Saturday, June 21, 2008

Roanoke College

"How many people think climate change is a serious problem?" i ask the class of Roanoke College students. Perhaps 2/3rds of the students lazily raise their hands.

"So what are we going to do about climate change? If it is a serious problem how are we going to stop it?" i challenge and start taking down their answers on the board.

"Wind power", "Solar", "Conservation", "Nuclear power", "Saving energy", "Geothermal power", "Tidal energy", "Increased efficiency" - They shouted out with increasing enthusiasm.

"So this is great. Basically we are talking two general types of solutions. Clean power generation and saving energy or using it more efficiently. I do a bunch of work on energy - best guesses are these two approaches will net perhaps 20% reductions each. So we are talking carbon levels by 40%. Except the UN commission on climate change says we have to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. So where it is going to come from? is humanity doomed ?"

An uncomfortable silence fills the room.

"Well there is a very powerful technique which could save us. It is a concept we learned in kindergarden. It's called ..." pause for dramatic effect. "Sharing".

Strange look in students eyes, "what is he talking about?"

And i launch into my rap about sharing system at Twin Oaks. How we share cars and thus consumer over 80% less fuel than our mainstream counter parts. Now some kids are waking up. The professor is clealry in love with us.

And my heart as a propagandist sings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Burning Down the House

[This is a slightly updated version of a msg i wrote to the Twin Oaks ex-members e-list about the varnish spraying building which burned down on anniversary night. The building is called Oz, part of the Over the Rainbow theme for the naming of our industrial park on campus, which is called Emerald City. No one was hurt in the blaze.]

Dearest Clan:

i am glad Oz burned. It is absolutely a hassle that we lost stretcher inventory, the capacity to spray varnish chair frames and our drying station for oiled stretchers. This will be headachy to fix/replace.

And this is the kind of thing the community can rally behind. The building itself was insured and the initial meeting with the insurance representatives look favorable and we will cover the cost of reconstruction.

The building lost 3 of its four exterior walls. The two current theories about how the fire started are 1) That it was a lightning strike before a large and fairly fierce storm we had with near by lightning. 2) That lindseed oil rags were improperly disposed of and combusted (this is Woodys theory). The second theory has been discredited by the area manager Roy, who said there were almost no rags there at the time of the fire.

The local fire folk were fast. But the building was a tinderbox, filled with saw dust, lindseed oil and wood frames. We were certainly lucky. Arthen has already agreed to run the clean up crew. He is, in my never humble opinion, a hero looking for a mission, this may well be it. Trout has already gotten a temporary varnish spray station [which was the

It points out that we have an insufficient fire warning system. Smoke was spotted by ex-member Darwin as he was going past on Old Mountain Road, but Shakti would have discovered it moments later for she heard a blast from the area and was already investigating. Apparently we have a fire alert system, which had been disabled, because malfunctions were causing it to call all the phones on campus reporting fires that were not there.

Besides the possible insurance, it is good for the community to rally around a problem that has no member responsible for it. The equipment in the building was quite old, and the ventilation could certainly be better.

Rob Jones rough ballparked a new building of with a 40' X 40' footprint made out of cinder blocks, with the proper venting system in place and the rest of the industrial utilities (including compressed air and 220 voltage) would run on the order of $20K. With a compressed construction time Hale and White could do it in a month. Rob and i talked about using Oakers on cinderblock - he was unimpressed with the idea and thought it would slow things down unacceptably. But we may try harder to cut this corner - or potentially someone internal will spet forward and honcho the reconstruction/replacement job and then we wont use H&W at all and save a bunch of money - i dont actually recommend this path - but no one ever accused me of being financially conservative.

The managers at EC were already talking at the party tonight about expanding the number of people who work at EC in the short term to increase production to replace lost inventory of spreaders and chair frames. This will have the added benefit of training more members in an area where more help is needed. And now there is a sense of urgency to get us to do something.

I have also proposed we radically increase the cost of our hanging chairs from $169 to $250. [Hawina's more modest price increase to $199 was accepted by business management.] These are beautiful pieces, we put a lot of work into them and we have always sold them at a poor hourly rate. Why make them is the are low revenue? Chairs are for fairs. Having hand made, fine furniture like hanging chairs gets us into many fairs, it is more genuinely crafts than anything on a hammock.

The additional cost would more than cover the cost of having these frames vanished at another store. Sabine (who is on the hx biz general management team) and Trout (who manages Oz) seemed unimpressed with this idea.

And i think we are going to rally around this one. We are going to clear the on site relatively quickly, because it is a job well sited to having larger swarms of workers at. We need to pop out a design for a new building (Keenan is rumored to be on it already).

Not slowed down by the bad news, the party after anniversary was one of the best ever. Two different DJs independently decided to play Talking Heads "Burning Down the House"

Paxus in Tupelo
41st Anniversary

Thursday, June 5, 2008

T9 Poetry

There is a little piece of AI that i am enchanted with these days. It is
called "T9 Word" and it is a text predicting data entry system for cell phones. THe way it works is you hit the number key for the letter you wont, regardless of which of the 3 or 4 letters it is on the key, and T9 Word guesses what world you want.

So if you want "Kiss" you enter 5477
. But it turns out that there is another word with exactly these characters and it is more common. So T9 Word suggests "Lips" and when you hit the "0" key it toggles to "Kiss¨.

I like that, lips toggling to kiss.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Perfect Nag

i've never had a blog before. And i have a bunch of ideas which i think are important and i am going to hurl them into the blog as we go along and i am inspired to do so. Tonight's memetic construct is the perfect nag - this come from the work we did on an activist personal growth system called co-empowerment.

The basic idea is to design for failure. Especially with project which have lots of individual efforts which need support, designing a perfect nag is one method to increase the chances of success of your project. It goes something like this.

You have a task list. You have an ally who wants to support you with making progress on this list (but likely is not especially involved in your part of the project). They agree that that they are gong to call and check in with you about how you are progressing. This is called nagging.

Perfect nagging is when you premeditate the script for what your nag says when you fail to do something you have promised to do. For example, do they get angry with you? do they cheerfully suggest a new deadline or other possible solutions ? do they send stony cold signals and wait for you to be appropriately apologetic and make suggestions ? Depending on who you are, and what you need - different answers would make sense.

The robust designing of perfect nags could save the world.

And we might be too busy for that (or as Vonnegut said "we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.")

Monday, June 2, 2008

relatively rare mass mailing

Dearest Clan:

As most of you know, i do memetic analysis. This construct "Searching for John McCain" is one of the better designed campaign structures to take advantage of new voters use of internet search engines as advisors for the election. This project promotes the policy positions of McCains, in his own words in interviews on mainstream media websites. In what might be a close election (tho i think i am with Murdock on this one and Obama will win by a landslide) this tool might reach and influence 1% of voters.

If you have a blog or are willing to comment on other blogs, you can be part of this strategy.

Read the background information on:

and ...

Or simply copy and post the following section of text with it's 9 key hyperlinks:

Who is John McCain, in his own words? McCain opposes raising the minimum wage. McCain's housing policy was built by lobbyists. McCain supports Bush's agenda to privatize social security. John McCain opposes extending guaranteed health insurance to children; McCain supports Bush's Iraq strategy. McCain wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. McCain opposes the GI Bill.

Do you really want to vote for John McCain?

Create your own McCain blurb at ...

Paxus at Twin Oaks
31 May 2K8