Sunday, April 30, 2006

The WTC Towers could have survived if they met the NYC Fire Code

If the WTC Towers had been built the way they were supposed to be they would not have fallen (according to the original designs from to the Port Authority's response to the public's fears during the debates before construction began).

The WTC Towers were supposed to have a fire suppression system that was to be able to handle the fire caused by a direct collision by a Boeing 707 airliner.

Since the Empire State Building had already been hit twice by airplanes (a small biplane and a B29 bomber) the prediction was that the WTC towers would have a 100% chance of being hit by a large aircraft. The Boeing 707 was the largest airliner at the time the WTC Towers were being designed.

The Boeing 707 airliner carries 10,000 gallons of Jet Fuel while the Boeing 757 airliners that struck the WTC Towers carry 24,000 gallons of Jet Fuel. Both airliners have a top speed of 600-650mph and weigh about the same. The structure of a Boeing 707 is significantly denser than a Boeing 757 due to the use of older technology for the airframe that used heavy machined aluminum structures in the body and wings. The damage caused by the impacts would therefore be similar.

The ammount of fuel that contributed to the fires that ultimately caused the failure of the remaining structure was probably less than 25% of the total fuel in the Boeing 757's or 6,000 gallons. The rest of the fuel passed through the WTC Towers and out the opposite side and formed a fireball outside of the buildings.

The Jet Fuel was atomized by the impact forces spraying fuel out of the cracks in the tanks and by turbulence effects as the mixture of fuel, air and the parts of the 767 passed through the WTC Towers and out the other side.

The fuel that remained in the WTC Towers was the portion of the spray that was able to wet the surfaces of objects as the blast passed through and the portion of the spray that remained suspended in the air afterwards. The fuel mist was probably too rich to burn until more air had a chance to flow back into the buildings through the broken windows, therefor there was no fuel explosion within the WTC Towers. The backdraft flame that is visible on the video of the WTC Towers causes a very soft wavefront that does not cause any explosive damage unless it is confined by solid walls (which were not there by then).

At that point, the sprinkler system should have been fully activated and the sprinkler spray should have been able to keep the temperature in the burning floors low enough so the structural steel would not have been weakened.

The WTC Towers were designed before Engineers understood how fireballs form in high speed collisions so they did not expect the fuel to pass through the towers and out the other side. The original plans presumed that all 10,000 gallons of fuel from a 707 would stay in the Towers and the sprinkler system in the plans was sized to handle the expected fire. When the Towers were bombed, it was discovered that the original sprinkler design had been deleted before the Towers were built and later a sub-standard sprinkler system had been retrofitted.

According to my calculations, a sprinkler system with a flow rate of 350-1500 Gallons Per Minute would have been able to completely absorb the total Heat of Combustion of 6,000 gallons of Jet Fuel burning at a rate of 25% per hour.

Jet Fuel is predominantly Decane with a small percentage of Naptha. The Decane/Naptha mix has a density between 0.75 and 0.8 times the density of water and a total Heat of Combustion of between 31,300 and 33,550 Kilo Calories per Gallon.

Water at 20 degrees celcius (68 farenhight) has a total Heat of Vaporization of 2,347 Kilo Calories per Gallon so a minimum of 15 gallons of water is required to absorb the total Heat of Combustion of 1 gallon of Jet Fuel.

If 6,000 gallons of Jet Fuel burned in 1 hour the required sprinkler flow would be 1500 gallons per minute total per floor. If only 25% of the fuel burned each hour the required flow would be about 375-450 gallons per minute total per floor. These flow rates are easilly achieved by commercial/industrial sprinkler systems.

Adequate sprinklers would have kept temperature on the burning floors of the WTC Towers below 250 degrees centigrade, well below the 800 degree centigrade failure temperature for the structural steel. At that temperature, the steel would not fail even if all of the cladding had been blown off.

The most authoritative source for information on sprinkler systems and suppressing liquid fuel based fires is Factory Mutual Insurance Co. .

See: http://www.fmglobal.com/

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Nuke Iran and the US will become the "Axis of Evil"

What will happen if the US Nukes Iran?

Imagine a world where the US is reviled by every other nation for the unforgivable damage we have done to innocent civilians. Where the US is under a Permanent Oil Embargo by all OPEC member states. Where Canada, Mexico and South America join Europe and Asia to ban all trade with the US and evict all US Military bases from their soil. Where all US citizens with any connection to the Bush Administration are put on a No-Fly List and are banned from travel outside the US. Where all US multi-national corporations are forced to split into separate US and Non-US corporations. Where the all corporations with any connection to the US are forced to change their names to avoid anti-US sentiment.

All this and more can happen if Bush decides to Nuke Iran.

Bush is the Decider. He makes the Decisions and the rest of us have to live with the consequences of Bush's Decisions. Bush's Decisions about the Middle-East have been uniformly bad. Some of them have been worse than bad; they have crossed the line into the zone of Criminal Negligence and Stupidity.

The worst Decision Bush has made in his two terms as President has been to insist that the use of Nuclear Bunker Buster bombs remain in the Pentagon's planning for dealing with Iran.

Iran may be telling the truth when they say that they are only trying to enrich Uranium for nuclear power or Iran may be lying. If Iran is telling the truth and their goal is just nuclear power, then using a Nuke against Iran will guarantee that Iran will go for The Bomb. If Iran is lying then using a Nuke against Iran will only delay Iran getting The Bomb by one or two years and will guarantee that they will attempt to use it against the US.

The US B61-11 Nuclear Bunker Buster bomb is only able to penetrate hard rock to a depth of 10-20 feet before it detonates. At 20ft penetration and maximum yield, the B61-11 can only destroy a facility that is buried less than 600ft below ground. Blast forces can be blocked by simple inexpensive materials like 100ft thick layer of gravel or bags of sand or granulated salt. The limitations of the B61 have been known for years and any Iranian weapons facility will have been built with those limits in mind.

If Iran is actually trying to build a Nuclear Bomb, they will probably have done what Iraq and Pakistan did by building a secret second facility buried deep under ground under the publicly visible facility at Natanz.

The Natanz facility in Iran is known to have a double roof of thick reinforced concrete with 50-75ft of gravel between the concrete layers. The roof is sufficient to protect against any non-nuclear bunker buster (even the US air forces MOAB bomb). Natanz could probably also survive a low yield Nuclear Bunker Buster bomb.

If the US actually used the B61-11 bomb in Iran against the Natanz or Isfahan facilities more than 100,000 civilian deaths could be expected in iran, Afganistan and India.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Democratic Party solution to the Health Insurance Problem

The Democratic Party should submit legislation to create an "At-Cost Non-Subsidized Public Health Insurance Program" to be managed by the Social Security Administration.

My proposal would be to have separately priced coverage for the following classes of coverage:
  1. Preventative Care
  2. Walk-In Clinic Care
  3. Outpatient Illness & Injury Care
  4. Emergency Illness & Injury Care
  5. Chronic Illness & Injury Care
  6. Major Illness & Inpatient Hospital Care
  7. Long-Term & End-of-Life Care
  8. Catastrophic Care

Each class of coverage would be priced "At-Cost" with the Social Security administration negotiating discounts with doctors, clinics, hospitals and drug companies for the required products and services and passing the savings along to the public.

Any drug required by or prescribed for any of the classes of coverage should be available at a negotiated "Best-Available-Discount" price from any pharmacy or directly from the clinic or hospital.

Actuarial tables should be calculated for each class of coverage and price schedules should be set up just like regular term life insurance where the price is lower the earlier you start your policy.

By providing the coverage At-Cost with no government subsidy, the cost to the government would be just the plan management overhead which should be the same 0.6% as the existing Social Security administrative cost.

All employers with 15 or more employees would be required to offer the policy to their employees and to deduct the premiums (Before Taxes) and forward the premiums to the Social Security Administration along with the existing Social Security Taxes. If the employer offers employer subsidized health insurance the employer should offer the same amount of subsidy (in which case the employer should be able to allocate it's subsidy as it chooses).

Medicare and Medicaid would use the plans services where appropriate and would pay the same amount into the plan as any employer or citizen would for the same class of coverage.

State Workman's Compensation Insurance departments could use the plans to provide the care needed for injured workers on the same terms as medicare and medicaid.

States which provide health insurance to families in AFDC or WIC could also use the plans on the same terms as medicare and medicaid.

Any unemployed or self employed individual and anyone working for an employer with fewer than 15 workers could purchase any or all of the plans at cost. Coverage would not terminate at 12-18 months after leaving an employer like Cobra Insurance does.

Coverage would move with the individual from job to job or between jobs as long as the individual or employer continues to pay the premiums.

If an individual is healthy, a portion of the unused premiums should be transferred to a Health Savings account to be used to cover deductibles or costs in excess of the covered amounts. The remainder of the unused premiums should go to a fund to cover care for uninsured patients with no means to pay.

Plan Coverage Overview:

1) Preventative Care
  • Age 0-15, 40-80
  • 100% Covered, $20 co-pay
  • Periodic Checkups and Physical Exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Prenatal and Well Baby Care
  • Childhood Ilnesses:
    • Mumps
    • Measels
    • Rubella
    • Whooping Cough, etc.
  • Adult Cancer Screening:
    • Prostate Exams
    • Colonoscopy Exams
    • Breast Exams – Mammograms
    • Pelvic Exams – Pap Smears
2) Walk-In Clinic Care
  • Age 0-80, 80% Covered, $20 co-pay
  • Clinic Doctors Visits
  • Initial Diagnosis
  • Injury:
    • Bandages
    • Stiches
  • Illnesses & Infections:
    • Colds
    • Flu
    • Rashes
    • Minor Illnesses
    • Minor Wounds
  • Common (low cost) Tests:
    • Annual Eye Exams
    • Annual Hearing Exams
    • Annual Dental Exams
    • Blood Gasses
    • CBC
    • Blood Sugar
    • Urine Tests
  • Treatments and Procedures:
    • Fillings
    • Teeth Cleanings
  • Common (low cost) Medications:
    • Antibiotics
    • Flu Shots
    • Asthma Inhalers
    • Antihistamines
    • Steroid Creams
    • Birth Control
  • Medical Equipment:
    • Basic Eyeglasses
    • Basic Hearing Aids
3) Outpatient Illness & Injury Care
  • Age 0-80, 75% Covered, $50 co-pay until $500/yr deductable
  • Specialist Doctors Visits
  • Specialist Diagnosis
  • Injury:
    • Wound Care
    • Physical Therapy
  • Illnesses & Infections:
    • Diarrhea
    • Infected Wounds
  • Common (moderate cost) Tests:
    • Stool Sample
    • Biopsy
    • X-Rays, MRI, Cat Scan
    • Blood Gasses, Sugar, Electrolytes, CBC
    • Urine Tests
    • EKG

4) Emergency Illness & Injury Care
  • Age 0-80, 60% Covered, $100 co-pay
  • Ambulance Services
  • Emergency Tests:
    • X-Rays, MRI, Cat Scan
    • Blood Type, Gasses, Sugar, Electrolytes, CBC
    • Urine Tests
    • Toxicology Screening
    • EEG
    • EKG
  • Treatments and Procedures:
    • Fluids & Electrolytes
    • Whole Blood Transfusions
    • Intubation
    • Emergency Surgery
    • Setting broken Bones, Casts
    • Burn Treatment, Debredment
5) Chronic Illness & Injury Care
  • Age 40-80, 75% Covered, $500/yr deductable
  • Covered Conditions:
    • Heart Disease
    • Kidney Disease
    • Diabeties Asthma
    • HIV
    • TB
    • Chronic Pain
    • Arthritis
    • Mental Illness
  • Tests:
    • EKG, Echo Cardograms
    • Urine Sugar, Electrolites & Ketones
    • Blood Sugar & Electrolites
    • Breathing Volume and Flow
    • Viral Load
  • Treatments and Procedures:
    • Stress Tests
    • Dialysis
    • Breathing Treatments
  • Medications:
    • Oxygen, Blood Thinners, Beta Blockers, Cholesterol Reducers
    • Diuretics, Water Pills
    • Insulin, Glucose Tablets
    • Theosophil, Albuterol
    • Anti-Retrovirals
    • TB medications
    • Non-Narcotic Pain Medication
    • Anti-Psychotics, SSRIs, Lithium
  • Medical Equipment:
    • Oxygen Tanks & Masks
    • Blood Sugar Testers
    • Nebulizers
    • Wheel Chairs
6) Major Illness & Inpatient Hospital Care
  • Age 0-80, 75% Covered, $1000/yr deductable
  • Covered Conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Emphysema
    • Pneumonia
    • Severe Arthritis
    • Glaucoma
  • Tests:
    • All medically necissary tests
  • Treatments and Procedures:
    • Radiation Treatment
    • Chemotherapy
    • Surgery
    • Joint Replacement
    • Corneal Implants
  • Medications:
  • Medical Equipment:
7) Long-Term & End-of-Life Care
  • Age 60+, 100% Covered, $2500/yr deductable
  • In-Home Visiting Nurse Service
  • Home Health Aids
  • Hospice Care
  • Feeding Tubes
  • Narcotic Pain Medication
8) Catastrophic Illness & Injury Care
  • Age 0-80, 80% Covered, $5000/yr deductable
  • Intensive Care
  • Transplant Surgery
  • Major Reconstructive Surgury
  • High-Cost Life-Critical Medication

The Inevitable Decline and Fall of Iraq

Iraq is doomed to go the way of Lebanon, Bosnia and Kosovo and the US is responsible. The US invasion of Iraq has started the sectarian breakdown of Iraq and the US is incapable of stopping the breakdown or mediating a peacefull settlement.

Right Now, only a unified Arab coalition of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates could stop the breakdown of Iraq. Unfortunately none of the Arab countries have a sufficiently powerfull or charismatic leader to hold such a coalition together.

Sectarian Violence in Iraq is following the same path as Lebanon, Bosnia and Kosovo. The only questions are when will total breakdown occur and how awful Iraq will get before the Iraqi people reach a stable settlement.

When the breakdown occurs, Iraq will go through the same process of forced migration and ethnic cleansing as happened in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

The end result in Iraq will be a partitioned state with a Kurdish Democratic Republic in the north, a Sunni Muslim Theorcratic State in the north-central region and a Shiite Muslim Theorcratic State in the south. Iraq will probably not continue to exist as a unified nation. Bagdad will probably remain a war zone for a decade or more, like Sarajevo and Beirut.

Friday, April 07, 2006

How the US could have won the Iraq War if Bush wasn't so dumb

The Iraqi war was not launched for legitimate reasons. It has become abundantly clear that Bush repeatedly lied to the US Congress, the Public and to the World about his reasons for going to war, but the lies are almost meaningless compared to Bush's stupidity and criminality in how he handled the lead up to the war and the disastrous aftermath.

Starting on Oct. 11, 2002 the US had a one time opportunity to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and Bush and his advisors failed miserably.

The US should have called up 200,000 Reservists and National Guard soldiers and sent them to the US bases in England, Germany, Japan, the Phillipines and smaller bases around the world and transferred the same number of Regular Army soldiers from those bases to the US bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Regular Army soldiers should then have taken 1 year to train up to combat readiness and ensure that all soldiers were properly equipped with armored vehicles and bulletproof vests and also take an intensive course in Arabic, Farsi and Kurdish language and culture

If the Reservists and National Guard units serving in europe and asia instead of Iraq we would not be having the problems with recruitment we are having now.

At the same time, the US could have enforced a complete no-fly zone over Iraq and the CIA could have dropped Arabic leaflets all over Iraq that would have made any Iraqis who were not leaders in the Baath party eager for the US to arrive if we had said we were going to do the following:

  1. The US would guarantee the salaries of all Iraqi Police and Soldiers who stay in uniform.
  2. All Iraqi Police should stay in uniform and patrol the streets to maintain civil order.
  3. All Iraqi Soldiers should stay in uniform and protect Military, Power, Water and Oil sites from looting and to help the police to maintain civil order.
  4. The only Iraqis who would need to fear the US are those who ordered or participated in War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity. i.e. Use of Chemical Weapons, and Rape, Murder or Torture of civilians.
  5. The US would guarantee the salaries of all Iraqis who work for local manufacturing and industrial companies if they continue to work at their jobs.
  6. The US would hire all able bodied Iraqi men between the ages of 15 and 50 who do not already have a job.
  7. The US would pay the newly hired Iraqis to rebuild or build new Power, Water and Sewage infrastructure as well as Roads, Schools, Hospitals, Oil Refineries and Petrochemical Plants.
  8. The workers who did their jobs well in the reconstruction would be guaranteed jobs working with the newly constructed facilities.

It is possible that while the US troops were training in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis would have rebelled and the US could have just provided air cover for the rebellion and would not have needed to invade at all.

If we actually needed to invade Iraq, we would have done so in the fall when the temperature, dust and mosquitoes would not be against us.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Turn Immigrants into Citizens instead of Felons

Bush's motivation for a "Guest Worker" program is just to benefit Big Businesses that depend on low wage immigrant labor such as the Agribusiness, Hotel and Fast Food companies. Bush's program would do exactly what the Conservatives are afraid of and ranting about. Bush's program would depress wages for low skilled US workers by freeing Big Business to replace US Citizens with "Legalized" Immigrant Labor.

The Senate proposal is better because it contains a provision allowing immigrants to seek US Citizenship, but the Senate proposal doesn't go far enough.

If immigrants become US Citizens they will inevitably demand better wages, which will reduce or eliminate the downward pressure on wages that illegal immigrants are blamed for causing.

The Just and Ethical way to handle illegal immigration is to openly acknowledge that certain US industries depend on immigrants who come to the US to work at low wages (and who then frequently send back money to support their families). Such immigrants should be given a clear path to US Citizenship that addresses US Security requirements and the principle that immigrants seeking to become US Citizens must demonstrate that they understand "What it Means to be an American".

All immigrants seeking entry into the US should be required to prove their identity and to submit to a thorough criminal background check. Immigrants who have been convicted of any crime that would be a felony in the US should be denied entry. Previous illegal entry into the US should not count against the immigrant.

Very few US Citizens even with a college degree have a true understanding of "What it Means to be an American" but it is proper to require that immigrants seeking to become US Citizens understand.

All immigrants seeking to become US Citizens should be required to study and to demonstrate that they understand at least these subjects:
  1. to speak and understand conversational English
  2. to read and write US English at the level of a US High School graduate
  3. to be able to handle arithmetic at the level needed to complete an IRS Tax Return form.
  4. to know and understand the history of the founding of the United States from 1765 to 1805 including The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Constitutional Amendments and The Federalist Papers.
  5. to know and understand the recent history of the US from World War I to the Present.
  6. to know and understand the structure and purpose of the three branches of government as they were defined in the Constitution and as they have evolved since then.
  7. to know and understand how political parties work in the US at the Local, State and Federal level and to understand the civic duty to participate and to vote in elections at each level.
  8. to know and understand how the courts work at the Local, State, Federal and Supreme Court levels and to understand the civic duty to participate as a juror when called to jury duty.

Federal funds should be provided for schools to teach immigrants to pass their qualifying exams. The funds should come from a tax on industries where immigrants make up more than 20% of the work force. The funds should be provided to any High School, Community College or State College or University that offers the courses.

Immigrants who send remittances back to their home countries to support their families should be given precedence over those that do not.

Immigrants who are seeking to become US Citizens and are studying to pass the qualifying exam should be given precedence over those that are not.

Immigrants who serve in the US Military should be given any and all training required to pass their qualifying exam as part of their basic training and should be granted US Citizenship upon completing one tour of combat duty or two tours of non-combat duty.

How to restrain Offshoring in the modern US economy


1) have the IRS define a US Corporation as being any corporation where:
  • More than 50% of the corporation's income is due to US sales
  • More than 50% of the corporation's income is due to US made products
  • More than 50% of the corporation's employees are US Citizens
  • The corporation's headquarters located within the US or US territories
  • The corporation is incorporated in the US or a US territory
  • The corporation is controlled by US citizens
    (one or more of the following applies)

    • More than 50% of the senior executives are US Citizens
    • More than 50% of the Board of Directors are US Citizens
    • More than 50% of the corporation's stock is held by US Citizens
2) Limit all Federal Corporate Tax Deductions to no more than 20% of the tax withholdings for US employees that make between 1.5 and 15 times the Federal minimum wage.

3) Limit all State Corporate Tax Deductions to no more than 20% of the tax withholdings for employees in that state that make between 1.5 and 15 times the State minimum wage.

4) Entitle all States to collect corporate taxes from any corporation that does business in that state on the amount of the corporation's income (after expenses) that comes from that state.


It would no longer be permissable for a corporation to avoid taxes by opening an office in the Cayman Islands and then declaring itself a Cayman Island Corporation even though the corporation does no significant business in the Cayman Islands.

It would also no longer be possible for a corporation to incorporate in delaware to avoid state corporate taxes and then do most or all of it's business in another state.