Friday, April 27, 2007

"Green" as Vampirism

A general rule is that I will tolerate any one-time hit on nature and I am in favour of technologies that create new ecologies. But I am strongly opposed to any technology that demands continuous and ongoing consumption of nature to create value.

So I am strongly in favour of deep sea mining which may destroy "fragile ecosystems" of "unique species". These mining operations will put valuable minerals into the economy which will be recycled again and again and again while the affected ecosystems will recover. And I am strongly in favour of bioremediation using mycellia, living machines, urban gardens and green roofs. In contrast, I am strongly opposed to all biofuels, biomass and solar power.

The assumption that underlies this is that nature is different from us. It should be enjoyed at a distance. We shouldn't cover ourselves in nature or ingest it for the sake of ingesting it. Magical thinkers, eco-zealots, don't grasp the concept that nature is different from us and that by consuming it we are destroying it and not "becoming a part of it".

And this eco-vampirism of the "greens" shows up all over the place. It shows up in the greens' love of solar power and their desire to put solar panels on every rooftop. They are willfully blind to the fact they would be displacing green roofs and/or the opportunity for such green roofs. It shows up in their hatred of cities despite their having far lower ecological footprints than "eco"-housing built from "renewable" resources out in the middle of a forest.

It shows up in biofuels (biodiesel, ethanol) and biomass when they seek to consume nature to put it into the gas tank. It shows up in their enthusiasm for thermal depolymerization of manure and agricultural "waste". Because of course it's preferable to consume fertilizer than to give it away for urban gardens, compost heaps and living machines.

It's part of a general trend among "greens" that denies any standing for nature separate from humans. Either humans must consume nature or, in the case of the primitivists, humans must be consumed by nature. This kind of narrow-mindedness is actually broader than the "greens" since it shows up around civil engineers considering water-use issues.

For instance, one of the techniques used to "save water" is to line canals to "reduce water losses" This is good, right? Not so. Because by lining canals you reduce aquifer replenishment. It's not as if freshwater can be lost out on a high plain. Molecules of H2O aren't going to disappear or teleport themselves to the ocean.

In general, there's no such thing as "waste" when the environment is capable of making use of the resource. The environment can't use lead so it's a waste, it can use water so it's not a waste. It can use manure therefore ... it isn't a waste. At best it is being misused. And actually, since lead is used in industry, it too cannot be considered a waste. It can only be a waste if it is removed from the economy. In other words, labelling it a waste makes it a waste.

But even if eco-vampirism isn't restricted to "greens" it is particularly galling to find it among these hypocrites who so love to uphold their "closeness to nature" as a standard even as they are consuming it. Putting up solar panels doesn't make anyone "closer to nature" by the magical Law of Similarity. And living in a concrete jungle doesn't make one's lifestyle "unsustainable". On the contrary, using less of the same resources which the biosphere uses (land, water, sunlight) by relying more on the resources it doesn't use (copper, iron, uranium) makes one more sustainable.

The basic difference between greens and rationalists is the rationalists don't need to consume, or become, nature in order to appreciate it. They can enjoy it at a distance, marvelling at its presence. Nor do they need to put it to any utilitarian purpose. But best of all, rationalists are not scarcity-minded individuals. There is plenty of energy around, nuclear energy, so we hardly need to exploit nature to get it.

Since greens are magical thinkers they do not grasp many logical connections. Such as that by more efficiently exploiting nature, they impose enormous costs on the biosphere. I do grasp it and that's why I'm against biomass and in favour of nuclear power. Because nuclear power does not displace nature and so does not compete against it. Because nuclear power stands apart from nature it also doesn't touch nature.

And that is why "tree-hugger" is the worst possible epithet for an environmentalist. A tree-hugger's compulsion to hug nature to himself is so strong he willingly crushes it. Now if only someone would pull a gun on them and yell "Sir, put your hands on top of your head and step away from that ecosystem!"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Organics, or Why Magical Thinkers Should Be Hated, part IV

Here are the advantages of organic agricultural practices:

  1. more minerals in vegetables
  2. no antibiotics abuse in livestock
  3. much higher biodiversity in farm fields
  4. no dying farm workers
  5. lower water use and topsoil depletion, less desertification
  6. lower expenditures for farmers leading to more reliable profits

The above are facts. And yet these are the half-baked "arguments" which miserable "organic" idiots keep dragging out:

  1. taste better (this is largely the result of processing, breeding, and self-delusion)
  2. use land more efficiently (this one isn't trotted out so often anymore since it has been largely disproved)
  3. save animal welfare (screw animals, what about poor people?!)
  4. less toxic than pesticide-laden food (based on what evidence?)

Organic people are the kind of utter fucking scumbags who care more about some cow or pig's welfare than an immigrant farm worker dying of pesticide poisoning.

Aliens Don't Exist

The reason people keep bringing up ridiculous notions about aliens is their failure to grasp history on an astronomical scale. This is especially the problem of the SETI-type chanting yoyos who keep bringing up Drake's equation to say that other civilizations must exist but be "improbable" so that we haven't "contacted" them. In their ossified brains they've got some small notion of the many billions of stars which are in our galaxy, but not of the billions of years which lie in its past.

We will start with a very simple assumption. The galaxy as we see it is the most probable way for us to see it. And from this assumption we will recover that aliens (other advanced technological species) do not currently exist in our galaxy and will never exist.

To start off with, how long does it take for an intelligent species to rise and colonize the entire galaxy? It takes roughly 100,000 years. Because the galaxy is 100,000 light-years in diameter and civilization arose on Earth a mere 10,000 years ago. Even under the most pessimistic assumptions, within 100,000 years of its rise, an intelligent technological species will have colonized half of the galaxy.

How many opportunities have there been in our galaxy for an intelligent species to rise and colonize the galaxy? In the last 65 million years alone, since the extinction of the dinosaurs, there have been 650 chunks of 100,000 years during which a civilization could have arisen and colonized the galaxy. In the last 13 billion years, since the first generation of stars seeded the universe with heavy metals from which planets and living beings could form there have been 130,000 such chunks of 100,000 years.

What is the probability that an intelligent species will rise and colonize the galaxy? We will not derive this theoretically because we don't have the necessary astronomical data to do so. We will rather derive this statistically using the observations that 1) we exist, and the assumption that 2) the galaxy as we see it is the most probable way for us to see it.

The fact that we exist means that a previous civilization has not colonized the galaxy. It simply isn't to a civilization's benefit to "preserve" a planet for hundreds of millions of years on the off-chance that a species might evolve to intelligence and technology. Far better to colonize the planet and use it productively. Since aliens have not done so, because we exist, it follows that aliens haven't colonized our galaxy in the last 13 billion years.

So the probability of us seeing the galaxy as we do is ((1-X)^650)*X if we unreasonably assume that civilizations could only have arisen in the last 65 million years. And ((1-X)^130,000)*X) if we reasonably assume that such a civilization could have arisen at any time in the last 13 billion years. In both cases, X is the probability of a civilization arising and colonizing the galaxy within a specific chunk of 100,000 years. These two probability functions have maxima which correspond to the value of X that is most compatible with us seeing the galaxy as we actually see it.

So in the 65 million year case, the probability of a civilization arising in any given 100,000 year chunk is about 1.5 in 1000. And in the 13 billion year case, the same probability is about 7.7 in 100,000. This is the chance that we will meet aliens as we colonize our galaxy. So yes, SETI is a gigantic waste of time, effort and resources because the aliens really aren't waiting for us. With greater than 99.8% certainty. If you are very, very optimistic.

See also the continuation What Galactic Colonization Really Looks Like. And the meta-argument SETI types are Creationists.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reddit Censors People

Looking at my comments from my account, everything looks normal. Looking at my comments from any other account and they look deleted. Reddit not only censors people but it's gone to the trouble of building the capability to censor people without being detected. And then the assholes scream up and down about how they don't do that kind of stuff. Lying scum.

More details:

On the day I was censored, I noticed two funny things. First, my comments started life at 0 points instead of 1 point. Second, they didn't get downmodded by the army of cretins that considers themselves my enemies. The first is suspicious behaviour but could have been a glitch. The second, after a suitable period has passed, is solid evidence of censorship. I wrote my suspicions in a comment and another user told me how it looked to everyone else.

My comments were still present on my user page but they were deleted in the threads. EXCEPT for the user whom they were a direct response to. In other words, despite appearing as if they were public, my comments acted as private messages. And what's worse, everything was designed to LOOK normal to the user being censored. The conclusion is inescapable: the reddit team went out of its way to build a capability to censor people while hiding the censorship.

At some point, one of the cretins running reddit must have cottoned on to what an unmitigated public relations disaster they had on their hands and un-censored me. Today, there is no trace that I have ever been censored. Even my day-old comments have been duly downmodded. The only thing that remains is my enduring hatred and enmity of the reddit team. Not for having censored me but for hiding the censorship.

I can trust people who are evil-minded, if only that they will stay evil-minded. But I cannot trust people who lie.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Americans' Self-Deception About America

There's an awful lot of lies about the USA's history which the left-wingers and pseudo-left wingers tell themselves.

Let's start with that line about how guns were supposed to be only owned by militias. Revisionist history! Privateers had access to frigates. That'd be exactly as if Bill Gates bought himself a battleship. Anything short of a first-class military vessel, think of an aircraft carrier, would have been accessible to the rich.

Continuing with the history, the USA never had a social or anti-clerical revolution. It had a coup led by rich landowners against a foreign king. Following which the rich landowners went around stealing all they could from their neighbours the Loyalists, slitting their throats, and driving them to their deaths by the thousands. Typical behaviour for the money-grubbing backstabbers since they had plenty of practice on the Amerinds.

Additionally, the USA was never a democratic nation nor was it ever meant to be a democratic nation. There is a world of difference between a democratic nation like modern Switzerland or ancient Athens, and a republic like Rome or the USA.

The USA also isn't nor was it ever a secular nation. It was founded as an alliance of mutually incompatible theocratic states. Every state had their own version of Christianity and didn't want the others to impose their Christianity on it. They had no problem with theocracy per se so long as it was their version of it.

A secular country is one that doesn't want religion mixed in with politics, period. It's the opposite of a theocracy, such as Islamism. American christofascism falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

The problem Americans have is they assume that 'secular' means "anything but theocracy". Except it doesn't. Secular is the opposite extreme of the spectrum from theocracy. Secular is good, theocracy is bad, and the USA isn't secular.

Which is why Americans don't accept the common definition of the word. It makes them look bad. It's also why they don't accept the common definitions of left-wing, right-wing, fascist, liberal, libertarian, freedom, democracy, human rights, terrorism or even war. Because it would make them look bad.

The USA is Oceania in 1984. Freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, war is peace. Praise Big Brother Jesus and praise the Repocratic Party. PRAISE boy! Now salute the flag. SALUTE it!

The USA was always meant to be the kind of backwards fucked up country it is today. And if you don't like it then stop worshipping the US Constitution's framers. And stop using words like "Fathers" in a reverent tone. The image it conjures is altar boys sucking priestly cocks.

Just because you live in the USA doesn't mean you have to be an American.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Connections, or: My 1573 Pet Peeves

From time to time people ask me why I get worked up over an issue, like say solar power. Well, it's far more general than just energy issues. The thing is, I can see connections between very different fields. When I was an adolescent, I saw the connections between parenting and politics, politics and psychology & biology, and so on. And I couldn't stand, or understtand, how people were so stupid as to "focus" on only one little area to the detriment of everything else. It's all connected so if you don't understand everything then you understand nothing. And it's all connected in ways you can't imagine. There's even a direct connection between quantum mechanics and moral theory.

When I talk to people, I can tell a lot about their thoughts, their way of thinking and their values from things they don't mean to say and the way they speak. And remember, it's all connected. So a solar power enthusiast is someone who doesn't care about industry and doesn't care about economics. It's someone who doesn't care about industrial civilization. It's someone who doesn't care about humanity. They haven't made the effort to care.

And politics plays into it. Because when they talk, they give ammunition (political leverage, space, lebensraum) to the eco-zealots who are magical thinkers who literally want to destroy humanity. You think these people are fiction or exaggeration but I've met them. You probably have too except you don't know what to look out for. And think about this. The Nazis only wanted to destroy part of humanity. The eco-zealots want to destroy ALL of it.

The same for right-wingers, many of whom are mostly sane, who give ammunition to the militarists and the anti-human market fundamentalists. Who are literally mentally handicapped and whose vision would destroy any society they are handed the reigns to. There's all kinds of political connections in a public space. A whole web of thoughts and positions. And violently hacking at a little piece of it is going to tug on distant parts. And you may think they're unrelated but I see the connections. And I wonder how you can not see them.

Think Globally, Act Locally. It's not just a slogan, not for me.

So, you're getting a Delicious account

Since you're about to create a delicious account I'm going to teach you how to use one. Because I'm really annoyed that nobody seems to understand how to use one properly.

If you look into my account, you'll see about 1000 items and 100 tags. And you'll see a grand total of 5 or so tags that apply uniquely to a single item. If you look into comparably sized accounts you'll find 1000 items and about 2000 tags (more tags than items) and you'll find literally hundreds of unique tags.

The end result is that you can see all, every one of them, of my tags on a single web page (in a cloud). You can't even find other people's tags unless you use the search function. Which requires that you know what tag you're looking for. That's an obvious catch-22! Me? I didn't even know you could search for tags because I've never needed to. They have always been just there where I can see them.

How to get an account looking like mine (useful) and not others' (useless)? First when you tag items, try to avoid duplicates (eg, politics and political). If you find out you've made a duplicate, there's functions in delicious to rename or delete tags (in settings then tags then rename).

Second, try to avoid tags you know you won't reuse. Don't tag a video with LaraFlynnBoyle or kittens. Unless you're obsessed with them, you're never going to reuse those tags.

Third, once you've got about two dozen tags, only use your own tags and don't blindly use other people's tags. Only add new tags if you think your existing tags aren't enough. Meaning, there's something obvious (eg, statistics) which you'll run into again and again or something (eg, democracy) which you specifically want to keep track of.

Fourth, tags with hundreds of items are useless, ideally you want each tag to have about two dozen items. So as soon as a tag has become too general (too frequently used) then don't count it in the above calculations, especially the "do I have enough tags" calculation.

Oh, and a really good heuristic to use to answer "do I have enough tags" is "will this item end up in at least one obviously related category (tag) that has no more than two dozen items". If the answer is yes then you have enough tags. If the answer is no, that still doesn't mean you should create one. Especially if you can't think of a good tag.

In summary, think, make conscious decisions, don't just blindly use others' tags. You only use others' tags for the first 20-100 items you tag. After that you need to be up and running on your own. So get into the habit of thinking from the beginning.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Reply To People Who've Put Up Solar Panels

So you've put up a bunch of solar panels for 20,000 USD out of pocket, and another 20,000 in government subsidies, and you'll get free electricity for 20 years? Think you got a good deal? Think again. Wouldn't you prefer something reliable that met ALL of your electric needs? Something that worked everywhere on Earth? Something that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg?

You could start a nuclear-consumers' coop. Get together with a million people in your area and build your own nuclear power plant. It would only cost you about 5,000 per person for 2 kilowatts each. This is much, MUCH cheaper than solar panels for equivalent capacity. And it would last a solid 60 years, not 20-30 years.

Because if you live in the USA then you can actually do that. The NRC has several nuclear power plant designs with blanket approval. You need a site license but once you have that, you just build the power plant as designed and run. There's a rogue power company that's willing to build and operate a power plant wherever in the country you want one. They've already considered a nuclear power plant in Idaho so they'd be willing to do it. So you'd just partner with them though you might have to partner with your local utility too. But if your State allows you to specify where your power comes from ....

One problem would be getting the heavy forgings. There's only 8 forges in the world that can cast ingots in the 40 tonne category. You'd need to order (dozens) from one of them. They require a deposit so pretty much as soon as you order your nuclear power plant, long before the parts arrive, 80% of its cost is locked in. You'd also have to manage the permit approval process since it takes a 30-50 million or so just to apply.

The big advantage you have is that if a million people are willing to put up 5,000 each then your cost of money is rock bottom. Even if you give them 5% on their money, that's still rock bottom. Your disadvantage is that you'd need to organize all of this. Your really big advantage is that once it was organized, it would be impossible to kill. Power generation projects by private generators meet a LOT of resistance. With publically-owned utilities, a lot less. With a community owned utility? It'd be a dream come true.

Now let's talk about money. The AP1000, that's one of the designs approved by the NRC, would cost 1000-1400 USD per MW. For 1 million people each with 2 kW that's 2 GW so we're talking two plants for 2000-2800. Construction and financing are 58% of the costs of an AP1000 so at 5000 per person you've covered construction, financing, fuel, maintenance, operation for 60 years and decommissioning at the end of it all.

It's possible, not likely but possible, that you run into political resistance. If you do then you'll want to take advantage of the deal in the Nuclear Programme 2010 which covers part of construction cost overruns. Which would be minimal since those are generally due to delays and the increased cost of financing, which you don't worry about because you've got cheap money. It's also likely you'd get a discount on the 2000-2800 since hey cheap money again. And if you take advantage the the NP2010 then you get some spare change from Congress for your trouble during the first 8 years of operation. A few tens of million each year for 8 years, not a lot of money. If the NP2010 is used up before you get your chance though that's actually even better since other generators will have taken the early risks before you.

And of course, there's always a bailout option. The AREVA consortium ordered their heavy forgings before they had approval even for their nuclear reactor design. Because they knew that if worse came to worse, they could always reuse those forgings in Flammanville, France where another nuclear power plant is going up. They got to cut time at no risk. With a standard design, it's entirely possible you could buy yourself an insurance (a guarantee of a buyer) in case things don't work out.

Doable? Definitely. You just need to get up the gumption to actually do it. Free electric generation for 60 years. Think about it.