29 April 2012

Happy Season of Foster's Ghost

The producers would like to take a few moments to wish everyone in Earth's blogosphere and elsewhere a gloriously joyous Season of Foster’s Ghost.  It is acknowledged that different groups of folks these days celebrate their own holidays, and that often these holidays look sideways at each other with thinly disguised contempt™, but certainly we can all put aside our differences for a few seconds to celebrate the annual reemergence of everyone’s favorite ghost from beyond, Foster’s Ghost.  Tis the season™.

If you haven’t purchased the centerpiece of your traditional holiday dinner (and these days a spray-on foam ham is de rigueur), best do it now as supplies could be limited by war or famine at any time.  Crandleberry crabcakes should be on every table, alongside heapings of fresh homemade broccoli and three sauces to choose from, at least one of which should be a gravy.  

Whether you celebrate the season by exchanging gifts or by borrowing without permission, by gathering for supper around a glazed hog or sneaking out back later on to burn one in effigy, can't you just put aside your own differences for a moment and slip into something more comfortable, i.e. the spirit of the season, i.e. the Season of Foster's Ghost?

Foster’s Ghost first appeared in 1734 to the Puritans and later, in a bunny outfit, to the Quakers, and its annual reemergence at exactly the same time every year in all parts of the world on the same day continues to stir the passions and recriminations of generation after generation of boys and women.  In 1834 the season was declared a two-week holiday by decree of the then-ruling junta, and despite their bloody overthrow and the subsequent 'Three Great Genocides' that soon followed, the tradition has stuck with us more or less in its original form to this day.  Minus the mass graves, thankfully.

Despite many claims to the contrary, Foster’s Ghost never won Wimbledon, captured the Triple Crown, or guest-hosted The Joker's Wild.

In keeping with the times, today's Foster’s Ghost is green, clean, low carbon and energy efficient, with recyclable components of non-toxic materials.  The latest model of the ghost, featuring a sleek new interface and USB ports for plug-and-play functionality, is rumored to have appeared to more than a few tech-savvy movers and shakers at this year’s Foster’s Consumer Electronics Ghost Show in Las Vegas.  

And now let us join hands and acknowledge something too often forgotten during this holiday season: it's not about bubble gum-colored icicle lights and playing "Wii Columbine" til the wee hours, it's about Foster, and more specifically, Foster's festering carcass, and of course, his mischievous spirit that scares the bejesus out of little boys and girls who fail to be on their toes at all times, and the bejeebers out of adults with unresolved childhood issues.

The Season of Foster’s Ghost generally lasts two to four weeks during spring and early summer, when there aren't many other good holidays or dinosaur rock band concerts to attend.  Foster's Ghost Day falls on May 11 this year (woo-hoo, 3-day weekend!).  Please mark your calendars, and everybody else's, and the ones down at the bookstore too.

21 April 2012

The Towers That Be

Great ideas can come at you anywhere, whether you're strolling through the bustling metropolis we call nature, or wandering lost in a forest of skyscrapers.  For this reason I carry (on my personTM) at all times a voice recorder into which mad ideas may be gushed like a babbling (stream or) brook(lyn) (bridge) (of consciousness) (over troubled water) (etc).  Every fifth moon I have the recordings transcribed, cherry-pick the best bits and release them for public consumption.  Ours being a consumer society, the public has so far shown itself all too willing to oblige.  Here's one now.

Proposal for what will be the world’s tallest building, once and for all.  Tired of having your new record-setting tower surpassed in height by egomaniac(al architect)s elsewhere?  Fret no more.  This new construction, The Towers That Be, not only surpasses all other previous buildings in height, but also possesses both the intelligence to sniff out any competing projects and the targeted munitions systems to swiftly reduce them to rubble.  Intelligent internet search algorithms and satellite surveillance uplinks ensure that any structure rising to within 100 meters in height of The Towers That Be is pinpointed and, at a time and season when casualties might be minimized, obliterated.  Obviously such a structure must itself possess an impenetrable defense capability, and this has been seen to in its design, with an elegant grand hall for holding the most magnificent receptions (and need I add, the gala-est balls) sitting atop a sophisticated command and control center where data from the billions of nanosensors permeating the surrounding 50 mile radius (the so-called ‘kill zone’) is continuously sent for real-time analysis.  Any perceived threat, however small or unlikely, is immediately met with overwhelming force.  Nasty and brutish to be sure, but anything but short: The Towers That Be shall lord it over all other manmade constructions for as long as trees grow, flowers bloom, and targeted munitions systems function.

13 April 2012

Why the Future is Not as Good as it Could Have Been (Part I): On the Shores of Lake Energy Crisis

This post is dedicated to the Archdruid and his merry band:  "Stealing from the present to give to the future."  If you don’t read The Archdruid Report (and you should), none of the following will make much sense.  But by now you must be used to that.

This is the first in a series of posts, the rest of which will almost certainly never be written, on the subject of the energy crisis looming over humanity.

Before I go into the reason the elves work for Santa and not vice versa, let me say a few words to those who believe the coming 'crisis' is some combination of paranoia and marketing.  Look around you.  Just about everything you see – the abundant food, cheap wares manufactured in distant lands, unlimited electricity on tap at the flick of a switch, and so on – is the result of a two hundred year binge of fossil fuel consumption.  I take it I will not be surprising my more astute readers to note the fact that supplies are not likely to be everlasting.  We have used quite a bit already and the cost and difficulty of extracting what remains is bound to increase.  We cannot expand indefinitely on a finite planet.  That, in the parlance of our times, is fo shizzle. 

Nevertheless, and for entirely silly reasons that on close examination make almost no sense, I retain a certain amount of optimism.  We may indeed be up a creek without a paddle, but there's a good place to camp over there, I've got a fishing pole, a banjo, and two bottles of homemade moonjack.  I think we can make it through the night.  

As longtime followers of this blog's project are undoubtedly aware, I do not give much (proverbial) truck to the high-tech so-called solutions breezily offered every day in the mainstream media (and recall, I have not watched television since I put my foot through my Sony Trinitron when J.R. shot himself on Dallas; I mean how symbolic of the predicament into which we have dug ourselves, and at the same time how lame, was that?).  But today, just to play for a second the devil's adversary, let's make an exception and consider a few of these proposed alternatives. 

Piezoelectric energy harvesting, for example, is a topic that has been much on The Mind lately.  The concept is simple: the vibrations from anything in motion are converted to electrical energy.  The possibilities are endless.  What better way to assure that we can maintain our unsustainable energy consumption habits sustainably than by harvesting the excess energy generated from all the energy we waste?  We need to be hooking these devices up to every wild animal on the face of the earth.  In Africa in particular, with its large herds of big strong beasts making their long annual migrations, just think of all that energy, being mindlessly frittered away. 

What if the energy from a bird building its nest could be converted to electricity?  All that racket the cicadas are kicking up on a summer's eve, how are we letting that go to waste when we should be hooking it all up to the grid?  Think of all the energy that weeds expend in pushing up through cracks in the sidewalk.  Did you ever try to push your way up through a piece of concrete?  Go ahead and give it a whirl – I'll give you a few weeks if you want.  It boggles the mind that we are letting these tremendous sources of energy remain untapped.

Then ponder how much energy is wasted every day by the wind blowing through the trees.  That gently relaxing sound is the sound of precious energy dissipating, energy we must capture if we are to survive and be richer than our neighbors.  Imagine that each leaf is a sort of mini generator, hooked to a central power station at the base of the tree, and all of the wind energy was converted to electricity and easily accessible from a standard outlet.  You could then plug your chainsaw directly into the tree, and fell it using energy sustainably harvested from its own leaves.  Would that not just be a gas?

By now many readers will have begun to suspect of course that I’m just pulling your leggings, knowing as we do that the time to accomplish all of this was in 1974, when we as a society collectively decided to bury our head in our hands in the sands of time, that we need not concern ourselves with the needs of future generations or even with the needs of our own children.  Now it's too late, at least if the goal is to maintain some semblance of our current lifestyles.  Thus, if you will, the future that I have outlined in this series of posts is but a sneak peek at the depressing world that awaits as we slide down the other half of the peak of Hubbard's Backside.

If we define sustainable as 'that which can be sustained,' – and I think we almost have to, given what the word means – then it is not entirely without a hint of falsity to fail to disagree (if only to be disingenuous) with the notion that (ready for it…):  Sustainable solutions are out there.  The trick will be holding your breath until they arrive.

I’ll talk more about holding your breath in the next series of posts.  Until then, don’t.

Brief, on-point and/or completely batty comments on this post will be published and responded to as time permits.