May 2011

Arab Winter

by Limbic on May 17, 2011

This is a place-holder post. A dim thought forming but not yet formed.

I am worried about consequences of the Arab Spring.

The winner in these situation of chaos post regime change is typically the best organised political force. In Egypt that is the Muslim Brotherhood,  the army, and apparently, criminals.

There is a nasty upsurge in populist anti-Semitism and persecution of the Christian minority.

In Tunisia, the opposition as back on Twitter begging for Tor access because then new government is censoring.

Will we see a 1990s Yugoslavia/Eastern Europe/Russia type situation, where the state become just another criminal gang committing mass larceny whilst demagogues whip up populist bigotries to persecute minorities and launch wars?

See also The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life by by Kenneth R. Minogue

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“Wherever terms have shifting meaning , independent sets of considerations are liable to become complicated together, and results are frequently falsified.”

Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace, from her notes “Sketch of the Analytical Engine” 1842. Quoted in The Shell Coders Handbook.

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Its a gas

by Limbic on May 8, 2011

Strange coincidence.

Was clearing out old notes (part of a move from Confluence personal wiki to Notational Velocity for most of my notes) and found a  kte called “Gas Hydrates the new energy solution?” with two links:

http://marine.usgs.gov/fact-sheets/gas-hydrates/ <– No longer works
http://www.pet.hw.ac.uk/research/hydrate/

They are several years old.

The same day I settled in to read the Times and came across Matt Ridley’s long piece on…Gas hydrates!

The world will use about 450 exajoules (billion billion joules) of fossil fuel energy this year and has so far used less than 20,000 exajoules since the Industrial Revolution began. Total oil, gas and coal resources in the Earth’s crust are estimated at more than 570,000 exajoules. So if energy use was a journey from St Pancras to Istanbul by train, we have not yet reached the Channel Tunnel. Resources can be finite yet effectively inexhaustible or, like dodos and forests, infinitely renewable yet easily exhausted.

Quantity is not really the point; price is. Most fossil fuels are impossibly hard to extract at a reasonable price. More than half the reserves consist of methane clathrates hydrated gas found mostly on the seabed near the margins of the continents in vast quantities. Nobody knows how to turn them into fuel except at huge cost, although the Japanese are on the case. So the question is not whether we run out of fossil fuels but whether we run out of cheap fossil fuels.

http://www.thegwpf.org/opinion-pros-a-cons/2946-matt-ridley-cheap-and-abundant-energy-is-on-hand.html

Read it, its part of his Rational Optimist series, and very good.

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A fine quote from Robert Fisk (usually a figure of contempt):

…An Iranian critic – and Shostakovich fan – who, for reasons of prudence, wishes to remain anonymous, comments on the Russian word ‘yurodstvo‘ and its Central Asian equivalent ‘ketman‘, as invoked in The Captive Mind by the Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz…

“I prefer the Arabic word ‘tashbih’. They all mean the same thing – a way of talking that sounds orthodox whilst secretly mocking orthodoxy. This is an ancient Asian tradition linked with oriental despotism, a system founded on autocratic control of irrigation systems. This despotism exists in the ‘spirit’ of nations like Russia, China, and Iran, irrespective of historical period, viz., Stalin, Khomeini, or the political happenings in China in 1989. The reaction of artists has always been connected with ‘tashbih’ and is still usual in contemporary Iranian poetry.”

From “Love the revolution, shame about the reality”
an article on political corruption in Iran
by Robert Fisk (The Independent, 5th June 1995)

via: Music under Soviet rule: Democracy Wall

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