Thursday, May 26, 2005

Never Enough Wind Power Department

You might've seen the story on the wind map which, by identifying the places with the highest winds world-wide, allows us to build wind turbines where they would matter. At least 13 percent of known sites have enough wind speed to turn a turbine. And with enough of those turbines, we could generate massive amounts of electricity.

How massive? The entire world was using 14 terawatts of energy in 2002. With what we currently know, proper investment in wind turbines, and an improved electrical grid, we could be making nearly 72 terawatts of environmentally friendly electricity. As the map is still somewhat crude, lacking in enough data points to flesh out, say, Africa or Siberia, we have no idea how much more wind power might be available.

In short: If our Beloved Leaders stopped sucking up to the energy industry, gave up going after nuclear power and fossil fuels and turned towards wind power, it would not only work well, but we'd have to wonder what the hell to do with all that energy. Think aluminum is cheap now? Imagine how cheap it'd be when electricity is taken for granted as if it were, well, the wind. Hydrogen isn't an energy source? Fine, but it's a great energy store, so use the electrical power to crank out hydrogen in mass quantities. Want to elevate much of humanity from poverty? Make electricity so cheap that a relatively comfortable lifestyle is possible worldwide--refridgeration, hot water, electric light, and environmental controls all become possible, as would enormous economic benefits, recouping the initial overlay for turbines and infrastructure many times over. I'm barely scratching the surface, and I'm not getting particularly creative, either.

Imagine what uses we could have for abundant energy. It's scary and perhaps perilous in a larger sense, but I cannot help but think the good would outweigh the bad by far. And it may be the way to our salvation, as a civilization and perhaps even of a species.

Check out the map in the Wired article linked above. Notice the red, black, green, and yellow dots around the United States alone. Thanks to constant, federally funded (ahem) weather station monitoring, we know where to start building right now. Building the turbines and infrastructure, alone, will create a few million badly needed jobs, and would give our economy a kick-start no tax break can provide. We could be energy-independent within a decade if we started now.

Any politician who refuses to support wind energy, given the state of the art--and especially, any politician who insists on throwing billions at oil, coal, and nuclear, but not spend one cent on setting up a turbine--simply is an asshole.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Never Enough Senatorial BSing Department

So now practically every major political and news blog has had a chance to dissect the compromise that occurred between fourteen Senators that assured that Frist couldn't "pull the trigger" on the "nuclear option". (Or is that "nucular"?) As they say, opinions are like assholes--everyone's got one. But as I like to say, politicians are often like cheap hot dogs--all lips and assholes.

Pardon the metaphors. Ahem.

So far I've preferred to "meta," or what we old-timey 'Net folks call "lurk," and digest the fallout from many different angles. The reactions have been quite interesting. Some Republicans and some Democrats felt betrayed, and while I understand the Democrats not wanting to give away any more judges, I understand the Republican stance as well. They know that it's only a matter of time before their game collapses, and the inevitable tide of politics shall usher forth a new progressive rennaissance. And, they also know that this may happen very soon, so therefore they feel compelled to rig the system the only way they know, by replacing as many judges as possible in order to ensure no further erosion of their ideal social attitudes.

Yes, I said "social attitudes." You know, "values"--as in, "I bought it on clearance!"

Of course, from the liberal point of view, the right wing ideal social attitude would result in an impoverished, ignorant, bigoted, and prideful society grounded in false piety. It's not as if they have an equally pleasant opinion of how we should run things. Just because we've already established that well-educated, tolerant societies tend to fare well for most of their citizens, doesn't mean that we have to all become hippies and nerds, even if that's what they think. But we were already losing our scientific relevance in the world, even before our reaction to the WTO attacks made us lose our diplomatic credibility, and our economy has suffered. Imagine if we didn't let anti-science religious extremists take over the GOP and the Republican Party! McCain, hell, I wouldn't mind Bob Dole half as much, for even though he clearly chose party loyalty over political courage, he is not interested in being pushed around by James Dobson.

Dobson, however, is right about one thing: While the compromise on the filibuster has caused strain in the Republican Party, that's only because the Party was already strained. Democrats may not yet be in perfect unison but given that Reid had already offered a compromise, this does come off perceptually as a Democratic win. Right now, that's what is most important.

But if I read one more article saying that the term "nuclear option" is a term used and invented by Democrats, I will scream. Swear.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Never Enough Long Lines Department

So I'm going off to see Star Wars: Episode III this afternoon. Apparently the lines of rabid Star Wars fans have yet to slake, as my friend and clenchmate Rev. Bursar Judas Iscariot has gone back--third time since the premier--to wait in line at length, partying with other Star Wars fans. (He's a Sith-symp--you should've seen his Evil Yoda costume that one Halloween....) I'm not looking forward to the rain, or to the fans, but I am looking forward to the movie, especially as this will be the first time I've taken my stepson Becklin to the Cinerama. Still, I wish I had more time! Laundry awaits, as does a remix CD I plan on giving Judas. So, pardon my brevity--off I go!

Never Enough Energy Sundays Redux Department

Until I can come up with a better name....
I especially recommend reading Jay Inslee's "Apollo Creed" article, as it is inspiring and refreshing to hear Democrats beginning to assert themselves on the issue of energy independence and sustainability. But note the overall theme: Americans are insisting on higher gas mileage, even while the Republicans insist on kissing up to the oil industry. And Brazil is kicking our butts when it comes to sustainable energy. At this rate, the US will be third-world while the developing nations will be clean, healthy, and munificient. The key, as argued in this article, is to stress energy independence as patriotic and economical in the short term, and push long-term environmental concerns as a side benefit. Yes, I know, it's a damned shame that humans seem to prefer the short-term view, but rather than lamenting, we should be using the fact to ensure both the short-term and the long-term are addressed to everyone's satisfaction. That's what they're doing in Brazil.

Never Enough High Weirdness Department

I've been considering turning my old NutNet site into a blog and/or wiki. But until then, there's Unusual Churches, a collection representing a tiny portion of the vast array of belief systems. Yeah, SubGenius is represented--it was the very first entry, in fact. And there are quite a few churches inspired by SubGenius to put forth their own silly parody of religion. (AS IF SubGenius is just a parody! As if all we are doing is "parodying" religion!) But ignore that--check out what many earnest people believe...! You might walk away thinking, "Gee, these people are screwed up! I'm glad that I put my faith in my obviously correct beliefs!" But consider, if you will: If you have to believe in it, doesn't that make you, from another's perspective, just as weird? After all, we're talking about the subjective and the unverifiable, and without the ability to come to a consensus through purely rational means, an open-minded Lutheran is as utterly inexplicable as, say, the Online Ministry of Hubert the Invisible Beaver, or the Process Church of the Final Judgement. As I've said again and again: "You can't believe everything that you believe." And friends, I can't believe what-all I believe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Never Enough Fireball Art Department

Now I doubly wish I had all the time and cash in the world, if only I could get ring-side seats.
See it on Wists in [simnuke] [atom] [bomb] [anniversary] [performance] [fireball]

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Never Enough Apathetic Ennui Department

So I have a dozen unfinished creative projects to complete, two dozen more projects I'd really like to start, and endless ideas I'd like to flesh out eventually. But, damn it, I feel drained, unwilling to lift a finger to approach any of these pursuits. I truly wish I knew what I needed to get creative again.

Part of me realizes that it's my schedule that is causing it. I used to work evening shifts, getting home and staying up until 2 AM, feverishly working in Photoshop before passing out. These days, if I stay up until midnight, it's a luxury. Another part of my creative angst is due to having options I didn't before. It used to be that my computer was my only electronic contact with "the outside world". Now I have a cable box with a Tivo-like DVR built in--not only do I have the ability to record shows I would otherwise never see, I can now spend hours sifting through it all. Those hours used to be spent mastering software and techniques. But here's the worst of all: I've lost all taste for self-discipline, and that has made it nearly impossible to sustain activity.

It's not that I lack the discipline, say, to do my job or to take care of my family. But it's as if, once I've used all that discipline to handle these critical areas of my life, I suddenly don't want to use any more. (In honesty, I don't want to use that discipline in such responsible ways, either--but at least I know how terrible that is to think, and try to overcome it.) Is it just a matter of discipline, however? I just don't feel the energy to be disciplined anymore. And I need to figure out how to get my energy back, somehow.

Never Enough Energy Sundays Department

...My, this was a banner week for energy news!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Never Enough NSK Exhibition Visits Department

If you have never seen Laibach and Irwin art up close, I mourn for you.

I just returned from the Frye Art Museum, where they are still hosting an exhibit of NSK paintings, artifacts, and video. I'm still digesting what I saw, but I can guarantee you, if you have only seen photographs, the photos simply do not, and cannot, do full justice. Until you can see the rough carved frames with socialist-realistic motifs turned dark, until you can see the roughness of the blobs of oil paint and tar upon the canvas, until you can see just how HUGE many of the paintings really are, it is difficult to understand and appreciate the impact their art can have on an unsuspecting audience. And much of the crowd at the Frye was unsuspecting, it seems--I asked one of the museum volunteers and she confided that those who saw the exhibit either were confused by the artworks, or were enthusiastic. While this museum is usually deathly quiet, there were small groups discussing and debating the art, not so loudly as to distract, but distinctly loud enough that, if you strained, you could eavesdrop.

As I said, I am still digesting what I saw, but I'm sure I'll have more to say, especially once the rest of my family gets to visit.

Never Enough Mind Changing Department

This may well be "too little too late," but it's still good news: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to reverse their previous decision and support state-wide protection for LGBT persons. And just as I was thinking about launching a "For Shame" campaign.

I think I might still launch that campaign, if only because more people need to know that a majority in this country do not support the religious right and think their behavior is shameful. More later.

Never Enough Energy Sundays Department

I declare Sundays to be "Energy Sundays" for my blog. Which means, it's time for a roundup of energy stories from the previous week:

Note that I am including stories I would normally not favor. For instance, I think using any fossil fuel to produce hydrogen does not help us in the long term. Sure, coal-to-hydrogen technology may not produce as much carbon dioxide as burning, and they may improve carbon dioxide sequestration, but you still have to put energy into the process to get it started. And you still have to mine the coal--and I hope you realize how destructive that would be environmentally. Plus, how would coal-to-hydrogen membranes mesh with the idea of using coal combustion by-products as building materials?

I maintain that being aware of energy developments may be the most important issue facing our civilization. What we have now was built upon easy access to energy, and with Peak Oil upon us, that easy access will go away. So will much of our current way of life. Now we still have a choice as to how we will react, and what way of life we will lead. If we wait too long, that choice will be taken away, and we risk the death of our civilization, perhaps of our species. Stay informed, and make your representatives in Congress be aware that smart energy policy is a high priority.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Never Enough Personality Quizzes Department

After seeing this on Hellblazer, I realized it was a while since I took a Myers-Brigg style test:

Your #1 Match: INTP

The Thinker

You are analytical and logical - and on a quest to learn everything you can.
Smart and complex, you always love a new intellectual challenge.
Your biggest pet peeve is people who slow you down with trivial chit chat.
A quiet maverick, you tend to ignore rules and authority whenever you feel like it.

You would make an excellent mathematician, programmer, or professor.

Your #2 Match: INFP

The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.
Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.
It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.
But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

Your #3 Match: INTJ

The Scientist

You have a head for ideas - and you are good at improving systems.
Logical and strategic, you prefer for everything in your life to be organized.
You tend to be a bit skeptical. You're both critical of yourself and of others.
Independent and stubborn, you tend to only befriend those who are a lot like you.

You would make an excellent scientist, engineer, or programmer.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Never Enough Hitchhikers Department

What can I say? I was pleasantly surprised that Disney somehow did not ruin "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy." In fact, the movie was both gorgeous--a great production budget helps--and very true to the original book. They even added a few homages to the BBC series, via the soundtrack and a guest appearance by the original Marvin the Paranoid Android. And Zaphod? I was wondering how they'd manage the third-arm-and-second-head bit. It looked hokey in the BBC series, but in the movie? WHOA. If I had to have a second head, I'd probably do it Zaphod's way, even if it meant tickling my nipples every time I ducked Head Two down.

But what Arthur and Trillian getting romantically involved?!? What the hell?!?

I mean, I understand having to leave some details out, such as teaching the computer on the Heart Of Gold how to make tea, or the same computer singing "You Never Walk Alone"--but of all the things to add...! It's as if Hollywood cannot make a movie without an obligatory love story. They'd turn Hitler's final days in the bunker into a romance, I swear.

That said, the movie was funny as hell, even for those of us who practically have the novel memorized and therefore knew most of the gags by heart. And, more importantly, the fans are pretty funny as well. Before the movie started, Wayne Brady was featured in a Will Rogers Institute spot on exercise and eating right. As that ended, one of the audience members quipped, "Now buy more popcorn."