Tuesday, 9 January 2007


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Era Confusa
Know what's wrong with us today? We have no idea what era we belong in. I envy this guy because he has his life, his times, and his place in it all down pat.
He was a "gentleman" in "Elizabethan England" which is not just a place, it's also an era of time. And apparently, William knew that.
Do you know what era we're in? Can you say with certainty that this is the era of "Howardian Australia" or "The Nuclear Age" or "The Baby Boomer Retirement Era?"
See, that's our problem right there... We don't have a proper named segment of time that we can look at and say "*sigh* there - that's our era, our chapter of history." We're not sure if it's the "Chaotic Era" or the "Drug Stupor Age" or "The Medication Era." We're not even sure half the time of there will be a generation that will record our era...
We have no anchor, and we certainly don't have quite such a multilayered class society as Harrison describes, where even the social strata have strata. We don't have any mysterious lands full of strange races within easy colonising reach any more, we have no overwhelming pressure to conform because the world is no longer seems so harsh. In fact the wealthy portion of the world is on easy street - more and more illnesses are being cured each year, and we have less and less shortages - in fact soon we'll be facing a shortage of shortages. (Apologies to the Goon Show guys.)
Instead of having to fight and work for every mouthful of food, we have leisure time to enjoy. Instead of pitting our wits against crafty prey animals, we farm them.
We're a society whose most pressing problems now are what to watch on the weekend, which beer will go best with a tournedos rossini at dinner.
And you know what? I love it...
PS: If I made one person yearn for a good serve of tournedos then I consider that a job well done. Where does the word tournedos come from? Also I have seen a rolled piece of fillet sliced across and served the same way but can't say if that is still the same dish.
And what is better than a tournedos? Follow those links and you may find a new love affair...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:10 AMposted at 11:45 PM Ted More Comments: (2)
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Country Life Beckoning?
Just at the moment I'd trade my back in on just about anything of equal or better value - like a pack of toothpicks or two apple cores.
Did you know that there are these little bones sticking out of your vertebrae which hook into little bones in your hip bones? Neither did I until just a little while ago.
And now I also know that when those little bones unhook, they squish muscles and bruise them. And then those little muscles are all swollen and take ages to heal, and meanwhile everytime you twist just so, there's this little *click* and then life is suddenly shit for a week.
Anyway - that's one reason I haven't been posting much, it's kind of hard to get interested in anything much while there's that much ouch around... But once I recovered enough to take sitting in a car for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, Trish and I followed this:
Does anyone want a country idyll? A 3 bedroom house on 2000 square metres, and two HUGE sheds, a truck loading platform, several outbuildings, a whole general store, all on another 3000 square metres, within 90 minutes of Perth, all for the princely sum of $120,000? It's out there. We've seen it. But unfortunately it's not what we wanted so despite the excellent price we can't be spending anything on it.
It's in a little village of eight houses called Bullaring, just outside Corrigin. Eight houses and five caravans, even. The house is lovely, the general store is very country town, and the only bitumised road in town runs right past this real estate. And Trish and I have been looking at country property with the idea of planting it out, getting it set up during weekends and then moving out there fulltime when we were ready to semi retire.
This place had a beautiful house, with the large block it might have almost done. The store and outbuildings could have been useful. But the place is slightly saline, and hard muddy soil that has to be ploughed if you want to plant - and who's going to plough 2000 m2 for you? Because it was so much the antithesis of everything we want to do, we've taken ourselves off the interest list.
But if you've ever had a hankering to play general store, postmaster, fire chief, farm supply officer, and lord knows what else in a little hamlet beside a railway wheat bin stop, you might want to check out that little link before it goes.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:45 PM Ted
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Monday, May 29, 2006

The real cost of energy
This is a very thought-provoking article at NY Times. Okay and it's also very short, which is good, cos I'll probably ramble on about it. The article asks - what's the cheapest fuel for transport? And then quote a piece of grassroots research which Popular Mechanics did to try and figure it out. The upshot of that research didn't surprise me too much, as I've been thinking about AE (alternative energy) for ages now, being a cheapskate...
Where do the following come out, then, on the scale? The contestants are petrol, LNG (liquefied natural gas), hydrogen, electricity, biodiesel, and two different blends of methanol/petrol. I get the feeling that in each case PM's researchers figured out the costs inherent, such as the cost of producing the electricity, of producing the biodiesel, the hydrogen. PM used similar sized cars and drove them coast to coast in the US. And I am pleasantly pleased at the results:
Surprisingly, hydrogen came in as well and truly the most expensive, at $804. 85%ethanol/15%petroleum and 85%methanol/15%petroleum were next, at $425 and $619 respectively. The *thanols were not surprising, since it costs more kilowatts to make each barrel of ethanol than can be obtained by using that barrel of fuel. Hydrogen was a surprise but then, you'd need a lot of energy to split hydrogen from whatever it's combined with, and that energy would have to come from somewhere and be paid for.
Biodiesel, the hippy's friend, cost $231 - and has other drawbacks too, see further down this post.
Petrol, amazingly, managed to come next and at a bit lower than bowser price cost PM $213. No surprise actually - as I said we have pretty much perfected the black art of getting decomposed dinosaurs out of the ground and into petrol tanks.
The penultimately inexpensive fuel was compressed natural gas at only $110 (compare that to the cost of hydrogen!) and Teh Winnah is - at a cost of only $60 to produce, coast to coast across the USA - electricityyyyyyyyy!
The energy used to produce that much electricity was a coal fired power station, and coal is pretty cheap as an energy source, but they would have used the same standard energy cost to evaluate the other fuels as well, so this is a very good argument for going electric.
Because, on top of that, you don't HAVE to pay for your electricity in coal and pollution, you can get it from solar power. Yes it costs us in energy to make solar cells (PV cells) but once you have a certain number of cells you can pretty much use the energy of those to make the next lot... So the main drawback to this solution would be the byproducts form manufacturing PV cells.
I also liked their redux of the cost of biodiesel. If they can either get four times as much land as there is under crop in the USA now and put it all to biodiesel plants, they would have neough biodiesel for all their drivers. Of course, if by not planting any crops they could reduce the number of drivers to a quarter, then they could make do with all the arable land in the States... And it still pollutes, is still dirty.
So - does anyone want to take on my idea for a solar-powered vehicle with useable range and power? Or will this idea go begging too? How about saving most of the performance hit your vehicle takes when towing a caravan or large trailer? Find me a venture capitalist and I'll give you two of the quite frankly greatest applications for solar energy - and neither of them requires you to trade your car or caravan. It's just that good an idea.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:28 PM Ted
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Friday, May 19, 2006

With Flu. Blergh.
Sitting home with flu. But - I managed to get some of my work documentation done because I can remote into the work system, so it hasn't been a totally wasted day. And I managed to revise the draft for the diet, and add s few thousand words in the process. I think the problem is really going to be how to pare the number of words down, not how to pad it out...
Since starting to design this "diet" several things have become obvious, namely that while the active ingredients in the diet are chosen to target prostate illnesses from irritation to cancer, they are actually also very effective for a range of other conditions including other forms of cancer, bladder problems, arteriosclerosis, and - if the diet is followed as directed - it's probably also a very healthy weight loss diet, being based on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet book for the basic recipes and conditions. This may very well be the only diet you need to consider.
Consider this: Since I realised around seven months ago that I would have to do something about my state of health and started, this has been the first flu I've suffered enough from to stay home. I have emphysema and last year around this time I would have already had five to ten days off for various illnesses. Since starting on this diet and sticking with it, I've lost seven kilos and am still losing a little, hopefully to end up at around my healthy weight of 75kg in another six months. And since starting this diet the most important thing of all - in seven months my PSA level went from 5.4 to 0.4. I consider that a win, don't you?
I've stopped updating the online version because things are now getting serious - I have a good chance that this book will be published within a year or so, I have been in touch with someone at CSIRO and they want to actually conduct tests on the diet early next year (!!!) and as far as I'm concerned that now means that TISM.
Also it's serious because I read only recently that prostate cancer is now the most common form of cancer in men, it is the biggest killer, and - as I've been finding out - it's preventable to a large degree. (Worked for me, definitely. Will work in the majority of other cases, seems like.) I can't claim it's 100% effective because it hasn't been tested on enough cute furry animals or whales or whatever, but small scale tests have been done on each of the various parts of the diet and the majority of those tests have each shown there's some merit to each part. Working out how to put all that together has been my contribution, that and being the cute furry animal/whale/whatever guineapig for the most important test, which of course was my own case. Once the CSIRO tests are done, there shouldn't be any doubt left.
Once I have a good final draft I'll definitely release it as an e-book as well as in print, and the e-book will still be donationware, so that as many people as possible can get the benefit from it. There are other plans afoot for the whole shebang, there will be rather a lot more aspects to it than just the book. One thing for sure though - it is going to be published, and I am looking at one pulisher in particular but if you know anyone who wants to publish a book with a potential market of every male in the world then get them to contact me by all means, it's good to have options... %)
http://www.arach.net.au/~ted/prostatefriendly/ for a look at the frozen draft...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 1:53 PM Ted
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Google In Sydney.
Google In Sydney. This is good news but why do I get the feeling that the photographer was more hungry than interested in Google? hehehe
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:28 PM Ted
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Sunday, May 14, 2006

My mother passed away 28 years ago and, of course, my father more recently earlier this year, so today means more to Trish than it does to me. Today is her day, and I hope the kids make it a great day for her.
Friday would have been my father's birthday, and I don't think there was one hour of the day that I didn't think about that. But yesterday I was present at the wedding of one of my best friends, so this weekend has been a range of experiences.
In external news, the removing of bibles from hospitals was canned as "multiculturalism gone wrong" but I think the news writer didn't do the stupidity justice with that phrase - it should be "anaculturalism done right" - they've managed to eradicate yet another cultural aspect from Australia, and that's not integration that's subtraction. And subtraction means "to make less..."
Radio stations are saying that ipods aren't a threat, and they are experiencing "8% more growth this year than last year" which sounds great until you start to wonder if that isn't perhaps linked to population increase? And then you think that if they don't take careful note of percentages they may find that their market that looks so good is in fact a smaller and smaller percentage of an increasing population, and one day they'll realise that the sliding window's just closed...
And in biotech, rather a lot of stories this Sunday morning, some giving me hope that I'll be able to publish the prostate diet, others making me wonder whether it's worth it. Personally, I feel that all the biotech is a good thing overall, just a pity that so much politics still rules what should be a primary concern to us all, the improvement of our health and longevity and the eradication of some common preventable causes of suffering and death.
Last news item today - ADD/ADHD. I am on neither side in the psychology/medication debate, saying rather that it's down to a lot of other factors instead and every case needs to be evaluated on its own merit. But the thing that was clear to me in every case was that parents hadn't corrected certain thought patterns. For example there was one child who said they were diagnosed ADHD because they were always being given detention and always known as the psycho of the class. My immediate question is why would one become known as the class psycho unless one was doing some pretty radical shit? And my immediate thought was that the kid's parents should have explained that n order to be liked, one has to be likeable not psychotic...
Another child was asked if they'd had thoughts of doing bad things, and replied yes, like damaging and breaking things. Then the child went on to say that among the lesser thoughts were thoughts of hurting people. The kid's parents obviously valued things more than people, and if that attitude transferred to the child then no wonder they're a maladjusted little tyke...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, May 14, 2006 11:02 AMposted at 9:01 AM Ted
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Short Version: SUCCESS!!! Yeeharrrrr!!
Some of you have read my Prostate Friendly book and are possibly waiting for the results to be in, well they are.
One of the biggest drops in PSA levels my urologist Mr England has ever seen, from 5.something to 0.4! As far as I'm concerned, sticking more or less to the conditions I set out in the book (and none too religiously, at that - but I'll add that to the content of the book as I go) has to be the sole entire reason for such a spectacular success, because I've done nothing else differently in the seven months. So I am prepared to say that just using the simple guidelines I've laid out in there have been highly successful for me, and perhaps they can be as successful for you too.
I'm off to celebrate!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:13 PM Ted
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... and another thing ...
They're out and okay now, so I can make my comments. (Unlike other recent comments I've made only to have them go horribly wrong as the news stories about mishaps and deaths unfolded over the last weeks...)
I am very happy that the guys are out of the mine, and yeah I agree that we deserve a Gold medal in mine rescue. I still wonder if we couldn't have gone for Diamond though - I mean, just last night even - what the hell were they digging with, what were they on? Teaspoons and valium? Last night we got the news that the rescuers have several hours to go because they're into the "last 40cm of hard sandstone." Beg your pardon? WTF? Sandstone? As kids, my mates and I carved sandstone blocks into what we called sculptures but which invariably ended up as gravel, in half a day usually, two half days if mum called us in early for dinner.
Listening to Hack on JJJ last night and Steve was asking someone from Beaconsfield about what was going on there. This guy was the on-the-spot expert, I could tell - apparently he was putting on BBQ food for the people down the mine. The guy at the barbie grill always knows...
And what was going on down the mine, Steve asked, what type of people were down there? "Oh they have all sorts down there, supervisors drilling engineers mining engineers geologists explosives experts technicians." Yeap we now know the reason they were making such slow progress down there - there apparently wasn't one miner down there actually digging...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:14 AM Ted
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Monday, May 08, 2006

Mid Thingie Wossname
"May you live in interesting times." It's a wish and a curse - especially the latter. And lately, it's been interesting times, no?
It's been a bad weekend, as everyone must agree. Two miners passed the 10 days underground mark and no end in sight. Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens, aged 48, died in his sleep. Richard Carleton, aged 63, on the job at the Beaconsfield mine, of a heart attack. Larry Knight died the day the mine collapsed, aged only 44.
The wardrobe lady at Nine, 60, lung cancer. My father, in hospital, of respiratory failure. Keith Richards, age 62, almost died of terminal stupidity and a subdural haematoma, hopefully he will make it though. Some 80-year-old kindly gentleman has just run over a little girl because he was no longer concentrating.
It's enough to drive a person to midlife crisis, really it is. I'm just shy of five oh, and have just had several little incidents that warn one to stop being stoopid and start being careful. Do you think life's telling me it's time to start acting adult? Could have picked some slightly less gloomy way to say it dammit...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 8:01 PM Ted
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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ancient Cities, Ancient Markets
Today is Sunday. Can anyone tell me why anyone what Sunday actually is? And why people who work today demand more money, and are more scarce than people who work Monday to Friday? Can you further tell me which day the ancient market sellers in oriental and middle eastern took off or demanded double time for? I'll give you a tip, these questions are all related. Aha, you got it...
Today is Sunday. Thousands of years ago, Sunday was celebrated as a holiday by Romans not Christians. It was the day sacred to the Romans' solar god. And original Christians had Shabbat, not Sunday. That was adopted later by Roman Catholics (i.e. no longer fundamental Christians) as the Sabbath because it was easier to align holy days (which is where the word holidays comes from) than have the business of the city disrupted by two holidays.
And on that subject, of disrupting the flow of business. Say I was a merchant in some Persian city. I do my religious duty and pray several times a day, but my stall is open every day. I probably don't have a concept of "week" as such, other than a way to mark the passage of days. When I want to take a day off, I close the stall or put my eldest in charge. Business goes on.
Meanwhile, back in the European coutnries, a religion called "christianity" purloins a holy day from the Roman Empire and names it the day in honour of their God, and other splits and sects meanwhile claim that Saturday is Shabbat, and the Jews meanwhile are going "what would they know anyway?" and we end up with 2/7ths of the week wasted.
Fair go people, if we went to church on Sunday then that might be a reason to close everything for that day - but do YOU go every Sunday? QED.
If we threw out a falsely-placed holiday which has been put there because of an imaginary friend we think we have, and just had two more weekdays we ould gain some huge advantages. We could work seven days a week if we felt we could cope, or take Tuesday and Thursday off instead - just think how much nicer your R&R days each week would be if everything was open on those days.
I think getting rid of the outmoded "weekend" and replacing it with "R&R" days would be a huge leap out of superstition and ignorance and would free us to a far more amenable work schedule, just pick your two (or one, or three, or four - there's no "scripture" to prescribe how long your work week should be) days you'd like to take off and that's it. PLEASE NOTE: Christians, you're not going to miss out - take the Sunday or the Saturday or both, as you see fit. And if it offends you that other people are working on your holy day, please consider that 80% of the rest of the world always did, and probably always will. Despite your offense. Just as your eating in public during Ramadan offends good Muslims, and just as our concept of public restaurants offends some other races who eat in private cubicles. Deal.
I thought about it today while in Bunnings looking around for things - there were a lot of european staff there but obviosuly Sunday Mass was irrelevant to them, and it just occurred to me that really, the only people who should ask for a penalty rate on a Christian holiday should be Christians. And real Christians will not accept any amoutn of money to break their Holy Day covenant, so it's really irrelevant...
Do I sound like I'm going over to the "other side" with Howard and his IR laws? No, sorry, I'm not. I'm trying to say that we need more flexibility in our working weeks, and letting each person choose a work schedule that suits them is a step towards better living. Are you a mother looking after children? Maybe you only want to work two or three days a week and be home with the children the rest. Well this way, you can. No you won't get paid as much as someone else in the same line of work who works all seven days, but at least you have the chance to trade off your personal time versus living standard.
What about working seven four-hour days? Again, there is no longer any compelling reason not to. Let's face it, most businesses deal globally as well as locally, and that makes strictly-regimented hours pretty much inconsequential anyway, so why not make some free time when it makes the employee happier and allows them to work at their best times of day on their best days of the week? Among other things - no penalty rates for just pretending that a day has special significance for you, just an honest system where, when the boss wants you to come in and work on the days(s) you nominated as your preferred days, you will be paid for the inconvenience.
I know there are people out here where both partners work and where they still rely on a certain amount of overtime to get them through - but these are examples of misnegotiated base wages not examples of the indispensability of "Holy Days". The businesspeople and market sellers of the Ancient World might have had less to enjoy than we do today - but they had a far better system of enjoying what they had...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, May 07, 2006 8:24 PMposted at 8:21 PM Ted
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Vale Richard Carleton
Passed away today reporting on the mine collapse, still asking the questions right to the last.
I may not have liked the man but this is still a very sad moment.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 6:55 PM Ted
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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Hehehe some things are better looked back on. Went to Station St Markets again, had a coffee from Sam's excellent Coffee Kitchen, spoke with him a while, got drenched in the rain shower, bought fresh veges, and came to work for a few hours to do the stuff you can't do while people are using the servers. And now I'm sitting here going over old blog entries, and wondering what I'll be looking back on, in a few years...
One thing I hope to look back on is the sale of the ticky-tacky suburbs box and garden, and the purchase of at least a nice house and block in the country, and - with a bit of luck and financial fortune - a camper van or caravan. This year. The sooner the better...
If I'm reading this blog entry in the future would I please take note that I said it will have been going to have happened by then okay?
I am planning what I'd take in the kitchen, what to take for amusement (laptop, DVD, satellite uplink) and how to keep the wolf from the door while we're travelling. I have a few ideas actually, stay tuned. And I hope that in a year, I'll be blogging this from some interesting place in Australia or, given a bit of luck, some interesting place in the world, giving you the cook/gastronome's tour of wherever we are...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 2:47 PM Ted
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Energy - The Great Constant?
Head-in-the-sand Luddites like Garrett aside, there are literally thousands of new and old energy ideas out there.
Air Engine. Aussie developed, this is a cool device and it could become a great little commuter power source.
Air car? Why not? It's apparently a product with a bit of maturity.
Some time ago I did a little roundup of alternative energy vehicles and concluded that most of them just "shift the blame" somewhere else, i.e. they put the pollution load somewhere else.
The problem is that for most of these kinds of power sources, energy has to be put in somehow. Maybe less energy than a petrol or diesel fuelled vehicle, but they still require energy in. Air cars need some way to compress that air to put some energy into them. The way to do that is to use a compressor. Compressors can either be powered by a fossil fuel engine, or an electric motor which gets its electricity from a fossil fuel power generator further along the cable.
And we don't have far away enough alternative ways to get that energy yet. So - besides the car roundup, here's a few primary energy gathering systems and some pros and cons that I can see with them.
Photovoltaic (solar cells): Are still a bit energy-intensive and unclean to produce, and aren't as efficient as one might want them to be. Of course, once you've made enough PV cells to cover your factory you have plenty of energy don't you? So that's not so much of an objection. They are a bit messy to make (like most electronics) but they are getting cleaner to make. They are also getting easier to make, and yep they are also being made more efficient. Oh yes - and they are also becoming more flexible, both literally and figuratively. They are now being made on flexible backings, and even in liquid "paint-on" form. Not ready for prime time yet but if they can make it in small batches they will make it in bulk soon enough.
PV cells are also pretty easy to install - lay them on your roof, screw them down, wire them up - energy. While you drape them across stuff which is already there you won't be keeping precious sunlight off the earth and plants (well, at least not off any more than the structure originally blocked) and for about five years (today's PV cell technology) they will produce electricity every time a bit of near-light radiation falls on them. After that, the clear coatings aren't quite so clear anymore, and efficiency starts to fall.
Also, dust and cloudy days will really reduce your energy output. So solar cells are a little bit fiddly just yet. But - see Wind Turbines further down - there is a possible solution in the form of an automatic washdown spray.
Solar Furnaces: These take up an acre or two of land each, and you really wouldn't want to live too close to one because the are SHINY. They are ugly, and they produce heat which you then have to figure out how to turn to something you can transport - like electricity - but they produce a lot of heat. It's good that they produce a lot of heat, so-so that it's just heat and that they take up so much real estate.
You get all that heat, and you have to produce it in a place well away from where you might want to use it. Bugger. Might be better off using this kind of plant to do the work out there - so it's better suited to powering a factory than our hybrid/electric vehicles.
Wind Turbines: You've seen pictures or you've seen them standing on hillsides like inscrutable desk fans. But have you heard them? They are quite noisy and intrusive in sound as well as appearance. Something else: They make energy from the wind, that means they must take that energy out of the wind. What that means is that the wind will no longer make it quite as far as it would have. Maybe not a deal-breaker but when you consider that wind farms routinely have thousands of these things then you can get quite an appreciable effect out of them.
They produce energy day and night, unlike PV cells and solar furnaces, but they also stop day and night when the wind stops. And they have one other HUGE downside, one I would never have suspected. They kill bugs...
These wind farms have to be maintained. Imagine all those mechanical bits and generators, as I said there are between several hundred and several thousand in each wind farm, even if they only need their gearboxes oiled once a year that's between two and fifty turbines a day that have to be serviced... And that's not the thing that has to be done the most. Nope, the thing that destroys the efficiency of the turbines the most and has to be done several times a year is - yes, to wash gummed smashed bugs off the leading edge of the blades... The best thing they developed was a set of automatic wash jets that now do the cleaning and mean that the turbines have to be stopped less times a year.
If you take a look at the several millimetres thick, several centimetres wide strip of bugs along the 10 - 30 metre length of the turbine blades, three per generator set, and multiply that by the average of around 1500 turbines per farm, that's one shit-load of bugs that are not going on to fulfill their ecological destiny... And where bugs get mashed, so will birds.
So wind turbines have more downside than upside too.
Wind And Savonius Rotors: These are a bit better, but hard to scale up, and, unlike the turbines, can't be turned "out of the wind" when wind strengths increase, so they have to be made very sturdy to withstand the worst case scenarios. Otherwise, they are also more unsightly, and are hard to get up high to where the wind is more regular and steady wind. It's hard to make a big Savonius, so they are more suited to personal power generation, and if you're going to do that then you may as well go for a turbine design and not have to worry about your generator exploding in a storm.
Wave And Tide Generators: There are various designs, they all exploit the up and down movement of water due to wave activity or tide activity. As for wind turbines, they take energy out of a system which directly affects our weather, the water body. That alone makes them have more downside than can be compensated by any possible upside, but there's more: They have to cluster along the coast and use up our coastal preserves.
Thermal Generators: Stick a long pipe down in the ocean, start the water circulating - you now have some intensely cold water at the surface next to some warm water, or some warm water down there next to some cold water - at either end, you can use the temperature difference to generate energy. The problem is that once again, you're messing with a system which directly affects our weather.
You can do the same thing by drilling a really deep hole and pumping water down there - in pretty short order the heat below comes back up as steam and you can use it to generate energy. The downside is as above - you're shifting an energy balance of probably the most important system that keeps us alive. Not a good idea either...
Lastly, you can build a one kilometre high pipe and build a wide skirt around the bottom to collect solar heat to heat up air, which you then direct up the pipe and through a turbine. Another place where you're altering an energy balance and also not a good idea.
Nuclear Plant: Yes, these are a boon, but fark, are they ever a worry! They generate a LOT of power and have very little effect on the environment from their actual operation, but they have that spent fuel to dispose of... And never forget, around half the electricity that's generated by ANY means ends up as heat in the ecosystem. Nuclear powerplants generate a lot of what will ultimately be heat...
Common Or Garden Powerplant: Fossil fuels... More than anything else, the smoke from the Mines Of Moria has to be stopped. Proving once again that the slightest thing we do usually has huge and unpredictable results, such as this effort of ours in taking the energy of the sun from millions of years ago and releasing it back to the ecosystem again. The effects of that little energy exchange won't be fully known for a few hundred years, if you ask me. But - this technology works, we have it working, and we have it pretty much perfected.
Hydroelectric (dams): A lot of countries have found that they have a lot of energy stored up in their mountains, and have tapped this source of free power. But it's not free, the water got up into the mountains by the effect of solar heating and that energy has for years been flowing straight back down the mountains again. Now it suddenly stops along the way, and part of that energy is tapped off and put back into the system at another place.
Also, many of the Dammed Rivers (or should I have written Damned Rivers?) are now suffering from the effects of not having a regular cycle of high and low water movement anymore, entire river deltas have been changed forever by this "free" energy. Again, it bears out the observation that if you mess with the energy exchange cycle here, it will rebalance by doing something over there - and it will do some strange things along the way from here to there...
Free Energy, Zero-Crossing Energy, Magnetic Motors: Look, I don't know how to break this to you but... TANSTAAFL, okay? None of these works, and if one did, it would be the worst possible thing we could do - at the moment we're only converting from one form of energy to another, can you imagine if we seriously found some way to just create huge amounts of energy and added that to our ecosystem the same way we've been doing up to now? *whimpers*
That's my limited roundup of energy resources, no doubt there are more but I think I've covered the majority of the more popular ones.
And here are some ideas I don't know much about, you decide if they are snake-oil or oil-wells... The MYT engine - cool or con? Gun Engine - Top Gun or Top Con? (Methinks con, there's too much sob with that story, but anyway...)
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:37 PM Ted
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Monday, May 01, 2006

Following Up Peter Garrett Article and Comment
To skribe in reponse to the comments: First, let me say that I appreciate the comment and discussion and I'm not trying to overpower by moving this to the article, just that there's a wealth of material in there that I couldn't cover in a comment, which hardly anyone reads anyway. Here's a link to Skribe's extremely good comment, and here's my extremely Tedlike (i.e. read "off the top of my head with little forethought") response:
Sorry - but first of all, Garrett deserved every bit of that lampooning - he's a feeble one eyed dickhead who is the worst possible kind, he thinks he's doing it "for the good of the whole country" - what a self-important stuffed-shirt tosser he's become... I hate to say it but the parts where I make a "personal attack" against this stuck-up stuffed in the head piece of opportunistic zealotry wrapped in a six foot cyclopean chromedome are there because I think he's a loser. A mudguard, all shiny on top and all shit underneath. A coordination-deficient, flailing, useless source of more greenhouse gas than he impotently tries to prevent. A sell-out, someone who opens his mouth before he's thought his position out fully, and someone who I seriously doubt has any clue as to what his position actually is. Screw him.
And Moore is not far behind, another person who's thought just as far as he wants to and then stopped thinking. Screw him too - and Richard Carleton, and Ray Martin, and the woman that appeared behind the shoulder of the second-string journalist on a 15 second vox pop in a news piece sometime before that. I feel that anyone that has some power to sway public opinion and uses it to promote some narrow biased viewpoint as the only truth ought to be buried in their own sewage.
As you'd know from reading my blog I'm pretty intent about clean energy sources like solar and wind and tide and geothermal and aquathermal and pretty much every other source besides fossil fuels and - until recently - nuclear. But I am also adamant that every reasonable possibility should be given fair coverage, not canned by every Tom Dick or Garrett with a petty greenpeace barrow to push. And nuclear power has become another appliance-style commodity these days, not the exotic unstable experiment in bucking statistical odds that it was 20 years ago.
To the second point, the "conspiracy to sell nuclear power to the world." Any worse than the "conspiracy to sell fossil fuel to the world"? Or the "conspiracy to sell tobacco to the world"? As to getting so much airplay, well that's possibly also because of the Chernobyl anniversary, the fact that our greenhouse gas problems seem to have come home to roost with a vengeance and everyone else is now looking for a solution, or maybe just because someone paid a TV station to air it. It doesn't make nuclear power inherently any more evil than the fluoride lobby or the folks that pay to have the name "the other white meat" engraved on everyone's brain courtesy of the media.
And as to glosssing over the disadvantages of going nuclear, when was the last time you heard or saw a BP ad that pointed out how many animals the Exxon Valdez or the dozen or so a year oil spills since then have killed, or how many kilometres of ozone layer they cost the planet?
Thirdly, hang on - we take something which has been under the ground for billions of years already - it doesn't just magically become nuclear material as the shovels dig it up you know - and make use of it, change its potency, and then suddenly it's something evil? Let's not forget my suggestion - make the mining company that dug up the fuel, responsible for the spent fuel waste disposal. They just happen to have a bloody great hole they dug to get it out in the first place, now put it back. If anyone is going to turn it into a weapon then they would do that whether someone used it to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels beforehand or not, as witness the N Koreans most recently.
No-one's more aware than I that the old dictum that my father told me holds just as true today as it did when he first heard it: "If you think there's good in everyone, you obviously haven't met everyone yet." And while a nuclear weapon is a Bad Thing in anyone's book, that particular genie's out of the bottle and won't go back in no matter how many nuclear power plants you prevent from being built. They know how to reduce nuclear fuel to fissionable material and if they have to use unclean methods because they can't get reasonably safely produced reactor fuel, then they'll just do it the dirty way.
I was born in the late Fifties, and as far back as I can remember there have been nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants and nuclear materials. It's been a fact of my life for my entire life that uranium giveth and uranium taketh away. Chernobyl just confirmed it. Every fourth and fifth rate dictator wants one, and yeap one day some idiot like a bin Laden or Hussein will throw one at someone else - but I suspect that whoever does that, it will be the last button they ever push, and the example made of them will ensure that the next idiot thinks twice before even saying the word...
For four, the weaning from one source to another. You have it exactly - as I said, GWB has been actively promoting hydrogen fuel because it's something a government can control at a bowser or distribution point. And it's why we'll have better success at getting nuclear power instituted than solar or wind energy. Also, the R&D has already been done on nuclear energy because it's a spin-off from trying to find cleaner ways to produce fissionable material for weapons...
I don't know about you, but I think the fact that Perth had power brownouts without anyone switching off Muja pretty much means that it doesn't matter what power source you choose other than individual self-contained houses - the power can always be shut off if you need to bring the rabble to heel... And while you're thinking about that, think about that one big valve that sits in the water pipeline... So the fifth point you make is no more an obstacle to a nuclear power plant than it is one to any other power plant.
I'll quote your closing line here: " Basically, while going nuclear is sexy I still prefer the devil that I know. At least until the nuke waste issue has a decent solution."
If we all stuck with the devil we know we'd be still eating raw vegetation supplemented by the occasional (and very culinarily daring - hi Anthony) slug or beetle and sleeping in the dirt and grunting and roaring at the world around us.
Every technology has an upside and a downside. The most innocuous technology is capable of the most devastating effects. A spear could bring down a ton of protein - or it could bring down your tribemate. Fire warms you and cooks your food and sterilises your water but it also razes your painstakingly grown crops and the lives of your food animals.
Human history apparently actually goes back 200,000 years or more, and the record of that is written in the same rocks that hold uranium and galena and silicon and diamonds and gold and mercury. Any one of them is both valuable and deadly depending on what you do with it - even fossils have downsides... Also it's imprtant to note that it took most of that 200,000 years just to get to the point where we could write "5000 years" and only 50 years to get from unstable weapons (which used to ironically be called power plants) to the point where there are over 400 nuclear power plants in operation.
I don't think nuclear power is sexy, I just think it's the only attainable choice we have, and that someone had better lobby to get the fossil fuelled power stations shut down - and have a viable alternative - while our winters are still relatively mild and our summers not quite so warm...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:57 PM Ted
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