Fri 31 Jul 2009
Posted by editor under the burning Comments
As though a more graceful straying was at all an option. This little tidbit stuck out in an argument on the optimal number of Americans, which sounds loaded enough, but then:
Without more of a focus on the implications of immigration policy for population, there could be 600 million Americans by 2100, he writes. Depending on whom you talk to, that is a boon or a disaster. Mr. Chamie notes that the relatively enormous thirst for energy, food and other resources from Americans, when compared with that of the average world citizen, gives outsize importance to issues like global warming and to American trends.
Emphasis mine. Isn’t that the whole point of green, cloaking our climbdown in euphemism as though we want to curb our appetites for resources and are not doing it because of shame or peak stupid related to the “while supplies last” ironicality? Next up, discovered deep in the programmer sub-species of the Amazonian Huarani, startling new emoticons for “shrug.”
Then, just for kicks and speaking of idiotic discussions, extend the logical implications of the resistance to big-government takeovers to firefighting:
Yet if we had to have the “conversation” about the firefighting industry today, we’d have socialism-phobic South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on the TV every chance he could get saying things like, “Do you want a government bureaucrat between you and the safety of your home?”
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio would hold press conferences and ask, “Do you want your firefighting to be like going to the DMV? Do you want Uncle Sam to come breaking down your door every time some Washington fat cat says there’s a fire?”
Oh the pain. via.
And then there’s the sedition network. It’s becoming increasingly difficult, if you were so inclined, to argue that Fox News was not created to destroy the Republican Party, and hence the two-party system. I guess we should always wonder whether we are and could be sufficiently virtuous to resist what seems like help but is actually designed to quicken our demise. Oh, maybe that’s what… Rrrgh. Hate. Lessons.
Thu 30 Jul 2009
Whether that object be of desire… of derision… of worship… of my affection… of a preposition. Staying with the quantum mechanics meme (and why shouldn’t we?), there comes the matter of no small consequence surrounding the, what’s the scientific term… uh, bizarro quantum world condition by which, even if you already have all of the possible information that is allowed to be known about a certain activity or event, you can still only talk about the probability of the event happening. Same for coin flips as a nanoscale bridge.
Quantum mechanics operates in a bizarro world that includes superposition, where atoms can maintain more than one state at a time. Matter can also become entangled so that it remains connected across vast distances — a ghostly phenomenon dubbed “spooky action at a distance” by Albert Einstein.
So, yes, the model of the object, a Hamiltonian; no, not that one. This one:
The energy conservation (quantum) law written with the operator H as the Schrödinger equation is fundamental in quantum mechanics and is perhaps the most utilized, mathematical computation device in quantum mechanics of systems with a finite number of degrees of freedom. There is also, however, the alternative approach in the Heisenberg picture, or formulation, in which the observable and other operators are time-dependent whereas the state vectors are time-independent, which reverses the time dependences betwen operators and state vectors from the more popular Schrödinger formulation.
It’s the thing, in other words. That says whether you’re talking about an electron or a bicycle. The first piece of information you need is the Hamiltonian of an object.
Ah, the rush of knowing… feels the same even when it’s about all you don’t know.
Now… there is an implication to the above, and I won’t say what it is, that is completely deterministic about the future. Do I already know what that is? Maybe. But since time is merely one factor among many, there’s really no rush.
Wed 29 Jul 2009
Posted by editor under carbon
, climateAdd a Comment
IAM, or spin, in other words. If we could capture the power of the earth’s magnetic power on itself, what would we plug it into? The conundrum would be similar, if not perfectly analogous, to attempting the transformation of hype into literal energy. There is something blocking the association – a physical law or two, sure, but also an imaginary plane of separation dividing these possibilities.
And I’m not talking here just about Newtonian physics not working at the quantum dimension. After all, do we not admit that our abilities to entertain magical possibility are powerful? Sustainable, cheap green energy that does not displace our devotion to modern convenience, for example; or the elimination of a seemingly necessary level of waste, for another. Do these imply mutual exclusivity? And if they don’t, what’s the problem, then?
One aspect might be stopping some of what we’re doing as a form of doing something about a problem. Conservation has its naysayers, but alone or teamed with constructive counter steps, substantial benefits cannot be denied. The cessation in consuming fast food as means to healthier living, for example; we would want to continue eating but may well choose tastier options that do not require industrial-scale agriculture in order to exist. A better example might be deforestation – stopping it as a means to reducing carbon emissions. Here we have the opportunity for greater carbon sequestration via the presence of more carbon cycling mechanisms (trees), coupled with the reduction in ghg emissions themselves by actually cutting down and hauling away less trees. Double dip in each column, if you want. But it’s not a ’something for nothing’ proposition. Not a magical bullet, as they say. Just an initiative
known as the Carbon Benefits Project, was launched today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Agroforestry Centre, along with a range of other key partners. The project is being funded by the Global Environment Facility.
Under the United Nation’s climate convention and its Kyoto Protocol, developed countries can offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions by paying developing economies for implementing clean and renewable energy projects such as wind, solar and geothermal power.
In December 2009, at the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, nations may decide to also pay to tropically-forested countries for maintaining standing forests under a scheme known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).
This is because up to 20 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions linked with climate change is coming from deforestation—more than from cars, trucks, planes and ships combined.
I’ll stipulate how dangerously close this line of thinking may be to not making art as a conceptual form of art making if it can also be noted for the record that not cutting down trees is a viable form of tree-having.
Tue 28 Jul 2009
Posted by editor under carbon
, societyAdd a Comment
Get creative about it – but instead of being all soi this or avant that, say you’re doing it to save money. If you can’t teleport or telecommute, and I can’t do either, why not break the forty hours down into four days instead of five? The state of Utah tried it and… oh my metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions:
the state redefined the workday for more than 17,000 of its employees last August. For those workplaces, there’s no longer a need to turn on the lights, elevators or computers on Fridays—nor do janitors need to clean vacant buildings. Electric bills have dropped even further during the summer, thanks to less air-conditioning: Friday’s midday hours have been replaced by cooler mornings and evenings on Monday through Thursday. As of May, the state had saved $1.8 million.
An interim report released by the Utah state government in February projected a drop of at least 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually from Friday building shutdowns. If reductions in greenhouse gases from commuting are included, the state would check the generation of at least 12,000 metric tons of CO2—the equivalent of taking about 2,300 cars off the road for one year.
Wha? You mean you can just do that? What will the neighbors think? What will my father say? What will you do with that extra day off EVERY week? What time do you have to get up? That’s right – now the real trouble begins.
Mon 27 Jul 2009
What does Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations have to do with hypoxia zones in the Gulf of Mexico? As pointed out, if one out-sized work by a grand personage were seen as rather ordinary prescriptions for decent conduct and otherwise commonsensical, might other directives of a seemingly radical nature take their place among the more banal measures of merely astute management? So it may seem.
The United Nations recently approved the broad application of the first agricultural methodology, or biological approach, for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UN’s announcement coincides with the USDA’s analysis report that shows the economic benefits to agriculture from the U.S. cap-and-trade legislation.
The agricultural methodology, which will be used to design projects that eliminate the use of synthetic nitrogen on legumes like soybeans and cowpeas, was developed by Amson Technology LC, a greenhouse-gas-reduction and sustainability consulting firm, Becker Underwood Inc., a leading developer of bio-agronomic and specialty products and Perspectives GmbH, a Point Carbon company, a high-quality greenhouse gas reduction market solutions provider.
In the U.S., a sustainable agriculture survey conducted by Rabobank shows that nearly 70 percent of the U.S. farmers and ranchers have taken steps toward implementing sustainable agricultural practices, and dairy farmers are striving to cut 25 percent annual GHG emissions related to the production of fluid milk by 2020.
Whether via legislation, grass-roots activism or market economics, many of the more exotic-seeming solutions to the way we lay waste to the natural environment are nothing of the kind. Problems of excess can be managed with sensible long-term projections about production and the pollution horizons that will result; scaling one down until it bears a manageable relationship to the other (sustainable or better). In other words, what we need divided by what we know. In what other world would these types of reasonable management practices seem radical?
Marcus Aurelious was hailed, even at the time, as a philospher-emporer, as if that was an unusual combination. The mixed message of our age is the mythology of ‘economies of scale’, as if one can transcend the other. We’ve got no business in that business. Industrial agriculture should be seen as the grotesque distortion, not our attempts to correct it.
Fri 24 Jul 2009
Over the course of working on a piece about a Swedish film director from the 70’s, I’ve been writing and thinking about the various forms of erotica, as proffered on film in this instance. On the wings of this spilling over into conversations with known associates, a friend passed this on to me. Though it’s talking about art, aren’t we always?
The connection between pornography and prostitution is witnessed by etymology. The effect of pornographic fantasy is to ‘commodify’ the object of desire, and to replace love and its vestigial sacraments with the law of the market. This is the final disenchantment of the human world. When sex becomes a commodity, the most important sanctuary of human ideals becomes a market, and value is reduced to price. That is what has happened in the last few decades, and it is the root fact of post-modern culture.
Sentimentality, like fantasy, is at war with reality. It consumes our finite emotional energies in self-regarding ways and numbs us to the world of other people. It atrophies our sympathies, by guiding them into worn and easy channels, and so destroys not only our ability to feel, but also our ability to bring help where help is needed and to take risks on behalf of higher things. It may seem to project and endorse a vision of those higher things, to take on itself some of the ennobling function which is the imagination’s proper task. But the appearance is an illusion. The object of sentimental emotion is in fact dragged down by the feeling which makes use of it, made grubby and tawdry in the game of emotional exchange. Sentimentality is another form of profanation. While pornography puts our lowest appetites on sale, sentimentality trades in love and virtue. But the effect is the same -to deprive these higher things of all reality, either by cynically denying them, or by making them insubstantial, dream-like, adrift in a never-never land where no human being can dwell. In the great works of imagination, by contrast, we are invited to enter a higher realm, in which real human motives and real human sentiments find their resolution and redemption. This higher realm is not a fantasy-product: it is not the surrogate object of base and existing desires. It is the true object of feelings which it itself engenders, and whereby it cleanses and sanctifies our lives.
It’s not long, so you should read the whole thing. Thanks, ac.
Thu 23 Jul 2009
Be sure and watch for signals of a stock market recovery in order to be ready to attribute or discount the effect to your favorite pet cause. Try it with a friend!
Seriously, it would be just as irresponsible to say that the market is up because we’re seriously considering tackling healthcare reform. Or, we’re saving the financial system via recapitalization through profit-taking. Wait a minute… that’s ugly because it’s TRUE. Which is something altogether different. A guy getting arrested breaking into his own house? That’s a rejected plot line on Lost. Not nearly unbelievable enough.
Some things we’d rather see, while for others we might do anything in exchange for the power to look away. Taken together or separately, what would any of these developments mean? They’re actually worth going into on their own merits, but that might unfold too slowly and allow us to miss the forest when the trees are SO pretty.
Meanwhile… Electricite de France and an American solar panel company are building the largest solar manufacturing plant in France.
EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN) and First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced a venture to build France’s largest solar panel manufacturing plant. With an initial annual capacity of more than 100MWp, the plant will produce solar panels made with First Solar’s advanced, thin-film photovoltaic technology. This new venture will support the recently announced goal of the French government to become a leader in sustainable energy technologies including solar electricity. At full production, projected for the second half of 2011, the plant will employ more than 300 people.
Under the terms of the arrangement, First Solar will build and operate the plant in France. The plant represents an expected investment of more than €90 million. The initial annualized capacity of the plant is expected to exceed 100MWp, making it the largest manufacturing facility for solar panels in France. EDF Energies Nouvelles has agreed to finance half of the capital expense and plant start-up costs and will benefit from the plant’s entire output for the first 10 years. First Solar and EDF EN intend to announce their decision on the site location within the next few months.
Wed 22 Jul 2009
As seen from Yinchuan. Newscom/SIPA photo, via TPM
The Path of Totality
At sunrise on July 22, 2009, (the evening of July 21 PDT), the moon’s umbra—the cone-shaped part of the moon’s shadow—will fall on India’s Gulf of Khambhat. The shadow will sweep across Asia and the South Pacific before leaving the earth near the Marshall Islands about 3½ hours later. The path of totality will cover a distance of approximately 9,500 miles (15,200 km). The maximum duration of totality is an exceptionally long 6 minutes and 39 seconds, which will come while the shadow is over the Pacific.
Talk about your open source entertainment.
Tue 21 Jul 2009
You know the feeling – I was reading the other night and made a note to remember to look up a word I came across. If you don’t look up strange words in books or read books with strange words, you’re probably not reading this. So I’ll never mind about that.
Anyway, anthropophagic. There, I said it. Gross, sure, but I didn’t know the term. It means, basically, cannibalistic, and I’m sure Kazantzakis what getting at something good when he used it. Sarcophagus is also kind of gross, when you realize what it means.
By the time I remembered to look it up (just now) I was on to something else, so I’m fitting it in a bit oddly, I’m afraid. The goal of eating is not cheap food. That won’t come as a shock, I hope, but it’s instructive in its way when we relate it to other activities we engage in. We have approached eating and food acquisition as activities that should be completed as quickly and cheaply as possible, with minimum effort, price and enjoyment. In doing so we have done great harm to ourselves physically but also we’ve lost many more delicious aspects of eating that has nothing to do with taste – though we’ve greatly mucked that up, too. No, here of course I mean that we have eliminated discussions and arguments about other cultural artifacts that occur during meals. This is a crucial loss, equaled only by the quality of the cheap food that we ingest, that must be farmed on a mammoth scale in order to be cheap, that require prodigious amounts of petroleum fertilizer, again, in order to be cheap. All because we no longer like to talk over dinner.
Travel is much the same. The goal of moving around seems to be cheap trips. Wrong. The goal of traveling is much more pernicious to our sense of place, pride and perfection that that. It enhances one and inhibits the others, or changes them into something more problematic and in need of further investigation and more traveling. And it can get expensive. But what moving about on the cheap does to us is the key, and especially when travel is prioritized only on the basis of its cheapness, its harmful effects are most on display. When you can move around on a whim and eat for nothing, you become impatient with all other complexities – of palate, of locale, of politics, of… sutras. You name it. When we turn to whimsical, cheap entertainments to pasturize our neglected imaginations, we greatly succeed.
And it’s hard to turn back, to break the habits of ease. We construct all-or-nothing scenarios where the choice is between McDo and hunting/gathering, and do our selves no favors by it. Put a little more consideration into where you go, how you get there, what you put into your body… pretty soon the monstrous implications of life on the cheap go away. There can be no hand-made global climate change. You just can’t do it, my friends.
You can look it up.
Mon 20 Jul 2009
These are two of the big catchwords of the year so far. What do they mean and, what is their relation to the Eco-logy/Eco-nomy mash-up from which they emerge?
Hard to say on either of these counts, without squaring the circle – that we have to cut down on consumption but keep on making things (have job for people to do). Not exactly business as usual.
Even as most of the new green jobs end up going to robots, we (third-person, sentient) still have to do certain things. This should settle back into two fundamental questions – what are these certain things, and of course, what does green mean?
Because as we settle on the parameters of the first, the elements of the second become more clear, or at least a matter debate. We can see how imposing costs on carbon dioxide emissions, for example, can trigger changes in the things we make and the ways we make them. Despite what you watch and hear, people are thinking about this. And despite what you watch, hear and read, this will require great amounts of thinking. And schooling. And cross pollination of everything we think about business and most of what know about technology, engineering, credit and risk.
In short, it could be sexy. It could capture the popular imagination and re-direct it toward more productive ends. I don’t mean to sound too optimistic on this count; things are as dire as we are lazy and easily amused. But we did go to the moon once, many years ago today.
So, who knows?
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