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Comment There's an open source project for this (Score 1) 639

This is the sort of thing that prompted Open Source Ecology's open-source hardware - the vital machines of civilization, built from collaboratively updated open source blueprints, made to a modular design from off-the-shelf parts. Know FreeCAD? Welding? You can make a tractor. I've seen one of the initial prototypes, and it was doing the job.


Their current push is open-source homebuilding, but it builds on all of the machines they've made. https://www.kickstarter.com/pr...

In my estimation, this is one of the most important open source projects of all time. This stuff is maintainable and built without planned obsolescence. We need that kind of freedom at the base of civilization.

Comment Re:Inflation, anyone? (Score 1) 1052

Not only inflation, but without curbs on predatory lending, payday loan shops are going to clean this out of disadvantaged people really fast.

I'm in favor of universal basic services - can we agree that nobody should starve when robots do most of the work better than we do? Then let there be staple food and a shelter, however humble. Utah has found out that this is way cheaper than criminalizing poverty and homelessness and jamming up the court system with people who couldn't find a decent place to sleep.

We still have six homes standing empty for every homeless person in the USA, because banks made a mess of the market and even the record of ownership. The banks get to borrow money from the US government at lower interest rates than they get loaning it to the government. They get a protected cartel in the form of a Federal Reserve that moves trillions. We can afford basic services, and in fact, we can't afford to keep our population scrambling in survival mode instead of getting educated enough to do something actually meaningful. Entrepreneurship shouldn't be just for yuppie kids who can bum their starting funds off of mom and dad.

Comment Creationism with computer science (Score 1) 951

This has all the same flaws as creationism or rapture theory in the church. Hand-waving the complexity of the world we're in and putting it up to a hypothetical universe the simulation is running in simply kicks the can down the road. There's no evidence for it, just an argument from incredulity at the nature of the world we actually interact with. A universe with a civilization advanced enough to simulate ours doesn't make the questions go away, or simplify them one bit.

Further, squandering the energy reserves of a civilization to simulate another civilization and universe to this level doesn't seem something a civilization could get away with doing for millenia. Ours sure isn't.

Same old myths, just somebody has a computer on their desk instead of a bronze age text. Humans don't change much.

Comment Re:Solution (Score 1) 414

It'd better be land nobody particularly rich wants. They don't even have to use eminent domain. A bought official can raise property taxes, find a way to make a neighbor complain about your "eyesore" house, or harass you about all that self-sufficiency you've got instead of a well-manicured lawn. Better not get in the way of a pipeline either! All of these are ways property owners have lost their land.

People keep trying to retreat into their own domicile, and that only works temporarily for some of them. The system is designed to keep you to the grind for almost nothing so major shareholders can profit and governments collect more taxes from people without clout. Running off to your own small patch of "I've got mine" does nothing to solve an unjust social order, IMHO.

Comment Re:"Free" market? (Score 1) 1080

I really do like your critique - it addresses a part of the elephant I wasn't specifically talking about in excellent detail. With a little analysis I think we're talking about the same thing.

Pre-existing concentration of wealth provides the clout to bargain - such that any little concession for the public's basic living needs like decent building codes, food safety, access to health care, so on can only happen in tandem with the government effectively locking in well-connected private industries into monopoly positions. This is what happened with the purportedly progressive ACA health care, what's happened to building codes, and what's happening to food production. Government force and outrageous bureaucratic and financial hurdles are being used to cement large corporation's power and keep people from doing what they need to do, and that's the reality of the "free" market. It couldn't happen if we were truly equally enfranchised and free.

If you catch a thief with stolen goods and let them keep their war-chest and bribe the courts with it from then on, and call any future attempt to right that wrong "redistributing wealth" with a nasty connotation, you have what's happened in the USA.

Comment Re:Explicit goal of the Democratic party system. (Score 5, Interesting) 338

Actually, she's not winning free and clear; most of her significant wins have a cloud of large-scale voter suppression over them.


And huge number of affidavit ballots cast in New York have simply not been counted.

Across the country, voters that have long been registered Democrat have discovered their registration details tampered to make their participation in closed primaries impossible. The door to this was left open when 191 million voter records were leaked, making re-registration with edited details trivial. The earlier scandal over the DNC voter records being open allow for specific targeting of those not supporting Clinton which is the demographic reporting issues.


Quite simply, yes, there's overwhelming signs that this election is being heavily rigged and in dirty

Comment "Free" market? (Score 5, Insightful) 1080

Adam Smith was never writing about what's called the "free market". He envisioned small-scale peer-to-peer reputation-driven interaction, not what we have.

We need to stop calling Wall Street crony-ism a free market. It's a rigged market working for a few. How many of you out there have chance to not be haggled down to the very minimum that can be paid? How many people are routinely being awarded bonuses, and are they really contributing that level of worth to society? There you have it - resources divided not by merit, but by political and economic clout.

In other words, we have an unjust power differential, the same problem with the state-collectivized system that we refer to as socialism, but there are very different types of socialism out there and they don't all work like the totalitarian state-collective system of Stalin and Mao. Kerala's example of "land to the tiller" redistributes private ownership to guarantee ownership of the minimum tools and resources necessary to be self-sufficient. European social democracy may have problems, but many of those countries do have a stronger middle class and take for granted people in the USA only wish for. Again, the term is glossing over a lot and leaving key pieces out of the USA's public discourse, quite to the advantage of the ownership class who would keep anything demonized that would loosen their chokehold on the nation's wealth.

The key differences in any society, if you were to ask me, are the levels of equality in distribution, and representation in policy, and of accountability - meaning that corrupt officials and representatives who listen to lobbyists instead of constituents would get kicked out of office. Equality, representation, accountability - not capitalism versus socialism.

In those terms, people don't get hung up over whether government is big or small but whether it's in the public interest. Oligarchy in the form of Wall Street or a Communist party gets identified as oligarchy whatever the label. We remember that the real deal is that the people are in charge and can stop their government from going out of control.

So please, let's start talking in actual useful terms instead of red herrings.

Comment Re:maybe (Score 1) 504

You are not addressing this fact - the carbon spike we're creating comes from digging and pumping hydrocarbons that have been sequestered for hundreds of millions of years and releasing them into the atmosphere in less than two centuries. Name a single natural process that does that.

Actually, you can point to a natural event of similar magnitude - it was the catastrophic event which ignited vast coal deposits in what is now Siberia, causing a huge release of fossil fuel CO2 and a subsequent release of methane hydrates in a positive feedback loop, thus triggering the Permian-Triassic extinction. That's the single biggest mass extinction in earth's history - over 90% of all species died, and the climate disruption was enough that anaerobic ocean bacteria were at the surface releasing massive amounts of hydrogen sulfide, a deadly gas. Very little survived. Earth nearly became a dead planet, and it took millions of years to recover.

That tenuous recovery happened without the pressure of a seven billion strong civilization monopolizing most of the arable land for energy-intensive agriculture and resource extraction. It seems absurd that life on earth could have survived both at the same time.

We're unleashing a very similar disaster, and simultaneously poisoning the oceans and cutting the rainforests that would naturally buffer this process.

It's like burning the furniture and then the house to stay warm in a blizzard. What prestige can there possibly be in liquidating the only home you've got?

Comment Re:maybe (Score 1) 504

Hopefully nothing will, ever: adapting to rapid change is the essence of being human. You're welcome to lobotomize yourself and attach to a rock somewhere if you like. Others will not follow you.

I can only assume you're not typing this from the coast of south Florida, Bangladesh, or Tuvalu. I also assume you haven't paid attention to the extreme degree of wildfires, forest-killing beetles that winter should have held back.

Does the fact that 99% of the scientists, all the indigenous cultures of the polar regions, the satellite images of the shrinking ice caps say nothing? Does the increasing acidity of the oceans which is by now preventing shellfish and krill from growing shells in large swaths of the ocean not get inside that bubble? Does multiple years of having to take snow in huge truckloads to keep the Iditarod from being held in a mudpit instead of a snowbank say nothing?

Destroy the supporting ecosystem, you destroy the civilization. All the achievements you list are in a top-heavy unstable equilibrium with, not sustainable progress, but an unsustainable equilibrium.

I find your assertions to be shockingly out of touch, and if we haven't gotten a single biodome stable, you may be assured we will at best prolong the deluded existence of the rich by a few decades at best if the biosphere gets pushed too far. Seven billion people are not going to starve quietly. The Pentagon already knows this - http://www.defense.gov/News-Ar... - and Exxon knew this decades ago - but, believe the infomercials if you think humanity's at all ready for what happens if it burns billions of years of evolution down for a century or two of unhinged materialism.

Ecosystems and physics simply are not required to comply with your manifest destiny.

Comment Re:maybe (Score 1) 504

Yes, during the PETM, temperatures rose rapidly by 5-8C. Mind you, this temperature increase was on top of temperatures that were already a lot higher than today. There were lots of changes during that period, but no generalized mass extinction. Corals suffered but didn't die out. Land animals didn't see any significant extinction. Mammals did very well.

And during the PETM there was no industrialized species chopping and burning down the rainforests, overfishing the oceans, leveling the mountains, polluting the rivers, and scattering large fractions of the arable topsoil. A meteorite or a volcano doesn't move from one destroyed ecosystem to the next in the continual pursuit of unlimited economic growth. It doesn't sow frail monocultures in place of biodiverse, old-growth ecosystems. What we've done in just 200 years is near-instantaneous in geological terms, and the systemically ongoing, even accelerating nature of it does not bear comparison to the PETM or any other natural extinction event. Our ingenuity continues to be largely devoted to wringing more out of the Earth in unsustainable ways. What wake-up call will be enough to get us into a sustainable or regenerative role? I don't know, but until then, adaptability and intelligence in humans without a priority on long-term thinking is unprecedented in its foreseeable impact.

Comment This has been around a while (Score 4, Interesting) 103

This has been around a while; kites, windbelts, and laddermills were my area to cover for presentations when taking classes on sustainable energy in 2010, and they were a lot of fun. Anything that gives you an excuse to play footage of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsing and demonstrating the awesome power of wind is pretty cool.

Kites hold a lot of promise; they're far safer for wildlife than any turbine, even the large slow ones that don't deserve their bad rap, and they produce up to a third of a turbine's power given similar operating area, for a tiny sliver of the material cost. Solar's cool and all, but wind power has become surprisingly diverse in its options tailored for different environments, and is becoming more so.

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