Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Bloggers for State office - Emergent democracy from the bottom up
All politics is local
- Tip O'Neil
All the furor and chatter about various presidential campaigns - and California's new animatronic governor
- bugs me. The bevy of reporters, the news coverage, etc - are merely weapons of mass distraction. Sure, talk all you want about the main offices of the nation, but remember that your vote on that scale is statistically the least likely to make a difference.
Attention Bloggers: Voting is not enough. If you really
want to make a difference... run for a smaller office in the primaries. Candidate registration in California starts Monday (oct 27th) and runs through november 5th. This should be front page news, but it isn't. Hey, Press? Mind covering where the real
process of democracy starts? For a change?
Here's How to run for California State Assembly or Senate
. It's easy:
For a mere 990 dollars - or 1500 signatures - anyone can run in the primaries for assembly under the flag of any party. For 3000 signatures you can run for state senate. Both are fairly high paying jobs, if you care about that part, and the money you donate to your own campaign is tax deductable (I think) - so why not run for one of these positions? Make a difference!
Want to fix your state government? Run for state office! Want to change the democratic party? Run from within! Same for the Republicans? Run from within! Can't stand those parties? Run as an independent!
Getting past the filing fee via those signatures - should be easy in any district of the nation given the size of the blogging network. Post your intent - ask for signatures - get on the candidate rolls - and after that, it's all up to you and the rest of us.
In my district the state senator seat is open, and the assembly seat is held by a first term incumbent. How about yours? Tired of taxation without representation? Come on, bloggers & technocrats - run for office.... any office. Take responsibility. Flex your political muscles. Run. Run for change.
Run in the primary.
Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want - and deserve to get it, good and hard
- H.L. Mencken
Surf conditions on October 19th, 2003
This pic is from sunday at Mavericks, which is about 30 miles up the coast from the beach I surf at (4 Mile). Mavericks has the biggest waves on this coast that I know of. 4 Mile was about half this size, but for a guy raised on close-out beach breaks in NJ, it was plenty big enough on this day. No wonder my arms still hurt! (admittedly I went out 5 days running - tuesday was perfect, no wind, 3ft overhead conditions, perfect sets - I had a blast - and conquered a lot of fear - and forgot most of my troubles)
I had a bunch of chores planned for this week, but the waves wait for no man, especially one that had missed every swell between 1980 and 2002 because he was working too hard.
I'd spent the last three weeks moving back into my house and prepping my spare room for a potential renter, so I wasn't too bothered that Neptune swept across my mundane tasks with such a glorious swell... until yesterday. I had planned out yesterday carefully (A-K was plenty surprised!) but I got two callbacks in a row about jobs that ate into my errand running schedule, so I piled them into today. Today I got hit by so many unplanned things at once I'm surprised I managed to accomplish anything at all. I got the errands run that I'd planned to run yesterday done, but little else, and now I have to pile into tomorrow what I'd planned to pile into today, and I already had tomorrow packed.
I worked out what I was going to do on the way home from SJ at 9PM - still hoping to surf mavericks (for the first time) on the way up to SF for dinner with "She who will not be blogged" but when I got home I'd got an email with an interview schedule from 2-5 in SF which makes a 6PM dinner unlikely - ok, move to 7..... While it would great fun to show up for an interview still crusted over with salt and smelling of wetsuit rubber, heck, maybe still in the wetsuit, dripping- I think I'll pass.
I have to remember that there will be another swell. And another. And another. Fall is my favorite time of year. If you go out at dawn there's plenmty of time to make it to work by 10
Notes to self: pack 5gallons of water, scrape surf wax away from business suit - vacuum up sand - maybe sit near a beach with some reference materials in hand for a while. Put roof racks back on car. Feed cat. place ad in craigslist. find door that fits or some soundproofing that works on it, write down ccosts of door coversion, place ad the local paper = network. Charge up Ipaq. find business suit. Set timer for 6:4- AM. Gas in car. Locks. Finish rental ad... sure wish there was an efficent bussing to train system. I am sore tempted to take a laptop with me to kind of catch up with the pluggin issues I'm sure to get a call on, sleep with book....
Energy source found in tap water... but it's all a matter of scale
Life is like a sewer - you get out of it what you put into it
- Tom Lehrer
Are the column inches devoted to headlines in conventional publications always so misleading?
Scientists find new way to make electricity, Cdn researchers find new source of electricity, Electricity Discovery Pumps Up The Power, Energy source found in tap water, Response gives profs a charge, Lightbulb moment leads to clean energy source Can water run your mobile?
I'm not going to list all the publications involved (if you want, you can hit this google link
for more headlines on this topic), but the reprints all stem from an original article in the Journal of Micromechanics and Engineering
about generating electricity "electrokinetically" from pushing water through microtubes.
Most of the glassy eye'd, enthusiastic transcriptions of what must have been a carefully worded press release by a PR agency manage to miss what Nature magazine nailed - that a conventional water driven turbine was far more efficient than the current electrokinetic process...
. The new process is currently less than 1% efficient where a hydroelectric turbine can be 80-95% efficient - so we aren't going to see any change in how dams are built any time soon. (more about that in a minute, after I get done ranting)
No... instead almost universally, the articles mention that in the experiment, water was Squeezed through a syringe
and powered a lightbulb
a VERY SMALL light bulb. A very, very, very, very small lightbulb.
The howler headline?
Energy source found in tap water
In a world where tap water is subsidized heavily (as in supplied free), sure. But it would be much more efficient to power your house with small turbines under each tap and garden hose!
The second howler in this headline? Electrokinetics is not an "energy source", OK? At best, it's an "Energy storage mechanism". A battery. You can quibble about where energy actually comes from but in the case of this experiment, it came from a syringe. (Again... nature mag got it right.)
The three laws of thermodynamics (paraphrased)
You can't win
You can't break even
You can't even get out of the game
Water that gets pumped uphill to your tap can't possibly generate more energy on the way down than on the way up.
Another howler headline: "Can water run your mobile?"
Fuel cells may be appearing in consumer devices in the next couple years. A fuel cell generates water as a byproduct of the energy retrieval process (it's still a battery, you have to pump energy in to get energy out). It's highly unlikely that highly pressurized water will be used to power your mobile - but highly pressurized hydrogen gas is a distinct possibility.
So, anyway, in short, electrokinetic electricity generation is a new idea, but it is, at best, a far more inefficient means of storing and retrieving electricity, especially in bulk, than most other known means. Sensationalism over science does everyone a disservice. Years from now 1000s of people will think that electricity from water is a suppressed technology, just like cold fusion
Now... having roundly debunked some of the more absurd statements made about this discovery, I'd like to place emphasis on the original context by which the scientists announced it. I was going to talk about really tiny machines - and about teflon, and a few other things - but I'm runninglate, and I'd rather you just read Dr. Richard Feynman's 1959 speech on There's plenty of Room at the bottom
The world functions differently at the cellular or molecular scale. Electrokinetic energy might actually make sense as a means to power devices much smaller than your mobile. How small? Chips the size of what Dust, Inc.
is working on. Or smaller.
More later. Maybe.
Happy Birthday, Anna-Kim!
I met Anna-Kim 5 months and two days ago. She opened the singer/songwriter night in Rio Del Mar - it was my first time out in a very long time. Rebecca and Gary Parks (whose set followed Anna-Kim's) had stayed overnight at my house and convinced me to listen in at their gig the next day. I got a good seat near the stage but couldn't get a waitress to serve me, so I hung my jacket on the back of the seat and went to the bar.
Scribbling down a poem on my Ipaq while trying to find a way to extricate myself from a drunk's animated enthusiasm about PocketPC, I had my back to Anna-Kim for most of her set. A couple of her songs did catch my ear, but nothing really stuck with me. As Rebecca and Gary were setting up, I wandered back to my seat, but it had been taken. Every seat had been taken.
Anna-Kim was sitting alone on the couch, with a glass of wine in her hand. I swallowed, put on my best "blogger as music journalist" facade, grabbed my jacket, and sat down next to her.
We started talking. We talked all through the Park's set, actually, pausing only for a couple of Rebecca's strongest songs ("Fade to Black", "When working isn't working", "Sexy in Socks"). I liked that Anna-Kim didn't feel compelled to talk over the music... the conversation had a natural ebb and flow to it... we talked through the next set... and the next.
So I bought a copy of DreamWorld
, and invited her to join us at the one place still open for food at 1AM in Santa Cruz - The Saturn Cafe. I listened to her CD in the car as I drove over ("Untameable", "cruising the milky way", and "I miss myself" stuck with me), and I figured that was as close to her as I was ever going to get.
I really didn't expect her to make it to the saturn cafe. But she did...
And we've been dating ever since. We've had good times and bad times together - most recently far more good than bad as we've learned more of each other's ways. I remember back when I was writing Beating the Brand
, and all the brand names in my kitchen were still covered with post-it notes, I woke up to find she'd written a little note on each one of them, things like:
"I like your eyes", and "You're cute", and "You are a bright star in my starry night", and "I love being kissed by a surfer dude".
In all the time we've been together, I've never told her I loved her. When we met, my heart was stone cold, filled with bitterness, and gradually she has healed me, enough to say today:
I love you! You fill my garden with music, and my heart lifts.
The happiest of birthdays Anna-Kim!
"Something seeks you out - in the dark
Something that from your own heart sparks
When you find it, then you must be a part
of the answers in the end
There is no use to run and you can't hide
Though you're tempted and you've already tried
to go flying high, far and fast
only to find that I'll always outlast... you
So hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me tight
Keep your focus, keep me in your sight
Hold my heart up just like a light
In the middle of your night
In the middle of your night
I can help you, that's why I was sent
I signed up and I won't relent
It's been a lifetime of training, of tears spent
to show up here, and be your friend
You must find your way through
There are people waiting for you
Places are calling, and you can't keep stalling
The other side of the dark
I will guide you, through these woods we go
Don't be frightened, the way you already know
You just lost sight of the path so long ago
Lost your vision, lost your soul
In the middle of your night
In the middle of your night
In the middle of your night"
Copyright 2003 Anna-Kim Aleris
Chance favors a prepared mind... and body
Waves are pushing 10ft. All the piddly 3 ft surf of summer was no preparation for this. I look wistfully at the broken weight machine - the parts that build up your arms have been broken all year and... oh... my arms hurt this morning. Note to self - fix the weight machine....
Going out again. I've got all the must-have-done before winter problems under control - and surfing really clears the mind...
I was talking about a google inferiority complex the other day, it rang true with a bunch of people. Have an idea? Any idea? Treasure it... think it through... do a cost model... lie awake at night thinking about how to do it.... then google for it, and 10 times out of 10, somebody else has already had it...
Thus died the cat door with voice recognition
Note to self - remember to get some tomatoes and some 2x4s on the way back. Yes you can work and surf on the same day. Remember that...