Archive for March 29th, 2002

Preview of Coming Attractions

Friday, March 29th, 2002

BUENOS AIRES – The sinking of Argentina is leading impoverished women and men to take desperate measures, selling their hair or blood, jumping on an overturned cattle truck to butcher the animals on the spot, or taking money to hold a place in a queue outside a bank all night long. These cases, which occurred within the past week, have traits in common. They involve desperate, spontaneous, improvised and massive reactions that are caused by the basic need to obtain food. In December, the same necessity led crowds to plunder supermarkets. (03/29/02)
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What Is Real Security ?

Friday, March 29th, 2002

Reliance on fossil fuels and their extended pipelines contributes to our insecurity. Even where fuel is extracted from politically stable regions, it must be safely transported via accident-prone ships, trucks, rail, or pipeline. On October 4, 2001, a drunk shot a bullet through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, shutting it down for 60 hours and spilling 285,000 gallons of oil. Previously, the pipeline has been shot at on over 50 occasions. A disgruntled engineer’s plot to blow up critical points then profit from oil futures trading was thwarted by luck two years ago. How, then, can America become less vulnerable to attack and more resilient to mishaps that do occur? How can we prepare for a future that may hold increasing uncertainty, unrest, and even violence? The answer may be found by basing engineering on nature. Natural systems are efficient, diverse, dispersed, and renewable, hence, inherently resilient. …  Central power stations, no matter how well engineered, can’t supply really cheap electricity and simply cannot be made secure. The power lines that deliver the electricity cost more than the generators and cause almost all power failures. On-site and neighborhood micro-power is cheaper and eliminates grid losses and glitches. Rooftop photovoltaic systems, fuel cells, or biomass-fed microturbine or engine generators can be built on site to provide power for individual buildings or neighborhoods. When such systems fail, the effect is small and localized. If several small systems are interconnected, one failure may hardly be noticed. Widespread disruption of such a network would be difficult because it would require too many agents and too much coordination.  (03/29/02)
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A Little Known Educational System

Friday, March 29th, 2002

Dee Hock writes: I have been searching the world for educational systems that embrace chaordic principles. Let me tell you about one that is not at all well known, but extremely interesting.  In this system, every individual, from birth, has a lifetime learning-account into and through which money flows from many sources including government, family, employers, philanthropy or earnings. The funds are under the direction of parent or guardian until the individual is of age. They are fully invested in secure, tax free instruments to maximize return. They are accessed by an electronic transaction device acceptable at any qualified provider of learning services. Every transaction is electronically authorized and can be paid electronically, either in advance or as learning service is provided at a cost of less than two cents per transaction. Each individual, in concert with learning advisors, constructs a life-long educational program unique to their interest, ability and need, using any combination of courses, educators, or self-instruction whether personal or electronic. The learning can take place at any combination of home, work place, computerized neighborhood centers or traditional schools.  (03/29/02)
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