31 May 2008

Cold Winter in South Africa: IQ and Incompetence

The southern hemisphere of Earth is bracing for a cold winter, similar to what much of the northern hemisphere recently experienced, only worse. Cold weather is more dangerous than hot weather--up to ten times more people die from cold weather than hot. For a society to survive truly cold winters, it must be technically competent to protect its people from the effects of cold.

The average IQ of the population of South Africa is 72. A quick glance at an enlarged view of the image below, will show that very few South Africans possess a high enough IQ to acquire technical competence in the technologies of the modern world. So long as the weather stays warm, populations with low IQs can survive despite the heat, for the most part. It is only when temperatures plummet that the importance of IQ and competence are revealed in stark calamity.
Falling temperatures will push up electricity demand across South Africa - and with it the real prospect of winter blackouts...The national power grid remains stable, but for the first time this week, demand went past the summer's high of 31 000MW and peaked at 34 000MW.

...Even though South Africa does not have a history of sustained cold fronts, Eskom expects that even "a little freezing cold" will put its grid under pressure...According to the Weather Service's winter forecast, the country could experience "below normal temperatures" on average in June and July.

The seasonal forecast also says the country could experience more severe cold snaps than last year. __Source
Bland words in a news report. Nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. Although South Africa's latitude extends only slightly further into the cold zone than Florida, Kuwait, or Mexico, the country's cities are not accustomed to prolonged cold weather.

What if the sun enters a prolonged solar minimum, as predicted(PDF)? Temperatures in many traditionally warm locations would dive into dangerous ranges of cold. Humans can adjust to different circumstances. If they possess the "human capital." What if the majority of the people cannot be trained to operate and maintain the machinery of modern western civilisations--the machinery that allows western nations to survive in temperate and near polar environments in urban environments?

As long as a low-IQ population coexists with a sufficiently large market dominant minority, the minority can operate and maintain modern machines and technologies, and the majority can benefit from their expertise. But when a low-IQ majority overthrows its market dominant minority--persecutes that minority and drives it from the country--the burden for maintaining a technological infrastructure rests upon the country's majority. South Africa is better off without Apartheid. But it is not better off without skilled and talented high-IQ technicians, engineers, scientists, medical professionals, farmers, and business persons.

If the machinery of civilisation begins to break down due to various stresses--expected and unexpected--the population will grow unruly and demand to be taken care of. The political elites in low-IQ countries live a far more luxurious existence than the average person, a fact that will not escape the majority of the population when everyday machinery begins to break down.

We should hope that the weather in warm, traditionally low-IQ population countries will never turn unseasonably cold for a prolonged period. But too many things in the natural universe are beyond the control of humans, the climate being one of them. The natural state of Earth's climate for the past several million years has been one of extensive glaciation. Our current warm period is just a short, lucky intermission between the iceball Earth norms.

The tribes of Earth that migrated to colder climates developed over time to match their environment. The tribes that remained in the warmth nearer the equator were never challenged in the cyclical, systematic ways in which the more polar oriented tribes were tested.

Think about what happens when the Earth turns cold again. The ice will march equator-ward. Human populations will be pressed together. Cold weather humans will need warm weather lands to grow crops and to live out of the ice. Warm weather humans will need the technical expertise of cold weather humans to survive the unwelcome cold. But it will not go that smoothly. Disputes over control of territory are typical in all animal species, including man. Cold is a killing thing.

H/T Tom Nelson

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30 May 2008

Never Wash Another Diaper or Menstrual Rag

Sure, I know that most people use disposable diapers and sanitary napkins or tampons. But now, using new titanium diapers and sanitary rags, they can keep using the same ones over and over. Why? Because the new titanium oxide nanocrystal materials obliterate organic material. You may have read earlier this year about the titanium dioxide nanocrystal-impregnated wool fibers that literally consume red wine stains. But those voracious nanocrystals will not just drink wine. They'll eat or drink virtually any organic material you care to feed them. They positively love colonic bacteria, and bacteria of all kinds.

When exposed to sunlight, these exciting wee crystals will even split water into oxygen and hydrogen. And now, it is becoming much easier and cheaper to create these diminutive crystalline obliterators, thanks to work done in Australia and China.
The new crystals - which are more than five times more effective at splitting water than unmodified anatase - were made by adjusting the crystal structure on the surface of the crystals. These surfaces, known as facets, typically form in the most thermally stable configuration, designated {101}, which contains mostly 6-coordinate titanium atoms.

However, an alternative surface configuration called {001} where most of the titanium atoms are only 5-coordinate, has been found to be far more reactive. 'The high percentage of "unsaturated" titanium atoms in {001} allows stronger interactions with adsorbed molecules, such as water, resulting in a surface that is many times more reactive,' explains Max Lu, the leader of the team at the University of Queensland, Australia.

...The team demonstrated their results by making crystals at a uniform size of about one micrometre. Whereas only a few percent of the facets in naturally-occurring anatase crystals are the more reactive {001} kind, around 50 per cent of the facets in the new crystals are of this type. __RSC__via__NextEnergyNews
So you may actually want to buy two titanium diapers for your next baby. One for it to wear, and the other to filter your home water, and to generate hydrogen for your home and automobile fuel cells.

But you will only need to buy one titanium sanitary napkin or tampon, unless you have multiple menstruating females in your home with synchronised menstrual cycles. Babies are too young to question your judgment when you provide them with hand-me-down, never-washed titanium diapers from earlier siblings. But teenaged daughters can be a bit fastidious about things like that, so be forewarned.

For the cost of one more titanium diaper, you can provide clean air for your household by duct-taping one of the diapers over your central air and heat outlet. Think of it. Clean air, clean water, free hydrogen . . . and endless recyclable nappies. Not a bad deal.

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Geoengineering the Next Ice Age

Climate is a cyclic phenomenon. We know that the Earth goes through long glacial ice ages punctuated by much shorter, warmer inter-glacial periods such as the one we are presently enjoying. Orthodox believers in the holy warmer religion, CAGW, believe strongly that our current inter-glacial is already too warm, and in danger of becoming even warmer--all because of human influence on climate. So what do they want to do? They want to magnify the human influence on climate beyond all belief. Do you think they have heard of "unintended consequences?"
In the new climate modeling study, which appears in the May 27-30 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bala and his colleagues Karl Taylor and Philip Duffy demonstrate that the sunshade geoengineering scheme could slow down the global water cycle.

The sunshade schemes include placing reflectors in space (found to be extremely costly), injecting sulfate or other reflective particles into the stratosphere to emulate the effect of a massive volcanic eruption (found to be dangerous to the water cycle and could destroy the ozone layer), or enhancing the reflectivity of clouds by injecting cloud condensation nuclei in the troposphere. When CO2 is doubled as predicted in the future, a 2 percent reduction in sunlight is sufficient to counter the surface warming.

...While the surface temperature response is the same for CO2 and solar forcings, the rainfall response can be very different. The team found that while climate sensitivity can be the same for different forcing mechanisms, the hydrological sensitivity is very different. The global mean rainfall increased approximately 4 percent for a doubling of CO2 and decreases by 6 percent for a reduction in sunlight in his modeling study. _Biopact
The study referred to here was based on a computer model. Understanding the limitations of computer models, we skeptical few must wonder why anyone would contemplate shutting down Earth's sunlight based upon such a "study." Even worse, the study's authors seem to be extremely confused about what they are trying to accomplish.

According to greenhouse theory, it is the increase of water vapour in the atmosphere that causes most of the runaway greenhouse positive feedback effect from the anthropogenic CO2 trigger. It seems that in such a case you would want to trigger more rainfall--to remove the water vapour from the atmosphere. According to the model, reducing sunlight would significantly reduce rainfall. Not what you would want at all.

The sun is already at an atypically low point in its cycle as it is. Solar scientists are anxiously watching to try to discover why their predictions for a hyper-active new solar cycle have been so abysmally wrong--or at least remarkably delayed. Proposing to further reduce the solar influence on Earth at this time appears incredibly naive and ideologically driven.

The difference between a glacial ice age and an inter-glacial period is not well understood. It is not actually known what would be required to trigger the next glaciation. The type of reduction in solar radiation impacting Earth that is being proposed appears to fall within the range of possible glaciation triggers. What type of carbon hysteria would cause scientists to propose such bold measures to counteract something that is not even a crisis--and is unlikely ever to become one?

The problem with grand geoengineering schemes, is that they are far more likely to generate unpredictable and unwelcome results, than to create the "perfect climate" that so many neo-utopian environmentalists of the PN/AL (psychologically neotenised / academically lobotomised) generation seem to expect as their due. What is needed is a movement back toward science and away from ideology.

Even "the new Al Gore" should be able to understand that.

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29 May 2008

Future of Europe

Some observers are talking about the twenty-first century being the European century, the same as the twentieth century was the American century. We take a more skeptical view: there is as good a chance that the twenty-first century will be the century of European decline. We hope to be proved wrong. Source (PDF)
What will it take for Europe to avoid the decline referred to by the scholars below? Serious reforms in economic policy, immigration policy, and her stance toward responsibility for her own security, among other changes. But if she believes that no changes are needed, which is more likely? The decline.
About one-third of Harvard’s economics department is Europeans who have fled their countries’ troubled universities. Western Europe, instead of trying to attract the most talented youths from India, China, and Eastern Europe, restricts migration. The immigrants allowed are not the smart people who in the United States have created the many innovative start-ups. The best educated Central and Eastern Europeans are flying over Western Europe and going to the United States. “Wait ten years to open your borders to my fellow citizens,” recently said the then Romanian foreign minister, “and every smart Romanian engineer will have migrated to the United States: what you’ll get will be our uneducated peasants.” Europeans are growing older. Fertility rates are exceptionally low. Europe won’t thrive if only a few people work to support an increasing number of retirees. The closed borders and irrational immigration policies promise to make the European aging populations amid low birth rates harder to sustain. These two demographic trends will seriously strain European budgets.

Economic decline and political decline go hand in hand. Because of its large social spending and the low growth rate, Europe cannot support a powerful military. Sooner rather than later Europe will lose its powerful role in international organizations. Already today people around the world, especially in Asia, are wondering why France and Britain should have permanent seats in the UN Security Council. Countries like China and India with population sizes orders of magnitudes larger than France, Britain, and Germany combined will soon demand and obtain more power in world politics, and rightly so. At the moment these countries are determined to work hard and become rich. Pretty soon they will succeed and call for more recognition at the political tables of world organizations. European countries will have to move over. __FutureofEuropeIntro(PDF)
Google Books "Future of Europe"
Thank to the enlargement to Turkey, the Muslim community will represent 53% of the European population in 2100. Europe will be islamic by the end of the century. :


Years---------------- 2005---- 2030----2050---2080---2100

Native European --------504----452----378----350----328

Muslims [now]in Europe-21------31-----43---69-------95
Turkey------------------------94-----101-----95----- 90
(according UN projections)

Total Muslim----------21----- 149----197----284---370 __Source

In reality, Muslims tend to live in large cities--often capital cities--and exert influence far out of proportion to their actual numbers. London will become a Muslim city before 2050. Brussels, probably before 2060. Amsterdam by 2030. But truly, these cities will be effectively controlled by Muslims long before those dates.

For those Europeans who object to this viewpoint, I say only, "you are quite right to object. Go back to sleep, liebchens." To the rest, I recommend working within your laws to turn back the tide, stop the bleeding. Do not look at emigration to the Anglosphere or Switzerland as a first resort, but as a last resort when it is clear that the European experiment has failed. Do your best to make sure Europe survives.


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28 May 2008

Hot Rocks Geothermal: Google Looks to Invest

Enhanced geothermal power uses drilling technology to punch two or more holes down into the "hot dry rock" layer of the Earth's crust. Water is then pumped into one hole and steam is extracted from the other hole(s), to drive a turbine generator for electric power. Enhanced geothermal is being pursued in Israel by Ormat Technologies. Google is taking a look at the technology for possible investment.
Executives at Google have been clear that so-called enhanced geothermal is on the list of technologies they see as cost effective, compared with fossil fuel energy.

The idea behind enhanced, or engineered, geothermal systems is to inject water underground to enhance the permeability of rock, allowing for the release and capture of more heat.Ormat is working on an enhanced geothermal project organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, which says that these advanced techniques can dramatically increase geothermal potential--by 40 times. __Cnet_via_NextBigFuture
The US DOE believes enhanced geothermal to have the potential to generate thousands of times the energy and power used by humans over the entire planet.

Humans have access to three virtually unlimited sources of energy that can supply their energy needs thousands of times over into the indefinite future. Solar--which needs better storage. Geothermal--which needs technology development. Nuclear fusion--which needs technology development. Biomass could easily supply all of humanities energy needs given more development--but probably not thousands of times over.

We are living in and near an abundance of energy.

Taken from Al Fin Energy

More at Brian Wang's NextBigFuture


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Classic of Immortality Available Online

Aschwin de Wolf notified me by email of the online publication of a classic work of immortality literature--Immortality: Physically, Scientifically, Now (HTML)--by Ev Cooper, privately published in 1962.

Link to PDF version (via Depressed Metabolism) If your browser gets bogged down trying to open PDF documents, download it using the "right-click-->Save Link As" option.

Read more about the interesting story of the author, Ev Cooper, at Depressed Metabolism.

The field of cryonics continues to develop slowly. The big breakthrough that is needed is the development of a non-toxic "vitrification" agent--a safe antifreeze for human bodies that prevents freezing damage when the body temperature is taken below the freezing point of water. Some progress has been made, but fish, amphibians, and insect larvae do a much better job of it so far.


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27 May 2008

Live Twice as Long: Burn the Candle at Both Ends

At least it seems to work that way for PEPCK-C genetically augmented mice. An updated study on these brave new mice reinforces earlier findings: these genetically modified mice live longer, are stronger, more assertive, and bear young at a previously unprecedented old age.
Two founder lines generated by this procedure were bred together, creating a line of mice that have 9.0 units/g skeletal muscle of PEPCK-C, as compared to 0.080 units/g in muscle from control animals. The mice were more active than controls in their cages and could run for up to 5 km, at a speed of 20 m/min without stopping (control mice run for 0.2 km at the same speed). Male PEPCK-Cmus mice are extremely aggressive, as well as hyperactive. During strenuous exercise, they use fatty acids as a fuel more efficiently than do controls and produce far less lactate than do control animals, perhaps due to the greatly increased number of mitochondria in their skeletal muscle. PEPCK-Cmus mice also store up to five-times more triglyceride in their skeletal muscle, but have only marginal amounts of triglyceride in their adipose tissue depots, despite eating 60% more than controls. The concentration of leptin and insulin the blood of 8–12 months of PEPCK-Cmus mice is far lower than noted in the blood of control animals of the same age. These mice live longer than controls and the females remain reproductively active for as long as 35 months. __Biochimie__via__Ouroborus
Remember, these mice were specially bred, twice over. They are the cross-bred offspring of two lines of mice which were genetically engineered mice for heightened PEPCK-C expression. There is no pill that you can take to achieve the same result.

But there are lessons to be learned from these super-mice. Humans live long enough so that genetic modifications can be made to them long after they are born--but long before they are due to die.

Think of what Olympic or professional athletes could do with higher levels of skeletal muscle PEPCK-C, and more muscle mitochondria. Who will be the first humans to volunteer for PEPCK-C gene therapy? Where will the human research be done first? China? Russia?

The total package would have to include higher intelligence, longer life, greater strength and speed, less need for sleep, higher resistance to infections and disease, and heightened executive function. But we have to start somewhere.

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China: a Nation Humbled Before a Greater Power

Both China and Chile are watching and waiting for the other shoe to drop. In China, strong aftershocks continue, adding to the already extensive damage and casualty list. The Olympics and Tibet must take a back seat for now.

In Chile, Mt. Chaiten's lava dome continues to build. More information at The Volcanism Blog. Chileans and Argentinians may not know for weeks whether this will be the big one for Chaiten in the modern era.

Al Gore might say that these signs of a restless Earth are due to manmade global warming (CAGW). But the rest of us know better. We know that the gods are restless.


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26 May 2008

Seasteading on Pykrete, and Other Novel Uses

I first learned about the material called Pykrete while reading the blog "Colonize Antarctica." Pykrete is a mixture of wood fibre and ice, a combination that is very hard, very tough, floats, and is very slow to melt. Structures built of Pykrete would be ideal in a polar environment, such as a polar city pictured above.

2 Million Ton Pykrete Aircraft Carrier In WW2
More exotic uses of Pykrete would be to build a large ship, a floating island city, or floating arcology. Pykrete was made famous by wealthy industrialist and financier eccentric, Geoffrey Pike. Sir Winston Churchill was one of the earliest promoters of using Pykrete for building large ships in WWII. The hull for a giant Pykrete aircraft carrier would have been 40 feet thick or more, and almost impossible to penetrate with the torpedoes of the day. Even without refrigeration, such thick Pykrete walls would have taken years to melt in a temperate climate. The video below demonstrates the ballistic resistance of a 14% wood fibre Pykrete. A 50% fibre Pykrete would be much tougher, and slower to melt.

A modern Pykrete seastead would incorporate built-in refrigeration to keep the walls frozen even in tropical seas. A floating breakwater made of Pykrete would keep a more fragile inner-seastead safe from rogue waves and the pounding of normal storm swell. Besides the interior refrigeration tubing, the exterior walls of the Pykrete would need to be insulated via highly reflective/insulating coating materials.

The walls could be built hundreds of feet thick, if necessary, and in any conceivable shape. The fibre content could vary from as little as 14% to as much as 50% or more, for greater toughness. It would be necessary to experiment with coating materials for maximum longevity and minimum energy cost for refrigeration--even in tropical waters.

What we are talking about, is a custom-built, reinforced iceberg, of incredible strength and toughness. In a polar environment, the structure should last almost indefinitely, with minimal loss to melting and sublimation. In a temperate environment, a large Pykrete structure could last for decades or more, with minimal shading, insulation, and interior refrigeration.

A large Pykrete castle on land--with battlements, turrets, an inner keep, and drawbridge, could be quite affordable if built during a very cold winter. Pykrete structures with foundations that extended down into permafrost should also enjoy good longevity.

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Solar Cycle 24 is Late: What Does It Mean?

If the sun is late on its cycle, does that mean it is pregnant? Perhaps not, but what exactly does it mean?
The cycle length of cycle 22 which peaked in 1990 was 9.8 years. Landscheidt has suggested a lag of up to 8 years between solar peaks or troughs and temperatures, which would mean a peak warmth from 1995 to 1998. Global temperatures appear to have peaked in 1998. The current longer quieter cycle 23 may be behind the cooling in the last 7+ years.

... Archibald(PDF)...speculates a major cooling ahead that could rival or be worse than the Dalton Minimum. In the hyperlinked paper, he even projects the impact on some US locations based on historical trendlines. Such a cooling would of course further call into question the idea that greenhouse gases are behind all the changes in our climate and natural factors are now suddenly unimportant. In our recent stories, we have shown how important ENSO and the multidecadal cycles in the oceans are to temperatures. It is my belief that someday we will find proof that soplar changes drive the ocean cycles which drive the land temperatures.

The sun undergoes cyclical changes on multiple time scales that appear to correlate very well with temperatures. Long and relatively quiet solar cycles historically have been associated with cold global temperatures, short and very active cycles, warm periods. The current cycle 23 appears to be the longest in at least a century and may project to quieter subsequent cycles and cooling temperatures ahead. __Intellicast__via__Icecap
The Intellicast article above contains multiple graphs and images that help to clarify the otherwise confusing and controversial question of the sunspots' influence on (or correlation with) climate.

Fortunately, unlike the CAGW climate models championed by Al Gore and the IPCC, we do not have to wait 50 or 100 years to verify or falsify the theories which correlate sunspot cycles with climate change. We should be able to test these ideas quite well within the next 5 to 10 years.

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Replacing London, then Britain, then Europe?

Europe's population is being increasingly replaced by poorly educated outsiders from the third world who do not wish to become Europeans--rather they wish to transform Europe into more affluent versions of their own countries. But since they bring their old prejudices, feuds, religious fanaticisms, and tendencies to violence along with them, it is more likely that they will be dragging Europe down. Starting with London, or perhaps Amsterdam, or maybe Malmo?
London is now the most ethnically diverse city in the world—more so, according to United Nations reports, even than New York...Walk down certain streets in London and one encounters a Babel of languages...A third of London’s residents were born outside Britain, a higher percentage of newcomers than in any other city in the world except Miami, and the percentage continues to rise. Likewise, migration figures for the country as a whole—emigration and immigration—suggest that its population is undergoing swift replacement. Many of the newcomers are from Pakistan, India, and Africa; others are from Eastern Europe and China. If present trends continue, experts predict, in 20 years’ time, between a quarter and a third of the British population will have been born outside it, and at least a fifth of the native population will have emigrated.

... the unprecedented influx of immigrants, often poorly educated, have little interest in, or appreciation of, the society to which they have come. Many are not learning to speak English, or speak it poorly, and forced marriages and other practices foreign to British law and custom remain common among them. A government report several years ago found that Britain’s whites and ethnic minorities led radically separate lives, with no sense of shared nationality. And as is now well-known, a disturbing number of British Muslims have proved susceptible to the ideology of Islamism. [A] poll found that a fifth of all British Muslims had sympathy with the “feelings and motives” of the London suicide bombers. Only a third of British Muslims, a Guardian survey found, want more integration into British culture.

...in Britain, multiculturalism became a career opportunity and a source of political patronage. So-called experts on cultural sensitivity and equal opportunity—generally people whose ambitions far exceeded their talent, except for bureaucratic intrigue—built little empires, whose continued existence depended on the permanence of racial and other divisions in society.

...increased contact between people does not necessarily result in increased sympathy among them. A large proportion of the indigenous Muslim terrorists caught in Britain are children of prosperous small businessmen, who have been to university and whose individual prospects for the future were good, if they had chosen to follow a normal career path. Cultural dislocation, the readiness to hand of an ideology of hatred that seems to answer their personal need for a fixed identity and an end to cultural confusion, and a disposable income—these, not poverty, account for their terrorism.

... ___CityJournal
This is the legacy that young Europeans are waking up to. It is becoming more likely that their own children or grandchildren--if they ever choose to have them--will find themselves outsiders in the country that their grandparents had believed they would own in perpetuity.

Will Europeans become the new Armenians? Europe the new Lebanon?

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25 May 2008

Will California Secede from the US and Join the EU?

In many ways, California stands out from the rest of the US. With its coastal Mediterranean climate, and adherence to dieoff.org style energy deprivation policies, California might fit into the EU better than the US, in many ways.
1. The percentage of residents on welfare in the Golden State is now more than triple that of the rest of the U.S. If it reflected the rest of the country, California would have 800,000 fewer people receiving welfare.
2. While caseloads in the rest of the U.S. have dropped over 30% in the past five years, California’s has gone up about 6%.
3. As a result, though it has only about 12% of the total U.S. population, California’s share of the welfare caseload has risen from 22% in 2002 to over 30%.
4. There are more welfare recipients per family in California, and that number has crept upward in the past couple of years, perhaps indicating that California welfare mothers are bearing more children that those in the rest of the U.S.

Governor Schwarzenegger and his state were very fortunate during his first few years in office. The economic growth created by the Bush tax cuts came at just the right time. The state also received some lucky onetime windfalls, including the hundreds of millions of dollars founders and insiders at Google coughed up when they cashed in their stock options.

Unfortunately, it appears that the good fortune enabled the state to avoid serious expenditure reform in welfare, and surely other areas, which Schwarzenegger should have aggressively undertaken when he took office. __Source
California's flight from reason began many decades ago, but for a number of reasons, has not yet fully reaped its sad consequence. Elected representatives such as Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, and Maxine Waters attest to the depleted mental resources of the California voter. As more industries, more intelligent citizens, and large employers limp their way out of the state for better economic opportunity, the toxic concentration of obliviousness grows ever higher within the golden state.

California can still be a pleasant place to visit. But if you're thinking of starting a business there, you may want to think again.

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Nuclear + Tar Sands = All The Oil You Will Need

Canadian tar sands are a vast petroleum resource, containing much of the oil that the US is likely to be using over the next 30 years. Of course, a better US Congress would open up shale oil in the Green River Basin for development--with more oil resource than in all of Saudi Arabia. As it is, the inept current US Congress is on the verge of making Canadian tar sands off limits to US refiners and distributors. Yes, they are that stupid now in Washington DC.

Just when better ways of extracting Canadian tar sands are coming along. Like the new Hyperion nuclear battery, that can be used for in situ tar sand extraction.

Since it is portable, the reactor can be deployed virtually anywhere power is needed -- remote industrial operations such as the Alberta oil sands, military installations or communities looking to supplement grid-supplied power. Once deployed, the Hyperion module delivers approximately 70 megawatts (MW) of heat (thermal energy) and 25 megawatts (MW) of electrical power via steam turbine. This is enough power to provide electricity for a community of 20,000 average-sized, American-style homes. Hyperion modules can also be "ganged" to provide even more power.

...About 4,000 units of the initial design will be manufactured at a new U.S. site yet to be determined. The initial rector will be a compact, self-regulating, self-contained design with no moving parts and about the size of a hot tub. Sealed at the factory, the module is not opened until it is time for the unit to be refueled — at the factory — approximately every five years or so. This helps guard against tampering. __Source__via__NextBigFuture
While the US Congress is only interested in political power and pillage, most intelligent observers understand that nuclear energy is the key to a better long-term future. Nuclear batteries such as Hyperion are a small, unconventional form of fission power, but they can fit into incredibly important niches. Incrementally larger and more conventional nuclear fission reactors can provide reliable baseload power for large towns and small cities, large industrial facilities and developments, and could be ganged together to provide larger quantities of power if needed.

We at Oynklent Green [OTC:OYNK] have become unhappily aware of the fact that the current US Congress is all about restricting energy--depriving the US citizen and resident of access to energy. That is why we developed our patented "corrupt politician to bio-energy" thermochemical process. We believe that if an elected official betrays his duty to the public's trust, that he should be utilised for the benefit of the public in one way or another. At OYNK, we are all about a better future, no matter what the politicians want. ;-)

Previously published at Al Fin Energy

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24 May 2008

Supply and Demand, Oil Speculators, and You

While a corrupt US Congress cripples US ability to develop domestic petroleum supplies, overseas production is slowly gearing up to take advantage of sky-high prices.
The world's finely balanced market for crude has been creeping into surplus for several weeks. Opec's monthly report says that demand this quarter will average 85.75m bpd. Supply was 86.8m bpd in April. The fresh output from Nigeria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia may push it significantly further into surplus.

The signs are already surfacing in global inventories. Opec says that stocks held by the OECD club of rich countries are above their five-year average, with "comfortable" cover for 53 days' use. US stocks have edged up for the last four months, though they fell last week.

...It is unclear whether hedge funds and investors piling into futures contracts have now become the driving force in a speculative bubble....Lehman's latest report - Is it a Bubble? - says commodity index funds have exploded from $70bn (£36bn) to $235bn since early 2006. This includes $90bn of fresh money. Energy takes the lion's share. Every $100m flow of investment money into oil lifts crude prices by 1.6pc, it said.

"We see many of the ingredients for a classic asset bubble," said Edward Morse, Lehman's oil expert.

This week has seen a dramatic surge in oil contracts dated as far forward as 2016. Futures have moved higher than the spot price, a rare event known as "contango". This can cut both ways: either as a sign of an impending supply crunch years hence; or that the futures market has become unhinged from reality....What we know is that the International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for world growth for 2008 three times since last autumn to 3.7pc, and the United Nations is predicting just 1.8pc - technically, a global recession. The major oil forecasters have halved their estimates for crude demand growth to 1.2m bpd.

Almost all emerging nations have to slam on the brakes in coming months to curb inflation before it starts spiralling out of control. Inflation has hit 30pc in Ukraine, 22pc in Vietnam, 8.5pc in China, and double digits across most of the Gulf.

The countries that account for the most of the growth in oil demand over the last two years are almost all nearing the limits of easy economic growth. __Telegraph
More interesting commentary at Peak Oil Debunked and R Squared Blog.

The fundamentals of oil pricing put the market price near US $80 a barrel. Bullish oil speculators and easily panicked hedge investors fleeing the dollar have combined with record setting oil demand from emerging nations to push the price of oil into a higher level than can be sustained indefinitely. The US Congress has contributed significantly to the problem by cutting the legs out from under domestic oil production. It is clear that the Congress intends to maintain this stance at least until the November elections, hoping that voters will not be smart enough to blame incumbents in Congress.

Expect this oil price bubble to burst sometime after early November, 2008. But then the next oil price bubble will probably begin before long after that, except it will start from a higher plateau, and reach higher peaks before it bursts in its turn.

We will never run out of oil. But the price of oil will certainly be subject to the influences of panicky investors, corrupt politicians, opportunistic speculators, and the economic booms and busts around the globe.


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Nano-Weapons of the Near Future

Nano-weapons are coming soon. No one knows exactly when, but you can be sure that they will see you before you see them!
Nano-Weaponry – Testing the Limits

Here are just some of the possibilities:

1.) Nano-Scouts – Using technologies that effectively “lives on” and controls live insects, the proverbial “fly on the wall” may have literally hundreds or even thousands of parasitic nano-scouts living on its exterior....

2.) Nano-Poisons – Most people instantly think of poison as a tool for killing someone. But nanotechnology, with its ability to trigger specific brain functions, will provide a whole new menu of poison options. As an example, a liar-poison will make it impossible for someone to tell the truth. A kleptomaniac poison will make it impossible for the person to stop stealing things. An alcoholic poison will make a person unable to stop drinking alcohol. The obesity poison will cause a person to eat themselves to death. And my favorite - - we’ll call it the “frontal lobotomy poison,” - - will make a person incapable of being angry or mean.

3.) Nano Force Fields – Any field powerful enough to keep the bad guys out is also capable of keeping the bad guys in....

4.) Nano Mind Erasers – Neutralizing a person’s memory can often be a more powerful defense than killing them. Micro fields flaring up in a succession of unnoticeable tiny brain bursts may wipe sections of a brain clean without anyone ever noticing. Alzheimer’s in a can.

5.) Nano Needles – Invisible to the human eye, nano diameter needles will be shot like clusters of bullets from great distances to “pin” people to a wall or freeze their physical movement. Nano needles, because of their tiny diameter, will be the ultimate non-lethal weapon, leaving no visible wounds and causing no permanent damage.

6.) Water Bullets – As a different kind of non-lethal weapon, self-contained water balls, formed around an elevated surface tension containment system, will be used to knock people down, temporarily rendering them harmless.

7.) Desynchronized Energy Fields – Binary power, created by the intersection of two otherwise harmless beams, has the ability to disrupt the energy fields in an individual. A person with desynchronized energy fields will feel extremely fatigued, and pushed to a more extreme level, will drop unconsciously to the ground. A new form of stun-gun.

8.) Nano Heart-Stoppers and Stroke Inducers – ... nano-blood flow restrictors that induce excruciating pain and reduce the victim to a fraction of who they once were, over a long period of time, have the side benefit of telling the world “don’t mess with me” or you’ll end up like this guy. __FS__via__FutureScanner
A future of nano-dust spies, sentinels, assassins, and defensive weapons, is one that most of the world's military specialists are unprepared for--to say nothing of the average world citizen. Yet most of these weapons are far closer and easier to devise and build, than the molecular nano-assembler--the horn of plenty that most people think of when they think of a nanotechnological future.

Nano-weapons combined with bio-weapons, chemical weapons, and genetic weapons, provide the budding world religious or ideological dictator with far more ultimate power than a few nuclear weapons.

Of course, every measure has a counter-measure. But not everyone will have the resources to obtain counter-measures, when the means of deadly attack becomes nearly ubiquitous. Have you thought lately about what I said regarding minimum viable population?

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23 May 2008

Political Peak Oil; Biome Under Seafloor; Roasting Biomass Like Coffee Beans

Politicians in Washington DC have been grandstanding for the camera, to demonstrate their "deep concern" about high oil prices. The only problem with that political posture is that it is the politicians themselves who are directly to blame. We are experiencing political peak oil.
Of natural crude, we have large reserves off the coasts of California and Florida. However, no drilling in these areas has been permitted by law since the late 1960’s. China, however, by using agreements with Cuba to drill in this area, will begin doing so shortly.

America also has additional reserves in the Gulf areas, from Florida to Texas. However, no drilling is permitted in most of these areas. Mexico, however, has no such restrictions.

In Alaska, both onshore and offshore, we have large areas of proven reserves, which are not allowed to be developed by law. Canada has no laws prohibiting such development.

In the mountain Western states, large amounts of oil are available in the shale rock formations. However, EPA regulations prohibit their development.

In the far West, vast areas of tar sands remain undeveloped due to environmental restrictions. As with the geographic areas noted above, most of the land is owned or controlled by the federal government. Canadian use of tar sands is a major source of their oil exports.

The conversion of coal to oil, a technology available for over 100 years, remains another untapped resource, due to legislative and environmental restrictions.

The bottom line is that America could have become energy independent with regard to crude oil by the mid 1980’s. In the area of electricity, the addition of more coal fired generating plants, nuclear power plants, and additional hydro electric plants could have made the need for gas and oil fueled electrical plants unnecessary by 1990. That would have freed up more crude for other purposes, and reduced our overall consumption of oil. In addition, our electrical generation capacity would substantially exceed our present needs, rather than the sporadic shortages we now experience.

Some analysts have estimated that if all of these options had been initiated in the immediate aftermath of the OPEC embargo, crude oil today would have a domestic price of 40-45 dollars per barrel, with secure supplies, and uninfluenced by foreign costs or international speculators. Why didn’t this happen?

It is popular to blame the oil companies, oil cartels, or greedy speculators. But in truth, we are in a bed of our own making. It is not the usual suspects who have passed laws based on bad science, radical environmental lobbies, self interest, political agendas or ignorance of technological advances and free enterprise economics. It is the result of our own government, mainly through the ineptness of Congress. __Source
The biggest comedians on television recently were not David Letterman or Jay Leno. No, the biggest jokers were Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Dick Durbin of Illinois. Maxine Waters, California Representative, was something of the joker herself--promising to socialize nationalize American oil production. Congress is an ass. We knew California was in a self-inflicted energy deprived tailspin. Now Boxer, Waters, Durbin et al want to do the same thing to the entire US.

Of course, we can substitute biomass for much of the oil and coal that we burn. In fact, by roasting the biomass in a manner similar to coffee roasting, we can increase the amount of energy in the biomass--making it burn hotter and cleaner. We can turn waste biomass into gas, and use that gas to fire conventional gas turbines to generate electricity, or convert the gas into liquid fuels to power transportation vehicles such as trucks, farm tractors, heavy equipment, buses, automobiles, ships, and planes.

But the most intriguing news about biomass in the past week comes from studies of the deep ocean floor--bizarre life forms buried deep beneath the ocean floor. In fact, there may be more living biomass buried under the seafloor than in all the plants on Earth's surface.
...the rocks beneath the sea appear to be teeming with life.

John Parkes, a geobiologist at the University of Cardiff, UK, hopes his team's discovery might one day help find life on other planets. He says it might even redefine what we understand as life, and, bizarrely, what we understand by "age".

Parkes has been hunting for deep life for over 20 years. Recently, he and his colleagues examined samples of a mud core extracted from between 860 metres and 1626 metres beneath the sea floor off the coast of Newfoundland.

They found simple organisms known as prokaryotes in every sample. Prokaryotes are organisms that often have just one cell. Their peculiarity is that, unlike any other form of life, their DNA is not neatly packed into a nucleus. __Source
It is too early to say how the under-the-seafloor prokaryotes relate to early life on Earth, or perhaps even life on other planetary bodies in space. Prokaryotes are more primitive than eukaryotes (cells with a nucleus), and given the relatedness of under the seafloor prokaryotes to deep ocean vent prokaryotes, this form of life appears quite ancient.

Life on Earth is ubiquitous. It exists high in the atmosphere, deep under the Earth's surface and seafloor, within its oceans and polar ice, and virtually everywhere on the surface. But as much life as exists already, there is room for orders of magnitude more life. Energy from the sun and the Earth's heat and chemistry is virtually limitless, for human purposes.

As Craig Venter and his merry band of synthetic biologists devise ever newer forms of life, custom-made to serve human needs, we will discover even more ways that life can exist on this planet.

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Another Look at Seasteading, Rich Man Style

Seasteading is a familiar topic here at Al Fin. Now there is a new player in the game, who is playing with high stakes--Peter Thiel.
With a $500,000 donation from PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a Google engineer and a former Sun Microsystems programmer have launched The Seasteading Institute, an organization dedicated to creating experimental ocean communities "with diverse social, political, and legal systems."

"Decades from now, those looking back at the start of the century will understand that Seasteading was an obvious step towards encouraging the development of more efficient, practical public-sector models around the world," Thiel said in a statement....The seasteaders want to build their first prototype for a few million dollars, by scaling down and modifying an existing off-shore oil rig design known as a "spar platform."

This schematic illustrates the ballasting system that Wayne Gramlich imagines would keep the seastead from tipping over. The amount of water in the ballasts could be raised or lowered to move the seastead up and down.
Holl Liou/Wired.com

In essence, the seastead would consist of a reinforced concrete tube with external ballasts at the bottom that could be filled with air or water to raise or lower the living platform on top.

The spar design helps offshore platforms better withstand the onslaught of powerful ocean waves by minimizing the amount of structure that is exposed to their energy. __Wired__via__NextEnergy
Seasteading is an expensive and dangerous game. Any serious attention given to creating intelligent and durable seastead architecture is welcome. The ocean is one of the most hazardous environments on Earth, aside from the polar regions and extreme mountain heights.

Previously, seasteading was in the hands of the savvy and hardy folks who wrote the Seastead Book, at Seastead.org. The book is a work in progress, and should see some new material later this summer. Anyone who wishes a good introduction to the topic should go there first.

But there is something that big money brings to a project that can not so easily be done on a shoestring. Expensive and hopefully competent sea architects. Expensive ship-building facilities and crew. The ability to build and launch impressive structures in a timely manner.

That is not to say that Thiel's approach will be the first or last seastead floating defiant against whatever the ocean may throw at it. Thiel is also invested in The Methuselah Foundation, which suggests that he has a healthy degree of caution when viewing the future. He may want his seastead over-engineered with redundant systems which will make it impossible for those of more modest means to replicate. Or it may turn out to be an expensive piece of junk that sinks like a stone.

The long term viability of ocean living will be determined by multiple approaches, just as in any biological or economic niche. The design shown above appears far too limiting. It is not modular or expandable. It looks more like a very expensive toy, than a genuine attempt at a sustainable mid-ocean human living environment. But wait and see.

Seasteading.org (as opposed to seastead.org) is not the first word on seasteads, and will not be the last.

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22 May 2008

Aging 2008 at UCLA Friday, June 27 4PM

The free presentation begins at 4 PM in Royce Hall. You will need to make advanced reservations to attend.
Applying the new technologies of regenerative and genetic medicine, the engineering approach to aging promises to dramatically extend healthy human life within the next few decades.

...At Aging 2008 you will engage with top scientists and advocates as they present their findings and advice, and learn what you can do to help accelerate progress towards a cure for the disease and suffering of aging.

Doors open at 4:00 pm on June 27th, 2008, at UCLA's Royce Hall. All attendees must register in advance; entry is free and includes a complimentary drinks reception before the presentations begin. For an additional $30, attendees also have the opportunity to attend a special dinner with the speakers. __MF
Bruce Ames, Michael West, and Aubrey de Grey are among the presenters.

The Methuselah Foundation is the main promoter of research into the practical, engineering approach to genetic and regenerative anti-senescence. If you can make it for the free presentation at UCLA 27 June 2008, be sure to reserve your place.


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Carnival of Space 55 and Homesteading Mars

The fifty-fifth (!) Carnival of Space is up at Catholic Sensibility (via NextBigFuture). I was particularly taken by the AstroEngine post on the use of domes on Mars.
I was a little confused as to why Bruce at the Foundation was so interested in the use of bamboo for Mars settlement design when I first joined 18 months ago. In my naive view of settling on another planet I always assumed it would be a hi-tech world, not filled with the basic building blocks we have down here on Earth. But the Mars Homestead Project is just that, using local materials to aid the construction of manned settlements. Of course the bamboo would have to be grown in a controlled greenhouse environment, but this flexible and tough resource could be used in a variety of applications on the Red Planet as well as down here inside the rainforest biome.

But, the showstopper was most certainly the stunning dome structures covering thousands of plant species from around the globe. Composed out of huge hexagonal panes of tough plastic “cushions”, the membrane performs its task excellently. Not only is it light weight (allowing the elegant domed structures to be so large with no vertical supports causing obstructions inside), it provides excellent insulation allowing the internal temperatures to be regulated to a very fine margin.

This project is immense and I could talk about it forever... __AstroEngine (lots of photos)
The AstroEngine article links to The Mars Homestead Project, which is a serious website dedicated to the establishment of sustainable settlements on Mars. Mars homesteaders will need to be competent in a way that most modern westerners cannot imagine. Getting to the red planet will be difficult enough. Surviving after you get there will be the real adventure. Here part of a sample posting:
The Hillside Settlement is to be built with semi-automated mining & manufacturing equipment, with 12 people on the surface to supervise and repair equipment. It would then house the 12 people and be enlarged for an additional dozen people (mostly scientists) every 2 years. Our 'cost' estimate is 250 tons delivered to the surface, which happens to be the same launch cost as for the Design Reference Mission for 3 round trip missions for 6 people each; but the "Hillside Settlement" gives you a permanent base for the same cost. __MarsHome
We at Al Fin favour the approach of setting up infrastructure at Lagrangian orbital points, then moving out from there, using space resources like NEAs (near-earth asteroids) and robotic lunar mining operations. Darkside lunar robotic observatories also make sense. But permanent human outposts on the moon (if there is water) and Mars would definitely be worthwhile. It is only a matter of priorities and order of events.
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21 May 2008

Can the Singularity Save Us From Ourselves?

The abstract concept of a Technological Singularity (TS) was made most famous in the recent past by inventor Ray Kurzweil. The concept has several overlapping meanings, but I like George Dvorsky's definition best: The Singularity is a a blindspot in our predictive thinking.

Humans are only evolved primates--monkeys and apes--with a limited conceptual vocabulary. We are easily impressed by our technological accomplishments. In networked opportunity societies, creative and inventive persons are able to feed off each others' ideas so that during periods of economic surplus, the pace of innovation will take off. In dark age, totalitarian societies where information is compartmentalized and otherwise restricted, innovation slows.

The Singularity is most often seen as a threshold into ever-accelerating change precipitated by the development of a machine intelligence with the ability to design its own cognitive enhancement--something of a runaway positive feedback cognitive entity. This development is often referred to as the "tipping point," the point of no return.

The more sanguine examiners of the tech singularity concept are less likely to see The Singularity as inevitable. Many developments within society and government could short-circuit The Singularity, sending into terminal mode. Imagine a world government ruled by a Vladimir Putin, Josef Stalin, or Mao. Imagine world science, academia, media, and governance being taken over by dysfunctional post-modernist irrationality. Imagine the default human society--stratification by wealth, knowledge, power, and a profound inertial resistance to change.

Persons who believe firmly in the inevitability of The Singularity might be surprised to learn that the default human society is the closed society, resistant to change. Most of them have never known anything but open societies, born of western civilisation's restless urge to expand intellectual horizons. They live in an exceptional time, in an exceptional society, yet somehow believe it to be the human default. That type of blindness comes from forgetting to study history.

The distinction is important, because a default society perpetuates itself, whereas an exceptional society must constantly fight against entropy. We are only a few hundred years beyond the European Renaissance, two hundred years beyond the early industrial revolution, a hundred years into the era of human flight, fifty years into the age of semiconductors. And already, the sub-structure of western civilisation is showing signs of reversion to the default.

Without the networked opportunity society to sustain it, The Singularity does not stand a chance. TS has always only been one possibility among many. In order for The Singularity to succeed and turn out well, it is vital for its supporters to understand how easily it could be stopped.

Humans have the uncanny ability to overlook the most critical shortcomings of any scenario or plan. That is one reason why "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy." It is also why "naysayers" and "deniers" are so easy to discount. Caught up in the enthusiasm of a grand idea, humans prefer to remain buoyed up in the "vital importance" and "inevitability" of their visions.

Politicians have been repeating the phrase "we are the ones we have been waiting for" for decades--probably much longer. It is true that humans seem to be waiting to wake up into some higher awareness, some more clear and potent existence. My variation on the theme begins "we are the ones we have been afraid of..." Perhaps fear has kept us from waking to our possibilities. The point is, it is humans that need to change and find their way to an even better networked opportunity society. Machines are not likely to be able to do that for us.

When we are ready to make a "conscious machine", we will know how to make it "friendly" and at least quasi-wise. We are simply not ready--in fact in many ways we are reverting to the default, retreating from TS in terms of infrastructural societal needs. Even should something that we interpret as TS occur, things can still "go to hell", and revert to default. We can always find ourselves back at the beginning, picking up the pieces. Unless we do the necessary preliminary work, and provide the foundation--the substrate--for a sustainable TS.

For many, TS has taken on many aspects of "God", an omniscient and all-powerful entity that will guide the paths of the faithful. But like the gods of practical people, TS helps those who help themselves. TS cannot save us from our own laziness and inattention to important details in the design of our own societies. TS relies upon us in the most intimate way, since it is merely an outgrowth of what we ourselves can grow to become. If we think TS can relieve us of hard work and discipline, we are wrong. TS will not take care of itself.

Rather than a unified, worldwide singularity, expect a "fractured singularity." Some will build the infrastructure and prepare the components in a sustainable way. Most will not. The long-term survivability of TS may depend upon early secrecy. TS may have many false starts, aborted revolutions. Perhaps we can learn from early mistakes in order to build a better singularity?

What do you think?

Is TS inevitable?
Is TS necessary?
Is TS sufficient?
Is TS the end, or a means to the end?
Can TS save us from ourselves?

According to Vernor Vinge, here are some of the ways The Singularity may not happen.

The last thing humans need now is yet another religion that feeds into apocalyptic visions. We have enough apocalyptic visions as it is without slipping that far into anti-rationality.

What kind of society can give birth to TS, and engage symbiotically and sustainably with TS into the long term? We don't know, but we can give it our best guess. While working on the foundations of TS, we need to work toward creating that kind of society.


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20 May 2008

Biofuels are Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

Hugo Chavez, dictator of Venezuela, is at the forefront of the war against biofuels. How pleased the blubbering fool must be that so many journalists and politicians of the developed world have joined him in condemning one of the best approaches to reducing dependency on oil tyrannies.
At bottom, the entire food versus fuel argument boils down to a Malthusian conceit—that there is only so much that can be grown, so if we grow more of one thing, we must necessarily grow less of something else. But this is simply false. Agriculture is not a zero-sum game. As illustrated in the bar chart below, there are roughly 2,250 million acres of land in the continental United States. About 1,600 million of those acres are arable. Roughly half of that land (800 million acres) is farmland, but only about a third of that (280 million acres) is actually being cultivated. Only about 85 million of those farm acres are presently growing corn, and just a fifth of that land—about 17 million acres—is growing corn that becomes ethanol. In short, there is plenty of farmland in the United States that could be used to grow more corn—or more of the other staple crops needed to meet domestic or international demand. Even more importantly, agricultural technology is constantly advancing. U.S. corn yields per acre have risen 17 percent since 2002, and the state of Iowa alone today produces more corn than the entire nation did in the 1940s. Applied globally, such improved techniques can multiply world agricultural yields many times.

...the two primary reasons for higher food prices are, first, higher demand, and second, higher fuel prices. The increased global demand for food ought to be seen as a very good thing: it represents hundreds of millions of people, especially in China and India, rising out of poverty and moving to more calorie-rich diets. Escalating fuel prices, however, are not good news: they drive up the cost of everything we eat. For example, consider the $3 box of cornflakes you might see in your grocery store. Farm commodity prices basically have a trivial effect on its price. A bushel of corn contains 56 pounds of grain, so at the current “very high” commodity price of $5 per bushel, a pound of corn costs 9 cents. So the 16 ounces of corn in that cereal box cost a total of 9 cents when bought from the farmer. But when the price of oil goes up, that increases the cost of production, transport, wages, and packaging—all driving up the retail cost of food.

And, in this regard, biofuels have already done more good than harm to the world’s poor. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Global production of biofuels is rising annually by the equivalent of about 300,000 barrels of oil a day. That goes a long way toward meeting the growing demand for oil, which last year rose by about 900,000 barrels a day.” The paper cites a Merrill Lynch analyst who “says that oil and gasoline prices would be about 15 percent higher if biofuel producers weren’t increasing their output.” So even though the world’s biofuels industry is still just aborning, it has already begun to bring down oil prices. __NewAtlantis
Oil prices are kept artificially high specifically by the actions of governments. Governments such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela etc. are oil tyrannies and push prices high for purposes of dictatorial survival. Governments such as the EU and the US push prices of oil, coal, and gas high out of the quasi state religion of CAGW, and other misguided policies.

Bioenergy is one of a constellation of sustainable solutions to the onerous dependency upon dictatorships for the energy of everyday commerce, transportation, and industry. It makes sense for Hugo Chavez to scapegoat bioenergy. What about you?

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Europe's Problems: No Rescue Likely This Time

Europe's problems continue to grow, and this time it is unlikely that Europe will be rescued by any outside party. The best to be hoped, perhaps, is that Europe will not start any more continent-wide wars--hot or cold, trade wars or real wars. Europe needs to begin cleaning up the mess she has made before things truly go downhill. First, the demographic time bomb--a large portion of which is the exploding populations of intolerant, potentially violent Muslim immigrants.
* Discrimination against other religions (with special emphasis on the rising European phenomenon of Islamic anti-Semitism), outlooks (inc. atheism) and lifestyles;
* Discrimination and violence against women (esp. wives and “disobedient” daughters);
* Discrimination and violence against homosexuals;
* Threats of violence in any form and for whatever alleged “offense” or “insult” (e.g. drawing cartoons, making documentaries, writing books);
* Apology or justification for all of the above.

It is essential to focus on the despicable acts themselves, and then drawing the direct line to the commands of Islam’s scripture and its founder __Source

Economic problems--especially a coming loss of purchasing power and productivity--also sit dark and heavy on the landscape.
Across Europe, people in the middle layer of the labor force - from office workers, civil servants and skilled laborers to low-level managers - are coping with a growing sense that they are being pushed to the margins like never before, as a combination of rising costs and stagnant wages erodes their purchasing power.

Prices for basic goods from gas to milk are rising sharply, outpacing pay rises linked to official rates of inflation. Families that once maintained pleasant lifestyles afforded by two incomes find the rise in costs - which have accelerated worldwide in the past year - has pushed them to the tipping point. __Source

Problems of stagflation are striking families all across Europe:
“When I started working at 23, I earned almost the same wage that I earn now,” said María Salgado, a 37-year-old director of television documentaries living in Madrid. Fourteen years ago, her monthly salary of about 1,200 euros ($1,873), bankrolled a full social life.

No longer. “The well-to-do middle class has become the tight middle class,” she said. “I’m surprised we haven’t started a revolution.”

... “I look at people on the bus and they seem sad and beaten down,” said Ms. Di Pietro, referring to Italy’s malaise. “We’re 40 years old. We should be feeling more combative, but really all we feel is frustrated.”

Some European governments are promising relief, but their ability to curb inflation or raise pay is limited. __Source

And so the Europeans who can read the tea leaves, are choosing emigration more and more.
The number of emigrants leaving the Netherlands and Germany has already surpassed the number of immigrants moving in. One does not have to be prophetic to predict, like Henryk Broder, that Europe is becoming Islamic. Just consider the demographics. The number of Muslims in contemporary Europe is estimated to be 50 million. It is expected to double in twenty years. By 2025, one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families. Today Mohammed is already the most popular name for new-born boys in Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other major European cities.

...Some of the people I meet in the U.S. are particularly worried about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. They are correct when they fear that anti-Semitism is also on the rise among non-immigrant Europeans. The latter hate people with a fighting spirit. Contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe (at least when coming from native Europeans) is related to anti-Americanism. People who are not prepared to resist and are eager to submit, hate others who do not want to submit and are prepared to fight. They hate them because they are afraid that the latter will endanger their lives as well. In their view everyone must submit. __Source
But they are that way because this is what they have been taught. All their friends think and talk the same, they are living in an echo chamber. Reality is soon to come crashing down upon their heads, all the same.

For most people living in North America and the extended Anglosphere, Europe is the source of their ancestors. Europe is the natural ally for North America, and has been throughout much of the past century. Many North Americans have died to ensure the freedom of Europe from tyrannies of several stripes.

In the long run, Europe should remain a natural ally for the Anglosphere. It will be necessary for a more sustainable stance toward third world immigration to be adopted--to prevent the almost inevitable deluge of religious violence sweeping toward Europe from Muslim lands. It will be necessary for Europeans to find better sources for a future work force than they have found recently--either breed them or entice them in. Europe will have to take a more realistic attitude toward her own defense. She cannot rely on old, despised allies indefinitely in that regard.

If Europe fails to face her demographic, economic, and security problems, it is unlikely that she can expect outside assistance, this time.

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Fine-Tuning the Brain: A Deeper Stimulating Flux

Two out of three severely depressed individuals will be resistant to common anti-depressant drugs. Until recently, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was the next step. Now there is a gentler alternative for drug-resistant clinical depression: deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Zangen and his team have tested the helmet on a group of 50 people with severe depression, all of whom showed no improvement after taking antidepressants. During the double-blind clinical trial, half of the patients underwent deep TMS treatment at electrical intensities comparable to standard TMS for five days a week for four weeks, while the other half underwent similar treatments at lower intensities. Each treatment lasted about 20 minutes, during which patients wore the helmet while researchers periodically administered two-second electrical pulses. After the experiment, 50 percent of the patients who received the higher-intensity version reported significant improvements in sleep, appetite, and overall mood, while none of the others did. Most patients in the higher-intensity group also performed better on a standard cognitive test evaluating depression.

...Brainsway is currently seeking approval in Europe and the United States for deep TMS as a therapeutic tool for depression and other brain-related diseases. Zangen anticipates that the technology will be approved in Europe within the next few months. Before it gains FDA approval, the company will have to test the technology on a much wider population. Zangen's team is now mobilizing clinical trials in a number of medical centers in the United States, including Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School.

Meanwhile, Brainsway is designing different coils to tackle brain regions associated with other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and drug addiction. Zangen says that in addition to stimulating underactive areas of the brain such as those associated with depression, deep TMS can be used to inhibit brain regions that may be abnormally overactive, such as during addiction. __TechReview
This approach will require a lot more testing before you will be able to use it in the attempt to forget disturbing memories, break damaging addictions, or work your way out of a paralysing depression. Fortunately, it looks as if the research will be done. Psychiatry has too long been stuck in a muddy quagmire of the middle ground--between the primitive dark ages view of "demon possession" and that intriguing world of psychiatric possiblity just over the horizon, where troubled individuals can be routinely put back on more functional and enjoyable paths.

More coverage at the Brain Stimulant Blog


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A Woman's Right to Choose: No Means No!

Women are choosing their careers with a freedom like never before, and with their eyes wide open. Female students and professionals are refusing to allow academic bullies such as Donna Shalala, Nancy Hopkins, or Liz Spelke to tell them what they can do with their lives. Because, no means no!
Women make up almost half of today's workforce, yet hold just a fraction of the jobs in certain high-earning, high-qualification fields. They constitute 20 percent of the nation's engineers, fewer than one-third of chemists, and only about a quarter of computer and math professionals.

...A few years ago, Joshua Rosenbloom, an economist at the University of Kansas, became intrigued by a new campaign by the National Science Foundation to root out what it saw as pervasive gender discrimination in science and engineering. The agency was spending $19 million a year to encourage mentoring programs, gender-bias workshops, and cooperative work environments.

...Rosenbloom surveyed hundreds of professionals in information technology, a career in which women are significantly underrepresented. He also surveyed hundreds in comparable careers more evenly balanced between men and women. The study examined work and family history, educational background, and vocational interests.

The results were striking...In general, Rosenbloom's study found, men and women who enjoyed the explicit manipulation of tools or machines were more likely to choose IT careers - and it was mostly men who scored high in this area. Meanwhile, people who enjoyed working with others were less likely to choose IT careers. Women, on average, were more likely to score high in this arena...Personal preference, Rosenbloom and his group concluded, was the single largest determinative factor in whether women went into IT. They calculated that preference accounted for about two-thirds of the gender imbalance in the field.

...[In a different study starting] more than 30 years ago, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth began following nearly 2,000 mathematically gifted adolescents, boys and girls, tracking their education and careers in ensuing decades. (It has since been expanded to 5,000 participants, many from more recent graduating classes.) Both men and women in the study achieved advanced credentials in about the same numbers. But when it came to their career paths, there was a striking divergence.

Math-precocious men were much more likely to go into engineering or physical sciences than women. Math-precocious women, by contrast, were more likely to go into careers in medicine, biological sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Both sexes scored high on the math SAT, and the data showed the women weren't discouraged from certain career paths.

The survey data showed a notable disparity on one point: That men, relative to women, prefer to work with inorganic materials; women, in general, prefer to work with organic or living things. This gender disparity was apparent very early in life, and it continued to hold steady over the course of the participants' careers. __BostonGlobe
For decades now, women have had the power to choose their career paths. And women are making that choice, loudly and clearly. If the radical busybodies in political gender academics choose not to listen to the clear choices that women are making--and refuse to take the women seriously--then who is to blame here? The tendency of highly political academics to ignore the lessons from research in order to pursue their own disconnected pet policies to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, is getting quite old.

Let the women (and men) themselves make their choices based upon their own perceived self-interests. By all means provide all students with as much information about their wide range of choices as possible. Do not arbitrarily limit their experience or their choice. But let them choose for themselves.

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