Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Destruction of a Commons
This graph shows the amount of Southern Bluefin Tuna (mass in thousands of tons) per year caught from about 1952 until 2004 or so. If other trends for other oceans are similar, the results mean that we've fished out all of the oceans of their major species. The oceans which are vast could recover if we had a 4-5 year moratorium on most types of fishing, but governments are loath to adopt policies that would allow sustainable fishing. We are seeing the depletion of a commons before our very eyes. If we do not stop this over-harvesting, sooner or later, most likely quite soon, Nature will stop us. Nature's solution to overpopulation is famine followed by disease. There is a law which states that one starves when there is nothing to eat. It's a very simple law and one that can not be violated. Starvation causes humans to do strange things to drive the hunger pangs away. If you wish to satisfy your curiosity, look up the Donner Party, the starving time of the Jamestown Settlement, or Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 for what people have to do to survive.
Cease by hatred;
Hatred ceases by love,
And this according to a law
Which has existed forever.
Labels: Beyond Hatred
Monday, March 29, 2010
Mine may Have Sunk South Korean Corvette
This Al Jazeera article states the official South Korean story thus far that the sinking of the Cheonan was due to a mine. A mine deployed possibly from the Korean War. Wouldn't a mine tend to strike closer to the bow? Whether it was a mine or torpedo, it tore off the ship's stern and she sank very quickly. Well, the stern did. The bow capsized and floated from trapped air for some unknown time. I wish Pete Coates was still blogging at GentleSeas, but he's got school to worry about. Life is about priorities. He'll be back online within two months or so. However, the gentle Asian seas were a little hostile last week and his public commentary and analysis would have proven illuminating.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Fresh Water from Sea Water via MIT
Alternatively, if people could be genetically engineered so that they could drink seawater without ill effects, that would be an even cheaper solution than MIT's gadget. Once the alleles exist in the population, they would confer an advantage to coastal residents, and the genes would be passed to their children the natural way for free.
Labels: microfluidic desalinization
Monday, March 22, 2010
Philip K. Dick
The Big Leap
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Conventional Bank Robbery is a Dying Breed
Labels: evolution of bank robbery
Labels: sparrow chicks
The Best Way to Steal
Markets are efficient and self-regulating. Markets do not tolerate fraud and abuse. This was what Greenspan believed. The chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the head regulator, believed that nonsense. Bernanke. his successor, did nothing to stop the crisis. Geithner, the President of the FRBNY, did nothing to stop the crisis even though they had multiple and timely warnings that Lehman was failing. The SEC allowed excessive leverage because Hank Paulson petitioned them to relax the rule restricting leveraging limits. This crash could have been averted if one of the regulators had said stop or done their jobs. But the regulators whose job it was to protect the country from a financial, man-made calamity failed to do their jobs. Yet, all we hear is that regulations are a burden to free markets and consumer protection, and financial crises are like natural disasters that happen every 5-7 years. No, regulations are there to protect the people who also happen to be producers and consumers. My bank does not care about me. They care about my money and the FDIC guarantee attached to it because it is one of their insurance policies. What other business gets to have their money guaranteed against loss?
Labels: fraud and looting
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Nuclear Energy - Future Directions (O'Reilly Webcast October 2009)
In 2009, the world used 12 teraWatts of power. By 2050, 28 teraWatts of power are projected to be needed at current usage levels.
It took France 15 years to go from 15% to 75% nuclear power production.
Fuel recycling is not currently planned to be used for new generation facilities because uranium is a relatively cheap commodity and recycling spent uranium fuel is costly.
Labels: nucelar power
Monday, March 15, 2010
How To Commit Corporate Fraud by Professor William K. Black
Labels: control fraud
Wild Tigers Are Nearing Extinction, but Humans Don't Care
Labels: priceless treasures looting
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Today was a beautiful day. The Bermuda grass is still dormant, but the trees are blooming. Pretty soon my car will be dusted a shade of green from all of the tree pollens. The animals and plants will all be procreating. Spring is the time of renewal from the dormancy and hardship of Winter.
Labels: Texas Spring
Revelations of the Prophet Bill Hicks
Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration — that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death; life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... Here's Tom with the weather!
Labels: Bill Hicks Revelations
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Ubertrout or Look Ma No Steroids
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
A Smile Goes a Long Way
Labels: goodness propagating
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Blammed by the Chinese
Same code found via Google.
Looking at the code, it is unicode. Since Windows handles unicode differently than Linux does, I was a bit concerned that it could be some sort of unicode shellcode for exploiting a Windows system through the browser. I need not have worried. Clicking on the link via the Windows version of Firefox led me to a Chinese porn site.
Blogspotplay.com web page displaying Chinese porn.
I confirmed this on my Linux system as well. I'm rather disappointed in more ways than one since there wasn't any decent porn displayed as a reward for curiosity. (I guess I should be grateful that it wasn't gay porn or something worse.) I was hoping for something a bit more cutting edge as far as browser exploits go rather than a Chinese HTML porn link. (If the site was malicious then my Windows XP Pro virtual machine just got compromised.) What made it annoying was that I had to delete all of the spam/blam comments from my blog. I certainly feel like I've been blammed electronically.
Labels: blog security
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Food Security and Crop Diseases
1. Rice blast (Magnaporthe grisea) fungus - Primarily affects rice, but infects 50 species of grasses and sedges. Can quickly kill whole paddies. Multiple strains of the fungus ensure that no cultivar stays resistant for more than 2-3 years. Estimated losses: $66 billion/yr. (enough to feed 60 million people).
2. Wheat Stem Rust (Puccinia graminis Ug99). fungus - New strain emerged in Uganda in 1998. It's now in Yemen and Iran. If it reaches Pakistan and India, famines will ensue because farmers are too poor to buy the fungicides which would slow the infections. Potential losses: 40% crop loss due to heavy infestations. Potential loss in Punjab, $3 billion/yr. If it reaches the U.S., $10 billion/yr.
3. Potato Blight (Phytophthora infestans) fungus - Affects potatoes and tomatoes. Cause of the Irish Potato famine of 1845-1851. Under the right conditions, the fungus can destroy an entire field in a week. Known losses: $2.75 billion/yr in developing nations.
4. Black Sigatoka (Mycospaerella fijiensis) fungus - Affects bananas and plantains. Discovered in Fiji in 1964, now in 100 countries globally. Potential losses: Can be up to 50% reduction in yield. No dollar amount given, but all commercial bananas are one sterile asexually propagated (cloned) cultivar named Cavendish which replaced the Gros Michel "Big Mike" banana cultivar which was susceptible to Panama disease. The Cavendish is now being phased out for a more disease resistant cultivar.
5. Witchweed (Striga hermonthica) weed - African parasitic plant that attaches to roots. Affected crops: corn, sorghum, sugarcane, millet, native grasses. Losses: 20-100% yield reduction. Monetary loss: Approximately $1 billion/yr.
6. Asian Soybean Rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) fungus - Primarily affects soybeans, but infects 31 other legume species. Losses: reduces yields 10-80%. No resistant cultivars exist yet. Fungicide use is advised.
7. Cassava Brown Steak Virus - Affects cassava. Losses: Up to 100% yield reduction. Economic losses were more than $100 million in 2003 in Africa.
While these diseases are on the rise, agricultural research funding has fallen in the last ten years. So, most rising crop commodity prices are due to lower yields due to disease and a rising population. This slow motion train wreck did not need to happen, but the Bush Administration cut back agricultural research funds starting in 2001. (The U.S. is a major donor for almost all of the major international crop research centers through USAID and USDA.) To be fair though, funding cutbacks started in 1986 and many developing nations were urged to buy their grain from primary producers instead of producing their own. But, the Bush cutbacks hurt the Centers of the Green Revolution where the plants are developed. Current projections suggest that food production will need to increase 70-100% by 2050 to feed the world's population (WDR 2008). At some point, beef will become too expensive to produce in terms of water and grain used for feed, then many meat lovers will be eating chicken. Also, organic farming cuts yields by 50% (no artificial fertilizers are used). Does this mean that poor farmers who can't afford modern fertilizers and pesticides are natural organic farmers? While eutrophication of fresh and salt water ecosystems is caused by fertilizer runoff due to farming, farmers are being taught how to mitigate the problem. No farmer wants to spray a crop and watch that money literally flow down a drain if they can avoid it.
Labels: plant pathology famine
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Monday, March 01, 2010
Marcus Ranum and Gunnar Peterson on Cloud Computing
Labels: Cloud Insecurity
Labels: Delusion and Correction
Storm Clouds Looming
The Congressional Democrats don't see the storm clouds approaching (here and here) because of lack of sympathy for their voters. Why should they care? They are taken care of. Both Congressmen and Senators of either party get pensions after serving one term of office and they have jobs waiting for them on K Street or Wall Street after public service. Meanwhile, the country dissolves in anger and craziness as the Middle Class is destroyed by an uncaring political establishment and a greedy global corporate conglomerate. The government-private sector revolving door corrupted the Executive Branch first, but now the rot has spread to the Legislative Branch. The Judicial Branch in the form of the Supreme Court is already lost. Between allowing Eminent Domain to be extended in support of corporate land grabs and affirming the position that campaign contributions are a form of Free Speech, the Supreme Court of the United States only accelerates the decay. The U.S. Government formed under the Second Constitution of the United States will become a front or shell for a Corporatocracy. The irony is that the Angry Right Wing Grassroots and folks of similar mindsets could destroy the one entity that could stand against the corporations and actually bring about a fascist state just like the Weimar Republic was replaced by the Third Reich. (See footnote.)
One has to hope that all of this Right Wing fury and bombast will signify nothing. Unfortunately, there is a lot of righteous anger due to the way the Great Financial Crisis was handled in the United States, and the crazies on the Right are tapping into it. It's one thing to demonstrate for political and economic reform of the government. It's another thing entirely to demonstrate for the destruction of the government without hint of reform. The latter is just destructive mob mentality masquerading as social rebellion.
Neofeudalism only describes what the corporations are doing to their workers and is an inaccurate politically correct term for what is happening to American society. Neofeudalism more accurately describes American slavery and sharecropping prior to the American Civil War. German corporations during the Third Reich used disposable slave labor for projects. Oskar Schindler used Jewish labor for his factory because it was the cheapest labor available. He came to his senses after he saw the SS murder some of his workers.