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Echoes and Mirrors » 2011 » April

Archive for April, 2011

Daily Links

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

New items for April 21, 2011:

  • Google ReaderEvolution of Language Takes Unexpected Turn This sounds eerily in line with Wittgenstein’s take on language in the Philosophical Investigations. Of course, scientists (including linguists) disregard philosophy as conjecture as it has no evidence aside from logical conclusions to back it up. That’s fine, but I find it amusing when science confirms what philosophy has already said.
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The Great Apartment Hunt

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Is over. But man, it’s rough. I don’t know why it’s so difficult. It just doesn’t seem like it ought to be if you live outside a major metropolitan area. If anyone in New York reads this, well, my condolences. And also: just ignore me, it’s obviously not that difficult where I live compared to you, you wonderfully-cosmopolitan you. This wouldn’t have been such a bother if I wasn’t working on a couple of big projects for school and entrenched in a war of attrition with my school’s financial aid office. Apparently there are new federal regulations that don’t permit them to award grant money until after spring grades have been released. Which is a week after the semester ends. And Summer registration was two weeks ago (okay, it was early registration, but really, if you don’t register early, you’ll never get the courses you need). So amidst all of the academic chaos, I also get to move all my shit into a new apartment, likely wait a week or more for the cable to be hooked up so I can actually use the Internet, and never find anything important that I didn’t identify as such and squirrel away in my car ahead of time.

Given the relative income in the area I live, the housing costs are surprisingly high. Compared to Wisconsin, at any rate. But that’s neither here nor there. I found a place I can afford, that has one bedroom, will allow me to have a cat and thus allow my decline into the world of crazy-cat-guy-dome, and doesn’t have a pesky gas stove that I would inevitably cause to explode during a drunken cooking session. So that’s the upside. No roommate but my budget will probably force me to decide between things like air-conditioning or beer, cigarettes or food and tuition or beer. I really like beer, though, so I suspect my decisions have already been made for me.

And if you browse around the Augusta Craigslist, you’ll notice that, relative to other places, it’s a barren and decrepit place. Yet I managed to find an apartment on there, if only as a testament to my laziness in even attempting to search. elsewhere. So when I saw this xkcd comic today, I couldn’t help but say, “yes, that is exactly what it is like. Fucking Craigslist.”

$1600 / 1386153BR 3BATH, MODERN SLIDING DOORS, GUEST ROOMS, GARBAGE DISPOSAL. FREE MANDATORY PARKING (ENFORCED). CONVENIENT TO ALDERAAN.

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In Which I End Up Sounding Like a Conspiracy Theorist

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I’m not big on conspiracy theories. Some are more entertaining than others, sure. And some are right in pointing out that something isn’t right in re whatever it is they’re theorizing conspiracies about. And I have one of my own.

I’m really concerned that I haven’t heard much really about this:

Artificial Leaf Could Be More Efficient Than the Real Thing
Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera claims to have created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials that mimics nature’s photosynthesis process.

The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity.

Nocera’s leaf is stable — operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests — and made of widely available, inexpensive materials — like silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. It’s also powerful, as much as 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural leaf.

With a single gallon of water, Nocera says, the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Provide every house on the planet with an artificial leaf and we could satisfy our 14-terrawatt need with just one gallon of water a day.

And it’s ready for production use. A gallon of water per day (probably more like 3-4 for American households, but really, that’s still not very much). In fact, they’re going to make them. And sell them in third-world countries that lack centralized power grids.

Couple it with a little wind turbine and a solar panel, and you’ll never pay for electricity again.

But we will never see this in America. Except as a niche market sold to eco-warriors and survivalists. (Not that anyone seems to have much of a problem with either group, but most of those who claim association are readily identified in some way as a nut.) Now here’s my crazy bit: it’s okay to lower your power use, but it’s impossible to cut yourself off from the power grid. I think it’s even illegal in most places (I could be wrong about that, but it seems like something a housing code would include for making a house livable).

And it’s not about electricity. It’s not about people being lazy. It’s not about economics. Or the environment.

It’s about power. Not the electrical kind. But big-industry, centralized power. As long as there is a very small number of places generating everyone’s electricity, they have America by the nutsack.

Oh, and according to the Japanese, Nuclear Power plants can get really dangerous sometimes. We have a pretty good track-record here in the US, sure. I guess that will last forever. We will never have a problem like that, right?

So it’s like this: they have figured out a way to dispose of a multi-billion dollar industry that, when faced with a natural disaster or a drunk engineer or a crack in some concrete, could irradiate huge sections of the planet. And that industry will instead continue building nuclear reactors really close to me.

And it’s not just in electricity or utilities industries – the federal government has been continually centralizing law enforcement and other things for decades. Everyone wants to do away with distributed computing that doesn’t have a centralized host (this new Cloud Computing thing is the solution to decentralized internet gibberish). There is a war against anarchism. They powers that be are insisting that for everything, somebody has to be in charge. And to that I say, no. No there doesn’t. Fuck off.

You wanted to see my crazy: there it is. I think that corporatism is going to destroy what’s left of humanity with e-books and fucking cloud computing. We’ll all be hooked up to the same power, internet, and ‘distributed’ systems. All traffic will be monitored or be pay-per-view/use and being outside of its grasp will make you an outsider in the truest sense. It’s going to taxonomize and categorize everything until we can’t fucking breath. And we’re going to shell out cash to the big centralized machines that give us our little happiness. And don’t forget to update your fucking facebook status either, to let the marketing drones watching that you’re upset or happy.

Yes, I’m on the power grid. That doesn’t make me hypocritical. If I shunned the power grid I wouldn’t be able to do anything. There is a line between being ideological and being stupid. We can still choose quite a bit right now. And we can still be anonymous (I don’t mean Anonymous, but you can be that too, if you like) for the moment. And when that changes, I’ll be in Peru, with a leaf-powered home, drinking Ayahuasca and laughing at everyone. I hope.

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The Spam

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Since I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, the spam has cut back as well. But they’re still at it. The anti-spam plugins that come with WordPress seem to be doing a heck of a job, though, so you won’t actually see any of their cheeky messages.

What do they think of the readers here, whom they are presumably trying to promote their wares to? At the moment, as a demographic, you look like this:

  • You need pills. Tons of pills.
  • You have erectile dysfunction.
  • You like to ski.
  • You need furniture.

I’m glad that spammers hold us here at Echoes and Mirrors in such high regards. It’s actually a bit of an upgrade from last year, when they were spamming with dog porn. And other assorted porn. It was actually more porn than pills then, actually. Yet the pills won out. Specifically, we need Tramadol and Valtrex. This does not surprise me in the least.

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