Tuesday, September 19, 2006

election theft & breach of contract

As Jane Jacobs observed in Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics, the two don't hybridize very well; instead you get phenomena like the mob, who don't properly belong to nor abide by the rules of either realm.

Were this not the case, the revolving-door crowd that populates the Bush administration might better appreciate that when they steal an election they are breaking the most fundamental agreement that holds this society together, and breeding something far uglier than could ever be mounted by foreign terrorists.

Or maybe that's what they want, an excuse to get heavy-handed with domestic dissidents, who keep pushing America to live up to its ideals and face up to inconvenient realities like the environmental consequences of business-as-ususal.

If the latter, then they're probably wondering what is taking so long, and probably not appreciating the degree to which their awkward attempts to portray Bush and company as being anything approaching up to the job are mindbendingly stupefying.

They shouldn't be surprised if, once this is over, Bush turns out to be the very last Republican President, the Party having been widely recognized as being rotten at its core.

Monday, September 18, 2006

50 ways to win an election, revisited

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

That's the title of an article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., appearing on the website of Rolling Stone. And, given the evidence, the answer appears to be a resounding "YES, it was STOLEN!"

The inescapable conclusion is that, absent massive abuses of the election process and outright fraud, John Kerry would now be President.

The number of people who belong in prison for their participation in these abuses must number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

a direct approach to dealing with atmospheric hydrocarbons

According to a study published in Nature, and picked up by the San Jose Mercury News, "methane -- a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide -- is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought."

The atmosphere does naturally clean itself of hydrocarbons, but it's a slow process, likely to be overwhelmed by the melting permafrost. Even so, there are some things we can do besides throwing up our hands and declaring that all is lost.

One way of dealing with methane and other atmospheric hydrocarbons would be to build large solar gas turbines with their exhausts pointed skyward. (Note that this is not a reference to the Caterpillar subsidiary Solar Turbines, although there's no reason why they couldn't supply such hardware.)

A jet turbine has three main components:
* a compressor
* a heating (combustion) chamber
* a turbine to power the compressor

The trick to making it work is to add enough energy in the heating chamber to overcome the inefficiency in using the turbine to tap energy from the exhaust to power the compressor. Do that and you get self-sustained operation.

So, arrange the turbine shaft vertically with the turbine at the top, and focus sunlight from a field of heliostats onto the heating chamber.

Preferably mount the turbine assembly on a tower, high enough above the surface to be clear of most aeolian grit.

Install in a desert in the northern hemisphere, where most of the permafrost is located.

With a large enough field of heliostats, you should be able to tap off some energy for the generation of electricity.

Compression would provide some heating and the remainder would have to be added by the heliostats. For the purpose of oxidizing methane and other hydrocarbons, the temperature of the air passing through the heating chamber would have to surpass their ignition temperatures. Most likely this would happen as a matter of course, as the temperature necessary to provide self-sustaining operation would probably be considerably higher than the ignition temperature of any hydrocarbon.

The larger the scale of the installation, the higher into the atmostphere the hot exhaust air would be pushed. Push it high enough and it will tend to spread out above the turbulent lower atmosphere. Short of that, the rising, cooling column of air may produce weather downwind.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Kingdom Coming - discussion of the book

The WELL -- you know, that venerable online community that Comcast has seen fit to put on their blacklist because members were forwarding mail (including spam) to themselves -- has a few world-readable conferences. One of these, Inkwell, is mainly discussions with authors about their recently published books.

For the last two weeks, the featured discussion has been with author Michelle Goldberg about her book "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism". This will soon be superseded as the featured topic, but the following link should continue to work indefinitely...


If you care about the future of America, this is a critically important subject.