Ed Ring

Capturing reference numbers from Ed at Ecoworld.

Suddenly we discuss tailpipes and atmosphere.

First of all, a gigaton is one billion metric tons. One metric ton (2,200 lbs.) is what a cubic meter of water weighs. One billion metric tons is what one cubic kilometer (one billion cubic meters) of water weighs, and it is called a gigaton.

Next, remember atmospheric CO2 includes two oxygen atoms, and weighs 3.7x the carbon feedstock. So if there are 70 gigatons of carbon in the Amazon, for example, burning the remaining Amazonian carbon will release 2.7x that many gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere (ref. Amazon Ecology Project). So far, tropical deforestation alone has resulted in the release of about 475 gigatons of CO2 into our atmosphere.

So how many gigatons of CO2 are we contending with, anyway…?

Suddenly we discuss water.

…it turns out that the energy required to lift a cubic kilometer of water 2,000 feet is 248 megawatt-years.

What if that water were desalinated in plants located on the coast?

So how much water is in a Sverdrup after all?

A little bit more

They are “the Family”—fundamentalism’s avant-garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe. They consider themselves the “new chosen,” congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential “cells,” to pray and plan for a “leadership led by God,” to be won not by force but through “quiet diplomacy.” Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have written from inside its walls.

The Family is about the other half of American fundamentalist power—not its angry masses, but its sophisticated elites.

The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

Security and/or Liberty?

A virtuous ex-cop writes in his blog, Cop in the Hood:

When you board a plane, both you and your carry-on bags are searched. A civilian employee of the Transportation Security Administration may open and search your checked luggage as well. Although primarily looking for security threats, workers report any illegal or suspicious objects to a supervisor or law enforcement agent, even if the object represents no danger to the flight.

Two legal concepts allow both you and your bags to be searched despite the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. By being in an airport and trying to board a plane, the Supreme Court says, you have given “implied consent” to being searched. The “plain view” principle, according to the court, states that whatever law enforcement legally finds, feels or sees — even if unrelated to the original investigation or search — is fair game for arrest and prosecution.

Using security and terrorism as justification, the government is beginning to extend airport-like implied consent zones to more and more of the public sphere, including the entire Boston subway system. Before the Democratic convention, daily commuters, anybody approaching a national political convention, and drivers on vital bridges and tunnels were told to expect random searches without a warrant. Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure does not apply.

When police are granted greater rights to search without probable cause, they will use these rights. Therefore it’s essential to consider the implications of implied consent and plain view searches in the public sphere.

Read more here. Discuss endlessly.

The Ridenhour Courage Prize

A little recognition for Bill Moyers, but not enough, from The Ridenhour Prizes:

We journalists are of course obliged to cover the news, but our deeper mission is to uncover the news that powerful people would prefer to keep hidden.

Unless you are willing to fight and re-fight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive the people you work with nuts going over every last detail to make certain you’ve got it right, and then take all of the slings and arrows directed at you by the powers that be – corporate and political and sometimes journalistic – there is no use even trying. You have to love it and I do. I.F. Stone once said, after years of catching the government’s lies and contradictions, “I have so much fun, I ought to be arrested.” Journalism 101.

So it wasn’t courage I counted on; it was exhilaration and good luck.

As we undo monolith

If you care about business, markets, and the impact of technology on them, then the following five paragraphs are truly mind bending.

It’s simple: orthodox strategy doesn’t stop at finance. Strategy as shadow-making, moral hazard, and market subversion is rife across the economic landscape, from food, to pharma, to autos, to media. It’s what the industrial-era firm has hardwired into its stale, tired DNA.

If you really want to see the bankruptcy of orthodox strategy in action, click those links – and spend a few minutes thinking about how those industries (and more besides) have spent the better part of a century and countless billions creating more and more elaborate shadows to hide behind.

As in finance, the victimizer is becoming the victim: as interaction accelerates, these industries are increasingly falling victim to the games orthodox strategy so earnestly taught them to play.

Orthodox strategy was made for an industrial massconomy. And that, I think, is the real root cause of the macro crisis: the exploding divergence between today’s economics, and strategy trapped in a distant, faded, rusting past – consigning firms to act out, like mute players on a stage, moves bereft of imagination, meaning, and purpose.

The macro crisis isn’t really just about Bear Stearns and a handful of banks: rather, as we’re all belatedly discovering, orthodox strategy itself is no longer sustainable. For society, for people, and most of all, for the corporation.

Musings of a VC in NYC, The Declining Power Of The Firm

Millions of acres of camelina

camelina - false flaxTo call Montana’s Governor Schweitzer a supporter of camelina production is an understatement. He calls it a “renaissance crop,” a “miracle crop,” and “the crop of the future in Montana.”

Running his hands through a bin of seeds, Schweitzer said he was excited about camelina because there is so much left to learn about its cultivation and uses.

“This is where we were in Montana in 1900 with wheat.”

Camelina flourished in Europe about 3,500 years ago and is on the way to becoming a major source of biodiesel on millions of acres of marginal farmland from eastern Washington state to North Dakota [previous post]. Camelina can grow in arid conditions and can produce more oil from its seeds for a lower price.

Many, many of us are paranoid

People are paranoid, Run! They're coming!

Roland Piquepaille keeps track of how new technologies are modifying our way of life at Technology Trends and found a new use for Virtual Reality in the lab.

What are paranoid thoughts? How is paranoia studied?

“Paranoid thoughts are often triggered by ambiguous events such as people looking in one’s direction or hearing laughter in a room but it is very difficult to recreate such social interactions. Virtual reality allows us to do just that, to look at how different people interpret exactly the same social situation. It is a uniquely powerful method to detect those liable to misinterpret other people.”

In this King’s College study using Virtual Reality to mimic social interaction, the results showed that 40% of us are paranoid.

Piquepaille reports, “If you don’t know how common are paranoid thoughts, here is an answer. “In one recent survey, 70% of people said that they had, at some time, experienced the feeling that people were deliberately trying to harm or upset them in some way.”

Think about this. If 40% of us are generally paranoid and 70% of us have ‘sensed’ others are attempting to harm us, how does this affect our daily lives, our society, and our political choices? It’s an important matter, very seldom admitted amongst each other, or for that matter admitted to ourselves. Day to day we pay attention to what scares us, but not to fear itself. Our fearful nature is poorly understood yet fuels the greater part of our budget and our human relations.

James Brown in 2001

A short study of James Brown at metaFilter:

One night in the summer of 2001, after he’d slathered her in Vaseline (“He liked you all greased up,” she says. “Like a porkchop”) and wore her out trying to come, he gave up and left the room, and Gloria dozed off. When she woke up, Mr. Brown was standing at the foot of the bed in a full-length mink coat over his bare chest, a black cowboy hat, and silk pajama pants with one leg tucked into a cowboy boot and the other hanging out. He had a shotgun over his shoulder and a white stripe of Noxzema under each eye. “I’m an Indian tonight, baby,” he announced. “C’mon, let’s let ’em have it.” Then he dumped a pickle jar of change on the floor, told her to get a machete, and went out to the garage. He took the Rolls, drove ten miles to Augusta, weaving all over the road, clipping mailboxes, smoking more dope, and screaming about being an Indian. Gloria kept thinking she should flag down a cop, say she’d been kidnapped.

Pain Distribution

wood s lot points to Barbara Mor

What’s Left, literally, is The Sinister: the Body’s Left Side (Dark Side of the Mother, the Flesh & the Heart): the nagual. This realm which hyperrational males, positioned along all points of the ideological spectrum, have Dextrously (righteously) marked off as profane, errant, forbidden; or have worked to subordinate to some auxiliary category (Index under Politics: & Women). The patriarchal mind, from Bible to Bacon, Marx to Freud, Bookchin to – yes, sorry – Nader, does not escape its Inquisitional fascination with strict daylight dogmatism, which quickly collapses into anal-obsessiveness over correct practice and procedure, ritual observance, the absolute length of beard-hair or number of whip-strokes per minute per breath of Crime: the exact size shape & weight of stones collected fervidly to be used to stone the radical body to its Deserved Death.

Ringing the Bell

When TSA screeners forced a woman to use pliers to remove her nipple rings before she could board a plane, I immediately thought we should all, all of us, purchase genital jewelery to put an end to this era of silly bullies and their thoughtless policies.

The NYTimes reports that 81% of us think the country is going in the wrong direction.

It’s our nation. We steer it.

Photo: Andy Hartmark
Photo Credit, Andy Hartmark, andyhartmarkphoto.com

The Putz’ War

John Naughton makes an excellent comparison and notices that on this day

… in 1948, President Truman signed the Marshall Plan, which allocated more than $5 billion in aid for 16 European countries. [That’s upwards of $100 billion in today’s money.] It was an extraordinary act of enlightened self-interest which enabled a democratic, pluralist Europe to arise from the chaos and destruction of 1945. Nobody who was in Germany in 1945 could envisage that a prosperous liberal democracy could be built on such shattered foundations. And yet it was.

And the deliberations within the Truman government (especially the State Department) which led to the Plan provide an instructive comparison with the gibberings of the fanatical ‘war lite’ neo-cons who planned and executed the fiasco in Iraq. Marshall, Acheson, Kennan & Co were serious people.

And to think that — according to the Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz — Iraq has already cost upwards of three trillion dollars. Ye Gods!

Hot rock Power

Here’s an update to my previous post about geothermal power, Ultra-deep Power Plants.

Discover Magazine has wrapped a few extra links and is asking an important question.

If we could extract all the geothermal energy that exists underneath the United States to a depth of two miles, it would supply America’s power demands for the next 30,000 years.

Getting at all that energy is not feasible. There are technological and economic impediments. But drawing on just 5 percent of the geothermal wealth would generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 260 million Americans – producing 260,000 megawatts of electric power and reducing coal by one-third. Doable by 2050.

So what is holding us back?

Ride a passing whale

Free diver Julia Petrik rides a beluga whaleTry to imagine this thrill!

Holding her breath for two minutes, wearing just a wet suit, mask and flippers, free diver Julia Petrik cut through the ice, ­descended into icy cold -2ºC (28ºF) water without an oxygen tank to 25m (82ft), and hitched a ride with a beluga whale.

Captured at Russia’s White Sea by British photographer Dan Burton. [link to Metro story]

Upcoming Forms of Apartheid

I think this short essay stumbles, but I was struck by the contrast between the more rational outcome of a social and civilian approach to humanity’s challenges and today’s jingo of hostility where problems are framed by militians.

If the tools of state remain immature and confrontational, there’s conflict ahead that even war mongers haven’t imagined:

Endless War Bumper StickerOn September 11th, 2001, the Twin Towers were hit; twelve years earlier, on November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. November 9th announced the “happy ’90s,” the Francis Fukuyama dream of the “end of history,” the belief that liberal democracy had, in principle, won, that the search is over, that the advent of a global, liberal world community lurks just around the corner, that the obstacles to this ultra-Hollywood happy ending are merely empirical and contingent (local pockets of resistance where the leaders did not yet grasp that their time is over). In contrast to it, 9/11 is the main symbol of the forthcoming era in which new walls are emerging everywhere, between Israel and the West Bank, around the European Union, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

So what if the new proletarian position is that of the inhabitants of slums in the new megalopolises?

The explosive growth of slums in the last decades, especially in the Third World megalopolises from Mexico City and other Latin American capitals through Africa (Lagos, Chad) to India, China, Philippines and Indonesia, is perhaps the crucial geopolitical event of our times. It is effectively surprising how many features of slum dwellers fit the good old Marxist determination of the proletarian revolutionary subject: they are “free” in the double meaning of the word even more than the classic proletariat (“freed” from all substantial ties; dwelling in a free space, outside the police regulations of the state); they are a large collective, forcibly thrown together, “thrown” into a situation where they have to invent some mode of being-together, and simultaneously deprived of any support in traditional ways of life, in inherited religious or ethnic life-forms.

War Is Knot The Answer Bumper StickerWhile today’s society is often characterized as the society of total control, slums are the territories within a state boundaries from which the state (partially, at least) withdrew its control, territories which function as white spots, blanks, in the official map of a state territory. Although they are de facto included into a state by the links of black economy, organized crime, religious groups, etc., the state control is nonetheless suspended there, they are domains outside the rule of law.

This is why the “de-structured” masses, poor and deprived of everything, situated in a non-proletarized urban environment, constitute one of the principal horizons of the politics to come.