Saturday, March 25, 2006
Personally, I think consciousness is extremely rare in the universe - lord knows it's rare enough right here on earth. We have to remember that We Are Part Of The Universe. We are the part that thinks and knows it exists. This means *that the Universe itself is Conscious*. We are conscious and we are part of the universe: QED.
As we know that this consciousness is rare enough even among thinking humans, and is predicated on a vast variety of prerequisites of organic brain chemistry, we really do have a deep and abiding responsibility to keep this little light shining, as it is the one truly noble human function. The Universe lives and experiences itself through us and all sentient creatures. That the Universe will extinguish itself is not relevant: even flowers die. It's the FLOWERING that matters. As creatures who live in time and are self aware, we bring the universe along with us and are part of its flowering.
I am sure there are other blossoms - what is both amazing and disturbing is how ours has bloomed so quickly. It would be a tragedy for our stem to die and vanish from the great flowering universe.
Buddha knew this: he transmitted his dharma to his successor, Mahakasyapa, by pulling up a flower and twirling it between his fingers.
That's it: right there. Just like that.
Now, I twirl a flower between my fingers, and smile.
Friday, March 17, 2006
$9 trillion in debt
The factoid as to how much this debt is per capita is pretty awful, but I have also read that $9 trillion dollars would build 28 Eiffel Towers made of solid gold. That could be cool.
For what it's worth I figured something out that's kind of interesting - how long it will take to pay back the debt, assuming the USA.gov is somehow suddenly able to turn $1 million a day "profit". Now, the simple fact is that the Gov't has RARELY been able to "turn a profit", ever, but I won't go there... So, let's just pretend the USA.gov can actually pull a million dollars a day and use it to pay the debt.
First we take 9 trillion and we divide it by the million dollars.
that gives us 9 million days to pay it.
Then we divide the 9 million days by 365.25 (roughly the number of days in a year) and we get how many years it will take to pay back $9 trillion dollars in debt at the rate of $1 million dollars a day:
Yes, 24,640.657 years.
Bascially, right around the next glaciation.
It ain't gettin paid back. Ever. I think we need to get that point out loud and clear:
Hello! China? Japan? South Korea? Great Britain? Hello? Guess what you guys: we're going to stiff you. You're not going to see a DIME of that money. Not now, not ever.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
PO nihilism sux
This evening I am having dinner with a fellow professor here at Urban University, so I have something pleasurable to look forward to. Gah.
Now, not to make my life more miserable, I am, as usual in constant battle with Peak Oil Nihilists. The odd thing is, frequently people complain that I'm too much of gloomer. I think people who believe that need to get out more often. That said, I do see the value in the nihilist argument, for if nothing is done to gracefully depopulate the planet of people to a sustainable level, nad if nothing is done to curb te production of greenhouse gases, the species will face a catastrophic die-off.
I do believe things are being done - not enough - but it's a start. I think that we're enough along the way that once we do understand ourselves to be in Peak, we won't see people running around like a pack of idiots in panic. But some people seem to think that "once we peak, all hell breaks loose, run for the hills, etc." And I am constantly finding myself at odds withh such people, as they share a similar mindset to a particular strand of American Apocalypticalism that rears up every few years. Not that ALL such notions of the Apocalyse are equally valid or invalid. The notion predicting that Jesus will come from the sky and judge the planet I find far less credible than the notion that we will all be incinerated in a nuclear war. The idea that the entire species will find itself in depraved daily battles over scraps of food the day after oil peaks I think is about as likely as Jesus coming down to judge the planet. This doesn't mean that I believe we will NEVER be in such a state, I just find it extremely unlikely.
Sadly, a number of people disagree with me, and one such fellow savaged another person on one of my energy lists. I defended said person and the results follow:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Satellite space stations in geosynchronous orbits beamed electrical energy that tells me (X) in NE (Y) did write:
I have one question Fred, if you don't beleive in PO, why are you wasting your time in this group.
I am one of the last to give creedence to "energy fairy" stories, but frankly your position is so wrong, it's not even wrong, and I see it as a kind of 21st century millennialism.
First off, I don't Believe In PO. Yep - you heard it here first. Stuart Studebaker Does Not Believe In Peak Oil. Why? Because I don't believe in facts. I UNDERSTAND FACTS. Belief has nothing to do with it, and when someone tells me "You gotta believe" I know I'm being decieved.
And this is the crux of the matter, and it is a continual theme here on ROE2 and ER and a bunch of other places:
Does the point where oil production peaks *necessarily* mean the instantaneous collapse of civilisation? Some people hole up in the hills and say "Yep. We're all gonna die." I humbly submit that you are completely incorrect.
This does NOT mean that everything is going to be George Jetson Peachy Keen. Far From It, actually.
What it does mean is that I think it is ***extremely unlikely*** that come 2012 we will have teeming hoards of violent assholes roaming the countryside shooting families for a box of Cheerios.
If you think that is true, then, That's Your Problem. Just get used to having me call you on it every time you pass it off as some kind of obvious truism, because -
a: it ain't
b: it shouldn't
c: it might, but ain't likely
Should people prepare? Yeah, you betcha. But prepare for WHAT? Madmax idiot infantile masturbatory fantasies of instant hell, or a century long decline to 1850?
Personally, I see the long decline in the cards, and the only thing that would stop it is something like fusion or CFR or some other equally powerful collection of technologies, in which case, we're looking at 1850 in 500 years or later.
To help create a long decline vs. the fast crash, is for people to continue Doing What We Are Doing : getting the word out, and helping sell and produce the sustainable society.
To mix some metaphors, you can't beat thermodynamics, but you can move the goal post... It's kind of like "Artificial Intelligence". The obvious truth is: Machines can't, won't, and will never think. Period. But: we can dumb down the notion of what constitutes "thought" to the point where we think "Machines Can Think." It's like the "interactive website". There is NOTHING interactive about it - it is simply a user accessing a logic tree. People are more interactive on antiquated "email lists" than any of us will ever be coaxing feeble data out of a Flash movie.
Same thing for the post-carbon society. Right now we (as a society) look at big McMansions and SUVs as the Ne Plus Ultra of comfort and utility. We come home, turn on all the incandescents in the house, crank the heat to 75, nuke some PeopleChow (tm) and plop in front of a giant CRT to watch "entertainment".
rather than promote a room for each pet, we could look to smaller homes and promote "cozy" and "home". The car could be an LEV (Like a Twike) and the home would be close to work, so public transport or walking would be best. And that would be seen as "the Ne Plus Ultra" luxury. And those clunky old incandescents? Feh! I've got the swanky LEDs! And for mood lighting, nothing sexier than a candle or two. And the heat? If thhe house is hyper-insulated, heating becomes much less of a problem. And giant TV? What for? I have a projector - bigger image, less power. But what about "my shows"? Only for idiots. The Cool Thing is to be entertained by the stuff coming over the fibre optic cable, which is made of sand, not metal...
The above description is not "Real" - it's more illustrational, so don't take it as a straw man. What I am pointing at as Real is to USE the system to Better Ends. With conservatives (like Roscoe Bartlett, Matt Simmons, et al) on one side and the tree huggers and liberals (Like Udall and Gore et al) on the other, this is definitely a do-able deal. Not easy, but do-able. So rather than sit and snipe sourness upon the world, work together to save it...