Everyday Superheroes

I get it; women are superheroes. Not in the sense of Superwoman or Wonder Woman, but more in the sense of Batgirl. They have purses. Purses are the equivalent of a utility belt. Batgirl might pull out some gadget to combat an evil villain; women are more practical. They carry things that they, or you, might actually need. I’ll never forget the time that I was sitting across from my sister-in-law when a screw popped out of my eyeglasses, rendering them useless. She reached in her purse and pulled out an eyeglass repair kit. Now, I have pockets, and I carry stuff in my pockets: wallet, napkin, money, identification, utility tool; all the stuff a guy normally carries. I wasn’t carrying an eyeglass repair kit. She was. She saved the day. That’s what superheroes do, they save the day. Women with purses are superheroes, not in a dramatic, overacting way, but in a subdued, I ‘can take care of that’ way. And if you haven’t noticed, that’s the way they think. They carry stuff that will be needed to save the day. Need your day saved? Find a woman with a purse.

Women also set a priority on looking good. The clothes they wear help make them look good. Their clothes generally don’t have pockets. They carry pocketbooks instead, to help them look good. (I suspect that if they did have pockets they wouldn’t be nearly as resourceful as they are.) Now, can you imagine a woman dressed to the nines, carrying a stiff tanned leather, one size fits all, saddlebag as a purse? Me neither. Women choose the purse they carry to match the outfit they’re wearing, same as they choose shoes. Looking for a good gift for a woman? Get her a purse. A woman can never have too many purses. (If you happen to be an architect, start designing master bedrooms with extra closets just for purses and shoes.)

Shopping for a special, designer purse for that special lady? Something Robin might say comes to mind here, “Holy joke, Batman. Did you see the price tag on that Birkin? Maybe you should just get her a Gucci, or even a Prada.” Of course, Bruce Wayne wouldn’t have to worry about that. Handbags are a status symbol to some women just as cars are to some men. It’s not about the utility of the thing; it’s about the un-attainability of it. Fortunately, most women are practical. Don’t buy her a designer handbag; buy her something that she can use, something that will go with a particular outfit or set of outfits. Best bet: take her purse shopping with you. She knows what she needs; she knows what she wants. Oh yeah, be prepared to hold her purse while she looks through the displays.

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Fighting the TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a bureaucratic tyrant that serves no purpose other than to further its own existence. It has caught zero terrorists. Let me say that again; it has caught zero terrorists. In fact, it has been shown that many terrorists have slipped through its gates and boarded planes to their intended targets. Comparing the TSA to the Gestapo or SS is a bit over the top, at this point, but they did have the same excuse for existing as does the TSA: the elimination of individual rights in the name of “the greater good.” Think it’s not so bad? Try walking away once you’ve stepped into the screening line. You’ll find out that you’re subject to an $11,000 fine and possibly arrest. Is the next step to make all airline passengers change into orange disposable jumpsuits and have no carry-on items at all?

The courts have ruled in favor of the TSA in almost every instance because they say the need of the government to protect the people from terrorists out weights the needs of individual liberty. After all, it’s just a minor inconvenience to be electronically strip searched without cause as opposed to the possibility, ever how remote, of being blown up. Historically the courts have also ruled in favor of slavery, McCarthyism and many other morally indefensible positions. (It can even be argued that we’re in the middle of another McCarthyism era now, just use the word terrorist in place of the word communist.)

The history of the TSA’s recent repeated injuries and violations of Constitutional rights all have as their direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over the people that choose to fly (and soon other mass-transit). When a government agency acts to subjugate its people under absolute authoritarianism, it is the right of the people; it is their duty, to throw off such a government agency. There are only two possibilities of making the TSA go away: one, they become unfunded; two, it becomes unprofitable for them to exist.

The concept of defunding the TSA is simple to understand, hard to implement. Legislators who have previously voted yes on TSA funding have to be convinced to vote no when it comes to funding the TSA. The only way that will happen is if they are convinced that they’ll be voted out of office if they vote to approve funding. The public needs to become vocal about disapproval of legislator’s approval votes. In order to accomplish that, the public needs to be made aware of who voted in favor of the funding and told exactly how to become vocal. Blogs and news media would work well to this end. News media love reporting dirt on legislators. (The other option is to wait for the legislature to be filled with new blood. That worked for the House Committee on Un-American Activities which lasted from 1938 – 1975.) Ron Paul is currently the only presidential candidate that stands against the TSA.

To make it unprofitable for the TSA to exist is the route action protestors are likely to take. Airports need to lose a substantial amount of revenue before they believe that the TSA must go. The only way that will happen is if a significant number of people start not flying the large airlines. But people are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. (I read that in a declaration or something and it’s as true today as it was 200 years ago.) In other words, few people are going to volunteer to not fly; they’d rather put up with the actions of the TSA than to take another form of transportation. They can be made to miss their flights by delaying tactics: blocked entrance roads, having luggage contaminated with something (a legal something, like a drop or two of gasoline) that will get them pulled aside, flash mobs, thousands of Mylar balloons drifting over the airfield causing planes to divert, propaganda (TV, billboards, etc) indicating delays, and many other forms of civil disobedience and asymmetric tactics. The actions don’t even need to be put into practice to any great extent; the idea that they’ll likely miss a flight or connection is all that is needed. Targeting airports here and there can be effective. If people start believing that they will be greatly inconvenienced they’ll start looking to other forms of transportation and the TSA will become unprofitable as a result.

Will it actually go down this way? Large numbers of people are not going to start “protesting” the TSA. It will be the actions of a few active (as opposed to passive) protestors that eventually get the job done. If I can think of this, you can bet that smarter people are way ahead of me. They just aren’t doing much…yet.

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Simple Solar Heat Pump, Heating and Cooling

The solar heat pump concept is simple: zeolite in one container, water in another container, containers connected with a pipe, suck out the air which causes the water to boil at ambient temp., the zeolite absorbs a lot of water vapor and heats up; the water cools down. To reset, just heat the zeolite with solar, waste heat, etc, to dry it out. When it’s hot outside distribute the cold from the water. When it’s cold outside distribute the heat from the zeolite.

Small scale experiment here and here. (You’ll need to scroll down a bit.)

Zeolite is about $30 US per 100 pounds in 50 pound bags (2011 dollars) ZEOMAX Zeolite Turf Aid 50 lb, more expensive in smaller quantities Kitty Crystals Premium Cat Litter 24 lb. (Probably less directly from a mine.)
Zeolite is safe; it’s used in many applications from soil amendments and deodorizers to health products.

Experimental results show the system provides about 500 BTUs to 1300 BTUs per pound of zeolite depending on the quality of the zeolite, natural is better than synthetic. The typical home in the US requires about 36,000 BTUs per hour (3 ton heat pump) for cooling which is 864,000 BTUs per day. That’s about 1000 pounds of zeolite to cool a typical US home, every day, all day: no CFCs, no carbon footprint, no greenhouse gasses, DIY friendly, safe and relatively inexpensive, very low electrical energy for the vacuum pump (solar friendly). Its use for refrigeration in underdeveloped places is obvious.

It’s safe, simple, inexpensive, eco-friendly and can be a major component of off grid systems. So why haven’t we heard about the zeolite heat pump? The truth is that the information is obscure, buried amid so much clutter that few have ever heard of it in relation to solar energy. Even Wikipedia only mentions it in passing for solar panels, its use in heating and refrigeration or solar air conditioning. When you do a search on zeolite you get inundated with health supplement links. (Evidently some people believe it cures cancer, prevents bone loss and detoxifies.) There is very little on the Internet about how to use it as a heat pump. Following are 3 of the best links:

Scientific Paper on Developing it for Solar (PDF, good data and technical details)
It’s use as a Beer Keg Chiller (click on the products tab or zeolite technology tab)
An Experiment at an Eco-Village

I plan on doing some tinkering with it in the not so distant future. Below are some technical data that may help you with your tinkering.

Water boils at 70F at 3.75 psi, 60F at 3.5 psi, 50F at 3.25 psi, 40F at 3 psi (approx values)

Zeolite Density (about the same as water): 0.9-1.1 grams per cubic centimeter

Temperature required to dry zeolite: 300F (150C) (minimum, 250F (120C))

Recommended operating pressure: 1-2 psi (about 1/10th atmospheric pressure)

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Lost Nuclear Bombs

Occasionally I come across some pretty interesting information when researching material for a novel. This information on lost nuclear bombs is probably the most remarkable thing I’ve found so far. Of note, there are no listings for British, Indian, Israeli or Pakistani lost bombs. Have they really not lost any?

An Estimated 92 Lost Nuclear Bombs Rest at These 15 Sites
(Map Locations are Approximate and Based on Best Available Data)



1. Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea.
2. A B-47 bomber carrying two nuclear weapon cores in their carrying cases disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea.
3. An American B-36 bomber jettisoned a bomb into the Pacific Ocean.
4. A C-124 transport aircraft was having mechanical problems and jettisoned two nuclear weapons without their fissile cores off the east coast of the United States.
5. Savannah River, Georgia. A nuclear weapon without a fissile core was lost following a mid-air collision. (Tybee Beach bomb)
6. Off Whidbey Island, Washington-A U.S. Navy P-5M aircraft carrying an unarmed nuclear depth charge without its fissile core crashed into Puget Sound
7. USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) in the Pacific Ocean an A-4E Skyhawk strike aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon rolled off an elevator on the U.S. aircraft carrier and fell into the sea. (Japanese island chain of Ryukyu)
8. The USS Scorpion sank 400-500 miles southwest of the Azores. (It was carrying unidentified nuclear weapons.)
9. Nuclear device from Thor rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean near Johnston Atoll
10. Another Thor rocket lost its payload near Johnston Atoll. (Yes, a second one.)
11. Three nuclear bombs were jettisoned in the Indian Ocean by a U.S. Air Force B-52
12. The K-219, (1968) a Soviet Golf II class (Project 629M) diesel-powered ballistic missile submarine armed with three nuclear SS-N-5 missiles, sank in the Pacific, about 750 miles northwest of the Island of Oahu, Hawaii.
13. The K-8, a Soviet November class (Project 627A) nuclear-powered attack submarine, sank in the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles northwest of Spain. (2 nuclear torpedoes, 34 nuclear warheads)
14. The K-219, (1986) a Soviet Yankee class (Project 667A) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine armed with 16 SS-N-6 missiles (two warheads each) and probably also two nuclear torpedoes, sank 600 miles northeast of Bermuda.
15. The K-278 Komsomolets, the Soviet Mike class (Project 685) nuclear-powered attack submarine sank off northern Norway. (2 nuclear torpedoes)

sources:
http://www.cdi.org/Issues/NukeAccidents/accidents.htm
http://www.user.dccnet.com/welcomewoods/Nuclear_Free_Georgia_Strait/greenacci.htm
http ://www .factivism.com/content/view/94/33/ no longer a valid link
http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/nukes/chernob/rep02.html

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The John Locke Experiment

John Locke & Jeremy Robinson are both heroes to me. I’ve been following the exploits of Robinson since 2005. Man, that guy is a workaholic and I really admire what he has been able to accomplish. What I don’t like is how much time and effort it’s taken him to get to where he is. I started studying him when I finished my first novel and decided to publish through Lulu. His first book, The Didymus Contingency, was in the same genre as mine and I was looking for someone to emulate. His book started climbing the charts at Barnes & Noble’s online store. Everyone at Lulu was impressed including me. (He hit #2 in Canada at the height of Harry Potter.) I emailed him, as did a ton of other people, an inquired. (We became email friends and he gave me a cover blurb as well as taught me a bit about book cover design. He’s an excellent artist too!) The response to his success he received prompted him to write a book about how he did it: POD People: Beating the Print-On-Demand Stigma. I read the book and kept watching. It seemed to me that his every waking moment was devoted marketing in some form which left him very little time for family and writing. I tried to emulated him but failed miserably. Posting weekly blogs, participating in blog tours and searching for reviewers, ad nauseam, just took too much time.
I read every book I could to see if there was a better way. The schools of thought boiled down to two: write several books and provide useful content on your website/blog and people will find you that way, or pimp the heck out of your books on social networking sites. I’m not comfortable pimping myself anywhere, but I like digging, finding new things and figuring these new things out for myself so I can tell others about them. Long story short, that didn’t work for me as a marketing strategy and I refuse to become a pariah on social networks by hawking myself there.
Enter John Locke. I was impressed with Locke once I discovered him on J.A. Konrath’s blog. I like his books, all of his books. His Donovan Creed series is like an American version of James Bond and he’s a much better writer that Ian Fleming. When I read the Emmett Love stories I hear Jimmy Stewart’s voice each time Emmett is speaking. I guess that comes from all the westerns I’ve watched over the years since Emmett is nothing like the characters Stewart played. Locke rose to the top of the charts really quickly. I wanted to see what he had done to get there. I started digging for information, reading every post about him or by him and I couldn’t figure it out. When he announced his book that would explain how he did it, I checked every day to see if it had been released yet. It finally came out and I got it. The strategy was pretty simple and straight forward. It had the promise of minimizing time spent on marketing once it was set up and running. That was something that really appealed to me. No more endless hours of dredging up information, distilling and presenting it to make my website/blog appealing as an information source and no pimping myself on social networks.
While I can see how it worked for him I had no idea if it would work for me. I started digging again and couldn’t find anyone that was using his strategy; someone who I could analyze and discover different methods of implementation, nuances and ideas on how it could work for me. I decided to make my implementation of his ideas a public experiment so I’ll be trying to emulate him as closely as possible. I invite you to watch and comment either publically or privately. (My “contact me” button is at the top of this blog, but since WordPress.com doesn’t allow email addresses it takes you to my website.) If you’re interested in the details of what I’m doing, there is a tiny link at the bottom of my public webpages that will take you to the hidden details section of my website. Its the п symbol. If you have friends or followers that might be interested in this experiment please let them know. To stay up to date on this experiment follow by email or RSS. I’ll be making infrequent posts, once a month or so and that’s as often as you’ll get reminded about this experiment.

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