Whorled View

July 30, 2007

Geothermal – Distributed Energy at it’s Best

Filed under: Uncategorized — lullabyman @ 12:35 am

A friend of my recently started working for Waterfurnace – a company that makes geothermal heating systems. Being one who’s worked in the Green-energy industry and blogging frequently about it you’d think I’d have been apprised of what a slam dunk it is. I wasn’t. I figured it was like Solar PV – something people do to feel good about themselves. No, this is a true money saver within 7 years complete payoff (probably 5 years now, given oil costs), and so I think we can expect massive growth here. What’s more important payback is done without government subsidies (unlike solar PV), and the suppliers are profitable. Profitability means scalability, and as far as I know wind-turbines and geothermal are the only profitable renewable companies out there – and geothermal is by far the most affordable one. So you’re going to see geothermal explode in the next 10-20 years – it’s all economics. Check out this clip:

Wouldn’t you know it … the best solutions are the simple and cheap ones. While Pres. Bush throws your tax $ toward a fabled hydrogen-based economy involving the most complicated, expensive, and energy wasting distribution methods, most people can cut their heating and cooling costs by 75% by planting a bunch of pipes in their backyard and retrofitting it with a heat exchanger.

On average you’ll save enough to pay it off in 5-10 years. The payoff for solar PV (the other homeowner-owned renewable) is closer to 10-20 years even with 50% government subsidies – what a waste of our taxes – that money should go toward CSP, wind turbine farms, or geothermal plants. If you do a payment plan & have good credit you can possibly do geothermal with no money down and then see your monthly heating/cooling bills significantly drop immediately. Lending companies like it better too for multiple reasons. What’s not there to love?!

Lastly, you’ll also get that”feel good” warm fuzzy I mentioned above, knowing you’re doing something to help out. As much as 30% of our nation’s energy is spent on heating & cooling. If everyone utilized geothermal then that could be nearly as high as a 20% reduction in our country’s energy consumption, plus that savings goes back to drive the economy.

July 26, 2007

My God vs. Your God: a mainstream oxymoron

Filed under: Uncategorized — lullabyman @ 4:09 pm

I realized something obvious today. At least in retrospect it seems obvious to me, though I don’t know why this concept alludes others. It happened while I was hopelessly searching for a decent radio station to listen to in the garage, and in the process happened upon a “Christian music” station where they were singing some song about how great their God was. It wasn’t about “God” in general, or “the” God, but they consistently used the term “my God” with as much or more gusto on the word “my” as they did on the word “God”. I then thought – if you believe in only one God why even mention “my”, or “our”? The phrase “my God” implies that there is more than one God. That’s an oxymoron if you’re a monotheist (someone who believes in only one God).

“The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.”

I’ve also heard so many times from many (but not all) religions people claim that their God is better than another person’s God. As a Mormon person I hear this a lot from mainstream Christians directed toward me. I’ve always responded that we worship the same God, although we understand the physical/spiritual nature of the Godhead to be different from their concept. To which they usually respond vehemently that no way is our God the same being as their God. The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.

The only logical rationale I can imagine for this implicit contradiction is that they consider “God” to be a concept rather than an actual being. I don’t think that is what they’re doing though since they, like me, claim that God lives, not that He’s just some kind of philosophical construct to make people feel better. So I must conclude that they’re just trained to reinforce this implicit contradiction, which if corrected could engender greater understanding and mutually beneficial communication.

“…most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him.”

If one is literally referring to God with the intent to compare religions the best thing they can say is “our understanding of the nature of His being and power are different”. Of course, the implied meaning is “You’re wrong about God’s nature and power, and I’m right”, but at least it’s plainly understood that there is only one God.From time to time I’ve heard the interesting accusation (from people of all religions, including my own) that certain people “don’t worship the true God” or variations on that theme. Although this is very offensive, I don’t think it is as dangerous as pitting one God against another, and besides this accusation abides by the rules of a monotheistic perspective. Of course, it is an extremely presumptuous accusation to say someone simply isn’t worshiping the true God because they don’t understand the nature of God’s being and power. Its also irrational to suggest that misunderstanding something about the object of worship instantly disqualifies the worshipful actions, making them null and void, and there are no scriptures I know of to back up that absurd claim.

“… but can all worship the same God by simply doing good and appreciate each other for it”

It’s also obvious that making such presumptuous and irrational accusations alienates others and engenders spite between religious groups. It can be reasonably argued that most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him.  If the middle-east Jews, Christians, and Muslims accepted what an irrational idea that is, and that they all believe in the same God, but only interpret Him and His nature and purposes differently, then the idea of the “heathen” and the philosophy behind “Jihad” would suddenly dissolve. The challenge there is that so much of their scriptures do seem to refer to a plurality of monotheistic Gods, so that isn’t likely to happen without a new interpretation of those verses.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen as long as religious leaderships continue to senselessly pit their monotheistic Gods against each other as the Greeks or Romans did. Fortunately, those of us in the civilized world can be rational and realize we all worship just one God, the Creator of the earth, – just differently. Admittedly some might be more accurate that others in their ideas about God, but can all worship the same God by simply doing good and appreciate each other for it.

July 16, 2007

Filed under: Politics,Religion — lullabyman @ 1:32 pm

I’m sick of people saying Bush got re-elected because of his religion and his pro-Christian views. It’s just plain not true. That’s like saying Clinton was elected because America loves womanizers – just watch our sitcoms – seems America does love womanizers, but that’s not why Clinton got elected. By the same token Bush’s religious agenda has done him more political harm than good, and he was elected both terms simply because the Democrats failed in nominating someone who wasn’t an extreme leftist wacko.

“The Democrats should have won the last election…”

The Democrats should have won the last election, and they would have if they nominated a moderate like Lieberman, and then we would currently have a Jewish man for a president. I would have voted for him in a second. Lieberman didn’t have a chance in the primaries though as he was far too moderate for the Democrats, and he was a “Jew” – heaven forbid. It’s okay to nominate a black man or any kind of woman, but not a Jewish man. No way. The Democrats thought they had the election in the bag in both terms and so they nominated their dream candidate each time: someone way out in left field who was neither black, female, or jewish. Now it’s funny that the Republican party seems to be the more tolerant, considering their flirtations with Mitt Romney, an LDS man.

“…the Republican party seems to be the more tolerant, considering their flirtations with Mitt Romney, an LDS man.  Harry Reid (also LDS) would never have made it so far in the Democrat primaries, and he knows it.”

So next time you want to say Americans are a bunch of gun toting Christian-proselytizing imperialists, remember it’s the Democrat’s fault that we don’t have a peace-loving, green-energy spewing, Muslim-tolerating Jewish man in that office. If religion had anything to do with american elections then Mitt Romney would have been a hiss and a byword long ago. Then again, once our beloved leftist Hollywood kingpins wreak their havoc next month with their “artistic liberties” (September Dawn) he just might be, but that’s a topic for another day.

July 3, 2007

A Responsible Kid-Friendly Digital Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — lullabyman @ 3:19 pm

We live in an amazing time with wonderful technologies to greatly improve and enhance our life styles. As always, there’s bad that comes with good, and in a world where we all live in glass houses it’s critical that parents be thoughtful and take necessary precautions to protect their children. For one, we all know there are perverts out there disguising themselves as other kids. There’s also a problem of kids becoming negatively influenced with online pornography, as soft-core pornography (which kids are more likely to be interested in) often ultimately leads to hard-core porn use with disturbing consequences.

kidfriendly

The scientific facts are there even if you don’t have a religious foundation for such an opinion. The research to date proves conclusively that pornography is as addictive as any mind altering substance, eliciting the same biochemical response as PCP or any other highly addictive hallucinogenic drug. These studies also show that, similar to drug abuse, increasing doses of a more concentrated and vile nature are needed to provide the same biochemical response in the individual with each successive pornographic experience.

So just what does this mean for children? It means the same thing that it mean with regards to drugs. Early pornographic use can lead (and has lead many) to a lifetime of horrible addiction that can rob them of will power and adversely distort their perspective, leading to poor decisions in critical matters and causing episodes of deep depression. It’s all in the science, and if you don’t believe me, just do a search for “pornography and science” (click here).

“Within a few hours any 13 year old can develop nearly the same computer competency level as another regardless of their background. Beyond 13 however it’s critical that kids know and use computers on a fairly frequent basis or they will be left behind.”

How best to meet this challenge? Do you shut your children out of the digital world entirely? Actually, this is not necessarily a bad approach when kids are less than 13-14 years of age. Within a few hours any 13 year old can become nearly as computer competent as another regardless of their background. Beyond 13 however it’s critical that kids know and use computers on a fairly frequent basis or they will be left behind.

How about shutting them off from the Internet entirely? That is also a viable approach if approached right, though there are less draconian ways to do it. A child can use an unconnected computer on a very frequent basis – doing nearly everything they could do with a connected computer. Email of course would be handled through a parent/guardian – and ancient technology, like phones, for communication instead still do exist. There are even services that will convert email messages to phone messages and then send it to a cell phone. Student based research is perhaps even made easier by using an unconnected computer if it is loaded with Encarta, or Encyclopedia Britannica on DVD, etc. Teachers would far prefer those references to a reference to the wikipedia (although you can get wikipedia on DVD – a new one each year). Having them use an unconnected PC whenever they want can help them focus on really learning about the computer, computing, programming, etc… instead of surfing the net and loitering in ineffectual chat rooms.

What you should never do: Never put a net-capable computer in your kid’s bedroom. One way or another they’ll get access to whatever they want no matter how good you think they are. Don’t kid yourself, kids are kids. I kid you not.

“Don’t kid yourself, kids are kids. I kid you not. Would you tell your kid to never play with guns and then put a loaded one under their bed? Would you?”

Here’s the multifaceted approach we use at our house. Feel free to use as much of it as you’d like:

  1. Explain in detail to kids why some parts of the net is a dangerous place with dangerous people, and why porn victimizes and how it alters judgement, alters character, and is socially repugnant. Why? Because they need to protect themselves whenever you can’t because you can’t place filters on their friend’s computers libraries, etc.
  2. Also, give them a protected environment where they can feel safe in, and where you can feel comfortable that they’re safe. You wouldn’t tell your kid to not play with guns and then put a loaded one under their bed would you? Then get to work:
    Method: KidRocket Glubble Client Based Filtering
    (Blue Coat k9)
    Proxy Server Filtering
    What is it: Dedicated kid-friendly fullscreen locked-down browser that won’t exit (not a plug-in), that we link to in the startup folder of their XP account. So when they click their account it boots straight up to this browser. See kidrocket.org. Free. A plugin for Firefox. Restricts where kids can go. You can define where it can and can’t go. Free. More flexible than Kid Rocket, and allows your kids to go to alot more places. Be sure to remove other browsers. Filter all content on each computer as it comes in from the internet or as it is requested. You can do this for free with Blue Coat k9 which is one of the best out there. It doesn’t noticeably slow down the browsing experience and is easy to administer. WHETHER YOU DO ANY OF THE OTHERS AT LEAST DO THIS! ITS FREE. Filter all content by setting up a proxy server. Every webpage viewed on your network is automatically routed through this server, There’s no way around it. Think of it as Big brother. You can do it for free with a spare computer and Dansguardian and squid. There are also retail products for doing this.
    How easy is it: easy somewhat easy very easy For experienced users who know a bit about servers
    How secure somewhat secure Not very secure, but better than nothing. Pretty secure. Can be circumvented, but not very easily. Very secure. Can’t go around this as long as they’re using your network.
    Downsides: Very limited. For kids under 12. I don’t think it locks down the user environment. Seems like it might be easily circumvented. Not many Downsides. It’s very easy to override and seldom gives false results, so you ought to put this on every computer in the house. Only Proxy Filtering is better. Takes some server knowledge, but nothing that you can’t learn given enough time.
  3. Keep all Internet capable computers in public places. Laptops should be off limits (don’t have them take them into their rooms) unless they aren’t Internet capable.
  4. Provide an Internet-free computer they can do non Internet stuff on (MS Encarta, Homework, Burn Cd’s, create, print, make cards, run CD-ROMS, etc). Ideally this computer will physically have the Internet capable hardware removed so they can do anything they want. Note: once you have it just right – back it up (and create a system restore point) so you can easily to a complete reinstall (this will be necessary from time to time).
  5. Explain to kids that you’re using a separate program that records all the websites they visit and that you’ll check it regularly. If you have a way to really do this periodically ask them about a site or two that they visited – that will really let them know you’re not blowing smoke.

If you have any more suggestions, (please post them here – click).

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