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Echoes and Mirrors » property rights

Archive for the ‘property rights’ Category

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.


Struggling just makes it worse – the nature of rape

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Unlike Rob over at To the People, I think this is great:

PALMDALE, Calif. — Schoolteacher Shana Richey misses the playroom she decorated with Glamour Girl decals for her daughters. Fireman Jay Fernandez misses the custom putting green he installed in his backyard.

But ever since they quit paying their mortgages and walked away from their homes, they’ve discovered that giving up on the American dream has its benefits.

Both now live on the 3100 block of Club Rancho Drive in Palmdale, where a terrible housing market lets them rent luxurious homes — one with a pool for the kids, the other with a golf-course view — for a fraction of their former monthly payments.

Rob hates them for exploiting the situation.

But let us look at this from a practical angle. What does failure teach us? Not to fuck up again, hopefully. A single failure might not deture a person, and will certainly not deture millions of people. What it takes to teach millions of people a lesson by forcing them to suffer through a hopeless, downward spiral together and force them to realize it while its happening. Horror makes you scream and fight back. Terror paralyzes you and the mind reels in horror while the body is unable to move.

And what better way to teach people that government subsidies, welfare and bailouts are bad policy? There isn’t. That’s why the best solution is to encourage it. We should all suck on the teat as hard as we can, bleed it dry, watch it turn to dust and cheer on the collapse of a flawed system.

Then social selection can resume its role of culling the herd. Policies that prevent failure fosters a culture that believes, deep down believes, that everyone can be a winner. Hell, its part of the reason for the horrible status of the American education system. And it will only get worse. The bailouts that essentially resulted in millions of US bonds simply evaporating is another example.

The simple truth is that not everyone can be a winner in a world where resources are finite. Attempting to break this rule through clever market regulation can only result in an even more catastrophic failure than could naturally take place.

Some are leaving behind their homes and mortgages right away, while others are simply halting payments until the bank kicks them out. That’s freeing up cash to use in other ways.

Ms. Richey’s family of five used some of the money to buy season tickets to Disneyland, and plans to take a Carnival cruise to Mexico in March. Mr. Fernandez takes his girlfriend out to dinner more frequently. “We’re saving lots of money,” Ms. Richey says.

Who is the chump? The guy accepting the free shit other people are willing to give him and and not thinking twice about it, or the guy who is handing it over?  Both are.  They’ve been duped by a shitty system.  Both groups will most likely suffer greatly for it.  One, immediately because he’s being forced to give and the other because he’s becoming complacent.  Self-sufficiency and independence will never lead to these ends.

I’m not a gun-toting TDTSHTF (The Day The Shit Hits The Fan) survivalist guy and I don’t expect the collapse to happen any time soon. But I’d like it to. Then again, I have very little to lose under such circumstances, and much to gain.  I am a poorly paid non-profit worker, after all.

And with that, I’ve been inspired to write a zany short story. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get high and eat 39 cent macaroni and cheese because I’m crawling my way out of a pile of debt I got myself before I had even heard the terms ‘free market’ or ‘libertarianism.’  Tootles!


The right to the intertubes

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Guaranteed broadband:

I think the temptation is to romanticize rights as timeless philosophical axioms; to connect them to an imagined state of nature from which your preferred understanding of the social contract then arises. It’s no doubt difficult to admit technology into that picture. But what’s the second amendment if not a guaranteed right to technology? “Arms” is, admittedly, a bit more poetically vague than “100mbps broadband connection”. But considering all the headaches that’ve been produced by that bit of American lyricism, it’s hard to blame the Finns for overspecifying.

To me it seems simple: society needs to guarantee its members the ability to do certain things, like defend themselves and communicate and participate in the economy. If the march of progress makes it absolutely or practically impossible for them to do so without access to some enabling technology, then the ability to use that technology will have to be guaranteed, too, right?

Guaranteeing access to a technology and giving that technology over for free are not the same thing. I don’t see the problem with this – if you can’t afford it, then you aren’t trying hard enough and your right to it has not been violated.

By co-opting the network infrastructure and providing it to the public for free is redistribution. It is, for all sane purposes, an effect of Rawls Difference Principle: justifying an inequality (caused by the state’s theft of the network) because it improves the situation of the worst off (those without internet access).

I don’t think it is a romanticized philosophical axiom: the right to something is very, very different from the right to not to have something taken away from you. But you must first have that thing, whatever it is.


the burbs

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

I’m all for property rights even though I rent in the downtown. But I’m single and it affords me easy access to the bars. Even still, my personality doesn’t mash with the suburban lifestyle, so I would choose to live in a high-density urban area anyway. I like to have a corner store within walking distance and I don’t want to drive to/from the bar.

But not everyone sees it the way I do -and they should have the right to choose the suburbs if that’s what they like.

The one thing I can partly agree with is that suburbanites have to drive more. And they cause traffic to be a bastard on the rare occasion I choose to drive out that direction (usually to a high-quality liquor store for a fine bottle of scotch).


Stimulus done correctly

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Bill would dismantle Florida’s growth management agency:

State legislators are pushing to dismantle the agency in charge of managing growth, arguing that it’s standing in the way of reviving Florida’s economy.

A proposal unveiled Monday for consideration by a House committee on Wednesday calls for taking the Department of Community Affairs apart, handing over nearly all of its duties to Secretary of State Kurt Browning.

The move is one of a host of measures proposed by lawmakers to stimulate the state’s economy by loosening the rules on construction permitting. Other proposals include eliminating impact fees designed to make developers pay for roads, sewers and schools needed for growth, and cutting in half the time allowed for reviewing permits for wiping out wetlands.

Environmental activists say speculation-fueled development, not government regulation, is what caused Florida’s economic downfall. State figures show there are more than 300,000 houses sitting vacant throughout Florida.

Finally somebody’s got the right idea to stimulating the economy: stop choking it. Economics doesn’t need artificial homeostasis imposed on it to continue functioning.

This could be a moderate win for free market economics, even if only in one state.



Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Ok, that’s what happens when its slow at work.