Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Repositioning Think Tanks

So BFI's servers have been glitching, presumably over the heavier loads. This explains my getting an invite to join forums with Michael Ben-Eli, a former student and close collaborator of Buckminster Fuller, a week late. I've been making up for lost time.

Over on the Math Forum, I respun some of the overarching themes of my postings of late:
  • a proposed curriculum, still on the drawing boards, being developed in cahoots with some big names in computer science;
  • a focus on Portland as a happening center;
  • a commitment to conjoin open source community resources with a positive futurism somewhat informed by what I've been calling American Transcendentalism (fed by New England's);
  • a commitment to getting the military more involved as a source of constructive, not just destructive, engineering and know-how.
In the Ben-Eli forum, I had this to say, regarding the commitment to not waste energy and stay real regarding the consequences of well-known thermodynamic principles:

Into the Cool

Submitted by portlandio on Wed, 2006-07-12 14:08.

Per Sagan-Schneider's Into the Cool, our local situation is one of surfing the solar gradient -- meaning our local system plugs into the Sun (other stars), then reflects back what it cannot really use (the vast majority of the energy goes "to ground" i.e. radiates into space). Human systems are a part of this more encompassing system, which also includes things that'd destroy us if we let them (any good game has "challenges").

Anyway, I do not think it necessary that we view the problem as one of optimizing away all extravagant uses of energy, as if we're hoarding a finite supply in the face of certain and increasing Earthian chaos. That's true of some energy supplies, yes. I'm not trying to pitch this or that lifestyle in this context.

But I'm not into sponsoring this economists' "dismal science" meme, which pretends the 2nd law means ever worsening conditions aboard Spaceship Earth. That's not trully physics and is more about artificially lowering expectations as a part of a long-running propaganda campaign.

The biggest entropy increase is in the Sun itself, which overwhelms whatever little locally ordered world games we might play over the next several millenia. I expect we'll play many.

My premise is we can afford to live well and healthily over the long haul, on average.

That we're not already doing so (living well) to a much higher degree is more evidence of our lack of intellectual integrity, more than of any intrinsic energy shortfall.

We're slouches, slum lords, wallowing and warring in intellectual squalor.

But of course we're defensive against that observation -- seems kinda demeaning and we're a prideful crew (and pride in one's work needn't be a sign of decay).

For more thinking along these lines see: GST 2 -- part of what I'm calling Pentagon Math (more @ Math Forum).