Saturday, February 26, 2011

Carl Sagan

I know this isn't new, but it is so spellbinding that I just had to post it.

Catchy tune, cute video

Another one of my YouTube subsriptions, here for your enjoyment is the Donut song by Caryl Archer, aka Caryl Cake.

Update:  I can almost visualize Homer Simpson chasing after the donut trying to escape him.

Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling

Now here's something interesting. The fascinating thing about the Hannibal Lecter Clarice Starling characters was the relationship between the two. He's trying to corrupt the pure Clarice and bring her into his world. He's trying to "Open" her eyes and see things the way he does. By doing so, he could make her the same as he. That is what happened in the book, from what I understand. It is not clear that this was going to happen from watching the movies though. For Lecter to corrupt Clarice would be too much for the mass audience to accept.


Chris Laird's weekly newletter #256

He's a bit early this week.  Usually, he releases those on Sunday.  As always, you can subscribe to get the whole story.  A link is provided to get to his website.  You can find it in the products page.

Newsletter - Edition 256 - 26 February 2011
By Christopher Laird
  •    Geo Political revolt will cause commodity turmoil
  •    Gold and Silver here
  •    US is a haven?
  •    Why this stock strategy

Shout out time

I've got a subscription to Wolfbracker on Youtube. Here's a pretty good idea here that I thought I would add to my own page. It is the technique that's important.

Upgrading my internet service

I've been using a wireless internet connection until today.  I cancelled that service beginning today and now I'm using DSL broadband.  This isn't new for me, as I had the service before.  The reason I discontinued it before was that I wanted a single method of accessing the internet and wireless was it for the two year service contract.  I wanted wireless to access the net while I was out on the road.  That time is over now and I switched back to broadband home service.

The thing should have been setup as of last night, but at and t didn't do all their tasks necessary, so they needed to send a man out here to finish the installation.  Now I'm going again and it's better than before.  Hurray for that.

I've got to catch up on a few things and will be posting again shortly.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow up on Electrolysis of Methanol

I posted this not too long ago.  It took a little time to relocate the resource that explains this in more detail.  For your reference, here is the google search which yields the pertinent information.  Following that link yields this one, which gets the pdf that I referenced in my post.  I sense that a follow up was necessary because of my recent posts about an onboard methanol hydrolyzer electrolyzer which would obviate the need to store hydrogen on a vehicle for hydrogen fuel cell power.

Hence the need for platinum group metals.  These could be supplied from terrestrial sources, or from the Moon or asteroids.  A large source of these metals would make them more economical for the mass market.

I've done some researching this morning.  Ballard, a leading fuel cell manufacturer, says they could mass produce these fuels cells for $73 per kw (2005 prices).  Current prices are still quite high, but presumably they are not being mass produced.  I am assuming that the prices could be reduced considerably from where they are now.

Update:  shortly later:  Here's a rich source of links to research the topic.

Back in the saddle again

Well, I'm back home.  So, what did I bring back from my trip?  I think I could have stopped my trip at Tallahassee and come home earlier.  The reason for this statement is that I feel as if I have gotten some new inspiration from that car museum.

What drew my attention was a billboard that I saw while driving along Interstate 10, dozens of miles or so from Tallahassee.  I first thought, wow!  That's interesting.  It was a picture of the Batmobile from the TV show Batman, which aired in the mid to late sixties.  I didn't get the information of where this place was before I breezed by it, so I turned around and went back.  This wasn't necessary as there were more signs down the road, but I didn't know that.  Anyway, I found the museum, which is right on the freeway at Exit 209, I believe it was.  Amazing place!   Here's the Batmobile, which was among several Batmobiles (from the movies) on display.

"Batmobile" on display at Tallahassee Car Museum
 Not too far from this display, I came across this:

Requiem to Free Enterprise?

This was a rather gloomy point of view expressed here.  If it is really true of this country, we are in trouble indeed.  But I'd like to keep an optimistic viewpoint.  Free Enterprise doesn't have to be dead. While it is true that most people look to Washington for solutions to problems these days, that alone won't prevent entrepreneurs from coming up with new ideas which will amaze, delight, and serve mankind.  If we blame Washington, we sell ourselves short.  That isn't necessary.

Here's another display which I thought fits the theme here.  It was the Tucker Torpedo.  The car was said to be ahead of its time.  There's some discussion here of a conspiracy to doom the car's production and any possible chance of success.  By the way, I haven't seen the movie.  It was a bomb at the box office.




Governments and Big Corporations are blamed for the failure of Tucker's dream.  It is true that Big Government and its promoters can ruin a car's public acceptance, as the Corvair below, but progress has continued to make cars better and better.  I think it can continue.

Ralph Nader's Corvair- "Unsafe at any Speed"
I posted a public link to my Facebook page to an album I am creating with these pics of the Tallahassee Car Museum.

Update: I had an earlier post on the Batmobile here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Phoenix Motors

I remember this company from a few years ago when I had an investment in Altairnano, which makes ( or made ) batteries intended for automotive use.  Just before the recession was getting started, I cashed out of the investment and went short.

I don't know what happened to the company.  I just got the idea to check back with them and see how they are doing.  I started with Phoenix Motors first, as they would be the platform onto which the batteries would be installed.  I left a message with Phoenix by email and the response said they would get back to me as soon as they can.

Just now checked and they still have a web page up.  I will check later as I am still getting back home from Florida.

About this trip

I've mentioned a trip for the last few posts, so I'll end the mystery and discuss where I'm going and what I'm doing.  I wanted to observe the Shuttle launch today in person.  What I didn't know is that this easier said than done.  It looks like you have to book reservations in advance in order to do this.  I wasn't expecting to actually go on the site, but it is pretty much required so as to get a decent observation point.

I considered a tour as well, but I don't like that idea either.  For example, the thing has to be arranged in advance.  It looks like I can get a ticket online for tomorrow, but the launch is today.  Also, the site says they try to process the ticket within 72 hours.  Well, that seems a bit shaky, so I don't think I like that idea.

The only thing remaining- and this may be a stretch, is to find a place to witness the launch in the local area.  I understand these places are crowded, so that's not good.  Why not leave now?  If I leave where I am now, I may get home by the end of the day, or early evening.

After considering this for few minutes, I've decided to turn around and go home.  My trip hasn't been a complete washout though.  I consider the trip to Tallahassee to have salvaged the entire trip.   If I really wanted to, I can hang around in Florida, and book a tour for tomorrow, or even next week, but I would rather not.

So, there it is.  I'll be getting back home soon.  The regular schedule will resume tomorrow, hopefully.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Short comment on Wisconsin

I don't know how this is all going to turn out.  One thing is clear.  The Democrats will do anything and say anything.  There's no limits for these guys.  It just a pee pee contest now.  Who's gonna win?  I don't think I'll be handicapping it.

Posting will continue to be light

Still on my trip.  I will arrive at destination later this afternoon.

Gold begins up this morning ( local time about 5:30 am).

I once heard someone once talk about how great it was to live through a war.  Well, if you can live through it, that is indeed great.  But nobody wants war, except for the few wackos who want it.  Could the world erupt into a new world war?  Sadly, I think that is a distinct possibility.

What causes war?  If I may expound upon that briefly.  I'd say wars are generally caused by overcrowding.  This is akin to a lack of resources which can also be a causative factor.  If you boil it all down to one concept, it is scarcity.  People want stuff that other people have, so they fight over it.

Wars could end if everything was in great abundance.  Do people fight over the air we breathe?  As long as there's a superabundance of it, the idea is inconceivable.  Let's say all fresh water needs could be met despite droughts.  No need then, to fight over water.  If food is in great abundance, no need to fight over food.  If living space is abundant, who would fight over land?  And so on and so forth.  If there was a reason to fight, it would then be over something that had little to do with survival, or basic needs.

If you can meet needs all the way up the hierarchy of needs, the less reason you have to fight.  If there are no reasons to fight, then it becomes a matter of controlling emotions.  People can govern that and governments can control violence, if they so chose.  The world could be made peaceful.  That is, if peace is really desired.

Update:

Still driving.  I'm in Florida.  Stopped by here because I was curious.



I really liked the place.  I took dozens of pics.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chris Laird issues a second crash alert

Two alerts in as many weeks.  It appears to be related to events in the Middle East.  Markets should be crazy, in my opinion.  What took it so long?  Anybody buying now can be classified as either crazy or knows something no one else knows.  Again, my opinion.

Curious reaction

I checked through a few reactions to the Atlas Shrugged clips making the rounds. It seems a bit curious why the critics want to shoot this down before it even gets to the theaters. What are they worried about? It is just a flick.



Update:
This is so wrong.  And I don't mean in the sense that the movie will fail.  I don't know how the movie will do, only that this guy doesn't get the movie.  That's how I know he's wrong.   He just doesn't get it.

A brief announcement

I will make a short trip and the blogging will be light for the day.  For you amusement, check out my youtube channel for the latest video.  If all goes well, I may have a surprise in a couple days.  Carry on.

Update:  I will spiff up this blog with a lot more with a video like this trailer of Animal House.

Noticed something about that Focus Fusion post

After watching that video a couple times, I noticed that one of the lines moved after the fusion shot.  Considering that the shot only lasted for a very short time ( perhaps measured in microseconds), the fact that it had enough power to move one of the lines is an indication to me of its potential thrust potential.  Imagine this thing firing continuously.  That would be a significant amount of thrust, I would think.

With respect to this blog, it was a bit disappointing that I couldn't easily locate my videos here.  I've slipped up a bit in managing my blog.  I did go back and do some housekeeping.  I would like to be able to refer back to previous posts without having to re write everything and repeating myself over and over again.

I may make a few more changes in the blog.  It won't be a major overhaul, just minor improvements.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trade deficits

I suppose agreeing with this puts me at odds with free traders.  These folks don't think the huge deficits are a problem.  But they are.  Especially when you consider where the imbalances are the greatest: with China and the oil producing countries.

Now that power has changed hands in Egypt, there is a great risk that the Suez Canal can be shut down.  If that happens, oil will smash through the record highs of 2008.  Also, you can forget about a recovery.

No, I push this idea of mining the moon and the asteroids for plantinum and ruthenium because it will help with the trade deficit.  It may even eliminate it entirely.  It's up to our leadership to take the necessary steps to bring this about.  If the leadership won't get the message then perhaps the people can send them a message.  To this end, I set up People for Space Colonization on Facebook.  There is a button pointing to it at the bottom of the page.  If you agree, you are welcome to add your name to those of us who want to bring about this reality at the earliest possible date.

Atlas Shrugged Preview

I like this scene

Thinking outside of the box

Here's a source for that, but I haven't checked it out.  I read some Amazon customer reviews, mostly positive. I suppose if I am going to talk about solutions, I ought to buy Mr. Sloane's book and write about it.

Google X Prize, part 2

According to the Wikipedia entry on the Falcon 9 rocket, there will be a launch to the Moon in December 2013 (at the earliest).  From this source,  the team entering the competition, Astrobotic Technology will launch the 240 pound payload with the lander and rover to the Moon.

Astrobotic also has lunar mining contracts with NASA.

Now if they would just discover where the plantinum and ruthenium is and bring it back to Earth, we may be a step closer to a solution for the liquid fuel problem.  A plentiful supply of these two metals could make fuel cell powered autos affordable to the masses.  That's because the metals are useful as catalysts.  The platinum would be useful for the fuel cell and the ruthenium would be useful for the hydrolyzer of methanol.  Working in concert, these two devices would obviate the need to store hydrogen on board a vehicle.  It would make refueling a fuel cell powered vehicle just as easy as a conventionally powered vehicle.

Newsletter - Edition 255 - 20 February 2011 By Christopher Laird

This is what Chris talks about this week on his subscription based newsletter.  A link to it is provided on the Products page.

World being remade
Markets
Gold and silver
China
Mid East
US coming tech rebirth
Areas for your kids to study
Self employment

Alarmism

Somehow- this assertion that more food needs to be produced in the next few decades will be more than was produced in the history of civilization- seems like the kind of hyperbole that plagues us these days.  I guess you can say that it is crying wolf.  After hearing it so many times, it gets discounted, and then summarily dismissed. Then the real wolf comes and you've got a problem.

Let's not be too hasty in dismissing this threat.  Rather, let's see if there are some ways to deal with the problems. After all, that is what this blog is all about.   Let's try to rise above alarmism.

In Mining the Sky,  the author John Lewis says that there is enough habitat in the asteroids to support 20,000 times more people than are currently residing on Earth.  Without the benefit of double checking that source, let's assume my memory is correct.  What can you do about overpopulation besides a mass die off? Controlling population growth won't be enough.  Perhaps you can expand the Earth's carrying capacity.  Or you could start colonizing space.  Perhaps a combination of these strategies could be employed.

Rather than merely following what hasn't worked, why not actually do something constructive about the problem?  If crying wolf raises awareness, what good is it if it isn't taken seriously?  Why should it be taken seriously when the alarmists have been wrong?  On the other hand, bad things have happened in the past, and could very easily happen in the future.  Instead of crying wolf, how about suggesting solutions?  How about colonizing space instead of crying wolf?

I went on Huffington Post to suggest a way to deal with the so called global warming "problem".  My efforts were rewarded with an insult and silence.  Not one of these liberals would step up to the plate and support my idea.  The criticism was that it would cost too much.  Compared to what?  Compared to the 800 billion dollar stimulus which is already been spent?  What has it produced?  Yet, space travel is considered expensive.  In some ways, that is correct.  Yet even if money was spent the way that NASA spends it, it would still only be a drop in the bucket compared with the rest of what government spends.  But it is too expensive, they say.

The last several months since, I have slowly been gathering knowledge about the space program and now I am firmly convinced that it does not have to be expensive.  Perhaps it can pay.  But, the politicians who cry wolf probably already know this.  No, the crying wolf part is to get people to keep supporting them and their interests as opposed to actually solving any of the problems they claim to care about.

You see, this all segues into politics and the politicians failure to deal effectively with problems.  In fact, the politicians are more interested in causing problems than fixing them.  But that is another subject.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ronald Reagan is still right

With respect to the situation in Wisconsin and with everything else we are experiencing these days, "Government is not the solution, government is the problem."

If we leave it up to the government, no problem will ever get solved.  Instead, the problems will just get worse. The only answer governments have is coercion.  The government doesn't have a problem solving mentality.  The only thing they understand is if the people are creating a ruckus.  The first response might be to tell the people to shut up and go home.   Or to use force on them if they don't.  But they won't address the cause of the problem. Especially if they are the ones causing the problems, as is the case in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Seems that I've heard somewhere that the mind that causes the problem is not the mind that can solve it.  Who's causing the problem in Wisconsin?

Google Lunar X prize

It would have been interesting as a research project.  But when this was announced, I wasn't too interested in the space program.  Now that I am, it is too late.  But I wouldn't be entering it, though.  Just curious about what it would cost and what you would need to pull it off.

Arg!

I just got a nail in my tire and I pulled it out.  Sure enough, it started to leak.  No big deal.  I've changed tires hundreds of times.  Really.  I used to work in the automotive repair business many years ago.  This should be a simple procedure for a guy like me.   Not so lucky.  This thing has a poorly designed locking mechanism on the spare that comes loose way too easy and now is stuck between the wheel and the cargo bed.  Can't get it out.  I managed to fix the flat without a big inconvenience, but this is ridiculous.  What if I was out of town, hundreds of miles from home when this happened?  It would have been sol time.  If anyone had such a problem, what about granny or your daughter?  And this is a Toyota truck.  Shame on them.

Agitprop

Here's a Wikipedia entry about it.   I see it as an approximation of what I mean by Politics Schmolitics, the art of conning a sucker.  Politicians seek to be served, not to serve.  They need to be watched like a hawk.  Don't be led around by the nose by politicians.  I advocate independent thinking.

Rickrolling

Well, I must be out of it.  I never heard of the term before.  It might even explain this.  It appears that it all began as a promotional gimmick a few years ago.  But I definitely had nothing like this in mind.  Somebody else was responsible for that.

New features revisited

A few comments about the blog, new features and whatnot:

1. The pic of Houston plus the opening message of the blog: Since this blog
has covered the topic of space, it would seem fitting to use Houston as a
backdrop plus a turn of phrase taken from the Apollo 13 mission- "Houston,
we have a problem." I turned the phrase around because I want this blog to
be more about solutions to problems than the problems themselves.

2. Since I am the author, I thought my brief statement of philosophy was in
order as well- hence Intrinsically unconventional, politically incorrect.
I think another way of saying it is that in order to solve a problem, you have
to step outside of the box. The "box" meaning, in this case, conventional
thinking. The box also means political correctness, which is a stifling of
creativity and a harbinger of totalitarianism, as far as I am concerned. As
you may imagine, I am very much opposed to constaints upon liberty.

3. I added vital signs, which is a measurement of the strength and vitality of
the United States, which has been the champion of liberty since its founding.
If it is lost here, it is lost everywhere. It is up to us, the supporters
of liberty, to take care that the light of liberty does not get extinguished.
By "us", I mean anyone who shares that sentiment. You are welcome to join
me here as a reader or commenter. You support is appreciated. Your non
support is tolerated within limits. Those limits are proper decorum and
anything else I might think up eventually. Sorry, I can't be more specific
on that at the moment. The blog is continually a work in progress.

4. Of course, in every blog, there is a sidebar. I put as many interesting
and informative links in there as I can find. I add to them all the time.
Stay tuned for more developments.

Focus Fusion in action

It takes a long time to get ready and the shot doesn't last very long.  It would have to fire more often in order to produce net power, wouldn't you think?  Embedded video courtesy of Focus Fusion Society post.




Now, if you stayed with this video long enough to see it fire, you might ask yourself, does this look like it could be used in a rocket? Just posing the question.

A few observations

About the web, and popularity of certain content on the web.  Let's take YouTube for instance.  If you have an account there, you can set it up so that when your page loads, it immediately begins playing a video.  This will count as a view even if the person clicking on it didn't really want to see it.  This pads the statistics, so to speak.

Alright, let's take my own YouTube page.  I don't believe in the above.  I have it set up so that anyone can click on whatever they like so that it is purely voluntary.  If there's nothing there that you want to see, you won't be forced into watching any of it.  I notice that a high percentage of people do not watch my videos when they come to my page.  But if someone looks at those kind of numbers first, they may conclude that my videos aren't any good.  So, they may be leaving on the basis of that alone.

This is a way to control interest, I would think.  If someone looks like they are unpopular, people may think there's a reason for it and then they just follow what everyone else is doing.  But is it right?  In my own case, I want to know if someone likes what I am producing.  This information tells me something, but what if others are doing it the other way?  What does it say about someone who gets 100% views to his page which in turn, are converted into views of his videos?  I hope I am making my point here.  I am trying to uncover a fallacy people may have about these popularity rankings.  Hopefully a little thought may show a way to resist the tendency to judge things on a really superficial statistic which can be manipulated.

Let's put it another way.  Can you be honest and succeed?  Do you have to cheat?  Or to stack the deck in your own favor, or have someone do it for you?

Strange way of putting it

How can there be such a thing as worst best?  Is there such a thing as best worst?  Is it good good or bad bad?  I'm confused.