May 2009


I was struck by the parallels in the film, Breaker Morant, and the issue of how we identify prisoners of war, enemy combatants, and spies. Let alone the whole issue of torture.

 

Well I have read a good deal of the latest US Army Field Manual regarding prisoners of war, and I for one always felt that a uniformed army was an absolute necessity of formal recognition. Even our own revolution ( circa 1776) quickly responded to this need, and either clothed the combatants appropriately, or offered documents ascribing to such requirements.

Our enemies who would fight us in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, or any number of hot spots, do not ascribe to any military created (legitimate) by a single government  recognized by the UN, or any other body. No uniform, no single association with any formal recognized sovereign government.

Further interesting reading regarding the much bantered Geneva Conventions , and how they work in concert with our military code, have led me to believe that we should not torture anyone, whether they be a recognized combatant, or a scumbag. But it also leads me to believe that most of those captured on the battlefield and currently held at Guantanamo, should have been shot on site.

So, how would you feel if we eliminated Guantanamo, brushed aside any intimation of torture (aside from back to back alternating episodes of Sean Hannity, and Keith Olbermann/Rachel Maddow), but reserved the right to execute on the battlefield, in situ?

And what are your thoughts on where we should move said bad guys? I for one suggest Alcatraz. It is a sham of a tourist attraction, Let’s fire it back up. The prisoners could have weekend passes to awesome things like Beach Blanket Babylon (and could even contribute as creative directors), have long walks in the Castro, and in general just chill a little.

As many of you may know, Elizabeth Warren, of Harvard University, was chosen by members of the Congressional Oversight Panel to act as chair. In the true spirit of doing what is right for the American people, Ms. Warren has been marginalized by much of the mainstream press, as well as our own Congress, and virtually all of the Wall Street and big banking weasels.

Ms. Warren is, in my opinion, the only person qualified to be on the panel. And she exhibits the qualities that President Obama is looking for in a new Supreme Court judge, namely empathy (which I also will assume means acting above the role as a strict enforcer of the Constitution).

 

Some have criticized her for being off base, focusing more on her own passions, which include fighting for the middle class. I think this criticism is just an excuse on the part of her detractors, as she is making many folks uncomfortable with her discoveries.

Ms. Warren is fighting a good fight, and we should all let our government know that we are behind her efforts.

Even Bill Maher was a bit put back by her honesty.

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to put a couple of ideas out there regarding alternative power generation.

I’ve lately become very interested in all things piezoelectric. Do you have a long necked lighter that you use to light your gas grill. Is there one built in? Chances are, it uses a piezoelectric element. When you push the button, or pull the trigger, the pressure you apply ultimately compresses either a quartz or ceramic element, which in turn generates the charge. And let me tell you, for such a small device, it really puts out a good zap. Good enough to make a grown man talk.

What would prevent one from using similar technology in a road substrate? Either as embedded elements or cells, or mixed in to the very fabric of the roadway?

Please excuse the drawing below, but this might give you a better idea of what I am envisioning.

pz-highway 

The second recent idea is a very simple device that uses the varying tension created by guy lines connecting trees. It would take the tension, and use it to turn a small DC generator contained within the box. I would think some type of geared arrangement would ensure that all the varying tension force would spin the generator axle in one direction.

swaying-tree-generator

One of the tendencies I see in the alternative energy market is the entrenchment of wind turbines, photovoltaics, focused solar energy, and the like, as the only alternatives. This may in large part have to do with the relative efficiencies of such approaches, but I also suspect big oil is lining us up for them, and they would miraculously have the lions share of the market in them.

But we need to think about not only these options, but quite frankly, any options that when used collectively add up to a significant energy output.

So put your thinking caps on. After all, who knows where the wind blows?

The farm stand is now open, and folks love the eggs. We got four more juvenile hens, all silver wyandottes, and they are settling in nicely.

The herb patch is going to town, and we have already cut French tarragon (great in an omelet with smoked Gouda, btw), Greek Oregano, and of course, mint. Nothing like mint tea in the spring.

This years garden will have collards, japanese eggplant, 5 kinds of tomatoes, lettuces, Brussels sprouts, red and white potatoes, red, yellow and white onions, kohlrabi, red and green peppers, and other stuff.

We’ll be giving away white oak, maple, and poplar saplings, all year long. No monoculture!

I’ll also be building a small area for local bicyclists to park their rigs, cool off, and try one of our old rocking chairs.

Come on by.

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In a previous post, I raised the question of how individuals should be able to control information regarding their ecommerce behavior.

Adriana Lukas over at The Mine! project kindly provided a link to the work the group is doing, and it is not only fascinating, it is important.  Adriana, I’ll definitely be following your work, keep it up!

Now, I mention Enigma in the title today for a perhaps not so obvious reason. Many folks are somewhat familiar with the Enigma device, used by the Nazis in WWII. This device was used to great effect up through at least 1944, and no doubt was responsible for extending the war effort.

In breaking the code that was created by the device, British and American cryptographers used, among other things, user error, as a way to finally understand how the device worked. In other words, the behavior of the user.

I’m fascinated with how one might today develop software to not only mask behavior, but how that information might even be turned back on itself. In other words, what if you as an individual or a business could actually see via some sort of dashboard, what various entities are doing with the bits you put out there.  Even by using “bait”.

As we move into a time when virtually everything will be networked, and the divide between personal and economic identity continues to blur, such countermarketing capabilities could even take on a more compelling agenda. Jack Williamson brought this concept home in his book, The Humanoids. When robots are designed “To Serve And Obey, And Guard Men From Harm”.

humanoids1

Not robots for us, ladies and gentlemen, software.

By the way, if you have not also read The Code Book, The Science of Secrecy From Ancient Egypt To Quantum Cryptography, by Simon Singh, then you should. It is not any easy read, but well worth the effort.

In my next post I’ll be discussing the potential for incorporating piezoelectric materials in hard surface roads, pavement, and walkways, as a way to generate electricity (just thought that one up). And how I am building a device that is strung between trees (like a clothsline) to also generate electricity.

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