Monday, July 26, 2004

Smalley Gets It

This is kinda of a big big story. Nantech God Richard Smalley has been writing about how we should invest in alt fuels, in particular nan based solar cells. That's always been the crushing point about solar. It's not that we can't use it, it's that we can't use it so inexpensively that it can compete with oil or gas. There's a vast difference between recognizing this and adopting the unreal Den Bestian argument that this can never be done.

Read the whole thing as they say. I'm debating whether I should debunk this latest Den Beste missive.

Today using lead-acid storage batteries, such a unit for a house to store 100-kilowatt hours of electrical energy would take up a small room and cost more than $10,000.

Through advances in nanotechnology, it may be possible to shrink an equivalent unit to the size of a washer and drop the cost to $1,000. Among the approaches being developed today are nanotubes, nanowires and nanocomposites for batteries.

On another front, nanostructured membranes, nanohorn electrodes and nanocatalysts are helping to make fuel cells smaller, lighter and more affordable.

With research and entrepreneurial efforts, many schemes are likely to emerge to supply this local energy storage market that may expand to several billion units worldwide

I Got A Literate Letter!

I got a really great letter from Mark Plus, who I think used to roam the message boards at Nanodot with me from days back. I haven't posted there in awhile. I probably should. Anyway, here's his letter responding to my latest Better Humans column.
Hello, Philip Shropshire.

I happen to agree with the critique that wage slavery is oppressive (refer to Bob Black's essays, readily available on the Web, "The Abolition of Work" and "The Libertarian as Conservative"). A social movement serious about increasing freedom would have to find ways to reduce the amount of nonsensical activities called "work" in our so-called "services" economy, because more and more of such "work" has been disconnected from tangible production and mainly acts to keep people under subjection. I honestly don't see what it accomplishes to multiply the numbers of "jobs" in retail, fast food, telemarketing and other forms of useless humiliation and paper shuffling. Whether such tasks are performed or not has no effect on the amount of real goods that gets produced. (I've experienced more than enough of this degradation working in the hospitality industry for the past 13 years, a "career" I had absolutely no expectation of entering when I was in my teens and wanted to become a scientist [long story]. I can also see that a successful mass liberation from work will require people to stop making services demands on others, e.g., by not traveling nearly as much.)

Even much of the tangible stuff that winds up on the market wastes resources that could be put to much better uses by rationally defensible criteria (unless you've been hypnotized by "economics" that is). Despite all the propaganda about how "market forces" determine what gets produced, I'm not aware of any movie goer who ordered very expensive but unwatchable movies like Van Helsing, the budget for which could have revolutionized the field of engineered negligible senescence if spent properly. And, frankly, I could live without the mountains of junk food, Britney Spears CD's and novels about bible prophecy that the American economy piles up the marketplace and then harasses me to notice and buy.

Mark Plus

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Spiderman vs. Den Beste, Evil Hates American Innovation Guy

I tried to find a really great Spiderman pic but it just wasn't there. So I went with an old comics Heavy Metal standard: Moebius. I really enjoyed the Spiderman movie. It was emotionally powerful in an odd kind of way. I thought the best scene was at the end when Kirsten Dunst tells him to chase after the sirens and she looks sad and solemn. Of course, the idea that an intelligent woman would leave a publisher's son and space hero and future villain seems a bit unrealistic. Sure, I can buy the fusion suns and the Octupus arms, but that's where the story left me with a fairy tale feel....

Meanwhile, in the cybercity, I've always been puzzled by Stephen Den Beste's hostility to alt fuels and I mentioned as much over at Future Pundit (Randall Parker) in the most sarcastic way possible:

Yeah, that whole slew of stories and startups was excellent. By the way, congrats for taking Den Beste on in terms of his completely anti-american view on alt energy. He has a can't do attitude. Is he French? What's his problem? Why oh why does he hate American innovation? And why isn't willing to spend at least 100 billion, or what we've spent on our splendid little war in Iraq, on research so that we can wean ourselves away from our oil fix...

What's also mentioned in those articles is the viewpoint of Smalley, who, unlike Frenchified Hate American innovation firsters like Steven Den Beste, thinks the United States should invest in alt energy. You can find his full take over there at Small Times...

I'm sure Den Beste has gone on record against 100 gig hard drives, private space flights and peer to peer networks as well because, you know, they just can't happen. It's a good debate over there as well. I thought about defending Randall, but he's really doing a great job all by himself... 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Been Busy Saving the World

(Crossposted to Warblogger Watch)
I haven't posted here in a while because, like other commentators I suspect, I have more important things to do than critique the obvious failings of the worst intellectuals of our time. And I don't miss the clueless often nameless Aussie commentators ("'ealth care is free in Amurica by scum!") who defend them. In fact, after the Dean debacle, I decided to get away from the keyboard and do something hard and difficult for political change in America.
I've joined the Vast Left Conspiracy, which consists of the NAACP/ACORN/ACT/MOVE On and a dozen other groups and I register voters door to door and on busy streets when I get a spare moment. I do it six days a week. I left my job selling Dell computers to do this. And if you're wondering about what's wrong with the American economy, I make more money working for the non profit.
 I actually wrote about this in my newest column for Better Humans. Excerpted here:

I've always taken politics pretty seriously ever since college. It's sort of like what Ralph Nader (please don't vote for him; go here for why) says: If you don't act on politics, then eventually politics will act on you.

For me, in the early 80s, I was always watching to see if the late President Reagan would be successful in "acting" to gut my student loans. He always proposed it, but Congress, controlled by Democrats, always kept my loan burden intact.

It was in those summers—when I started realizing that who was in office could affect my life for the better or worse—that I first started canvassing in support of political issues. Canvassing for money, if you're not familiar with it, isn't the easiest way to make a living or cash for college. Back in the early 80s, the quota was US$80 dollars a night. Now, the quota is about US$130 a night. I've estimated that I've spent about five years of my life canvassing on everything from lower cable bills to abolishing the North American Free Trade Agreement. I even ran a field canvass for three years in Evansville, Indiana. Call me committed.

Today, I'm back at it in Pittsburgh, knocking on doors and asking people if they're registered to vote. You might ask yourself what this has to do with the transhumanist dream, where we live out our lives in fusion-driven Betterhumans space habitats, whiling away our several century lifespan seeking to understand every allusion and reference in the works of Joyce or Alan Moore, or actively partaking in the terraforming of Venus or Titan, or even studying up on that hot new personal genomic cosmetic item, the black rhino horn, grown wherever you like, with accessories.

The answer is that unless transhumanists think seriously about politics and self-promotion, this vision will always remain an interesting dream and not a reality. In fact, not only will you have to work for such a future—a future with real self-determination, no wage slavery and more than a vote every two or four years when all the real issues have already been settled—you will have to fight for it. And most likely, your opposition will be violently stupid people who refuse to give up what Carl Sagan described as the "demon-haunted world" and the obligatory yet soothing bliss stations—an eternity with Jesus and departed loved ones or Allah's 40 virgins—that go along with it.

Monday, July 19, 2004

RU Sirius Interviewed by Changesurfer Radio

First, a bit of thanks to Doc Menlo for mentioning my interview with RU Sirius over at Better Humans.  Luckily, I'm a pervert, and I'm always looking at Sensual Liberation Army for my latest masturba-, uh, "intelligent" reading. (Nice touch with you adding the politics to the sex. Note to self: Immediately steal this idea, porn + politics = Gold...)
James Hughes, the guy behind the great Changesurfer Radio show, also interviews RU Sirius right here. It's in two parts so scroll and download appropriately. Actually, if you haven't heard Changesurfer, you might want to check out all of the recent shows.

And last but not least, there's a new issue or RU's Neofiles that just came out. It features interviews with main extroprian guy Max Moore, and other goodies.