or sometimes just a passing thought.

Tomorrow’s Tomorrowland

Date of Original Idea: Today

I woke up with the title of this post in my head, I like it, I don’t know exactly what to do with it.

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Cause and Effect

Date of Original Idea: just now!

The recent “rise in shark attacks” can be explained in the same was as the semi-recent increase, but thankfully more-recent decrease, in sightings of Real Housewife wanna-be’s around town: there was alot of attention on “Real Housewives”, for shocking-can’t-look-away reasons, which made all sorts of people think it was fashionable. The decade long obsession with Shark Week activities have encouraged sharks looking for their 15 minutes of fame to also appear. Once we stopped looking at the real housewives, they went away. Stop watching all those shows people, lives are depending on it. It’s like Donald Trump, if you don’t pay him any attention, he’ll just go away.

I may be assuming more about the sharks’ access to basic cable than is really there, but you know I’m right about the Donald.

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Greek Olympics 4evar!

Date of Original Idea: Oh, a while ago when I learned how much cities spend on hosting the olympic games, but also after seeing some news about one of the Greek bailouts. (but I just finally typed it up for a comment somewhere else out in the internets and thought to leave it here)

Find a nice chunk of land in Greece and sell it to the international olympic committee for, mmm, say, 70 Billion Euro. IOC can build a bunch of stadiums, hotels, and other venues, plus some transportation connections, and ring it with security and whatnot, and every 4 years hold the olympics there. After 2 or 3 olympic games it will have paid for itself- the savings going to the cities that would have spent on hosting the games, it would allow the IOC to do their security thing without imposing on residents of some innocent city, and it would provide Greece with a nice one-time boost and an every-four-year tourism boost.

Win, win, win!

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The Not-Paying-Attention Lane

Date of Original Idea: long long ago. Really started thinking about it again since moving to SE-Michigan

I’ve noticed this in many areas and many countries, some are worst than others (SE-Michigan) and some are much much better (Germany, I think I’ve only seen cars with foreign plates do this). When cars get on the freeway. highway, interstate, autobahn, what-have-you, they typically go immediately to the second lane from the left (or from the right if you are in right-hand-drive countries). Little to no pause, just merge right over directly from the on-ramp often without looking as if it was proper driving.

I call this lane the Not-Paying-Attention Lane. It doesn’t matter how many lanes are in the road, it’s the second from the left as if the driver thinks that they’re a looser if they are in the “slow lanes” but a jerk to be in the “fast lane”.

I don’t know what to do about it, but the problem seems to be at epidemic levels.

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Landfills are our best CO2 sequestering option

Date of Original Idea: A couple years ago, but I just cannot figure out how to communicate this. So let us celebrate Earth Day with this one.

Carbon, in the form of plastic or paper, interned in a landfill is the best way to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere.

The problem with explaining this is that it does not fit into any current paradigm. When I tell people that throwing their milk jugs in the landfill instead of recycling them helps, one of three things happen:

  1. They get it. Right from those few words it just clicks.
  2. They assume I’m a climate-change-denier and blank out on what I say
  3. They assume I’m a climate-change-denier and that my comments back up their climate-change-denier stance

and so I’ve been working on explaining this carefully, but I cannot find a way. So here is attempt #1. (if someone could make a nice animation, that probably would be the best way)

THE PROBLEM: There are things that we are doing today in the name of environmentalism, with good intentions, that are unfortunately accelerating climate change.

Climate change is brought on by an imbalance of carbon in the form of CO2 or CH4 in the atmosphere. Climate change is not brought on by power plants or big cars or your neighbor not composting, although some of these activities are part of the chain of events that brings the carbon from the ground to the air. It is brought on by carbon that was, millions of years ago, in the atmosphere, that became part of a living thing, then it got interned in the ground and turned into gas, coal, or oil. This happened slowly and the world adjusted itself slowly to that slowly adjusting level of carbon, slow enough to be considered “in-balance”. By quickly bringing that carbon out of the ground and quickly releasing it, we are, rather quickly, changing that balance. The goal is to get back in balance, or barring that, slow the rate of change to try and let things, including man-made things like economic and political systems, keep up with the change. The confusing part is that we must prioritize our environmentalism in order to do this. Three areas playing the major role in this particular confusion are:

PLAYER NUMBER 1: PAPER- Carbon makes up about 30% to 40% of the weight of paper. It comes from the cellulose that comes from trees that comes from the being sucked up out of the environment when the tree grows. If you mulch that tree, that cellulose, or that paper, the carbon atoms will be released back into the world as it breaks down. This is carbon neutral, which is good in that it doesn’t affect the balance. However, if you intern that paper, and in-turn also that carbon, in the ground, then it is carbon negative, which is even better because it offsets some of the carbon that we are pulling from oil, coal, and gas– that is, it is slowing the change. We currently intern lots and lots of paper in landfills. Every 1 kg (2.2 lbs) offsets the equivalent of 1.1 to 1.4kg (2.4 to 3.1 lbs) of CO2

PLAYER NUMBER 2: PLASTIC- Carbon makes up 60% of PET (Plastic #1) and 75% of Polyethylene (Plastic #2 and #3) by weight. It comes mostly from petrochemicals, though some use plant based oils. It is carbon that was not recently in the atmosphere. If we take that carbon from the ground, turn it into oil, then return it to the ground, that is carbon neutral. If we take that carbon from plant based oils, turn it into plastic, then put it in the ground, that is carbon negative. We currently intern lots and lots of plastic in landfills. Every 1kg of PET offsets 2.2kg (4.8 lbs) of CO2.

PLAYER NUMBER 3: RECYCLING- Recycling reduces the speed at which landfills fill, and it reduces the amount of raw materials consumed for that use. This is a nuanced player, so I’ll take it in three parts:
1) Landfill volume is not an issue in many parts of the world. If you are in one of those locations where it is a difficult issue, then by all means recycle and reduce the amount of fill you have, because the other alternatives such as dumping in the ocean or burning (even for power plant use) are terrible. But generally landfills are temporary nuisances that are forgotten about after being filled over and turned into a ski hill.

2) Recycling paper reduces the amount of plant material required to produce the paper. But that’s the opposite of what we need. We need to suck up as much carbon out of the air and sequester it as possible. Using growing plants to suck it up, then burying it in the ground after getting some use out of it is win, win, win.
3) Recycling plastic reduces the amount of oil used to make plastic. But it does NOT reduce the amount of oil that will come out of the ground. This is the part that has been difficult to get people to realize. The oil in the ground has tremendous $$$ value, but only if it comes out the ground. And much of that value exists in the stock price of companies and as collateral for large loans to countries, therefore that value will need to be cashed in on. It will come from the ground. The question is, what are we going to use it for? If we use less of it for oil, then more of it will be burned for energy releasing the carbon to the atmosphere. The best option would be to not take it from the ground, but that’s unrealistic. The second best would be to take it from the ground, use it in a way that keeps the carbon under control, then put it back in the ground when we are done. The worst thing is to take it all and burn it. If all our plastic came from recycled materials, then that last option would be the one we would most resemble.

What can you do? If your garbage goes into a landfill, stop recycling or composting. Send all the carbon you can to the landfill. And in parallel reduce your CO2 footprint through lower energy usage. And don’t be a jackass (that’s not anything to do with climate change, just don’t be a jackass).


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Poll test

Date of original idea: a long time ago but really needs to be talked about

Happy Voting Day!
In celebration let us add a poll test to the voting process. The “Vote Party Line” (or equivalent) options are already in place for such a test. If any of those boxes are checked on a ballot, the entire ballot is thrown out on the grounds that the voter is obviously not putting in even a minimum of effort.

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Apps for driving

Date of original idea: Oct 23, 2014

Driving again in the US has given me lots of ideas for apps:

    Inform you that your turn signal is still on
    Show you views of the upcoming crosswalk from a camera mounted where your eyes would be if you were not looking down at your phone
    A vibrating alert when the person in front of you starts braking
    An audio alert that the light has changed

I’m sure there are plenty of others. The next logical step is to have the app take over all driving decisions and make the user simply the actuator. Mount a screen in front of the steering wheel and dedicate 25% of it to driving commands.

The data can be streamed up to the cloud and will be very useful during the trial.

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Second Hand Smoke Alarm

This is an idea for a very annoying alarm to alert people to the presence of second hand smoke.  Comes with earplugs for the user.

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The Book of the Month Church

The number of religiously unaffiliated Americans has increased from 15% to 20%  in the past 5 years alone (source Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life).  The religiously unaffiliated now make up the fastest growing ‘religious’ group in America and represents a younger demographic than traditional religions.  In order to tap into this market, I propose a non-religion church.  The church would  serve to build communities, offers fellowship, and do many of the charitable things a traditional church does, but without the focus on money, power, politics or religion.    Instead of being based on the teachings of the bible, sermons would be based on topics found in any fictional book written by a deceased author.  Each month would focus on a different author or book and well known songs would be used as hymns which tie into the topic.  Show tunes would be encouraged.  Cheese would be served with crackers during snack time.  The intent would be a family friendly alternative to church with wedding’s ceremonies performed on Saturdays.

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Croudsourcing Time Machines

Date of Original Idea: Yesterday

The more people working towards a goal, the better the odds that the goal will be reached, it’s the basic driving force in croudsourced development. This is especially true for out-there type research that needs many independent minds looking for breakthroughs. Unfortunately some ideas are just too out there, just as time travel, so there are pitifully few people dedicating their lives to these goals.

The idea here is to find a photo that is clearly from, say, the early 90’s with a younger man and an older man or woman, and send the photo to random people around the age of 20 to 22 (men or women as the case may be) with a note that says something of the sort:

    Dear X
    In 1994 you and I met. You spun some tale that you were from the distant future, showed me some interesting technology that would seem to indicate it, predicted smart phones and the whole Charlie Sheen incident, bummed a meal off me, and posed for the enclosed photo. You are the older gentleman on the left. You asked me to send you this photo in/around 2013 to 2014 timeframe to inspire you to get to work, that it was actually this photo that got you going on the road to making the breakthrough and meeting the people necessary to develop your time travelling capabilities.

    To be honest, I’m still having a hard time believing it (which, ironically, you told me I would write in this letter) and if it wasn’t for the technology you brought from the future to show me I would have never believed enough even to write this letter and buy a stamp, so don’t forget to bring some cool stuff along to show me.

    You also asked me to tell you

      1) “linear accelerations in a *near* vacuum, with emphasis on the near” and you’d know what that meant
      2) Do not publicize your intentions until at least 2019, you’d know when

    Take care, and don’t forget to look me up again, otherwise I didn’t write this letter.

Sure, most people are not going to change their lives based on this letter, but send this letter to a significantly large number of people, but not so large that it is exposed as a hoax, and you’ll get lots of people dedicating significant time to this task.

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