The Hatfields and the McCoys in Iraq

"Those people in Iraq have been fighting each other for a thousand years", a recent acquaintance sagely said to me in casual chat. What are they offered now that is much different than during those thousand years? So why do we think we can expect them to change? Just because we are a country made up of people who once were quite the rivals, a melting pot that somewhat works, is clearly not enough of a "better example."

In Iraq, much like israel and Palestine, getting into the fray is like trying to break up a knock down drag out fight between brothers. Try it, and one learns not to try it again. The brothers stop long enough to unite to beat you up, then they resume fighting each other.

In my youth, I learned a lot of life's virtual lessons by reading the comic books of the day, which often had wisdom laced into the antics of the characters. There were several phrases that immediately keyed in a context, one such was "the Hatfields and the McCoys." They were two families that lived in the back hills somewhere, and who always carried guns, and shot at any member of the other family that they encountered. A "family feud", it was called, and it was shoot to kill for these two isolated families. In fact, there was not much depiction of them except when they were shooting at someone of the other family, and it went on and on, the feud had gone on forever and it surely would go on forever, unless one family was exterminated. Anyone else who wandered into their territory, was at risk of being shot as a casual bystander. So the comics would invoke "the Hatfields and the McCoys" to indicate feuding families of no help to anyone and rather dangerous to be near.

The news in past couple of years has portrayed the Iraqi people as if they were Hatfields and McCoys, it seems to me. American and British, some others too, invaded the area, messed around a very great deal trying to smoosh the guy that kept the lid on the Hatfields and McCoys through ruthless tactics, it was said. We assumed that once he was history, the Iraqi people would rejoice and welcome us with open arms, heroes, eager for us to show the way of productive peace and harmony.

Uh, it did not work out that way. In fact, it has been pretty much the pattern of trying to break up a fight between brothers. And we are in the thick of it, like a fly that was enticed to land on sticky flypaper.

In the early 1990's, I was working in electronics at a small company who had people from all over the world in similar positions; two of my close co-workers were from Iraq. They both were different people, yet in my opinion they were top notch people, peaceable, competent, getting on with life one day at a time, very likable folk even though not always understandable. So when I think of what the country Iraq has become, is it full of people that had been more or less fine people who are now quite frazzled and desperate? Did we do that?

The Hatfields and the McCoys analogy feels a better similarity, makes it all somewhat comprehensible.

As to who and why we got into the mess, is history; it is now what to do about today and tomorrow as we find it. Are "the insurgents" over there simply madmen bent on causing wreckage just for the heck of it? Are they some alien species not of humanity? Are they some team that is dedicated to beating our team so as to "win"?

None of this stuff existed before 2000, as far as I can tell. It sure gets all the attention, all that ruckus. Is it all distracting us away from seeing or doing something else?


Fresh overview look at KESTS to GEO

I have written a new overview for my website pet hobby technical project, one of those inspired moments of clearer vision. Here is the basic text:

Although the idea of creating large structures that are primarily supported by kinetic energy stored within them, few people are aware of it. So here are the basic principles, some specific kinds of structures the ideas could make possible, and some major kinds of applications that such structures could make possible for the benefit of civilization.

Structures typically provide connectivity across space, and usually support the mass of itself and its loads against the force of gravity. Conventionally structures use the strength of materials and material properties such as stiffness, to provide that connectivity across space and support of mass in a gravitational field, called "weight."

The strength of materials is largely derived from the energy bonds of the materials, down at the molecular level. In other words, it is energy that provides the strength and properties of structures as we normally use them.

So consider that energy can be stored on a larger scale within a structure, and that energy can be used to extend the distance that a structure can connect, and increase its ability to support the weight of itself and the loads it carries.

And these larger structures would be especially adept at providing transportation structures, since some of the stored kinetic energy could be tapped throughout the structure to move payloads around in the structure.

Mechanisms of kinetic energy exchange for structural support include:
1. Collision of one mass with another, imparting momentum exchange, such as in inflated structures like balloons and large spacecraft launch vehicle fuel tanks.
2. Drag of a slower moving body as it is grazed by a faster moving body, such as in the electrodynamic braking of a locomotive to slow it down.
3. A larger mass bending the trajectory of a smaller faster moving mass, imparting a radially outward force such as in a centrifuge.

A kind of structure that would be particularly adept at lifting payload back and forth between the earth's equatorial surface and high Earth orbit in GEO, is focussed upon here, along with the new potentials for civilization that could enable, given its wise use by mankind. This structure would primarily use that 3rd mechanism to support mass in the gravitational field of a planet such as Earth, and use the 2nd mechanism to provide fine positioning control and to lift payload along itself. It could use the 1st mechanism during some of the potential ways to erect seed structures into place.

The energy consumed within the structure during the processes of lifting payload from ground to space, and for the processes within the structure, would be mainly replenished by electromagnetic mass accelerators anchored on the earth surface, and electrically powered, and once the structure has enabled the construction of Solar Power Stations in GEO, the solar-sourced electrical energy beamed from them down to near that accelerator site could thereafter provide the energy to support the structure and lift payload between ground and space.

Like a windmill that converts wind kinetic energy into electricity, its specific configuration depends on its siting, size and connectivity to the system that will use its output energy. And it must be first designed, built and put in place, before it can produce those benefits to civilization, just like the windmill must be. Similarly it is designed and built to optimally match its intended uses.

A name for the space access transportation configuration focussed upon here is "Kinetic Energy Supported Transportation Structure" whose acronym is "KESTS". As it would couple space between earth's equatorial ground and Geostationary Earth Orbit, GEO, the overall acronym is "KESTS to GEO". More colorful names used so far include "Space Carousel to GEO" and "Carousel Space Escalator to GEO," the carousel part alluding to the round-ish shape and its nature of circulating around along within its position.

The optimum configuration of such a structure would be established by its initial intended uses. In this case, the uses include enabling the construction and use of several large space projects in GEO:
1. Provide the world civilization with abundant pollution-free electrical power from Solar Power Satellites in GEO. These have been long envisioned as a way to provide abundant, CO2-free electric power that is derived from the intense 24/7 solar energy received up in GEO and delivered by beams to rectenna sites around the world, to all nations that want the clean electrical energy; yet there has not before been an economical way to get their construction materials into GEO.
2. Provide mechanisms for totally recycling the toxic industrial wastes produced by civilization's processes, and returning the materials back into use as pure raw materials. Huge solar-electric powered mass spectrometers built in GEO would separate out the elements, and transportation back and forth between ground and GEO would be provided by the KESTS continuously.
3. Vastly extend the capacity and range of reaction driven space vehicles, by using spaceport facilities built in GEO, and delivering the spacecraft components and fuel up to GEO along the KESTS. Since GEO is already 91% up out of Earth's gravitational well, and is far beyond the impeding earth atmosphere, the configuration of spacecraft could be optimized for enormous exploration and commerce applications plying between GEO and points around the Solar System. Particularly they could bring raw materials for more construction in GEO, moved there from the Lunar surface and asteroids by such large commercial spacecraft.
4. Test out the building and occupancy of cities in space, similar to the ones envisioned in detail back in the mid-1970's such as the passively shielded Stanford Torus mile-diameter rotating wheel that would provide home, agriculture and light industry for up to 10,000 people each. Water-sawdust ice could provide the non-rotating passive shielding for the rotating wheel shaped city within it. KESTS would provide economical commute between the ground and GEO, and provide the lift for construction materials for the first few such cities built there. Subsequent cities could be built largely from raw materials brought from the Lunar surface and asteroids, and eventually probably beyond. Such cities would be stationary in position high above the rotating Earth's equator, in GEO.

The energy transferred to payload by moving it up from the earth surface at the equator, up into GEO orbit, is only 7.15 KWh/lb, which at at an example production cost of electricity of 10 cents per KWh, is only $0.72 per pound lifted up to there, the economical usage of GEO begins to have these entirely new potentials, enabled by building KESTS to GEO.

Copyright © 2006 James E. D. Cline


Creating Chits for "Big Picture" Benefits

Still pondering our country's big problems and possible solutions. One of the functions of us older folks is to do our best to pass on our knowledge and best wisdom to the next carriers of civilization's torches lighting the ways into the futures.

A major problem is that America has been losing the great powerhouse of its middle class individuals, the nation becoming divided into a wealthy class and a working class; in simpler terms, we are already far into being divided up into the have's and the have not's, the middle class disintegrating, and with it the powerhouse that had propelled America into true greatness.

Forces that have been making this disintegration of the American middle class happen, it seems to me looking back over the time period in which it happened, have been many, yet there also seems to me that there is a common thread among them. And that thread now hints at an inspiration toward a solution to the problem.

Symptoms are many, and getting worse by the day. Slow disintegration of the delicately balanced ecosystem here on Earth that provides the substance of our life and fortunes; apathy of what remains of the middle class toward being able to do anything about their predicament, burying their awareness in TV and keeping up with the Joneses as distractions. The do-it-yourselfers have largely vanished, based on the vanishing of suppliers: few home hardware and lumber stores remain, the electronic suppliers for repair and hobbyists have almost vanished, for examples.

The middle class had many subclasses, but the ones I was most familiar with were the ones who worked for an employer, especially for the corporations. Although some great advances in technology happen as a result of teamwork and megabuck research projects, the key inspirations at all levels still tended to come from the individuals, often the ones on the sidelines, creatively able to see from wider viewpoints.

But as far back as I can remember, corporations as employers usually had something called an "Employment Agreement " or "Patent Agreement" which every new employee had to sign or else not be hired; and so go without work, and thus without food and shelter, so the pressure was intense to sign. Those "Agreements" typically could be boiled down to making the employee promise that he/she would not come up with any new idea while working for the company, unless the company specifically was requesting solutions to some very specific problem as part of the job. The agreement made the employee feel like he was considered a thief there to steal the company's ideas, and probably management really believed that was the case, generally not comprehending the technological creative processes.

Management was there to make a specific series of steps to happen as smooth as possible, to make a pre-conceived product be designed, manufactured, and get into the hands of those who would use or re-sell the product. Any idea not directly in line with the carefully thought out management trail, was disruption; nevermind if it would have made a better product than was the original company vision, or would provide new avenues for the company to explore in the future. A manager's worth was based on his/her success in making a specific series of things happen to provide a specific goal's achievement, and was required to do it with tunnel vision.

The working middle class, the people who were intimately involved with the subject matter including doing the machining, soldering, shaping, assembling of the parts of whatever was being prepared. That is where the creativity ground is, the hands-on level, be it assembler or engineer. Those people had their hands tied regarding any spontaneous creative idea that occurred to the individual, on or off the job; yet, eventually the person would learn to drop every idea, since experiments with submitting an idea to the company almost invariably resulted in it vanishing along with any compensation hopes for having made the idea.

And thus the source of basic technological creativity was snuffed out, the famed Yankee Ingenuity suffocated throughout the nation by the very employers that were based on prior aggregate technological creativity of those of the past.

There are many other paths of the phenomenon, but these are major ones.

Why would corporations act to snuff out the basis of their corporate technological roots of life? It seems likely that it was because of lack of the wider vision of the system in which they existed and lived, just like individual people tend to be much of the time. There was a substitute bottom line parameter: the profit the company achieved. This was enforce by the investors, who cared little for the company's product, they wanted that investment profit to buy their good life, that is all.

It is a lot easier to focus on just one aim overall, since people tend to focus only on one thing at a time; even a housewife with children "multitasking" has a small range of focus at any given time. And so, it was the achievement of dollars that was the ultimate sought item. Free enterprise in a competitive market looked like it would provide all that was needed at lowest cost, in theory anyway.

But the reality is that when a CEO has the choice between two mutually competitive products: one which would make a product that provides less utility for the user but makes the company greater profit, than does the alternative product which would give the customer greater utility at lower cost, but would make the company less profit ... the CEO has little choice but to choose the path that leads to the inferior product, or get replaced with a CEO who will maximize the profit. Thus the products that get provided are chosen by this kind of process, and those are the products upon which are built the next products, the defects and incapacities multiplying dysfunction as compared to what might have been.

So the solution that has inspired me now (not being bound by anyone's "Employment Agreement" anymore), is to include in the bottom line another item, called perhaps a "chit". This would be a money-like item based on the overall potential increase of value to Americans, the world of people, the world of nature. How to calibrate the "chit" and how to use the chits to benefit the corporation as a parallel to money, is a subject with lots of thoughts needed, maybe I will explore more of that here later. And as to who defines the valuation of the chits, would need to have their motives factored into the valuation results.

(The format to be used here is the three-part form consisting of the context in which the subject holds; the forces that are involved in and as the problem; and proposed ways to balance the forces of the problem. Context, problem, solution, for short form.

The context here is the country in which I am part, America, USA, which looking to ever wider context is in turn part of the world community, and the solar system of which Earth is part. And so on. Context looking smaller-wise from the country level, there is the politics, corporations, states, societal groups, special interest and enthusiast groups, neighborhoods, families. All loosely but very glued together, more or less.)

Jim Cline on 20060618


More thoughts on Asperger's wisdoms

More advise for Asperger's afflicted people again here.

A very basic difference between you and non-Asperger's people, I have found, is that non-Asperger's lives are founded upon hierarchy; it is perhaps the most basic starting point of whatever they do. Somehow their mental built-in "wiring" is continually advising them of who is boss in the situation, whether you or the other person is "better", and the "better" one (normally the one which is perceived as the most "powerful" in the situation) is automatically deferred to in the interaction. When more than two of them are involved, it spreads into a pyramid heirachy of lateral peers, and of vertical bosses and subordinates to oneself.

Since this is something that goes on so naturally for them like breathing air, it seems to me, that they consider it a fundamental law of the universe or something like that.

So along comes an Asperger's person, who does not have that inbuilt brain wiring constantly determining who is boss here, and unless consciously struggling to deal with the social pyramid of the moment, busy with some other part of life, the Asperger's person is likely to not follow the rules of supremacy in the situation, and so is seen as "out of line" or starting a challenge to the position of the other person, without knowing it.

A part of the establishment of hierarchy seems to be that one does not do the challenger's activity-gaming with anyone more than one step above or below you. This somewhat regulates the response of the non-Asperger person in the situation.

However, as time goes on and events accumulate, the group of non-Asperger's people, responding to the unwritten hierarchy rules unconsciously, begin to perceive the Asperger's person as doing something very wrong, but don't know what it is. Eventually some of them actively imagine the Asperger's person is physically doing something wrong, instead of just bumbling around social-blindly among the social pyramid. Eventually the non-Asperger's people agree that the Asperger's person is doing some specific horrid social thing, some criminal behavior, and so they act to "catch" the Asperger's person in the act; and as more and more people join in on this "catching" adventurous game, the specific accusation(s) become fixed increasingly in an ever widening field of people marginally aware of what is going on. Some may hurry along the "catching" by arranging a "frame-up" or "setting up to take the fall", to "hold the bag" kind of thing, knowing the naive ways of the Asperger's kind, especially if they had their toes stepped on by the blundering Asperger person and so "need to get even."

Meanwhile, Asperger's people have the in-built urge to be socially involved with other people, especially with a person of the opposite sex, one who is able to cope with the occasional "strange" ways of non-Asperger society preferably. This urge to be with others often requires being a "yes-person" making extraordinary effort to be what others seem to want them to be.

So all this, over time, plays out in ways that seem quite peculiar to the Asperger's person, and probably also to non-Asperger's people except probably as a different kind of "peculiar." What expression this unwitting set of games takes, is likely to not be to the Asperger's person's benefit, as the envisioning of the large group of non-Asperger people eventually manifests into a lightening-like assault "righteously" on the Asperger when crossing some line that looks like something else that they were prepared to see. The Asperger person realizes that assault of some kind is in progress and may attempt to escape, but from what or where is not clear, since the group doing the assault is responding to their shared fantasy, which the Asperger can only guess at.

All this tends to eliminate the Asperger's ways from the gene pool. Since Asperger's people tend to be the ones who make the leading edge discoveries in so many fields, due to their high intelligence and urge to focus long term on some subject of fixation (for example, my major fixated focus is on enabling space transportation big-time for all people's benefit, not just for the few rich adventurers), this probably slows down civilization quite a lot, since non-Asperger's are ever embroiled in their hierarchy stew, divvying up the group territory goodies according to hierarchical position, and little gets done outside of that arena.

The coordination of activities of non-Asperger's people seems to require the hierarchical pyramid, ever obeying the chain of command; military and corporate structures largely formally identify and proclaim the social hierarchy pyramid currently in place. The corporate "org chart" is an example.

However, that is not the only means of coordinating people's activities. The means that I function best in is where all people involved in an activity are aware of the mutual goal, and all are cognizant of the ongoing situation in progress, and so each person does the function seen needing doing at the moment of progress of the activity. A group of people building a structure can function this way, too, and it can be a far more creatively functional structure thusly built, probably better than that originally envisioned.

A sport that can do this is volleyball of the type where nobody remembers what the score is; the fun is in the doing, not in the ego stuff of establishing who is better than who, thus there is no hierarchical points involved in the activity. In creative dance, the "machine" also involves this kind of skill, where each dancer creatively finds a place to incorporate into the growing group structure, building up the form to whatever it manifests as.

It does take much less intelligence, knowledge and wisdom to function in a hierarchical pyramid, since the assigned function is all that has to be done, along with knowing who is your boss and who is dependent on orders in turn from you, end of effort. A set of skills can be acquired in school for the sole purpose of getting higher in the hierarchy, not for the doing of something for civilization that needs doing. Thus the majority of human intelligence is absorbed with the endless hierarchical game and awareness of it, instead of applying to the advancement of the civilization that supports them all, along with their progeny's future potentials too, unfortunately. Lacking focus on the overall group project's aims, there are endless things that "fall through the cracks" especially if there is nobody to do that function or it does not provide enough profit to anybody in position to get it done.

The huge accumulation of environmental problems ongoing are one consequence of this; fouling one's nest eventually leads to ruin, there has to be a functional symbiosis overall to make it a long term operational kind of thing. Wars sometimes break out when one group needs another's resources, and goes to grab it; or even war in fear of the neighbor. No sense of the wide mutual purposes is involved, and it all blunders along hand to mouth as if elaborately fancied-up hunter-gatherer tribes. Those in the hierarchy mindset are there because it enables their preferential reproduction, leading to unbalanced more of their kind.

Asperger's now account for only 1 in 250 people, I have read. Asperger's are apparently also unfortunately characterized by less ability to cope with metal poisoning such as by organically bound mercury, and thus brings in their social functionality into a dysfunction to the point of being considered a syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome.


More naive thoughts on the business experiment

Those of us who have Asperger's Syndrome are expert on being naive, similar to those who are blind are experts on blindness. We can just assume that whatever we do, others will consider us naive in the arena of human affairs where deception and trickery are normal parts of activites of non-Asperger's. And we can only get so much paranoid, as a way to cope with being naive, without eventually getting detoured via "paranoia." So, being "expert" on naive awareness, it is quite surprising to conclude that the consumers of this nation tend to also be naive and extremely so. Let me explain.

I had mentioned before that it looked like America has embarked on a huge business experiment, where there is an economic theory that runs things. And that business seemed perhaps a better ruler than dictators or fanatical religious groupings, that sort of thing.

So the update here is that the "huge business experiment" still seems to be fairly descriptive of what I notice going on especially in the past 5 years, all the stops pulled out. The pattern is that rulership is set by business devoted to making profit, and that which makes the most profit (among the alternative paths) is what must be chosen. The feedback loop is closed by the maximizing of investor's payoffs, which then puts more money into that business to make it bigger.

Missing is the feedback loop that maximizes benefit to Americans, both to the individuals and to the nation in general.

Thus, for example, the guiding criteria is not optimization of health per money spent as a nation, but rather is guided by that which makes the most money somewhere.

Another example is that the design and engineering of cars is for making the most profit for manufacturers and their investors, without having the need for optimizing energy and time efficiency of the user.

One might think that the customer would select that which is best, and thus provide the feedback needed to guide the system; but if the overall coordinated business group does not provide the product that is optimized for time, energy, transportation utility and efficiency, the customer cannot buy it, and thus cannot provide that needed feedback to the system. The corrective feedback loops are thus broken, and the system runs amok to that extent.

How does one fix this enormous hole in the economic theory governing us? Possibly a first step is for more people than just me to observe the problem, as a problem.

Then it seems necessary that more feedback loops need to be incorporated into the system: feedback as to the actual functionality of the overall health system, per the above first example; and for the second example, feedback as to the functional efficiency of the transportation system for moving people and materials around in much better overall effectiveness per cost.

I think the missing parameter is called "efficiacy", that is the needed added guide feedback path for our economics system national experiment.

Conceivably the big corporations could still maintain power and leadership in their various fields, instead of having to somehow be vanquished in the marketplace as prerequisite to wholesome changes. Surely profit to the investors can be adequate at the same time as shifting to products that serve the customers best.

But then, my naive Asperger's Syndrome problem probably is making me wrong again. People are just too complicated for them to be able to do this kind of thing.