November 2007

Horse Drawn Electric Hybrid

You heard it here first, folks!

Layperson’s guide to the favoured transport of the future:

  1. Horse. Equus Caballus. This will eventually replace the petroleum internal combustion engine as the power source of a large percentage land based transport. Smaller versions of this vehicle may be powered by pedal, and one or more Homo Sapiens.
  2. Bloke on top. There’s no reason that this couldn’t be a woman.
  3. Big Battery. Made with what ever means are the least polluting and toxic. Hydrogen fuel cell? maybe…
  4. Combined electromagnetic braking device and electric motor. Braking charges battery, saves on wear and tear on manual brakes and horses. Electric motor makes life easier for horses, especially on starting.
  5. Blokes on back. Could be replaced with food, or other goods. Or a solar panel, to take even more work off the horse(s)

In wanting to create a new society, I have a few obvious “core” values (quote marks due to our ex-prime minister’s bastardisation of the word in the phrase “core promises”) .

These consist of:

  • Best practice environmentalism (not best as in better than everyone else, but best as in as good as possible).
  • Autonomy/self governance for groups and individuals
  • Freedom of information

In that order. These are fairly solid for me, and I won’t really bother discussing why in this piece. I think that the second point is basically my ideal for best practice social organisation.

So how to go about the third? I think the internet might be the answer. (more…)

Howard is gone.

Not only have the libs lost the election, by an avalanche, but it’s pretty certain that Howard has lost his seat as well. Fucking good riddance.

Not that Rudd will be much better. He’s definitely got some things going for him over Howard, but his acceptance speech contained a few things that I’m definitely a bit uncomfortable about.

The first of these is his line about “leaving the old debates behind” – most of these arguments were pretty dubious, but one was especially worrying  –  the debate about “growth verses the environment”. So we’re going to leave that behind are we? And continue to blindly assume that continuous growth can be OK for the environment? It’s not possible, Rudd, it’s mathematically impossible. Simple equation. I wonder if any politician will ever understand it?

Another point – “I will be a politician for indigenous australians” – all well and good. If they want it. Have you asked them if they want a smarmy white guy as a leader, Mr. Rudd? Somehow, I doubt it. What about some autonomy? Aboriginal people don’t need leadership, they need self detirmination!

At least he noted that climate change was the number two election issue (very close second to your-rights-at-work, a well run campaign, by the looks of it). With work choices out of the way (the liberals won’t have a comeback to that), climate change will logically be the largest election issue at the next federal election (it won’t be going away, and ratifying kyoto just won’t be enough). Which kind of makes me think: Wow. the liberals are dead. Seems like the greens are the new opposition!

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Rising Tide stopped a coal train this morning, in the world’s biggest coal port. They blocked the whole line to the Kooragang terminal, and that backed up the rest of the coal line, blocking the whole port.

Thanks to the Sandgate Rail Fly over, recently completed, the blockage didn’t affect the passenger line at all – I dunno, but I doubt that was an intended side-effect of the project.

News is being a bit slow, but it’s up there. The ABC is being even more fucked than usual.

At a close guess, considering the port currently exports 90 million tonnes of coal a year, then every hour that the blockade continues, about 10,000 tonnes of coal are stopped for being exported (postponed, but if we begin to wind down the coal export industry in the next few years, then it’s the same thing). That’s equal to about 27,000 tonnes of C02 and hour. Beat that. The train’s already been stopped there for two hours…

Brian Dale, from ARTC, said on ABC said RT was “incredibly stupid … because the trains cannot stop quickly..”. Seemed like the train stopped pretty quickly to me. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the dangers, and I’m 100% sure that the people who stopped the train were extremely careful, and followed the guidelines for doing so, which are freely available on the ARTC website

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Sharing your bookmarks and photos is all well and good. Discussing stuff on forums can be interesting. Editing Wiki pages is better – coming close to a collective conscious.

But the computer has always been an individualistic tool, which sucks. No matter what I do on a computer, it’s always just me. Fundamentally, a computer is used for making things; usually, art, writing, algorithms etc. when I do these things in real life, I can do them with other people, at the same time. This is especially true for music, and note taking, etc. This is much more difficult on a computer – mostly, the only way to so it is to write your bit, save it, send it to someone else somehow, and get them to check it, and send it back. I want to do it in realtime.

Googledocs looks like it could be it, but I’m wary of storing anything on google’s computers. Also, it’s proprietary software, so it’s hard to know what you’re really getting.
The other option is online whiteboards, of which there are a few. Inkscape has a whiteboard function, but it’s difficult to use so far, and may not be included in the next official build (0.46) (although you can include it anytime you build from source).

Basically, what I’d like to see, is probably something like googledocs running over XMPP, where each user has a locally stored file, which is updated when ever a session is started with both users, and can be updated in realtime, with the messages sent as short edits, not the whole file. Damn that would be cool.

One problem I can see with such a system is that if one user wants to edit something, then send it through another static communications system (like an e-list), you could end up with a few duplicates. That might be solved by somehow creating a unique fingerprint (not based on the file contents obviously, but perhaps the date and time, and the original title?), or simply by allowing users to diff the files, and choose which changes to include…

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Richard Monson-Haefel’s “Open Source Is Anarchy, Not Chaos” on is an interesting article, but it misses some major points, and gets one completely wrong:

Richard is quite right about open source being anarchistic, but is way off in his description of how.

Let’s start with:
“All open source projects have a leader who is frequently, but not always, the founder of the project. This is well aligned with anarchy as defined above;”
Leadership is almost directly antonymic of anarchism. Leadership, while it often, in western thought at least, implies good judgement, and all that, also means power. In the way he describe it, with the “leader” having complete control over who commits, what goes in, and what stays out of the project, Richard is describing a tyranny, not an anarchy. This part of the system is completely unanarchistic, albeit only because of security issues.

The real part of open source, is the power of the community. Richard touched on that a bit, but missed the core part: the community actually has the power over the codebase, because if they don’t like what’s happening with the project, they can simply fork it, and start a new project, with an already complete codebase to work from. This basically means that the code follows the community, and not the other way around, as in proprietary software. This is the way it should be: the user should define the tool, not the other way around.

That’s where the anarchism lies in open source, in the community, and definitely not in the leadership…

it’s not a bad article, anyway. For another good article, in a similar vein, check out:

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I’ve just started the Big List of Environmental issues – on Envirowiki. You should add to it. Hopefully, after a few decent edits, this page will list all the big issues, and after a few more related issues.

The reason that all the links are red is that those pages haven’t been created yet. Click on the links to start editing! Also, check out some of the blue links – some of those pages could do with some improvement.

You don’t even need to log in to edit pages on envirowiki, but if you’re not logged in, you’ll need to enter the answer to a maths captcha after you press save (to make sure you’re not a spambot).

Happy editing!

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