ContraryGuy on June 08, 2012, 01:33:03 am
You know, I think `the Mascons` have forgotten something vital.
They want to set up controls on the food and water but what about the air supply.
Seems to me that whoever controls the breathable air controls the colony.

I was planning on mentioning this, so thank you for the opening.  Becasue Vesta is inside the asteroid proper, the atmosphere plant can be made to be mostly self-sustaining through gardens and scrubbers with an actual atmosphere plant for startup and backup tyo make up for losses and pressure events.

However, because the air had to come from somewhere to begin with, the atmosphere plant is obviously owned by a corporation: Company A.
If you want to breath, you have to buy a subscription to have air in your quarters.  Naturally since most people pay up for the common areas, there will be free riders.  But what if the tenants decide they dont want to pay for their air any more?
According to AnCap market principles, you either boycott or move.  But, in the Belt, there is no where to move to.  (remember, these people oppose paying for air so they cant move to another 'roid)

And what happens when market anarchy happens on the same rock?  Do yuou have to pass through an airlock that says "Now entering airspace of Company B; please have payment ready."?

In such a small space, what if you piss off the executive (or the engineer in charge of the physical plant)?  Can they cut off your air?  Can they bar you from entering their airspace?
Does flagging your ID in the computer so you cant enter their airspace (through the airlock) count as a violation of the ZAP?

What if the company in charge of providing the atmosphere raises the cost of air so much that people complain?  Are the people justified in forcibly taking over("liberating") the air plant "for the common good"?  Would that be a violation of the ZAP?

Does every person have their own personal shuttle so that they can move among asteroids in order to find the cheapest air costs?  If they dont, how will they move to a cheaper asteroid?
Or will they just suck it up and pay the higher cost?

Bachelors in AnCap are rootless and mobile (and own their own spacecraft); so they can jsut pick everything up and move away if the air costs gets too high.  But what about the families?  Can they just pick up everything and move away?

The OP has a good point.  But we cant discuss it in terms of the comic, because such petty concerns must be hand-waved away in favor of telling the story.

Rbsnedd on June 08, 2012, 05:41:25 am
Also, have the colonists actually built a nuclear power plant INSIDE the colony?
Bloody stupid place to put it.

Well, not so much.  The same technology that protects the colonists protects the nuclear plant -- meaning, it doesn't need to be hardened against the space environment (meteoroid shielding probably costs more than radiation shielding, considering that while gravel/dust is basically free, labor to emplace it isn't, and you need more of it to stop a grain of sand at 20 km/s than to stop beta particles), doesn't require its own life support systems for the operators and maintainers, doesn't require long, expensive transmission lines.  By the time there are "burners" that can travel between planets at constant boost above about a milligee, it seems likely that fission power will be competitive with solar on safety (and possibly cheaper, given a belt-local source of uranium or thorium -- a good bet, since at least some meteorites appear to have come from bodies that were shattered after concentrating dense materials in their cores).
Well yes, but my impression from the story is that the alarm went off because of a detector that has to be located INSIDE the life-support environment which is, to say the least the last place you want to risk contamination.
And stupid because it would be so easy to isolate even a contemporary type of fission reactor from the living areas on Vesta and operate the thing safely even if a Chernoble or Fukishima type screw-up were to happen.
Then again, with presumably no zoning type laws on Vesta perhaps the plant was built first then some clown decided to build something inside the plant`s safety zone and connected an airlock directly to it.
Yes people can be that stupid.

customdesigned on June 08, 2012, 06:20:57 am

And what happens when market anarchy happens on the same rock?  Do yuou have to pass through an airlock that says "Now entering airspace of Company B; please have payment ready."?


There was a similar dilemma in medieval times, and for a while, yes you paid a toll at every bridge or boundary marker (hence the bridge troll fairy tale meme).  The cost under that system was actually very representative of maintaining the roads, bridges, etc.  However, it became very inconvenient and time consuming to travel.  So neighboring fiefdoms would grant a narrow strip of land to a "commons" for travel.  Sometimes they would establish an independent franchise that paid them all fees, and charged tolls (but for a much larger area, reducing the number of times you had to pay).  Sometimes they would have an agreement to take turns with maintenance of the commons.

Working in open source software, I know that competitors find value in a "commons".  The Gnu Public License facilitates a software commons among competitors.  The license (yes, copyright is enforced by a government - maybe someone can suggest how that part would work under AnCap) gives you full rights to use the software, distribute the software as is, and full rights to distribute derivative works, *provided* you also distribute source code for changes or enhancements you have made.  (See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html)

Another popular license is BSD, which gives full rights to use and distribute as is and derivatives, provided you credit the original authors.  Something like business sponsors of an event with their logo on the T-shirt.

customdesigned on June 08, 2012, 06:26:48 am
Well yes, but my impression from the story is that the alarm went off because of a detector that has to be located INSIDE the life-support environment which is, to say the least the last place you want to risk contamination.
That is actually a very smart place to put sensors, that is the acid test of whether all that isolation is actually working.  Additional sensors inside the plant can help diagnose any problem, but the sensors in the living area are the bottom line assurance that things are ok.

Azure Priest on June 08, 2012, 07:14:24 am
Bwahahahaha! Now these "know it alls" finally realize that they don't know squat!

macsnafu on June 08, 2012, 09:09:07 am
They said mini-nukes, meaning these are very small nuclear power plants.  I can only guess how much fissionable material is necessary to run a mini-nuke, but it is obviously going to be much less than the amount needed for a large-scale nuclear power plant.  Thus the danger from the mini-nukes is also proportionately smaller.  And that's assuming they haven't come up with a safer way of handling nuclear fission.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

customdesigned on June 08, 2012, 11:34:47 am
They said mini-nukes, meaning these are very small nuclear power plants.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S

Apollo-Soyuz on June 08, 2012, 11:47:45 am
it's been established elsewhere in the strip that small nuclear bombs are commonly used to mine asteroids. Assuming "mini-nukes" are power plants is probably mistaken.

They said mini-nukes, meaning these are very small nuclear power plants.  I can only guess how much fissionable material is necessary to run a mini-nuke, but it is obviously going to be much less than the amount needed for a large-scale nuclear power plant.  Thus the danger from the mini-nukes is also proportionately smaller.  And that's assuming they haven't come up with a safer way of handling nuclear fission.


Andreas on June 08, 2012, 01:18:02 pm
I agree with Apollo-Soyuz; A nuke is a nuke is a nuke... is a nuclear warhead.
A njookjoolar power plant would more probably be shortened with "reactor".

Tucci78 on June 08, 2012, 03:47:30 pm
You know, I think `the Mascons` have forgotten something vital.
They want to set up controls on the food and water but what about the air supply.
Seems to me that whoever controls the breathable air controls the colony.

I've had blazing idiots going into full "Nurmee-nurmee-nurmee-I'm-not-listening!" mode when I've observed this before, but centralization (and thereby critical point-failure vulnerability) of life support functions in a situation where "death pressure" is no more than a gasket away is the sort of self-correcting cement-headedness which tends to fulfill Heinlein's observation that:
Quote
"...stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity."

I can't imagine any engineer or group of engineers who would devise a system that could be co-opted by a bunch of megalomaniac n00bs desirous of imposing "controls [on] the breathable air" in order to assert political control of the colony as a whole.

Anybody here not familiar with Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and his immensely credible depiction of how the Loonies of the Authority's penal colony had established compartmentalization and redundancy of vital functions in the "cubic" they'd created for their farming, industry, living space, and commerce?

Also, have the colonists actually built a nuclear power plant INSIDE the colony?
Bloody stupid place to put it.

Not if:

(a) the colony is compartmentalized, as any design engineer would structure the friggin' place to be (remember, well-compartmentalized nuclear submarines of the U.S. Navy have been operated from the git-go with their fission reactors inside the pressure hull, where the officers and crew sleep and eat and use those complicated toilets, sometimes for months at a time without even surfacing), and:

(b) the design of this future-tech "nuclear power plant" is even just as reliable in its safety parameters as are those designed and run today aboard the surface and submarine warships of the U.S. Navy.  

Why is it that people who know precisely dick about nuclear power are always the loudest and most annoying whining jerks when it comes to discussing the viability of fission in the generation of baseload electrical power?  

Oh, of course.  It's because they're willfully and arrogantly ignorant schmucks.

Easy answer.
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

SandySandfort on June 08, 2012, 05:21:28 pm
it's been established elsewhere in the strip that small nuclear bombs are commonly used to mine asteroids. Assuming "mini-nukes" are power plants is probably mistaken.

Yes and no. As far as the Mascons are concerned, bomb and nuclear plant are sama-sama.

sam on June 09, 2012, 12:09:06 am
However, because the air had to come from somewhere to begin with, the atmosphere plant is obviously owned by a corporation: Company A.
If you want to breath, you have to buy a subscription to have air in your quarters.  Naturally since most people pay up for the common areas, there will be free riders.  But what if the tenants decide they dont want to pay for their air any more?

Company B:

I think most individuals, habitats, and companies would have their own air recycling, for safety reasons.  They would need to buy air and water by the tankful from time to time to top up for leaks and such, much as you buy your groceries - you don't have a subscription to a supermarket, and neither would anyone with his own recycling have a subscription to an air and water company.  But people without recycling would have a subscription with someone who did have recycling, because they would need air continuously.  From time to time they might change subscription.

myrkul999 on June 09, 2012, 12:32:16 am
In the town I live in we actually have more than one power company. In Keene, NH, they have more than one trash service.

I see no reason why there would not be multiple air recyclers, as well.

sam on June 09, 2012, 12:45:22 am
it's been established elsewhere in the strip that small nuclear bombs are commonly used to mine asteroids. Assuming "mini-nukes" are power plants is probably mistaken.

With our currently known and reasonably foreseeable technology, nukes much smaller than the one used on Nagasaki are inefficient, so, assuming no magic breakthroughs, a mini nuke would be a bit smaller than Nagasaki, but not a whole lot smaller.  On the other hand, to have mini nukes as a distinct category suggests some magic breakthrough, unforeseeable technology - but one that still produces explosions much bigger than a normal chemical explosion.

Andreas on June 09, 2012, 07:09:15 am
I still think most businesses in those circumstances will provide air as a cost of running a business; if the business is viable, there's no problem.
In the case of "malls" or business-district-modules (run as a business), the mall-owners will provide the air, after all, they're selling visibility and customer flow to *their* customers, all the business owners.