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This is the archive for April 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Here's a brief science quiz for ya. If you pump water up a hill so that it can run back down the hill and power an electrical generator, how much electricity will you net benefit?

The state of Utah was apparently not interested in the scientific question. That's just engineering details to be worked out later. No, the most important question is how much environmental damage will their perpetual motion machine cause?

OK, the project actually seeks to time-shift energy usage by doing the pumping in off-peak hours and using to generate power during peak hours. But it's still a net loss of electricity, despite the claim in the article that:
Symbiotics LLC, in arguing for the project, pointed to hydroelectricity's renewable energy potential and claimed the project could meet about 85 percent of Utah's current peak energy demands if used in concert with conservation efforts.

They still need a power plant somewhere to supply 100% of Utah's current power demands, plus whatever additional this Roosevelt-esque make-work project. That would be, for the math challenged among you, greater than 100%. It's theoretically possibly they'd have to build a new power plant to meet the extra demand. I guess they plan to make it up in volume.

These people better not laugh too hard at the penis thievery panic in the Congo.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Stand" is an interesting word in Greek. An hour's research, from not knowing any Greek, led me to the following. I could be wrong on some of this, and would really appreciate any corrections from anyone who knows Greek. I hope your browser and OS support Unicode, or you won't be able to read some of this.

The word for "stand" is "ηισταστηαι". The alphabetic translation is "histasthai", but since the 'η' (h) is pronounced like 'i' (as in "ski"), and the "αι" is pronounced like "eh", the phonetic translation would be something like "iistastieh". "I stand" takes on a new ending: "ηισταμαι" - "histamai", pronounced "iistameh"

Where it gets interesting is when you add some Greek prefixes to it. "απο", ("apo") means "from", in the sense of apart. This gives us "αποσταστηαι", or "apostasthai" ("apostastieh"). "Stand apart" in Greek has become our word "apostasy". Or, "I am an apostate" would be "αποσταμαι" - "apsostamai" ("apostameh"), "I stand from".

Even more interesting, and this is how I started looking into this, is with the prefix "επι" - "epi" - meaning "over". So "επισταστηαι" ("epistasthai" or "epistastieh") means, literally, "to stand over". Why this is interesting is more apparent in the first person form: "επισταμαι", or "epistamai" ("epistameh"), which means, again, literally, "I stand over". You might recognize the basis for our word "epistemology", the study of knowledge.

I said the Greek word "επισταστηαι" means to stand over, but that is the literal translation. The actual meaning is "to understand". This reveals and interesting cultural distinction that separates us from the Greeks. In western culture, perhaps because of two millenia of religious influence, I don't know, our view of knowledge is to understand, or stand under it. Knowledge is something received from above. The Greeks, however, appear to have seen it differently. They stand over knowledge ("επιγνωσιϛ" - "epignosis" - means "knowledge"). Knowledge is something they command, they acquire it and "stand over" it. Their orientation to knowledge is one of dominance and proactivity, where our orientation is one of submission and reactivity.

This site, on Greek letters and pronunciation, was very helpful in this, as was this site, a concordance of common Greek words used in the New Testament.

UPDATE:I shouldn't neglect to link the Online Etymology Dictionary, It's becoming a regular resource for me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Billy points through Karen to the latest trend in post-ownership home decorating. I wonít quote it, but you can read the sordid details in Karenís post, or from the original article.

Billy is right on about the loss of honor, but itís more than that. To say these people had sunk to the level of animals would be giving them too much credit. Even the poor animals left locked in abandoned homes for days will suffer for a while before finally soiling the rug. No, these people have sunk right past the whole animal kingdom. Theyíre vegetables with volition. And opposable thumbs.

This kind of deliberate, malicious vandalism isnít just neglect, or a fit of frustration. At best, itís a blind lashing out at the nearest thing at hand, at worst it reveals a value system that would rather see value destroyed than see it in someone elseís hands.

Theyíve been told that the bank is the source of all their problems, and they believe it, desperately, cravenly. This kind of person doesnít go back to being a normal member of society. Something is deeply broken in them, and they are dangerous to be around.

These are the kind of people who would happily load you into a cattle car if someone convinced them that you were the source of all their problems. And theyíd just as happily unload you on the other end, anticipatory drool running merrily down their chins.

You might think thatís a bit abstract, a bit distant, but these are real people - and itís not just a few. They might be your neighbors - itís not the slums where this Is happening, but middle class suburban neighborhoods. How many of them do you think are patrolling your neighborhood in black and whites? How many are guarding the guy from down street who is behind bars for smoking a joint? How many are pawing through your bags at the airport?

How many are teaching your kids?

Thereís a segment of society, not restricted to the fringes anymore, who have gone feral. They work at normal middle class jobs, go to normal middle class stores and restaurants and gas stations and banks. They seem normal until they can pin all their problems on some nameless, faceless group, and until they sense weakness in a member of that group. Then their aim is to destroy in a blind fury - not to get something they want, but simply to destroy something somebody else has.

At the risk of giving them ideas, Iíll predict that it wonít be long till gas stations are in for the same treatment.