Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Current Chaos Manor mail

Current Chaos Manor mail: "Allen argues that a combination of factors led to the industrial revolution, among them international trade associated with the British Empire, an educated and wealthy populace which created a demand for the fruits of technology as well as the skills necessary to produce them, and, crucially, cheap energy. Allen provides the following graph, showing a comparison of energy costs across Europe in the early 1700s."

There are several impressive links there. The IR was more complex then we are led to believe in school.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hybrid cutlery

Hybrid cutlery: "A Venn diagram showing the relationships between hybrid cutlery like the spork, spife, knork, and the little known splayd. See also forkchops."

Whoa, cool.

Cool Tools: SunRun PPA

Cool Tools: SunRun PPA: "The cool tool here is creative solar financing. Solar-electric panels are pretty much a commodity, but still high priced. What's new is an innovative way for a homeowner to afford an expensive solar set up."

You know I wondered why something like this was taking so long. You can buy lots of things on financing. That concept alone made a huge jump in the standard of living around the world. If your customers can't afford to buy your product all at once thee usually is a way they can do it over time. Houses, cars, home appliances are all major examples about that. Why should this be any different?

It seems to me that banking and financing are a major part of civilization and that I have got to learn more.

From Stone tools to Silicon Chips

How sand is transformed into silicon chips | News | TechRadar UK: "Sand is composed of silica (also known as silicon dioxide), and is the starting point for making a processor. Sand used in the building industry is often yellow, orange or red due to impurities, but the type chosen in the manufacture of silicon is a purer form known as silica sand, which is usually recovered by quarrying."

This is a very important process but in the end is just another metal to master. And the culmination of a process started by shaping stone tools to mine ore for simple copper tools, to bronze (which is copper and tin) then iron and cement, to the steam engine and aluminum to finally silicon and titanium.

The very first tools are usually sticks and stones found near where you needed to use them that were about the shape you needed. Then you found that some rocks like flint could be shaped pretty easily, but not so easily like sandstone to be useless.

So you send out scouts to find more food to hunt or gather and good rocks that can be useful. Maybe you build a fire ring and after a big bonfire you notice a rock that had melted and re-solidified, some good copper ore. Eventually you find some other rocks like tin that make copper stronger which is bronze. Then you start digging up all kinds of rocks to see if you can make an even better alloy. Coal doesn't do much for the copper but it burns really well.

You find iron works better then copper on its own and adding other rocks to it can make it better or worse. But on the whole it makes really good tools.

You keep trying different rocks in the fire. Burning limestone doesn't seem to be worthwhile until it rains and the powder hardens in a rock that doesn't get soft again. You've discovered cement. Now you can shape stone and connect stone and make your own stones much harder and stronger then clay and straw can provide, and its water proof too. This is great for aqueducts and dams.

Good food, clean water, strong tools you can do a lot with that, but you also need a free people and a system of government to keep the people free and you have it made.

Memorial Day

For all those soldiers past and present.
Good job.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gizmodo - What Is This? - Rosetta Disk

Gizmodo - What Is This? - Rosetta Disk: "Looks like a billion gazillion television screens, thundering their nonsense and babbling at the same time in some gigantic art installation."

Actually this would be really rather useful. But you would want to leave a 500x microscope with it or it would be ignored. At the very least you need to put instructions on making a 500x microscope on the back so people know there is something to read on the front.

I'd rather go with something that can be read without more then a little magnification, but as small as possible.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We are at a cusp, but where from here.

I ran across a couple of very insightful posts this weekend.

What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen?

How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs

They just seem to go together. Both present different ideas on where we might be in our present development and it can be turned around but we are at a cusp.

We have choices to make and deeds to do and tasks to tend. The question is are we doing the right ones.

Capitalism: It really is simple.

Our system, or more accurately our former system of economy worked very simply. Even the government had a roll to play, making sure that the snake oil people were selling actually had snake oil in it and that it provided the listed benefits and if you became so big that you impeded competition you weren't too big to be fail and would be broken up.

Now it is pretty much the opposite. Just a year ago the big worry was Big Biz owning government now it is Big Gov owning big biz. Ah the irony.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Better Bankruptcy Bureau - Megan McArdle

The Better Bankruptcy Bureau - Megan McArdle: "Most people underestimate just how economically valuable the rule of law is. A roughly stable investment environment that doesn't maximize social justice is undoubtedly better than an unpredictible one that tries to--just as the billions of poor people who live in states that have tried to exchange the former for the latter. The winners were not the dispossessed."

This is something to ponder.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Aristotle's Choice Of Money Revisited" by John Lee. FSO Editorial 05/01/2009

"Aristotle's Choice Of Money Revisited" by John Lee. FSO Editorial 05/01/2009: "Money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts. The main uses of money are as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value."

he has a graphic that shows the relative merits of gold, paper money, land, a business and oil and later other things. Gold gets the nod here but then I think what about other things.

What are some valuable but overlooked items.
Water, clean potable water may not be quite as portable but is close enough. It isn't as rare as gold but definitely qualifies as having intrinsic value.

Electricity could count as well. It isn't as durable as gold but can be stored in batteries and can be converted into just anything.

Actually electricity is a lot like money it is a medium of exchange for doing work. Electricity can be converted to motion, light, heat, cold, communications, and chemical reactions like batteries and electrolysis it can even be used to enhance your own mind with computers and the Web. Amazing stuff really.

ht lewrockwell

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Marginal Revolution: What I've been reading

Marginal Revolution: What I've been reading: "I also really recommend The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World by Larry Zuckerman although a further treatise on the tuber is probably one chip too many."

There are a few histories on the potato. Must remember that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Great Pharaoh Cheops at the 7-Eleven Store - Winds of Change.NET

The Great Pharaoh Cheops at the 7-Eleven Store - Winds of Change.NET: "Grab a frozen lasagna and hand it to the Great King. Frozen, like a brick, and like a brick he gnaws on it. Delicious! Then across the room to a small black box, which opens with the same magic lantern that lights this palace of wonder day and night. A moment of conversation passes, and Ding! What was frozen is now steaming hot! Without fire, and in an instant!"

This is what it's all about. The humble 7-11. Imagine that.

Hit & Run > Your Yard Sale Is Illegal - Reason Magazine

Hit & Run > Your Yard Sale Is Illegal - Reason Magazine: "Selling old kids books, anything with metal, paint, or plastic that a kid might use, old clothes or shoes with metal components that a kid might wear? You know, any of the stuff people routinely sell at yard sales? Technically, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of fines. Obviously, it's unlikely the CPSA goons are going to bust up your yard sale. But putting out a detailed booklet that reserves the right to do so is hardly encouraging about where the implementation of this legislation is heading."

How bad does it have to get before you people wake up!?!?!

The comments are golden for once, though.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Swine Bug Raises Scientists’ Concerns | Wired Science

Another Swine Bug Raises Scientists’ Concerns | Wired Science: "The disease strikes North American pigs, but American humans were assumed to be safe. Only two human cases have been reported in the United States, where farmers keep a greater distance from their livestock, and dispose of meat known to come from sick animals."

Important rules: Don't live with the animals, and don't eat the sick ones.