Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Monday, June 15, 2009

  Things I'd like to write

I have quite a backlog...

I'd like to critique Michael Moore's plan to re-invigorate America, particularly action item 3, where he proposes a bullet train that could cross the USA in only 17 hours. A Ford trimotor crossed America that fast in the late 1920s. Oh, the 1920s! Such a wonderful time that was - the gin flowed, the stock market was up, the world was at peace...

I want to talk to the Republican plan for building 100 nuclear power plants in Obama's green energy bill, as what I wrote last year about Liberty Ships still applies. Also, I note nanosolar has been strangely silent lately.

But, first, I want to work up a spreadsheet of projected energy use, both in the US, and worldwide, first, and overlay Japan's land area over America's to serve as an example, and research the history of the Philadelphia->Atlantic City train as well as Acela. That's going to take some time, and isn't a lot of fun.

I'd like to talk more to America's perverse safety culture, which I sort of did a month ago, where people are deathly afraid of swine flu and yet unafraid to drive. People ask me about safety where I live now, and I say that nothing compares to the dangers inherent in surfing, yet, I am not going to stop anytime soon - and I counter - at least there's no nuclear weapons pointed at me...

There's been some interesting developments in global warming lately, but I would really rather talk about the state of the oceans. Actually...

I'd rather be writing a book on happier subjects. Or surfing. Or writing a book about "Everything I know (now) about business, I learned from surfing", but the high quality photographic plates required would make it non-publishable and in web format, it would be boring... maybe if I wrote it in "Johnathan Livingston Seagull" fashion it would work... I need a waterproof recorder, all the best stuff I think up vanishes by the time I get to shore....

I also recently found the text to my talk, last year, in Australiaon Living autonomously in an ever more connected world which was one of the bigger things I've written recently and I'd like to bang that into shape for publication, as I went extemporaneous in the talk with a great digression that needs to go back in the text....

I'd also like to talk to "the last great CPU war - ATOM vs ARM" which is beginning now, with arm cortex A8 or A9 processors coming in on the bottom end below Atom and moving up...

But, anyway, if I get around to it, maybe I'll write some or all of the above in the coming weeks. Maybe that last one I could get paid for....

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Comments:
I am VERY interested in hearing about your talk on autonomy....

*hugs*
 
Hey Dave:

How, oh how I want to dive into this headfirst, without a thought to the depth.

Lemme see if I can do this, without just reiterating points I've already put forward in prior comments.

On Bullet Train. For one thing, I really don't care what MMoore has to say about anything. He's a documented liar and spin doctor of the worst order. He has no credibility. Sure, call that argumentum ad hominum if you like, but it's difficult to debate a point with some who will just lie to make a point.

Anyway, the bullet train is an idea that has some traction with some folks. I've heard the Prez make noise about it, but I think it's just so much of a rub down. It's window dressing. it's a cool idea from a few standpoints, but I think 'we the people' can set our sights a lot lower and achive a much better long term result by simply (hehe) trying to bring our national passenger rail system up to the standards of say, Bolivia. Forget about northern Europe, we don't -sad to say- have what it takes. And yea, we can go there, the unions can take a lot of the blame for this.

Imagine if you will, that passengers/light freight were data payload, that the train seat/ticket was the packet, that the train car is the core router, that the train station is the edge router, and the rail system is a packet routed network. A tcp/ip network if you will.

Build the rail out accordingly. Yeah, high bandwidth/low latency trunks between peering points is a good idea. But without a grand plan, this bullet train talk is all just noise and distraction.

And for some proper kooky stuff, check out this guy's idea:
http://mb-soft.com/trans/index.html
At least he's thinking on the scale required.

More later
 
@kitten: I'll get it done one of these days, promise.

@kitten & cpm - what I started doing was overlaying the rail map of japan with the rail map of the US, but ran into trouble coping with the differences in the Mercator projection. I keep wondering if there is a tool that would let me grab japan and lay it over the eastern coast of the USA, accurately. Even inaccurately drawn, the graphic was a quite revealing example of population density, actual land mass, and railway networks, Japan is narrower than many states and as best as I can tell, shorter than the east coast, with 1/3 the population of the US kept in that narrow band.

@cpm Well, a lot of people take moore seriously and most of what he wrote may well fly with many audiences.

I thought maybe my graphic would help explain things. An efficient public transit system really does require high population densities.

Coast to coast in "only" 17 hours, that alone made me sputter and grieve for the death of concorde and the impending death of the shuttle...

As for the problem with railways, it goes much deeper than the unions, starting with nimbyism (I could write in detail about acela and also the Atlantic City -> philadelphia train debacles) and moving up to trackage that dates back to the civil war...
 
Dave:

By your own words, you either dismiss or outright refuse to read certain works because they are not 'happy'.

Things like the Concorde, and it's ilk are basically (like today's 'globalism) accidents of cheap non-renewable and polluting energy in the form of oil and coal. Today's standard of living, with all it's problems is temporary.

Non-renewable and polluting energy is remarkably handy stuff, and we've squandered it, and are continuing to squander it. If you are going to use it, then use it the your life, and the lives of everyone you know and love and care for including the generations yet to come depended you not wasting it. The Concorde was an interesting experiment. But it was also a huge waste of resources, energy and time.



Nimbyism comes from folks living in a Disney world fantasy where there are no consequences. This is myth and illusion.

That folks take Moore seriously is understandable. He points at big problems that the normal press won't point at, and comes up with simple explanations as to why these problems exist. Folks love that. As long as there is someone /else/ to blame, then folks don't have to do the heavy lifting and figure out that they are where they are, doing what they are doing, because they chose it. It's all Bush/Roger/whomever's fault.

I suppose what bugs me the most about Moore is that his points are valid, his critique of the US culture germane. So by introducing stuff that is just flat out artificially constructed using nasty old-school tactics like deliberately misquoting, editing interview where he actually changes what folks said, altering time lines and the like are completely unnecessary. And he defends this when challenged with the classic kindergarten 5yo's excuse/rational of 'Well, they do it!'.

Some reading:
http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/
http://www.kunstler.com/blog/

This one was on the high speed train, a real hoot

http://kunstler.com/blog/2009/06/too-stupid-to-survive.html#more

And this one, which is on
'everything'
http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2009/06/definancialisation-deglobalisation.html

n'joy
 
Man, I wish I could edit comments.
s/then use it the/then use it as if the
 
And back to another point, in your linked 'global warming' post:

You stated in response to one of my comments:

"
CPM: your idyllic viewpoint of villages and comparison to europe doesn't hold water. Stacking people up densely is more efficient. New York city is the most energy efficient city in America, with ~2% of the population, using 1% of the energy.."

First off, Europe is dense cities, coupled to small villages and it's immediate productive landbase by rail. Go there, see for yourself.

Nowhere did I say that dense cities are neccessarily bad. I said and I quote "Towns and villages, perhaps a city within a weeks ride, in such places as major ports or at the bottom of large agricultural valleys."

Cities need the landbase and the towns/villages, NOT the other way around. no one actually /NEEDS/ cities. Cities basically are parasites on the immediate landbase. As whuzzizname says, Forests precede them, and deserts dog their heels. All that said, yeah, they have a built in efficiency when so many things can be done in common. Common water works, common heat plants, common waste treatment etc. They tend to emerge in places that make sense.
Where they fill a need. (ports/bottom of ag valleys, waterways, etc).

You used the example of NY to somehow rebutt my point. (which I think is a gross red herring).
NY has a few things going for it. Way back when folks actually bothered to THINK about things, the folks who set the stage for the rise of NY did a marvelous job of establishing a really excellent water works. 'They' did a few other things as well.

Anyway, NY. How many stairs are you going to be able to climb coming back from the grocery on your way back to your apartment every night? Right, well, write off everything above that floor. That's the NY that will still be here.

NY is an excellent port, and an excellent trade center. It makes sense. but not like it is now. NY even knows this, hence all the initiatives currently under way to rebuild things 'as if people mattered' (see my blog post http://cubic-dog.blogspot.com/2008/11/if-you-design-roads-with-people-in-mind.html )

Now, as to this efficiency you talk about ~2% general pop vs 1% of the power. Yeah, big deal. Comparing anything to the completely insane, arguably suicidal suburban design of the US is hardly a comparison at all.

We have everything we need to make places like NY actually viable, deep into the future, but not at anything above the 7th floor. That's just crazy talk.
 
No one is going to come on CNN, MSNBC, FOX news, etc and say 'The world's economy has collapsed!' Congress is not going to approve the presidents final paycheck, and send him a pink slip before they retire for good.
No one is going to tell you when the collapse happens,
You will know it has happened when it happens to you.
http://tipstrategies.com/archive/geography-of-jobs/
 
And I too am very interested in your talk on Autonomy.
 
@Chip I take on some of your first unanswered criticism in my latest blog.

Taking on the rest has thus far taken up about 2000 more unpublished words.
 
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