While I’m away, why not treat this post as an opportunity to debate whatever you want to, and raise whatever points you wish to. Think of it as a managed commons.
What’s on your mind?
. . . promoting capitalist acts between consenting adults.
While I’m away, why not treat this post as an opportunity to debate whatever you want to, and raise whatever points you wish to. Think of it as a managed commons.
What’s on your mind?
Demeter was the Greek goddess of the harvest, and Persephone, her beautiful daughter, the goddess of the seasons (who Pluto famously “took to wife”).
In a pre-scientific culture intimately dependent on the vagaries of the harvest, where a bad crop could mean famine and death, the manner in which the gods or goddesses responsible for the life-giving harvest is personified tells you a lot about the culture.
In most cultures, the god was a violent, unpredictable god requiring placation. (A personification in mythic form of the malevolent universe premise.) But in the Hellenic Greek culture, the life-giving divinities were depicted not as monsters or ogres with the arbitrary power of life or blod-curdling death, but as beautiful women who must be seduced—a a depiction in stone and ceramics of the sunlit, benevolent universe premise that would inform and eventually permeate the life-affirming pagan Greek philosophy to come.
And artists today still use the myths to tell a tale that Homer told…
* * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column
here every Thursday, barring drinking accidents. * *
UPDATE 1: Lindsay Perigo offers a robust critique of the elephant in the Todger Screening room: “It's the Muslims, Stoopid!.”
UPDATE 2: New #TSAslogans suggested on Twitter include:
Simple one-bedroom houses with a sleeping porch above. And, yes, I did say “the 1920s.” That’s when the “look” now so popular first saw the light of day, and the architects who developed it then knew what they were about.
Guest post by patent specialist Dale Halling
Sustainability is all the rage today. What do we mean by sustainability? There are numerous and conflicting definitions of what sustainability means. However, most sources point to the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), also known as the Brundtland Report.
According to the 1987 Brundtland Report, sustainability is:
Meeting the needs of the present generation without
compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their needs.
This definition is not testable and is incredibly vague. Let’s take the word “sustainable” literally. A sustainable technology would be one that can be used indefinitely by humans without side effects and without any diminution in its effectiveness. This definition violates the laws of physics. Entropy is the second law of thermodynamics and is normally defined as the measure of the disorder of a system or a measure of the energy not available for work. Entropy was discovered as part of thermodynamics and it explains that a perpetual motion machine is impossible. Entropy always increases in a closed system. Sustainability taken literally is an attempt to create a perpetual motion machine.
Some of the key issues for the sustainability crowd revolve around so called non-renewable resources, such as the use of fossil fuels and the using up of other natural resources. The way this is often phrased today is Peak Oil, Peak Water, Peak _____ (Pick Your Favorite Resource). [For more of the same, see Peak Everything: Eight Things We are Running Out of and Why.]
Peak Oil (natural resource) allegedly occurs when the amount of oil that can be extracted reaches its maximum or the point at which we reach the maximum net energy output from oil. The alternative definition takes into account that even if we can extract more oil, this is irrelevant if it takes more energy to extract the oil than we receive from the oil.
The supposed solution for our “Peak Oil problem” is to develop renewable energy resources. The Clean Energy website provides the following definition:
Renewable energy is natural energy which does not have a
limited supply. Renewable energy can be used over and over
again, and will never run out.
What is “natural” energy? Either all energy is natural and comes from nature, or only animal muscle power is natural. The “natural” qualification is complete nonsense – unless they really want us to go back to animal muscle only.
Moreover, the “never run out” qualification itself violates entropy. All energy resources will run out eventually.All energy sources—fossil fuels, solar, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, hydrothermal, fission, fusion, etc.—are at base solar, or at least stellar.** And the Sun will not last forever and does not provide unlimited energy. The concept of renewable energy that “will never run out” and “can be used over and over again” is fatuous nonsense. It violates the second law of thermodynamics, entropy.
This concept of “peak resources” is not new. For instance, the fertilizer crisis of the 19th century. In 1830 it was discovered that guano was an excellent fertilizer. Population exploded, as guano was used in Europe, because of the additional food that was produced because of this excellent fertilizer and mechanization. The best sources of guano began to run out fairly quickly. People predicted the equivalent of “Peak Guano.” The question was not whether we would have “Peak Guano,” but Peak Fertilizer? We did not have a guano problem we had an invention problem. The Haber-Bosch process was invented in 1909, which allowed fixing nitrogen in air and solved the “Peak Guano” problem.
And therein lies the lesson.
Reason magazine’s article “Peak Everything?” discusses how logical, scientific projections showed we would run out of lithium, neodymium, and phosphorus. “Peak lithium” was going to limit the batteries necessary for electric cars. In fact, we would run out of lithium faster than we would run out of oil. The solution is a new invention that replaces lithium with zinc air batteries. Note that the solution was not a better way to extract lithium, but to make the supply of lithium irrelevant. It is a paradigm shift created by a new invention.
Peak neodymium is going to limit our ability to build the electric motors of hybrid cars as well as other products. Interestingly, neodymium magnets were invented to overcome the problem of peak cobalt. In the area of permanent magnets, it appears that a new induction motor will eliminate the need for permanent magnets.
Peak phosphorus is a repeat of Peak Guano. Peak phosphorous threatens our ability to provide enough fertilizer for our agricultural needs. One solution, recognises that phosphorous is a product of human urine. The phosphorous can be recycled using a no-mix toilet.
The lesson should be obvious:
Paul Romer has observed, “Every generation has perceived the limits to growth that finite resources and undesirable side effects would pose if no new recipes or ideas were discovered. And every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas. We consistently fail to grasp how many ideas remain to be discovered. The difficulty is the same one we have with compounding: possibilities do not merely add up; they multiply.”
The computer industry was also beset by predictions of impeding doom when it could no longer achieve Moore’s law of doubling the number of transistors every eighteen months. Ray Kurzweil has shown that if you restate Moore’s law as computational power, every time a technology reaches its limit to improve computational power a new technology takes over. Using this he shows that computational power has been growing exponentially since 1900. The first computational devices were electromechanical. When this reached their limit, they were replaced with relay devices, then these were replaced with vacuum tubes, then transistors, and then integrated circuits.
Life is a fight against entropy. The unique way humans overcome entropy is by inventing. Inventing is the answer to “Peak Anything.”
Inventions are not subject to diminishing returns or entropy. Potential inventions grow factorially, which is much faster than diminishing returns from natural resources shrinks. We do not have a natural resources problem, we have an invention problem.
The sustainability crowd are not pushing science, they are pushing a political slogan. And in the process, by diverting resources from the most promising technologies to the most politically acceptable, they are actually inhibiting new technologies from being developed.
* * * *
** (Hydroelectric energy, for example is the result of the Sun heating the oceans or other large bodies of water. As the water evaporates and then condenses in the form of rain or snow on land masses it is collected in dams. The dams converted the gravitation force of the water into electric energy. Fossil fuels are created by plants converting sunlight into biomass (including animals). The biomass is trapped underground by sea sediment and the pressure and heat converts the biomass into oil, coal, natural gas, etc. Fission is the process whereby heavy elements, generally Uranium, are split into lighter elements and energy is released. These heavy elements were created in a star that has long since expired. Thus, all energy is Solar or at least stellar.)
Dale Halling is an American patent attorney and entrepreneur, and the author of the book The Decline and Fall of the American Entrepreneur: How Little Known Laws are Killing Innovation.
Read his regular thoughts at his State of Innovation blog. This post, with all its references, originally appeared THere.
National Hero’s Widow Persecuted Over Wristwatch
- Whose Property is Safe Now?
“If the wristwatch left to Lady Hillary is no longer hers to sell, then who in New Zealand is secure in their personal effects?” asked Libertarianz Party leader Dr Richard McGrath.
He called for Chris Finlayson to immediately rescind the decision by the ministry for culture and heritage, which the Libertarianz Party would abolish instantly - along with many other government agencies, departments and ministries - if elected.
“This bullying big-government attitude is not what the people expected, having tossed out Helen Clark,” he added.
“By his failure to block this egregious act of harassment of a private citizen, Chris Finlayson has effectively devalued - or abolished - private property rights in this country.”
“If relatively minor items such as a timepiece are subject to the predatory avarice of bureaucrats, what hope is there for items such as gold bullion, to which people worldwide are turning as central bankers busy themselves debasing paper currencies?” he asked.
“Will the gold that people hold - as hyperinflation looms on the horizon - be seized to help shore up our crumbling paper currency?”
”In the wake of this appalling treatment of Lady Hillary, who can rule out further seizures of any private asset Chris Finlayson’s ministry takes a shine to?”
“The Libertarianz Party says it is not the government’s concern what people choose to do with their own property. John Key’s Nationalisation Party on the other hand clearly believes the government should own anything and everything it wants. These two views are incompatible.”
“Those who voted for the Nationalisation Party in 2008 should ask themselves the following: Is New Zealand really any better off than it was three years ago? In particular, has this administration stuck by the core values of national and personal security, individual freedom, and limited government it promotes on its website?”
“Does the Nationalisation Party deserve your continuing support in the wake of this outrageous example of big-government bullying?”
Richard McGrath said the Libertarianz Party, in contrast to all its opponents, will offer a policy platform at next year’s election that would enable a trimmed-down government to focus on a very small list of core functions.
“New Zealanders need to have confidence that their property is safe from arbitrary seizure by the state. Surely theft and extortion is wrong, whether done by individual criminals or by the government.”
Dr McGrath suggested that if they are to be consistent, the ministry for culture will also have to seize watches belonging to the widows and families of Everest-climber Rob Hall, World Cup winning All Black John Drake and double international Eric Tindall.
“Perhaps that will be enough to get the outcry this disgusting nationalisation deserves.”
Read Doc McGrath’s regular column every Wednesday here at NOT PC.
Labels: Down to the Doctor's
Reminding you all about tonight’s public lecture in Auckland, to which you’re all welcome.
PUBLIC LECTURE: The role of gold in the monetary system
With special overseas guest - Professor Antal Fekete
Gold is the leash on which the frugal must keep the
prodigal. It was this leash from which the banks and the
government wanted to escape when they first
sabotaged and then junked the gold standard…
One could say that since taxation and treasury departments
were invented, a great tug-of-war has been going on
between the frugal and the prodigal. The latter is the consortium of banks and government. The former is the saving public…
- Antal Fekete
President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick wrote this week that a new international monetary system should "consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values." And yet many, including Paul Krugman, still see gold as a “barbarous relic” that has no place in a modern society.
Tonight, the University Economics Group is pleased to present a seminar by Professor Antal Fekete, a proponent of the gold standard and critic of the current monetary system.
With talk of currency wars and continued financial instability dominating the headlines, there has never been a more important time to examine the foundations of the current monetary system. This is a unique opportunity to hear an alternative view about what makes money ‘sound’ and ‘unsound’, as well as the historical (and possibly future) role of gold as the anchor in the monetary system.
Born in Hungary, Professor Fekete is a retired Professor of Mathematics and Statistics from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada who now devotes his time to writing and lecturing on fiscal and monetary reform with special regard to the role of gold and silver in the monetary system. He has taught at universities around the world including Columbia and Princeton.
Date: Tonight, Tuesday 16 November
Engineering School, 20 Symonds St, Room 3402
UPDATE: There’s been a late change of room to a bigger venue.
We’re now in “Case Room 4,” Level O, Owen G. Glenn Business School
(NB:You can park underneath the Business School on Grafton Rd.)
Don't miss this opportunity to hear Professor Fekete speak about this important topic during his brief visit to New Zealand.
There’s no cost for an evening that could not be more topical.
And don't forget to invite your friends.
Here's a good story coming from a bad result and a demented overreaction. RadioNZ reports that
Ferrari bosses have roasted Italian politicians after some called for heads to roll over the team's failure to win the Formula One championship.
Roberto Calderoli, a government minister, said Ferrari's president Luca di Montezemolo should quit after a "demented strategy" at yesterday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix cost Spaniard Fernando Alonso a possible third title.
That’s not the good part of the story. This is:
Piero Ferrari, son of the carmaker's late founder Enzo, said he was "astonished and saddened" by statements made by some politicians, reminding them that Ferrari has done so much more for Italy's global image than the country's politicians will ever achieve.
True, true, true. With rare and heroic exceptions (Jefferson, Churchill, Thatcher, Havel, Klaus) an undisputable truth in virtually every country you care to name.
And a point worth making every damn day.
I speak of course of a letter to Lady Hillary, the wife of Sir Ed, to whom he left his watches when he died.
Read that: His watches. Watches owned by him. Watches which were given as gifts to him, over which he therefore had, quite legitimately, complete freedom of disposal.
This, however, is not the view of the meretricious, meddling arsehole from the Orwellianly-titled Ministry of Culture and Heritage who wrote the aforementioned letter.
That shiny-arsed arsehole stated in its letter the view that Sir Ed’s watches—specifically a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Oyster awarded to him after he climbed Mt Everest (I emphasis the appropriate words just to make it clear who was up Everest achieving heroism, and who therefore is the owner of the fruits of that feat)—belong not to the hero who climbed Everest and to whom the watch is actually engraved, Sir E. Hillary, but to all the non-climbers and seat-warmers who sat at home basking in his reflected glory.
The fact that Sir Ed achieved such a magnificent accomplishment is all the more reason, according to the arsehole, for confiscating the fruits therefrom.
What a disgusting perversion of morality.
This letter-writing arsehole would have found a fruitful home for itself in the places whereof Orwell often spoke. The sort of place in which heroes become public property, success becomes a reason for punishment, and the fruits of achievement become the object of confiscation—and the greater the achievement, the more virulent the confiscatory power.
I did not think New Zealand had got there yet.
But perhaps I am wrong.
"There's pansies, that's for thoughts."
- Ophelia, Hamlet
The fall of disgraced minister Pansy Wrong offers both thoughts and opportunities.
To lose one minister for abuse of office is an accident. To lose two looks like carelessness. John Key knows that’s what we’re all thinking.
Key says Wrong should not answer questions about her abuse of her parliamentary office to those who paid for her and her husband’s holidays and business trips, i.e., the taxpayers, until all the facts about her abuse of those trips and that office are known.
Translation (straight from the Sir Humphrey Appleby Handbook): “This problem is a bloody nuisance, but we hope that by the time Parliamentary Services reports, four months from now, everyone will have forgotten about it or we can find someone else to blame.*
The fact is that she knows the facts. And if she doesn’t, she’s incompetent. So she should answer now either to her dishonesty or to her incompetence—or both. Now, not when the story has blown over.
The flatulence of John Key on this is disgraceful.
But the demise of the minister of Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs offers a heaven-sent opportunity for him to be decisive.
As the former minister shuffles off into the dustbin of history, he should grasp this as the ideal; opportunity to put the ministries there too over which she presided with such anonymity. Announce that it’s time for them to stop spending money we don’t have to produce reports no-one reads. Time, in other words, to take a hike.
In all the years of their existence, it’s not like they’ve actually achieved anything with all the money we’ve been forced to spend on them.
That’s just one opportunity.
And it offers the opportunity too to declare than MPs will no longer receive the perks about which they’ve demonstrably shown they can’t be trusted to be honest. They must be confiscated without compensation—the only appropriate reaction in a deep recession.
This is surely however an idea whose time has come.
Naturally, however, since such opportunities exist for the PM to be decisive, this flatulent status-quo worshipper will do neither.
UPDATE: You can always rely on David Farrar to completely fail to understand that there’s a world outside Wellington.
Well, no, David. It is not. Or should not be. But what might help make it inevitable is lame-arse lame-brained “analysis” like yours, suggesting these overpaid burdens on the taxpayer deserve more of the same instead of the kick in the pants they deserve.
In case you and your coterie of Beehive Bludgers hadn’t noticed (which you haven’t), whatever your jacked up figures say, we out here in the real world are in middle of a quite severe recession.
Such a time is not the time to increase salaries. It’s a time to cut them—and really quite savagely. It’s a time for these highly-paid and highly-visible beneficiaries to lead by example.
Pansy’s abuse (on top of abuse by legions of others, including Roger Douglas and Rodney Hide) is the ideal opportunity to do that.
In my submission, if anyone were to listen to the Manatee’s ill-thought rationalisations for raising MPs’ salaries then, it would be an(other) example of the benighted following the delusional.
Here’s another prize-winner in the recent NZ Timber Design Awards. It’s basically the decoration of an otherwise uninteresting box, but what’s striking for me is how effective the sparse palette and relatively simply-done decoration is (it’s unfortunate that the theme wasn’t carried through a bit more, to the light panels for example, or that more natural light isn’t welcomed in—but there you go).
The theme of the fretted ceiling panels and sun shades evokes the light quality of a forest glade, an effect complemented by the counterpuntal balustrade fins and the reflections from the (otherwise unattractive) glass balustrading.
Well done ArchOffice.
Yes, I’m sure you missed my regular ramble last Friday. So here are some links to stories and shows around the world of the internet to make it harder to do your work on a wet Monday morning, but much easier to understand why you should.
This week American travellers “enjoyed” the introduction of pervert-cam and forced fisking. Here’s one liberal who got mugged by the thugs.
“I'd rather that England should be free than
that England should be compulsorily sober.
With freedom we might in the end attain sobriety, but
in the other alternative we should eventually lose
both freedom and sobriety.”
— W.C. Magee, Archbishop of York, Sermon to Peterborough