Sunday, November 23, 2014

More of the multicultural circle-J

Just when I thought this idiocy had fully saturated society, here comes one more. Deaf, spelled Deaf, not deaf, is now a cultural identity. The icing on the cake? Britain has just registered its first baby with a sign name, which is written in English as UbOtDDstarL. For fuck's sake. Everyone, come and see our beautiful new baby UbOtDDstarL! If I went to a baby shower for precious little UbOtDDstarL, I'd laugh right in the parents' faces.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Stairway to Heaven



The iconic rock song Stairway to Heaven has been re-released once again. BBC News interviewed Page recently to discuss how the song was created, and it's a must-watch for anyone who likes Led Zeppelin.

From the interview, Jimmy Page discusses the finale of Stairway to Heaven and the country setting in which it was created:

"And by that point it's really, it's, it's really motoring, it's not racing, but it's just the passion of it, it's just unfolded on every aspect of the lyrical aspect of it, about what it inspired. It was really an inspired period of time. I think it sort of shows the lasting quality of this music, over all these years, is the fact that everyone's playing so honestly and with such conviction, that it sort of shows."

Stairway to Heaven is the most requested song in the history of radio, according to experts. It's so well known that it has become a target of parody and ridicule. Sure. Yet, the human mind is capable of being wiped clean, so listen to Stairway to Heaven again, with a clean slate, and hear one of the greatest pieces of music composed for guitar. As all Led Zeppelin songs, it was composed for guitar by Jimmy Page, with lyrics added afterward. This doesn't disparage Plant, it elevates him. How do you overlay perfect lyrics onto something like this?

Certain flapjacks overstuffed by broiled lobster tail and imported beer and all-important portabello mushrooms -- folks prone to delusions of grandeur -- will say classical guitar and flamenco represent the pinnacle of the instrument. Pah. I believe anyone who listens to Stairway to Heaven with open eyes (and an open heart?) will agree that this song belongs in the pantheon.

When you're done eating elitist food that tastes good because wealthy aficionados say it tastes good, try this new interview with Page at medium.com.

From the interview:
    So these releases will be coming out through next year, and during that time I’ll be working, working, working. The prospect of actually coming back and showcasing the music that I’ve done all the way through my life, but also the new music that I’ve done, which will have some serious surprises in it—that’s fascinating. Because I love playing live, and that’s the next step, really.
That's interesting, because a guy who lives for playing guitar hasn't given the world, or sold it, a single piece of original music since one acoustic number that appeared as an Extra Feature on the It Might Get Loud DVD nearly 10 years ago. Where is this new music from Jimmy Page? If ever there was a man resting on his laurels, it's JP. He's stayed in the public eye, but in terms of output, Jimmy Page is another JD Salinger.

For aficionados, here are three versions of SWTH. The first one is from 1983. It's good, but not his best. People who knew JP said he was addicted to heroin in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. He has never admitted this, but his playing is sloppy...



This is the 2007 Celebration Day reunion concert. The uploader says 2012, but it's really 2007. This version is better than the 1983 version above. It's fantastic, but Plant can't hit the high notes, and Page's fingers aren't as fast. Skip to 1:18:28 for SWTH:



And here's the best live version, from 1973. Everyone is in their prime. I could be wrong about the year. Maybe be slightly later than '73. It's the best live version existing on video.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Asimov's Foundation story set for HBO series

Media is reporting this as fact, like The Wrap and The Verge. The best news is that Christopher Nolan is writing the adaptation for HBO. Nolan wrote Memento and Interstellar. I think those are serious chops for getting the show done right.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Swedish prisons, the alternate view

For years, even decades, I've been hearing that prisons in Sweden are utopian. These reports always come from die-hard socialists promoting a socialist vision. A new Guardian story about the experience of one of the Pirate Bay founders, Sunde, tells a different story. He's saying things like prisoners are "deprived of their humanity."

The Guardian story doesn't dig into the larger issue, but it remains the heart of the matter: is facilitation of file sharing a crime? Governments say it is, but the Internet generation, at least the current version of that, says not. It is a crime to download copyrighted material without paying for it, as all but the most foolish would agree, but what about facilitation? When jewel thieves are arrested, does the corner hardware store get indicted for selling the tools used to break into vaults? Does Ford get indicted for making the car used in the getaway? Strangely enough, individual downloaders -- the folks who are most obviously breaking the law -- are no longer prosecuted. The RIAA in particular announced that they are no longer going after individuals. In other words, the authorities have stopped going after jewel thieves, just the people making available the tools of the trade.

The other super-high-profile case is Kim Dotcom in New Zealand, who remains free on bail as the US government attempts to build a case against him. The main thrust of the FBI's argument is that Dotcom knew people were using his filesharing / hosting site for illegal purposes, and even encouraged it. If this was a case involving jewel thieves, the FBI is saying Ford custom-made a car, knowingly, for the purpose of escaping the scene of a crime. Once again, the authorities are going after a facilitator, not those who are clear lawbreakers. It's a steep learning curve for pioneers who want to facilitate file sharing.

While on house arrest, Dotcom started a new service that is encrypted to the point where he and other company officers can't see what is being stored. Good idea, but it may work against him during his current legal problems. Why make this version of storage when, as he claims, the other version was perfectly legal?

Dotcom has talked about Safe Harbor, the concept that facilitators aren't responsible for misuse on the part of individual users of an online service. Google used this successfully with YouTube, but there is a major difference: Kim Dotcom didn't initiate relationships with copyright holders to issue warnings and takedowns. Most fans of YouTube are familiar with videos disappearing on copyright grounds. I've lost a couple myself -- once the entire video, and once the audio (I have more than a million views on my most popular channel). I believe there is a legal gray area with Google. They're allowed to operate as long as they make a reasonable attempt to police copyright violations, which are initiated by the copyright holders. Dotcom didn't do any of this, to my knowledge.

Government strategy to ignore individual lawbreakers and go after larger players has been tried in another industry, at least in the U.S.. Gun manufacturers have been sued / prosecuted for gun violence. In those cases, advertising from manufacturers was used as evidence -- some of the ads seem to indicate the manufacturers knew their products would be appealing to gangs and would be used for violence. In the case of Kim Dotcom, the FBI is holding up emails seeming to show Dotcom knew and reveled in the fact his file sharing service was being used illegally.

Gun manufacturers successfully defended themselves against the legal actions. The Pirate Bay founders failed, and are all in prison (except the last one, who is now in the legal process in Sweden). Kim Dotcom has not yet had his trial.

The main question in my mind is, What is really happening here, and why? I believe the RIAA and the U.S. government backed away from going after individuals because it was unpopular with the public, as most downloaders are just ordinary college students, etc., and also because individuals don't have deep pockets. The government is swimming upstream to bigger targets with more assets and a greater ability to pay big fines. The added benefit for government is that the public doesn't get nearly as upset when a large corporation is sued compared to an ordinary citizen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Goat joke

Found this online, of course...

What do you get when you mix human DNA with goat DNA?

Kicked out of the petting zoo.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Republicans win

Everything I'm hearing on the radio and seeing online is how the Republicans have won. Right wing folks are saying, "Everything's going to change now." No, it will not. Watch and see. These parties are nearly identical.

1. Obama's wings have been clipped, and he always refused to work with Republicans. That runs contrary to what the leftist press claims, but it is reality. Obama has been ruling by fiat for a long time.

2. The two power-parties are more alike than different. Case in point, and there are many others: warrantless wiretapping began in earnest under Clinton with bi-partisan support. It was greatly expanded under Bush, with bi-partisan support. Under Obama, it increased five-fold, with bi-partisan support. Another case: deficit spending was doubled under Bush, and it was quadrupled under Obama. Our debt stands are nearly $20,000,000,000,000. Both of these parties are to blame for causing severe harm to the nation and our liberty.

3. Republicans lack the spine to attempt big changes, and it's doubtful they'll have enough votes to override presidential vetoes.

Press turned on Obama

What I find shocking is something that began six months ago. Obama's champions -- WashPo, NYT, APM, etc.  -- turned on him. These same "journalists" were saying things like "he's a Lincoln-FDR-JFK" triple-combo six years ago. Today, six years too late, they finally started covering stories unfavorable to the prez. The why of it is what I can't understand. The only thing I can think of goes to the darker side of human nature. People attack the weak, and Obama has become weak in light of ten major scandals. Try as they did, the left-wing press couldn't ignore all of it. If his adoring press turned on him because they perceive him as weak, it's awful to see, even though I approve of the end result.

Amnesty

Here's the most interesting part of tonight's results, in my view, for the short term: Will Obama still take executive action to grant amnesty to more than 12,000,000 illegal aliens? Obviously, he's waiting until after the election, and would be a fool to do anything until the Media Dead Zone between Thanksgiving and New Year's (because the nation is deeply against something that will cause so much harm). Will he still do it after losing the Senate? It's going to be interesting to watch. If he carries through with his plan, I predict it will happen on a Friday night somewhere in the Dead Zone.

Single, 6-year term

I also feel vindicated in something I've been saying for years now, although I don't recall putting it online: any president would be a fool to seek a second term because the nation turns against presidents midway through the 2nd term. It happened to Clinton, it happened to Bush, and now it's happening to Obama. My solution, although it's far from a 100% solution, is to switch to a single, one-time term of 6 years. No other term possible, even after a gap. It's a once-in-a-lifetime slot.

Pros

A president can preside instead of campaigning for re-election.

He/she will be out before the nation turns against them. Division and hatred and lack of faith makes a president ineffective, which is usually harmful to the nation.

It's probably the most difficult job on Earth, and six years would be far easier than eight. I'm talking about the toll the job takes on the mind and body of any president. Eight years of major stress is excessive, to the detriment of the nation. Six is far better.

Cons

The last two years of a six-year term will be spent campaigning for candidates of his/her political party. Most politicians, and certainly 99.9% of all Republicans and Democrats, place the interests of their party above the interests of the country. This will not change with a single, 6-year term.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

The birth of a new phrase

Supervised isolation has replaced quarantine, as of today. We can thank our beloved friends on the left for this little gem. The new official term is true to the left's nature: it is non-offensive. As soon as somebody objects to "supervised" or "isolation", they'll have to come up with a new term.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Battle for Keene makes national news

I've been following the Battle for Keene for a while now. That's Keene, New Hampshire, home to Free Keene, a group of peaceful libertarians who are opposed to big government and sometimes seem to be opposed to any government. What they call peaceful, others, like opposition group Stop Free Keene, calls harassment.

The Free Keene folks and their battle to stop parking tickets just made Fox News. Stopping the tickets -- called Robin Hooding -- is only a part of what the group is fighting for.

Fox News video

2nd Fox vid, with written article

Free Keene

Stop Free Keene

The latest at Stop Free Keene's website talks about Ian, one of Free Keene's leaders. He changed his name from Ian Bernard to Ian Freeman (if I have that correct), but the SFK folks still call him Bernard, which is kind of funny on its own. From SFK: "The special snowflake leader of Free Keene has petitioned the court to let him make a charitable contribution to local service providers in lieu of actually getting his hands dirty or committing the mortal sin of “voluntaryism”: placing the welfare of others before yourself."

Meanwhile, the Free Keen website has a recent clip from RT doing a story about the Pumpkin Festival riots, which also made national news. And there's a mention of Jared Goodell, somebody associated with Free Keene. Goodell made it onto WGN Chicago, Fox News and CNN. He was filming during the Pumpkin Festival when the organizer of the fest seemed to take a disliking to him, which resulted in some funny video.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Darknet and Deepweb at Foxnews

I was surprised by an article today at Foxnews.com. I don't work in IT, presently, but I have read most books published on hackers -- currently known as the realm of the darknet and deep web. It's kind of funny how terms change, fueled by media pseudo-knowledge. What were once crackers became "hackers", and now they're "users" of the "darkweb" and "deepweb". Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Whatever sells articles. FYI the best book so far is Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen. I rarely see these kinds of terms used in articles for the masses. Well done, Fox, and I'm surprised that Brazil cracked this kind of network. Somebody must have neglected to pay a bribe to a government official. This Fox translation of complicated things for the willfully uninformed public is rather good:
    The ring was buried deep inside a “darknet” – private networks built from connections between trusted peers using unconventional protocols.
    Darknets are just one part of what is known as deep web – a vast network which is not indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing. While most of the deep web is not mired in criminality - resources such as academic databases and libraries are said to make up much of its content - darknets typically run on the fortress-like Tor network.
    Tor, which stands for ‘The onion router,’ started out as a military project, but now functions largely as a highly clandestine civilian network.
For anyone curious, Tor is the public face of networks that can be nominally concealed from "authorities". It's general knowledge now that DHS / FBI has substantial inroads to Tor, so users beware. There are other schemes that are never made public, though. Food for thought, heh.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

'US-led' strikes on ISIL

As everyone knows, a coalition of at least 10 nations are conducting air strikes against ISIL in Syria and northern Iraq. I've noticed something at the BBC News website: the term "US-led" is used so frequently it seems odd. It really stands out, like the BBC has an agenda. Were they told to keep that piece of info at the forefront of viewers' minds? British government? It's used so much, to the point where it's unnecessary, that it can't be standard journalist writing.

I'm sure it's true to say US-led, but why is it being pushed to the point of absurdity? We're the world's policemen, like it or not, but our president went out of his way to get other nations involved, such as the UK and many Arab countries, like this recent BBC story says, "Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates." That's an unprecedented coalition. Is the BBC trying to assure the UK people that the UK is not leading a deadly military campaign? Are they trying to emphasize the warlike nature of the USA, which is something they love doing? It's all weird.

CNN

I quit watching CNN during the Iraq War because they sided against my country during a war. For that, there is no forgiveness. I don't mind seeing the "enemy" side of things, and I don't mind alternate points of view, but when a socialist media company openly hates America and hopes it loses a war, that's the end, permanently.

Now, I'm getting spammed by CNN. It's possible somebody other than CNN put one of my email addresses on a list to receive breaking news. But, if I learn that CNN is slamming, I'm going to sue the MOTHERFUCKING SHIT OUT OF that fetid socialist company. If that happens, I won't accept a settlement if it means a non-disclosure agreement. Those fucks.

Excuse my language. And, as I said, I don't know if CNN is slamming, or if some DB is messing with me. But oh boy would I love to take a swing at a garbage media company pushing an anti-American message. That would be raison d'etre.

Kindle Unlimited from Amazon

This is a blatant plug, for which I'm not ashamed. I'm on month two with the $9.99 service (1st month was a free trial), and I recommend it for anyone who reads a lot. I've been reading almost 3 books per week since I got it. In fact, I just found another good book in the 600,000 title collection: The Second Ship by Richard Phillips.

Here are a couple of others I plowed through on Kindle Unlimited, but there are many more I'm forgetting: The Atlantis Gene and the two sequels by Riddle, and all Michael Lewis books (yes, all of them). His Flash Boys blew me away. Fantastic.

The program offers unlimited reading of the titles on the list. Most current best-sellers are not included, but there are still tons of great books available. As a reader, it was an easy thing to do. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet, except I'm not getting fat.

Unbroken, the movie

After I finished Unbroken a couple of years ago, I couldn't believe it wasn't already a blockbuster movie. Turns out, it's being made now. It was one of the best books I've read, and I read a minimum of two books per week, and have done so for many years. What really shocked me: the Cohen brothers are making it. Didn't seem like their kind of story.

Unbroken at IMDB

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Elon Musk thinking beyond Earth

It's funny, I've been saying this for a long time, longer than Elon Musk has, but nobody listens. I guess when you're a dumbass blogger -- nobody from nowhere -- nobody listens. Don't get me wrong, I rarely say these things to anybody. I'm not a soiled homeless guy who stands on a vegetable crate on the corner and screams at passersby. I simply learned long ago that if humanity doesn't venture beyond earth, the species will cease to exist at some unknown time in the future. All those sci-fi novels dealing with this topic aren't sci-fi at all, they're futurism.

When you are Elon Musk, a billionaire with an electric car company and a space company, people listen. It's not at all like being Nobody F. Nowhere. The basic idea is this: if we stay here, we all die. That's a fact, based on current knowledge, which is subject to change. It may not be for 50 billion years, so there's no need to panic, but it's true according to all valid sources. Eventually a catastrophe will happen to Earth, and then it's curtains. An x-flare from the sun, or the sun aging and expanding, which will incinerate the planet. A dozen other things can, and statistically will, occur, and each of these things will end humanity. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when.

Here's Musk in a new Aeon interview:
    ‘I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary,’ he told me, ‘in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen, in which case being poor or having a disease would be irrelevant, because humanity would be extinct. It would be like, “Good news, the problems of poverty and disease have been solved, but the bad news is there aren’t any humans left.”’
Aeon is a great online magazine, btb, but be wary of the political stories. From what I've seen, they're buying stories from hard-core socialists. If you don't like stories extolling the virtues of weak, emasculated men, you may not like their politics. The other stuff is fine.

The last time I said to a friend we're doomed if we stay on Earth, I said we need to develop substantial colonies off-planet (not Mars specifically), and I admitted the looming castrophe(s) may not happen for a billion years or more. He looked at his watch-less wrist and said, "That's right around the corner." That friend is a bright guy, and he's right that we don't need to become paranoid. Still, we know it's coming at some point.

Musk's answer is to colonize Mars, mine is to live in space. My idea is better, by the way. If we have groups on Earth and Mars, we have doubled our chances of survival, but that's not nearly enough for the distant future. We need to be in space, in multiple places. Space cities can be turned away from x-flares, Mars cannot. Space cities can be moved out of the path of a giant asteroid, Mars cannot. I admit that Mars is the next logical step, and since we probably have hundreds of millions of years or more to develop escape plans from Earth, I'm not criticizing Musk. On the contrary, I'm glad somebody people are willing to listen to (not me) is talking about this. On the other hand, the catastrophe could happen tomorrow, and Mars will not suffice.

More from Musk:
    Musk has a more sinister theory. ‘The absence of any noticeable life may be an argument in favour of us being in a simulation,’ he told me. ‘Like when you’re playing an adventure game, and you can see the stars in the background, but you can’t ever get there. If it’s not a simulation, then maybe we’re in a lab and there’s some advanced alien civilisation that’s just watching how we develop, out of curiosity, like mould in a petri dish.’ Musk flipped through a few more possibilities, each packing a deeper existential chill than the last, until finally he came around to the import of it all. ‘If you look at our current technology level, something strange has to happen to civilisations, and I mean strange in a bad way,’ he said. ‘And it could be that there are a whole lot of dead, one-planet civilisations.’
He's probably right, except there's no way to be sure. It's entirely possible that only one planet in the universe has life, and that's ours. Either way, all life on this planet will come to an end one day, and we can prevent that only by leaving. That's why all this talk of preventing climate change is moot. It may have meaning in the short term, but in the long run we're only "saving" a planet that is utterly doomed.

Pleasant dreams.

One source of comfort, I suppose, is that we don't actually know anything. "Know" is a tricky word. It's slippery like an eel. If you read the Aeon article, you'll see the author discuss what will happen to the Earth as the sun begins its expansion in 5-10 billion years. Well, we don't know for sure that the sun will ever expand as it ages. This has not been observed directly in other stars. We haven't had telescopes long enough for certainty. The author is taking theory -- albeit the latest theories of the universe, sourced from well-respected scientists, same place I got my own "the planet is doomed" ideas from -- and discussing everything as fact. The truth is, we don't know for sure. Every time a learned scientist gets traction with a new theory, which almost approaches scientific law, 10-15 years later that theory is overturned, and we all follow, cult-like, a new set of "facts". We've seen this with astrophysics, and most areas of science, and astronomy and ideas about stars are no different. It does seem certain, though, so Musk is right to talk about the distant future and the things we must do for survival.

Here's another bit from Musk (and there's still a lot more in the article). Here he's defending human space exploration instead of relying exclusively on probes:
    ‘Well, we are sending probes,’ Musk told me. ‘And they are very expensive probes, by the way. They aren’t exactly bargain-basement. The last RC car we sent to Mars cost more than $3 billion. That’s a hell of a droid. For that kind of money, we should be able to send a lot of people to Mars.’
It's obvious he's thought about space exploration. I'm sure he also thought about India's recent Mars success. India last week became the first nation to send a probe to Mars successfully the first time. Their budget was only $74 million. Both of those things -- success on first try and for only $74m -- are astounding. India did something so fantastic it's almost absurd. Those facts undoubtedly got Musk's wheels turning. SpaceX, after all, is a private American company that is way ahead of India in terms of budget and technology (and capability).

There is one giant flaw in Musk's dream of a large colony on Mars, in my view. He can't do it on his own. One company, SpaceX, with on visionary, Musk himself, won't succeed. Many titans, and I mean tech titans, need to come together. Mars One is already way ahead, it seems, in planning. Can't Musk sit down with them, and also Gates and Ellison and Allen and Zuckerberg and Branson, to make a joint project? All of them together, with many I didn't name, could easily pool a trillion dollars (or 3T) and do a Mars colony properly, and without waiting 50 years. NASA is a victim of failed U.S. leadership, which values getting people on welfare more than space exploration, but there are plenty of billionaires around who could unite if they chose to make things happen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Robin Hood of Greece

The BBC has produced a fine piece about a notorious criminal in Greece. By all accounts, he lives frugally and gives stolen money to the poor, hence the comparison to Robin Hood. He has been captured and imprisoned twice, and each time he escaped by helicopter. Today he is free and on the run, or in hiding.

Story here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MIT ranked No. 1 university on Earth for 3rd time in row

MIT is ranked No. 1 and has been in the top spot for three years running. The U.S. claimed 11 out of the 20 top spots. BBC story here. I always see these kinds of rankings, and when you couple that with some of the achievements here -- 1st silicon chip, internet, man on the moon, etc. -- you immediately see the disconnect between reality and the western media, which never misses an opportunity to mention how fat and stupid we are.

Another interesting tidbit: every new Ferrari sold today has GM shock absorbers, according to car magazines. Technically, Ferrari licensed the electromagnetic ferro-fluid patented by General Motors, and invented by Cadillac engineers. The shocks are filled with an oil permeated by microscopic metal flakes. When an electrical current is run through the oil, it can compress and decompress many times per second, which works well for modern stability control. Ferrari couldn't make better shocks, so they bit the bullet and licensed GM technology. Not bad for ignorant fat people, eh?

Also, the reason you don't see many Cadillacs or Corvettes in Europe is because of socialist taxation rates. A new Corvette Stingray starts at $52,000 in America, but starts at around $110,000 in Europe because of taxes there. The western press says the lack of American muscle and luxury in Europe is because the quality is lower, but that's not reality. The quality of Corvette in particular is legendary, hence the many Le Mans victories. The brand has overall victories, too, not just class victories. Car people know what that means. It's taxes, and that is protectionism. If there was parity, Porsches and Mercedes would start at $200k in the U.S.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

YOLO SWAG 420 BLAZE IT

Liberty is a big deal to me, but it's bigger for some people in Keene, New Hampshire. If you haven't heard of this, check it out. There's something of a Battle for Liberty taking place in a small city in NH, with Free Keene on one side, and Stop Free Keene on the other. A candidate for state rep in NH named Cleaveland is associated with the Free Keene movement. His campaign motto is YOLO SWAG 420 BLAZE IT. The opposition movement, Stop Free Keene, said this about Cleaveland: "I’m sure the people of Keene want their representative to enable college kids to spend four years perpetually drunk, stoned, and pissing in their neighbor’s garden."

The Free Keene folks are Libertarians, but far more radical than I am. Their videos and activism are entertaining. Watch them at their website freekeene.com.

Here's a taste:



I believe in liberty, but I don't think I could do this to a parking enforcement worker.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Obama v. ISIL

The official term for the new terrorist group is ISIL, formerly IS or ISIS. They're the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sometimes called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and sometimes just the Islamic State. Their goals and methods are the same as al Qaeda, basically -- to kill or convert all non-Muslims while recreating the ancient Caliphate, a Muslim empire that existed a thousand years ago.

I just watched Obama's speech, all 14 minutes, at whitehouse.gov, and agreed with it. After six years, our president finally said something I agree with. There were a few details I could criticize, but I won't do that. This is no longer a political blog, and the general message from Obama is something I agree with: Force, with allies, limited to airstrikes and a few other limited activities, and nothing more. Massive invasions with ground forces and nation building is a lost cause with Muslim countries. We learned that the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their culture is 1000 years behind the mindset of having a modern, peaceful democracy, so we shouldn't be in the business of pushing them. Anybody who thinks that's bigoted or "xenophobic" can fuck off. People who routinely hang people for being gay, behead people who follow a different religion or even a different faction, sentence female rape victims to whipping, and cut off the clits of 95% of teenage girls, are worth less than my morning constitutional.

When they're ready to evolve, they'll walk that path on their own. In the meantime, bring in the supercarriers and give our F18 aviators some real-world training. And give us some great video of American firepower. There's nothing so satisfying as infrared video footage showing stone-age creeps with Iranian-funded weapons getting blown into the afterlife.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Solution to the California water shortage

I believe this is a solution to water problems for the entire Southwest region of the United States. Build pipelines from the Great Lakes to the Southwest. If anybody knows why this wouldn't work, speak up. I don't know much about pipelines, but I know that we already have a lot of them, and we're really good at making and maintaining them. People have been good at this since Roman times.

Is there enough water in the Great Lakes region? I don't know. All I know is that in addition to the lakes, anywhere in that region you can sink a well 15-feet into the ground and have unlimited fresh drinking water. Nothing is truly unlimited, but I believe that region is as close to unlimited as we can hope. Minnesota license plates say 10,000 lakes, but the USGS says they have 23,000. I checked. The place is drowning in fresh water. Now throw in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and the rest. Towing massive icebergs from Antarctica to Los Angeles may not be feasible, nor desalination plants, but I think pipelines from a waterlogged Upper Midwest is doable.

For starters, here's proof that the general concept of pipelines is sound, even over long distances. The pic below shows current pipelines running across the USA.


Most of the pipelines in the image are for fossil fuels, and a few convey water. Living in California, I'm very aware of the Mulholland Aquaduct, built in the 1930s, if my memory is correct. It is a pipeline that runs from the Hoover Dam in Nevada to Los Angeles, then branches off to San Diego. At the end of the line, San Diego gets 1/3 of their fresh water from this pipeline. I believe this proves that water pipelines work.

To my limited knowledge of pipelines, the only problem is funding. If this is true, I think the cost of building a few pipelines from the Great Lakes to the Southwest would be relatively low, considering that several Southwest States, plus contributing money from the federal government, would be pooled. Also, tech companies lately, especially Google, have been doing public works for a long time, like hyperfast internet. I realize they're looking at things from a profit standpoint, but from a PR standpoint, I'm guessing it would be good business for a consortium to arise: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Intel, Apple, and a few others could fund half of the pipeline, and reap the PR rewards. If they made the offer, I think the affected states and the fed would respond and get the project done.

If corporations, plus maybe a few individual fatcats like Buffet and Gates and Ellison, came onboard, they could offer their financial contributions in terms of an unenforcable social contract: "We'll supply half of the money in exchange for you, the people of the Southwest, to be good citizens and learn about how to conserve water, every day, and apply that knowledge immediately." The corporations involved could even be inspired to develop new technology to conserve water -- better low-flow toilets, water reclamation systems designed for household use, etc.

On the topic of individual fatcats, here you go:

Bill Gates net worth: $79 billion
Larry Ellison: $45 billion
Paul Allen: $16 billion
George Soros: $26 billion
Warren Buffet: $65 billion

With that list in mind, and the wealth, how big are the problems we need to solve, and how much will they cost? I understand that, from a global standpoint, malaria is a much bigger problem than allowing Los Angeles people to continue hand-washing their $104,000 Teslas and over-watering a postage stamp-sized parcel of green grass. On the other hand, do we wait until nothing happens when the tap is turned on? I like a morning shower, and if these fatcats, plus corporations and government, get together to keep that happening, I'll show my appreciation in my portfolio of stocks and government bonds. I may even omit a legal tax deduction or two. (Not likely because government is a disease.)

I bring all this up because I see this as a viable solution, until I'm shown otherwise, to a problem that is, by all accounts, grave. If global warming is real, and if it's going to make problems like the Southwest water shortage even worse over time, then I believe the time is now to consider unconventional partnerships for solving the problem. It could be used as a model elsewhere, around the world, too. If nothing else, public-private partnerships are already common. In other words, I'm not presenting something born of genius, and it's not even unprecedented. Since I'm rambling now, I believe that non-tech companies who have bought into the hoo-haw of "social responsibility" would be willing to join the consortium: Starbucks comes to mind. As much as I criticize Starbucks, they offer most of their employees health insurance and tuition reimbursement at Arizona State University. They did that in part because of altruism and social responsibility, but also because it pushes up the stock price. What could possibly push up stock prices more than joining a consortium that can, and will, forever solve water problems in the United States?

What are we waiting for? Instead of discussing this, people in Southern California are getting tickets for washing cars in their own driveways, and for watering lawns. Not discussing pipelines connecting places with unlimited fresh water to states that are dangerously low makes me think there's some great flaw with the pipeline idea, but I can't see what that flaw might be. Who knows about this stuff? Who can tell me I'm an idiot and should just shut up about it? I will, but first I need to know why.