Sunday, April 22, 2012

Paul Grignon, without a doubt, explains how banking works better then anyone else as far as I know. Witty, clear and above all else, detailed in his analysis, his dvds and online offerings will charm and horrify you at the same time when he shows just how corrupt and venal the banking system truly is. Go to his Money as Debt site and check out not only his take on the mechanisms of money but also his approach on rectifying the situation via a digital monetary system resembling that of Bitcoin, an open source environment that's beginning to take off, much to the chagrin of the status quo. BRT - 6/18/2011

Addendum: Bitcoin may not work after all as, according to Paul, it...

"makes holy the two most fundamental errors that make the current system unstable."

It is:

1.  unredeemable for anything;

2  a "single uniform commodity" in limited supply, the value of which is determined by scarcity.  

Digital Coin (his concept) is redeemable for goods and services.  It is always "a promise of something specific from someone specific"

It does not matter at all how many or how few total credits there are in existence. The value of any credit is defined by what is promised as redemption."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Universal Transparency, ah there's the rub

Transparency to the max and how it would impact society is one of the central themes in Arthur C. Clarke's and Stephen Baxter's collaboration, The Light of Other Days, a most interesting SF novel centering on the Worm Cam, a construct using the Casimir Effect to enable man to go back into the past, travel through the solar system and... to eliminate privacy, completely.

The societal implications of tech like this knows no bounds as everything would be seen by everyone 24/7. The explorations into this complete loss of privacy is most fascinating as it's a universal transparency used by all, not centralized as seen in 1984, something government, the Fed and the WS banksters, as avatars of opacity, would abhor without question. Give the book a read, the tech is rigorous, the characters, not so much but the implications, ah, there's the rub.


The Great Animal Orchestra

Every once in a while, one stumbles upon a revelation, something hidden in plain sight, of profound insight in how reality works at grand scale. In Bernie Krause's The Great Animal Orchestra, the insight centers on sound and how important it is in enabling animals to survive.

What do animals want music to do? It’s a complex question, and Krause explores myriad “levels of intent.” He cites research showing that “gibbon male songs, while rarely repeated, nevertheless follow strict rules of modulation and delivery in order to successfully attract females.” (I couldn’t help it; my mind ran to Justin Bieber.) The list of musical functions goes on: female gorillas, “singing” soothingly to themselves while grooming, interrupted by the “loud screams” and “chest beats” of the males; sperm whales emitting “high-pitched bursts of sound” to get imaging not unlike medical ultrasounds; crickets, expressing the temperature through the speed of their stridulations; and spadefoot toads, chorusing together to confuse predators as to any individual location.

That last example is heartbreaking; when a jet flies overhead, the toads get out of sync. The temporary lack of ensemble proves deadly: soon hawks swoop down on individual choristers. In other words, the toads’ music is a communal shelter. Music is expression, communication — but also protection. Krause spends his prelude evoking the ancient soup of sounds before civilization arrived. He teases out an irony: Humans have built physical shelters to protect themselves from nature, thereby shutting out these anterior soundscapes; but these soundscapes are themselves shelters, structures of serenity and happiness, which we are abandoning.

The hidden and not so hidden impact man has on nature extends to virtually every part of the planet. In Before Man, a BRT blurb discussing not only the plundering of the oceans but also what the world was like before us uses Korea's infamous DMZ as prime example as to how vastly different earth was before we came upon the scene.

The de facto wildlife preserve encompasses 390 square miles of diverse terrain virtually untouched by human development for 55 years. Now, as this accidental Eden faces major development pressures, a growing contingent is pushing for its establishment as a transboundary nature park – which could also be a step toward peace between the two Koreas.

“This strip of land contains almost every type of ecosystem you can imagine,” says Alan Weisman, author of “The World Without Us.” “It has inadvertently become one of the most important wildlife conservation sites in the world.”

Addendum: Road Noise, an early BRT post, describes the enormous impact roads have on the environment, another disquieting bit of destruction wrought by the advent of the car and the asphalt highways on which they run.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Off topic yet not :)

Voileaventure is a cool website, in French, from a friend of mine, who is traveling all over the world with her husband in a sailboat named Alexander. I know enough French to be dangerous but, as usual, this is not about the site but rather about how easily Line and Jean-Paul share their experiences while out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, something not foreseen in any way whosoever when the web was created back in the 1970s. 

Enjoy. it's a terrific travelogue to be sure. Use Google to translate as the content within is both informative and worthwhile without a doubt. :) 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Food Webs Explained

Learning how reality works is fascinating. Man makes assumptions, does research, loses assumptions and moves on. This is what science is all about, something pretty cool I must say. In this case, the research centered on how food webs work, a topic becoming increasingly important given just much of the world man has "modified" during the past 50,000 years.

Darwin would be proud. :)

Positive Feedback Writ Large

Just a very short post. Seems the mystery of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere causing massive heat gain in the earth (50 millions years ago as example) has been solved, a finding with direct consequences to what is happening today as we spew out ever more amounts of CO2 into the air without regard for the inevitable blow back we will soon be facing.

"The standard hypothesis has been that the source of carbon was in the ocean, in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments," DeConto says. "We are instead ascribing the carbon source to the continents, in polar latitudes where permafrost can store massive amounts of carbon that can be released as CO2 when the permafrost thaws."

The new view is supported by calculations estimating interactions of variables such as greenhouse gas levels, changes in the Earth's tilt and orbit, ancient distributions of vegetation, and carbon stored in rocks and in frozen soil.

While the amounts of carbon involved in the ancient soil-thaw scenarios was likely much greater than today, implications of the study appear dire for the long-term future as polar permafrost carbon deposits have begun to thaw due to burning fossil-fuels, DeConto adds. "Similar dynamics are at play today. Global warming is degrading permafrost in the north polar regions, thawing frozen organic matter, which will decay to release CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This will only exacerbate future warming in a positive feedback loop."

The picture below shows how positive feedback works.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Hunger Games

Just saw The Hunger Games with the family. Not bad, Donald Sutherland's awesome. The consumate pro doing a menacing turn as President Snow makes the picture crackle along with the angst of the adolescent tributes who sacrifice their lives for the good of Panem, the ruined remains of America set approximately 100 years in the future, a future reminiscent of Rome, the corrupt and totalitarian state ruling over all who live within its borders. Of course this is not about the flick but rather about the possibility of the world devolving into something as dystopian as this, a resource poor and savage place devoutly to be avoided if at all possible given the grave situation we find ourselves in as we move further into the 21st century.

What's the betting pool for this type of world? 50/50?,  75/25? or odds less then 30, one never knows but conjecture's not a bad thing in light of the hellish environment Panem represents.

Variables on the + side:
  • Cheap and truly efficient solar is coming along with graphene laced batteries and capacitors promising to store and release power at levels unimagined just one year ago. 
  • Artificial photosynthesis is also becoming doable, a tech able to make solar a viable substitute to coal and oil in the long term production of energy needed to drive the world.
  • Fabbing at both the micro & macro scale using new materials is accelerating, thus beginning to change the equation regarding huge manufacturing entities needed to create products society uses on a daily basis.
  • AI and the implications it has for medicine, industry and healthcare will be disruptive to the max.
  • Ditto for nano-tech, robotics and biotech for all things related to digital.
  • Quantum computing is beginning to emerge from the lab. Implications of same, as often stated in BRT, goes beyond imagination.
  • People are beginning to wake up thanks to tech and the ubiquity of the web. Loss of privacy is a given but so is universal communication freed from the limits of space and time, trade offs yours truly will accept in order to gain the transparency we absolutely must have if we are to survive as a viable civilization in these most uncertain times.
 Now the -
  • Peak oil, been there, done that. There are no cheap sources of energy, period. Shale oil = non starter as the so called panacea to peak oil while the notion of drilling in the arctic chills the mind in terms of pollution and the inevitable spills that will issue forth from that hostile part of the world. Ditto on coal, the accelerant supreme for global warming.
  • Environment degradation - need we say more as the forests, prairies and oceans of the world continue to be plundered at unsustainable rates, something to consider in terms of the food, clothing and shelter needed to meet the needs of an over crowded and increasingly violated world.  
  • Global warming, the 900lb gorilla no one wants to talk about, is beginning to make it's presence felt with rising sea levels and increased acidification of the oceans due to higher levels of CO2.
  • Financial and governmental malfeasance, or the ponzi scheme run amok, is nearing the tipping point of collapse as a system predicated on debt and incompetence cannot be sustained forever. What happens next is anyone's guess. 
  • The continued lack of transparency in all things related to finance and governance kills innovation, true capitalism and democracy as efficiently as a bullet kills a soldier on the battlefield. If this institutional opacity, controlled by the status quo continues, Panem awaits.
  • God is not great - Christopher Hitchens
51/49 sounds about right in keeping a Panem type entity at bay at this point in time but then again, no one truly knows, do one?