Latest Threads
Greatest Threads
Home » Discuss » Journals » TheMadMonk » Archives Donate to DU
Advertise Liberally! The Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Advertise on more than 70 progressive blogs!
The Mad Monk's Journal - Archives
Posted by TheMadMonk in Environment/Energy
Sat Jan 05th 2008, 10:02 AM
In the 60 plus years since the first plant was fired up under that squash court, the total number of deaths due to radioactive pollution from nuclear reactors is less than the annual death toll just amongst the miners who drag the coal we burn for power from the ground. And a fraction of the numbers of deaths that can be directly attributed to pollution from coal fired power plants.

The total number of confirmed deaths to date from Chernobyl (last time I saw) was in the high 50s IIRC. In 2006 45 died in US coal mines alone. Yes there will be more deaths. But they will be "statistical lives" lost. (40 lives shortened by 2 years = 1 death sort of thing.) Chernobyl's contribution over the course of a full century will not come within a bulls roar of what coal kills every single year.

You might also want to look at the impact of some of the green alternatives. Many, including solar are intermittent generators, they require some sort of storage facility to keep the juice going 24/7. Storage accumulators (batteries), the current best available option, require up to a hundred kilograms of toxic metals per person, just to satisfy domestic demand alone. The manufacturing of solar panels also involves the use of some very, very nasty chemicals.

I am not disparaging these alternative energy sources, they all still beat what we need to replace hands down, except in one rather crucial factor. Capacity. Tens of megawatts sounds like a lot, but compared to the hundreds of megawatts that a single coal fired plant generates it's not very much at all. It will take hundreds of factories like the one mentioned in the OP just to meet the increase in demand for power, let alone start replacing existing power plants.

I do ask that you take a good long hard look at the faults in your own "champions". And I do respectfully ask that you refrain from making unfounded, erroneous and uniformed accusations against something which even in its current primitive form is nowhere near as unsafe as you believe.

The neutron beam technology which I mentioned in my previous post makes a Chernobyl style accident absolutely impossible in reactors employing it. Turn off the neutron beam triggering it and the reactor stops stone cold dead. If by the most determined of efforts some idiot did manage to get the "fuel cell" hot enough to cause it to melt (as close to a melt down as is physically possible with this configuration of reactor) the result could be safely caught in a sand filled bucket.

And as I mentioned, the same neutron beams can be used to "incinerate" nuclear waste and render it non-radioactive. That it also opens up access to a fuel supply which is good for at least 10,000 years is ultimately neither here nor there. Fusion power and beamed power from space based photovoltaics should kick in long before we've exhausted the existing stockpile of depleted uranium and spent reactor fuel.

One technology (albeit still in the first stages of development) all on it's little lonesome eliminates two of nuclear powers biggest drawbacks: Waste/Spent fuel; and An active element that worked by virtue of being kept forever on the verge of explosion.

Furthermore it opens up the possibility for practical small scale nuclear reactors which can be safely sited exactly where there is demand.
Reactors which could in a single generation bring the third world well and truly into the 21st Century.
And which could be safely used to power all forms of freight and mass transit vehicles.

For the foreseeable future, ground based solar, wind, wave and tide, biofuels and all the other alternative energy sources available to us today, at best, will allow the world to stumble along, business as usual and only slowly bring the 21st Century to developing nations.

Safe, portable, nuclear power, would make it possible to accelerate the pace of human development on this planet astronomically.

Whatever the source, (I'm betting on nuclear) the one single answer to the World's woes is power. Essentially unlimited, easily convertible, raw energy opens up the major survival bottlenecks: water from the sea and crops from high rise farms and even animals grazing on pastures grown under artificial lights.

With sufficient power every single domestic unit on this planet could have it's own 1/4 acre (1/10 hectare) block under open sky and our total ecological footprint as a species would still be far smaller than it is today.

And with sufficient power, preventing our ecological messes and cleaning up our old ones becomes a far easier task.

We will not get to where we need to be, a universal high standard of living with a sustainable, green ecological footprint, by scrimping on the power we use. By all means it is very much in our interest to use that energy as efficiently as is practicable.

But that alone is not enough. We need to find a way to generate power to burn: To illuminate crops and pastures; To reduce our waste stream to it's constituent elements for recycling and for safe disposal; to entertain us; To sieve the ocean for the trace elements we need to build our new global lifestyle.
Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Jan 05th 2008, 01:39 AM
...damned near enough for me to want to go bursar and totally librarian poo on damned near the whole lot of you.

Democratics' worst enemies are not Republicans, but each other. Just coming out and saying "The shit is just beginning" adds nothing to the conversation without coming out and saying exactly why?

You obviously agree (at least in part) with my observation: "And for a large part the Democratics won't be all that much better. "Rogue operatives and slips of the tongue will put the dirt (or a hint of it) out and then with an apology, a distancing step backwards and possibly a staffer "let go", they wait for the RW smear machine finish the task."

It is my not at all humble opinion that the "average American" deserves the fucking government he gives himself. The problem is that we, in the rest of the world, FUCKING WELL DON'T DESERVE what said "average American" inflicts upon us with his greed, bigotry and xenophobia.

Obama's not gay friendly enough for (generic DU) you? So fucking what? He's still a damned sight better than the alternative on the other side of the aisle. He's not exactly the guy who you'd want to vote for? Again, so fucking what? He most definitely opposes an arsehole you certainly should want to vote against.

Hillary "speaks" to you in a way that makes you feel privileged/superior? WOAH! BACK UP! She's also speaking to the bit of you that puts others beneath you. She speaks loudest to those who have never had to depend on "government handouts" and thus feel that they should not be required to contribute to those who have needed that safety net.

Kucinich is too idealistic and out of touch with the real world? Is he really? I see a bloke who acknowledges the real real world and promotes that which is guaranteed to ensure that the world will still be there for our children to enjoy rather than endure. Everyone else seems hell bent on either, squeezing out the last cent of profit; or at best shooting for the minimum possible compromise with reality.

Edwards? I don't know. My biggest worry is that he hasn't really managed to piss anyone off significantly. He's everyone's second choice candidate. And in politics, if you don't have enemies, you obviously aren't doing enough. The danger here is that if the numbers do come in in his favour, he'll finally come down on the side which is most personally advantageous and that unfortunately is probably the one that is not advantageous to the majority. I might be doing the man a complete disservice, but when betting on human nature, it pays to bet that arseholery will prevail.

This is the true grist (at least IMHO) of a great deal of what gets said here ad nauseum and ad infinitum.

O.K. Acknowledged.

Now what the fuck are we going to do about it?

Bashing each other's candidates, except on ground of demonstrable malfeasance is utterly counterproductive. It divides our ranks and offer (at least the hope of) victory to our mutual enemies.

My personal thought, given the non-viability of the only true realist in the pack, is to ignore politics entirely.

Which candidate's children are going to be the ones most adversely affected by future wrong headed decisions?

THAT CANDIDATE is the one we should all get behind, regardless of how closely they come to fitting our personal political ideals, or how far they stray.

So simple. One simple question raised each time a piece of "controversial" legislation comes up: "How will this affect your children's generation?"

Who is most likely to feel a kick in the gut, every time that question gets asked of them?

Who thus will be most manipulable by the voice which speaks for all, rather than just the privileged few?

Hint: Who's children can not yet vote?
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Dec 21st 2007, 08:40 PM
Something I've known for years, but which was brought back to me reading of the prank "shock treatments" and the "McDonalds strip search caller" is how readily some (60%) people subsume their will to the voice of authority.

On our side of the aisle the freedom to choose is considered to be one of the cornerstones of progressive/liberal politics. It's a stone all right, but it's a millstone not a cornerstone. Why? Because 60% of people DO NOT WANT IT and are psychologically incapable of exercising it when given it.

They want to be told what to do. They NEED to be told what to do.

It is the reason organised religion has been so successful over the centuries.

Sixty percent of people are sheep, and if we refuse to be sheepdogs, then the wolves will have their way.

Read entry | Discuss (18 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Dec 12th 2007, 02:24 PM
...that in order to maintain her stance she'd damned near have to vote against it if it ever reached the floor past her.

When faced with highly suggestive evidence of wrongdoing they refused to look.
When offered proof absolute they ignored it.
Even outright confessions have been ignored.

They are complicit, they are bought off, they are being subject to extortion and blackmail, and some are piously waiting to get their "snow white" hands on the helm. There are no other credible explanations for the behaviour of the Democratic Party, both in opposition and in majority.

Offered opportunity after opportunity to break wide open a conspiracy that's been growing for over half a century they have elected to do nothing. They have repeatedly elected to do nothing.

Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Dec 07th 2007, 09:47 PM
There is a huge difference between a Frenchman and a French citizen.

Francophilic purity is virtually pathological in the Frenchman.

On paper France is very liberal with it's immigrant and colonial citizenry. However, the real France of the true Frenchman is not at all open to such. They may inhabit the land, but can't be a true part of the country.

In most lands with "open" borders, the pattern is that the first generation of an immigrant wave would work very hard at the worst jobs (no matter their prior qualifications) to make a place for their children or at least grandchildren in their adopted land. This does not appear to be happening in France. There has been very little penetration at all into the Middle Class by the most recent wave.

And there is now a great deal of resentment. Problematically, the greatest amount of resentment is in the Muslim population. And it makes fertile soil for the seeds of fundamentalism and extremism.

A good many of these kids are university educated, but they can't get jobs better than flipping burgers at McDonalds.

I do not approve of their methods one bit, but I can understand how they might think (or be talked into thinking) that this campaign of escalating violence is the only option to achieving redress.
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Oct 30th 2007, 02:01 AM
"I AM for wages equity. And if you don't like that, go ahead and vote to have your social security gutted. 75 cents on the dollar and falling."
"I AM for ending corporate featherbedding. And if you don't like that, well I don't wan't your campaign contributions."
"I AM for universal health care. And if that bothers you, keep paying twice as much for half the service."

"I AM for..." - Take the affirmative position. Force the opponent to explain why he is against something positive.

"And if you don't like..." - Don't shy away from calling an idiot an idiot. You won't win him over anyway, (Never argue with an idiot. He'll drag you down to his level and trounce you with experience.) so why worry about alienating him? And insulting those with enough intelligence to recognise the truth of what they're getting in exchange, should at least keep them away from the polls even if they won't come across.
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Oct 28th 2007, 05:11 AM
Cotton can't be "ecconomically" mono-cultured without the application of an enormous quantity of chemicals. Particularly pesticides. FULL STOP!

Cotton may well grow "anywhere", but to get nice pristine bolls and long fibers suitable for machine processing, either the plants have to be well separated, because if the plants are close together, or even intertwined as is standard practice, infestations of pests will spread to every plant. And the close packing of the plants makes irrigation far more necessary since the plants can't spread out their roots to take advantage

Mary Jane on the other hand a) produces linear fibers, totally unlike the tangles fibers of a cotton boll, throughout the entire plant. A plant can be chomped to shreds by pests ans provided it remains standing at all it can still produces quality fiber; and b) it sneers at pests anyway, because it evolved to mono-culture, (or it has been mono-cultured for long enough that evolution has tamed MJ's pest species.) I suspect habit has a good deal to do with the continued used of over irrigation and fertilisation. MJ's tolerance to both means there is no indicator to say enough is enough.

Cotton may well grow with nothing but water and something to anchor itself to, but not as a viable machine havestable and processable, commercial, bulk fiber crop. Not without close packing (which requires more water per square meter); pesticides to keep insect infestations from happening; and added nutrients to maximise the per plant productivity. Harvested cotton represents a tiny fraction of even the most productive plant. Yield per acre is everything.

As for "can grow without irrigation", think about where it IS grown commercially in the Americas. And think about what the geographic and hydrographic conditions were when cotton growing was established. The Carribean with it's huge rainfalls, and the "good old South" with the grand old Mississippi flanked by swamps and flood plains. Plenty of water again. Fertile flood plains of course go to cash crops, and the cotton grows on the verges of worthless swampland. (who cares about a few niggers taking sick of malaria). Then we figure out how to drain the swamps and turn it into productive land. And the "worthless" criterion for cotton growing switches from "too soggy" to "nutrient challenged" and irrigation comes into play. There are a whole raft of interconnected factors: slaves; the jenny; land reclamation; inertia; and many more, which over the years served to keep cotton going. And now in many many areas, only publicly funded "life support" maintains it viability at all.

Cotton grows best "naturally" in a fairly specific type of worthless soil. Hemp on the other hand can cope with both a very wide range of both nutrient AND moisture levels. As it becomes more and more clear that agricultural runoff is to blame for a good many environmental woes, and being Green is no longer just for loony fringe dwellers the pressure to limit the use of artificial soil additives is becoming significant.

Cotton is dead for everything but niche applications, the moment a viable decent "natural" silk fiber comes out of a vat. "Natural" spider silks will give a lot of other fibers a hammering to boot.

MJ's claim to fame is that the parts of the plant we are mostly interested in using are the bits which are usually waste in other crops. Serendipitously the bit we are most interested in for fiber production: the stringy "growing" layer on the outside and the supportive woody part in the middle, are the parts the plant needs to make the most of in order to "construct" itself. Thus these bits are pretty much just carbon, hydrogen abd oxygen with bugger all of anything else. Carbon dioxide and water.

And just to put the cherry on top. The other gross part of the plant which is commercially useful the seeds are the something a plant devoted the lion's share of it's "efforts" and even more so when conditions are not the best. Adding water (up to a point) will always improve fiber production, but unlike with many other crops, there is far less bang per bug from fertilsers. It's "soil improving" qualities suggests it fixes it's own nitrogen, (Which if you look at it in the right way is has a far stronger claim to the tittle "Element of life" than Carbon. Carbon undeniably is the scaffold of life. But Nitrogen is the element that characterises proteins, the mutable, "living" part of life.)

So once you meet the water needs of the plant, to whit: the point where photosynthesis can't churn out sugars any faster; and which can be accomplished with very frugal drip (or subsurface soak) irrigation, if needed at all. Trace element needs to match this are quite small. Fertilisation is except in the deadest of soils (and I've seen 6m+ plants grown in some bloody crap soil without any help at all) is pissing money up against the wall or advance preparation for whatever crop comes after. Charcoal/Biochar (even clean coke from coal) would probably be a better bet. (That's another essay)

MJ could be inter-cropped with trees slated for lumber. In the early years fast growth of mj to 2-3m in height will encourage trees to start tall and straight as they reach for the sunlight. As the trees mature the MJ starts "reaching" for the sun, seed production drops off, but fiber production increases significantly.

MJ and a modicum of water and planing could be used to march waves of forest across deserts if we think big enough. Forest do need rain to grow, but forests also create rain by returning water to the atmosphere.

One thing we're going to have to seriously consider is tossing out the idea of "pure consevation". Gross human interference has gotten us into this state and it's going to take gross human interference to get us out of this mess. Forget about "Fixing" and "Putting them right/back." the best we can hope for now is "making good".

That means thinking about doing the seemingly unthinkable, callously destroying whole ecosystems and/or chunks of history. Flood the Lake Eyre in South Australia and the Dead Sea basin and another in Africa on the other side of the Red Sea. Digging canals or tunnels to the sea has been within our capabilities for about a century now. (It would be hugely interesting to see models of what such flooding would do.

If we can dig holes measured in cubic kilometers, we can pile dirt and rock just as high and build moisture dumping hills and mountains in just the right places.

Microwaves from space to guide (and even make) weather is on the cards for a not too distance future.

Save whatever species we can by doing will he nil she transplantations of threatened species into potentially viable climate zones and letting nature take its course. Drop a dozen or two of everything in enough places and we should manage to save a fair proportion of otherwise doomed species. And those that die, die. Better to save what we can than loose the lot while we wring our hand that we can't save them all.

Monkey meddling is a given. Better to do so with imperfect forethought, than heedless greed, neh?

Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in Latest Breaking News
Thu Oct 25th 2007, 05:56 PM
...he had already "submitted" a number of times only to renew his struggles at a higher level as soon as the cops relaxed. I don't see how the cops could safely take the chance that this (the last) time was for real. Five cops and one perp in close quarters? One wildly swung elbow could have all so easily turn that confrontation into something very unpleasant.

I read "Don't taze me, bro!" as something far closer to the utterances of Brer Rabbit than an expression of submission. And I wasn't the only one at the time who thought so.

I know it gave the arsehole what he wanted, but I don't really see what other choices the cops had but to go along and concede the floor and venue to the disruptor, or escalating physical confrontation and possible injury. Actually I think the cops waited to tase him, so as to make it clear to the audience that he wasn't leaving them with any choice but to knock him on his arse and do it hard enough to keep him down.

Indeed attacking the victim is a common "defense method" of those holding the moral low ground. And there are at least one or two here on DU, guilty of the same crime and quite a few more that are capable of attacking the man in general if they don't like his message.

Am I guilty? I don't think so. I did form my opinion very quickly while watching the vid, thinking: "This bloke's asking for trouble. He's going to get it. And it's the cops who will be wrongfully blamed." I was waiting for it to turn into something really ugly and was quite surprised and relieved when it ended so cleanly. I think the kid's an idiot. But it's what he did that I have my problem with.

Indeed people have died as a result of police takedown methods. But I have a very strong feeling the numbers of fatalities would stack up quite favourably for tasers against the others. (I don't like that sort of research and I don't do it very well, so I'll wait for someone to prove me wrong and reverse myself if necessary. )

It certainly started that way, but when people immediately weigh in with shite like: "The report is wrong, because cops are bastards."; And "Tasers are evil because they cause incapacitating pain." It's going to take arguments on the merits of the taser to counter those people. I don't really expect to change their minds, but I hope to prevent the spread of their poison to the minds of others.

Any tool can be misused. One major merit of this one, is that in the event of it's misuse it's highly unlikely to prove lethal to the person it is misused against. Of course, that relative safety probably increases the likely hood that tasers get used unnecessarily and/or excessively. I happen to think the trade off is worth it.

Part of the problem may indeed be bad cops. But a good deal more is down to the criminals they are up against. Criminals who behave like it's "The American Way" to fight back and make the cops fear for their lives. And incidentally give the true bad cops a smokescreen behind which they can be bad with near impunity.
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in Latest Breaking News
Wed Oct 24th 2007, 11:54 PM
... would be an appropriate venue for that meeting you mentioned.

And if I didn't, please note I did not include you personally in the kill vs maim argument. Simply that people a lot like you are willing to argue that IF guns are to be used (and discharged) then the policy should be to take the approach which minimises the likelihood of death to the guy looking at the end with the hole in it. With: even at the cost of appreciably increased danger to innocent bystanders and LEOs, as an unspoken subargument.

And then pretty much the same people start screaming blue murder when a taser is used to defuse a situation which might only otherwise ultimately be resolved with a gun.

Yes there were other options available:
- Hand the bloke a soapbox and ownership of a meeting which had been organised on behalf of someone else.
- Dog pile and take a risk that he was willing to take his game to the point of personal injury, possibly injuring a copper in the process.
- "Fuck it! Just shoot the bastard."

In another age he would have received some other response not likely to kill, but almost certain to make him worry about something other than making a nuisance of himself. Say a nightstick across the shoulders or the back of his legs. Or perhaps a swagger stick across the rump.

I'll take the taser thank you very much. Haven't directly experience one, but I am familar with both the very unpleasant tingle of extra high tension voltages and the heart pounding thump of a hit from domestic current (great headrush BTW so long as you don't "latch on") And I once took a million plus volt static charge hit right in the middle of the forehead from a Van Der Graff (Wonder if that name was coined for/by a bastard son?) generator, so I have some experience with being on the wrong end of an electric charge. It's not nice, but the pain itself also ends as fast as it hits.

Or perhaps you might try to look at it from another direction: Dog piles are personal, about as personal as it can get whilst remaining fully clothed. You're soaring on adrenalin and get an elbow or fist in the nose. Your immediate reaction is to hit back, and do it harder. Who hit first ultimately does not matter. By definition a dog pile is many on one. And the most likely outcome of things getting out of hand is going to be very unpleasant (and quite possibly permanent) to the bloke on who's behalf the pile was organised.

Any face to face confrontation has the potential to escalate in directions that are less than ideal for all parties involved. And circumstances of course modify the severity of any such confrontation.

The whole idea behind putting an instrument between you and an opponent is to control the degree of violence one party can inflict upon another. Once upon a time all "advances" were in the direction of smacking harder for a bigger result. The taser is an imperfect, but still significant step, in the direction of smacking exactly hard enough to achieve exactly the desired result.

Of course taser use can be abused. But anything can be abused by someone sufficiently determined to do so. One thing that can not be argued against, is that as far as weapons go: When abused, a taser is far far less likely to result in lingering or permanent harmful effects.

And that perhaps is where we're in conflict. You perhaps see this "safe abusability" by authorities as an invitation for the bad hats to go right ahead and have fun. Whilst I take the longer term view that some of this ilk will go right ahead whatever you put in their hands. So it is best to minimise gross and/or lingering harm despite the almost certainty of increasing lesser transient harm in the process.

Pain and response to it is something which has been honed by hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Who are we to discard it as barbaric anathema in the course of just a few decades. Instant pain in the event of an ultimately harmful action (say pressing one's naked buttocks against an oven door) makes an association which sticks for life. Hot ============ hurt.

Sometimes it's a good idea to help inevitability along or to substitute a lesser hurt for a greater harm. In lions, mum belts the kid across the savanah, because the alternative is dad literally biting the kid's head off. We're a little beyond that, but sometimes it helps to devolve to those levels briefly. Particularly if a likely outcome of continuing an action is death or appreciable harm to themselves or others. People argue about kids focusing on the immediate. Batch processing as opposed to true multitasking. Reacting rather than forecasting.

I know kids, so I concede this point absolutely. Having done so, I will also say this, I would far, far prefer any child of mine, or in my charge, to be thinking "my bum" instead of "my ball" when they reach the kerb.

And really is the modern enlightened way of "training" a child any less barbaric? Frustration piled upon frustration to stifle undesired behaviour is dangerously close to torment in my book. Rewarding positive behaviour can only go so far. And simply rewarding the absence of negative behaviour is bribery pure and simple. Not to say that one should not reward the exemplary absence of undesired behaviour. Nobody likes a kid who wants and asks for everything in sight. But a kid who runs a gauntlet of temptation (shall we say the aisles of a supermarket or variety store) wordless should get their Kinder Surprise or matchie (matchbox car). (And YTF am I having trouble seeing the screen at this moment?)

Some lessons are best forgotten, but never ever to be unlearnt. That is why in dangerous circumstances I will smack a toddler's bum without hesitation, even if their placing themselves in danger is ultimately my fault. I'll castigate/report myself immediately and deliver my apology when the kid can appreciate it, and despite my disbelief I'll than the Powers That Be, that I have the opportunity to do so.

Pain is the best teacher bar none. EOM
Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Oct 16th 2007, 08:20 AM
This was intended as a reply in a now locked discussion.

Subject: Wanna buy a bridge.

If you believe only that which fits your sensibilities and preconceptions then you will never learn a thing. Get yourself a lobotomy and you'll love it over at FR.

Or stop and take a minute to question any assumption which gets to your brain by way of your gut and stick around. You'll see a lot more grief, because you'll find yourself defending, not the indefensible, but those who do it. And not from their just deserts, but much, much worse, those who want with their every fibre to serve out unjustice and will shower you with the same vitriol they direct towards their target. Every dirty trick in the "True Believer's Playbook" will be pulled on you. You will be tarred with the same brush. You will be accused of supporting/promoting abhorrent behaviour. You will be hammered with fallacious logic chains and baseless and disproven assumptions. And only a hardy few amongst the defenders of justice will call them on it, attracting their own shower of vileness.

But you will be defending the concept and ideal of equal justice for all. Not when it's easy, but when it is hardest of all. When the ultimate victim is not just the innocent, but innocence itself.

Again I will make this observation. Children take their cue from adult reactions. Think about it. Everyone. Think about it.
Read entry | Discuss (5 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Oct 10th 2007, 06:17 PM
Shamelessly stolen from Terry Pratchett, who quite possibly pinched it from someone else.

How hard would it be to assemble a collection of noteworthy material properly referenced and burn it to disk or simply to paper. And to distribute with the instructions, "Take a copy, Make a copy. And pass it on."

The Internet's quality of bypassing suppression is tempered by its ephemeral nature as well as the sheer deluge of information, most of it worthless noise and chatter.

I think some sort of tangibility is the key. A sheet or bundle of paper. Or a disk with clear instructions on how to disable and re-enable "autorun" features. Something which can be held in the hand and left on a coffee table, in a waiting room, or the seat of a bus.

But "Same as that" can also be applied to concepts as well. Where is the DU News Channel? Where are OUR "talking heads" telling our version of the truth to the credulous masses?

One of our biggest mistakes is our ignoring or denying the apparent fact that a certain very large proportion of any population has no interest in thinking for itself. The want to be told. They are born followers and it is not in their nature to follow a path mapped out by themselves.

AND if WE won't hook a finger in the ring through these people's noses and lead them along a path of "GOODNESS" the "EVIL" opposition surely will.

Some we will never turn, it is in their nature to hate without thought. But a good many just want to do good, and are merely misinformed by and "evil" source on what good really is. These we can get to, if we can get over the hatreds and ideological squeamishness within us.

Hmm bit of a ramble. Off into the nethersphere to sink or swim.
Read entry | Discuss (4 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in Editorials & Other Articles
Wed Oct 10th 2007, 01:40 AM uncontrolled global experiment. And the results coming in are not at all pretty.

I do not think there is any going back. Not any time soon anyway.

And there are opportunities to perform relatively localised geo-engineering experiments.

One would be to deepen Lake Eyre in South Australia by a considerable amount and use what is dug up to create a small mountain range to catch moisture laden air and make it "dump". To get that moisture laden air, dig a canal from the Great Australian Bight to the lake and let seawater flow into the lake. (it's salt anyways so nothing new there)

It would also open up opportunities to experiment with aquaculture/fish farming on a massive scale, potentially easing the burden on natural fish stocks to a level that is fully sustainable.

If it looks like proving out, the same could be done with other sub sea level basins which are within reach of the oceans. Where a basin already contains water (the Dead Sea) the digging would take place above the existing waterline. The mountains to force the precipitation of evaporated moisture from the "new" seas are something of a necessity, as they would let us direct rainfall.

Another is orbital power satellites using microwaves to beam power down to Earth. This one's a Twofer: 1. Power to the grid to retire fossil fuel power stations; And 2: Steerable microwave beams which could be used to judiciously heat parts of the ocean surface in order to steer extreme weather events away from populated or vulnerable areas; Using the same microwave beams, moisture could be evaporated from the oceans to create clouds which would both increase albedo, thereby reflecting sunlight and reducing warming and directed by prevailing winds could then be moved over agricultural regions to precipitate out; Can be used on storm systems to keep them "warm" and prevent or mitigate excessive precipitation, or hail; Or to draw moisture up high to chill it and create snow.

The direct weather manipulation possibilities are mind boggling. Start small and start careful, or in extremis. But as we learn, we can become more adventurous and precise. It would have to be a truly global effort with the developed nations (arguably including China and India) having very little direct control of facilities, as the potential for ill use are as bad as the beneficial uses are good.
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Sep 26th 2007, 12:12 AM
  • Reduce landfill volume by 90%;
  • Reduce it to an inert slag, which could potentially be mineable;
  • Remove and incinerate all volatiles in situ; and
  • Power itself and generate a fair amount of additional electricity besides;

And yet debates rage in municipalities across the world, as to where the next landfill will be sited (Always: "Not in my backyard mate.") or how a few more years might be eked out of current sites.

Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by TheMadMonk in Environment/Energy
Mon Sep 24th 2007, 07:00 AM
A couple of things have been slowly floating into the "potential" consumer market over the last month or so. $1/watt solar panels (yup, again) and mega capacitors, supposedly with a charge density an order of magnitude greater than state of the art batteries. And that can be charged two orders of magnitude faster. For a laptop 40 hours runtime and 4 minutes recharge. Or 400+km and the same 4 minutes charge time for an electric vehicle.

Further the materials for these mega-caps are apparently cheap as dirt. So in both cases it seems to be down to engineering, manufacturing yield and costs, and ultimately demand.

In an ideal world this would equate to a capital investment cost of under $3 per peak watt generated. If these technologies pan out I suspect an introductory price of around $5-7 / peak watt.

Looking at what's available, it would seem that even with the improved gear bigger remains better.

So rather than individuals going it alone, people form co-ops. Buy a little capacity and pay as you use or buy a lot and perhaps have a positive balance and can slowly buy into the scheme as you pay your electricity bill.

I think it will pay to watch these mega capacitors and new solar cells. There's also "sliver cells" which have the advantage of working in fairly diffuse light.

And I just saw a news article on a new mega-suburb near Melbourne, Victoria. For some time I've toyed with they idea of borrowing an idea from the Romans and building on top of cisterns. Also since we have so many different utility connections these days it seems that a service tunnel makes a lot more sense than burying multiple cables and pipes, each in it's own separate backfilled trench.

So city block sized cisterns with service tunnels running beneath footpaths alongside the roads. Or if you want to maintain tall green, cisterns under the roads with residential blocks on solid "dirt".

One thing is certain we need integrated solutions. Rainwater collection; renewable power; Easy access; resource reclamation; Public transport. The whole shebang.

Then there are the mega-buildings being contemplated by the Japanese. 100,000 people occupying a square kilometer, with several square kilometers of open land built in stacks at 25 floor intervals. Or a hybrid between that and the solar power tower concept.

We're right on the cusp of being able to do big things. Really bigs things.
Read entry | Discuss (3 comments)
Greatest Threads
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Visitor Tools
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals  |  Campaigns  |  Links  |  Store  |  Donate
About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.