian Gulf, although mine was a few decades before yours.  The keel of the ship I was on was laid during WWII.  We carried the Commander Middle East Forces and his staff.  Our little ship carried only about 250 personnel including command staff.  In fact, we were the fleet at the time.  The nearest CV was a long way away.  Johnson was President and the hot war was in SE Asia.
I never developed a taste for bug juice and didn't drink coffee.  Fortunately, and I didn't think much about it at the time, we always had milk.  That was my beverage of choice except for a little scotch I kept hidden away.  The ship's water was terrible and when the evaps were down we took salt water showers, although we didn't have to drop buckets off the fantail.  They just diverted salt water to the showers.  It was cold of course.

Unlike your experience, I never ran into an impolite Arab while I was there.  Even when one guy accused me of killing one of the citizens he did it politely.  (fortunately, it was a case of mistaken identity)

As far as the discussion between Chris and Dogs, I admit to a decided bias.  Dogs is an officer in the Nuclear Navy.  There are few disciplines anywhere that are better trained and experienced than those guys.  Its my understanding that every one of them has to be able to assume command of a ship if the need occurs, no matter what their specialty.  I'm guessing here, but it sounds like Dogs has a lot more training, perhaps at a war college where he learned strategy, tactics and weapons systems, than he would necessarily need serving on a submarine.  Having been through a number of schools in the Navy, I concluded they are among the best when it comes to training.  And that training is constantly reinforced and updated through drilling and more advanced schooling.

Plus, it has been my experience, in areas I had reason to know about, that civilian commentary, particularly by those who never served, is usually ill-informed if not totally off base.  And, due to security requirements, civilians never know the whole story like a command level officer would.  The military doesn't respond much to outside commentary because saying anything could give information by inference to those who shouldn't have it.

So, in this discussion, my confidence is decidedly with Dogs.

Good for you man.

I've seen some really great decisions, and some really awful ones, on the bridge in my day. I've seen officers crack under pressure. Seen a CO do the stuff of legend. A lot of it comes down to individual people.

And the more complex a system is the exponential opportunity for unintended consequences. Portside R2D2 is jammed/OOC (lots of electronics and moving parts in that one). Uh-oh, fire control is down (more that once it's happened ;-). Better hope that chaff works as advertised.

Shit happens and things go sideways. Especially when you throw a crew into a high stress situation.  I'd call a bunch of vampires inbound a "high stress" situation.

[Hidden - Jason]
Thanks for calling me a bigot. However, either Mr. Greer is really into magic (as he claims to be) or he is seriously deluded or consciously lying about it. Neither option increases his credibility in my bigoted, narrow-minded eyes.

Thanks for saying you "don't do religion". This is not very wise, as you can't cope with what lies ahead without a belief system and a spiritual strength. People over centuries found that in religion and it has been tested over and over again that those who do have that spiritual strength cope way better with hard situations that those who "don't do religion" (and, BTW, this has nothing to do with whether God exists or not).

Great discussion with Dogs_In_A_Pile - I don't have a Navy background, but my own little background allows me to say that you can clearly see the difference between an armchair analyst and someone who really knows this stuff.

Twist away Chris.  Nobody is disputing a meltdown within the FD Unit #1 RPV.  My statement still stands.  You simply didn't witness it from a three second helicopter flyover.  Beliefs indeed.  "Crack of doom" sure was a headline attention grabber though.
From your article, my emphasis in bold.  (I have to admit, I have never read an article where they managed to pull an ad hominem, passive-aggressive, appeal to authority AND a Hegelian dialectic on themselves within the same article.  I guess I need to get out more.) 
"This means that molten corium flowed completely through the RPV and into the PCV before being stopped by the several meters of concrete within the base. This wasn’t an entirely settled question, however, since radiation measurements and water testing have not found the isotope levels that would be expected if the majority of the corium were in direct contact with the concrete layer beneath the PCV.  One alternate theory is that the seawater that was pumped into Reactor #1 after the disaster may have cooled the corium before it finished burning through the reactor pressure vessel."
Have you considered that a muon scan looking for intact fuel geometry images won't find any if it's pooled and cooled at the bottom of the RPV?  We may very well find out that it did melt through the bottom of the RPV, and is in/on the concrete floor of the containment building, but until that is confirmed, you'd be better served - as would your members - by tightening up your observation to a more conservative set of signal detection criteria.  You are (seemingly) demonstrating classic liberal bias in what constitutes a "successful" signal detection to support a desired conclusion.  (Warning to any readers who may be train - wrecking on the terms liberal vs. conservative - they don't mean what you think they mean.  Forewarned is forearmed.)
"The correct detections of signals by observers also “depend on non-perceptual factors, including their detection goals, their expectations about the nature and occurrence of the stimuli, and the anticipated consequences of correct and incorrect responses. Such factors influence observers’ willingness to respond rather than their ability to perceive the stimuli” (See, J.E., Howe, S.R., Warm, J.S., & Dember, W.N. (1995). A meta-analysis of the sensitivity decrement in vigilance.  Psychological Bulletin, 117, 230-249.)

Maybe, just maybe, you were leaning too far forward in the foxhole?

Is laughter an emotion? 

We can be done now I think.  Because we certainly agree on more things than we disagree on.
Did I mention I finally pulled the trigger on a new Martin HD-28 dreadnought?  Rings like a bell from top to bottom, loud with a sweet, full bottom end, a real banjo killer.  Cat then convinced me to order a custom Martin J-40 12 string.

Well, since you are now accusing me of liberal signal bias, which attacks my very integrity, I'm going to have to have my own last post.
This is important.  With Fukushima we were working very fast with pathetically little information.  You are now suggesting that anything less than complete certainty with proofs was a disservice to this community.  In the heat of the moment, with little sleep, we did a fantastic job of getting it right.  Better in the moment than any other public news service I know of.  Perhaps the NRC had better info, but they weren't sharing it with us.

  • Did reactor #1 melt down?  Yes.  
  • Does a meltdown create very high temperatures?  Yes.
  • Did we detect very high temperatures using our own analysis?  Yes.
And here's exactly what was said at the time accompanying the crack of doom photos.  Please feel free to point out the disservice to the community (I've bolded a few parts here for emphasis):

Okay folks, that looks very much like a hot spot. A very hot spot. If we knew what it was made out of, we could probably identify it to within a few degrees of its actual heat value, but we don't know what it is (besides a fissure that is glowing at an orange-white temperature).

But I am disinclined to believe it is a normal fire burning up normal materials, because there have been no reports or videos or photos showing smoke emanating from this reactor. Still, it remains one possibility.

Another less-desirable but not dismissible possibility is that it is coming from some sort of nuclear reaction, be it residual decay heat or even a meltdown-driven process. We just don't have enough information to tell, and the authorities have been less than forthcoming with this bit of information.

A seat-of-the-pants analysis, which borders on the irresponsible because we don't know anything about the camera, its settings, or what is emitting the light, allows us to speculate that the temperature of the hot spot is well over 1,000 degrees Celsius. If it were metal, say iron, glowing that color, our guess would be in the vicinity of 5,000 degrees Celsius.

Here are several views of the glowing spot against a black-body temperature chart (note that a Kelvin is the same thing as a Celsius but they start at different place…zero for Celsius is freezing water and for Kelvin it is absolute zero. To convert, just subtract -273 from the Kelvin scale and you've got Celsius).

Of course, we have no idea about what is glowing down there, so it is impossible to say anything for sure, besides, "That's a very hot spot."

It is not yet time to turn our attention off of this situation. Yes, it is good news that nothing else seems to have exploded or gone much worse in a few days, and for that I am grateful and hopeful. But the utter lack of information leaves me concerned that something is being hidden from our view.

As it turns out, we now have a reasonable understanding of what the 'crack of doom' probably was: the heat signature from a melting core.  The title of the piece quoted above is "Japanese Reactor Situation Far Worse Than Admitted," and I guess we can now say that the admissions are finally catching up with what we already knew.

As always, trusting our own abilities to know what we are looking at and make reasonable guesses turns out to be the right course of action, especially during times when official sources have conflicts of interest in being truly open and honest.

I use the term "official sources" loosely because it is also true that it was not just TEPCO that had access to the heat signature data detected above. It must also be true that the US, which conducted numerous fly-overs with sophisticated detection packages, had this information as well.

That's just solid, reasoned analysis and it was careful to note the various possibilities and then settled on the most likely which turned out to be true.  What made the most sense to me creating that heat signature was a complete meltdown and that's what happened.  End of story. {Note also that TEPCO itself believe the corium has flowed out of the RPV, which maybe helps explain why the radiation hardened robot sent there died promptly after encountering levels of over 10 Sieverts}

But even if it hadn't melted down, the method of weighing evidence and drawing conclusions works great and should not be scrapped because sometimes it doesn't work.  The world is complex and having to be engineer-certain about everything is not an option.

You want 'conservative signal sets' that's fine, but it's a luxury in a world moving this fast that I don't believe we have.

So I'm willing to gather up loose bits of data and assemble them into the most-likely scenario that fits and then keep moving...My signal sets tell me that we are:
  • Ecologically ruining oceans from the bottom up
  • Using up ground water at rates that will leave whole regions uninhabitable
  • Going to hit peak oil with no plan B for anything from operating the global economy to feeding everyone
  • Going to create more debt and print more money until everything blows up financially rather than face the music.  
  • Someday the music will stop and people everywhere will wonder how we missed the signs.
Of course, not everyone will have missed the signs...espcially those burdened with classic liberal bias.  ;)

includes a HD-28P circa 1987. it is clearly better than any other acoustic played or heard by this…
I believe Olive Oil Guy gave it a whirl while in town a while back.

Digression is a great pressure relief.  As is snarky meta-commentary.  But still, I wonder…

I can't directly answer your question, but unless there's a typhoon sortie, there are generally more submarines in port than underway at any given time.  Many are in various stages of readiness due to  routine and emergent maintenance upkeeps, training cycles, etc.  Just like our boats.  A full port sortie is a very observable event, and seeing one would kick off a chain of assessing, planning and decision-making.

"Roughly".    Don't worry, be happy.

The missiles Chris and I have been discussing are cruise missiles, not ballistic, so the Navy's AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System (ABMD) would not come into play.

LCS…Bwahahahahahahahaha.  See the exchange above where Chris and I were in full agreement on the F-35.  Come to think of it, if LCS, destroyers and frigates all act as bullet catchers, the flat tops don't get hit?!?!?
Cruise missiles, and to a lesser degree torpedoes (for entirely different reasons) are the things that keep carrier COs and CVBG commanders awake, alert and prematurely grey.  My contention is with Chris' conclusion that that time is upon us.  It is not.  Yet.

My HD-28, bought in 1996, needed a bunch of work.  Two loose internal braces, a lifting bridge, and a set of cracks on either side of the neck/body join.
Major surgery.

Much to my immense surprise, it turned out that I must have filled out that warranty card back then and even mailed it because I was in the Martin system and nearly all of the work was done, for free, under warranty.

Knock me over with a feather.

I am being much better with the humidifier as a take-away.

…and all it takes is one (or maybe two).

Apologies for the confusion.  Rest assured that it wasn't an attack on your integrity.  You know me better than that. 

There is a subtlety to the difference between liberal signal detection bias and liberal signal bias that I did not clearly and fully convey.  Your closing comment about 'liberal bias' makes me think you either left out a word, or misunderstood what I meant by liberal signal detection bias.
In a nutshell, a liberal signal detection bias means you require less input to make a conclusive call on something based on data input (it can be anything, but it is typically a visual display of quantitative information - acoustics, imagery, aural, etc.)  You will have a very low miss rate, but you will also have a very high false alarm rate.  Conversely, if you have a conservative signal detection bias, one requires much more input to make a conclusive call.  That introduces several linked dynamics; your false alarm rate will be low, and your miss rate will be higher.  Typically, you incur the higher miss rate because you are spending time collecting and analyzing data on one event while snippets of data for another event are popping up.  Even with a correct call, you may have spent so much time analyzing before making the call, that even when you do make the call, you have insufficient time for effective actionable response options.
The key is to find the optimum balance between the two.  An extreme and poor example, but let's say someone pulls the fire alarm in a high rise apartment every day at 3AM because they smelled cigarette smoke coming from the apartment below them.  Instead of finding out that the tenant worked swing shift and was just getting home and unwinding, they thought the occupant had fallen asleep and the room was on fire.  At some point, that may actually be the case, but the local fire department (and the taxpayers that support them) is/are going to be pretty upset at being rolled every night.

Fukushima was not nearly as dynamic an event as you made it out to be.  As I told you numerous times in our many off line discussions, I thought you could have tapped the brakes a few times and pulled together more data points before rolling out conclusive statements and recommendations.

Nothing wrong with that as long as you understand that you are incurring a higher false alarm rate.

Finally.  Now there's a list of conclusions we can agree on. 

Were they doing the 5/16 scalloped bracing in the '96 models?  If not, I hope that's how you got it back.

Dogs, Chris-
I must confess, I didn't understand into the whole liberal signal detection bias thing - but it turns out, I actually have technical experience in that particular area.  Who knew?

Long ago I was developing a system of biometric recognition for financial transactions.  Each biometric algorithm had its false-accept rate / false-reject rate pair.  You can't separate them - one depends on the other.

False accept: letting an imposter do something he shouldn't be able to do.

False reject: telling the real person "no, you can't"

For example, if you tune the false accept rate of a facial recognition algorithm to be 1:100 (that is, there's 1% chance you let a bad guy in) then that results in a 1:1000 chance of denying access to the real person.  But if you want to tune the system to make it more secure (say there's only a 1:10,000 chance of letting a bad guy in), then that necessarily means there is a 1:10 chance that the real person will be rejected.

More secure automatically means more rejection of valid people.

Less secure automatically means real people seldom get denied, but the occasional imposter would be allowed through.

So Dogs is saying, Chris has a very low tolerance for "false accept" - meaning, a lot more false alarms (real people are denied access), but in exchange, few if any imposters make it through.

This is a reasonable setting if the penalty for a "false accept" is very high - say access to a very sensitive site (where all the alien bodies are stored, let's say), or the ability to transfer entire bank balances elsewhere, etc.

It's not so reasonable to protect your credit card, however.

It is a fascinating discussion on how we view the world.  I find it really useful.  It helps illuminate how Jim and I both see things.  I'm more willing to accept imposters in exchange for fewer false alarms, while he is unwilling to accept any imposters - but in exchange, he must tolerate repeated false alarms.

I never thought about it this way before, but how you view the world really is just where you set your "false accept" setting.

Super interesting.  Gives me some really good perspective.  Thanks guys…


Chris.  In the Great Game, by Dr.Kent Moors, pages 93-104, talks about the GLOBAL Shale Revolution and seems to TOTALLY contradict your frequent posts about shale oil.  Have you seen it and/or want to comment on it?

You interviewed him some years ago, remember?  Maybe the God of Technology is NOT dead??

Love to see him back and re-interviewed and DEBATED.   Ken


The missiles Chris and I have been discussing are cruise missiles, not ballistic, so the Navy's AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System (ABMD) would not come into play.
Well sure.  That's why I was careful to note the difference.  I was not asking Chris's question.

I may be an armchair admiral, but I know the difference between ballistic and cruise missiles!  (A dictionary right next to my Admiral's Armchair helps me to sort this out so I don't end up looking foolish)

So, back to the essence of my as-of-yet unanswered question:

DF-21 ballistic anti-ship missile (or Russian versions thereof): current issue for carrier commanders, or not?  Can our adversary's incoming DF-21 warhead successfully locate a moving ship within the target area with their terminal guidance system (or associated helper systems) and actually hit it?

I already have a decent sense as to the likelihood of our terminal phase intercept capability to take out an incoming warhead:  "Its better if there aren't too many incoming warheads."

Also - I note your entirely unhelpful answer about the diesel subs.  Entirely disagreeable, but sadly since I'm just an Armchair Admiral I cannot beach you at half-pay…

dave -

I glossed over the DF-21 distinction…thought we were still talking SUNBURN and YAKHONTS…they're different.  And similar.
I'll get a good answer to you later this evening after Family Dinner night…

Chris and Dogs_In_A_Pile, thank you both for a very educational and understandable discussion.  I'm a retired woman who knows nothing about military or naval things, and I understood and followed the whole thing.  Thank you both, too, for a disagreement that while intense, was never uncivil or nasty.   Nicely done, both of you.