The Brothers Karamazov

"Actually, people sometimes talk about man's 'bestial' cruelty, but that is being terribly unjust and offensive to the beasts..."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heat, Mr. President, but not from fission

If the President can separate himself from the influence of his Exelon connected advisors he would do well to consider spending that $8.33 billion loan guarantee on greener and immensely safer technology than nuclear facilities.

Why is he even contemplating this action considering that nukes are so risky no insurance company will cover them; that they generate huge amounts of toxic waste no technology can safely store, and that they have caused 950,00 additional cancer deaths since the Chernobyl debacle?

A better use for these funds exists that offers safety and a much greener approach to helping with our energy needs. This technology has been shunted aside by the power industry until now.

A heat exchanger is a device built for efficient heat transfer from one medium to another. The medium may be separated by a solid wall, so that they never mix, or they may be in direct contact.

The following by the CEO of one of Britain's leading energy producers is instructive:

"At the moment the area where we waste the most energy is in heat," he said. "We waste more heat from power stations than we use in our buildings."Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).Dr David Clarke, chief executive of ET.

As is this article:

If You Can’t Stand the Heat….Capture It!
By Atlanta Fifty Forward

"When power plants generate electricity, a lot of heat simply goes up the chimney, so to speak. Estimates are that for every three units of fuel — like coal, natural gas or oil — that are burned to make electricity, two are lost in the process, most of it as waste heat that just drifts away. Likewise, many manufacturing operations such as steel mills produce waste heat.

Ten years ago, an Indiana steel mill began capturing heat above its coke ovens to make electricity. That operation, along with other energy recycling processes employed at the plant, creates about 250 megawatts of power every day, about half of the plant’s needs for electricity. In the process, the company says it has reduced CO2 emissions by 1.3 million tons a year.
What would happen if more companies and electric utilities captured heat and used it to make electricity? It’s a common practice in Europe. Denmark generates close to 55 percent of its electricity this way. In the Netherlands and Finland, the figure is closer to 40 percent, and in Germany it is 35 percent. But, energy recycling in the U.S. accounts for only 8 percent of the nation’s electrical power, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Recent EPA and Department of Energy studies suggest U.S. industries waste enough heat to generate an estimated 200,000 megawatts of power — nearly 20 percent of what this nation uses. That’s enough electricity to replace up to 400 coal-fired power plants.
So what’s the problem?
State and federal laws often prohibit companies like the Indiana steel mill from selling excess power, and few electric utilities have chosen to install energy recycling equipment at older power plants because under New Source Review, they will then be subject to newer, stricter environmental regulations.
We recycle beverage cans. Wouldn’t it make even more sense to recycle energy, to use the waste heat that goes up the chimney to produce electricity and, in the process, save millions of tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere?"

The day of protecting power companies from competition must end soon and laws prohibiting industry from selling off excess power should be repealed. Newer and stricter environmental regs. may be necessary to require power companies to recycle their own waste heat energy. If the government has money to invest, put it where it can do the least harm...not where the risk is greatest. A risk that only increases for countless generations into the future. Nukes of any kind are a risky and short-sighted legacy and should not be encouraged.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nukes=No Future

Nukes = No Future
At least after the old Romans packed it in and left the field our hapless ancestors had a pretty good chance of surviving. Granted things were not great for a while, say 500 years. But on the bright side. The old boys left some decent roads (nobody had anything much that rolled on wheels but at least they had a dry place to walk the goats) and if they were in need of some stones for refurbishing the hut or to lob at a foe, well, lots of that by quarrying out the old arenas.If there was any knowledge of hydraulics left behind, plenty of good watercourses were still standing. (They stand to this day!)So most of the abandoned technology was useful or at least benign.Not so with our detritus.

When the current experiment in modern living goes the way of the Maya, the Pharaohs and the rest of those benighted souls our rubbish will kill the folks dead. The more odiferous ruins will be avoided instinctively; the chemical plants, refineries and that foul smelling ilk. Distance will provide a buffer they can live with. Trial and error should teach the folks to avoid most of the obvious ordnance middens over time.

What worries me to distraction is the tens of thousand of nuclear devices and applications which will surely be abandoned when the Homer Simpsons of the future leave off ministering as the tide rises and the sun sets on our way of life. For without the expertise and TLC of the Homers all the nukes will someday go fizz

.If you happen at the time to live in a small island place like say, Japan, you will have no chance at all (About one nuke site about every couple of miles, is it?). Even a larger area, France maybe, better mend fences with the neighbors because that is where they will all be living when les nukes go les critical. The folks won't even know what's hitting them.So if we want to do the kids' kids' kids a big favor we will stop building any more of the bloody things

. At the first hint of a general systemic failure in technical sustainability, we must spend whatever it takes to dismantle, decommission and stash away as best we know how every single nuclear machine on the planet. Nothing less will even begin to redeem the lack of foresight in a reckless, feckless tribe like ours.

Is Mankind Worth Saving?

The easy answer from the POV of the Planet Earth and all the other non-human inhabitants therein is a resounding, HELL NO! That would probably be the answer from the nearer portions of our solar system if able to respond. But we won't accept the easy answer. No indeed, that would be unfair. But ridding itself of the planet's single most diabolical scourge would have immediate healing effect upon all of Earth's systems and foster relief to its sundry other occupants. True, but we won't write off the species so easily. We will instead search diligently for redeeming qualities, from a planetary view point, of course.


Still scanning...

A hit!
**Good intentions offered in defense...rejected.

Scanning resumed..

Another hit!
**Chosen status and great piety declared as defense...rejected.

Scanning again (ever smaller potential for finding redeeming qualities anticipated)...

** We make a lot of really great things...rejected.

**Many very nice people live here...rejected. ' Very nice individuals' is not a species.

Scanning halted... History lesson.
A. Corpse count. 20th century. Violent human deaths. 250,000,000.
B. Extinction of neighboring species, human caused. Thousands, growing daily.
C. Irreparable damage to planet's substance. Ongoing.
D. Loss of estrus is no excuse for littering every inch of the planet with your
E. Attempting to colonize space, bad idea. Look what happened here on Earth.

Scanning not resumed...

No remaining valid arguments for retaining human occupancy on planet Earth. Species deemed uneducable, hubris ridden, bloody minded. Danger to all life if
permitted to exist. Species is canceled. Extinction recommended.

SPECIAL NOTICE: APPEALS accepted up to, but not following, the next outrage perpetrated against the planet by that aforementioned species/or until extinction; whichever comes first.

signed: GAIA

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cain v. Abel: A Chronicle of the First Holocaust?

Racial memory can be vague and often skewed to reflect current attitudes or premises but ultimately its essence will not be denied. Many versions of this ancient saga of the brothers have appeared in the past and continue to this day. Most of the better known early versions such as in Genesis and the Koran agree on a few salient points. Cain was an agronomist and Abel an animal herder. They had sisters and the same mother and father. Cain slew Abel, married his sister and became an outcast. Considering the size of the remaining family we must also assume Cain becoming the father of a sizable portion of mankind.

The dominant archetype has been long been fratricide but a close follower is the conflict between agriculturists and herdsmen. A dispute over women also presents in several of the myths. This tale and its often repeated versions make it second only to the Adam and Eve myth among the revealed religions' earliest memories. The symbolism is clear enough regardless of the particular back stories. Evil has been done and good is the victim.

Assuming Cain, victorious, and the progenitor of most (all?) of mankind, does that not narrow human history unduly if these few archetypes are taken as the entire story? This devotes a lot of psychic or mystical energy in what is in effect an historical bottleneck. Usually when the mythology constricts the reality this severely, the real story has been fudged; the underlying reality too awesome to examine closer. After all, if one of only two brothers known to exist, has slain the other, this is most assuredly symbolic memory of some monstrous past event.

What may be hidden behind this small told tale of a truly dysfunctional family (and the first family, at that!) is what may have been the first Holocaust...genocide of epic proportions. The ancient recorders of this sad tale perhaps tapped into racial memories that did indeed include fratricide, male rivalry for females and conflict over territory but of a scope and duration occurring over an unimaginable span of time and resulting in an entire population having been totally annihilated.

At the onset, our own ancestors moved into the middle east from earlier homelands and encountered another group who had been established there for ages. There is no way of being certain where the two groups first met, perhaps in the Sinai, probably in the area of present day Israel. Also unknown are the results of these early meetings. Much can be deduced from the ultimate outcome of this intrusion by our group into the domain of these first inhabitants. The outcome was very likely omnicide that led in time to the total extinction of those inhabitants.

We weren't there and the evidence doesn't exist which would prove this theory conclusively. But knowledge of our violent history makes a fairly convincing case that the mythology prompting the tale of Cain and Abel reflects a tribal memory of a great wrong done an entire 'people' of which Abel is but symbolic. The term, people, is advised even though we are referring to an extinct species whose presence is known to us only through paleontology. But exist they did, and for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of our kind.

Evidence establishes their suzerainty over all of Europe from Germany to Gibralter and as far East as Afganistan and south to Israel as noted. They had occupied this vast territory for 150 thousand years before the newcomers began to intrude. When the newcomers appeared on the scene the inhabitants began to retreat. This was a slow process by modern standards but it happened so relentlessly that in thirty thousand years the inhabitants were pushed to the brink of/and over into, extinction.

They might have been our cousins although this is not necessarily the case. But they, Homo neanderthalensis , the Neanderthals, did share 99.5% of DNA with us, Cro-Magnon, A.K.A. modern man. How different were we? More to the point, how alike?
They; big brained, tool users, hunters of big game, and judging from grave sites, aware of human mortality.

A recurring theme in the Cain and Abel myth found in the Koran and in Armenian, Polish and Turkish tales, is the presence of a black bird. After the slaying a raven, symbol of darkness, sinister but wise in folklore, demonstrates how to dig a grave for Abel. A metaphor for Neanderthal practices observed by our ancestors, scorned at the time but later adopted. Perhaps? Included in the legend often enough to have credence is the Palestinian fable in which the raven also instructs Cain how to kill using a stone to crush Abel's skull.
" The little bird was still very young and could not fly. The fall killed it. Adam and Eve looked at the dead bird and saw that it was a raven. Soon the old raven flew by, and when he saw that his young one was dead, he scratched a hole in the ground with his feet, and laid it inside. Then he scratched the hole full and flew away. Adam and Eve observed all this and followed the raven's example. They made a hole in the earth, laid Abel's corpse in it, and covered it with earth. This was the first human grave."
The First Grave
Source: Otto Knoop, "Das erste Grab," Ostmärkische Sagen, Märchen und Erzählungen (Lissa: Oskar Eulitz' Verlag, 1909), no. 73, p. 149. Translated by D. L. Ashliman. © 2000.

Neanderthal: Often regarded as an historical footnote when hagiographers recite the ascent of mankind. Much has been learned about these early inhabitants of the Eurasian invirons that would have not been known to the early scribes. What they did portray in the Cain and Abel tale may have been a racial memory of Neanderthal and what was done to him by our ancestors. Perhaps early man could not abide the competition Neanderthal represented as another aware creature who would be entitled to share the planet's treasures. Our tribe has great difficulty in tolerating competition. This propensity may have caused the total demise of an equally aware species that became the nagging specter of the first mass murder of innocents-the genocide- that inspired the story of Cain and Abel.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where Have All the People Gone?

The cousins were singularly adventurous. They ventured where none of their kind had been known to roam before and made it their own. Despite incredibly severe climate change and the presence of dangerous beasts, they prevailed. For as much as 150,000 years, they owned the territory. As far south and east as modern day Israel, to the edge of the Himalayas and on up to Ukraine; this marked the most eastward boundary of their suzerainty. All of Europe from Germany to Gibraltar knew their presence.

The cousins were fierce hunters stalking mammoth as readily as great bison and bear. On the coasts seafood may have helped round out the diet and they gathered in whatever other bounty they encountered. The evidence from grave sites indicated they were well aware of human mortality and honored their dead. These were big brain, aware individuals who were strong and agile, made tools and had mastered fire. Technically they are called Homo neanderthalensis but we will use the family name, Neanderthal. Of course, technically again, they were not really cousins but...with 99. 5 % identical DNA, they were almost the kissin' kind.

So what happened to them? Where are they now? Aha! About 60 thousand years ago, they had some unexpected and uninvited company. At first the visitors were small in numbers and there is even evidence that in several sites in the vicinity of Qafzeh Cave in Israel, the same area was inhabited by the cousins and the visitors alternately. But that was early on. Like Europeans to the New World; the visitors just kept on acoming.

These visitors from Out of Africa are called homo sapiens, Cro-Magnon, modern humans or finally...just plain, us. We, or rather, our ancient ancestors were the visitors. Over the next thirty or forty thousand years Neanderthals were pushed further and further from their homelands into remote enclaves and finally about 24 thousand years ago, into extinction. All gone, en toto.

The dramatic impact of the arrival of "modern man" is shown in the following maps.
The first panel shows the range of Neanderthal when Cro-Magnon left Africa, crossing the Sinai about 60 thousand years ago. The light gray area denotes Neanderthal occupation and subsequent panels trace their removal as the rather ominous dark gray metastases. The numbers represent the passage of Cro-Magnon generations. The fifth and next to last panel shows the remaining tiny enclaves in Iberia and elsewhere prior to the last panel showing they had been rendered extinct.

Now why and how this happened is subject to much theory consisting primarily in repetition of the same reasoning. As in:
"Neanderthals appear to have had psychological traits that worked well in their early history but finally placed them at a long-term disadvantage with regards to modern humans. Neanderthal mind was sufficiently different from that of Homo sapiens to have been "alien" in the sense of thinking differently from that of modern humans, despite the obvious fact that Neanderthals were highly intelligent, with a brain as large or larger than our own. This theory is supported by what Neanderthals possessed, and just as importantly, by what they lacked, in cultural attributes and manufactured artifacts. Essentially, the Neanderthals lost out because their behaviors and tools eventually became second rate." As weather worsened about 30,000 years ago, it would have taken only one or two thousand years of inferior Neanderthal skills to cause them to go extinct, in light of better Cro-Magnon performance in all these areas."
Jordan, P. (2001) Neanderthal: Neanderthal Man and the Story of Human Origins. The History Press

Hagiography showing Cro-Magnon superiority to Neanderthals appears almost universal so this will be left to others to perpetuate. This is quite understandable as partisanship, but is suspect as good science because these theories tend to overlook or ignore what we do know of human beings. To attempt to understand what befell Neanderthal without consulting our own recorded history is specious if not futile. Mankind has an unbroken record of mayhem and slaughter by all known accounts.

To attribute the demise of the Neanderthal populations to their own failures and shortcomings is disingenuous in the extreme. Comparisions of maps of surviving populations of indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere would show vast areas totally denuded of original inhabitants. Maps would show the remainders shoved into obscure regions where they had been driven by aggressors beginning in the fifteenth century.

We are an intolerant species who cannot brook competition in any form and will main or slay all who intrude. This has been demonstrated time and again throughout our past and continues to this day. Any notion of fairplay or leeway having been extended to our Neanderthal cousins is unwarranted. Without much doubt, we caused their demise. To view our ancient predecessors as simple cavemen or bucolic Troglodytes flatters the memory of what we were and what we still remain: the Murder Apes.

Quoth the Raving



Julius Caesar

Veni,Vedi,Vici...Sidi ( I stuck around )

Uncle Sam


....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving

All I know, all any of us know, is what we're told.

...Zero Gravitas


Quoth the Raving

If it walks like a depression, talks like a depression, and looks like a depression; it's a recovery.

...Zero Gravitas

Nice paint job

Nice paint job
Watch your step!

Quoth the Raving

Full scale War in Korea; we called it a Police Action
Police Action in Iraq; we call it a War.

...Zero Gravitas


Gene Pool?

Gene Pool?

Quoth the Raving

Ecology is an impending Black Swan quagmire therefore incorporation is anathema to Economists.

...Zero Gravitas


Quoth the Raving

An incoming US President who does not immediately resign his office after having received eyes-only briefings of what's really going on is hopelessly co-opted or delusional.
....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving

We are now a nation of middlemen. What becomes of us if the center cannot hold?

....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving


Why not use some of the red ink to make things Green?

....Zero Gravitas

"Ashes to Ashes"

"Ashes to Ashes"