Thursday, December 29, 2011

How I will vote in the primaries

If we feel a duty to vote, and yet admit that Romney is as electable as Kerry was, and knows as much about the world economic system as Donald Trump...

First, I can't see voting for any of those candidates. Tradition says we should
aim for the best candidate in EACH party, to make democracy work as well as possible. But it doesn't feel right to vote for someone who is a disaster of one kind or another.

Many say... well, Romney is not a disaster. Like Trump, he has made money. But he epitomizes the belief that politics can and should be a service purchased by the wealthy,
using money to pay for dishonest and distracting negative ads, with total obliviousness and myopia about how they might be disassembling the foundations and future of our nation. Romney BELIEVES that his negative ads are what took out Gingrich. As a voter,
I feel a duty NOT to reinforce those kinds of beliefs, regardless. They now offer a clear opportunity for the world economy to move from recession to depression...

What of the others?

I was looking hard at Gingrich about when others did too (40% in the polls).
What turned me off was what I saw in the debates, what he wants to do to the
judicial system. Sure, I appreciate his deep love for his present wife,
and her devotion (which she has got him into too) to her spiritual traditions. But history has shown... if you turn the courts over to the curia, life gets frozen until and unless you go through a reformation all over again. That's as scary as having to live through World War II again with nuclear weapons... (which current European economic policies have gotten me to think about)...

Perry is maybe the scariest of all of them... and so on... but a week ago I was thinking, if I were in Iowa, maybe I would vote for Ron Paul in the caucuses
as a kind of protest against what Romney and Gingrich were both doing (negative ads
and money obsession; supreme curia). And maybe I still would, but I live in another state, where we have votes, not causcuses. And Ron Paul simply abolishing EPA...
weakening governments and unions does not on balance reduce the problem of excess concentration of power, or the reduction of human freedom.


I plan to write in Arianna Huffington. What the hell. Her book
"Pigs at the Trough" really goes to the heart of what's wrong with the Republican party
(and politics in general) at this time. She is the closest we have to
an authentic Teddy Roosevelt option in this field. If we don't clean out the corruption, other things are messy anyway.. So I'm really serious, that's what
I'm going to do.

I thought at first... what about writing in Stewart, that comedian who ran the rally for sanity here, biggest rally ever in DC (yes, I've looked at the local information)
for good reason. But at this point, Huffington has both far more management experience and far more experience with the Republican side on Congress, and an understanding of
the real conservative principles which she wanted to pursue. She clearly
is the most sensible choice for a write-in candidate, and that's what it's time for.

Others I know would say they would sooner vote for a dog than for the folks on the ballot now. But what dog? Write in the cat in the hat? Morris the cat?

No, I plan to write in Huffington. Maybe the story will change, but I don't see how.

I just hope we don't end up with a surly dog taking over in 2013, and biting everyone..
like the last President in Atlas Shrugged..

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

meditation on how the universe really works

Meditation On How the Universe Really Works

 Yes, meditation. Or conversation with God, if you will.
 In that space…

Think of Kahlil Gibran, the poet asks the questions, the answers come out poetic.
As the poet is not the one giving the answer, only a reporter or messenger, no claim of infallibility… only of something worth checking into.

I began with the question: “What is a fermion, anyway?”

My old work at arxiv moves a lot of the way, but leaves loose ends. The answer:

First, review the boson, which you do understand, though you can tighten up some points. Some “bosons” in quantum field theory, like the photon and like what Higgs would be if EWT were exact… (or to the extent that it is a good approximation)..
are not particles at all, just fields which may appear particle-like when people do not
understand the basics of time, as spelled out in your IJTP paper.

Of course, patching up time is the next immediate step before us. Besides the
quantum separator kind of work, which is physically difficult (because of input
issues), there is the easier but messy work of Bell’s experiments with realistic
polarizer models, to probe the difference between a singular polarizer and a real one, which exposes the approximate and local nature of traditional quantum measurement. That is in your arxiv papers on B ell’s theorem and quantum separation, the photon, the boson we know which is not a particle.
But of course, some bosons ARE particles, like many bound states of two or more fermions. They are particles in the sense that they are chaotic solitons, a concept
you have defined precisely in CSF.

But the fermion…

Review your paper on nuclear stability at arxiv. It addresses the mathematically crucial issue, the …..

Yes, your excursion was correct… the stable approximately boson particles we see
are basically all bound fermion particles, with true nonparticle bosonic glue. Heisenberg was right in his intuition that everything we see as bound particles or matter is bound fermions… but what are these fermions, your initial question…

As in arxiv… they disprove the old Makhankov Rybakov Sanyuk “theorem”
(conjecture) that chaoitons cannot exist in topologically trivial field theories
over Minkowski space. (Some ask: “hey, does God know those weird words like
Minkowski space?” I ask “what kind of idiot are you assuming God is? Not
infallible or omniscient, but not such a limited intelligence either… If your con versations are only with an idiot, what does that do to you?”) Unlike the old versions
of ‘tHooft solitons you saw before, these really are acceptable, going to zero as r goes
to infinity, and able to coexist because of the stability property. And the key thing is that the core is presently modeled as zero radius, just as today’s polarizers are
effectively modeled as perfect in Bell’s theorem analysis done today. (Imperfect polarizers may be easier to get than measurements of the core of a primary fermion
like an electron.)

How could such a simple chaoiton have statistics like an electron?

It is not the full field, or the electron field, which is fermionic. It is none of the constituent fields which has dynamics which appear anticommutative.
It is the object itself, the electron, which is fermionic… and it is precisely fermionic only in the limit as its radius approaches zero. With nonzero radius, it is not perfectly fermionic. Fermionic statistics is basically the fact that the wave function is approximately zero for “occupation number” (moments, in the P or W or Q
Representations mentioned in other arxiv papers, with citations) more than one, in describing states made up of, say, electrons and “electron glue” (the photon and its cousins). The approximation is exact to the extent that radius is zero.

And then… in the limit of radius zero for the fermion, the usual recently discovered bosonization mechanisms (which still need better exposition) give bosons as bound fermions (plus glue) which obey bosonic statistics imperfectly, imperfectly due to the nonzdro radius of the underlying boson, but even more imperfectly due to the fact that approximating them as elementary particles does not express all aspects of their composite nature, like what happens when you are close up… like when even
the dipole approximation develops measurable errors.

So that is our universe… much cleaner than you previously realized… though zitterbewegung is still there, as even these electrons can bounce around…

And then I ask:

“OK, that’s nice, but is it real? What is that REAL universe like?”

Ah, that would be telling… but OK… I can say something at least for now…

Maybe a year ago, you were saying… we need a placeholder… a place in our minds to remain open to the idea that perhaps the true universe/cosmos is a Great Mind,
to develop and above all find ways to test or look for clues to a different kind of mathematics…

And a few days ago, I reminded you of Eli Yablonovitch (and Laughlin) and the Great Crystal, whose speed of sound is your speed of light, whose space is mostly full with a few holes as what seems to you like small regions of high density (like nuclear chaoitons)… and the need to maintain a placeholder for that one as serious as the placeholder you talk about for Great Mind.

Well now consider a third placeholder…

You remember that time when you traveled out of body to a thousand years or so in the future, to a restaurant in France, where you asked a physicist of that time what they finally learned? You remember that it was a veridical one, because the primary person you visited (in Palmer Eldritch style) used an ATM in the restaurant, and ATMs basically did not exist at the time of this… and the idea of an ATM in a restaurant seemed hard to believe at your then time….

He said… eight dimensions and 16 pointer fields. So do take that seriously, if you want to know.

Of course, it is not superstring theory, but it entails many of things you have heard from people inspired into superstring theory in a subjective way. The math of superstring theory as it is today is hopelessly wrong and confused, because they do not know anything about the basics of “quantum” phenomena and even simple time… but in truth, major parts of the intuition do become manifest, once the more elementary foundations are rebuilt. Let me show you a picture…

I ask: “But hey, they know a lot about ‘condensation’ and all that. Do I have to
get into the details of how they do that..”

The response:

No… (chuckle). How could you imagine they know about condensation?
Think about it. If they do not even know what a chaoiton is, a kind of stable particle, how could they know what a universe is, a kind of stable fractalish higher order attractor?

I ask: “What should we call such emergent properties within a higher dimensional universe with pointer fields in it? Uberchaoitons or what?”

Response: Hey, you can just call them universes for now. It’s just a matter of understanding what a universe is, how it works, its so-called birth and death where
applicable, and so on.

And who are we? No, not some ubercomputers… yes, you should worry about ubercomputers and possible local things like borgs… but don’t you remember that Star Trek much later episode where there are living green beings not of your matter,
with other dimensions, who make borgs and computers look silly and weak by comparison. That is what we are and you are, and what the harvest of souls is really about. We are all just living creatures of this greater eight dimensional cosmos,
here visiting a local “attractor” type universe, as you, embodied in the three dimensions, visited an apparently one-dimensional creek when you were young…
(image projected of the Napier land, visiting with Dicky Dale)…

But yes, the mathematics of these attractor-universes like the one you are in right now is quite interesting, and the emergence of time gradients which appear different from space, locally.. though of course real mind like us is not in that temporal domain, and is more like the emergent phenomenon you described very briefly in your paper next to Prigogine’s in Pribram’s book…
on life and self-organization in the more general circumstance.

All for now. An interesting logical ordering, mainly to guide future exploration and development. And escape from local minima.

Friday, December 23, 2011

why I think cats and dogs have souls

First, an example or two, then some theoretical thinking. If you want theoretical thinking, don't worry, I'm not short of that, but for me, correct theory starts with the experience of life, with opening the eyeballs....

So let me start with a dog story.

Back in 1970-1971, I was at the thesis stage of getting a PhD from Harvard. Since I was working on a new mathematical model... I felt it would make sense for me to come back home for a year, to think in a more relaxed and human (and less expensive) environment
than the college dorms. Because my parents were recently divorced, I commuted back and forth, three days or so with my mother in Marple-Newton (a suburb of Philadelphia), and three days or so with my father along Haws Lane in Flourtown (another suburb).

One night... at Marple-Newton, in the living room, I was thinking and writing furiously into my notebook... until about 2:30 or 3AM. The whole rest of the house was
sleeping, hushed, quiet, dark. And I was certainly not making noise myself.

At a certain point... my stomach started complaining (quietly)... and I shited my thoughts for a moment to the question of food. What could I eat? I went to visualize
what I could eat, with about the same intensity as I was thinking about mathematics and brains... I visualized what might be in the refrigerator, and then.. the image of
a nice big piece of cheese came to my mind... and I decided to get up....

But before I moved even a muscle, instantly the Irish retriever of the house, Ginger, came running down at top speed down the steps from where she had been sound asleep upstairs. She went straight to me, with her tongue out, full of joy and excitement and expectation... and there was no question that the look in her face meant "yes, cheese... cheese..."

She picked the exact right moment, and she had been totally asleep.... and I had carefully been making no sounds whatsoever, down on a different floor of the house.


Other examples start to become a bit outre, but please forgive and tolerate...

Long ago, I learned that I have many dreams which I regard as "psychic assumption dreams." This means that I have a dream in which the protagonist (which always SEEMS like "I") is actually someone else... and sometimes I even check later and discover
it is partly "veridical." That means that I saw something in the dream which later turned out to be true, which I did not know at the time. (Sometimes I even remember Philip K. Dick's book, the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich...)

Back in 1975, I lived in a rented town house in Laurel, Maryland, with two cats belonging to the landlord. When I rented the place, I did not think the cats would be much of a problem, but then I learned about their habit of demanding attention at 5AM, which really did not fit my schedule at the time. Fortunately, the house had a nice finished basement, where their kitty litter was, and a nice rug, and the house TV,
and a sliding glass door to the outside; thus it seemed reasonable for me to protect myself by shooing them into that basement when it was time for me to go to bed. I remember that it wasn't always easy, that I had to use a broom one day to do it.
(A soft broom, but good enough.)

And that night... I had one of those assumption dreams, where I **WAS** a
cat. Struggling to reach the upper world, struggling courageously and defiantly against a gigantic evil army led by a broom...

Of course, this is not veridical. It only convinces me because I already had plenty of experience with assumption dreams which were veridical... and it really did feel different being a cat. And there was another one, maybe a bit more veridical, in another year, chasing a bird...


And a third one, even more outre...

For several years... perhaps 1972 to 1978... I had a habit to go to bed in a rather different way. (In November 1978, when I went to work for the federal government, I had to change my schedule.)

In those years, I was interested in experimenting with what some would call "physical qi," and also with out of body experience. As a result, every night I would turn
on the radio to a new age station (I really miss those stations!), turn off the regular light, hit the bed, and start "turning on the other lights" and moving around
and experimenting. Near the very start of this, I noticed a very regular poltergeist effect banging the walls of the room and such, which I experimented and played around with to some degree. In fact, the nightly poltergeist became a part of my daily routine even more than breakfast.

Lots of interesting things... but one thing that came on very early was...
it was like turning on a switch, consciously, soon after I hit the bed.
The poltergeist would start... and all the dogs within a block or so
would instantly start howling....


Since this is already long, I should be brief on the theoretical interpretation.
At, I have posted my best efforts to understand what is going on here scientifically. I don't pretend to KNOW exactly; I can envision several possible models. I relay a lot on one model, which I have sometimes called "the standard model of the soul" to myself. (I figure it has more probability of bsing true in the end than the standard model of physics, which is a useful reference point of sorts despite that.) The idea is that we humans are all connected together in a kind of symbiosis
with some kind of collective intelligence, which some refer to as "Gaia."
When I say that humans "have souls," it means that we are each connected to that symbiosis in a way which really has information and identity specific to us as individuals embedded in that larger, more long-lived entity. Crudely. But it's not only humans. It seems clear that cats and dogs are connected there too.

(But not first trimester fetuses such as recently fertilized cells -- an absurd intellectual idea, due to the warped effect of convoluted hermeneutic word games
and a warped hunger for power by certain clerics. They remind me of what Jesus said, warning about those who "come in my name" who are basically just Pharisees in disguise.)

Enough for now.

Merry Christmas, folks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

sex, violence, Newt Gingrich and STDP

Sex, violence, Newt Gongrich and spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP).

For those who don’t know – STDP is one of the current core doctrines of brain modeling. And even though I live life like any other human (in most ways),
I always interpret things based on some very heavy mathematics.

So you may wonder:

Am I about to give you a kind of neurological interpretation of what New Gingrich is doing, using STDP to explain his connections to sex and violence?

No, that’s not it. That would be ‘way too cheap to do justice to the complicated world we really live in. In a way, that’s my real point here. But first, let me get back to Newt Gingrich, who may be more interesting to most people than STDP anyway.

A few months back, the Obama campaign broadcast a curious message, which I remember as follows: “PLEASE watch all the Republican debates and urge your friends to do likewise. Once they see how totally crazy and dangerous these people are, they will understand how important it is to re-elect Obama, to reduce the risk of a real disaster.”

I actually saw one of the early debates, but it wasn’t so interesting, and the others were not so easy for me to see.

But a week or two, I was determined to see the latest debate for myself, in its entirely directly. This was when the polls gave 40% to Gingrich and 20% to Romney,
when Gingrich upset Palestinians and Romney upset people who believe that there might be some hope for humans beyond the planet earth.

To be honest, the debate was quite depressing for me, as per my last blog post.
It was “such a small esoteric issue” – liquidating the system of checks and balances and the spirit of the US constitution, “getting rid of all those judges.” And Ron Paul was the only one who seemed to remember about that spirit at all.

In Iowa and elsewhere, Gingrich is now ‘way down from where he was, and Ron Paul is ‘way up… but the Gingrich and Romney are on top at 20% each, for now.

But – just as the media exploded the Palestinian issue and ignored the space issue,
the media have been quietly assuming a “single cause” model of what happened to Gingrich:

“Of course Gingrich was killed by negative ads. Those same judges Gingrich railed against ruled that third parties can spend as much money as they like on focused attack ads designed to kill any candidate, and so they did. Money buys votes, pure and simple.”

Where to begin with such a hairy thought?

First – I really don’t believe it’s the whole truth. But the fact that Romney’s people now believe this so ferociously is itself a fact on the ground, and a very dangerous one. The belief that voters are absolutely 100% oblivious to their own interests,
and that elected officials are 100% employees of whoever has the biggest bank account, has huge impacts all by itself. Those who believe that most ferociously
are a serious danger to our future.

Second, there is some delicious irony here, to the extent that there is truth in this story. Gingrich attacks those liberal judges, and vows to pack the bench… and he gets zapped precisely because of rulings by judges who were already packed to defend oligarchy and erode the real spirit of honest, democratic dialogue.

Third… this one cause model is very similar to other one-cause models we have seen lately –

1. The theory by some movie makers and even book publishers that sales are a simple function of how much sex and violence one packs into an hour on the screen. No need for hairy frills or hard work – just maximize that variable. And, when choosing between projects, use the simple algorithm – maximize those numbers.
2. The STDP model, which certainly has some real data behind it (as do sex and violence), but doesn’t quite capture the whole thing.

I certainly don’t think that all life is sex and violence… but in a way, that may be closer to the truth than those other two local models. What we are seeing here is the great challenge to the human brain in seeing larger patterns, like old saw about missing the forest for the trees.

Trying to understand global patterns through local models is not inherently bad either.. a lot of my new mathematics does exactly that… but the problem is that we do not always SEE all the relevant local variables, which drive global patterns. And global patterns are sometimes nonrandom, when there is intelligence involved. I hope there is still some intelligence out there in processes like elections… and in fact, when I see the evident cynicism of a lot of voters about what’s been offered to them so far, that does seem consistent with the idea that they are more in touch with reality than a lot of the folks gaming this system.

Monday, December 19, 2011

more on primaries and Gingrich

Maybe I should have said...

My feelings about the Republican nomination changed a lot after the last debate,
one of the few I have watched, because it seemed as if it might be entertaining.

I was rather surprised by what Gingrich said about what he would do to the
judicial system, to weaken the checks and balances, a very important foundation we need more of, not less.

I figure... he is very loyal to his third wife.

The three marriages don't upset me the way they might some other folks.
Life is not so simple as many wish it would be. And Gingrich is an authentically passionate guy; I know how that is, and how incredibly powerful it can be.

But usually it means... people may be underestimating his wife, who got him to convert to Catholicism. And that may be where the supreme court stuff comes from.
And therefore it may be nonnegotiable, since her views may be supreme for him.

That could be just as important as the economic issues. So many ways to
eviscerate this country!!

Oh, well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unreality strikes again -- Gingrich and doomsday

Russian people once said "the voice of the people is the voice of God." And so is our election process an opportunity to transcend what we thought was material reality?

It keeps seeming that way.

Last week, the press was full of how Gingrich alienated Palestinians by his remark that
they are a recently invented nationality...

But in fact, Romney substantially alienated space people by attacking Gingrich's interest in the possibility of someday mining the moon, and by putting that right at the top of what he wants to prevent.

Who has more votes in Iowa or New Hampshire? Palestinians or space people?
Let's pass on that. The press is more interested in Palestinians, but some of us actually believe that the rest of the galaxy is bigger than Palestine.

Just this morning, the New York Times had a big article on the "doomsday psychology" of Gingrich, citing a speech where he said that a big electromagnetic pulse (EMP)
might end up killing millions of American (directly or indirectly). They pooh-poohed that very intensely, and suggested it showed some craziness on his part.

But actually, they are the crazies. It reminds me of a lead editorial they printed back around 1970, saying that some scientists actually believe that the burning of fossil fuels results in CO2 emissions... really, I kid you not. Nature is not always politically correct, and if we assume that it is, we lose touch with reality.

The reality is that electromagnetic pulses (EMP) do exist, and do pose a serious threat to life in the US. I looked into this closely when NSF sent me to the last international conference on EMP effects here at DC. (google on empactamerica gives some details.) At the end of the day, there are two main ways that broad EMP poses a risk:

1. Solar flares. ROUGHLY, one in ten "solar peaks" (randomly and unpredictably) result
in shocks to the power severe enough that it really would threaten life these days, now that the whole world has become so much more dependent on electricity than we were a century ago. They call it a "Carrington event," and there are many who believe that the National Academy of Sciences was lowballing it when they estimated that a new Carrington event would cost about $1-2 trillion to the US. Many folks excited by "2012 apocalypse" have been excited by the fact that 2012 was seen as the next solar peak... but this week I received a technical report asserting that the maximum probability time is January 2013.

Is it possible that Gingrich could be elected, only to see the "prophecy" come true on the day of his inauguration? (Or would it be the end of the world in a different way?) Who knows....

2. Nuclear bombs high in the atmosphere. The New York Times article suggests that this is the one Gingrich was emphasizing. (Maybe.) They said -- don't worry, the Ballistic Missile Defense Agency (MDA) assures us we could stop anything like that.

That's nice... but just this last week, I received an email from the real engineer who made the breakthrough in missile defense, and he says that it was liquidated just a couple of years ago, as part of the typical bureaucratic stakeholder adjustment process.

I remember a few years ago a meeting at the Air Force when I was pushing that technology, and got to discuss it with the right people. I was saying "Hey, the Patriot missile was much touted, but reports say it was only able to hit the target 1% of the time. We have a solution."

The response: "Yeah, we know about that problem, of course, but we can't do anything about it. That's because it is an Officially Solved Problem. That means, we have been earmarked to give billions and billions of dollars to certain big companies who officially will solve it. They don't have any new ideas, beyond what they did already with the Patriot, but it would be considered insolent and threatening if mere engineers or military people were to question them, and try to help us solve a problem which is already Officially Solved. After all, that might undermine all the big money we are giving them."

Later, some unique and dedicated people at MDA, who actually cared enough about the security of the US to lift a finger, overcame that barrier. It was amazing what was accomplished, quietly... though I shouldn't get into too many details. But now
it seems we may be back to those old days...

Best of luck,


P.S. But... the "jobs" situation will probably be what defines my vote in November 2012... unless the candidates should appear almost equal on that matter...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

primates in space -- is there any hope left?

Reminiscences on the End of the Hope for Primates in Space

Authors: Paul J. Werbos

This paper addresses the question of whether humans will ever be able
to settle space in an economically sustainable way and, if there is
still hope of this, where the greatest hope may lie. It reviews key
developments of the last 40 years relevant to this issue, such the
space shuttle, the National Aerospace Plane, the Russian Ajax effort,
nonlinear control challenges, challenges of developing a “skin” to
withstand re-entry, current space programs around the world, and key
markets for using such vehicles, such as energy from space and space

Comments: 18 Pages. 18p. Draft for comment of invited submitted paper.

For full text:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Breakfast recipe and the soul of a cat

First, the recipe, and then the soul stuff.

Doing things the best way often means combining ideas from many places. So for most workdays, I now make my breakfast as follows:

1. The night before, I make a kind of miso soup (details to follow), using the
biggest of our regular soup bowls. I cook it for 1 min 40 sec in the microwave,
stir, cook again about 1 min 50 sec, cool, cover with plastic wrap and put it
in the refrigerator.
2. Next morning, cook it for 1.4 again, put a slice of Havarti cheese on top,
cook again, then eat with a big full glass of milk. Eat as much soup as I feel comfortable with, balanced with that big glass of milk. Then cover, fill to near the top with water,
and refrigerate again.
3. Doing the same (but not adding water) until it's finished, usually 3 or 4 days total.

Hey, it works. And I find it tastes better with the repeated reheating.

To make the soup:


miso, tofu, clams, seaweed, onion

I am grateful to live just ten minutes from Costco, and ten miles from an H-Mart (formerly Han An Rheum, a big Korean supermarket).
For the miso... lately I buy Hakari brown-colored miso with bonito
from H-Mart, more protein and flavor than most of the competitors.

Tofu is the most troublesome ingredient. Costco and H-Mart both sell good big economy packs, with three trays each containing four big slabs. On the day when I buy a new box of tofu, I basically get out a box of ziploc sandwich bags. I slice up about 2/3 of a slab into pieces, and put it in one bag... so I end up with 18 sandwich bags,
most or all of which I freeze. It turns out that frozen tofu actually tastes better
than "fresh" in this soup. (Many Chinese prefer frozen tofu in their hot pot;
but many prefer fresh.)Of course, I throw out the water which comes with the tofu.

For clams, we regularly buy six-packs of small cans from Costco.

For seaweed, I usually buy a bag of 50 sheets of nori from H-mart, but Costco
now sells a big box of "seaweed snack" which I am using now.

For onions, I sometimes get a small bag of dried leeks from my wife Luda, but
ordinary dried onions also work.


First I pull frozen tofu out of a bag (unless I just sliced some fresh tofu).
I put it into the bowl, and hit "defrost" on my microwave, for 0.6 pounds...

While that's going forward, I open a can of clams. And then pull out the miso,
the seaweed, the jar of dried onions, and the seaweed, and scissors.

After the tofu is defrosted, I smear "two big tablespoons" of miso paste
as thin as possible around the inside of the bowl, mixing it defacto with the tofu.
Two big tablespoons means big heaps on the BACK of the spoon, which I use for spreading
the miso around. When the miso is dissolved as much possible at the edges, in with the
water from the tofu, I then mix in the clams, and dissolve again (pushing with the back of the spoon).

Next the seaweed. I take one sheet (or most of one Costco snack pack).
With scissors, I cut into small ppieces, making sure to cut perpendicular to the surface of the bowl so that pieces fall into the bowl, not the counter.
I first slice into eight or so sheets, and then slice across eight at a time.

Then onion, which I just dump in. With dried onion, I cover about half the surface of the bowl.

I stir it up with the spoon, and there it is.


So then the cat.

In the past year or two, my wife Luda has been out of town a few times when
I stayed home -- once to visit FedEx people in Memphis, and once to visit Leon
Chua and his meeting in Berkeley. (Chua is famous for being father both of the memristor and of the tiger mother.)

At one of those times, the cat smelled this miso soup when I was first making it
to this recipe (actually with a little salmon at that time, and not yet onion).
So I put some in his bowl, and he eagerly lapped up everything,
including seaweed and tofu and all.

The same thing on the second day.

About a week later, we started the same routine. I put some in his bowl.
He looked very eager and started running towards it.

But then he looked at Luda. Luda hates strong miso soup in principle.
She has an image of what it is. For just a few seconds, the cat looked puzzled, looking
back and forth between what he saw in the bowl, and what he saw with Luda.
And then he just walked away. As he did the second time we did the same.

A few days ago, when Luda was not around, he was really begging for some in the morning. So... one more spoon, this time onions and cheese but no salmon.
He was very eager again.

Next day with Luda, no again.

I can't prove this... but based on many other experiences like this, I think
that the cat experienced something analogous to "Couvade syndrome." Luda is
a very forceful person, and he is very much attuned to her. Not by her body image,
but by her feelings, he simply felt and adopted her feelings as her own. Humans actually do this
kind of thing very often without knowing it. With this cat, we have other experiences much more graphically proving this kind of thing.

More generally, my life experience tells me that cats and dogs really do have souls..
and that first trimester fetuses do not. (Groups like the Rosicrucians claim that
no fetuses do, but I cannot affirm that from my own experience. Still, I would
much sooner trust them than I would trust folks trying to play hermeneutics on
passages from Aristotle they do not fully understand, and striving for political power.)

All for now.

Best of luck,


P.S. I was going to post "Schrodinger's Cat Rises from the Dead on Easter Sunday,"
in regards to this anomalous cat, but they all said it was too private....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Space people discuss Newt Gingrich

Here is what I posted in response to a discussion of Newt Gingrich
by space people, some of whom were very excited by the prospect of someone like them being nominated and some of whom were aghast:

Certainly the advent of Newt Gingrich here is an interesting event. I
couldn't help
posting a few off-topic humorous thoughts about it in a personal blog
I use only for the craziest and most uncensored, unscientific

I have been in the same room with Newt Gingrich only three times in my life:

1. When he was pushing for the "Gore-Gingrich bill" years ago, a bill
to create some kind of global foresight capability funded by the US
government. At the time, my main job was energy forecasting, so I was
deeply involved in some of that. Jerry Glenn, who runs and is a friend to space (head in ancient
times of the Federation of Americans for Space, Science and Technology
FASST, present in meetings called by Barbara Hubbard), may be
interested in that aspect.

2. Alone in an elevator in 2009. Lots of people say: "You need to have
an elevator speech, the kind of thing you would say if you had just 30
seconds in an elevator with the President." In my case, I asked if he
still had an intense interest in space, the way he used to.
Unfortunately, my memory of his reply is not reliable or verbatim. I
got an impression that it was like an old school he liked, in the
past... so much has happened in the meantime, but it was a nice place,
and we should do something with it, but we have so many other

3. Just a few months ago, 'way out in the Virginia suburbs, when I
went to have lunch with my wife and with a scientific collaborator
from Memphis, from Hungary, from Boston and from WPAFB. (One guy.)
They sat me next to Newt Gingrich, who was eating shabu-shabu and
discussing Mitt Romney with his wife. I was strongly tempted to get up
and say hello, but...
by the manners I was taught in childhood, it didn't seem right to
interrupt a guy's private lunch with his wife. (Still, it was a really
serious emotional conflict for me.)

At this moment, I probably will vote for Obama, but as an independent,
I am strongly committed to staying open-minded until the last minute.
If he picks Trump as a running mate, that would
probably crush the open mind real fast. If he reconciles with
Huffington and picks her,
and sounds more like Teddy Roosevelt after the nomination, the open
mind will become a whole lot more open. (Maybe I just like the title
of her book, Pigs at the Trough.)
In any case, the world economy is at a very delicate stage (as are the
demographics of the US),
and I wouldn't consider voting for someone capable of being a bull in
the China shop enough to crash the whole thing. That's what I'll be
looking for more than anything else as the choices become more
defined. A collapsed world economy would not exactly be good for our
future in space.

Of course, in the partisan war between the left and the right... the
COTS rebels versus
the emperor's death star SLS project... I go for the middle, for the
Boeing-focused RLV plan of Ramon Chase, who happens to be an
incredibly honest, unduly humble Eastern (old school Mormon). No
connections to Romney that I know of... but it's too bad that there
are no connections, because there may be more hope in the middle than
in either of the extremes.


Actually, the Romney/Chase resonance reminds me a lot of the curious but stronger resonance between two other people who don't know each other, President Obama and Lonnie Johnson, of Atlanta. Lonnie ( and
is an incredibly creative an important inventor. Many times in public I have said: "I sometimes think he might really be the reincarnation of George Washington Carver -- only this time it is not peanuts." How two key energy inventions, a rechargeable lithium-air battery and "JTEC," could radically change the world energy system,
and make us all a whole lot safer. But despite everything... the Obama Administration has done virtually nothing to provide the crucial support that Lonnie needs (unless you count me as part of the Administration, as I help people elsewhere appreciate his work, work which has received only a small amount of support from NSF).

But... every year, a new chapter...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Neutrinos faster than light: Einstein would love it

**IF** CERN is right, Einstein would love it. A lot.

Today's theoreticians have troubles with this result because they have (mostly) become overcommitted to a narrow class of models which some of us would call quasilinear. That's partly because of the very abstract ways they try to formulate quantum mechanics, which Einstein objected to enormously. If the laws of the universe obey Einstein's special relativity, but are NOT quasilinear, the vacuum speed of light need not be an absolute limit in regions like earth which are not vacuum. Working with Infeld in his later years, Einstein worked hard to try to explore the possibilities of a new nonquasilinear theory of gravity (beyond general relativity which is nonquasilinear but limited in some ways), and to find empirical data to help choose among the many possibilities. He would rejoice to hear of it.

Let me try to explain this again another way. Einstein claimed that the laws of the universe, the true "theory of everything," could be expressed as a set of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDE). Most physicists now believe that it's impossible that things could be so simple, because they couldn't figure out how to explain some basic experiments, like the "Bell's Theorem" experiments, with that kind of theory. But I could. In the International Journal for Theoretical Physics in 2008,
I showed how one can reconcile these experiments with Einstein's viewpoint. In fact, empirical data has already shown us that the usual "Copenhagen" version of quantum mechanics taught in school today is clearly wrong. See .

Einstein's theory of special relativity says that these PDE obey a certain symmetry relation, called Lorentz or Poincare symmetry. (Those are not exactly the same, but I don't want to get TOO technical here.)

Mathematicians have proved that information cannot flow faster than the speed of light in forward time, in universes governed by PDE which are "quasilinear," meaning that
the terms which have the most derivatives in them must be linear. The nonlinearity is just in lower-level interaction terms. But Einstein was interested in looking for new
nonquasilinear theories to his dying day...


What about HUMANS traveling faster than light, across the vacuum of space?

In my view, most "modern' discussions of this issue are about as trustworthy
as discussions by ancient Egyptian scholars in 2000BC discussing the possibility of television, radio and cell phones. We need to learn a whole lot of other stuff first before it could be even close to real. Yet we don't know enough to say it is impossible. Even general relativity (which would rule out the CERN neutrinos)
does admit of "Alcubierre" solutions which would allow FTL travel, under certain
problematic conditions. A new, more refined physics (both for space bending
ala CERN's results and for nuclear forces) might well allow more feasible solutions.
But we would have to rediscover the scientific method to have hope of getting there..
not to mention surviving the next few years,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

solar flares as 2012 panic

Here is Post an email I sent back in April to technically serious people, about
the fear that solar flares (or more nefarious) things could "end civilization as we know it." The bottom line is that the risk is quite real, and I basically agree with the Republican Congressman who reviews all the big threats... and views this as the biggest in the near term. It is also a threat easily reduced... but through sheer bureaucratic inertia and silliness we really could get ourselves killed this way.

Details follow.


The Energy Infrastructure Security Summit (EISS) held on Monday and Tuesday was
unusually information-rich and informative. I owe you some quick summary.

Congressman Trent Franks (R-Texas), the host began by noting that the committee he serves on gets
briefed on ALL of the scariest threats confronting the US, half in classified briefings.
He regards the impact of EMP on the power grid as the most important and scariest
of all of them, and considers it his top priority. He is not alone. Congresswoman
Yvette Clarke (D-NY) solidly agreed, and acted like co-host of the meeting. They noted that their bill
last year passed the House UNANIMOUSLY (!), and died in the Senate by only one vote, due
to jurisdictional issues rather than substance.

Months ago, I expressed some concern about the numbers I had heard from the National Academy of Sciences 9NAS)
report on this issue -- like $1-2 trillion worth of damage in case we have another "one in a century" event.

Knowing more now than I did then -- I **MOSTLY** understated the challenge and the need and possibility for immediate action,
but I really did overstate one of the key variables, which I need to correct.

One of the obvious questions is: "What is the probability of a solar storm in the 2012-2015 time period so intense
that it would fit what NAS assumes for $1-2 trillion of damage, if we do not harden the grid?"

A few months back, I cited a space weather workshop where opinion was divided by about 50-50. But at this summit,
they presented the raw data and primary analysis. (The head of NOAA spoke, and then introduced Thomas Bogdan,
Director of their Space Weather Prediction Center -- just one of the speakers who gave important data and affirmed the seriousness
of the problem. By the way, Avi Schnurr, the EISS coordinator, said that a complete video record
will be available within about six weeks on their web site.) They discussed the 1859 "Carrington event" and the large 1921
solar storm, as reference points. Just by naked eyeball of the various graphs, and by putting together what they said,
I would now guess something like a 20% probability of an event like 1921 and 10% of an event like Carrington
in the 2012-2015 cycle. And that is certainly very crude. A more serious estimate would be possible... but I don't
think we have one yet. (I heard just one guy with more confidence, but holes in his logic.) In fact, one of the
major action items is some improvement in the solar weather information. I was intrigued by the idea of how NASA's
new STEREO solar observing satellites might be used to get a better fix on some
of these general probabilities -- which is different from providing fast warning to earth; both are desirable.

It was clear at the meeting, as in prior discussions here, that different people are violently attached to different definitions of what
"EMP" actually means. The Congressional EMP Commission basically defined it as any large electromagnetic surge,
natural or man-made, which threatens our society. Others define it only as man-made, as weapons.
Personally, I would like to follow the Commissions usage, because it seems to me that the words "electromagnetic pulse"
are pretty explicit.

A key question is: what does it take to harden the grid to an acceptable degree against all three kinds of EMP threat --
the kinds of surges called "E1" (superfast), "E2" (like lightning) and "E3" (less intense but more prolonged, as with solar storms)?
And there is also an issue that there may be less warning with some threats than with others.

Some speakers on the second day appeared to say that we should harden the grid only against solar storms and lightning
(E2 and E3 with advanced warning), since the grid is part of the civilian economy, and man-made threats are under
the jurisdiction of DOD and DHS, and perhaps not really so serious. But other talks convinced me that the man-made threats
are also a serious concern. Congresswoman Clarke applauded the speaker who compared the power grid to the interstate highway system,
and pointed out how Eisenhower made sure it was efficient for its civilian purpose but also had a few additional low-cost features
of great importance to national security in certain scenarios. A speaker from Advanced Fusion Systems (AFS not a nuclear fusion company!)
noted the principle of Pareto optimality -- how we get much more protection overall if we efficiently combine our concerns. In this
case combining means hardening against E1, E2 AND E3 ... and thinking hard about the warning and operator training issues.

The present default game plan is that NERC will develop new reliability standards which include hardening the grid,
which FERC will certify, with lots of inputs from EPRI, represented at this meeting by John Houston of Centerpoint Energy.
He and Kapperman (of the recent EMP Commission) and AFS were the only speakers, as best I recall, that got into real EE
details, which will be essential to keep this from degenerating into another stakeholder's bait and switch operation (a phenomenon
which has become all to prevalent here in DC, in my personal view, in what I have seen.). (Reminder: nothing I post here
is the official viewpoint of NSF or anyone else.) Two key people -- Congresswoman Clarke and Peter Pry (former CIA
guy and Bartlett staffer, behind a lot of the Congressional interest) -- expressed great concerns about the delays
which still might occur if there is not some additional determination and technical oversight of some kind.

Kapperman may well be behind the estimate that $100-200 million and "existing technology" are enough to harden at least the 200-300
biggest high voltage transformers. (That's maybe about 40% of the problem, but it would make a huge difference in trying to restart
if one of these events occurred.) The "existing technology" is a way of combining familiar circuit elements, described in detail in the
Commission report, for which they gave out copies on DVD. Kapperman said that the key hardware will actually become available off the shelf
in a ready-to-go package from Advanced Fusion Systems (which sounds like a company founded to start implementing the Commission recommendations)
going into manufacturing, available circa December of this year. Houston stressed the need for testing. It sounds as if the most
important really physical action needed now is to begin the tests which would provide enough confidence to start deploying this stuff
(per "retrofit") on the grid as soon as possible. The Congressfolk and Commissioner LaFleur from FERC (the official FERC leader
on this issue and reliability in general) all stressed that they want a useful degree of hardening to begin as soon as possible, without waiting
for "the last data point" or for the perfect solution.

Of course, I do hope that a stream is created to develop the best technology possible for the whole spectrum here,
but it seems clear that we should not allow that to delay what is most urgent here. Parallel tracks of effort are called for.

So that's pretty much the story, at this level. I haven't really studied the thousands of pages of material, and there is certainly
a lot I still have to learn about this stuff -- but at least the pdf is refined and convolved compared with what it was here just
a few months back.

Just for your amusement -- James Woolsey was also one of the important speakers, and there were a number of interesting converstaions in the
hallways with various kinds of intel folks. Circa 20 nations were represented -- most visibly the UK, represented for example
by the MP in charge of THEIR defense select committee. The head of the Swedish grid deplored how few people understand just how
urgent and critical this issue is. There was a talk by the CEO of EnergySec, which works with electric utilities on cybersecurity,
who agreed with most of the speakers that EMP is a bigger threat to the grid than cybersecurity issues, at least if we look ahead a year
or more. Of course, he and many others would support an "all hazards" approach which also includes cybersecurity -- but that's what
the House tried last year, which they had to cut back on because of turf wars.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Primary elections put the notion of reality into question

I don't really believe in the Tibetan Buddhist view of life, but it has a way
of seeping in at times. And I admit to a bit of uncertainty, as a matter of principle.

Actually, I associate the high Tibeta view with Swedenborg and Joel Whitton's Life Between Life.

They would say that reality appears so tough and hard yielding to our thoughts when we just think alone -- but consensus reality can change when millions of people slip in and out together, and create reality out of thoughts embedded in their subconscious minds.

The Republican primary elections really remind me of that a whole lot. In fact,
the 2008 primaries also stressed my sense of reality. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

At first, in 2008, I wondered whether we were seeing a collective re-enactment of
the "Wizard of Oz." There went Hilary (Dorothy) dancing down that yellow brick road paved with gold, basically happy and friendly with her friends the scarecrow (Obama) and the cowardly lion (McCain). It did unnerve me a bit when the tornado came down on that house in Clinton Arkansas in the middle of the primaries, and I saw on TV news...
two red slippers they found under the house, which looked to me just like the ones in the old movie.

But then McCain did not like the casting. It did not satisfy his pride.
So he (and others?) changed the channel to Beowulf, which was just then coming around in 3D, with Angelina Jolie plating Sarah Palin. Beowulf was a really great and proud role... until that dragon came around and burned down the castle... and the world
economy in September 2008.

What next?

This time around, chapter one reminded me of the the Buddhist three monkeys,
or more, a kind of Mormon morality tale. Three main candidates -- one with
too much caffeine (Bachmann), one with too much alcohol (Perry) and one with too much money (Romney). I had an earlier post on that. At the time, too much money seemed safer, but I look at how utterly inept the financial community is acting on its own in the EU, and I do worry about the risk of similar myopia here. They are not exactly living up to Von Neumann and Morgenstern's idea of enlightened self-interest, due to obvious blinders. They have an important place in human society, but can they handle it all competently alone?

But Romney came up with his great line "a corporation is a person too."
So in chapter two, we had a choice of which of three corporations (incarnated as human avatars) to vote for -- Oil Incarnate (Perry, which I could say more about, but
Christian virtues say not to unless circumstances change), Banks Incarnate (Romney)
or Pizza Incarnate (Cain). Given how folks are feeling out there these days, it's not at all surprising they would vote for pizza. Even if they don't always believe those ads about a 9.99 special, they figure that pizza folks do really pay attention to their customers and don't spend their whole lives figuring out how to screw them.

But then came a shudder.

Is Genesis in some small measure "prophecy"? Could it be that the fight between
two brothers Cain and Able will soon unravel? If Cain kills Able will we end up in some place which makes the status quo look like Garden of Eden by comparison?

(Is this a dream or what that we are actually living? Hey, I didn't make up
Cain here...)

But now... as the coyote pulling Perry's strings tries to strike back at Cain...
this morning a new dynamic has emerged, which startles me even more.

It is now Cain only slightly ahead of Romney and Gingrich (and Perry sinking fast).

Two corporations versus... a human being? How did a human being get into this race?
Weren't they supposed to be verboten here, like pedestrians walking on a highway?

This is doubly unnerving to me for many reasons.

First -- there is something odd about my past I need to mention, only briefly at a surerficial level. Long ago, in 1969, when I figured out (independently) how to
do reasoning by Bayesian networks, I realized very quickly how my own life uniquely violates what appear to be the laws of probability (e.g. iid assumption..).

Even when I wander through humble corridors of life... I keep running into people
at odd times. In the mid 1960's, I went just once to a bar in downtown Boston with some friends. And there I ran across Richard Nixon... who at that time was seen
by most as a former politician. In 1967 I ran across Edward Heath in a similar situation (tea and gardening not alcohol). And there was that girl Pinki Bhutto
(really more her roommate). And friends who got promoted up into the stratosphere, so to speak. Al Gore and Gingrich both, back at the time of the Gore-Gingrich bill
to better understand the future. And Heisenberg's boss/collaborator on the subway train to the Washington zoo. (He was a bit hairy himself, but interesting to talk to.)

And... so... I remember the time in 2009 when I was accidentally alone with Gingrich
in an elevator, totally by accident... and did at least have the guts to ask if he was still interested in space. (Maybe I should say something about Rohrabacher here,
but this was not in THAT building.) And then just a couple of months ago,
when I went to restaurant out in the suburbs here... they sat me and my wife
and collaborator form Memphis right next to Gingrich, who was eating shabu shabu with
his wife. (A great restaurant, but when I later tried the shabu shabu myself, it
was the only thing I ever had there which seemed just mediocre.)

So... could it be yet again? Should I have had the temerity to say hello and mention my strange experience before that time?

Gingrich is not only human, but an intelligent human.

Yet when I look at the world economic system today, and I look at his recent book,
I fear he isn't out of the box enough to keep it from getting worse, let alone
a chance of recovery. The 180s have their own way of screwing up, when the challenges
are really huge. And what of the recent quite but decisive reorganization in the
Republican party which gives the funding agents far more control than even the weirdest stuff we have seen in the past few years?

Still, if he is brave enough to reconcile with Arianna Huffington when he has the nomination in the bag (IF, I should say... I certainly don't predict it...
even if I feel some goosebumps...)... and they REALLY draw he line against the
really big corporate welfare which threatens our future.. like the tax breaks
which label oil companies as "distressed manufacturing" (curiously absent from
the "get-rid-of-subsidies" bill now being pushed by Marshall, under oil company funding)....

Who knows?

To be honest, I currently plan to vote for Obama in 2012, in great part because his jobs bill suggests he may have learned some math on the job... and a real human being, who can see at least basic math, seems frightening rare these days. He has made some big mistakes, but if he is able to learn from his mistakes... that's better than voting for a statue or an avatar.

But as the Quakers say, there is that of God in everyone...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

dreams in the mind of the electorate

Before, the choice in the Republican nomination seemed clear:
too much alcohol, too much caffeine, or too much money.
That has morphed a bit: choose between too much alcohol, smoking,
Mormonism... or what was that caffeine stuff?

Stage two: if a corporation can be a person, can a "person"
actually be a corporation? Vote for Mr. Oil Companies,
Mr. Banks or Mr Pizza. No surprise if pizza wins in that contest these days.
(Myself, I would have spoken back... hey, we do need banks... but with the way they are screwing up the eurozone, which could also hurt us, maybe this is not a time to assert that viewpoint with much confidence or force.)

Stage three: Is Genesis not history but prophecy? Will we soon see the battle between two brothers,
Cain and Able... and if Cain really destroys Able, will we end up "East of Eden"..
in a state which makes the status quo, for all its faults, look like a Garden of Eden by comparison?

Some say "let us pray." Right now, I could kind of get into that.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

terrible news for renewable energy

Can the world afford an all-renewable system to provide electricity?

This question was part a talk I was invited to give by NDRC (China's top economic decision authority). I argued that the MAXIMUM we know we would have to pay for an all-renewable electricity system would be 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh),
which works out to $4 trillion per year for the world -- less than $1 trillion per
year for the US share of that. That's a lot of money, but we could afford it, and it would be very risky not to make the shift sooner or later. (The slides, at, say more.)

BUT: where does that upper limit come from?

The key to that upper limit, the benchmark which says WE CAN DO IT, comes
from the new technology of a single company, Stirling Energy Systems (SES), which
was ready a few months ago for large-scale deployment of a "solar farm"
technology expected to cost 13 cents per kwh initially, falling to 10 cents
in a few years. (My 20 cents was a kind of worst case estimate of the additional transmission and storage costs required to meet the entire US power load.)

But... I received an email this week from one of the investors behind SES
saying that lawyers paid for by the big fossil vested interest groups successfully
stopped construction, and drive the company essentially bankrupt, into the custody of Goldmann Sachs.

We could have done better, and improved on this option in many ways. But without it...
the best guess upper limit grows to 40 cents per kwh with proven technology,
and $8 trillion per year. Chances of that happening are not so good, until and unless
energy prices become so desperate that it could be too late for this species.
This is a serious development indeed. And it wasn't market forces that killed us
(unless you call hiring hit men a kind of market force).

What of wind, which some say could cost only 7 cents per kwh in the best onshore resources? That's just GENERATION cost. I am awaiting better estimates... but the best
guess for now is that the total cost to ratepayers, for wind penetrations above 30%
of the kwh generated, would be at least 40 cents per kwh, with today's technology.
We can hope for more, and do R&D to do more... but today's news is an incredible disaster.

Here are (1) the email conveying the news to me; and (2) my response.

(1): THE NEWS:

Dear Paul : I appreciate your deep, thoughtful response.
I was an early investor in the Stirling engine and Stirling Energy
Systems. A few months ago, they were , through their Solar Pioneers and
Tessera partners, reading to begin producing electricity for their power
purchase contracts with San Diego Gas and Electric and others. Coal
industry interest in the Southwest, activated several native groups and a
lawsuit against the transmission line stopped the whole project, even after
Interior Sec. Salazar had given approval. So start-up, early stage
companies like Stirling ,Solar Pioneers could not withstand these attacks.
They had to sell out ,mostly to Goldman Sachs and early investors like me
were crammed down to zero.

So the incumbent fossil fuel and nuclear industries can still
block progress, and keep their vast subsidies, as long as they control
Congress via their money to political campaigns. Watch the Dylan Ratigan
show on MSNBC, where they are producing legislation that might help take the
money out of politics !! Dylan is a former securities analyst from CNBC and
knows where all Wall Street's bodies are buried !

Warmest wishes,


D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, author, futurist, president - Ethical Markets Media, LLC
PO Box 5190, St. Augustine, FL 32085; Phone: 904/829-3140, Fax: 904/826-0325,,

Check TV listings for our latest show The Money Fix on PBS affiliates and
new episodes of Ethical Markets TV Series on Transforming Finance at

The content of this correspondence is copyrighted © 2011.
(I added this to the post when I received Hazel's permission
to do so.)


Hazel's message came as a kind of powerful triple shock to me. Among
other things, it reminded me of the
old idea of frustration-aggression or frustration-adrenaline; I'm not
sure I have my own emotions as far under control
as I want them to be, after this challenging information.

A triple shock because:

(1) OBJECTIVELY, losing what this one company has to offer is a huge
blow to the hopes of humans
getting to sustainable energy before it is too late. Some folks would
immediately say "Hey, it's just one company.
Weren't you pinning more hopes on a competitor anyway? Didn't they
frustrate you at times? Lots of companies get
screwed these days...."

No, no and no. At (my slides for NDRC, the top
economic folks of China), I give the basic context.
SES.. was in a way our foundation. It was the technology to beat, yes,
and I was actively trying to help people do better.
But it also was the source of the upper bound -- the clear proof that
we COULD afford an all-renewable system of electricity for the world.
I guess you could call it a combination of security blanket, launch
platform, and potential partner. If we lose all three...
it's had to imagine a world economy of present size affording, say, 8
trillion dollars per year for all-wind (with more expensive trough
or PV systems filling in a few holes). If all those numbers are too
cautious (too big, worst case back of the envelope)...
cutting the "with SES" and "without SES" cost numbers in half still
leaves us with a huge loss when we lose SES.

It's not just one company. It's a technology.

And it does lead to an obvious question: how much is retrievable of
that technology, now that Goldmann-Sachs owns it?
On what basis? What of other nations?


I would tend to agree with what Hazel says, endorsing new legislation
to try to separate money from politics.
In a way, that gets to the root of the problem.

Prior to ...'s message... I was beginning to think... for ACTIVE,
non reactive deep creative thoughts,
I am now drawn to three priorities emerging in my own mind -- world
economic recovery, esoterica (and esse),
and three related topics in the mathematics of intelligence under
spatial complexity.

But world economic recovery would depend so heavily on HUMAN factors.
Th level of insanity and corruption and destructive groupthink shown
in his example
makes me wonder what hope there would be for world economic recovery anyway,
even if we did figure it out better and if we restored the SES technology.

There are lots of economist groups out there debating economic recovery,
and I do have a degree or two in economics myself. But I wonder where there
would be a more holistic deep dialogue on this subject. It's hard for any human
to get really deep and deeper in any hard subject without someone to
talk to about it.
(I can claim a whole lot more successful independent thinking than
most folks can, but
it's easy to see my human limitations.)

On a light matter, I imagine a double bumper sticker...
"To return to reality... get out of the box."

But I don't think legislation is the whole story. To some extent, ALL
systems of government are
vulnerable to economic pressures. For example, the sheer VOLUME of oil money
out there, and the size of the scarcity rent in particular, correlated
with the amount
of pressure in breaking the integrity of the system. My slides for NDRC touch
lightly on what this implies.

It also reminds me of Max Weber...


Decades ago, we often saw a bumper sticker with a smiling whale, and
the words "Save the whales."
I was really happy when I saw one with the same kind of smiling friendly whale,
with maybe a touch of sadness and compassion in the eyes, and the
words "Save the humans."
I would have bought one immediately... It is a major theme of our
efforts, the basic reality
of a lot of what we do. (Which "we"? You decide.)

But there are times when I do have to confront that old question of
how much hope
there really is for this species anyway. For example, the US has
somehow destroyed its low-cost launch technology
even more thoroughly than it has destroyed its lowest cost solar farm
technology (more precisely,
leaving some but less hope of recovery). And I have seen some
fluctuations in presidential polls
and plans to arrest economic recovery... Just how committed to
collective suicide are these guys,
and where does it really leave us? I can't help wondering sometimes...


All for now.

Best regards,


Friday, September 2, 2011

Conversations with God About the Republican Nomination

Do you remember the book “Conversations with God?” I don’t agree with
the theological assumptions, but I agree with the basic feeling and with the general practice. Most nights, at about 3AM or 4AM, when my mind is far clearer than usual, and I feel I can reach out and listen more than I usually can during the work day… I do so, and I ask many, many questions.

A few nights ago, I asked: “What is the best choice for the Republican nomination? If I have a vote,
how should I cast it?”

A wave of amusement rolled back, followed by thoughts: “That IS an interesting moral dilemma. In essence,
you would be choosing between excess alcohol, excess caffeine and excess money.
"You know what excess alcohol does. You remember that guy who filled his own house with oil, and burned it to the ground. Excess alcohol causes surly and aggressive behavior, and is the worst.
"But excess caffeine is a serious problem too. Too much of it causes headaches, tight muscles, irrational obsessive and cold behavior, which can be very destructive in its own way as well.
"Excess money is also a serious problem. You remember about the camel and the eye of the needle. That is real. Still, as you face a choice between excess money, excess alcohol and excess caffeine, excess money does offer you less risk and more hope at this time…”


Some details:

1. I am NOT advocating Mormon theology over traditional fundamentalist Christian theology. My own affiliation there is Quaker. Quakers do honestly try to listen.

2. Most of this came as thoughts (in about two seconds), but then I did go over
a few words. It is amazing how much can go through the mind in about two seconds,
often enough to take hours to write down. And how much never gets written down, for reasons of time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

differences between brains of liberals and brains of conservatives

On the Lifeboat Foundation list, someone recently suggested that there are
fundamental differences between the brains of liberals and the brains of conservatives. My response...


Leaving aside the issue of Ms. Geller (the discussion of whom I feel a bit uncomfortable about on this list,
even though I am capable of grossly unfeeling jokes about Rick Perry in the "quiet" of my mind)...

What about differences in the brain between liberals and conservatives?

At first, that question also gets my hackles up. Many "differences in the brain" are just differences
in what different people have learned and believe in the course of a lifetime,
based in part on different life experiences. Making it sound as if every troublesome kid must have a lesion in need of drugs
is itself a dangerous neurosis in this society. Ideas about human society are an area where we do have some
ability to learn new things. That's important.

But it's also true that here are some interesting disposition effects, de facto... effects which seem more
persistent than the kind of disposition effects E.O. Wilson talked about, which were mainly just initial values in an otherwise flexible

Years ago, I remember a very tense meeting of the Governing Board of the International Neural Network Society (INNS).
The question was how much to cooperate with IEEE, the Big Engineering Society, the elephant next door.
About one third wanted no part of it; total independence. About one third wanted to be totally subservient, give
up all independence, and maybe sue to just be part of it. And about one-third were in the middle, looking for
reasonable terms and a harmonious cooperation. And it couldn't all be predicted by whether one
was a neuroscientist or not. It was no surprise that Lotif Zadeh was in the middle, or that I was.

Later, I talked about it at lunch with Harry Klopf, an important mathematical psychologist known for work
analyzing animal learning. He said... yes, this all felt very much like a typical left-right-middle kind
of struggle. Some people just have a tendency to be on the right wing of ANYTHING, even on issues -- like
relations with IEEE, which would seem to have no connection at all with conservative ideology.
Probably he was thinking about attitudes towards authority and submissiveness and stuff like that.

More often, I think about "novelty seeking" and "tolerance of cognitive dissonance" -- very different and important
tendencies, with a genetic component more persistent than Wilson's concept of predisposition.
(My claim is that here are three kinds of redisposition effects -- the initial values type,
this intermediate type, and types which effect... let's call it the primary reinforcement mechanism.)
Lots of people talk about Cloninger these days, who simplifies things by combining these two into
one "mainly genetic" factor.

BUT: this does not sort people into liberals and conservatives.

Interest in tolerance of cognitive dissonance became very acute at World War II, when
the Nazis became a kind of poster child for intolerance of cognitive dissonance.
But Stalin would qualify to some degree. In general, I have the impression that people
of German origin (like half of me, and I inherit this trait) and of Russian origin (like
my wife) have this trait much more than, say, the Irish (my other half, but not decisive here)
or the Chinese.

But are Germans born conservative? Boehner sometimes makes hints...
but not really. It's about wanting the world to make sense, and not being like one of those amorphous sponges
who can believe 100 mutually contradictory things at the same time with no trouble.
(Or, like cousin Bohr, accepting islands of complementarity when they are very explicit and well defined...
though I have to admit that was too much for me to accept in physics. Am with Rand and Lenin on that one.)
One does not have to avoid novelty, or be inflexible, if one has this trait. And one certainly
doesn't have to believe in tea party stuff, or ignore solid economic analysis!
It just comes and goes in different ways.

In my view, the intermediate poredispositions are based on things like learning rate parameters,
which have no "correct" value and have genetic variation for precisely that reason.



I also am high on "novelty seeking." Those two variables are discussed, for example,
in an article on the "New Coke" debacle, by Dan Levine and Sam Leven, several years ago -- two people I have known well for many years. I tend to think
of the novelty seeking as more form the Irish side.

Novelty seeking and intolerance of cognitive dissonance do tend to create a kind of tension. One part always tries to pout things into an organized picture, and the other works hard to falsify it. Maybe more scientists should be like that...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

world economic crisis and energy economics

Important as it is, energy is probably less than half of what we would need to get right
for an optimal recovery from the world economic crisis. But energy economics has some important
things to tell us about the other half, too.

There has been a kind of interesting debate about world economic recovery in the Financial Times (FT) today and yesterday.
Yesterday, Clive Crooke, their most visible regular op-ed writer, bemoaned the lack of real economic leadership in the world,
which keeps us from doing more than just muddle through. (I wonder whether the President's new jobs proposal is motivated in part by such feelings?)
Today, there was a kind of dual response. Lagarde, the new head of the IMF, agreed that we really can do better if we do not give in to despair
and false beliefs that we cannot do a whole lot better. Someone else basically disagreed, and said we do not need strong military type leaders like
Churchill (or Napoleon or HItler?) in the face of big economic challenges.

Comparing where we are with where we could be... (much worse or much better)...

where we are basically feels like a kind of stable balance of forces. It feels a bit like those general equilibrium models in economics
where, for all the fluctuations, things basically settle down to a certain kind of state. That kind of feeling may be limiting people's
energy in trying to find another way.

But general equilibrium models can be misleading at times. There is a kind of shocking reality that
the economics textbooks don't talk about much. (At least, I never saw mention of it across many courses in economics at Harvard.)
There are wonderful theorems about unique general equilibrium across space and time, finding an optimal trajectory
from the present to the future, when economic actors all see that path. But all those wonderful theorems depend
on certain assumptions about the parameters in the models. The real world simply does not scrupulously make
those parameters live within the assumed ranges. And our theoretical training does not always prepare people for
how to live in a world where some of the parameters are 'way out of bounds.

It may well be that we are in a global situation right now where there are three relatively stable
locally inescapable solutions to the future path, the general equilibrium across space and time
for actors who have reasonable foresight -- today's muddling through, Great Depression II,
and "return to normalcy." (As in the Clinton Camelot era?).

Two experiences in energy economics may give a few clues about how this works.

First, in my first tenured job long ago, at DOE, I led a couple of efforts to evaluate the issues of existence and uniqueness of solutions to the
Long-Term Energy Analysis Program (LEAP), a true General Equilibrium Model which was used to generate the long-term forecasts included
in the Annual Energy Outlook. (It was actually a lot more advanced in many ways than the "new" NEMS model,
which is basically just a rerun of the old MEMS model, which tried to use linear representations of the economy.)
I was able to prove existence and uniqueness UNDER CERTAIN ASSUMPTIONS (as in an ancient EIA publication still somewhere
in the DOE documents database), but for the general case, a team at Oak Ridge working under me did find realistic counterexamples.
I was reminded of this yesterday, when I needed to find a citation; I hope their later journal paper does justice to this:

C. R. Weisbin, R. W. Peelle and R. G. Alsmiller, Jr., An assessment of The Long-Term Energy Analysis Program used for the EIA 1978 report to Congress,Energy Volume 7, Issue 2, February 1982, Pages 155-170

Second, and stronger, I later had occasion to work with Dale Jorgensen's famous macroeconomic model of the US economy,
which brought in more microeconomic concepts of general equilibrium that you can find in most of the more ad hoc, heuristic (and politically tuned)
macroeconomic models from the most profitable vendors of models. The model was famous for "KLEM" -- for paying real attention to the role of energy inputs (E)
in affecting the economy. We initially hoped that his rigorous approach to predicting industrial energy demand, as a demand derived from
production and profit maximization in industry, would do better than some of the ad hoc heuristic approaches used before then.
But my experience with that model was painful and shocking, not only for me but for Jorgenson. In reasonable backcasts,
it had something like 50% error in predicting variations in industrial energy demand. There was no reasonable way out.
The model had REQUIRED elasticities of demand of -1 or more -- HIGHLY ELASTIC demand -- as required by the general equilibrium
assumptions. Those assumptions were grossly violated. There was an "adjusted R-square " of about 99%, which was basically saying that he did the best he could WITHIN THE LIMITS of this assumption.

These are hints, not a new paradigm or model. They hint that inelasticity of demand has a lot to do with the multiple solution situation we are in.
In fact, inelasticity of supply AND demand in the oil market has a lot to do with the volatile and dangerous state of the world economy
for the coming decades. A key benefit of global sustainable energy systems would be more elasticity on the supply side.


This also reminds me a bit of the story of Joan Robinson, an economist who was mentioned in passing at Harvard, whose
heroic story may deserve more attention. (Not that I know it as well as I should.) For many years, the ASSUMPTION
of perfect competition was very entrenched in market economics, all over the world. She was (so far as I know) the leader in extending
ordinary market economics and price theory to the case of IMPERFECT competition, where companies really account for
their market power in being able to make customers pay more. When I went to Harvard, this was taken for granted. Yet there
had been a lot of ideological pressures form people who wanted to assume and declare that ALL markets are perfect,
and that we shouldn't look with suspicious eyes at monopolies or near-monopolies. Simple common-sense reality does not
always get full play in the face of such pressures. And with the way that things are going these days in the US, I worry whether we will
revert back to the days when questioning monopoly is no longer tolerated so much. It reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt -- a strong leader that
the guy at FT didn't mention this morning, who played a crucial role in moving the US to a better, stable trajectory at a time
when things were looking very bad indeed for the US and for American ideals.

Of course, political pressures are not the only thing which tends to impoverish our theoretical analyses.
I often remember the old saying "a theorem a day keeps the chairman away" -- whose full import I did not appreciate until years later.
There was a joke in engineering a few years ago about what happened when people started applying modern adaptive control to large plants -- and a large chemical plant simply blew up due to its instability. The joke is that the industry people said they would never use adaptive control again, while the
academic people worked very hard cranking out tons of theorems proving it is absolutely stable (under certain
mild assumptions...). Only recently have people really seriously started developing massive changes in adaptive control, which
make the required assumptions a whole lot weaker... which avoid instability under a wider range of more normal conditions.
And in fact, what reminded me of all this yesterday was an overdue chapter for the latest book on those new directions...
edited by Frank Lewis of the University of Texas...

But stability with sustainability and growth in the world economy is not the simplest of challenges...


On the Lifeboat Foundation list, I went further:

The discussion of genes, antisocial behavior and the threats it is leading to
are very interesting... but I wonder whether a little more context
might enrich the analysis.

On a more international discussion list, people have questioned
whether traditional Western style
economic growth is really possible any more. Have we reached the
limits of an inevitably finite phenomenon... like
the top of a curve as a baseball flies into the air, only to come
crashing down into the ground?

I replied (quickly and roughly) that it really should be possible, in
principle, for the entire world to experience continued economic
for a long time, enough for the whole world to enjoy a standard of
living at least as good as what a lot of Americans have become used

1. Continued population growth. Even at 1% per year, we will
impoverish and perhaps kill ourselves off if it is not stopped sooner
or later.
That's not the main thing I want to address in this email... but the
issue will come back, since it certainly links to those natural
selection issues.
Many narcissistic pseudo experts proclaim that the problem is solved
because of certain UN projections... but those particular UN
are goals, not projections. It's a long story, but the bottom line is
that we are not out of the woods, no matter how entrenched the vested
who want this to be a taboo topic.

2. Barriers to new technology. The technological options do exist to
allow US-level standard of living for all the world, for
millions of years, for the present world population, sustainably... if
we develop and deploy them effectively. Much of my own life has been a
struggle against the
barriers to that kind of progress, and of course it requires a lot
more than one person.

3. Will we kill ourselves anyway, out of sheer cussedness, craziness,
and psychological entropy? Will the human race be like
one of those rich heirs, who have all they need, but simply go nuts
and shoot themselves?

The discussion of natural selection here in the last few postings has
mainly focused on the third question, which
is really quite worrisome. Could it be that our genes dispose us to a
kind of conflict which will inevitably cause humans
to just bring down the house? (Of course, we don't have to worry about
chimpanzees bringing down the house, even with the same
kind of genes, because they don't have nuclear weapons. At least not yet.)

This ties into some questions about the world economic crisis, which I
have tried to think about from time to time lately.
(For example, see .)

A lot of the models of natural selection remind me a lot of Nash
equilibria in game theory, which have become important
in modern engineering. For example, many people want to use a kind of
natural selection and competition
between multiple agents -- multiagent systems (MAS) -- to manage
complex systems like electric power grids.
(See the August issue of IEEE Computational Intelligence magazine.)
But the outcome of natural selection is not always benign,
as some have noted on this list. In the general case, Nash equilibria
are NOT Pareto optimal, not a win-win solution, not the kind
of outcome which is the best for ANY of the players of the game.

SOMETIMES Nash equilibria are decent and sustainable; sometimes they
are not even sustainable; sometimes
they are even close enough to Pareto optimality. It all depends on the
rules of the game. In electric power, there has been more
and more interest in MARKET DESIGN -- DESIGN of the rules of the game
such that the market equilibrium really is Pareto optimal, or close
enough to it.

But what about this world economy, which seems to be going to hell on
many levels, and certainly does pose risks
of extinction in the end to the whole species? Is there a way that we
could structure things (the "game" or the "niches") such that they do
NOT go to tell,
either with Nash equilibrium or natural selection or whatever?

(This is not just loose talk. Great Depression II is quite possible. I
am reminded of how I just couldn't control my stomach the other day
after drinking
too much iced tea and shopper's fried chicken on a green yacht in the
Chesapeake.... And then, if we have Great Depression II, consider
what the
political and military implications were of Great Depression I, back
before nuclear weapons and such a multipolar world as we now live in.

I don't see a clear path here, but I wonder...

In electric power, new computers and algorithms have been absolutely
crucial to new market designs which overcome
many of the problems of the past. (Yesterday I finished a book chapter
on some new relevant algorithms which are relevant here.)
But is there any way they could help do the same for the stickier sort
of game we see playing out in the world
economy as a whole?

Last week Juergen Schmudhuber suggested to me that we could at least
use intelligent systems for financial clearing systems,
to get rid of the irrational arbitrage possibilities which lead to an
excess drain of money funding microsecond-level traders.
(That reminds me of how getting rid of irrationalities which lead to
arbitrage possibilities have been important in electric power.
Outside traders can help the system, but only if it is well designed
enough.) That would be a step forwards. It might not even be a tiny
step forwards,
because the big conflicts in Washington clearly show a schism between
fundamental investors who care about lasting long-term value (like
versus glassy eyed manic types who make money on Wall Street through
fast myopic games and donate lots of money to the misnamed
"Club for Growth" (a club to extract as much tax breaks from the US as
possible, without asking a lot of questions about how long the US can

But what about the larger system?

So far as I can tell, the nations of the world are stuck in an
inferior Nash equilibrium, which prevents any of them from really
moving to full
economic recovery in the one or two years we became used to in the US
after World War II. (Many other nations have experienced
"lost decades" in this period.) In theory, they could get out of this
, and acquire at least an option for rapid economic recovery,
if they somehow could achieve some kind of arrangement for one to four
crucial variables... the most important being real interest rates.
For example, for the United States, Greece and France, the issue of
interest rates (and oil prices) is entangled
with any hope of rapid recovery, in several ways.

A major difficulty in finding a way to use new algorithms is the
inevitable role of human judgment in these systems.
George Soros (an op-ed in Financial Times today?) has a suggestion for
solving the eurozone crisis by a new mechanism
for a new kind of eurobond, which inevitable relies on bankers glaring
across the table at national governments,
just as bankers issuing mortgages have to judge credit risks, and NSF
program directors and reviewers
have to make difficult decisions about research proposals.

What can be done about the rules of THESE kinds of games?

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to live for 200 years, or at least become 20 years younger

Dedicated to the old Boeing RASV and TAV teams...
May they live long enough for us to learn how much they have to give...

In a nutshell:

TP53 plus telomerase

Two well-investigated new medical technologies, which simply need to be combined together. But it takes clear system engineering thinking to see why this is the way.
This is also a kind of cure for most cancer.

We know that most of aging is the combined effect of two causes: (1) random noise
or disturbance to the DNA (which is also the main cause of cancer); and (2) the "biological clock" of the telomeres at the end of the DNA. Telomerase resets the clock,
but by itself this causes problems. When cell lines are allowed to go longer than the usual cutoff of 50 generations or so, mutations can build up, and kill you by cancer instead of old age. It is said that some scientists in Spain have made progress with telomerase buffered with simple cancer preventors, which is a good step, but not enough.

To fight the noise... we learned years ago that simple brute force antioxidants like vitamin E don't do much. (I wonder whether vitamin E can benefit longevity sometimes by enhancing sexual activity, which ends up helping the mind-body relation, but that's not enough for 200 years..) It was really exciting when research into things like sirtuins turned up genes that the body uses ITSELF to activate a natural, highly evolved system of suppressing noise, analogous to error correction codes, which allow lifetimes in nature much longer than what a simple tradeoff between noise and telomeres would allow. We are fortunate that nature "wanted' humans to live long enough that it evolved this mechanism. Nature didn't ratchet up the expression of this mechanism to the max, because that requires extra food and because natural selection didn't need THAT much longevity for human hunter-gatherers.

So how do we ratchet it up? Many have thought... resveratrol. That stimulates sirtuins, doesn't it? Not quite. It actually INHIBITS p53, the main scavenger of noise. In bloated overfed mice, it can extend lifetime to something more normal, but
it's basically a bandaid that covers even MORE RAPID noise.

Next: I that the guy who wrote "The Longevity Pill,' an excellent popular summary, which points to some literature I missed on my first scholar search.

What about rapamycin, which DOES reduce noise? What about the Nature study, showing the equivalent of adding 10 more years to the life of a 60's year old man (like me)
when it was given to mice? A few months ago, I was about ready to try it,
straight, until I looked into the issue of dose. Some folks do take 4 mg per day
now.. which is enough to create serious immunosuppression (another way to kill yourself) but only a tiny fraction of what it would take to get the equivalent of what those mice got in the Nature study. The problem is that it is a more powerful immunosuppressor than noise reducer. It's part of the right "proteomic circuit,"
but not the right node of that network.

So what's a good node?

The obvious answer -- look to P53 itself!

TP53, the gene which activates more p53, is well known, and has been the basis for
important experiments. IT DOES KILL cancer tumors and other noise. Why don't
we use it and even revere it as the cause for cancer? Because when it is used, it causes accelerated aging. From the systems viewpoint, it's obvious what's going on --
when bad cells get killed, new ones muse be grown to replace them, and that strains the 50-generation clock.

Simple answer: reset the clock as you do it. TP53 plus telomerase.
Make yourself 20 years younger in real physical age. And maybe, like Dr. Who... keep doing it about ten times later...

For those of us who could never hope to get all our work done in a mere 70 years,
this is one way to get an extension.. if those bad old politicians don't screw it up for us, and zero out the human resources we need, in these challenging times...