Fun with Alternative Energy

The United States is having the wackiest Presidential race since 1968. The Libertarian Party nominees are saner and more mainstream than the Republican. Hundreds of people are searching for how to start a new party and are thus discovering this site.

So what have I been doing? Starting a new series on alternative energy. This provides a chance to take a break from pure political advocacy, to instead delve into engineering and possible business ideas. Instead of convincing half the electorate, we just need some time, capital, and customers to make a difference. This is uplifting.

And it’s a chance to get back to my early roots. I got the political bug in large part through high school debate. Energy policy was the topic my sophomore year. The next year my debate team partner and attempted to do some backyard Fischer-Tropsch synthesis using wood instead of coal.

woodLiquifier

It didn’t work, but it was a lot of fun trying.

Stay tuned for more fun.

Green Power vs. Terrorists

In their classic Our Dumb Century the geniuses at The Onion made up a headline from the 1960s about the Pentagon harnessing flower power to create a new super weapon.

Well, I’m not quite sure about flower power, but green power definitely has potential against our current enemies. Check out Green Energy vs. Terrorism.

All ye eco hippies can have a neener dance at the expense of the Neocons.

2013: Time for a Makeover

Twelve years ago I started a book — An Eco Manifesto — which was going to reveal the many overlaps between green and libertarian values, between ecology and free market economics. I got nearly 50,000 words written before I admitted to myself that I didn’t have the time to get these ideas polished enough to be publishable. So I decided to go for a web site instead: holisticpolitics.org.
Ironically, to this day I still haven’t posted most of the ideas in that original book. There are only two eco chapters here and one of the is rather weak. Instead, I have focused on equality and morality.

My New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to put lay off on my other projects (here and here) and finally get around to adding the environmental chapters to this site. I have quite a bit of unposted material on shrinking sprawl, sustainable economics, and cutting back on the consumerism. Somewhere in my notes I have ideas on noise pollution as well. Most of the ideas require less government than we have today. In the years since I’ve come up with a few more green chapters, including one on population and another on Eco-Conservatism.

But before I get to rewriting and posting this material, it’s time for a bit of a makeover. I started this site targeting New Agers, hippies and progressives — a demographic that seemed pretty large back when I was in Asheville, NC (think Portlandia East). Now that I’m back in the real world, I’m ready to back off of the groovy look — many have objected to it over the years.

I’m thinking of moving from hippie/groovy to more sciency. While science and science fiction geeks are also minorities, scientist do possess a bit more authority than manifestors or habitual stoners. And I am a scientist by training…

My plan is replace the gradient lettered banners with three-dimensional text floating in a starfield. The idea is to emphasize the muti-dimensional thinking aspect of Holistic Politics. I think I’ll keep the gradient buttons on the sidebar; they look like shiny book spine titles. But I’m playing with the fonts. Take a look at the main site. I now have:

  • For the holistic chapters, I have gone from a hippie font to an old school computer font. The idea is to go for a retro-futuristic look. Back when I was young such fonts were used for future-oriented books. I may change this. Really Natural RightsMy wife says the font is hard to read. I might go for Bauhaus 93 (as seen on the right) as an alternative. What think ye?
  • For the red button articles, I’ve gone from Village to Arial Black. The latter is the closest I could find to the look of old Soviet propaganda posters. (I’m old school; I still think of red as Left.)
  • I’m toying with going with Village for the liberty/gold button chapters. The Prisoner was a libertarian masterpiece. Greed vs. FreedomAn alternative would be Bernahard Fashion, which looks like the title text on some Ayn Rand novels. While appropriate given that they’re actually coming out with movies of Atlas Shrugged, I hesitate to associate liberty too tightly with Objectivism.
  • I had an Old English font for the liberty chapters to evoke the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. But now I’m thinking of using this font for the morality chapters — it reminds me of the high church Episcopal Church of my childhood.
  • I think I’ll keep the hippie font I had for the green chapters.

The good news is that I have today written a button generator in C#, so I can trivially change the size and font of the buttons — which was not the case when I relied on Adobe Illustrator (which does not run on my new computer to boot). I will soon be able to quickly generate banners as well, as long as I stick to 2D fonts. For 3D I either need to learn a newer API or edit individual Xara files. I’m game to do the latter after locking down the fonts, but I don’t want to have to re-edit them while playing with fonts.

So, any feedback you might have would be appreciated on the sooner side. See the main site as well as the alternative fonts shown in this post.

Some other candidate fonts for the holistic areas (without the rainbow):

rainbowFonts

The Modern No. 20 reminds me of some science textbooks and maybe patents. Amethyst is what I have now (as of Jan. 6). The others are kind of sci-fi.

For the Left, I have the options of either looking like old Soviet propaganda or a typewriter font (for liberal media). Not shown in this pic, but shown as a candidate for liberty, is Village. The Village was based on Jeremy Bentham’s ideally regulated society, complete with panopticon.

LeftyFonts

Finally, for liberty, we have Village (evoking a libertarian favorite show),Old English (evoking Founding Documents), Playbill (evoking the Old West), and several Randian fonts:

LibertyFonts

Your feedback please!

Is it Global Warming Yet?

A year and a day ago, my yard looked like this:

Eastern Carolina Day after Xmas

(I live on the coastal plains of North Carolina, a land not noted for its white winters.)

Today, it is supposed to get up to 63 degrees.

Two points do not a trend make. However, in this case they are representative. Last year was the coldest Eastern NC winter in my memory. This was followed by a very hot summer. Didn’t have much pleasant weather until this fall, and it has continued to be pleasant through December for the most part. (This why I have been working on my house instead of blogging.)

Concidentally, sunspots have restarted right at the time it started warming up around here:

Sunspot trendline(Image courtesy of NASA.) A causal connection? Not for me to say. But I have seen it written that the last few years have been cooler because of low sunspot activity, and that we would be noticing the effects of global warming again once the spots resumed. This prediction appears to be coming true, at least in my back yard. How about yours?

 

Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade

Well, I finally did it. I finally had a look at the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill. One word: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh‼‼! Or, to be more precise, don’t try to follow that link with Internet Explorer 8 or below. Your browser will struggle. The bill is a quarter million words long! It’s like a Robert Jordon novel, only more tedious. Every legislator who voted for this monstrosity ought to be strapped into a Clockwork Orange chair and forced to read it in one sitting.

And I actually want to stop global warming; I am not a climate change denier.

But after looking at this bill, a few extra feet of seawater doesn’t look so bad. This bill combines the micromanaging mindset of the worst Democrats with a big-business giveaway worthy of the worst Republicans.

Many opponents of this bill refer to it as “cap and tax.” This is way too charitable. This bill will jack up the cost of energy and give the money to…today’s biggest contributors to global warming! Imagine if we gave crime permits to the Mafia and other gangs, and allowed them to sell permits if they choose to reduce their own criminal activity. This is the logic of cap and trade.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe we should punish past carbon emissions. That would be ex post facto punishment, which is not only unconstitutional, it’s just plain wrong. But if science has indeed determined that burning fossil fuels harms the environment, then doing so should be penalized. Longtime polluters should be penalized at the same rate as any new business which needs to burn some carbon to operate.

Besides, the government needs the money. We could use a carbon tax just to avoid going bankrupt.

The actual cap and trade portions of the bill are just that: portions. The bill has a few hundred pages of subsidies, incentives, etc. for a whole host of energy saving and alternative energy technologies. The bill reads like a Stalin era five year plan, only in something resembling English. Econ 101 folks: if carbon fuel prices go up sufficiently, conservation, alternative energy and mass transportation will all pay. With a carbon tax we could reduce the number of energy programs and subsidies.

We should have some government research into advance nuclear energy, such as liquid fluoride thorium breeder reactors, in case solar doesn’t cut it. Nuclear energy research should have the government involved because of safety concerns. The Energy Star program might be worth keeping as well. Government as an independent evaluator of hidden consumer produce features might be beneficial.

I say “might” because with regulatory capture, the government may well be worse than a private sector auditor. When government gets too complicated for the citizens to track, regulatory capture is a given. Cap and trade is a huge rat’s nest of possible areas for regulatory capture. If you are a corporatist, opt for cap and trade. If you believe in democracy, tell your friendly neighborhood legislator you want a carbon tax instead.