Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Remember, Remember...

Some Good News:

Finally, there are Core 2 Duo/Quadro SLI boards out. The one I've seen is on the expensive side, though. I don't know if or when there will be a new system purchase in the household, but I know that things just got easier for me. SLI might be a little much for a single purchase, but as an upgrade option that can double performance for the (much reduced) cost of a second card at a later date? Smashing.

AMD has apparently produced a modified ATI graphics board to serve as an FPU-intensive co-processor. The thing costs well over $2K, so I don't have my hopes up. Still, what a way to fill up the third PCI-e slot that some motherboards are now including for a third vid card to run physics calculations. I wonder if that is a possible application of the new AMD product. Time will tell...

And I got 28/28 on my World Issues quiz.


V for Verdant

Reading a passage from a report on sustainable industry, my mind wandered to a potential future, and it was unnerving at first. The report itself was very welcome, suggesting that envronmentally friendly, sustainable business is not only possible, but highly profitable. One suggestion for the future was to move from providing a product to providing a solution. This entails renting out and re-using materials, rather than selling disposable products over and over. The companies would be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment, and would reap the benefits of energy and resource efficiency. The renter would pay for the service. Everyone is happy, right? Perhaps not so.

It is easy to blame large industries for the looming ecological crisis, but individual actions add up to quite a bit. Do you eat at McDonalds? You're supporting the destruction of forests to make room for more meat production. Do you drive a car? You're pumping C02 into the atmosphere. It may soon be the case, if businesses see reason, that individuals will be doing the least to prevent catastrophic ecological damage. Suppose businesses start renting everything, providing and maintaining their 'solutions', which you pay a fee to use. Imagine if businesses control what you have access to, what you should be allowed to rent from them. “You should not have a car” they might say “it is an inefficient transportation solution...but for $199 a month, we could have a carpool driver pick you up on his rounds.”. For your own protection, your choice may be limited. After all, look what you did with your so-called 'freedom': pollute the planet without a care! I will admit that the potential for this hobbesian corporate fascist utopia is small, but I cannot discount it. You have a choice now: get involved on your own terms!

I'm not trying to be anti-corporate here, so much as anti-complacent. I think that if we will not willingly become green, then we deserve the boot of eco-fascism. I'm not talking about Nazism here, mind you. Just to play devil's advocate here, I think the idea is not without merit. Voter turnout these days is around 50%, if I recall correctly. That means that HALF the eligible population does not feel the need to elect a government. That is as good as saying you would be just as happy under a dictator. I know that if you asked a non-voter, they would say otherwise, but we all know what speaks louder than words. Besides, if they won't take action now, why would they take action to resist a dictator? If awareness and willingness to act on environmental issues is similar in this society, it may be necessary to de-value the individual, and emphasize a sustainable state.

At the very least, movement to solve environmental issues will have to be a collective effort. We can work as a group of individuals with a common goal, or as faceless automatons of corporate hegemony. Your Choice. Our Choice.

I'm sure someone is curious about the paper I was reading. Well, I read 2 or 3 this evening, and they were encouraging, for the most part. We have been the victim of a great lie, of unknown motivation, it seems. There exists today the capacity to make a greener future, is what I am being led to believe. It will save money, and the side-effects will include increased productivity. One paper cited a factory where two small changes resulted in higher efficiency and lower costs. The designer used a fatter pipe than normal, decreasing friction. Second, they laid out straight pipes, and then put all the components in place. These two changes reduced the required strength of the pump by 95%. Over the course of several years, the savings add up. Furthermore, the authors contend that many commonplace practices are rooted in faulty logic: lower overhead costs are better. Savings over time are either not counted, or expected too soon from more efficient - yet initially pricier – solutions. Essentially, when businesspeople try to dissuade the public from demanding higher environmental standards, they are lying. They are lying through their teeth when they say it will hurt the economy. Perhaps they are unaware: perhaps the short-term expenditures blind them to all further benefit. On the other hand, maybe they know the truth all too well. Are we bearing witness to the rape of the planet, of GAIA herself? Have a particular set of people decided to destroy her self-esteem, shred every last vestige of her dignity, strip her naked, and display her battered, broken body to all? Such malice is not beyond human capacity, for certain. It is not to late to stop this crime: let the truth be known: Green is Lean, not Mean!


This is a bit of a spinoff from my comments on the potential for corporate eco-fascism. I wanted to ask the question:

Should Consumer Rights Exist?

Suppose you want to watch a movie, and you have the option of buying a DVD, or downloading that same movie from iTunes (or another online service). If you purchase the movie, you would be able to make copies for your own personal use. You could store it on your mp3 player, store a copy on your laptop's hard drive, and leave the disc at home. Copy protection and the DMCA have made this difficult of late (this is more US legislation, so I'm not sure how it applies to me). The iTunes copy might be downloadable to your iPod, but forget transferring it around without a little hacking first. The reason that consumer rights exist is to prevent this kind of situation. When you buy a car, you can choose who fixes it, who insures it, etc. Imagine if this were not so.

Property is an imperfect concept, but it has advantages. Obviously, the #1 problem is inequality, where money creates the illusion of superiority and inferiority. There are billions of hard-working people in the world who are not billionaires. One might assume that those people simply don't work hard enough, which is wrong. The right circumstances are not presented for all people to become successful. Even if they were, our current system requires that only the few become rich, exploiting the efforts of many subservients. Are the workers truly less capable than the rich? It's not a given, but we may see it as such. The discrepancy between who has 'stuff' and who does not is enormous. If property did not exist as such, people would not judge or be judged by their 'things'. Why should a the value of a person's TV speak more to their character than their viewing habits seem to?

Money, and by extension, the acquisition of personal property is a driving force, there is no doubt. People have a certain pride in their things, especially those they have created, modified, and/or mastered. As a computer hardware junkie, I like to feel a certain attachment to my computers. It is not that I do not ever wish to share them with others, but I want to upgrade, tweak, and tinker to my heart's content. If I do not own the computer, this is not possible. I know that it is a selfish impulse, and you might assume that my desire is to have the best computer, to beat out the others. In some cases, I'm sure that's true. For me, it boils down to gaming: I want framerates smooth as butter, with graphics more opulent than most palaces. Speakers that shake the Earth, and sound quality that would put live orchestras to shame. Of course, of these I have none, but even contemplating them is a flight of fancy in and of itself. Sometimes, as Calvin's father tells him, the anticipation of having something is better than actually having it. The thing you want is finite, but your imagination can make it boundless, unreal. Can you imagine the thought of renting something the same way?

What has this to do with 'Solutions-Based Economics'?

The thought of a solutions-based economy brings to mind the possibility that DRM will not remain Digital. Your right to control the services you use may be compromised, if you hold no ownership over them. Look at the EULA for most software. The first thing they tell you is that you do not own the software. You just use the stuff. Imagine if everything were like that, and you can see why it is a scary thought. “Property is theft” used to mean that private ownership was counter-productive to freedom. Someday, it might mean that the consumer should not own what rightfully belongs to the Corporation. That will be a dark day.

Finally, there is one quote that I wish to share:

Governments that make it hard for business to do business and that try to take the place of business in meeting the people's needs keep their people poor.”

It is not explained what place business is to fill, but I would rather that my services came from a body beholden to all citizens, not to a select group of stockholders and consumers.

The Greatest Show On Earth!

I wore my AWESOME HAT to school today. It is roughly one foot tall, all told, and it looks kinda magickal. I need a suit to match, or perhaps contrast with it. I'll be honest and say that it was as much about the attention as any kind of expression. Mostly, I think it was just too cool. I need to mix things up more often, be a little different. It feels more human to be noticed, on occasion.

This post is about to fill 3 pages in OpenOffice, and I haven't added any preamble yet. I think I'll stop soon.


Gold, should you read this: The firefly RPG does indeed have you create your own characters. You can use the Serenity crew, but that would be l4mz0r. Also, I understand your haste with the silver cat, but be mindful: courtship can be a long process. You do not have to wait, but sometimes it carries a reward.

This Dragon has gotta fly for the roost. Disturb at your peril.


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