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October 31, 2002

Telemarketing Hell!

This article compares big telcos to arms merchants in a war between telemarketers and subscribers. Playing both sides of the field to profit as much as possible.

Telemarketers make 104 million calls, PER DAY! So what do we do? Legislate of course! Its terrible that everything in America comes to this. Big business takes advantage of the system until they leave no other choice but for the people to demand legislation. Alternatives?

Best quotes.
"If Terminix were to throw termites on my foundation, then bang on my door saying 'Hey, you've got termites, we can get rid of them,' the attorney general would be all over them," Bulmash said. "The phone companies are doing the same thing."
"The growth in these infernal human-pestering machines is based on the unjust economics that telemarketers don't pay for wasting your time,"
"A firm with just four callers and eight phone lines can use MarkeTel's $13,500 predictive dialer and pitch products to 72,000 people a month, Laudinsky says."

Posted by wonko at 12:42 AM | Comments (2)

October 30, 2002

Opensource Encouraged at the DOD

Says this News.com article.

Posted by wonko at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

Adult Swim on /.


Another article.

Posted by wonko at 04:23 AM | Comments (2)

Too Many People!

Overpopulation has always been a big theme in cynical Orwellian views of the future. Though we were never quite sure how it would negatively manifest itself. Well, now its becoming more apparent that its not as far off as we'd previously thought. Rather, we probably chose to ignore it all this time as a true possability. This article talks about a recent study which found that people currently use 83% of Earth's land surface. Worse yet, people also have taken advantage of 98 percent of the land that can be farmed for rice, wheat or corn. Here is a series of maps illustrating these findings.

This comes after the UN's recent report on our depletion of fresh water globaly. (Read more here). I just thought these were interesting. Can we prevent all this by changing our behavior radically? I still hold to my prior theory that it will take some sort of catostrophic event for people to corporately realize the folly of their ways. Much like people often drive crazy until one of their friends gets hurt in a car accident, only then do they re-evaluate their driving.

Posted by wonko at 04:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2002


Just read this article in Military & Aerospace Electronics Online. I have to admit I've never heard of this site, the link appeared somewhere else. It talks about how the military wants to develop paint which is actually made up of nano-robots that can change their own color, heal cracks, and alert operators of corrosion damage. The US Department of Defense estimates they spend $10 billion a year on corrosian-related problems, $2 billion of which is related to painting and paint-scraping operations. Damn! Thats a lot of money! I'm not huge fan of our military machine, but I am a fan of nano-tech. Nano-tech intrigues me. I personally believe it will likely be the next major tech revolution (after the net). A good sci-fi book which deals heavily in Nano-tech is Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age

Posted by wonko at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

The Organic Experience

Sometimes I have trouble thinking of a clever title, this is one of those times. A recent blog entry over at Orange Creamsicle made me think to write about this. For as long as I can remember, I've been very particular about what I put in my body. For those that know me, that may sound like an outright lie, but for those that REALLY know me, they'll know its not, especially as it relates to pharmaceuticals.

I've never liked taking pills or getting shots or anything. If I get a headache or get sick, I hate taking medicine. I've always thought (without actual medical proof), that doing so weakens ones own system, both physically and physiologically. In other words, if you take X medicine every time you get problem Y, your body will begin to expect to get medicine X and not try as hard to heal itself. I say physiologically because I believe our mind has a lot to do with whether we get sick or not, and whether we stay sick or not. My friends have always angrily heard me say, "Its all in your head!," and while I don't literally believe this, I do believe our mind and mental state play an important role in our physical health. Believing oneself strong goes a long way.

After my knee surgery (another story entirely), I had to take Celebrex daily. Celebrex is just an anti-inflammatory which is easier on your stomach. I tried stopping many times over a 1.5 year period unsuccessfully. WIthin a week of stopping, I could hardly use the leg. My body had adapted to needing it. I finally did ween myself off it and I'm much happier now knowing I don't NEED it. While this is all interesting in and of itself, I should get to the topic, Organic Living. For someone who cared so much about what pills he took, I sure didn't care what I ate. "Don't ask, don't feel guilty about it", was my motto. Well, for a number of reasons, I can now re-evaluate that.

On a separate, but related note. I'm a very cynical person and often look at attempts by the few to sway the many as vain attempts. I'm beginning to see a few areas where the few really DO sway the norm by long, continuous effort. Normally taking decades. It appears that this can be said of the Green movement (which the Organic movement is a part). Rewind to the 80s. Nobody cared what went into what we were eating, as long as it was fast and cheap. Corporate American ran wild, doing whatever they wanted with little to no regulation. There were those few, however, who warned that we should care more about how food got to our plate. They were ignored however. Fast forward to today, Organic growing was on the cover of Newsweek and Time and is being reported on CNN and other mainstream news channels. I saw a show late last night on CNN that talked about struggling farmers moving towards organic crops and finally getting out of the red. People are willing to pay more and in many instances, growing organically can actually be more efficient. In one example, this pig farmer talked about the difference between corporate pig farming and organic pig farming. In corp pig farming, pigs are born, live and die in a tiny space, just big enough for them to survive. In organic farming, they are allowed to roam free. This particular farmer, who came from a long line of pig farmers, explained how he generally cared for the pigs and decided after a trip overseas to a organic farming clinic that he would make life as pleasant as possible for the pigs. Specifically he talked about stress levels and how pigs with higher stress don't live as long or grow as well. The most stress a female pig is recorded to have is when she must give birth in the same place she eats and defecates. This farmer admitted that his pigs, which only receive vaccinations and do not receive hormones, pesticides, or any unnatural foods, do not birth as many piglets. They do however live longer and probably birth more piglets over the coarse of their longer life, so in the end, it really ended up NOT being less efficient to treat them well. His final thought was that he looked at his job as making sure the pigs have a happy life with only one bad day.

I'm concerned with what we're eating and how it interacts. All the pesticides and genetically modified food. Even those that test safe by themselves... we just don't know how they'll interact with all the others. Plus, there is no doubt that taking in so many foreign chemicals into the body has a long term affect on ones physiology. A pseudo-health-nut friend of mine admitted that he pays more for his 'organic' food, but believes its a small price for the knowledge that he is in control of his own body (paraphrased).

Kasei, the writer of Orange Creamsicle, is a vegetarian; a position I find myself respecting more and more. I am not a vegetarian. However, for myself, I believe there are sufficient organic choices to 'go organic' without abandoning meat. Can I go completely organic? Probably not, but I can make a conscious effort, understanding that I am not only doing the right thing for my body, but also sending a signal (be it small), with my wallet that I will prefer organic foods. The more people that do this, the more it will catch on. For reasons I've stated in prior blog entries, I don't harbor much hope for our capitalistic system at large. Big companies will continue doing things the 'wrong' way until they see it as economically sounds to do it otherwise. Its probably nearly impossible to convince corp america to 'do the right thing' and go organic. Working within the system however, its obvious that change can be made.

I'm sure Kasei will have thoughts on this matter and I'm curious as to what they are. I just wish we had a Trader Joe's or Wild Oats up here. :)

Posted by wonko at 01:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2002

Phoenix or bust!

I'm in Phoenix (Glendale at the moment). Thats why there hasn't been as much activity lately. We drove to LA and flew to PHX. It was strange being in LA again. We saw the ocean again... I miss the ocean. It was very beautiful and the smell was intoxicating to say the least. We're visiting my parents, as well as my wife's parents. Went to a strange wedding today. Beautiful, but strange in some ways. As always, Phoenix is a strange place, very homogenized.

While here we celebrated my brothers and my grandfathers birthdays. My grandfather is turning 80 and is still REALLY sharp and active. He still works, I think he's working for a catering company, which keeps him on his feet and healthy. Its very reassuring to see someone that old, that active and healthy. He's a little hard of hearing, but he's just as sharp and funny as you or I. Of course I'm making some pretty big assumptions about you, but I hope you'll let that slide. It just backs up my theory about the correlation between mental/physical activity and mental lucidity.

My brother is having a baby in 3 months. He's 3 years older than I, but he got married a couple years after I did. I, however, do not want babies any time soon. Its a long standing introspective question on just when I WILL want babies. Who knows.

Posted by wonko at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2002

Generation Wrecked

Just read Generation Wrecked in Fortune online. Its about how my generation got kinda screwed financially speaking. Most of my generation will not experience ever increasing salaries as our parents did. Even worse, many have passed their prime earning years and will never make what they did during the boom. The article describes us as a generatioin more set up for failure than the generation that lived through the great depression.

My favorite quotes were, " When you can't find a job or pay your student loans, though, college can seem like the Big Rip-Off."... "Whereas their parents experienced rising wages over their lifetime, Generation X may not. So college may have been a bad investment". and "I can't even tell you how much I have in my 401(k), and I have two of them floating out there with companies. I'm just going to hope it works out at this point. I just wanna die young so I don't have to deal with it."

I hate articles like this. Not because their innacurate or because they promote the wrong thing. Just the opposite. A few years ago I realized that working for the allmighty dollar didn't get you anywhere. My last blog entry says as much. So I've shifted my life around to be more balanced. I'm lucky that between my wife and I we have a decent, livable, household income. But, just like the ex-dot-commers in the article, I left the revolution with a ton of debt which will take many years to repay. How long? Maybe 10 or 15. This will put my in my 30s with no savings. Certainly, thats no uncommon, but its also not great. The problem is the dicotomy between my current beliefs on blanace, and the world view that you need to work hard now to have savings for later. They don't match so well. I could go for a much higher paying job in the field of programming and move to a big city, but I'd be miserable. I'm much happier here, underutilizing my skills by working in retail, in exchange for a low stress life that lets me go out and do the things I love, quite frequently. Its had a positive affect on my life and my relationship with my wife.

There are no easy answers. The only melding of the two ideologies that I see is the idea of living simply and cheaply. Only in this way can you make less, but still save. In my case, it means aggressively paying off debt (which I'm doing). Not as quickly as if I lived in LA and was a programmer, but at least we're not increasing it. I don't know what my current beliefs on how one should live their lives will affect my long-term future, but at the moment, I can't suspend my idealism enough to make a wholesale change back to believing that you work hard now so that you can play someday. To quote CCR, "Someday never comes."

Posted by wonko at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

Forethought in life

I was thinking last night about how our parents generation believed that you go to school, get a nice office job, work hard for 30+ years, so that later, when you retire, you'll have the money to do what you want. They believed they were taking the long view on such matters. However, more and more, their theory is being proven innacurate. Firstly, its hard to maintain a single job that long now, making it hard to receive any type of pension. So its up to oneself to invest in retirement. Secondly, and I believe more importantly, working for so long without enough physical or mental stimulation leaves people incapable of enjoying their retirement once they get there. On the lighter side of the scale, that means not having the strength or energy to actually go out there and do stuff. On the more serious side, that means dimensia and alcheimers. Fast forward to my generation which is taking a shorter view to the long view. Namely, we know that later may never come so we are going to try and achieve fullfilment now.

While this seams much healthier to me, many of my peers mitakenly think they can just stimulate their minds and be ok later in life. The truth is, as I'm seeing in me and my friends parents and grandparents, without continual physical stimulation, you can not be assured of mental lucidity later in life. Not that you can't be happy, many of the people I'm talking about HAVE found happiness in their daily lives. For me anyway, I believe I'd be more fullfilled later in life if I were still both physically and mentaly capable and active. I hope that others in my generation will understand this link between physical health and mental health. Its no longer a debate. As my role models I can't help but look at my climbing/mountaineering heros of the 40s-60s. Of the ones that are not dead *cough*, the rest who range from their 60s-90s are completely mentally and physically adept. They didn't all graduate from college or have a mentally taxing career, but they did stay active throughout their entire lives, no exception. It gives me something to aspire to.

Posted by wonko at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

New Pics

I just posted some new pics on my site.

Patagonia Climbing Clinic, Tuolumne Meadows 09-17-20-2002

Mt. Whitney 09-24-2002

Posted by wonko at 05:53 AM | Comments (0)

New Wallace and Grommit!!!


Posted by wonko at 04:59 AM | Comments (0)

Snipe hunting

In a prior blog my belief that people do evil things because they justify them, not because they intended on doing evil, ala Enron. The first time I gave much thought to this concept was just after the Columbine shootings. I had to ask why, like everyone else, but instead of getting mired in emotional reasonings like, "they were pure evil!", I wondered what rational thoughts could lead to such an irrational conclusion. I also believe people have a hard time killing other 'people'. That is to say, its hard to kill someone you view as equal. For example, in the case of war, we train our soldiers not to view the enemy as 'people', but as the enemy. They are killing 'enemies', not people. In the case of the Columbine shooting I wondered if the other students hadn't stirred the hatred of the shooters to such a degree that they no longer looked at their peers as people, but as enemies.

This thinking requires a little more stretching with the sniper. Assuming this person isn't evil (quite an assumption), how would he justify his actions as a non-evil action. Probably in a similar fashion the Columbine students did, by dehumanizing the people he shot, such that he was not killing other people. Of course its a big stretch to go from dehumanizing students who are actively making your life a living hell, to dehumanizing everyone around you such that you can justify killing people at random. If we look at the recent acts of terrorism, however, we can see that it is possible to dehumanize an entire country or culture. In fact, just that very thing has been done for centuries. In the last century we saw the jews dehumanized by propaganda such that the average german citizen could justify the inhumane acts done to the jews. It is just as likely our sniper is, for some reason, so angered by our culture and the people around him, he has dehumanized them to a point where he can justify killing them.

To make this idea of murder not being murder by changing the status of the one being murdered, think about how hard of a time it would be to kill your pet cat or dog. However, we wouldn't think twice about killing a cow, even though they are both mammals. I'm sure Kasei might applaud that analogy for other reasons.

The next question is WHY does this person hate this culture so much. It could be the waste he perceives around him. It might be the materialism he sees and can't stand. It might even be that he can't stand our countries arrogance which was triggered by our response to 9/11 and/or Iraq. We can speculate, but we will probably need to ask the man himself as Derek suggests. If we were smart, we would listen to his reason and attempt to understand what would bring a man to such depths. We probably won't though. We'll use so much energy vilifying the man, we won't have it in us to look at ourselves. Thats what happened in Columbine.

I was going to say something about how I am not justifying this mans actions (nor the Columbine kids), but I hope it is understood that such actions can never be justified. To find a reason is different from justification. One assumes moral correctness, the other is just a statement of fact.

Posted by wonko at 03:23 AM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2002

Interesting Links

I read a salon article entitled, The Homeless Blogger about Kevin Barbieux and his blog. What's interesting is that Kevin is homeless. He talks about homeless life and the things he sees. CNet is doing a series of articles this week called A Mortal Microsoft.

Posted by wonko at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2002

Back from Reno

Just got back from a day trip to Reno with my wife. Going to a town like that makes me realize how much I love living in a town like Mammoth. The only exception is food choices. We have few in Mammoth. You can't get good Asian food to save your life. So Sarah and I ate at a good Thai restaurant. We also got to spend some time in a nice big bookstore. I bought Blue Gold, a book about international water rights. I'm sure I'll have lots to say about it as I read it.

Posted by wonko at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2002

Phunny /. post

sckienle writes "Robert X. Cringely is asking in his pulpit this week for help in determining what's going to happen in the tech industry in the next 12 months." I expect that robots will take over the world, and openly hunt humans in a post apocolyptic landscape. This will occur in January. For the rest of the year, technology will take a vacation.

Posted by wonko at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Accidents in Climbing

Daily, I go to RockClimbing.com to see if there are any interesting discussion threads. Today this thread caught my attention as it was about a climber who needed to be rescued on El Cap and was charged with reckless endangerment. Someone posted asking if anyone had heard about it, which immediately sparked a flurry of speculative posts. In the end, the actual climber ended up posting and answering questions. Charges were dropped, but it was a very interesting story. Especially to hear how his gear actually failed (a rare occurrence indeed). Even more interesting was to hear the critiques of other climbers as to what he could have done differently. The climber in question even had things to say about his mistakes. In the end it was decided that most bad injuries and deaths in climbing are not caused by any one failure or mistake, but rather a string a failures and mistakes. It was a very sobering thread that any serious climber should read. The specifics were less important than the emphasis on redundancy for just the reason stated above. In climbing, redundancy is SO important. Multiple points of failure at any given time.

Any time a climber falls, there is always discussion of Fall Factor (ff). The fall factor is a ratio of the length of fall divided by the amount of rope holding the fall. ie. The amount of rope out after the last piece in the wall. That is actually a simplification and things like the dynamic nature of ropes and/or gear play a part as well. But basically, if a person was 10' above their anchor with no other gear in and fell, they would fall 20' and have a fall factor of 2, the highest fall factor (ff2). This puts TREMENDOUS strain on the gear. Depending on the rope and gear used, it can generate forces up to 27kN (kilonewtons). A kilonewton (kN) is defined as the force which gives to a mass of 1000 kilograms an acceleration of 1 meter per second squared. Its about 225lb per kN. So 27kN is over 6000lb of force. The idea is to constantly observe your possible fall factor and do what you can to reduce it. For example, putting your first pieces in early, reduces the ff significantly. Thats not to see gear can't hold a ff2 fall. Many people (including the euro climber in the thread above), have survived a ff2 fall. I just hope I never have to. :)

Links on the death of Joe Ivy, a caver killed by his own mistakes:
RockClimbing.com Thread
Accident Report

Posted by wonko at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2002

Alternative Fuels

Just read this article on new Fuel Cell cars.

I covered some of my feelings on this in a prior entry (Oil For Algernon).

I obviously think this is a good thing, though it has some time to go before its adopted. What irks me is how late this is coming. 30 years ago when we started having Oil shortages we had two choices. Go out and plunder the planet for more oil (even if it meant repeated military action), or put money into researching alternative fuel sources. Of course you know what we did. can you imagine what we'd be driving today if the government put 1/10 the money they've put into foreign, oil driven, wars into researching alternative fuel sources? But the world, and this country in particular, is run by money. He who has it, decides. In this case, the oil cartel has so much money, they practically own the government. Case closed?

Well now that we are running out of oil and wars are getting old, even the oil companies and car companies that drove us to use so much oil in the first place are beginning to research alternative fuel methods, and how they can profit greatly from it. No, Exxon/Mobile won't go out of business if they run out of oil, they'll just leverage their way into related industries.

We'll see.

Here's another article on another company thats making batteries that run of food.

Posted by wonko at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2002

Capitalism TO THE EXTREME!

This Salon article, In greed we trusted, backs up what I've believed for a long time about capitalism and America. Its a question of priorities, not of morals. Or rather, in this case, right and wrong are constructs of ones given priorities. There are lots of right's and wrongs that are just believed and can come into conflict. Your priorities determine which you side with. In the case of capitalism, the idea that acquiring money and possessions is 'right' is a high priority as an individual capitalist. When corporate entities get involved, a whole new set of priorities and morals can be overlaid independent of individual priorities and morals. How? Because in this country we uphold the illusion that a corporation is an actual entity in and of itself, independent of people. This belief alone allows the individual to do things in the name of the corporation which he/she would never dream of doing as an individual.

A public companies HIGHEST goal is to 'increase shareholder value'. Basic economics 101. We're just now starting the see the ramifications of putting such a high priority on the illusion of 'shareholder value' over community values or customer satisfaction. The fact that customer satisfaction often leads to increased shareholder value does not mean that customer satisfaction is really priority #1. In fact, when the bottom line dictates burning your customers, it must be done (facetious).

The article talks about Enron and how we should not look at Enron as an isolated incident, where a gathering of inherently bad people (at least worse than we are), were allowed to run amok without supervision. Rather, that Enron is the logical conclusion of capitalism taken to the Nth degree. This belief is backed up by the shear number of companies that have come forward with deceitful accounting practices in the wake of Enron.

Now contrary to popular belief, while I believe people are selfish and maybe even slightly evil by nature, I do not believe people are evil by intent. Rather that the most common trespass is justification. One can justify doing something that is wrong by convincing oneself in a Machiavellian way that the final outcome will be 'right'. In Enron's case, they may have convinced themselves that they were making many many people rich and would go on to make ordinary people (shareholders) money. A real robin hood, and how can that be wrong. So what if you have to cut a few corners to do that. Of course its also possible to believe they were really evil, but I believe it is more instructive to assume they are not. By assuming they are not, you are bringing them to your level and saying its possible you could have done the same thing given their situation. Believing they are equals lets you internalize their mistakes as opposed to believing they are beneath you and thus beneath learning from.

In the same way I can see why people would think capitalism was a good idea. Sometimes an alternative presents itself which is so much better than the present, you don't even want to look for what might be wrong with it. Indeed, imagining myself in a communist dictatorship where the people are oppressed and never allowed to progress, I can see why capitalism might look a bit appealing. But maybe its really time, given recent events, we re-evaluate capitalism as an immutable concept. Its almost like when people talk about modern politics/economics they begin with a series of assumptions about the validity of capitalism and the free-market system and go from there. They equate capitalism with freedom and assume you can't have one without the other. They begin with certain axioms that are not questioned. Well, I think capitalism as it has been constructed and practiced is a failure, maybe not in a vacuum, but as far as humans and human nature is concerned, it doesn't work. It puts the wrong things first and thus a good capitalist is a negligent member of the community. The community being all of us. You can't put taking as the highest priority and expect to be able to give freely. Of course, the idea of giving is not inline with capitalism anyway.

On many issues I stipulate that I could be wrong. On this one, I believe capitalism is a failure wholeheartedly. At the same time I recognize the benefits of capitalism and the good things it has brought us as a people. Few things are ALL bad. My definition of failure comes from MY priorities. The community is a higher priority to me than money, and I believe it should be for everyone else too (presumptuous eh?). As such I believe capitalism, since it leads inevitably to precisely the opposite of what a community should bring, is a failure. However, I am not prepared to say that ANY form of capitalism is bad, or that our idea of capitalism can't be fundamentally modified to be more community focused, even without throwing all our current beliefs on capitalism completely away. But some of the axioms must be re-evaluated and inevitably changed. However, I don't claim to know what specifically would be the 'better' way.

I know that 'failed' is a strong term and maybe others would characterize it differently, but based on my personal parameters, as stated above, I believe there must be a better way. Or at least I hope there is.

Posted by wonko at 04:06 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2002

Next Floor: Space (ok that was cheezy)

After I started reading the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (recommended to me by Kasei, I've become extremely interested in Mars and its current/future social impact on us. The Mars Trilogy consists of Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars The trilogy starts 50 years in the future and tells the story of our exploration, colonization and terraforming of Mars. Now I've never been much of a science fiction reader, but the Mars Trilogy is almost more of a social/political commentary than a science fiction book. Anyway, I'll come back to the Mars trilogy on a later entry. The strange thing about my reading this trilogy is how I keep seeing items in the news that directly relate to the books. Perhaps the most astounding, besides all the actual planned missions to mars, is all the talk of the Space Elevator.

The Space Elevator was originally conceived over a hundred years ago. The most startlingly close depiction would be Arthur C. Clarks description in the Fountains of Paradise, in the late 70s. He even came close to guessing the materials they'd use to build it, over a decade before the materials existed. The most startling thing about the space elevator, the thing which most people don't believe when I tell them, is that its going to be built and they're working on it right now. Nasa has already contracted companies to begin the planning. We're not talking hundreds of years either, we're talking a decade or two, definitely within our lifetimes. High Lift Systems is a company whose sole purpose is the development of a space elevator. And their not the only one.

One of the reasons the idea of a Space Elevator has been relegated to science fiction is the lack of a suitable, strong enough, light enough material. Then came Carbon Nanotubes. That article has a good description of what they are. Needless to say, they are the lightest, strongest material known to man by a factor of 100. The elevator will travel along a 100,000 km ribbon made of carbon nanotubes. It will reduce the cost of sending material (or people) into space from $500 per gram to mere dollars per gram. All of a sudden, it becomes hundreds of times cheaper to send materials, satellites, and people into space. This will be what paves the way for really exploring space. Right now, its too costly to get anything into space in the first place.

The discussion on the social implications of the space elevator and becoming an interplanetary species, is a topic for another entry. For now, I've had enough people question my sanity when I told them about the space elevator, posting this proof of its inevitability will have to suffice.

More articles.
Ribbon to the Stars

The Audacious and Outrageous Space Elevators

The Space Elevator Comes Closer to Reality

NASA applications of molecular nanotechnology

Ten Millionth Floor, Please

Space Elevator Economics

Posted by wonko at 09:48 PM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2002

Orange County Water

I met a guy today from Orange County who mentioned how low the San Joaquin river was. We've had a dry year up here in Mammoth as many other parts of the country. He then mentioned that the Orange County water supply, which mostly comes from Lake Arrowhead was in jeopardy due to low lake levels. Lake Arrowhead was at its lowest in recorded history, so low that experts say that 3 HUGE, WET winters wouldn't be able to bring the water level back to its past levels. "There's just too much development," he said.

Its an old issue, and there are tons of books on the subject. Its still disturbing. Water will most likely be the oil of the new millennium. More precious than Gold. We are running out of Oil and when we do, we will find new ways of fueling our cars, planes, trains, etc... But water is different. We need water to live. Thinking back to a prior post on consumption... America consumes more water than any other nation. We water huge golf courses in the desert. I lived in Phoenix for much of my life and witnessed first hand how wasteful we can be with water. So, as the UN, the WHO, and many scientists tell us what we should have already known, how will we, as Americans, react? It looks grim. :)

Posted by wonko at 08:57 AM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2002

The Captian

Last Friday I got to fulfull one of my dreams (partially). It may seem small, or trite, but it was huge to me. The first time I went to Yosemite and saw El Capitan, the most beautiful wall in the world, I knew I wanted to climb it. Two weeks ago, a friend of mine (Steve G.) told me he was doing the Nose with a friend that week. He asked if I'd help him and his partner haul to the Sickle ledge (a day up El Cap). El Cap is a beautiful, veritcal 3000 foot wall. Here are some pics I took on a prior Yosemite Trip.Here and here.

El Cap has tons of routes on it, but none more famous than the Nose. It was quite an experience, even though we just went 600' up to the Sickle ledge. Aid climbing is a whole other skill which will definitely take time and effort to learn.

They never made it past the Sickle ledge anyway, for a variety of reasons. First, the weather turned on us. Second, a bear got in the haul bag twice. The second time we actually watched the bear from 600' up get into ou Haul Bag. The idea was to climb to the Sickle ledge, fix lines down to the haul bag and get the first day's hauling done all at once. That was the plan anyway, til we learned the bear got all the food. Still, what an amazing view, and what an amazing feeling to be on such a famous route so high off the ground. It makes me feel alive and confident. I'll do the Nose someday, I know it.

Posted by wonko at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2002

The Gorge

Just got back from climbing in The Owens River Gorge (or The Gorge for short). Hadn't been there in over a year. We went to the upper gorge and did some awesome climbs. Even got a 10d onsite in there. We (Bruce and I) took our friend Won for his first time climbing. I think he really liked it. Its interesting how teaching climbing makes you think more about it. Its important for me not to forget what I love about climbing. Just the feeling for the human body and how it moves. How you change balance through a series of non-obvious means. How you pull off stuff that doesn't seem possible, keeping you feet on sloping 1/10 inch edges. So much fun.

On the way home we discussed politics and economics a little. I'm always amazed when people buy into the idea that our system of economics is just the way it is and as such, we must continue to grow and consume more and more in order to prosper as a people. Its true that within our idea of economics we, as consumers, are responsible for fueling the market with our increased consumption (and debt). To decrease spending (as we've been doing) hurts the economy. But is this really our fault or is it the whole system that is flawed. A system based on mass consumption seems flawed to me. This kind of system is unsustainable in that eventually we either run out of what we're consuming, or we go into too much debt to consume any more. I think America has seen its hay-day and is on its way out. It will take a while, but other countries will surpass us (just as someday in the future MS will fall :) Cuz nothing lasts forever.

Posted by wonko at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2002

Blog back up

After a lot of pain and suffering I have finally got my website back up. I won't go into the gory details, but let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. This on the same day I finally figured out how to get my Sarahpeutics admin to print address labels again, after 3 weeks of torturous upgrades, downgrades and hacks. That wasn't pretty either, but thats neither here nor anywhere in particular. I'm pretty excited about having my blog back up, so expect to see regular entries again. Who knows, I might even be inspired to write something tonight... oh wait, I just did.

Posted by wonko at 05:29 AM | Comments (0)