When Was the Last Time You Didn’t Feel Tired?

Excerpted from When Was the Last Time You Didn’t Feel Tired? « how to save the world, by Dave Pollard:

For the last 15 years or so … I’ve been trying to find ways to alleviate my anxiety, and with it my exhaustion. For the most part it was an “energy conservation” project — trying to do less, to work less, to get upset less, to own less. I’ve done this, pretty successfully. But this is more a prescription for dealing with physical exhaustion than mental (emotional) exhaustion.

What might be the components of an emotional “energy conservation” program? What would it take to put your life in order so that you no longer felt so tired all the time?

Although I hinted at how I’ve been trying to deal with this last month, I’m hesitant to proffer answers to these questions (to myself or to others). I’m starting to think that my personal ‘prescriptions’ on this blog are just more impossible “self-help” prescriptions that make things worse instead of better. “There’s the obvious way out, why can’t I just take it, what’s wrong with me?” — you know the feeling. “I just need to learn to be more accepting of what is, less self-critical, more self-aware, to let go of what I can’t change.” It’s all in your mind, so just change your mind.

If only it were so easy. There’s a reason things are the way they are, including our mental states. We can only be who we are.

Perhaps it’s time for me to stop striving to be more present (in both the intellectual ‘on’ sense and the instinctual ‘connected with all life on earth’ sense depicted on the right side of the chart above) and accept the moments of presence as the rare gift they are. Perhaps I’m going to spend 70% of the rest of my life in the ‘anxious’ state and 30% in the ‘ecstatic’ state (left side of the chart above) no matter what I try to do. Perhaps I’ve caught Civilization Disease for good, and chronic anxiety and disconnection and occasional depression and emotional exhaustion are just symptoms of this disease that I will have until I die, and the moments of ecstasy are pleasant times of escape, of play, when that disease doesn’t hurt so bad, even if the ecstasy just masks the pain rather than lessening it.

This is not a pleasant thought. But perhaps, having moved past the denial that our civilization can be reformed or should be saved from collapse, and that anything I can do will have any significance on any scale once I’m gone, it’s time to move past the denial than I can, by ‘practice’, learn to be anyone other than whom I’ve become, not even, any more, the ever-’present’ child I was when I was five.

But just as I’m not sure I’m totally ready to give up fighting the Tar Sands and factory farming, I’m not sure I’m totally ready to give up trying to find the person, trapped inside this terrible disease, that I always thought I was, and used to be.

~Dave Pollard [Excerpted from When Was the Last Time You Didn’t Feel Tired? « how to save the world.]

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[Dave Pollard contrasts a lot of things above…various different states, biases, and approaches…

I sometimes think there is a meta-practice of living (a dance of life?) that is suggested by the ubiquity of bilateral symmetry and lateral alternations in things like animal locomotion, heart pumping, breathing, etc.

Perhaps efficient “motion” through life (along with energy conservation or even energy production) depends less on favoring, maximizing, or “holding” any particular practice, state, approach, tactic, bias, etc. and more on alternating them in symmetrical (complementary) and rhythmical ways. ~PR]

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Finally, A More Exciting Design For Wind Power

Finally, A More Exciting Design For Wind Power | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

Enough of the fields of turbines! The Windstrument offers a different vision of what wind power can be in urban areas.

It may be full of potential, but wind power is still a young industry with many design challenges that prevent it from scaling up. From an environmental perspective, how can designers and entrepreneurs lower the technology’s impact on local ecosystems? Bird populations in particular, can be harmed by the swiftly spinning turbines. And how can wind power be brought to a wider variety of landscapes, including urban ones, as opposed to the rural, mountainous, or desert areas where you typically find fields of hulking turbines?

A new manufacturer thinks its figured out the answers to these two questions with a new turbine design called the Windstrument. They’re hailing the product as “a truly affordable wind energy system,” that’s “quiet and powerful, bird safe, and scalable.”

Source: Finally, A More Exciting Design For Wind Power | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

Q. What is solar power?

Solucar PS10 is the first solar thermal power ...
Image via Wikipedia

A. Solar power is a simple, sensible way to boil water and generate electricity (among other things). By contrast, nuclear power and fossil fuels are insane ways to boil water and generate electricity (or anything else).

Myth: Solar power is practical only in outer space.

Fact: Solar power is practical today at most places on the earth’s surface.

“Over the course of a year the average solar radiation arriving at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere is roughly 1,366 watts per square meter[2][3] (see solar constant). …The Sun’s rays are attenuated as they pass though the atmosphere, thus reducing the insolation at the Earth’s surface to approximately 1,000 watts per square meter for a surface perpendicular to the Sun’s rays at sea level on a clear day.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation) The sunlight available at the surface is MANY, MANY orders of magnitude greater than required for civilization’s power needs. Why go to orbit for something that is available in vast surplus on the ground? The same goes for obsessing about the efficiency of solar conversion for terrestrial applications. In space it matters–on the ground its often moot. It only affects the surface area requirement, which in many terrestrial applications is not a limiting factor.

(Picture above: “Concentrated Solar Thermal Power – The map shows how large of an area of desert would have to be covered with mirrors to produce all the electricity currently used by Europe (small square) or the entire World (larger square). Concentrated Solar Thermal could replace all nuclear power plants tomorrow. The sun’s ray are concentrated to produce high enough heat to drive steam turbines. This is the same technology as used in nuclear power plants, where the heat is supplied by highly radioactive uranium/plutonium fuel rods, except that here the heat is supplied directly by the sun’s rays…The technology is available. All we need is the political will to finance this one instead of the fossil fuel (& nuclear) based plants used today. Photo and text from Sepp Hasslberger’s Photos – Wall Photos on FaceBook. )

Myth: Solar power is a futuristic high-technology that requires more R&D to become a practical and competitive industry

Fact: Solar energy has been harnessed since ancient times. Ancient accounts also mention water-lifting devices and moving mechanical statues that were powered by the sun’s heat. Concentrated sunlight powered some of the earliest steam engines in the 19th century.

“As early as 212 BC, the Greek scientist, Archimedes, used the reflective properties of bronze shields to focus sunlight and to set fire to wooden ships from the Roman Empire which were besieging Syracuse. (Although no proof of this feat exists, the Greek navy recreated the experiment in 1973 and successfully set fire to a wooden boat at a distance of 50 meters.)”

“100 AD to 400 AD – For three hundred years, the Romans use solar power to heat waters in bath houses.

“On September 27, 1816, Robert Stirling applied for a patent for his economiser at the Chancery in Edinburgh, Scotland.  This engine was later used in the dish/Stirling system, a solar thermal electric technology that concentrates the sun’s thermal energy in order to produce power.”

Mouchout engine -click image for source

“The first active solar motor was invented by Auguste Mouchout in 1861 and utilized solar power to entirely provide a fuel source for a steam engine.  In the same period, scientists in Europe developed large cone-shaped collectors that could be used to produce locomotion and refrigeration based upon the heating of ammonia. ”

“In the United States during the Civil War Swedish-born John Erickson, the famed inventor of the USS Monitor that greatly assisted the Union in naval battles, was also able to develop a trough collector that could function in a similar way that many solar cells developed nearly one hundred years later do.

1913-The first solar thermal power station

“Frank Shuman built the world’s first solar thermal power station in Meadi, Egypt. Shuman’s plant used parabolic troughs to power a 60-70 horsepower engine, which pumped 6,000 gallons of water per minute from the Nile River to adjacent cotton fields. Identical technology with relatively minor refinements is used today. The first electric dynamo capable of delivering power for industry was  built by Hippolyte Pixii in 1832. Thus, engineers had mastered every technology needed to generate unlimited mechanical and electric power anywhere in the world over 100 years ago. There is one reason the world does not run entirely on solar power today — the captains of industry from the 1830’s until now have invested their capital in coal, oil, gas, and nuclear energy for one reason: they could minimize competition and control availability. They could not control the availability and profitability of sunlight.

Their personal gain is mankind’s loss.

“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Thomas Edison in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone (1931); as quoted in Uncommon Friends : Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (1987) by James Newton, p. 31

The most amazing thing about solar-thermal technology is that the basic parts involved existed several thousand years ago–they just weren’t combined in the smartest way until the 20th century. If a knowledgeable craftsman had traveled back in time (as Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee did) to King Arthur’s court, he could have built a concentrated solar-thermal power plant with the tools and materials of that day. All we are talking about is 1) mirrors, 2) plumbing, 3) a steam engine, and 4) a basic electric generator. Home-made examples of the latter two items are common in high-school science fairs.  Yet these systems, engineered to full scale and modern specifications, are capable of replacing coal and nuclear power plants, can be constructed by an existing class of contractors in less time than a coal-burning plant, and once built could operate safely with zero pollution for hundreds of years. These facts suggest that higher education has become principally a conduit of disinformation in the service of our corporate masters.

solar power station 1913 – click image for source

(List compiled from US Department of Energy – Solar History Timeline, Solar energy history by Max Rutherford, and A brief pictorial history of solar powered technology.)

Myth: Large solar power plants take up too much land, can only be situated in desert areas, and require inefficient, impractical, or unavailable energy storage and long-range transmission technologies.

Fact: Large scale solar power stations can be placed anywhere that cost-benefit constraints are met. They can be placed on any land unsuitable for other uses. Various designs are compatible with mixed land uses. They have the added placement flexibility over most other generating methods that no water supply is required and no public hazard is created. No evacuation plans or discharge scrubbers are required. No fuels must be mined or processed at enormous cost in land and energy resources. No large energy storage capabilities are required in countries with modern electrical distribution grids.

Myth: Solar power is inefficient and cost-prohibitive.

Fact: Its true that the solar-electric “panel” or “module” for stationary terrestrial use is largely a 1960’s-era technology that is nearly obsolete or inappropriate for many residential and commercial applications today. They are typically heavy, bulky, resource intensive, manufacturing intensive, and expensive at perhaps $5.00 per watt. Such panels are a pet “straw man” of the energy industry used to divert public attention from the appropriate solar power technologies of the present. The true state-of-the-art solar technologies for most  terrestrial applications (including charging electric vehicles) today are:

1. Solar-electric power production integrated into building materials: The entire exterior envelop of residential and commercial buildings including roofing, siding, and window glazing can be constructed from materials and coatings with solar-electric generating capability built in. Some interior surfaces can also be used to convert ambient interior light into electricity. The use of this technology is limited only by investments in manufacturing capacity and the active obstruction of the legacy energy industry.

Ancient Roof Tiles Can Solar Power Your Entire Home

These gorgeous Solé Power Tiles are designed to capture and convert sunlight into cost-saving electricity without compromising aesthetics. They incorporate UNI-SOLAR thinfilm flexible solar cells shaped into traditional clay tile shapes. The tiles are rated at 1 KW per 200 sq. feet. Most houses would have the space to fully power themselves using these solar tiles.

2. Solar-thermal power plants: A typical plant is an array of flat, conventional mirrors that concentrate solar radiation on a central heat exchanger. A heated fluid  drives a turbine and electric generator. Such plants can be scaled to serve anything from single family or farm to an entire citiy (and anything in between). Some designs are so simple they could have been constructed with 19th century technology. They can easily be built with the current level of engineering and construction expertise available in any city today.

Solar Towers PS20 and PS10, Spain

Large solar-thermal plants are commonly known as “solar power towers“. The land use impact of power towers is less than that of nuclear plants if the impacts of nuclear fuel mining, processing, disposal, and cooling are considered. Solar power towers need no cooling water and can be built on dry, non-arable lands. They need no complicated safety systems or backup and/or off-site electricity to prevent them from melting down or exploding. They represent no environmental or public health risk and have less environmental impact than a parking lot of comparable area.

Compared with the life cycle cost of a nuclear plant and its fuel, a solar power tower is far cheaper to build and to operate. Such plants can go from blueprints to operation in a single year. The deployment of this technology is limited only by capital availability and the active obstruction of the legacy energy industry.

It bears repeating that plants like these could have been built 150 years ago. This is concrete, glass, steel, plumbing, steam engines, and electric generators. All these components and materials were available, and all the engineering knowledge was widespread in 1860 or even earlier. Since the factory machines and transportation vehicles were built to use oil, coal, and gas populations were forced to purchase those fuels from the small number of robber-barons who accumulated monopolistic control of the supplies. Thus the worlds population was held hostage to energy czars for at least seven generations, while enough sunlight to power human civilization was wasted. This was not a result of “human error”.

List of solar thermal power stations

Myth: Photovoltaic systems require expensive parts, professional installation, and high-tech manufacturing facilities.

Fact: There is a wide variety of do-it-yourself options for residential photovoltaics. For example:

However, assembling solar panels or systems from purchased materials may not be the only option. I’m also interested in basic manufacturing technologies for photovoltaic film, ink, paint, etc. that can be adapted to a small-scale, low-capital, low-tech cottage industry.

I know enough about photovoltaic technologies (amorphous thin films, bio-dyes, polymer inks, etc) that I feel pretty certain a low-tech, low volume manufacturing process is possible. Such a process could allow small-scale entrepreneurs to make photovoltaic materials and devices in the garage. It doesn’t have to be high-efficiency. It just needs to be cheap and safe to make.

If it exists, it could be a game-changer. It might even be the most disruptive technology yet because of the number of people who could establish low capital, low tech local cottage industries around it.

Miscellaneous facts:

Wind is also an indirect form of solar energy, and there are numerous ways to capture the wind’s energy to supplement direct sunlight.

The combination of these solar power technologies are sufficient to meet nearly all terrestrial power needs. Both are safer, simpler, and cheaper than other renewable sources of energy such as large hydro dams, ocean waves, and geothermal.

Going off the grid

A combination of these solar power technologies are sufficient to meet nearly all terrestrial power needs. All the solar options are safer, simpler, and cheaper than other renewable sources of energy such as large hydro dams, ocean waves, and geothermal.

For small residential and farm applications that want to have complete energy autonomy it is often useful to combine solar technologies with complementary systems like small windmills and micro-hydro systems. Simple solar water heating systems may have a role as well.

Another indirect solar energy technology, cellulosic ethanol in various blends with conventional fuels, is appropriate for the installed base of gasoline-burning vehicles until the existing fleet can be retired.

The legacy energy industry spends a fortune on public propaganda and scientific disinformation and on political and academic bribes to retard and control the impact of these solar technologies. The continued promotion of, use of, and investment in nuclear and fossil-based power constitutes a crime against humanity and against all life on earth.

Poor Richard

 

Addendum:

Heliostat improvements for solar power towers
h/t Abhijit Anand Prabhudan

Madrone and Griffith realized that they could cut down on the heft required of the heliostats by using a huge number of small mirrors to replace what would normally be a smaller number of big ones. Small mirrors hug the ground and thus carry smaller wind loads. And small, light-duty heliostats could be built from plastic, following an approach that’s similar to the way certain flowering plants track the sun’s daily movements. “Originally, we were origami inspired, and now we’re bio inspired,” says Madrone.

Her latest prototype aims a mirror by varying the pressures within pneumatically inflated plastic chambers, which can be mass-produced with the same tooling used to make plastic bottles. “If we keep using heliostats that have been around for half a century, there’s no way the price is going to go down,” says Madrone. “If we don’t start taking advantage of new technologies, we’re just going to lose the solar game.”

theory of stuff

plasma lamp

Image via Wikipedia

Matter is said to have various forms–solid, fluid, gas, plasma, etc.

Energy is also said to have various forms–kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound, elastic, electromagnetic, etc.

Energy and matter are transformable from one to the other, as when wood burns or nuclear weapons explode. The amount of energy (e) in a piece of matter is equal to the mass (m) of the matter times the speed of light squared (c2),  giving the famous formula e=mc2.

According to the theory of stuff, energy and matter are two different forms of stuff. Stuff may have other forms such as dark matter or dark energy (technically called strange stuff), but we aren’t really sure yet. The important thing is that energy and matter are two forms of the same stuff. What stuff is, in and of itself, is not known. We may know in the future, but we don’t know now. All we know now is that matter and energy are two forms of stuff which can be converted back and  forth. If any of our matter/energy is changing into other kinds of stuff, other kinds of stuff may be changing into our familiar stuff in exchange, without us ever suspecting a thing.

As far as we can tell, the total quantity of matter/energy stuff  in our universe is constant, but this may be a peculiarity of our perspective– our spatially, temporally, and constitutionally limited and local observation. Everything is “wiggling and giggling” so much it’s hard to get a clear fix on things. For all we know, our whole universe is blinking in and out of existence and alternating with any number of other universes. This is the alternating multiverse (AM), as opposed to the direct multiverse (DM), theory. As in the case of alternating and direct current (AC and DC), both AM and DM may coexist[1].

There are many forms of stuff and many, many ways that stuff may interact with other stuff. It is unlikely we will ever know the half of it. It is perfectly reasonable for Shakespeare to say “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy .” (Hamlet Act 1. Scene V). However, all forms of stuff, all properties and behaviors of stuff, and all interactions of stuff with other stuff —are phenomena of stuff.

And by convention/definition, all stuff is is what we call “natural”. Natural simply means “made of real stuff” as opposed to imaginary stuff like unicorn poop.

Getting to the point…

The only point I have here should go without saying: anything that is or has ever been attributed to supernatural agencies or mechanisms, if there is any validity to the experience or observation in question,  is most likely the work of some form of natural stuff.

Just as there is no fundamental dichotomy between matter and energy (only a diversity in the observed form and behavior of stuff), there is probably no real dichotomy between matter and what we call spirit. If spirit exists, it is probably made of stuff.

The real dichotomy is the one between justified and unjustified belief.

Whatever kind of stuff or behavior of stuff is in question, the difference between anecdote and scientifically-established, probable fact remains. All the distinctions between well-controlled experiments and one-off observations, between high and low probability, between justified belief and imagination, etc.– all those distinctions remain in full force and effect.

If that’s not what you are hearing in church lately, maybe you should switch to the Church of Reality.

The Church of Reality

The Church of Reality is about making a religious commitment to the pursuit of the understanding of reality as it really is.

This reality is the sum of everything that actually exists. Our definition of reality includes what some people call “other realities” that actually are real with the exclusion of imaginary realities and religious fiction. We care about what is really real, not what we want to believe is real.

Maybe I’ll see you in church….

Poor Richard

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Footnotes:

1. My whimsical description of an alternating wave function producing an Alternating Multiverse is remarkably similar on some points to the “Many Worlds” hypothesis of Hugh Everett:

Wikipedia: Hugh Everett III (November 11, 1930 – July 19, 1982) was an American physicist who first proposed the many-worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum physics, which he called his “relative state” formulation. He switched thesis advisors to John Wheeler some time in 1955, wrote a couple of short papers on quantum theory and completed his long paper, Wave Mechanics Without Probability in April 1956[2] later retitled as The Theory of the Universal Wave Function, and eventually defended his thesis after some delay in the spring of 1957. A short article, which was a compromise between Everett and Wheeler about how to present the concept and almost identical to the final version of his thesis, appeared in Reviews of Modern Physics Vol 29 #3 454-462, (July 1957), accompanied by a supportive review by Wheeler. The physics world took little note.

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