Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Invention of the Sewing Machine

The Volokh Conspiracy -: "With respect to the mechanical issue, the invention of a practical and commercially successful sewing machine comprised ten complementary elements. These ten elements were first explicitly identified by Andrew Jack in an oft-cited 1958 article: (1) the sewing of a lockstitch, (2) the use of an eye-pointed needle, (3) a shuttle carrying a second thread, (4) a continuous source of thread (spools), (5) a horizontal table, (6) an arm overhanging the table that contained a vertically positioned eye-pointed needle, (7) a continuous feed of the clothe (synchronized with the needle motion), (8) tension controls for the thread that give slack as needed, (9) a presser foot to hold the clothe in place with each stitch, and (10) the ability to sew in either straight or curved lines. The first sewing machine to incorporate all ten of these elements was the famous “Singer Sewing Machine,” which was first sold to the public in the fall of 1850. But Singer was neither the first person to invent all ten elements nor was he the first to patent them."

Well, you also need good metallurgy, some basic mass production skills, consistent thread creation and of course lots of relatively inexpensive fabric. Then don't forget a social and political structure that allows you to do all the work and make a profit.

The essential part of the sewing machine is the needle, that is where all the action happens, you need to make consistent and strong needles and consistent and smooth thread, if the hole is he wrong size the thread won't go through and if the thread isn't consistent it will either bind or break.

If there was a sudden collapse of civilization, it would be smarter to loot a craft store for pins, needles, cloth and thread then a grocery store for food, mainly because they would be really hard to start making again locally and wouldn't be a priority.

We have a very old sewing machine we got from my wife's mother, who got it for a wedding present. It is so old that it has an external electric motor bolted on. That is one piece of kit that we want to hang on to because it is very easy to convert that to some other form of power like a treadle pedal which my Oma in East Germany had so I have a good idea of how to make one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guns, Germs and Steel review

After a very exciting beginning, the middle of it goes into the important but somewhat tedious comparison of all the different regions, and to keep it to a reasonable length, paints with a broad brush. There are a few major parts that are vital to read. The prologue talks about Yali's quesiton why do westerners have so much cargo? Which started this whole investigation. Chapter 3 which describes the conquest of the Americas by the Spanish.
But then you get to the afterward of the 2003 edition and I was blown away. Apparently many business leaders read GGS and noticed similarities with the business world. So people looked into it and reports published and so on. And it boils down to just a few things:
The more food you can produce and store the more people you can have innovating.
The more freedom people have to adopt innovation the more productive they can be.
The more controlled the people are the less innovative they are and the worse the productivity.

China pretty much started a the same time as the Fertile Crescent yet due to government interference threw it away.
Boston used to be the major technology hub of the world but it turned controlling and secretive and now Silicon Valley reigns supreme, but that is decaying due to out-of-control state government spending which increased taxes and the entrepreneurs are leaving for cheaper climes. Paul Graham talks about how to buy your own Silicon Valley I think many communities can do it too, SV was founded by a quirk of fate and so it can be created many other places too if you are willing to give up control.

This also makes me worry about what is happening in our country. There has been a breathtaking seizure of control at the federal level, whatever else it may mean to people there is one thing it means for sure, a general loss of freedom and subsequently innovation. Unless things change we will be a poorer country then we should be. I am reminded of East Germany. We would visit family there as often as we could and it was like they were stuck in time. Flying into Frankfort there were always big changes and lots of construction. but once across the border it was as if time stood still, and considering how some of the buildings still had battle damage from WWII that was saying something.

Well this is my lame attempt to help stave that off or at least allow for a reboot.

I would call this a classic book, well worth reading at least twice. This is an introductory world history book, it covers from the end of the last Ice Age to mainly the 15th Century, not to say there isn't more modern material but most of the action for him occurred before then, the rest is just consequences of geography, botany, animal husbandry and politics that happened thousands of years ago.

History of Invention infopic

This is a really good summary of the 23 major inventions you need to build a modern civilization. Notice how most of them are in just that last few centuries. Inventing something is hard, really hard, because no one has ever done it before. You often need to completely change you way of thinking to pull it off. Why is it that it took until the 18th Century to invent the steam engine when all the principles have been around since before the first century AD. Hero of Alexandria had all of the parts to a steam engine sitting in his lab, he was using pistons, even a simple form of binary logic to build an entertainment device. He had the aeolipile, a very simple steam engine but he never hooked the two together even if he did hook and organ up to a windmill.

Ah, well. We'll do better next time, that is the point of this.

from Nesta c/o Herd

io9 - A History of Uranium, the Rock That Nuked the World - Uranium

io9 - A History of Uranium, the Rock That Nuked the World - Uranium: "Uranium was considered a useless material until very recently in human history, when it quite literally exploded into the public consciousness. Tom Zoellner's engaging new book Uranium reveals how this once-humble element transformed human civilization."

This might be useful to read a bit later. Nuclear power is very Green. If it were legal to reprocess the waste there would be a lot less of it.

NPR: Power Hungry: Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid

NPR: Power Hungry: Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid: "The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation's electrical systems."

The proposal is really a mostly good idea, the only question is how well it handles an outage. I remember a few years ago a couple of major blackouts that took down whole regions of the country. In one case we had power because our town was not hooked up to the rest of the grid. It better have more resilience then that.

Via lifehacker

NPR: Power Hungry: Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid

NPR: Power Hungry: Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid: "The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation's electrical systems."

The proposal is really a mostly good idea, the only question is how well it handles an outage. I remember a few years ago a couple of major blackouts that took down whole regions of the country. In one case we had power because our town was not hooked up to the rest of the grid. It better have more resilience then that.

Via lifehacker

Monday, April 27, 2009

SANS Technology Institute: Pandemic Watch April 2009

SANS Technology Institute: Pandemic Watch April 2009: "How can I avoid getting sick?
The most effective way to lower the risk of transmission is for people with symptoms to stay home. Take pandemic preparation sites with a grain of salt this one seems reasonable. The virus spreads easily from person to person through direct contact and possibly through the air, if it can spread through the air we have a very serious situation. It can cause serious illness and death.Please cover your mouth when you cough and take the additional precautions:

Wash your hands often with soap and water. Antibacterial soaps may not be more effective than pure soap to prevent virus infections. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are more effective go for 60% alcohol. [CDC Hands Together video]
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
If you have ever laughed at people using a paper towel to open the door of a public bathroom after washing their hands, quit laughing and join them, the virus can remain active for several hours especially if moist and not exposed to direct sunlight.
Try not to rub your eyes or touch your hands to your mouth
Try to get enough sleep, avoid stress ( not always easy in a pandemic) and treat your body right"

Good advice. Some really good ideas for your business as well.


There are only a few shows that I miss without TV Nova is one of them. Not all of them are worthwhile but this one is great. Thank goodness for Hulu.

It comes down to this, we eat and live better because of refrigeration. If you are going to rebuild civilization learning to harness cold and not just fire is crucial.

I was amazed at how many names I remembered from college were involved with cold.

Growing up in New York I had heard about the Ice King, even if it was before my time, they had tried to demolish the last of the old ice warehouses but it was built so well of concrete that after breaking several wrecking balls and exploding lots of TNT they ended up having to go at it with jackhammers. The Ice Kinds made the same mistake lots of businesses made. They thought they were selling ice but really they were selling cold a very different product so when Carrier came out with the air conditioner and someone else the home sized electric refrigerator they were caught flat footed and died off quickly. But I didn't know that they had shipped ice all the way to India and China , that is awesome.

Thermodynamics, great stuff.

That reminds me plastics for safety devices is really important, too.

H1N1 Swine Flu - Google Maps

H1N1 Swine Flu - Google Maps: ",-110.390625&spn=19.992224,33.134766&z=5"

This is probably one of the better uses of mapping technology. It will help a lot for everyone. I noticed that Drudge has been doing the best job updating information over the weekend. While I realize that the President can do nothing about this epidemic, going golfing seems tacky. We still don't have a Health and Human Services director or a Surgeon General. He needs to be making a few more calls.

Since it is obvious that we survived the last few pandemics this one likely won't bring down civilization. However it is one of those things in combination with two or more other things could be a problem.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu - Google Maps

H1N1 Swine Flu - Google Maps

This is cool.

U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency in Wake of Swine Flu - First 100 Days of Presidency - Politics

U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency in Wake of Swine Flu - First 100 Days of Presidency - Politics "Hand-washing, mask-wearing and other measures will help prevent the spread, Napolitano said explaining how the public can help slow potential contaminations.

'If you are sick, stay home,' Napolitano said. 'Take all of those reasonable measures that will help us mitigate and contain' the illness.

People who are ill should not go on airplanes, to school or other places, added Dr. Richard Besser, the acting head of the CDC."

This could be annoying.
As disasters go pandemics are a shelter in place and the lights stay on kind. So if you are prepared with a couple of weeks of food on hand and limit exposure to others it should be okay.

Some hand sanitizer would definitely be in order and some spray disinfectant for the bottom of your shoes would be a good idea. At the moment this looks like a contact spreader rather then an airborne spreader so that limits it a bit more.

Now we just have to wonder how this won't be wasted.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge | h Magazine

Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge | h Magazine: "Lots of people have definitions for the Singularity that may differ in various ways. My personal definition for the Singularity — I think that in the relatively near historical future, humans, using technology, will be able to create, or become, creatures of superhuman intelligence."

Well, aren't we already? WIth access to the Internet we can get an answer to virtually any question within minutes if not seconds. But then answers to questions isn't really intelligence is it.

There is an old story about Henry Ford. Some intellectuals couldn't really believe someone who wasn't as smart as they were could create such a successful company. so they gave him what amounted to an IQ test and he did poorly. At the end he said something along the lines of, In my office I have a phone that connects me to my staff who do know that answers to those questions. I have to find answers to the questions they don't have answers for.

It is interesting to think that technology is limited by population. It may be that the singularity might not be possible without ~500M people to support it in the US plus however many in Europe, China and India. Actually it might be much less but the restraints because of politics seem to be the major limiting force. We have infinite imagination and sufficient food, energy and people.

Look at the iPhone, it has been out for only a couple of years and has one of the fastest adoption rates ever seen. And it isn't even in a number of countries mainly because of political reasons.

I think that unless there is a skynet type of startup, it will be like every other creation a slow start, popularity by early adopters, and final mass acceptance once it becomes inexpensive enough for most people, but not everyone will want it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse

American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse: "Approaching the edifice, it's hard not to think immediately of England's Stonehenge or possibly the ominous monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Built in 1980, these pale gray rocks are quietly awaiting the end of the world as we know it."

These are certainly durable but I don't see how the inscriptions would be of any use in rebuilding civilization. It is also obvious that those "guides" are hard to understand now, if they are hard to understand now, how easy would they be to understand in a post-apocalypse world?

Right now it feels like we are oscillating between a New Golden Age and a New Dark Age. I don't know which we'll choose, for all I know we may end up with oscillating for quite some time; maybe even dampening out to some kind of steady state. This project is to help out in case we choose poorly.

Since I don't know where we'll end up I'll assume we'll have to start at the beginning: gathering wild foods and hunting with found tools.
Then you can start shaping your tools and planting food deliberately and producing fire on demand. You can also make windmills and waterwheels for energy sources. Building a reliable and abundant source of food is the first major step in rebuilding civilization.
Then you can start making charcoal and smelting metals for tools.
With metal tools you have made another major step. Once you can shape metal you can make stoves which make food production much easier. With a little bit of chemistry you can also make refrigeration and engines and finally electricity.

I really think electricity is the best sign of civilization because it is a lot like cash. Cash is good for practically everything and much more efficient then barter. The same goes for electricity. With it you can create light, heat, cold, movement, very complex patterns quickly or repetitively. You can use electricity to convert one thing into practically anything you need, just like cash.

State Water Rights - The Law Behind Collecting Rainwater - Popular Mechanics

State Water Rights - The Law Behind Collecting Rainwater - Popular Mechanics: "While laws about rainwater collection are often murky, Colorado's are quite clear: Homeowners do not own the rain that falls on their property. The Rocky Mountain state uses a convoluted mix of first-come, first-serve water rights, some of which date back to the 1850s, and riparian rights that belong to the owners of land lying adjacent to water."

Yeah, it's crazy like that out here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Solar System Day - Transterrestrial Musings

Solar System Day - Transterrestrial Musings: "Back in the seventies, many of the L-5ers were hippies who recognized the peaceful potential of space colonization to gently depopulate the earth and make it into a giant natural park, with the vast bulk of humanity living and producing off planet the wealth, via industrial-intensive processes, that would make such a thing affordable. I wasn’t a hippy, but I thought then, and still think, that a wonderful ultimate goal."

This is a wonderful ultimate goal. The earth isn't fragile but humans as a species are if we let ourselves be. The earth has survived several large asteroid hits but it has been the dominate lifeforms that have had the problems with it not the planet.

Lightbulb Moment in Food History - Freakonomics Blog -

Lightbulb Moment in Food History - Freakonomics Blog - "Last week’s post talked about early-20th-century “egg gamblers” who bought eggs cheap in spring in order to sell dear in winter. Their kind of speculation proved not just controversial but also pretty risky, and ultimately doomed. Why?"

Egg farming, good to know, a great source of protein and other good things.

Opening Skinner's Box: ten psych experiments that remade the world - Boing Boing

Opening Skinner's Box: ten psych experiments that remade the world - Boing Boing: "Lauren Slater's Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century is one of those popular science books that leaves you feeling a lot smarter after you finish it. Specifically, it makes you feel smart enough to feel kind of dumb and humble -- to feel like your received wisdom about the world and your place in it needs to be rethought."

Should this stuff be added? I'm not sure except maybe in a general sense.

Yielding to Ideology Over Science : Why don't environmentalists celebrate modern farming on Earth Day? - Reason Magazine

Yielding to Ideology Over Science : Why don't environmentalists celebrate modern farming on Earth Day? - Reason Magazine: "If farmers were still producing food at 1960 levels of productivity, agriculture would have had to expand from 38 percent of the earth's land to 82 percent to feed the world's current population."

More food is more energy is more people is more time to think.

The knowledgeable public >> Beltway Confidential - The knowledgeable public: "We’re used to assuming that most Americans don’t know a whole lot about government and public policy. Over the years I’ve been inclined to think that those of us in the commentariat tend to be overly cynical about this. Voters often can’t explain their opinions very clearly and often have a hard time getting the answers to quiz questions right, but they operate off a higher level of knowledge than we often give them credit for."

This seems a classic mismanage what you mismeasure problem, the problem comes when you are measuring the wrong thing. Knowing answers to questions that you know don't matter, aren't going to stay in your brain for very long.

Reporters spend a lot of time with other reporter and they tend to be eloquent, might it be because their jobs depend on it. They have cut themselves off from The People in their own little echo chamber. It's been very obvious for the past several years that they have a bias, so people have not been renewing subscriptions, last year they even stopped pretending, so what is the smart thing to do: stop listening.

Findings - Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet -

Findings - Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet - "1. There will be no green revolution in energy or anything else. No leader or law or treaty will radically change the energy sources for people and industries in the United States or other countries. No recession or depression will make a lasting change in consumers’ passions to use energy, make money and buy new technology — and that, believe it or not, is good news, because...

2. The richer everyone gets, the greener the planet will be in the long run."

This is no great surprise. Just look at the former Soviet Union. After they became free they started cleaning up a lot of their pollution. Under totalitarianism there was no incentive to keep it clean, just do it cheap. Once you have a business horizon that reaches past next quarters numbers things change very rapidly.

It is one of those (un)intended consequences things that nuclear, one of the cleanest forms of power we have, is actually dirtier now then it was planned on because of laws to keep it clean. A spent fuel rod still has 90% good fuel it just needs to be reprocessed and then used in a different style reactor. We could recycle the fuel we already have for the next century but it is illegal.

People want clean air and water, but there are other tradeoffs as well but when they are rich enough they opt to buy it by making buying decisions that support that, not when they are forced to.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gizmodo - How Long Will Our World Last? (Yes, We Are Screwed) - Technology

Gizmodo - How Long Will Our World Last? (Yes, We Are Screwed) - Technology: "Most people get worried about how much energy reserves we have left, but as this graphic shows, that's the least of our problems. The real problem is the materials we use to make things."

Cool graphic, stupid eco-nazi idea. We have so much valuable material in our landfills that I am surprised that no one has started mining them yet. Oh wait, I know why, those stupid eco-nazis have made it too expensive to bother. So what does that mean, more exploitation of the earth and less actual recycling.

I know our economy has been deeply distorted by various policies for various sources. Wasn't it last week that there was a story about a paper plant that started adding fossil fuel to its process just to get some stimulus money. Ahh, here it is, good ol' Google news FTW.

It also doesn't help that the stock market has reduced companies view of the future to just next quarter, few companies see beyond that in any real sense.

Then again a truly unrestricted market gets us the hedge fund industry, but even that was influenced by the subprime mortgage market as they tried to sell things that had no value but had to or face government displeasure.

I am thinking that the best roll of government in the market would be a verifier of claims. If you want to sell snake oil go ahead but the government will be testing to make sure that it contains at least some actual oil from snakes.

Human nature being what it is some people will take advantage of others, that needs to be limited but not at the expense of too many people not even trying to get into business.

There just needs to be a mechanism to keep businesses from gaining power in government to limit new entries into the marketplace, which seems to be the only role government fulfills at the moment.

We can and should do better.

Better Times sustainabile living printable flyers

Better Times sustainabile living printable flyers

This is a good list of things to do.

Dr. Helen: What could you and 25 "friends" accomplish?

Dr. Helen: What could you and 25 "friends" accomplish?: "I remember a while back, I read in a women's magazine about political activists who were out 'saving the world.' What struck me was something one of the activist's said: 'I found out that me and 25 friends could make a difference in changing politics.' I never forgot that. We often think it takes a big majority of people or a huge group to make a change. I think that's wrong. Most people don't care about politics and the truth is you and 25 friends can make a difference."

Inch by inch life's a cinch.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time Travel Essentials — TopatoCo: We Sell T-shirts by the e-Shore

Time Travel Essentials — TopatoCo: We Sell T-shirts by the e-Shore: "Sure this means that some of those bums like Copernicus and the Wright brothers will end up having to get real jobs, but it’s gonna be your name in the history books, and that’s what what matters."

LOL. This is pretty cheeky but it would be better than nothing and is along the right idea but I would like some more detail.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Death & Taxes A Visual Guide to where your Federal Tax Dollars Go

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No idea how accurate this is, but it is a really cool infographic.

Denver Tea Party


The Denver Tea Party was very well attended, estimates of 5000 people.

It is also painfully obvious that no one knows how to frame this.

The GOP think we are for them but since they are spending like wild we lump them into the bad government group.

The media think we are against taxes and are wondering why since taxes haven't gone up. Yet. We are not total sheep and are looking into the future and trying to do something while we can still do something about it. Spending is completely out of control Obama and Congress (BOTH sides) have spend more in the last 60 days as all the other presidents and congresses combined (that goes from George Bush to George Washington)

Some people are wondering where we were when Bush was spending, we've been emailing, calling and mailing. That didn't work and now with spending accelerating and on one seems to be listening, it is time to take to the streets.

It isn't about Obama because Bush started it. It isn't about the Democrats in Congress as the Republicans started it there too. It isn't even about the spending. It is about a government that has stopped listening to the people. 53% of the 57% ( or about a quarter ) of the people who are eligible to vote voted for change. I somehow don't thing more of the same, only more counts as change.

In simple terms. We owe $12n, we make $13n. That doesn't leave much for rent, car, food, gas and clothes. Stacking on more spending isn't going to work. Putting the Visa on the MasterCard (what the Fed and Treasury did a couple of weeks ago) and continuing to spending also doesn't work either. Getting loans from the payday loan shop (China) doesn't work so well either.

Anyone who is planning for a future further then a week away is concerned and is doing something. Food storage: check, garden: check, home defense: check, getting out of the stock market: better late then never. Tea Party: Oh yeah.

The liberals are wondering where the money is coming from because we have to be doing it just like they do and need a big sponsor. We don't need big money when you have a lot of little money.

They may also want to take a deeper look at the people there today. Lots of middle aged white people, mostly couples. We are people with something on the line here: homes, children, good jobs. Not like college students racking up student loan debt.

Oh, by the way, the is not a subversive document, that would be the Declaration of Independence.

Spotlight: Harald Hauswald, the images of others, and the Stasi (Conscientious)

Spotlight: Harald Hauswald, the images of others, and the Stasi (Conscientious): "In 1987, East German photographer Harald Hauswald published a book called 'Ost-Berlin' (East Berlin) - in West Germany. An East German artist publishing in the West had to rub the leadership of East Germany, a Communist dictatorship, the wrong way. To make matters even worse, that same year, Berlin's 750th anniversary was to be celebrated. Kurt Hager, the minister of culture in the East German politburo, thus wrote a letter to Erich Mielke, head of the infamous Ministry of State Security (known as 'Stasi' and 'widely regarded as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world' at that time [source]), to sic the Stasi on the photographer. Harald thus became an enemy of the state."

Never forget.

Sensemaking: Is College Obsolete?

Sensemaking: Is College Obsolete?: "Many people say that our education system is broken. It's not. Our system of education is obsolete. What may have made sense one hundred years ago no longer makes sense today."

That sums it up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FuturePundit: Review Finds Predictable Set Of Healthy Foods

FuturePundit: Review Finds Predictable Set Of Healthy Foods: "A review of previously published studies suggests that vegetable and nut intake and a Mediterranean dietary pattern appear to be associated with a lower risk for heart disease, according to a report published in the April 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, intake of trans-fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index may be harmful to heart health."

This is not a surprise at all.
If you remember yesterday's post it is obvious that of course we would be well suited to that diet.
The original human domesticated food diet is the Mediterranean diet aka the Fertile Crescent diet. It is near 10,000 years old depending which particular species you might be talking about.
That said it only really applies to people with genetic heritages going back to that region. The Native American, Far Eastern and sub-Saharan African would not because there were barriers to the agricultural package getting to them.

Something to think about. 10,000 years is not very long in evolutionary adaption terms But then it would be no surprise that the Fertile Crescent peoples would have lactose tolerance since they had cows to milk.

Interesting how this comes together so easily sometimes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Guns, Germs and Steel

Now I am reading Guns, Germs and Steel and it is a fascinating read. I am only about a third of the way through but the things that blow me away so far are:
There are only 14 large domestic mammals
1 Sheep
2 Goat
3 Cow
4 Pig
5 Horse
6 Arabian (1 hump) camel
7 Bactrian (2 hump) camel
8 Llama/Alpaca
9 Donkey
10 Reindeer
11 Water Buffalo
12 Yak
13 Bali cattle
14 Mithan

And 80% of our calories come from only a dozen crop species
Sweet potato
Sugar beet

Not to say we don't eat other kinds of plants but for the most part they are not a major source of calories.

I always thought the raw food movement as kinda odd but this and some maps abut where the food comes from shows that the only way to eat that way is in a high-tech, high-mobility civilization.

I need to add a map that includes the food species and where they originated and where they are cultivated and can thrive.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Telco Pirates Hold Silicon Valley Hostage - Datamation Blog

Telco Pirates Hold Silicon Valley Hostage - Datamation Blog: "In the next war, the first thing they'll hit are the computers, my father-in-law said today."

They only noticed now?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to Find Your Amazing Work | Zen Habits

How to Find Your Amazing Work | Zen Habits: "I thought he was kidding. I mean, it’s simple, right? Look at your to-do list and pick something that really excites you, that will really make a difference in your life and (ideally) in the lives of others."

Would that it would be so easy. but it's getting better.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Operation Recolonize

I wonder what is in that book, it is not very thick and it assumes some things we might not be able to. Actually having cities to repurpose would be really handy but I'm not going to assume that. Okay, they also have the main computer of the Axiom which makes the book a little redundant but that is a good thing.

A detailed map of the known natural resources would be great.

The Life Safety Manual would be fantastic. An old engineer once called it the holy scriptures of engineering as each line represented at least one persons death.

I felt sorry for the passengers of the Axiom, I would expect many deaths when the first storm would blow through, Wall-Es alert system only goes off it it's really close. But they should be able to tap into the weather satellites to see it coming earlier.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Why I am doing this.

If I am wrong this will have been in vain, and if I am right well, there is no guarantee that it will ever be found.

It comes down to this.

My parents escaped East Germany not long before the Wall went up. They left family behind and it seemed as though they were as far away as the Moon. Dad got a job with PanAm and eventually relations eased enough for travel back to East Germany.
When I was growing up we went back as often as we could. It was often our primary summer vacation.

Crossing the boarder was always interesting, because it was darker on the East German side, that might be dismissed as a cloud in front of the Sun but I could still see the Sun quite clearly through the window of the car. I have no idea what it meant, it was just one of the differences between East and West. I learned what it meant later.

Most of the differences were just odd, buildings still had bomb damage from WWII and a crater between them where the bomb had obviously fallen. Oma's toilet was indoors but rather then flusher it just had a hatch that dropped everything into the basement holding tank. It was also always cold in there, even if it did have a naked gas flame on a burner across from the toilet, I guess to burn off any gas buildup, but I was always very careful in there.

The town's downtown had a department store, the terms of the visas required us to spend a certain amount of money, though it always had a lot of open space where it seemed like it was waiting for more products. Their toy selection was rather limited I usually went with the die-cast military cars and tanks, mainly because there wasn't much else, and they tended to wobble. We do still have an orange wool blanket for the back of the car, and some old "china" that is in storage.

Getting a ride in a Trebant was "fun" not like a car today just turn the key and go. No, you have to prime it and fiddle with the choke and a bunch of other things. We had better lawn mower engines at the same time. And to get one had a 15 year waiting list. It was just 2 years to get a telephone line hooked up.

Many years later when I spent a couple of years in Germany still before the Wall came down, I found out why it was so dark there. I visited a place in the West: Dachau. That had the same kind of darkness as well.

We are moving toward totalitarianism, it doesn't really matter which version it is. While their idealism does them a credit they don't seem to realize the consequences even if they are successful. They may think they are protecting and defending the Constitution. They may think it can't happen to them. They may even think they have all the answers. They don't and it will.

They seem to want power and control and to have the best of the best. The problem comes in totalitarianism that the best of the best eventually die. And in coming to power the support structure for the best of the best is often destroyed along the way. A brilliant surgeon is nothing without the team of nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologist, doctors, administrators and janitors that make a hospital actually work.

Oma was so crippled with arthritis it was like nothing I'd ever seen in America. She was all hunched over and could only sort of use her thumbs and forefingers the rest of her hands were clenched into useless claws.

Without freedom- medicine, technology and many other things wither and fade away. Sure the elites may be able to have the best of the best for longer then anyone else, but their children won't have it not because they can't afford it but because it no longer exists.

How many generations would it take to forget how to do it?
How many generations would it take to forget that it had ever been done at all?

Not many.

That is why this project is important.

A global totalitarian government would be of necessity complex. Feeding, housing and employing billions of people is a tough job and someone has to do it. A little corruption here, population control there, a purge over there and an ill-placed disaster and a key capability is lost, forever.

Well, it doesn't have to be forever. With freedom and capitalism we jumped from cooking on open fires and driving horse carts to microwave ovens and space flight in less then 200 years. We went from outhouses and sail power to flush toilets and manned heavier then air flight in 125.

That is why it is worth it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Mindmap for the bread

The scale of this problem just blows me away sometimes. Here is a mind map that I put together just for the bread. I know it has gaps but Wow.