Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mutually Assured Annihilation -- Contest

Whoever can come up with the most likely and interesting scenario for how a world wide nuclear war might be initiated in our modern world with just a few paragraphs will win a prize. I have not come up with what the prize will be yet but guaranteed it will be worth it. I'm thinking a signed copy of the Reevolution's first LP. Just kidding. Add your idea by commenting and I will then copy it to the main post.

--- Andrew's Idea ---

Early 2008 - Russia and China strongly disagree with the US war in Iran, and Iraq. The two countries agree to set sanctions against the US including both trade and economic sanctions. In retaliation the US influences many financial institutions to withhold Chinese and Russian money.

Due to the conflict in Iran the US elects another President that believes in the supremacy of the US and its imperial rights in the world.

Soon the anger between the two axises of conflict begin to show their military might. The US demonstrates its advanced anti-missile shield and satellite missile defense systems. China, already ahead of the US for the use of nuclear energy begins massive nuclear armament. Russia buys many of the nuclear war heads and launches several surveillance satellites into orbit. Some of the Satellites launched have space-to-low-orbit anti-missile systems. Another Cold War has begun.

The US makes the first mistake leading to nuclear war. In 2011 an anti-missile test in the Sea of Japan sends a missile harmlessly into China. While the US immediately claims it was a mistake, China retaliates by moving many aircraft carriers and battle ships into Japan's water territory. This move spurs Washington to decide that China has declared war and moves it's battleships and aircraft closer to strategic positions in Chinese waters.

Diplomatic talks begin but do not resolve much. Some aircrafts carriers are moved. Russia, however, secretly pops up near the coast of Greenland and fires 6 Long Range Ballistic Missiles containing 5 to 10 megaton nuclear warheads. The first detonates over Washington DC. The others detonate over suspected nuclear sites. The president and most of Congress is instantly annihilated. Within hours the US, with the remaining Congress and Military, tries to figure out who attacked the US and how to retaliate. Nearly 150 nuclear missiles are sent to Russia and China. While in air another 200 missiles are launched back at the US from both Russia and China. The UK and most of Europe respond by launching attacks against Russian and China as well.

Pakistan attacks India. India attacks Pakistan. Egypt and Israel are bombed. The world is in utter chaos. Nuclear winter sets in. Human life is soon forgotten.

--- Ben's Idea ---

Global warming becomes such a problem 10 years from now that most nations agree that it's time to address this issue collectively otherwise we all will be destroyed in massive environmental devastation. This puts a temporary truce in place while governments of rival powers join intelligence and resources to combat global warming.

The people of the world remain ignorant and skeptical of their respective governments and for the most part continue their wasteful and environmentally gluttonous ways for several more years. As the condition worsens, the nations of the world decide that nuclear energy is the only solution. After some catty infighting between nations as to the whos/whats/whens surrounding this idea, it is agreed that 12 nations will be allowed to build enough power plants in their home nations to solve the crisis.

Greedy U.S. oil companies hear the news and get very uneasy about it. They ultimately forge a plan to leak disinformation into the U.S. government that several of the U.S.'s less trustworthy temporary allies are planning to take advantage of the new found nuclear resources to launch an attack on us. Because of the oil companies' still-rich resources and power, this information is taken seriously and deemed credible. As the U.S. begins looking at the other nations through this new lens everything starts to look shady. The paranoia gathers steam in the U.S. intelligence agencies and the military. Soon enough the U.S. gets trigger happy, and mistaking an abandoned Iranian missile silo being converted into a nuclear plant is mistaken for a WMD facility, the U.S. launches a pre-emptive strike deciding that with the ozone layer deteriorating by the second, diplomatic channels were too time-consuming to be left on the table as an option. This triggers the nuclear winter.

--- Andrew's Idea II ---

Time-Line For the End of the World

2035-Peak oil production is reached.
-Oil prices surge.
2040-Not enough nuclear power plants are in place to make electricity for all electric power transportation.
2043-The world’s trade and economy starts a rapid decline. The oil and automobile industries crumble.
2044-An economic depression worldwide hits and sends the EU into utter chaos. Soon the US falls into a chaotic mess as well.
2046-Black markets become commonplace and undermine real economies.
2049-Religious fundamental groups in the Midwest and Southern states begin to take larger roles of power, and start denying US supremacy of law over them. They band together under a treaty of religious origins.
-National Guard and other military units are kept from leaving those states and are instead used to maintain the rule of law dictated by a few Christian religious leaders that have ascended to power.
-These states secure the nuclear missile reserves within their borders, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the US nuclear weapon stockpiles--enough to obliterate the world several times over.
2049-The USA is powerless to stop the disintegration of the Union. Military control is divided between the states.
2050-The Union of Christian Faith States, UCFS, decides the best way to serve its people and protect the faith is to take control of all remaining oil reserves. To do this they use tactical nuclear strikes in the Middle East with the presumption that no one else will retaliate with a nuclear attack. They were wrong; Everyone retaliates.

--- Faceyboy's (aka Chris') Idea ---

In the year 2007 (uh, later), Greenland finally hits her global warming tipping point opening the flood gates and releasing all her delicious ice water (no lemon) into the North Atlantic. This disrupts the world’s precious ocean currents forcing the developed world to think fast or face a new ice age in the next ten years. Claiming to be the “decider,” President Bush, in the final acts of his presidency, declares the forthcoming ice age a “terrs” (apparently terrorist, though it’s hard to be sure), and adds it to the axis of evil (now Iran, North Korea, ice age, and Freedomstan [Iraq]). He then uses his executive authority, circumventing congress (more fine print in the patriot act that we forgot to actually read) to launch a massive nuclear strike on ice age. He chooses targets just outside all major cities in Europe, Asia and the U.S. (“Who kerrs about Africa and Canada”) and launches with his new catch phrase “Let’s warm’er up!” His attempt to warm up the earth with nuclear strikes, though well thought out (for him), only plunges the earth more quickly into a nuclear winter expedited ice age. President Bush’s last words prove to be “cowboy up,” though no one was quite certain how that applied to the situation. Eventually, the mega-ice age thaws and with it some well preserved Neanderthals and they get their second chance. They prove to be kind of thick, but manage to live in equilibrium with the earth, so, I guess they’re not THAT thick.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How to be an advocate

Sitting here with my headphones, listening to nothing at all, I realize that I don’t follow through with many things. Sometimes my interests change. Sometimes I’m lazy. Other times I just don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not that I’m not trying; it’s just that I don’t know the next step. Slightly over a year ago I embarked on a new path. I wasn’t going to just help myself. I was going to help others.

I’ve been putting the pieces together, looking at every angle, learning to use what is available to impact society – to leave the world better off than how I found it. Without picking an issue, I’d like to describe my thoughts on how to be an advocate. I haven’t quite found my issue yet. It might be cancer research. It might be global warming. It might be finding an end to hunger. The point is, that while spending time volunteering to ease the symptoms of certain problems, I haven’t devoted much, if anything, to eliminate these problems. I want to advocate for the elimination of problems. Big words, huh?

Well, they need to be bigger. An advocate needs to be heard. Louder still, folks. Not that being an advocate is like joining an exclusive club or anything, but certain professions carry with them some pretty loud voices. Think of journalists for instance. Lou Dobbs comes in pretty loud and clear when he criticizes illegal immigration. People stop and people listen. Politicians can often command an audience. Even celebrities, lauded by the masses, opine on political and social matters, resulting in news headlines and 30-second segments on the 24-hour news channels.

So you’ve become a journalist and want to advocate for an issue. What next? I’ll simply repeat what’s been said for many years: Stay on message! Be consistent with your message. Oftentimes people can become diverted by rhetoric, distracted by semantics, drawn into arguments on other matters. Be consistent. Advocate for a cause. Advocate for a solution. If you have to take some time to develop a white paper, consult with experts and bullet-proof your plan, then do so. An advocate needs to come well educated with a well thought-out plan in hand, armed with conviction and ready to withstand criticism.

This leads me to my next piece of advice: know your enemy. Have you played Devil’s Advocate? Who opposes you? What is their motivation? Are there lobbyists ready to pounce? Be sure to think about their agenda and study their ideas. Come well-educated on not only your own plan, but your enemies’ as well. Know the differences. Know the similarities. In politics it is very rare that one side completely dominates another. Where is the common ground? Where can compromise be reached? You need to know your enemy.

This is real life. This is not a text book. In the past, what has worked? What didn’t? History is studied for a reason. Hitler didn’t know the history of war during the Russian winter and thus lost WWII (there were two other failed campaigns in the Russian winter – can you name them?). Study history. Study advocacy. This essay is just the beginning. Who knows, maybe your issue will be the same as mine. We may be on the same side. We may not. In any case, you better do your homework.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Human Motivation -- Part 1

What motivates human beings to achieve more the those basic needs of life like water, food, and shelter? I propose two thoughts on this subject, and being I am not a reticent person and actually love to throw out my personal thoughts and theories about life I'll jump right into what I think is the most intriguing topic: sex.

What is one common goal of all forms of life? To pass on its genes. This is accomplished in different ways. Some species are asexual and their cells simply divide and create a near perfect replica of themselves. Who could possibly be better than yourself? Asexual creatures therefore are not highly motivated to interacted with others or perform any tasks other than those that are absolutely necessary for their own personal survival. We as humans were fortunate enough to have the opposite form of reproduction, which is to say we are sexual animals. Grrr.

Since we are sexual animals, though, the only way to pass on our genes is to have sex. This is a conundrum because a lot of the time who you want to have sex with doesn't want to have sex with you and vice versa. There in lies the crux of all human motivation. This topic is not very easy to delve into. Slight differences in physical, emotional, and intellectual tastes can lead to people that are completely incompatible. However, people still do everything in their power to make the other person understand, or believe, that they are the perfect mate, and as it turns out a lot of times these slight differences do not lead to people absconding as if being chased by the cops (the world now has over 6.6 billion people).

Of course there are always cheaters. What could bring a perfidious person to feel the necessity to be deceitful? Well that, I think, is obvious: they may not compare well as a good mate in the eyes of others so they must make up lies to boost their own standing. I constantly catch myself lying, if ever so slightly (some might call it exaggeration), about events in my life in order to make myself seem better. Everyone does, but when questioned on the veracity of the statement most will fulminate (or in my case I like to quickly admit my lies because I feel then it seems more like a joke and does not turn into a problem later).

Of course a lack of motivation for bettering your own situation can arise because one has become so inured to rejection that they feel as if nothing can be done to improve any further. This stage of life is where the field of psychology has been working so hard to fix and great strides have been taken towards this end. Look at all the various anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and hopefully soon the government will see the benefits of psychedelics for helping to restore a sense that you can improve your life and give the introspective insight into how to do that.

----- Part 2 coming soon -----

GRE words: Abscond, Fulminate, Inured, Perfidy, Reticent, Veracity

Time for the GRE

In order to study for the GRE I will be posting short (one or two paragraph) essays on various topics that I find interesting, semi-interesting, or infuriating. The way this is going to help me study is that I will be injecting GRE vocabulary words, probably in obscure references that will somehow allude to the topic of choice. Hopefully I will be able to create some interesting and/or intelligent for people to read. The first one will be posted shortly.

Update: My first GRE post ran a little longer than I had anticipated a posting would require in order to fit in 5 or more GRE words. Oh well. I'm still going along with it, maybe I'll get better at shortening the writing as well as being more articulate. All the words I use are taken from the The Princeton Review - Cracking the GRE 2005 edition and are boldfaced.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hydrogen Fuel a False Promise? Not At All!

BoingBoing recently linked to an article from The New Atlantis about why using hydrogen as a fuel source is not feasible. The main argument against hydrogen is that it requires more energy to produce than that hydrogen will release upon oxidation (burning). Their secondary argument against hydrogen fuel is that in order for hydrogen to power a car for the same length trip as the average gasoline powered car now-a-days would require a much larger and more dangerous fuel tank. Both the arguments are true but they are definitely not good arguments as to why we should not focus scientific and economic efforts into producing hydrogen as a fuel source. The rest of this post will be a rebuttal to those two arguments from The New Atlantis.
1. Hydrogen requires more energy to produce than it can release. True. However, this is not really a problem. In China a new type of high temperature nuclear reactor, called a pebble-bed reactor, has been developed that uses uranium embedded in graphite balls to heat helium gas. The gas can heat up to about 1600 degrees Celsius without causing a meltdown. In fact due to the physics of expanding gas the nuclear reactor is meltdown safe. This alone is great from an environmentalist perspective: it will generate a huge amount of electrical energy without producing any carbon dioxide. The uranium fuel, once used up, is then embedded in a form of silicon and is safe for at least one million years, virtually 100% safe from leaking into any lakes or rivers as is the worry with previous nuclear power plants that use water vapor to drive the turbines instead of helium. The high temperature that the reactor reaches, along with the massive amount of electrical energy produced, can be used to produce hydrogen gas from water. The energy gained from these nuclear reactors would be more than enough to create a sustainable supply of hydrogen as well as producing electricity for cities and cars.
2. The tanks required to store hydrogen will be too massive and dangerous for conventional cars. This statement is true if the car is being powered solely with pure hydrogen. However, rechargeable battery power is getting better all the time and the amount of fuel necessary to power an electric/gas hybrid car is dropping. Organic polymer technology is also getting to the point that organo-synthetic casings will be light enough and cheap enough to hold pressurized hydrogen. Finally, the promise of solid hydrogen fuel is lessening the worry of the ultra-cold, high pressure, hydrogen fuel tanks altogether. In Seoul, South Korea, a physics group has found that they can get hydrogen to bind to titanium with no energy input and extract it back out with very little energy. This solid titanium-hydrogen combination does not need to be ultra-cold or under high pressure either, which will hopefully lead to safe compact solid-fuel hydrogen tanks.
Toyota last year put some hydrogen fuel-cell cars on the streets and because of a partnership between GM and Shell even more hydrogen fuel-cell cars will put on the roads in the next couple years along with new fueling stations. Hydrogen and nuclear power derived electricity is the future for cars and all energy in general, it's time the public and government took this more seriously in order to prevent global warming and also to prevent wars over resources as is the case with Iraq.

Some of my sources and further reading:
Platinum Today - Hydrogen binding to platinum for solid fuel.
Wired Magazine - Pebble-bed nuclear reactors.
BBC - General Motors and Shell partnership.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Heaven Exists! God Does Not. Photographic Evidence.

Here is photographic proof of the existence of Heaven, and as far as I can tell God did not create it. Instead hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic activity and evolution of life are responsible for the beautiful paradise that is Hawaii. Click on the photos below for a larger image, or go here for all of my images of Oahu, including pictures of my family and I.