Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It Can Be Done, And Quickly

As this article from the NY Times about Portugal makes very clear, transition to a renewable energy regime can be accomplished, and very quickly at that.

"Today, Lisbon’s trendy bars, Porto’s factories and the Algarve’s glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago."

Apparently, they have hit all the right buttons: grid modernization, emphasis on wind and hydro, two-way power flow to and from customers who have rooftop solar panels.

Yes, all it really takes is political will.  The rest is just money (and we know what that is really worth..).

By contrast, the real costs of relying on fossil fuels are:
  1. Massive geopolitical risk, which translates into the cost of maintaining an enormous "defense" establishment and occasionally fighting energy wars, as we are doing right now.
  2. Environmental degradation and climate change.
  3. Losing our technological edge as other countries and entire continents (e.g. Europe) move towards more sophisticated energy regimes.  For example, the Portuguese electricity company EDP already owns wind farms in Iowa and sells electricity to the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Instead of moving ahead, the U.S. is dumbing-down.
In the 1950's and '60s rich American tourists visited remote villages in poverty-stricken Spain and Portugal, frequently snapping pictures of themselves riding donkeys and mules.  The poor locals were befuddled, since they would gladly have exchanged their picturesque animals for a tractor or - gasp - an automobile, if they could afford it.

I fear that in 2050 rich Spaniards will be visiting West Virginia or Utah to pixelize themselves driving ancient gasoline pickup trucks, which the locals would gladly exchange for a 300-mile range electric model, if they could afford it.

    65 comments:

    Dink said...

    "I fear that in 2050 rich Spaniards will be visiting West Virginia or Utah to pixelize themselves driving ancient gasoline pickup trucks, which the locals would gladly exchange for a 300-mile range electric model, if they could afford it."

    Excellent snarkiness ;)

    Anonymous said...

    Yeah, and I'm sure overcoming the objections and pushback from the Portuguese oil industry and defense contractors really took a great deal of political will.

    What? There is no Portuguese oil industry and they don't manufacture weapons to sell to and/or use on the rest of the world?

    I can't imagine how they ever found the will to accomplish this. /snark.

    JP said...

    If it can be done, let's go for it.

    My therory is that it can't be done, but I'm all for trying and seeing what happens.

    I'm not a "peak oiler" by the way, just a "peak cheap energy" guy.

    I also suspect that there is no good "large-scale fix" for the cheap energy problem. Basically because the "problem" cannot be "sovled".

    We are asking the wrong questions.

    As I was telling Dink, the problem isn't entropy. Entropy is a feature that gives energy it's direction, but it's not "working against" us so to speak.

    Our problem is one of capacitance.

    The oil/gas/coal/uranium is all a one-time non-rechargable battery.

    I don't think that we can achieve a "steady-state sustainability" model based on what Hellasious is proposing.

    The sun is providing us more energy than we can use or store. We need to be figuring out how to store it.

    And specifically, we need to figure out how much we can store because that's all the "cheap energy" we will ever get to have again.

    Brian woods said...

    300 mile range for an EV!!! Someone is pulling a fast-one here. 'Cept of course its a small vehicle, has one midget occupant, and weights a few kilos. How about 80 - 100 Km for something the size and weight of ye-olde R4 or Citroen DC?

    Brian P

    Josh said...

    Just yesterday I saw a group of Italian tourists in Portland taking pictures of themselves standing in front of a parked, large truck with oversized tires and lift kit. It's already happening.

    Lee said...

    You have got to be kidding! Right?

    NONE of the renewables can substitute for Base Load power. NONE.

    Base Load power stations run their furnaces/boilers/reactors ALL of the time. They just idle the generators when they are not needed.

    The net effect of all this GREEN ENERGY - Worse than nothing!

    Why? The base load is always running! We are allowing ourselves to be fooled into thinking that the current forms of renewable energy actually make a difference.... Except for Hydro, they do not!

    Now, before you assume that I am a denial nutter... The real problem is ENERGY STORAGE, not generation!

    IF we can store all of this Green Energy for when we need it (the sun isn't shining, the wind isn't blowing, the sea is flat, etc. THEN, GREEN ENERGY WILL be able to fill ALL of our hopes and dreams.

    Until then, YOU are allowing yourself to be fooled by people just wanting to make money or feel important.

    Don't believe me? Do some research on the web! Become informed and then HOUND THESE LIARS into researching something that will REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE - EFFICIENT ENERGY STORAGE!

    Kind Regards to all

    LT

    Hellasious said...

    Re: Capacitance/storage, etc.

    Changing our energy regime involves much more than the solution to a single problem. Instead, it's a series of interconnected problems, exactly like a jigsaw puzzle.

    To begin with, we must choose - broadly speaking - if we will keep our liquid fuel system or switch to an all electric economy.

    If the latter, then we must choose between a hub-and-spoke system based on a few massive generating plants (today's regime) or move to a more distributed system, a la Internet.

    If the former, we must accelerate fusion and/or solar thermal research. If the latter, we must accelerate wind and direct solar, plus various geothermal, tidal, etc.

    Then, we must decide on an optimum system for capacity regulation, as you guys have pointed out.

    Then, we must design a new smart grid and start building it.

    And then....

    But, you get the picture..

    The point is we are already far behind the curve and need to catch up. It can be done.

    Hellasious said...

    Brian P said:

    "300 mile range for an EV!!! Someone is pulling a fast-one here. 'Cept of course its a small vehicle, has one midget occupant, and weights a few kilos. How about 80 - 100 Km for something the size and weight of ye-olde R4 or Citroen DC?"

    Oh ye of little faith.. Current EV's already have a range of 40 miles (eg Volt). I am absolutely certain that within 10-15 years this will jump substantially. Maybe not 8x but I think 100 miles will be easily achieved. There are so many parts that can be improved: batteries, engines, drive-trains, composite bodies, etc.

    Once we agree that our future is indeed electric things will move ultra fast. Just think of what happened to computers once we agreed on the PC/Windows prototype, or to mobile phones with 3G.

    Kinuachdrach said...

    "Just think of what happened to computers once we agreed on the PC/Windows prototype"

    Another incomprehensible statement from Hellasious.

    When was the world-wide referendum where we all agreed on adopting the PC/Windows prototype? -- Didn't happen.

    OK, when did the British parliament vote on it? Or the Icelandic Storting? -- Didn't happen.

    What did happen was that companies developed technology (PC/Windows) that was better & cheaper than the then-current alternatives (Mainframe computers and paper pads). Individuals gleefully grabbed that better technology.

    When someone builds an electric car that is better, cheaper, more convenient than the alternatives, we will all grab onto that too. Until then, the electric car is just like wind and solar - an unsustainable Subsidy Slut!

    Hellasious said...

    "we agree" obviously does not refer to a plebiscite.

    Anonymous said...

    I got tired of waiting long ago. We both drive a prius and installed solar panels this year. I know this country can make the change but why wait for the naysayers to join in?
    Besides, my six year old is counting on me to do my part. :)

    Kinuachdrach said...

    Hmmm! Prius -- subsidized by buyers of other Toyota vehicles. Roof top solar panels -- subsidized by taxes on ordinary people. Subsidy Sluts!

    Wishing that todays' unsustainable "renewable" energies were better than they are is no strategy. Especially when we are on the brink of "Peak Government", and the ability of bankrupt governments to provide continuing subsidies is in doubt.

    Spain has had to cut back on their subsidies for solar, because of their desperate financial situation. Even comparatively healthy Germany has had to start cutting back on subsidies for solar -- which is cutting demand.

    We need cheap energy on a very large scale. There is no other way to provide things like safe drinking water to the billions of human beings on the planet who don't currently have it. And so-called "renewables" currently can't hack it. They are not sustainable.

    No need for despair, though. There is an answer with today's technology -- very large scale nuclear fission, along with manufacturing efficient hydrocarbon transportation fuels from tar sands, oil shale, and coal. The problem is the Naysayers -- those self-described environmentalists with human blood on their hands.

    We could be making progress today, but we are not. Thanks, Greenpeace!

    fajensen said...

    "The base load" is not as critical a problem that people make it out to be.

    Not having power available precisely on demand will break JIT production and introduce variability and uncertainty in transport and production - this is acceptable to not having any of the above at all!

    People lived with variable outputs *a long time* before we replaced physical storage with financial derivatives and bummed the whole global system into peak efficiency (where even the slightest hiccup causes instant disaster somewhere else).

    Now it's wheat, then maybe rice, then perhaps oil e.t.c. Once enough Up-Limit days have appeared, people will learn to accept variability and make plans accordingly. A local energy source that is sometimes available is perhaps better than an ideal one that money suddently cannot buy?

    Debra said...

    I think a lot of people continue to miss the point on this issue.
    Our culture is structured the way it is largely due to the NATURE of fossile fuels. We decide and control a hell of a lot less than we THINK we do.
    We're going to have to reverse gears quite a bit, and change our thinking about STORING/HOARDING/PREDICTING/CONTROLING lots of things.
    We already know that storing money CAN freeze up the economy.
    As a proud cicada/cricket, I'm fed up with all the self righteous ants running around on this planet.
    They are NO FUN.
    And TOO MANY fundamentalist ants throw things (including the economy) seriously out of balance.

    Hellasious said...

    Dear Debra,

    Excellent! Let's call it the Aesop Paradigm!

    Best,
    H.

    Tiago said...

    Your comment on Iberians in the 50s wanting to trade their donkeys for automobiles is more important than you think.

    That mentality stuck and now the automobile is an holy cow.

    I am currently writing this in a camping site in Southern Portugal and this is a bit of a nuisance because people bring their cars to the camp site en masse. So a camping site (nature?) becomes car chaos. This has consequences:

    Portugal, Ireland (or Italy), Greece and Spain have the biggest percent dependence on fossil fuels (remember that not everything is electricity - the NYT article discusses this). See any PIGS? Note that Portugal has a massive trade defict: it would be a surplus without energy imports.

    Portugal and Spain are top (or very near) in highways per capita and per square mile. Furthermore the mentality is very against public transport. Around here it is seen as something for the poor (in many Euro countries is very different).

    Then there are politics: the current left-of-centre government (the socialist party) will probably be replaced next year by a right-of-centre party that was hijacked by its right wing: less state, less environment, more cars (austerity measures and corruption are the problem, not energy policies). Note that the energy provider is private, but there is regulation, feed-in tariffs and political cajoling of utilities by the govt.

    Envirnonmental groups are also a small disaster: they want to stop hydro-electrics at all cost. They see it as an environmental issue. Importing nuclear from Spain and France is OK, and natural gas from Lybia, and oil from Nigeria: they see no issues there. Dangerous NINBY idiots, that are OK with destroying the planet (and human life) as long as it is far away.

    But, all in all, it has been pretty amazing to see the last 5 years. Fantastic!

    Debra said...

    Hey Brian P, I hope Hell won't mind my deep space venture, but I got a tantalizing glimpse SOMEWHERE on the web into the debate about the difference between algorithm paradigms used to "predict" exponential growth, and the OTHER algorithms...
    (yeah, well, I am an IDIOT on this topic, but I DO keep trying (not passionate about it, sorry...) to get my mind around some of this.)
    Have you heard anything about this issue ?
    Does it relate to what I occasionally bring up about the difference between multiplication and addition ? (Particularly exponential multiplication).
    Thanks ANYONE who feels like TRANSLATING THIS INTO LAYMAN'S LANGUAGE.

    JP said...

    K-Guy says:

    "We need cheap energy on a very large scale. There is no other way to provide things like safe drinking water to the billions of human beings on the planet who don't currently have it."

    I though the primary problem with drinking water was the biological inhabitants of such water.

    If that's the problem you want to solve, just distribute cheap plastic transparent bottles to everyone, fill the bottles with water, and put the bottles in direct sunlight for a day.

    Viola.

    Lots of dead microbes and nice cleanish water thanks to Mr. Sun.

    Photons are your friend.

    JP said...

    I thought that the more carbon dioxide there was in the atmosphere the faster that plants would grow.

    So, if we want to increase food production, shouldn't we increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

    Tiago said...

    I did not make my general point clear: This was a fractal event. A black swan if you want. Completely unexpected to happen in the place that happened. And will probably stop next year when the govt changes (though what is installed will not be reversed).

    OkieLawyer said...

    Hey JP:

    Any way I can contact you privately?

    OkieLawyer said...

    For all of you who are stock traders out there: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1U4vAV2-7Q'>The Hindenburg Omen</a>.

    OkieLawyer said...

    Correction:

    For all of you who are stock traders out there: The Hindenburg Omen.

    Edwardo said...

    "Envirnonmental groups are also a small disaster: they want to stop hydro-electrics at all cost. They see it as an environmental issue. Importing nuclear from Spain and France is OK, and natural gas from Lybia, and oil from Nigeria: they see no issues there. Dangerous NINBY idiots, that are OK with destroying the planet (and human life) as long as it is far away."

    -Except the GOM, to name just one recently despoiled ecosystem, isn't far away.


    "No need for despair, though. There is an answer" with today's technology -- very large scale nuclear fission, along with manufacturing efficient hydrocarbon transportation fuels from tar sands, oil shale, and coal. The problem is the Naysayers -- those self-described environmentalists with human blood on their hands."

    -Your answer's aren't really answers, and the search for ultimate answers, which is a peculiar human foible, may be the biggest problem of all.

    "We could be making progress today, but we are not. Thanks, Greenpeace!"

    -Yes, it's all Greenpeace's fault. Damn Whale huggers! That was a bit of sarcasm in case you thought you'd encountered a kindred spirit.

    D said...

    to all the rocket scientists

    the technology to store all that energy the sun sends us has been around long before there was a USA or portugal...

    it's called "plantae"

    oh yea, and guess what converts CO2 into 02?

    "plantae"

    it is a complete joke to think we are going to generate something as efficient.

    key word: anthropocentrism

    if you don't pull demand forward (massively) with IOUs than there is no reason to be concerned about cheap energy. treat the problem and not symptoms!

    Debra said...

    On the Aesop paradigm...
    Aesop is not my culture (he should be..) he's yours, Hell.
    I was thinking about La Fontaine.
    Wasn't Aesop a not even closet moralist ?
    Wasn't he DEFENDING the ants ?
    La Fontaine does not take sides.
    He observes ants AND crickets.
    To modernize this parable, we might look to the case of the mysterious chickens who lay more eggs while listening to Mozart.
    What if the ants' PRODUCTIVITY were increased by LISTENING TO THE CRICKET'S SONG ??
    ...
    The world is very complicated.
    Too bad the ants are ENVIOUS and can't find pleasure and satisfaction IN THE EXPERIENCE of their own working instead of having their heads craned over the other side of the fence cursing out the crickets... (And A LOT depends on attitude, that's for sure...)
    Could the crickets' singing BE WORK ?
    Lots of questions...
    And when you stick "money" in, things get even more complicated, right ? (Given, of course, that not all "work" is remunerated...)
    But... WHY do we OPPOSE work and play as though they MUST be exclusive ?
    Too bad. Intellectually limiting, in my opinion.

    Hellasious said...

    Here's another Famous Author paradigm twist: Kafka

    Have you read his short story: Josephine The Singer ?

    fajensen said...

    There is no other way to provide things like safe drinking water to the billions of human beings on the planet who don't currently have it.

    Yes, there is: "Slow sand filtration" - http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/ssf/en/index.html

    Any idjiiet can build and maintain a slow sand filtration plant and yet it does not happen.

    Is it because there is not enough "value" to be extracted by speculators if people make their own drinking water or are poor, waterless people really stupid also - this causing them to be poor and waterless?

    Debra said...

    Nope, no Kafka, but I will check it out.
    Anything but "The Trial"... (title in English ?)

    Kinuachdrach said...

    fajensen inquired: "are poor, waterless people really stupid also - this causing them to be poor and waterless?"

    That's a rather racist statement! You should be ashamed of yourself, criticizing other human beings for their poverty.

    Building a slow sand filter takes energy. Energy to make cement. Energy to dig foundations. Energy to make pipes. Energy to lay pipes. Usually, it also takes energy to pump the water.

    In short -- getting clean water takes energy.

    Ah! Says the idiot Greenpeace activist. The poor human being can make his own sand filter out of old pots & pans, etc. But poor people don't have old pots & pans -- they suffer from a lack of energy.

    A western engineer who arrived to work on a construction site in Bangladesh was told to drill holes in his hard hat -- otherwise it would be stolen by some poor Bangladeshi who would use it for a bucket.

    The human race needs a huge supply of affordable power, just to give poor people the basics. And the Subsidy Sluts of wind & solar are not going to do it.

    D said...

    since when did racist become an insult? grow up...

    i happen to like the fact everyone isn't alike.

    Debra said...

    Ah... I assure you that D is not Debra in disguise, although I COULD have made that last remark.
    K, on this blog we (at least me...) are trying to slough off the chains of politically correct thinking and speaking.
    You know, those ideological chains that are meant to keep us FROM thinking, and to forge social cohesion through the mindless repetition of certain words like "racist", for example.
    When you get the urge to scratch that "racist" itch, sit back and try to find ANOTHER word that is a little less... ubiquitous.
    And fajensen, it seems to me that a lot of the poor people in the world are living in places WHERE IT IS VERY HOT.
    Something about CONSTANT HEAT seems to diminish OUR energy, you know ?
    Even our DESIRE to do things. Like... in constant, stifling heat, I imagine that one wants to do THE STRICT MINIMUM to get by.
    No running around like little ants building the tower of Babel in constant, stifling, heat.
    But, granted this is definitely sheer speculation on my part, based on my own identifications. And individual's metabolisms are different, too.
    And as D says, why does everybody have to do THE SAME THING, the SAME WAY ?
    That's called... totalitarianism, by the way.
    Our civilization is very good at that.

    JP said...

    Sure, Okie.

    Do you still have an email at earthlink.net?

    JP said...

    D says:

    "it is a complete joke to think we are going to generate something as efficient."

    Efficiency isn't the point.

    Energy concentration is the point.

    People like energy in basically liquid form that you can move around easily wherever you want it.

    See electric lines and the internal combustion engine.

    OkieLawyer said...

    @JP:

    Re: e-mail

    Yes, I am still at the same e-mail address that Dink has. You can contact me there.

    MCSE said...

    ya so fast

    MCSE

    Debra said...

    Just read a link on the marine life in the Gulf congregating near the shores and at the surface because of oxygen depletion in deeper water.
    Can YOU imagine would it would be like to go outside and not be able to breathe ? To not be able to go ANYWHERE and fill your lungs ??
    I have coined a new word (but it's free... feel FREE to pick it up and pass it along).
    Along the model of "genocide", I have made... "piscicide".
    Your turn now, y'all...

    V8 Fever said...

    Debra, You seem to have difficulty accepting fate.

    Those creatures don't deserve to live because if they know the water is foul they should migrate.

    Similar to how we proud Americans migrated away from the foul cities after industrialization, and how we are now migrating to the resource rich areas of the world in the post free-enterprise era.

    Debra said...

    I presume that is irony you are dishing out, VF etc ?
    The people who know me on this blog know that I am the type who prefers going down with the ship to torpedoing everything that moves...

    V etc said...

    Well Debra, I try not to fall for false choices, "going down with the ship to torpedoing everything that moves..."

    Now leaving a sinking ship, or a well placed torpedo, might just be way to go.

    Going down with the ship sounds a bit like staying in an area where the climate has changed, and starving, rather than migrating to a more temperate clime.

    That is your prerogative. I'll fight for survival and go out with a bang rather than a whimper, or in your case a gurgle.

    Debra said...

    Na, VF, I'll go out with a champagne glass in my hand.
    Champagne gurgles just fine. (And it tastes great...still got some downstairs last time I checked.)
    I'll let YOU sweat it out with pistols in the fray.
    Shooting, biting, scratching, and clawing for survival, and all that...

    Debra said...

    Reading the most recent charts on market frilosity, and seeing how gold and silver are being snapped up, I had a sweet and sad thought FOR ALL THAT ART WORK, all the magnificent CRAFTMANSHIP that will probably be melted down to make bullion, and feed our collectively insane drive to buy and sell anything and everything.
    Lots of beautiful artwork HAS ALREADY BEEN MELTED DOWN to furnish FILTHY LUCRE to our ancestors, you know. (The Aztec treasures went this route.)
    I THINK IT'S CRIMINAL. The art is irreplaceable.
    That filthy lucre ? Hard to imagine anything AS ANONYMOUS, and as promiscuous as filthy lucre.
    The ultimate whore...

    Vvroom said...

    No scratching and clawing for me Debra. I let the desperate souls and the drunks have their way.The first are too agitated, the second too dull. Why waste time concerning yourself with how someone else spends their time?

    About the "FILTHY LUCRE": What makes it filthy? The human touch? Is sex filthy because some men kill for it?

    Irreplaceable art? Elements have intrinsic beauty. Bending and shaping them is puny by comparison. You seem to have an exaggerated appreciation for the human hand in things.

    Debra said...

    I have a good deal of appreciation for the most beautiful things that our civilization has produced (and is not producing now in its monomania over efficiency and "economy"), the men and women who have made them, and the craftmanship.
    Intrinsic beauty in the elements ?
    Let's all run around naked again then...back to the trees, or whatever.
    Filthy lucre has been called filthy lucre for much longer than I have walked this earth. That means that... our ancestors had certain attitudes about money. Attitudes which continue to influence us, often without our knowledge. Can't get around that.
    It is promiscuous and corrupting. Men beg, borrow, steal, game, and kill for it. It brings out the worst impulses in EVERYBODY, and one must struggle against its corrupting influence at all stages of the game. It goes hand in hand with power in the eyes of the social body.
    Ask our leaders... Ask our traders. Our economists.
    You don't think that "the blame", (or the responsibility) for the current financial debacle rests SOLELY on the people involved, do you ? That would be rather... naive.
    You are reading me with politically correct glasses, my friend.

    V said...

    "I have a good deal of appreciation for the most beautiful things that our civilization has produced (and is not producing now in its monomania over efficiency and "economy"), the men and women who have made them, and the craftmanship.
    Intrinsic beauty in the elements ?
    Let's all run around naked again then...back to the trees, or whatever."

    Your heralded civilization, producing pretty things and money? What is the problem? one is a product and the other an efficient way to trade trade the product. Where is the bad in this?

    Beauty v running around cold, exposing yourself to injury?
    One has nothing to do with the other.

    "Filthy lucre has been called filthy lucre for much longer than I have walked this earth. That means that... our ancestors had certain attitudes about money. Attitudes which continue to influence us, often without our knowledge. Can't get around that."

    If its influence "without our knowledge" then by definition we don't know it. No?

    "It is promiscuous and corrupting. Men beg, borrow, steal, game, and kill for it. It brings out the worst impulses in EVERYBODY, and one must struggle against its corrupting influence at all stages of the game. It goes hand in hand with power in the eyes of the social body. "

    The same could be said about sex, pride, or any corrupting influence. Has its good points and bad. Why the out weighted protest about money?

    "Ask our leaders... Ask our traders. Our economists.
    You don't think that "the blame", (or the responsibility) for the current financial debacle rests SOLELY on the people involved, do you ? That would be rather... naive."


    So if responsibility doesn't rest with the people involved, it rests with gold? With our ancestors? with authority? Those evil things made me do it?

    Are we naive to believe people are responsible for their actions? Next time I break the law can I'll use the excuse that a ghost made me do it? Or that the police did not provide me with fair oversight? That might be rather...

    "You are reading me with politically correct glasses, my friend."

    Whatever that means? You will have to explain further.

    MCSE said...

    Very nice blog
    MCSE

    Debra said...

    Money JUST an "efficient" way to trade in order for products ?
    Not since our ancestors opened the door on abuse by instituting interest, which is MAKING MONEY ON MONEY.
    The consequence of opening this door was to weaken the VALUE of money as a SYMBOL of EXCHANGE, by increasing its abstraction and instituting the INTRINSIC value of money. Since we have opened this door, the flight into monetary abstraction has accelerated.
    The major weaknesses in your argument hinge on your preconception that money (like language which functions the same way) is simply a TOOL that we control for our convenience, and that it is not an integral part of the way we see the world around us.
    In other words, we control much less than we think we do.
    Money and sex ? Not on the same level. Money is our symbolic creation. Sex isn't. We COULD have (at some point in time...) continued to let life flow over us, like water on a duck's back, and not artificially fill up our days in our elaborate symbolic systems. We COULD HAVE... shared the wild with the gorillas...
    As far as responsibility is concerned, your attitude reveals a certain... HUBRIS, should I say, which caracterizes our ( currently godless and traditionless) society.
    I said that responsibility does not rest SOLELY with the individual, and I stand by that. An INDIVIDUAL necessarily exists within a collective social body.
    Individual responsibility is LIMITED by the context of the social body.
    It is NOT because I say that individual responsibility is LIMITED by the social body within which ANY individual necessarily exists that I am "excusing" anything or anybody. (Definition of "excusing", please ?)
    But I refuse to let the social body off the hook either, something that YOU do not seem willing to do. I continue to maintain that the individual at all times SHARES the responsibility for his acts with the social body which provides the context in which his life will evolve.
    Your world looks a little more black and white than mine. (To me, at least...)
    In mine, people do things for reasons that they do not know.They know themselves, perhaps, much less well than they think they do. They can do SURPRISING things. Surprising to them. Surprising to others, too. Does this lessen their responsibility ?
    Depends on how you define responsibility. The idea of "mitigating circumstances" has a legal history, as Okie will tell you.
    Maybe Okie will argue with us about the "responsibility" of someone who commits a crime while sleepwalking... It DOES happen, you know...

    V said...

    Money is not just an "efficient" way to trade for products. What is so "abusive" about interest? If you live in a house built by someone else do you expect to pay rent? Money is just another asset. Is making money on rent of a house better than making money on money?

    Is paying for a roof with gold, chickens, or furs a stronger symbol (lets forget about efficiency for a second) than with money?

    If it is too abstract for you what do you suggest as an alternative, tulips?

    Money simply is a tool, a useless tool when mixed with "assets" I don't understand. If these "assets" prove to be chimeras maybe we should call these "investments" what they are, frauds. Anyway I am very wary of things I don't understand, and don't have a long history of success, and tend to stay away from them. My only objection is the backing up of these chimeras by the population that had no part in creating them. Except, to a small degree, for electing trusting individuals that also did not understand them, why all the many supporting a fraud?

    We have a lot more control than you are suggesting--don't pay them for their fraud!

    Sex is not a symbol of our creation? I've seen too many big boobs selling car parts to agree with that. And you are saying production and trade is completely our creation? Whose "godless" now? At the risk of throwing this discussion into Monty Python silliness. And if you are sorry to see the disappearance of religion and godliness, yea I agree, my back could use the rack today!

    And about me being black and white. You pot me kettle. I'll go back to one of my questions, if not your evil money for trading, what?

    Debra said...

    Read up some more, V.
    I threw out "godlessness" to see if the fish were biting. They were.
    Yes, I AM saying that production and trade are OUR creation. There is NO Monty Python silliness about that at all. (But I accept your perhaps unintended compliment. Our blog leader is a GREAT FAN of Monty Python. I prefer Charlie Chaplin, myself.)
    I pick and choose a lot of what I believe. Not all.
    But nobody does.
    I maintain that taking interest on money was a BAD MISTAKE. Lots of people BEFORE me thought that taking interest on money was a bad mistake too.
    As a matter of fact... that OPINION was AT ONE TIME, a majority opinion in our culture (before the greedy Florentine/Venetian banking empire had visions of ruling the world).
    (And by the way I DON'T believe in progress. I believe that every advantage is paid for with its disadvantage and vice versa. Period.)
    Don't confuse sex with advertising.
    Last time I checked they weren't the same thing.
    "We" (you, probably, not me on this one) have been conditioned to associate big boobs with sleek, powerful, fast CARS.
    Blame the temple merchants for their slick and cynical attempts at Pavlovian conditioning. (It doesn't JUST work with dogs.)
    Twenty years ago and more, ALMOST EVERYBODY wanted to be in the financial industry (business schools are STILL churning out those degrees, by the way, and attendance is high).
    The best and the brightest were raking it in on Wall Street (instead of writing beautiful poetry, or exploring uncharted terrain in physics), and large portions of the middle class were eager to get THEIR portion of the action.
    Waiting to move on up on the upward social mobility ladder. Taking life easy, watching cable TV in the meantime.
    Now the same admirative people (maybe not you, I don't know you at all...) are whingeing on and on about fraud.
    Times have changed, huh ?
    Fraud has ALWAYS existed.
    We could have a LONG discussion about why we THINK that fraud has gotten out of hand these days. (Has it REALLY gotten out of hand, or is what's going on business as usual anyway ? Check out "Mr Smith Goes to Washington for a take on it 50 years ago.)
    As far as substitutions for money go... I try to work FOR FREE these days as much as possible, whenever possible. Anything to counterbalance our current, modern BELIEF that money (or numbers...) is the measure of all things. Yuckky, how ugly.
    I believe in.. SHARING.
    Incidentally, I HAVE NO SYSTEMATIZED MONETARY UTOPIA to propose to you, V.
    Why should I ? WHO says that whenever we don't agree with the existing system, we HAVE TO COME UP WITH a well reasoned out systematic utopia to replace it ? That's a rather parochial prejudice, I think.
    Your turn.

    Anonymous said...

    You guys should check out some of the interesting ideas that CMU in Pittsburgh have come up with re: electric cars.

    They have a project called chargecar.org that puts a supercapacitor between the battery and the 'brakes' (really a flywheel generator or something). The capacitor can charge/discharge must more quickly than a battery.

    Good stuff - check out their video presentation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCArK17Hu1M

    Anonymous said...

    It's funny how the ignorant keep confusing electricity used in homes and buildings with fuels used to power automobiles, ships, and airplanes.

    OkieLawyer said...

    (Re)shown on 60 Minutes this Sunday:

    BloomEnergy

    OkieLawyer said...

    OK, so a follow up:

    Apparently these guys are also in the same technology:

    Versa Power

    Debra said...

    Ahem, Hell, "cloud control to Major Jim" (will somebody help me with the Bowie song/link ? I've got a hole in my head, as usual....)
    When are you coming back from deep space (or La Fontaine, or Kafka), buddy ??
    The natives are restless.

    OkieLawyer said...

    Debra:

    It's "ground control to Major Tom."

    Although I like Peter Schilling's version better.

    Debra said...

    Thanks for the gentle reminder, Okie, and the links (I am SO FUCKING LAZY WITH THE LINKS, mea culpa...).
    I listened to Schilling's version...
    It's OK, Okie, I really do forgive you, because I think that you are a lot younger than I am...
    It's not the same song at all (unless it's not supposed to be the same song ??).
    Schilling's stuff looks and sounds like the nice little piece of decadent rot that it is.
    No imagination, no creative slant, just slick hype. Happy end to boot, no ??
    Bowie... Bowie is Bowie.
    Acoustic guitar (=music...) plus all the extra stuff sounds like Pink Floyd at their most psychedelic.
    THAT STUFF was really original and creative.
    Sorry...

    Anonymous said...

    Couple interesting things:

    Plastic trash turned back into oil:

    http://www.flixxy.com/convert-plastic-to-oil.htm

    And a car that runs on compressed air:

    http://www.flixxy.com/zero-pollution-automobile.htm

    The future could be so cool. We just need to reach for it rather than continue down the same tired path.

    Newman said...

    I think Hell is either French (he takes August off) or suffers from SAD. His mood changes when the light starts to fade.

    Be patient, the best wines come after long aging.

    Debra said...

    Personally, I have this kind of corny vision of Hell, walking hand in hand with his new lady love, making beautiful footsteps in the sand along an isolated beautiful beach, at the setting sun...
    (Violins, please..) Savouring the present moment... Making poetic declarations of love (I hope so... NO NUMBERS, now, Hell, it would be inappropriate...) Quoting some Shakespeare, maybe ? "The Merchant of Venice ?" Good Bassanio speech in there...
    I hope you are having fun, Hell...
    But the natives are getting restless...
    Pretty soon we'll crack out the wood to start a fire to roast you.. ;-)
    LORDY... my spam word.... "PRIEST".
    GOD EXISTS, GOD EXISTS, GOD EXISTS, eat your hearts out, all you unbelievers... ;-)

    Newman said...

    I don't think Kunstler has the accuracy or clean writing style of Hell but he sure is funny.

    Two of my favorite paragraphs from his latest post:

    I voted for Barack Obama. I don't know about you, but I'm a tad disappointed in how things turned out with him. These days he makes Millard Fillmore look like Frederick the Great. His speech last week on Iraq and, incidentally, economic matters, was such a puffery of hollow platitudes that I was a little surprised he didn't go up in a vapor at the end of it like a genie and retreat inside his desk lamp in a little trail of steam. Nobody can figure out why he keeps the same krewe of viziers at his elbow after all these months of failure to engage with reality. The voters were expecting a champion and got a Labradoodle instead.
    Not that his political adversaries are any better. In fact, I wouldn't depend on John Boehner to pull a straight furrow in three feet of dry loam, or Mitch McConnell to tie his own shoelaces and chew gum at the same time but its certainly reassuring to know that Sarah Palin is waiting offstage to enter the 2012 national beauty pageant and that all of America can stop wasting money on education now that Fox News has installed a blackboard on Glenn Beck's soundstage.

    http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/09/
    in-the-headlights.html

    Homo Sarcasticus said...

    When comments reach well into the 40, 50 and 60 territory, it's usually a sign that Hell has been out of town for too long. :P

    Hope it's just holidays, not writers bolck.

    Debra said...

    I woke up with a horrible thought this morning...
    Considering our most recent... LOSS TO THE SUDDEN DEBT FAMILY, I thought that something could have happened to Hell and we would not know it...
    Hell is very much.. an individualist, after all.
    Hell, are you listening ??
    Keep well (I hope...) .

    Greenie said...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY

    Greenie said...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY

    Anonymous said...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY