Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wind Madness

One of my readers says that Wind power deserves a writing. Oh no, wind power is much too sane. We need something INsane here, which I can do by massively scaling up.

Wind power is one of the few forms of power that doesn't involve boiling water. Wind pushes the blades of a fan-like device. The blades are attached to a central rod. The rod has a magnet at the end. There is a loop of wire wrapped around the magnet, so when the magnet spins, power is produced. So far, this is all sane engineering.

The insane part will be covering the tops of mountain ranges, which typically enjoy large amounts of wind, with wind power turbines. Cables can carry the electricity to where people live. Or, alternatively, the power can pump water, split it to form hydrogen, and blow the oxygen down the mountain. The hydrogen would have to be either piped to where someone would use it, or carted away by a technician. People looking up at the mountains would likely see the turbines, gently turning away, reminding them that their electricity is not free.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Unexpected Side Benefit

In my plan to manipulate the waterways of New Orleans, I found an unexpected side benefit. The Gulf of Mexico has a large "dead zone," in which an algae bloom has rendered the water oxygenless, and unable to sustain life. This condition can be reversed by ending the flow of farm runoff, as was discovered when the Black Sea near Russia had a dead zone. (That dead zone reversed itself when the Russian region collapsed economically, which meant no more fertilizer use.)

So if I divert the Mississippi as in my plan, the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone would reverse itself within 20 years.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Grid Internet

Ubiquitous Internet, an idea explained to me a few times, has given me a much, much crazier one.

Across the earth, we bury routing boxes, which connect to the nearest city's power supply. We connect each of these boxes to its four immediate neighbors with fiber optic cable. Let's say there's one box every 1000 feet in every direction. Let's also say that each one is ready to accept a cable from the surface.

If these boxes can route TCP/IP, then connecting any two boxes to computers on the surface will allow them to use the internet as it was originally designed -- they can chose any of an infinite number of routes to reach each other, and can route around any problems that occur in the network. If the surface connection to these boxes is a WiFi node, then people within the radius of the WiFi signal, a sphere whose radius is about 35 meters, would get internet access from that node. Of course, WiFi nodes can also use each other, allowing a mesh network to develop around that node.

If a city built many WiFi nodes, one of which tapped one of these boxes, then that city would have Ubiquitous Internet. Anyone with a laptop would be able to access the Internet from anywhere in the city. Any device able to use WiFi and TCP/IP could communicate anywhere in the world.

Or, alternatively, ISPs could connect to the internet from one of these boxes. Backbone sites, which require high bandwidth and are difficult to maintain, would be unnessesary, as now the underground box-grid would be the backbone. If an ISP connected to multiple boxes, it would be incredibly difficult to disconnect from the internet. If the ISP had multiple sites that each connected to multiple boxes, it would be impossible to disconnect.

There are some worries about spam, but I think technological solutions to spam are not the answer. Law is. Spam should be banned by law, and those that break that law should lose their assets to pay for things like the underground box-grid.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Japan Thinks -- Can I achieve people's goals?

The blog "What Japan Thinks," which carries translated opinion polls from Japan on a number of interesting topics. Recently, they ran a poll about what 20 things people would like to see achieved in the future. Many of these goals are technologically achievable. I will print the list with my predictions as to the possibility of achieving each item.

> Global warming averted

I covered this. Can be done.

> A world without war

War has been reduced recently, but I do not think it can be completely eliminated. Some people do seem to prefer violence to solve their problems with other groups.

> Medical advances (cancer-defeating medicines, etc)

Medicine will advance in the future, although I do not have enough experience in the field to determine in what way it will change. Researchers are trying hard right now for specific advances, such as anticancer medicines, but progress in unpredictable.

> Decent pensions for old folk

This is a matter of determining how it will be paid for. Should it be paid for by the government (taxes would rise), by the retiring people themselves (money taken from paychecks), or inflation (bad idea)?

> Elimination of bullying and discrimination

Possible. Psychological and sociological studies would be required.

> Barrier-free environment for disabled and old folk

I do not understand what this entry refers to. Physical access is certainly possible, and in the United States, where I live, it is mandatory. Institutions MUST provide accessibility options, or be fined.

> Higher moral conduct by politicians and public servants

Possible. The relevant laws might need to be changed. Remove, prosecute, or retire dishonest, crooked, or corrupt public figures.

> Society that doesn't resist child-birth

I think this entry is referring to Japan's incredibly low birth rate. The CIA factbook claims that Japan has 7.87 births per 1000 population, and a death rate of 9.26 per 1000 population, translating into a growth rate of -0.139. If this trend continues, there will be no Japanese people by the year 3000. For reference, the US has a birthrate of 14.18 and a death rate of 8.27. Japan is averaging slightly less than 1 baby per couple.

I attribute Japan's low birth rate to exhaustion, based off of what I have heard. In a stereotypical couple, husband works 18 hour days, wife has similarly ridiculous workload. They meet up only for evening meal and sleep, and are too tired to have sex, much less actually make a baby. Other, less formal, articles report wives complaining that if they did have a baby, their husband would do nothing to contribute to its welfare. My recommendation is to reduce the workload of both sexes, perhaps through robotics.

> Society without a rich-poor divide

This is unlikely to be solved. Even communism has not removed hierarchies of wealth.

> A law-abiding, crime-free, safe and secure world

This is continuously improving, but will never be 100% solved without some kind of preemptive test for sociopathy.

> Earthquake prediction

Supercomputers and geology combine reasonably well, and I believe this will be available within 50 years.

> Better moral standards and factual information from television and newspapers

Improvable, by social and legal methods that I do not understand.

> A society where Japanese hold the "wa" dear in their hearts

"Wa" translates to something on the order of "social harmony," and is one of Japan's bigger social values. Looking in from the outside, it would seem that this is accomplished already. (Watch me receive several tons of hate-mail telling me how stupid I am for believing this.)

> Ubiquitous Internet


> Resolution of Japan's territorial problems

Japan has a few overlapping land claims with some of its neighbors. The "Southern Kuril Islands" are run by Russia, but claimed by Japan as well. Japan and South Korea claim the Liancourt Rocks. Japan, China, and Taiwan all claim "Senkaku-Shoto," (which are apparently some small islands near Taiwan, called "Diaoyutai" by the Chinese sources. I was unable to find a neutral name.) and incessant quarreling with Korea and China occurs in the East China Sea.

Somebody has to give up their claim, and all parties are stubborn for nationalist reasons. Namely, giving in would make their own nation "look bad."

> Voting for Prime Minister

A constitutional amendment should handle this.

> Privatization of public facilities including NHK

Privatization is a hairy problem, in that you must sell off public works, and everyone and their brother inevitably finds something crooked about the way it was sold, especially those that lost the auction.

An economist would probably have some useful advice.

> Ubiquitous electronic cash

While credit cards are quite common in the United States, a very large portion of Japanese commerce involves street vendors, who are literally incapable of accepting anything other than cash.

Whatever the solution is, it must be mobile, cheap, and both vendor and customer easily trained for it.

> Maintenance of current levels of freedom of speech

I need a sociologist to explain what is meant here. Maintain by preventing decay of existing levels, or prevention of increase? I favor more, free speech is one of my culture's biggest values.

> Japan becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council

This is going to be quite an uphill diplomatic battle. The opposition of China and Korea, which are still angry over things that happened during World War II, are going to oppose this. China is a permanent member, and is likely the biggest source of vetoes involved. Achieving this goal will likely involve appeasing China in some form or other.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A problem of philosophy

Last week, I came across a person who turned out to be much smarter than me, and asked him what he thought the biggest problem in the world was, as I've been asking many others. To my surprise, he didn't mention anything that would appear in a newspaper. He said that the biggest problem is philosophical rigor, and a failure to develop metaphilosophy.

A philosophy, he said, requires five things to be a complete philosophy. I will try to list them now, but I didn't take notes during our conversation, and I should have. He said he would read this blog, so I think if I'm wrong, he'll correct me. The five things are:

It first needs an epistemology, a system of verifying information. What is true, and what is false? How can you be sure of anything you know?

It next needs an ethics and morality. What is the right thing to do? What is the wrong thing to do? How can people behave in society in a moral fashion?

It needs an Ontology, describing the past and how the world got to be the way that it is.

It needs a Futurology, describing how the trends of the present will affect the future.

Finally, it needs an aesthetic. What is beautiful, and what is the best way to promote beauty?

Apparently, this much metaphilosophy was worked out in Ancient Greek times. After the ancient Greek society collapsed, the big power of the time, Rome, was rather uninterested in philosophy. As was the Christian society that rose up after Rome fell. Only in the Renascence, in the 1600s, was the interest in Philosophy renewed. The thinkers of the Renascence unfortunately made little progress in philosophy before being distracted by chemistry, engineering, and physics.

Since the 1600s, basically no progress has been made into metaphilosophy. And this, he argued, is a big cause of problems in society today, because some people adopt defective philosophies due to not having any indication that their philosophy is defective.

For example, vitalism. Vitalism was the very popular belief, common in the 1700s, that the chemistry of life was somehow different than the chemistry of non-life. Vitalists believed that traditional chemistry did not apply to the matter in living animals, and synthesis of chemicals found in living cells is manifestly impossible. Vitalism is wrong. It is factually untrue. It was proven untrue in 1828, when a German chemist synthesized urea. That this has happened has only reduced the popularity of vitalism, instead of the expected result of eliminating it.

Admittedly, very few people today believe in vitalism. There are probably more solipsists than vitalists. Solipsisms is the incredibly bizarre philosophy that there is only one mind in existance, namely yours.

To end the derail, philosophy is very powerful. The antagonism of the Cold War bound some nations together and others in buring hostility....over philosophy. A good philosophy is the reasons for being of many people, and could remake the world. or destroy it.
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