On biofuels
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
Press release published July 7th by Cornell University:  
 
Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study.  
 
"There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel," says David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell. "These strategies are not sustainable."  
 
Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkeley, conducted a detailed analysis of the energy input-yield ratios of producing ethanol from corn, switch grass and wood biomass as well as for producing biodiesel from soybean and sunflower plants. Their report is published in Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).  
 
In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:  
 
 
* corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;  
 
* switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;  
 
and  
 
*wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.  
 
In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:  
 
*soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced,  
 
and  
 
*sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.  
 
In assessing inputs, the researchers considered such factors as the energy used in producing the crop (including production of pesticides and fertilizer, running farm machinery and irrigating, grinding and transporting the crop) and in fermenting/distilling the ethanol from the water mix. Although additional costs are incurred, such as federal and state subsidies that are passed on to consumers and the costs associated with environmental pollution or degradation, these figures were not included in the analysis.  
"The United State desperately needs a liquid fuel replacement for oil in the near future," says Pimentel, "but producing ethanol or biodiesel from plant biomass is going down the wrong road, because you use more energy to produce these fuels than you get out from the combustion of these products."  
 
Although Pimentel advocates the use of burning biomass to produce thermal energy (to heat homes, for example), he deplores the use of biomass for liquid fuel. "The government spends more than $3 billion a year to subsidize ethanol production when it does not provide a net energy balance or gain, is not a renewable energy source or an economical fuel. Further, its production and use contribute to air, water and soil pollution and global warming," Pimentel says. He points out that the vast majority of the subsidies do not go to farmers but to large ethanol-producing corporations.  
 
"Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation's energy security, its agriculture, economy or the environment," says Pimentel. "Ethanol production requires large fossil energy input, and therefore, it is contributing to oil and natural gas imports and U.S. deficits."  
 
 
 
emphasis mine
Humiliation at the hands of one’s flesh and blood
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
Hello all,  
 
It has recently come to my attention that during my absence this summer from Linkfilter, I was aliased in the three last posts to my account, and the comments attached to them. The individual who admitted responsibility for this is a family member who is also known to Linkfilter as browneyedgirl.  
 
That I was appalled by this discovery goes without saying; but I was furious at the total lack of contrition that was manifested when the guilty party was confronted. I made it very clear that I took the mater seriously, as I used the DV8 2XL screen name all over the web (for my contributions to Wikipedia for example) and thus I consider this kind of fraud an attack on my credibility.  
 
I have made it crystal-clear to all at my end that this sort of behavior is utterly unacceptable, and that access to bandwidth that I pay for is contingent on using it in an appropriate manor. While I do not feel compelled to detail the sanctions that have been meted out over this, I can assure all here that they were as harsh as they were justified. I will not presume to suggest to the admins what actions should be taken against the perpetrator’s account.  
 
I will ask however, that the three posts in question be deleted, and for the record I am not a supporter of the use of broad spectrum biocides irregardless of their toxicity to humans. Under the best conditions these chemicals are a blunt instrument with unacceptable collateral kills outside the target species.  
 
Finally I beg the forgiveness of this community and in particular those who were insulted by my erstwhile doppelganger.  
From: NEI Nuclear Notes
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
"The highlight of the anti-nuclear rally was an ice sculpture of a cooling tower and a fuel pool, which were supposed to represent a meltdown. These sculptures were finished with dry ice to provide steam from the top of the structures. Notably absent from this display was the only thing at the plant that can even theoretically melt down -- the reactor core. But fiction was a running theme for this rally......................... Right before the NRC meeting started at 7PM, the ice sculpture mock-up of a cooling tower and a spent fuel pool were set up on the front lawn to represent a nuclear meltdown. Both structures were still in place when the meeting ended at 10:30 PM, even though the outdoor temperature was about 85º F -- ironically, one could interpret the sculpture as demonstrating that it is extremely difficult to cause a meltdown, even when you’re trying."  
 
 
hehehe
Who funds "Environmentalists"?
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
I will admit it up front. I believe that there is a global, loosely coordinated effort focused on restricting the growth of all useful energy sources. That includes new supplies of oil, natural gas, coal, and, IMHO most importantly NUCLEAR power.  
 
This loose effort generally hides under the cloak of "environmentalism", but if you dig deep enough and think carefully enough, you will begin to understand that the source of funds for the expensive effort comes from fossil fuel interests.  
 
For many people, especially those of a technical bent, this conclusion is not logical, but let me explain. When I try to help my fellow nukes understand their real enemy, they generally react in disbelief. They say, "Why would an oil company or a government dependent upon the taxes collected from the sale of natural gas be quietly providing the funds and gently guiding the actions of environmental groups that focus on slowing the development of new energy sources? Aren't they in the business that the environmentalists attack?"  
 
The economic fact is that the law of supply and demand works - and that people that really understand and get wealthy in commodity businesses like oil, coal, gas (and grain, steel, plastics, land, etc) understand that the law is an active law, not a passive one. Any action taken to increase demand while restricting supply puts power into the hands of the suppliers and gives them the ability to demand a higher price for their product.  
 
If you are a grain producer using tried and true technology under the benign set of protections and regulations provided by decades worth of lobbying, the idea of a new kind of engineered grain that can allow new competitors to vastly increase production and spoil your market poses a big threat to your ability to remain wealthy.  
 
If you are a coal producer selling hundreds of millions of tons per year of your product in a nice arrangement with electric power utilities that have worked out a regulatory system that allows them to almost invisibly pass on fuel price increases to customers, the idea of new nuclear power plants that do not use a single pound of coal or produce a single molecule of CO, SOx, NOx, mercury, ash or CO2 replacing those coal fired plants is a severe threat to your business model.  
 
If you own producing sources of methane - which you have carefully named "clean natural gas" during extensive marketing campaigns stretching more than a century into the past - the idea of new nuclear power plants replacing the electric power producing combined cycle plants that you were able to encourage during the 1990s by artificially keeping prices low for a while must drive you crazy. Who are these nuclear advocates that want to spoil your carefully laid plans for reaping ENORMOUS profits during an era when supplies do not quite meet the demands? How dare they think that they can get political support from the same people that you have bought and paid for? (You forgot, of course, that politicians are never bought, merely rented.)  
 
None of these commodity suppliers would gain much sympathy if they were really open and honest with their customers. Stating to the public that you do not like competition because it has a negative effect on prices is a non starter from a marketing perspective.  
 
Therefore, being a competitor who can no longer compete fairly, you join the Tonya Harding school of competition and hire someone to break your competitor's knees. When exposed, you might claim that you really only wanted to bruise them, but that is another story.  
 
The hired guns here are the big, well organized, well funded "Environmental" groups that have a long history of fighting against everything. Their cover story is pretty good, most technologists that develop these exciting new methods of commodity production that threaten existing businesses have long been told that they are reviled by people that want to return to a mythical, pastoral existence. The technologists, being rather straightforward people themselves, project that attitude on to others and never think that someone could possibly be lying to them.  
 
They take at face value a guy like Ralph Nader who claims to not own an automobile and never even ask old Ralph how he gets around the whole country without consuming a bunch of fossil fuel in airplanes, trains, subways, taxis and buses. They believe it when groups like Greenpeace get involved in campaigns against chlorine, never thinking about the interests that might benefit by a world where the easy and cheap way to make water clean is made more difficult to use. They never understand that even a 5% reduction in the demand for oil would have a HUGE impact on the daily income for Saudi Arabia.  
 
(The world uses roughly 80 million barrels of oil per day. A 5% reduction in demand could be achieved by producing the equivalent of 4 million barrels of oil per day, which is pretty close to the current oil equivalent of the US nuclear power industry. Ask a talented commodity trader what it would be like in the oil market if a couple of new IRAQ level oil producers suddenly entered the market.)  
 
It is a long, complicated story, but it is one that more closely meets my understanding of business and the underlying motives for people, especially rich and powerful people, to do all they can to protect their current lifestyles and influential existence.  
 
You can find the evidence on the web sites of organizations like the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Pew Foundation, and Shell Oil company. You just have to know how to look and how to understand actions in terms of "interests".  
 
Rod Adams  
Friday, June 10, 2005  
 
From: Atomic Insights Blog
Petition Urges 'War of the Worlds' Boycott
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Some concerned citizens have drawn up a petition to urge the moviegoing public to boycott Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds," which opens Wednesday, June 29. The petition -- found at www.petitiononline.com/Tomkat -- is a letter written to director Steven Spielberg listing reasons, based on Cruise's "abhorrent behavior," that the undersigned refuse to spend ten bucks to see the sci fi film.  
 
"We will not be spending our good money to support the ridiculous and potentially dangerous antics of this raving narcissist," the missive begins.  
 
The complaints are as follows:  
 
Cruise's criticism of psychiatry and using drugs for treatment: "The potential impact on those in need of treatment, who might heed the advice of a 'celebrity' over a trained professional, is dangerous. If Mr. Cruise believes that vitamins can cure mental illness, then perhaps he should consider increasing his dosage."  
 
 
Cruise spreading the teachings of Scientology: "If he is so concerned about mind control, he should not be part of an organization that seems to use this tactic as its Modus Operandi."  
 
 
Cruise's romance with actress Katie Holmes: "If it isn't the publicity hoax it appears to be, is a pathetic, juvenile, attention-mongering display. Tom's obvious control of his Stepford-Wife-To-Be is frightening."  
 
 
Cruise's recent criticism of Brooke Shields, Matt Lauer: "This man cannot even articulate a coherent sentence. He should stick to reading movie scripts."  
 
The petition also points out that the actor's most compelling movie role was in "Magnolia," in which he played misogynist inspirational speaker Frank T.J. Mackay, "a control-freak with a pathological need to assert his obsession over not just those around him, but the public as well ... Mr. Cruise was playing himself."  
 
As of Wednesday morning, nearly 3,000 people have signed the petition.  
 
Harper ineffective in same-sex debate
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
When he set out to fight the same-sex marriage bill, Conservative leader Stephen Harper gambled that he could do so without his party coming across as homophobic.  
 
By the end of the battle in the House of Commons, that perception had become the least of his problems.  
 
While the parliamentary debate has largely been reasoned, it has also exposed disquieting gaps in the logic of the Leader of the Official Opposition.  
 
Harper may have a reputation as a straight shooter, but he did not live up to it over the course of this battle.  
 
Instead, he has contradicted himself at every turn, exhibiting some startling views about the role of the country's political and judicial institutions along the way.  
 
When the highest courts of three provinces originally gave same-sex marriage their blessing, Harper dismissed the rulings as the work of biased liberal judges.  
 
When it was pointed out that the author of the Ontario landmark decision had once served in a Conservative cabinet at Queen's Park, Harper mused that he must have been a closet liberal.  
 
He also said the courts had no business using the Charter of Rights to interfere with debates that primarily belong in the political arena.  
 
But at the very time Harper was making that argument, a Charter challenge to the federal election law bearing his name had already wound its way up to the Supreme Court.  
 
Throughout the last election, Harper insisted that Parliament should have the final say on same-sex marriage.  
 
But he has steadfastly refused to be pinned down about whether the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution should ever be used to shelter the definition of marriage from the courts.  
 
He won't even say if he, as prime minister, would invoke it.  
 
Before, Harper pushed hard for a vote on same-sex marriage in the Commons. But when he realized that the post-election make-up of the House was favourable to same-sex marriage, he changed his tune.  
 
Parliament, it seemed, would only be deemed to have had its final say once it concurred with his views.  
 
At the end of last year, he promised a Conservative government would scrap any same-sex-marriage law passed before its arrival in power.  
 
To back up his latest twist in logic, Harper argued that Prime Minister Paul Martin had tilted the balance by coercing his cabinet into supporting Bill C-38.  
 
This spring, the Conservative leader used delaying tactics to push off the final vote on the legislation.  
 
After the three other parties outwitted his strategists, he questioned the legitimacy of the future law, on the basis that it could not have passed without the support of the Bloc Québécois.  
 
But just last month Harper was playing in the same sandbox as Gilles Duceppe, amicably plotting the swift demise of the minority government to their mutual advantage.  
 
If a law passed with the support of the Bloc can be depicted as lacking legitimacy, should the act of co-operating with sovereignists to bring down a federalist government be called a coup?  
 
Like the NDP, the Bloc has long supported same-sex marriage.  
 
In so doing, it reflects the Quebec consensus on the matter.  
 
Whenever the Quebec National Assembly has spoken on the issue, it has done so with one positive voice.  
 
In the last election, more than 80 per cent of Quebec voters supported parties that did not oppose same-sex marriage.  
 
It could be that it is Quebecers, in general, rather than sovereignists, in particular, that Harper has a problem with. As it happens, the feeling is increasingly reciprocal these days.  
 
There are times when one earns respect for arguing the losing side of an issue with logic, class and passion.  
 
Not in this case.  
 
Harper emerges from the same-sex marriage debate looking less ready for political prime time than when he entered it.  
 
CHANTAL HÉBERT  
 
Toronto Star  
29/06/05
Same-sex legislation passed in Canada
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
The Liberals' controversial same-sex marriage legislation has passed final reading the House of Commons, sailing through with a vote of 158 for and 133 against.  
 
Supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, the legislation passed easily, making Canada only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex unions.  
 
An earlier Conservative motion to send the bill back to committee was voted down 158 to 127. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper repeated his claim that the law lacks legitimacy because it passed with the support of the separatist Bloc party.
The Dirty Folly of "Clean Coal"
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
The unfortunate truth is that there is no such thing as "clean coal." Proposed "clean coal" plants will still emit substantial levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen oxide, lung- damaging particulates and cause mercury contamination of water and land.  
 
"Clean coal" refers to a variety of technologies that in theory are supposed to allow coal to be burned while producing little pollution. None has fulfilled that promise, however. Use of new technologies has helped reduce smokestack emissions, but Clean Coal Technology (CCT) power plants are still very dirty, much dirtier than natural gas fired plants. For example, levels of nitrogen oxide at the Fort Lonesome, Fla., "clean coal" plant are seven times higher than at a natural gas- fired facility. Unlike Fort Lonesome, natural gas plants also emit no sulfur dioxide.  
 
No other source of pollution causes as many adverse health impacts as coal-burning power plants. Coal is America's dirtiest energy source and also our largest, generating 52 percent of the nation's electricity. Coal-burning power plants are the single biggest source of industrial air pollution. Increasing dependence on any type of coal technology is not a true move towards a cleaner energy policy, as coal produces pollution when it is mined, transported, burned and when the waste from burning is disposed. Clearly, the term clean coal is a misnomer.  
 
General Accounting Office (GAO) audits of the Clean Coal Technology Program (CCTP) have said, "emerging clean coal technologies will probably not contribute significantly to the reduction of acid rain causing emissions during the next 15 years." The Energy Department's own evaluations of some of its projects showed that new "clean coal" technologies were 40 percent less effective in removing sulfur dioxide emissions than conventional smokestack "scrubbers."  
 
A History of Waste and Mismanagement  
 
Since its beginning in 1985, DOE's "clean coal" research and development program has received more than $2.3 billion in federal funds through two separate programs. The coal industry also receives hundreds of millions of dollars through a separate DOE coal research and development program. As of March 2000, one-fifth (10) of the total projects funded had been either withdrawn or terminated. Numerous attempts to build "clean coal" plants have failed because of high construction and design costs, environmental worries, technology problems, risky business plans and wobbly investor confidence.  
 
The GAO has released at least seven reports documenting waste and mismanagement in the CCTP. The most recent, released in March 2000, found that eight ongoing CCTP projects "had serious delays or financial problems." Two of the eight projects were in bankruptcy and may never be completed, the other six are behind their original schedules by two to seven years. DOE funding for those six plants is at least $519 million.  
 
For example in Lakeland, Fla., DOE poured millions of dollars into what it called in 1996 "the world's most advanced coal combustion power plant." But last year the city of Lakeland abandoned the plant after its price ballooned from $300 million to $450 million. The former manager of the Lakeland project called it "out of touch with reality." Both Des Moines, Iowa and Calvert City, Ky., recently bailed out of the same 50 percent federally funded power plant design. The maker of an essential plant component also refused to guarantee the design would work.  
 
Last year, GAO watchdogs found $588 million in unspent federal grants in a sampling of 13 government-supported "clean coal" projects. Of the 13, some were moving too slowly to use their money; others had failed before spending their money.  
 
As far back as 1991, the GAO noted in one of its audits that "DOE apparently let its desire for a broad mix of technologies outweigh serious concerns about the economic viability of the projects." The same report said that "DOE continued to fund some projects that it knew were experiencing financing problems and that were eventually withdrawn from the program."  
 
Taxpayer-Funded Corporate Welfare  
 
President Bush now wants to dump $2 billion more into the bank accounts of industry amidst a climate of astonishing profitability for utility, mining and energy companies. For example, American Electric Power, a beneficiary of the CCT program, has seen its revenues in the first quarter this year more than double to $13.54 billion. In April of 2001, the stock price of Southern Company, another recipient of "clean coal" largesse, hit a 52-week high. Beneficiaries of the program also include some of the nation's largest and wealthiest corporations like General Electric, United Technologies and Westinghouse.  
 
The government's fiscal watchdog agency, the GAO, seems to agree that these companies don't need handouts of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. It noted in an audit that CCT efforts "may not be the most effective use of federal funds. For example, some projects are demonstrating technologies that might have been commercialized without federal assistance."  
 
A sampling by U.S. Public Interest Research Group of 10 companies benefiting from the CCT programs showed that for the nearly $3.9 million the companies donated from 1993 to 1999 to Congress through soft money gifts and PAC contributions, they got back more than $787 million in subsidies, or a return on investment ratio of 202:1.  
 
Federal dollars for "clean coal" also aren't necessary. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 already create financial incentives to develop cleaner burning coal technologies by allowing utilities to buy, sell and trade emissions allowances to reach required emissions levels.  
 
More Money for Coal in the Pipeline  
 
President Bush, under heavy pressure from industry, has included $2 billion in his budget over the next 10 years for a third coal handout program. Not surprisingly, coal also has powerful proponents in Congress from mineral-rich states. There are 24 senators who have cosponsored an industry-backed bill to spend $1 billion over 10 years for research on "clean coal" and up to $6 billion in tax breaks for utilities to upgrade plants or build new ones using the technology. This bill would exempt even new coal technology from clean air act requirements, making plain that even proponents of the technology doubt its promises. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, has called for similar amounts of spending in his recently released comprehensive energy bill, S. 389.  
 
For more information, contact David Hawkins, NRDC, 202/289-6868  
 
Source: Environmental Media Services  
France to be the site of the ITER nuclear fusion project.
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
After a long and bitter dispute about where to site the world's largest nuclear fusion reactor it looks all but certain to end in favour of France.  
 
Countries have been arguing since 2003 over whether to site the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) at Rokkashomura in Japan or at Cadarache in France. The French bid has been backed by the European Union, China and Russia, while Japan has been supported by the US and South Korea.  
 
Recent reports sugest that Japan has accepted that the reactor will be built in France.  
 
The earliest ITER could be up and running is 2015.  
Girls Lie Too
Posted by DV8 2XL 12 years ago
So she can't go out tonight again  
Her sister's sick, she's gotta baby-sit  
Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good excuse  
Now you didn't hear any of this from me  
But things aren't always what they seem  
Brace yourself, this may come as a shock to you  
 
[Chorus]  
Girls lie, too  
We don't care how much money you make  
What you drive or what you weigh  
Size don't matter anyway  
Girls lie, too  
Don't think you're the only ones  
Who bend it, break it, stretch it some  
We learn from you  
Girls lie, too  
 
We can't wait to hear about your round of golf  
We love to see deer heads hanging on the wall  
And we like Hooter's for their hotwings too  
Other guys never cross our minds  
We don't wonder what it might be like  
How could it be any better than it is with you  
 
[Repeat Chorus]  
 
Yeah, girls lie, too  
We always forgive and forget  
The cards and flowers you never sent  
Will never be brought up again  
Girls lie, too  
Old gray sweatpants turn us on  
We like your friends and we love your mom  
And that's the truth  
Girls lie, too  
Yeah that's the truth  
Girls lie, too  
 
No, we don't care how much hair you have  
Yeah, that looks good  
Comb it over like that  
 
TERRI CLARK  
Blackout gave cities a breath of fresh air
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
29 May 2004, Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition, Jenny Hogan  
 
 
In August 2003 there was a major electricity blackout in the eastern U.S. This meant the coal-fired power plants shut down, and weren’t burning coal. It provided a unique opportunity to study what would happen if coal-emissions were reduced.  
 
As power plants were turned down in south-east Canada and the north-east and mid-west US, levels of pollutants fell, says meteorologist Russell Dickerson.  
 
His team from the University of Maryland in College Park flew an aircraft over the middle of the blackout zone 24 hours after the power had gone down. “This was a unique opportunity to explore what would happen to air quality if power station emissions were reduced,” he says.  
 
The team compared pollution levels over Pennsylvania with those on a similar hot, sunny day the year before. While there was no significant difference in levels of pollutants associated solely with traffic, other pollutants linked with power stations fell dramatically.  
 
Sulphur dioxide levels decreased by 90 per cent, there was around half the amount of ozone and visibility increased by 40 kilometres.  
 
 
 
LINK
Gerlinde Emsenhuber's 'Tropical'
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
Mademoiselle 2XL by desk lamp
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
On Posting on Nuclear Issues
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
 
 
FuzzyDave wrote: "Many people on this site are just sick and fucking tired of seeing a half-dozen posts about nuclear power on the mainpage every goddamned day."  
 
I replied: "...the votes and the refunds I've been getting up 'till now on this subject make me think I have an audience that still wants to read items on this topic."  
 
The graph above seems to show we both have a point. However, on reflection Fuzzy is probably more correct than I am. The fact is there is no one here that's going to have their mind changed anymore from the 1's side of the table, and I am not telling anyone from the other side anything they don't already know. I'm not however willing to give up the fight, but it is clear that I must take it up elsewhere.  
 
The battle is far from over; not while dissemination from the likes of a so called disinterested party can vomit FUD like this out to the public. Oh yes I did post a comment there and was told it will be held for vetting prior to letting it up. We'll see. (Update: surprise, surprise they didn't post it) This is how I intend to spend most of my time now; hunting them down and holding my opponents accountable for what they say, and calling them out when they can't or won't engage.  
 
Also, as I have mentioned, I may be teaching a course this Fall for which I must start preparing now so that I can get it in for approval in time. The course has the working title, "Nuclear energy: Facts and Fallacies," a broader look at alternate energy being too ambitious.  
 
As a consequence I will be less of a presence on LF as I have been in the last several months, but that doesn't mean I'm gone, I be posting here in my journal from time to time, and expect quick retribution in comments when and where appropriate.  
 
I have a few last items on Nuclear left in the file to post, then I will leave you in peace.  
 
DV8 2XL
hybrid engines will reduce the need for foreign oil
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
So, will high oil prices finally force everyone to buy cars the size of toaster ovens, or ride bicycles? Suburban-driving soccer moms, or working Joes driving delivery trucks or taxis may find themselves thinking along those lines every time they pull up at the pump. But the highway of the future won’t be crowded with cars like the dinky Honda Insight or Toyota Prius. SUVs will survive and thrive.  
 
Silicon power is the answer to $55-a-barrel crude and $2-a-gallon gas. No, not solar-electric cells, but the future plug-in hybrid bus, truck, and car, which can get a good chunk of their most fuel-hungry miles from $40-a-ton coal and $15-a-pound uranium oxide.  
 
The future is in the heavy-iron hybrid drivetrains now starting to roll off assembly lines. Hybrids like the GM Silverado pickup,the Ford Escape SUV, the new 268-horsepower Lexus RX400h SUV, or the newly announced Dodge hybrid Durango or GM Tahoe SUVs for 2008. Mercedes and Porsche have announced hybrid plans, too. And GM is focusing on a hybrid system for bus and industrial-truck markets.Within a decade,almost every new car and truck will be built around a hybrid drive.  
 
This isn’t happening because someone turned off the spigot in Riyadh, or because of some edict originating in Washington. Hybrids are coming because they promise better performance, in a smaller, lighter, more reliable package. And if they aren’t yet cheaper, they soon will be — both to manufacture and to run. The power guts of your next car are now tied to the economics of Silicon Valley.You don’t have to look past your desktop PC to know what that means.  
 
Hybrid drive-trains for really big wheels have been around for decades.You could say the nuclear Navy pioneered the technology in the 1960s. GE’s 6,000-horsepower hybrid locomotive is powered by an enormous diesel-engine electric generator. Komatsu’s monster 300-toncapacity hybrid mining truck is propelled by a 2-megawatt electric generator.The key components of the hybrid car’s drive-train are anchored in the same high-power silicon technologies used on these platforms — technologies that only recently got compact and cheap enough for mass-market use in SUVs and cars. Silicon now shapes and control kilowatts in cars as quickly and efficiently as it controls the microwatts of bits in computers. Hybrids using high-power silicon, controlled with cheap microprocessors, bring stunning improvements in around-town mileage.  
 
There’s more. All hybrids have hefty battery packs to supply power surges for acceleration, and allow the engine to switch off at stops, and power the vehicle for short distances on battery only. In today’s hybrids, those batteries are recharged by an onboard generator. But they could also tap into the electric grid any time the vehicle is parked.  
 
Power already flows in the opposite direction.The GM Silverado hybrid offers 2.4 kilowatts of construction-grade power from a phalanx of AC outlets. Parked in a garage, however, it would make more sense to treat the truck itself as the rechargeable appliance. Most hybrids’ batteries store 2 to 5 kilowatt-hours; not much, but enough for at least five miles of travel. Most urban trips are under six miles. Add another 90 pounds of batteries, recharge opportunistically in garages and parking lots, and you can shift about 25% of a typical driver’s most fuel-hungry miles away from the gas tank to the grid.  
 
If you can, you will, because the grid’s electrons are a whole lot cheaper. Central power plants are much more efficient than even the best V-8. Two-dollar-a gallon gasoline produces electric power from the Silverado at 60 cents per kilowatt hour. Many utilities will sell offpeak power to the truck for well south of 6 cents. Grid-powered miles do gradually wear out the hybrid’s batteries, but battery costs add only about 4 cents a mile.  
 
The automakers aren’t yet talking plug-in hybrids, still less offering them.  
 
When pressed, they’re ambivalent, even uncomfortable with the idea. None wants to see its clean-and-green PR campaign confused by talk of grid coal or uranium. But any way you slice the numbers, it’s far cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient to run a car on coal or uranium than on crude — if you can. Five years from now, cheap, high-power silicon will give the hybrid the edge on every metric of price and performance.  
 
Heavy-iron hybrids aren’t emerging now because of the recent run-up in the cost of crude — the technology has just taken engineers decades to mature. The confluence of the two events might just light a fire under sales. Heavy-iron hybrids aren’t what most environmentalists were looking for. But they will give drivers the room and performance they demand, cheaper miles, and perhaps, eventually, less dependence on foreign oil.  
 
Mark P. Mills and Peter W. Huber  
The New York Sun; Date:Apr 7, 2005; Section:Editorial & Opinion; Page:9
Gardeners
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating, in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. It sounds very well to garden a "natural way." You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, any leech-filed laurel hell. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners.  
 
-- Richard Sheridan --  
THE PENITENT
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
I had a little Sorrow,  
Born of a little Sin,  
I found a room all damp with gloom  
And shut us all within;  
And, "Little Sorrow, weep," said I,  
"And, Little Sin, pray God to die,  
And I upon the floor will lie  
And think how bad I've been!"  
 
Alas for pious planning - -  
It mattered not a whit!  
As far as gloom went in that room,  
The lamp might have been lit!  
My little Sorrow would not weep,  
My little Sin would go to sleep --  
To save my soul I could not keep  
My graceless mind on it!  
 
So I got up in anger,  
And took a book I had,  
And put a ribbon on my hair  
To please a passing lad,  
And, "One thing there's no getting by --  
I've been a wicked girl," said I:  
"But if I can't be sorry, why,  
I might as well be glad!"  
 
Edna St. Vincent Millay  
The Harmony of Aikido and The Mind
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
A fundamental axiom of aikido  
is that the gentle can control the strong  
through the study of technique.  
However, aikido is more than simply a physical skill.  
To coordinate with the opponent's movement  
and power it is necessary that the mind  
as well as the body be pliant.  
In other words the mind must be alert  
and flexible in order to be able to take advantage of the opponent's movement.  
Taken a step further,  
this means that the aikidoka must understand  
his opponent and share his feelings;  
so the final objective is not to inflict injury  
but to cultivate a sense of harmony.  
Thus contest, which leads to superiority and defeatist complexes,  
is avoided in practicing aikido,  
and the techniques are safely assimilated in kata form i.e.,  
in cooperation with a partner each movement is repeated until it has been thoroughly absorbed and has become a reflex action.  
Aikido is not concerned merely with relationships between people;  
it is a form of training in which the aikidoka learns to harmonize with nature through the practice of natural techniques.  
A movement that is awkward or forced  
cannot be aikido.  
 
(Gozo Shioda)  
 
Paul Graham: Hiring is Obsolete.
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
May 2005  
 
(This essay is derived from a talk at the Berkeley CSUA in May 2005.)  
 
The three big powers on the Internet now are Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. Average age of their founders: 24. So it is pretty well established now that grad students can start successful companies. And if grad students can do it, why not undergrads?  
 
Like everything else in technology, the cost of starting a startup has decreased dramatically. Now it's so low that it has disappeared into the noise. The main cost of starting a Web-based startup is food and rent. Which means it doesn't cost much more to start a company than to be a total slacker. You can probably start a startup on ten thousand dollars of seed funding, if you're prepared to live on ramen.  
 
The less it costs to start a company, the less you need the permission of investors to do it. So a lot of people will be able to start companies now who never could have before.  
 
The most interesting subset may be those in their early twenties. I'm not so excited about founders who have everything investors want except intelligence, or everything except energy. The most promising group to be liberated by the new, lower threshold are those who have everything investors want except experience.  
 
Market Rate  
 
I once claimed that nerds were unpopular in secondary school mainly because they had better things to do than work full-time at being popular. Some said I was just telling people what they wanted to hear. Well, I'm now about to do that in a spectacular way: I think undergraduates are undervalued.  
 
Or more precisely, I think few realize the huge spread in the value of 20 year olds. Some, it's true, are not very capable. But others are more capable than all but a handful of 30 year olds.  
 
Till now the problem has always been that it's difficult to pick them out. Every VC in the world, if they could go back in time, would try to invest in Microsoft. But which would have then? How many would have understood that this particular 19 year old was Bill Gates?  
 
It's hard to judge the young because (a) they change rapidly, (b) there is great variation between them, and (c) they're individually inconsistent. That last one is a big problem. When you're young, you occasionally say and do stupid things even when you're smart. So if the algorithm is to filter out people who say stupid things, as many investors and employers unconsciously do, you're going to get a lot of false positives.  
 
Most organizations who hire people right out of college are only aware of the average value of 22 year olds, which is not that high. And so the idea for most of the twentieth century was that everyone had to begin as a trainee in some entry-level job. Organizations realized there was a lot of variation in the incoming stream, but instead of pursuing this thought they tended to suppress it, in the belief that it was good for even the most promising kids to start at the bottom, so they didn't get swelled heads.  
 
The most productive young people will always be undervalued by large organizations, because the young have no performance to measure yet, and any error in guessing their ability will tend toward the mean.  
 
What's an especially productive 22 year old to do? One thing you can do is go over the heads of organizations, directly to the users. Any company that hires you is, economically, acting as a proxy for the customer. The rate at which they value you (though they may not consciously realize it) is an attempt to guess your value to the user. But there's a way to appeal their judgement. If you want, you can opt to be valued directly by users, by starting your own company.  
 
The market is a lot more discerning than any employer. And it is completely non-discriminatory. On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. And more to the point, nobody knows you're 22. All users care about is whether your site or software gives them what they want. They don't care if the person behind it is a high school kid.  
 
If you're really productive, why not make employers pay market rate for you? Why go work as an ordinary employee for a big company, when you could start a startup and make them buy it to get you?  
 
When most people hear the word "startup," they think of the famous ones that have gone public. But most startups that succeed do it by getting bought. And usually the acquirer doesn't just want the technology, but the people who created it as well.  
 
Often big companies buy startups before they're profitable. Obviously in such cases they're not after revenues. What they want is the development team and the software they've built so far. When a startup gets bought for 2 or 3 million six months in, it's really more of a hiring bonus than an acquisition.  
 
I think this sort of thing will happen more and more, and that it will be better for everyone. It's obviously better for the people who start the startup, because they get a big chunk of money up front. But I think it will be better for the acquirers too. The central problem in big companies, and the main reason they're so much less productive than small companies, is the difficulty of valuing each person's work. Buying larval startups solves that problem for them: the acquirer doesn't pay till the developers have proven themselves. They're protected on the downside, and they still get most of the upside.  
 
Product Development  
 
Buying startups also solves another problem afflicting big companies: they can't do product development. Big companies are good at extracting the value from existing products, but bad at creating new ones.  
 
Why? It's worth studying this phenomenon in detail, because this is the raison d'etre of startups.  
 
To start with, most big companies have some kind of turf to protect, and this tends to warp their development decisions. For example, Web-based applications are hot now, but within Microsoft there must be a lot of ambivalence about them, because the very idea of Web-based software threatens the desktop. So any Web-based application that Microsoft ends up with, will probably, like Hotmail, be something developed outside the company.  
 
Another reason big companies are bad at developing new products is that the kind of people who do that tend not to have much power in big companies (unless they happen to be the CEO). Disruptive technologies are developed by disruptive people. And they either don't work for the big company, or have been outmaneuvered by yes-men and have comparatively little influence.  
 
Big companies also lose because they usually only build one of each thing. When you only have one Web browser, you can't do anything really risky with it. If ten different startups design ten different Web browsers and you take the best, you'll probably get something better.  
 
The more general version of this problem is that there are too many new ideas for companies to explore them all. There might be 500 startups right now who think they're making something Microsoft might buy. Even Microsoft probably couldn't manage 500 development projects in-house.  
 
Big companies also don't pay people the right way. People developing a new product at a big company get paid roughly the same whether it succeeds or fails. People at a startup expect to get rich if the product succeeds, and get nothing if it fails. [1] So naturally the people at the startup work a lot harder.  
 
The mere bigness of big companies is an obstacle. In startups, developers are often forced to talk directly to users, whether they want to or not, because there is no one else to do sales and support. It's painful doing sales, but you learn much more from trying to sell people something than reading what they said in focus groups.  
 
And then of course, big companies are bad at product development because they're bad at everything. Everything happens slower in big companies than small ones, and product development is something that has to happen fast, because you have to go through a lot of iterations to get something good.  
 
Trend  
 
I think the trend of big companies buying startups will only accelerate. One of the biggest remaining obstacles is pride. Most companies, at least unconsciously, feel they ought to be able to develop stuff in house, and that buying startups is to some degree an admission of failure. And so, as people generally do with admissions of failure, they put it off for as long as possible. That makes the acquisition very expensive when it finally happens.  
 
What companies should do is go out and discover startups when they're young, before VCs have puffed them up into something that costs hundreds of millions to acquire. Much of what VCs add, the acquirer doesn't need anyway.  
 
Why don't acquirers try to predict the companies they're going to have to buy for hundreds of millions, and grab them early for a tenth or a twentieth of that? Because they can't predict the winners in advance? If they're only paying a twentieth as much, they only have to predict a twentieth as well. Surely they can manage that.  
 
I think companies that acquire technology will gradually learn to go after earlier stage startups. They won't necessarily buy them outright. The solution may be some hybrid of investment and acquisition: for example, to buy a chunk of the company and get an option to buy the rest later.  
 
When companies buy startups, they're effectively fusing recruiting and product development. And I think that's more efficient than doing the two separately, because you always get people who are really committed to what they're working on.  
 
Plus this method yields teams of developers who already work well together. Any conflicts between them have been ironed out under the very hot iron of running a startup. By the time the acquirer gets them, they're finishing one another's sentences. That's valuable in software, because so many bugs occur at the boundaries between different people's code.  
 
Investors  
 
The increasing cheapness of starting a company doesn't just give hackers more power relative to employers. It also gives them more power relative to investors.  
 
The conventional wisdom among VCs is that hackers shouldn't be allowed to run their own companies. The founders are supposed to accept MBAs as their bosses, and themselves take on some title like Chief Technical Officer. There may be cases where this is a good idea. But I think founders will increasingly be able to push back in the matter of control, because they just don't need the investors' money as much as they used to.  
 
Startups are a comparatively new phenomenon. Fairchild Semiconductor is considered the first VC-backed startup, and they were founded in 1959, less than fifty years ago. Measured on the time scale of social change, what we have now is pre-beta. So we shouldn't assume the way startups work now is the way they have to work.  
 
Fairchild needed a lot of money to get started. They had to build actual factories. What does the first round of venture funding for a Web-based startup get spent on today? More money can't get software written faster; it isn't needed for facilities, because those can now be quite cheap; all money can really buy you is sales and marketing. A sales force is worth something, I'll admit. But marketing is increasingly irrelevant. On the Internet, anything genuinely good will spread by word of mouth.  
 
Investors' power comes from money. When startups need less money, investors have less power over them. So future founders may not have to accept new CEOs if they don't want them. The VCs will have to be dragged kicking and screaming down this road, but like many things people have to be dragged kicking and screaming toward, it may actually be good for them.  
 
Google is a sign of the way things are going. As a condition of funding, their investors insisted they hire someone old and experienced as CEO. But from what I've heard the founders didn't just give in and take whoever the VCs wanted. They delayed for an entire year, and when they did finally take a CEO, they chose a guy with a PhD in computer science.  
 
It sounds to me as if the founders are still the most powerful people in the company, and judging by Google's performance, their youth and inexperience doesn't seem to have hurt them. Indeed, I suspect Google has done better than they would have if the founders had given the VCs what they wanted, when they wanted it, and let some MBA take over as soon as they got their first round of funding.  
 
I'm not claiming the business guys installed by VCs have no value. Certainly they have. But they don't need to become the founders' bosses, which is what that title CEO means. I predict that in the future the executives installed by VCs will be increasingly be COOs rather than CEOs. The founders will run engineering directly, and the rest of the company through the COO.  
 
The Open Cage  
 
With both employers and investors, the balance of power is slowly shifting towards the young. And yet they seem the last to realize it. Only the most ambitious undergrads even consider starting their own company when they graduate. Most just want to get a job.  
 
Maybe this is as it should be. Maybe if the idea of starting a startup is intimidating, you filter out the uncommitted. But I suspect the filter is set a little too high. I think there are people who could, if they tried, start successful startups, and who instead let themselves be swept into the intake ducts of big companies.  
 
Have you ever noticed that when animals are let out of cages, they don't always realize at first that the door's open? Often they have to be poked with a stick to get them out. Something similar happened with blogs. People could have been publishing online in 1995, and yet blogging has only really taken off in the last couple years. In 1995 we thought only professional writers were entitled to publish their ideas, and that anyone else who did was a crank. Now publishing online is becoming so popular that everyone wants to do it, even print journalists. But blogging has not taken off recently because of any technical innovation; it just took eight years for everyone to realize the cage was open.  
 
I think most undergrads don't realize yet that the economic cage is open. A lot have been told by their parents that the route to success is to get a good job. This was true when their parents were in college, but it's less true now. The route to success is to build something valuable, and you don't have to be working for an existing company to do that. Indeed, you can often do it better if you're not.  
 
When I talk to undergrads, what surprises me most about them is how conservative they are. Not politically, of course. I mean they don't seem to want to take risks. This is a mistake, because the younger you are, the more risk you can take.  
 
Risk  
 
Risk and reward are always proportionate. For example, stocks are riskier than bonds, and over time always have greater returns. So why does anyone invest in bonds? The catch is that phrase "over time." Stocks will generate greater returns over thirty years, but they might lose value from year to year. So what you should invest in depends on how soon you need the money. If you're young, you should take the riskiest investments you can find.  
 
All this talk about investing may seem very theoretical. Most undergrads probably have more debts than assets. They may feel they have nothing to invest. But that's not true: they have their time to invest, and the same rule about risk applies there. Your early twenties are exactly the time to take insane career risks.  
 
The reason risk is always proportionate to reward is that market forces make it so. People will pay extra for stability. So if you choose stability-- by buying bonds, or by going to work for a big company-- it's going to cost you.  
 
Riskier career moves pay better on average, because there is less demand for them. Extreme choices like starting a startup are so frightening that most people won't even try. So you don't end up having as much competition as you might expect, considering the prizes at stake.  
 
The math is brutal. While perhaps 9 out of 10 startups fail, the one that succeeds will pay the founders more than 10 times what they would have made in an ordinary job. [2] That's the sense in which startups pay better "on average."  
 
Remember that. If you start a startup, you'll probably fail. Most startups fail. It's the nature of the business. But it's not necessarily a mistake to try something that has a 90% chance of failing, if you can afford the risk. Failing at 40, when you have a family to support, could be serious. But if you fail at 22, so what? If you try to start a startup right out of college and it tanks, you'll end up at 23 broke and a lot smarter. Which, if you think about it, is roughly what you hope to get from a graduate program.  
 
Even if your startup does tank, you won't harm your prospects with employers. To make sure I asked some friends who work for big companies. I asked managers at Yahoo, Google, Amazon, Cisco and Microsoft how they'd feel about two candidates, both 24, with equal ability, one who'd tried to start a startup that tanked, and another who'd spent the two years since college working as a developer at a big company. Every one responded that they'd prefer the guy who'd tried to start his own company. Zod Nazem, who's in charge of engineering at Yahoo, said:  
 
I actually put more value on the guy with the failed startup. And you can quote me!  
 
So there you have it. Want to get hired by Yahoo? Start your own company.  
 
The Man is the Customer  
 
If even big employers think highly of young hackers who start companies, why don't more do it? Why are undergrads so conservative? I think it's because they've spent so much time in institutions.  
 
The first twenty years of everyone's life consists of being piped from one institution to another. You probably didn't have much choice about the secondary schools you went to. And after high school it was probably understood that you were supposed to go to college. You may have had a few different colleges to choose between, but they were probably pretty similar. So by this point you've been riding on a subway line for twenty years, and the next stop seems to be a job.  
 
Actually college is where the line ends. Superficially, going to work for a company may feel like just the next in a series of institutions, but underneath, everything is different. The end of school is the fulcrum of your life, the point where you go from net consumer to net producer.  
 
The other big change is that now, you're steering. You can go anywhere you want. So it may be worth standing back and understanding what's going on, instead of just doing the default thing.  
 
All through college, and probably long before that, most undergrads have been thinking about what employers want. But what really matters is what customers want, because they're the ones who give employers the money to pay you.  
 
So instead of thinking about what employers want, you're probably better off thinking directly about what users want. To the extent there's any difference between the two, you can even use that to your advantage if you start a company of your own. For example, big companies like docile conformists. But this is merely an artifact of their bigness, not something customers need.  
 
Grad School  
 
I didn't consciously realize all this when I was graduating from college-- partly because I went straight to grad school. Grad school can be a pretty good deal, even if you think of one day starting a startup. You can start one when you're done, or even pull the ripcord part way through, like the founders of Yahoo and Google.  
 
Grad school makes a good launch pad for startups, because you're collected together with a lot of smart people, and you have bigger chunks of time to work on your own projects than an undergrad or corporate employee would. As long as you have a fairly tolerant advisor, you can take your time developing an idea before turning it into a company. David Filo and Jerry Yang started the Yahoo directory in February 1994 and were getting a million hits a day by the fall, but they didn't actually drop out of grad school and start a company till March 1995.  
 
You could also try the startup first, and if it doesn't work, then go to grad school. When startups tank they usually do it fairly quickly. Within a year you'll know if you're wasting your time.  
 
If it fails, that is. If it succeeds, you may have to delay grad school a little longer. But you'll have a much more enjoyable life once there than you would on a regular grad student stipend.  
 
Experience  
 
Another reason people in their early twenties don't start startups is that they feel they don't have enough experience. Most investors feel the same.  
 
I remember hearing a lot of that word "experience" when I was in college. What do people really mean by it? Obviously it's not the experience itself that's valuable, but something it changes in your brain. What's different about your brain after you have "experience," and can you make that change happen faster?  
 
I now have some data on this, and I can tell you what tends to be missing when people lack experience. I've said that every startup needs three things: to start with good people, to make something users want, and not to spend too much money. It's the middle one you get wrong when you're inexperienced. There are plenty of undergrads with enough technical skill to write good software, and undergrads are not especially prone to waste money. If they get something wrong, it's usually not realizing they have to make something people want.  
 
This is not exclusively a failing of the young. It's common for startup founders of all ages to build things no one wants.  
 
Fortunately, this flaw should be easy to fix. If undergrads were all bad programmers, the problem would be a lot harder. It can take years to learn how to program. But I don't think it takes years to learn how to make things people want. My hypothesis is that all you have to do is smack hackers on the side of the head and tell them: Wake up. Don't sit here making up a priori theories about what users need. Go find some users and see what they need.  
 
Most successful startups not only do something very specific, but solve a problem people already know they have.  
 
The big change that "experience" causes in your brain is learning that you need to solve people's problems. Once you grasp that, you advance quickly to the next step, which is figuring out what those problems are. And that takes some effort, because the way software actually gets used, especially by the people who pay the most for it, is not at all what you might expect. For example, the stated purpose of Powerpoint is to present ideas. Its real role is to overcome people's fear of public speaking. It allows you to give an impressive-looking talk about nothing, and it causes the audience to sit in a dark room looking at slides, instead of a bright one looking at you.  
 
This kind of thing is out there for anyone to see. The key is to know to look for it-- to realize that having an idea for a startup is not like having an idea for a class project. The goal in a startup is not to write a cool piece of software. It's to make something people want. And to do that you have to look at users-- forget about hacking, and just look at users. This can be quite a mental adjustment, because little if any of the software you write in school even has users.  
 
A few steps before a Rubik's Cube is solved, it still looks like a mess. I think there are a lot of undergrads whose brains are in a similar position: they're only a few steps away from being able to start successful startups, if they wanted to, but they don't realize it. They have more than enough technical skill. They just haven't realized yet that the way to create wealth is to make what users want, and that employers are just proxies for users in which risk is pooled.  
 
If you're young and smart, you don't need either of those. You don't need someone else to tell you what users want, because you can figure it out yourself. And you don't want to pool risk, because the younger you are, the more risk you should take.  
 
A Public Service Message  
 
I'd like to conclude with a joint message from me and your parents. Don't drop out of college to start a startup. There's no rush. There will be plenty of time to start companies after you graduate. In fact, it may be just as well to go work for an existing company for a couple years after you graduate, to learn how companies work.  
 
And yet, when I think about it, I can't imagine telling Bill Gates at 19 that he should wait till he graduated to start a company. He'd have told me to get lost. And could I have honestly claimed that he was harming his future-- that he was learning less by working at ground zero of the microcomputer revolution that he would have if he'd been taking classes back at Harvard? No, probably not.  
 
And yes, while it is probably true that you'll learn some valuable things by going to work for an existing company for a couple years before starting your own, you'd learn a thing or two running your own company during that time too.  
 
The advice about going to work for someone else would get an even colder reception from the 19 year old Bill Gates. So I'm supposed to finish college, then go work for another company for two years, and then I can start my own? I have to wait till I'm 23? That's four years. That's more than twenty percent of my life so far. Plus in four years it will be way too late to make money writing a Basic interpreter for the Altair.  
 
And he'd be right. The Apple II was launched just two years later. In fact, if Bill had finished college and gone to work for another company as we're suggesting, he might well have gone to work for Apple. And while that would probably have been better for all of us, it wouldn't have been better for him.  
 
So while I stand by our responsible advice to finish college and then go work for a while before starting a startup, I have to admit it's one of those things the old tell the young, but don't expect them to listen to. We say this sort of thing mainly so we can claim we warned you. So don't say I didn't warn you.  
 
 
 
Notes  
 
[1] If a company tried to pay employees this way, they'd be called unfair. And yet when they buy some startups and not others, no one thinks of calling that unfair.  
 
[2] The 1/10 success rate for startups is a bit of an urban legend. It's suspiciously neat. My guess is the odds are slightly worse.  
 
Thanks to Jessica Livingston for reading drafts of this, to the friends I promised anonymity to for their opinions about hiring, and to Karen Nguyen and the Berkeley CSUA for organizing this talk.  
 
 
ORIGINAL PAGE HERE  
The Purpose of Aikido
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
You yourself and all that you possess should be  
dedicated to majestic causes; as warriors on the martial path,  
it is our duty to follow the will of the gods,  
externally and internally, and serve the people.  
In budo, we guide the enemy where we please.  
The true purpose of the methods described herein  
is to teach a warrior how to receive  
and fill his mind and body with a valorous spirit  
one must polish one's ki  
and forge the spirit within the realm of life and death.  
Practice these methods intently with your entire mind and body,  
temper yourself ceaselessly, and advance on and on;  
weld yourself to heaven and earth and unify practice and enlightenment.  
Realize that your mind and body must be permeated with the soul of a warrior,  
enlightened wisdom, and deep calm.  
 
O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba
Your opinions solicited
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
It will come as no surprise to many of you here that I am as big a bore on energy topics in my off-line existence as I am here. By in large my friends and acquaintances are inured to my babblings as I am to them and their various casus belli and consuming interests.  
 
It has been suggested on more than one occasion that I should prepare a course on the subject and offer it in the “lifestyles” section of the college's evening extension program this autumn. I should add that the person that first floated the idea is a retired professor from the same school.  
 
I have done some teaching, so I am not particularly concerned about standing in front of a class. But I also have an ulterior motive in that I covet a soon to be vacant instructor’s position in the Aviation Maintenance Dept. there, (a position traditionally filled ex-industry) and a semester or two as an extension teacher might give me a higher profile than other candidates.  
 
Now I know without being told, that I cannot use a situation like this as a soapbox to advocate my own opinions and it is not my intention to do so. I would try to stick to the facts and present as balanced a survey of the field as I could. However, as I have seen here, feelings on these issues can run high, and I am a little worried that I might draw all sorts of the wrong type of attention if my course degenerates into a running debate between the various doctrinaire elements that are attracted to this topic.  
 
The other issue is time. Forty-five hours seems like a long amount of time. Should I try and cover the whole field, or a part of it, how much background will I need to give, should I stick to the technical aspects or balance those with the political ones?  
 
Or am I toying with fire here?  
Why Study Aikido
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
 
During the time that I trained with O Sensei, an old man came to the dojo and asked to speak to O Sensei.  
 
"Sensei," he said, "I have worked my whole life running a medical supply company. It has taken all my time. I had no room in my life for anything else. Recently I retired and left the business to my son. Now that I have the time, I'd like to study some of the things I was unable to pursue when I was working. Do you think that it would be possible for me to study Aikido?"  
 
"How old are you?" O Sensei asked.  
 
The man said, "I am over seventy."  
 
O Sensei laughed. "You're younger than I am, then," he said. "I'm over eighty."  
 
"But I'm a beginner," the man protested. "I've never trained in any martial art or even participated in sports. I have no knowledge and no conditioning!"  
 
"Let us say that today I am a beginner too," O Sensei said. "Come, let's practice together."  
 
O Sensei led the man slowly through the basic movements, showing him kokyu tanden ho and gently teaching him how to fall. About two years later that old man, who was so uncertain about his ability to study Aikido, received his black belt.  
 
I'm sure that you can see the point of this story. It is never too late to learn, to change, and to benefit from new experience. You should not cheat yourself by imposing limits on what you can do by the rigidity of your own mind. Courage, curiosity, and adventurousness, like that of the old man who began his study of Aikido so late in life, can only enchance your world.  
 
Mitsugi Saotome
View of Downtown Montréal
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
 
 
View of downtown Montréal from Mount Royal; the mountain in the middle of the city.
Flying the Flag...
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
 
 
Anyone want to come out and play?
Inertial Confinement Fusion
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
For those of you that do not wish to wade through my last series of links on ICF here is a short abstract of what I have learned.  
 
Most ICF involves dropping a pellet of fuel, typically isotopes of hydrogen incased in a capsule known as a Hohlraum, into the centre of a evacuated spherical chamber. At the moment the pellet arrives at the centre it is bombarded evenly on all sides with beams of particles of a certain type from a number of accelerators, or photons from very high-powered lasers. These high energy beams last only for a very small fraction of a second but they are enough, in theory to compress and heat the fuel to the point where nuclear fusion occurs. In effect a sub-miniature H-bomb.  
 
The other method known as Z-pinch surrounds the fuel capsule with many parallel very fine conductors. This assembly is then inserted into a reaction chamber and a huge amount of current is pulsed through the wires. This then creates an extremely powerful magnetic flux that again squeezes and heats the fuel to the point of ignition.  
 
The neutrons thus produced then heat a lithium jacket, from with heat can be drawn off to make steam, or the neutrons irradiate a uranium blanket to breed fuel to be use in a standard fission-type reactor. At least that’s the conceit.  
 
I say “conceit” because it is obvious that this line of research uses the promise of power generation as a fig-leaf for a much darker purpose. This will never become a practical system of producing power for many reasons, the two major ones being that: the level of complexity here makes a standard fission reactor look like a camp fire; and neutron spallation of the reaction chamber will cause unacceptable wear at practical duty-cycles. It is not possible to make this process cost effective, and it produces an immense amount of radio-active waste from spent chambers.  
 
So why? The answer lies it would seem in the intersection of weapons research and international treaties.  
 
Despite having produced several thousand of warheads and executing a lavish number of test shots, the truth remains that there is still a great deal to know about thermonuclear blasts, knowledge that among other things, is required to calibrate and quality assure the existing arsenals. These last two being the primary mission of the old testing program. However the Limited Test Ban of 1963 and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of 1996 make gathering this information impossible. Also there is a desire by the military to develop a pure fusion weapon. Such a device would have several advantages over current technology; it could be made to yield detonations of any size required; and it would produce very, very little fallout or residual radiation, an important consideration for tactical deployment.  
 
Both of these problems can be solved with ICF. The small explosions of the multi-beam systems can be used to explore the thermonuclear regime in a controlled environment, and the Z-pinch design looks to me like the beginnings of a “firing cap” for a pure fusion weapon.  
 
Three other methods of achieving fusion were mentioned in the posts for comparison: magnetic confinement; electrostatic confinement; and colliding beam reactors. All three show promise for power generation and all can be theoretically operated in an aneutronic mode, (that is without producing neutrons) allowing for direct conversion to electricity without a steam intermediary, also as a bonus, producing no residual radiation.  
 
It is not my purpose here to make moral or ethical judgments, that is a mater between the three States involved Russia, France, and the US, and their populations.  
 
Comments?  
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
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Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
My open mindedness is being pressed to the limit
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
Mademoiselle 2XL is taking a class in Human Sexuality this semester as an enrichment credit. Now it appears that the only things left for eighteen-year olds to learn about sex is the Dark Side and so they have been dealing in depth on subjects that would give her grandmother a heart attack at the very mention. Ok, I'm no prude, and she's no hothouse flower, what ever they come up with I was sure she could deal with it.  
 
This week, to end the unit they were doing on S&M, three dominatrix from one of the "better" dungeons came to talk to the class, and do some demonstrations.  
 
They asked for a volunteer to be the bottom.  
 
Guess who stuck up her hand?  
 
Guess who was offered a job taking care of the costumes and equipment this summer?  
 
Guess who's expected to talk Mother 2XL into permitting this to happen?  
 
Looking for input
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago
My current segue into the subject of nuclear weapons seems to have hit a nerve. Now I think the field would make for good debate here on LF what with the mix of Right and Left-wing views and the fact that rumblings in this sector are bringing these issues into the realm of current events. Over the last week I have been researching both the technical and geopolitical aspects of nuclear weapons and trying to get a handle on what is fact and what is fabrication on these topic and I would like to share my findings with you here. As usual the truth is not easy to tease out from the FUD and Don’t Worry camps, and the best I can do is link to the more rational, well referenced sites and allow you to come to your own conclusions. Yes, I have come to an opinion, and yes I will defend it, but I also will change my mind if convinced by a reasoned argument.  
 
However I have no interest in being compared with, or becoming another pariah, or to have my links compared to Nazi propaganda. I also have no wish to engage with trolls or exchange personal barbs with anyone.  
 
Now the reason I’m bringing this up is a comment someone made very recently (I can’t remember just who or where) that they were disappointed LinkFilter had not taken it’s place among the leading websites of it’s type. I believe that it could. The format here lends itself to multiple interlocking threads, the easy introduction of new topics, and the point system if nothing else keeps anyone from dominating a thread. We have two great admins and a cadre of mods that do their job, in the background without forcing their own views; all of the elements for a great forum are in place. What I feel is lacking are people that will serve as animateurs, members that will push a topic to the forefront and keep it fed until interest wanes. That is what I am trying to do here with nuclear issues.  
 
Now I may have grossly misread the community here, and perhaps the majority wishes to maintain the status quo, and I’m fine with that. What I don’t want to do is create enemies, or (God help me) disciples because that would not be pleasant for any of us.  
 
So I put it to you here. Do you think that it would benefit LF if some of us took on this role, or is it unnecessary? Would some of you like to try a hand at it too? Maybe it would be best if it wasn’t me, after all I’ve been a member for less than a year, if so I will back off and let a more senior member take the lead. But please let me know.  
 
Ok folks, your turn.  
Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue by James Gore
Posted by DV8 2XL 13 years ago