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Everything posted by lemur

  1. That's a good point. The competition between energy-sources is skewed by the way they are financed and marketed. If solar panels were guaranteed against failure for a certain number of years by warranty or insurance, then I don't see why banks wouldn't extend loans for the amount of money they would save in electricity costs. The thing is, though, if banks don't start financing the solar-panel industry, they may become even more affordable to attract buyers. What is really keeping the cost of producing solar panels high except for patents and corporate interests in maximizing revenue? Is it really that expensive to produce the crystals and make them into cells?
  2. When I took microeconomics, I learned that there were certain ideal conditions for free markets to function perfectly but I don't really know if these conditions were directly described by Adam Smith or someone else. Either way, it shouldn't matter because there's simply a logic to the supply and demand curves. For example, it is logical that suppliers will want to produce less as the price goes down, but if there is a barrier to exiting the market they will continue to produce at the lower price. Likewise, if firms avoid price-competition for some reason, for example because they are afraid of retaliation from competitors, then the quantity firms are willing to produce won't necessarily increase as costs decrease because market-controllers are trying to ensure a certain amount of scarcity to keep prices as levels that create higher profit margins instead of allowing price-competition between firms to bring prices down to minimum profit-levels. If you think about it for a while, you will see that there is rationality behind various market behaviors. People want to maximize profit, minimize costs, etc. In free market supply and demand, these rational choices are supposed to result in competitive forces that act like an invisible hand regulating both production and consumption through price-setting. However, both producers and consumers may seek means to deviate from abiding by the market-price dynamics and thus attempt to manipulate markets to maintain higher prices for greater revenues/profits/wages/etc. and/or the demand side can shirt its responsibility to behave rationally and instead choose non-rational reason to favor certain businesses or employees, for example. The free market ideal situation, however, is that prices emerge from free market interactions and that no one does anything to manipulate anyone else's behavior; they just look at a given price and decide how much they want to produce or buy at that price or they look for something else to make/sell/buy.
  3. I would think that when one part of the brain is damaged, other parts take over the lost functions to some degree. I find it hard to imagine that different parts of the brain are so specialized and independent of each other that they can't adapt to other functions when needed.
  4. The really odd thing about debt, imo, is that all it really does is establish a relationship between buyers and sellers by providing a means of exchange. All that's going to happen in the long run is, for example, someone is going to build a house for someone else and then the person who gets the house is going to work in an office for 30 years in exchange for living in the house. Yet that relationship can somehow not be established or exist without a bank or other lending institution and the money changing hands, etc. Why can't people just say, "here's a house for you to live in and now you have to come to work for me for the next 30 years?" Instead, they do it through a bank and then instead of just not showing up for work, they kill the banker?
  5. Hi Riya, Welcome. I guess you're into physics since you post your hello message here.
  6. That would be interesting if you could switch off human brains except for the hypothalamus and see the resulting behavior. What other emotions would be expressed by a human with hypothalamus only?
  7. I don't understand how so much global business is profiting people in Asia but I never hear about how the west can cater to Asian demand. I also never hear what benefit Asia gets from servicing the west. It's a very strange global economic discourse, imo.
  8. Yes, kids imitate the violence they see and act obnoxious. The only good that comes out of it is that I think it helps them gain some control over their physical agility and aggression to explore it in a playful way instead of in real fights, provided they don't seek out real fights and bully each other as part of their play.
  9. The use of "I" can be narcissistic or an explication of personal responsibility. People who avoid using "I" are often the ones who associate it most strongly with narcissism, provided they're not just avoiding taking personal responsibility. This suggests to me that people who talk authoritatively but avoid using "I" are closet narcissists trying to come across as humble to look better in other people's eyes. If they would take personal responsibility, they would say "I'm taking personal responsibility for my narcissism by explicitly acknowledging it in this statement."
  10. It would be better if they would turn against the lenders by refusing to borrow money in the first place. Borrowing first and then defaulting on the debt without making some attempt to rectify is just an elaborate form of theft.
  11. I think you should apply to some kind of nightshift job to see how you function while sleep-deprived. Also, I think the requirements of your job will provide a natural stimulant to stay awake. Many fast food restaurants seem to be open 24/7 as well as Walmart, I think.
  12. I think you can look at potential energy as any situation in which energy can be released. When you throw a ball up in the air, you are adding potential energy to it that gets released when the ball accelerates downward after reaching its highest point. When you stretch an elastic band, you are adding energy to it that is released when you let it go and it snaps. When you compress a spring, you add energy to it that gets released when the spring re-expands. When you charge a battery, you are adding energy to it that gets released when you power an application. When you use energy to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen, you can release that energy by igniting the gasses to recombine into water. Energy can't be created or destroyed but it can be stored and released, as well as converted from one form to another as you describe with the motion of your arm being converted into motion of a thrown ball.
  13. Sound economics are a reflection of rational energy allotment to some extent. When money is no object, people produce and sell anything and everything, no matter how wasteful, just to cash in on the big spenders. All that economic activity uses a lot of energy without concern for how much energy is wasted in the process because energy becomes cheap relative to the flows of money being spent on and invested in it.
  14. This provides an interesting mechanism for reflexive shunning. I believe this social-interactive mechanism will reveal much more about power in contemporary life than active bullying or threats thereof. It will also be interesting to see what cultural adaptations evolve to provide people an out for this level of subconscious social control. People always seek independence, but it can be more difficult when the social consequences are more subtly emotional, because they don't trigger the rebellion reflex as strongly, I think.
  15. It's find to focus on obstacles and bottlenecks for the purpose of coming up with solutions. The problem is when people focus on them as reasons to give up trying and especially when they construe it as a collective problem that requires collective solutions, since all that does is obfuscate the essential fact that for anything to happen, individuals have to act. Debt/borrowing is a major cause of the problem, I think, because it causes people to have such large disposable incomes that it doesn't seem irrational to drive 6-miles for a snack. I don't think you have to tear down cities and build new ones. As people continue losing income to recession, with gas prices continuing to rise, they will increasingly seek more local solutions to consumption and work. Then, as energy-independent patterns of local mobility emerge, businesses will open to cater to local pedestrian traffic. It would help if intercity transit was developed, such as trains or busses, that would allow local pedestrians to travel around to nearby cities and spend some of the disposable income they save by foregoing cars and gas. This is part of why EU economies do well, although I think the global interest in touring Europe for historical reasons also draws a lot of tourist spending too.
  16. I recently compared some motors I could find online. A 20hp 2 or 4 stroke motor may weight under 50lbs whereas a 20hp electric motor may weigh 300lbs! What are the determinants of electric motor weight and power? What are prospective avenues for reducing the weight of electric motors while increasing their power?
  17. lemur

    GR question

    I never said that I eschew experimentation and measurement. Philosophy and logic can be applied to design experiments/observations that settle philosophical disputes. The point is that reason and logic are methods of rigorous thinking that are as much a part of science as math and maybe more so. The thing is that it doesn't actually matter what is more or most essential to science, though, because each question generates its own discourse. When the discourse leads to experimentation and measurement to settle questions, there's usually no way to avoid that. When a critique/question arises involving reason/logic, you can't get around that by reference to math. I agree that empiricism is central. There are, however, direct applications of philosophy/logic to empiricism that allow issues to be settled without counting or measuring something quantitatively. When the two objects were dropped from the tower of Pisa, for example, the question was whether they hit the ground simultaneously or not. You could also probably come up with non-quantitative experiments to falsify the aristotelian belief that continuous motion requires force-addition. The fact that satellites remain in motion without thrust is an example, or the fact that vehicles continue moving when you stop pushing them demonstrates inertia. Anyway, it really doesn't matter because reason and logic should stand on their own in practice or not. If an argument is rational/logical, it should be sufficient and if further empirical testing, measurement, and/or math is necessary to evaluate and argument, logic and reason can be used to make that clear.
  18. Comparing governments is something different than comparing individuals and culture. There is nothing preventing people living in North America from turning off their a/c and parking their cars except cultural norms and expectations of how to live. There is nothing preventing people from working and consuming more locally, eliminating the need to drive to work and recreation activities. It's just poor planning and organizing underwritten by access to plenty of money to pay for the gas.
  19. People are always free to initiate violence as a response to unhappiness. The threat of it happening creates a certain amount of fear-driven social pressure but succumbing to such pressure creates a vicious cycle that encourages threat of violence as a means of inducing certain forms of social-economic cooperation. I agree. If I had a farm and you needed food, I could allow you to eat and you could repay the loan by working the farm until your labor produced an amount of food equivalent to the loan. If I would require that you produce more than you consumed (interest), I could use that food to feed more hungry people and thus continue growing my farm, feeding more people, and by doing so training them to farm for themselves and feed themselves. The question is what ethical responsibility I have or do my workers/slaves have to develop independence and responsibility for themselves. Can they demand that I continue to provide them with food and jobs to repay the food-loans or can I ethically expect and even insist that they translate their skills into sustaining themselves without my direction? What seems to happen in practice is that banks lend money to people to buy existing businesses or set up their own business by buying expensive equipment, and by doing so they become indebted to the lender for liberating their creditors. However, the amount of sales required to repay the high prices of business equipment, etc. are such that people who go into business are required to service many many clients to repay their debts. This, in turn, is like a form of enslavement except insofar as they have the ability to sell off their equipment and do something else. Freedom increases as the need to service others decreases, imo.
  20. That may be the case, but I don't see what good it does to put it like that. All it does is cause people to focus on national difference and focus on blaming America(ns) instead of looking for ways to solve the problems. If people would look at energy-conservation as a global issue, they could work on creating alternatives to energy-inefficient practices and identify bottlenecks for anyone globally who faces obstacles curtailing their energy usage. Ethnic differentiation and blaming doesn't help anything. True, I have seen houses with multiple heat-pumps running next to each other simultaneously. On the other hand, they are heat pumps and not wall-unit a/c and there is probably better insulation and tighter draft-control in the newer house. Again, the point is to identify potential for gain and bottlenecks to achieving it and strategizing what is needed to remedy the problems, not blaming of one class or nationality over others. If you think wealthy people should live smaller or at least eliminate climate control or limit it to zones, that would make sense. Just be aware that when you suggest that a small elite of wealth people are allowed to maintain even a little luxury, it causes the entire middle and lower classes to claim that they shouldn't have to curtail their lifestyles because there are richer people who aren't doing so. No progress comes from finger-pointing and saying "I'll change when they do first." I would rather view energy-consumption in terms of global classes instead of nationalities. What you're saying is that if an energy-wasting person has Chinese or Indian nationality, they are less of a problem that if they would have US nationality. This is because you are looking at nations as collective households. In reality, the globe consists of individuals with individual cultural practices. If someone is riding a bike to work in San Diego and living in a tent, they are in the same global class with someone living in a tent and riding a bike to work in Beijing. Likewise, if someone uses a tank of gasoline a week in both cities, they are in the same global gasoline-consumption class. Oh, if you mean lowering costs and passing the savings on to their clients, then I can see what you mean.
  21. lemur

    GR question

    Maybe not, but it's no crime to think about issues that might be dealt with one day as the science evolves in that direction, is there? That's what makes it such an interesting topic, the mysteriousness of the frontier. I know what you're saying with this, but I cringe to hear it put this way because whenever people think of something as a "unification of paradigms," they either avoid touching it because they wouldn't want to appear professionally arrogant or it attracts excessive crackpottery just because it is a frontier issue. Maybe such crackpottery just comes with the path-breaking process, though, and maybe it actually helps valid theorizing along by illuminating potential avenues forward and their pitfalls. You shouldn't eschew logic and philosophy just because it doesn't include math. This is a discussion that happens over and over and it never goes anywhere except that everyone who's good at math goes on and on about it until those that aren't concede inferiority and the inability to do real physics. It's really not necessary to have this discussion again. There are many physics issues that can be dealt with using logical philosophizing. Just conservation of energy and mechanics can actually get you very far without any math. Obviously you're never going to be able to calculate anything without math but you can make sense of things such as why light has to have a finite speed to have limited energy or why elements on the left of the periodic table are more prone to losing electrons than those on the right, etc.
  22. Imagine you have 20 people, of which 10 have a great deal of surplus money to invest. Now consider if 5 of the wealth lend money to 5 of the poor. Before, you had 10 poor people living meagerly because that was all they could afford. Now you have 5 living on borrowed money, raising the bar for the material standard of living. This in turn puts social pressure on the other 5 poor people to take loans from the other 5 rich people. If the rich ones don't see the value in increasing the material consumption of the poor, they'll be blamed for keeping the 5 poor ones poor, when in fact it was collusion between the other 5 rich and 5 poor ones to create a material standard of living that made the poorest 5 look pathetic. Is it more ethical to leave the poor unsaddled with debt and to work on building up wealth from poverty; or better to redistribute wealth through lending or otherwise to raise the material standards of the poorest people to levels that they may not be able to sustain without continued borrowing or other redistribution? attn: please don't turn this thread into yet another soap-box for the need for redistribution and the problems of governments/economies that do not redistribute as much as you would like. I would like to focus purely on the ethics of debt and (predatory) lending.
  23. If drag from air-resistance and other friction were not an issue, high speed would not require great power. Presumably trains are relatively energy-efficient because of their low rolling resistance, long length, and lack of starting and stopping. But for driving, more power is required for acceleration, more rolling friction for stopping and maneuvering, and high speeds make wind resistance the biggest power-drain. Low speed limits (55) were once imposed on highway traffic but this was extremely unpopular. Could the problem be that as long as cars are designed for quick acceleration to higher speeds, there will be little progress in energy-conservation. If, however, horsepower limits were imposed that limited vehicles' power, this would necessitate lower speeds as well. Model T Fords had 20hp, a curb weight under 2000lbs, and a top speed of @45mph. Could energy-conservation be as simple as slowing down?
  24. My first question would be how. My first hypothesis would be that US consumers manage to get a car regardless of socioeconomic level so there is simply a higher per-capita rate of car ownership and driving. Also, even lower income people tend to have air conditioning and heat, often subsidized in some way or other, and what's more because of subsidies, the bill can get run up higher than someone who was paying out of pocket, which compounds with the fact that the equipment and insulation is often less efficient than it would be for people who have an economic investment in their home/business and therefore an incentive to modernize energy-efficiency. So if you divide the world up into national-regions and make everyone feel good about themselves because their region is ahead of the US per capita, you might just be obfuscating the fact that the people who are not excluded from driving and liberal climate control are using just as much or more as the US per capita rate. You could also be obscuring that those regions are reducing their average per-capita usage by dividing the population into an energy-elite and energy-masses, which might not be a terrible idea but it makes national comparisons like comparing apples and oranges where elites claim superiority by pairing themselves in statistical population with people deprived of the freedom to choose to consume more if they wanted to. I don't understand how they could improve efficiency without raising rates if their operating costs remain the same. No, it was just an extension of the observation that nothing could ever seem to motivate most people to get around in vehicles smaller than 2000lbs or live, work, and go out in public in buildings that are not climate controlled. It just seems like there are incredibly powerful cultural resistances to these two aspects of lifestyle-change and I question whether any amount of tax could impel people to choose to give up driving and climate control. I have been working on it for years, and I consistently get praised by people who at the same time always have lists of reasons why they wouldn't want to do what I do. It's like there's this deep faith in people that as long as the majority of people resist change, the government or economy will somehow be forced to make things work for them. This causes me to think that the price will keep going up, either by taxes, market forces, or both because the resistance to radically changing consumption patters is just too deep-seated.
  25. lemur

    GR question

    That sums it up, yes. Idk, it's just something that occurred to me for some reason earlier in this thread. Since I don't do math, these kinds of issues appear more logical/philosophical to me. It's just odd to say, on the one hand, that gravity curves the spacetime through which light and other things travel, yet on the other hand say that gravity propagates at the speed of light without mentioning anything about the grid through which it propagates being curved or straight or whatever. In other words, it's just a logical conundrum to me.
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