Monday, September 21, 2009


This weekend I went to see the documentary, CRUDE, and saw the director, Joe Berlinger, give an Q&A.. See the trailer to get a good idea of the film.

It's about the court case that the natives who live in Amazonian Ecuador have brought against Texaco / Chevron.

One scene struck me. There are many, many health problems that the locals are facing, now that their water has been tainted by oil. One baby was shown that was only 20 days old, and covered in sores. The nurse said that about 15 babies of 20 were born that way! Awful!

It is a fabulous documentary. Highly recommended. Go see it!

Plug In 2009

Plug In 2009

August 11 to 13, I went to the Plug In 2009 conference at the Long Beach Convention Center, south of Los Angeles. Much of the time I was helping out with Plug In America's booth.

Bright Automotive was there. Unfortunatey, they didn't bring their new vehicle with them. :( I really wanted to see it. Next year.

On the public night, was a panel discussion with the hosts:
Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Chris Paine, the director of Who Killed The Electric Car. And Chelsea Sexton, the former GM employee, who was featured prominently in the documentary.

A lot of the heavy hitters in the electric vehicle space were there. The big topic of discussion seemed to be intelligent grids, connecting utilities and electric vehicles. The idea of the smart grid is, charge the electric vehicles at night, when wind energy is strongest. During the day, you drive your car to work, and plug in at work also. Then, when the demand for electricity is strongest, around noon, the power company would draw on the stored energy in the many thousands of car batteries.

The benefits: more use of renewable energy. Smoothing of energy demand on the power plants, since the utility will be drawing peak power from the car batteries, not from burning coal. Fewer power plants need to be built. There still are a number of issues to work out. One being that batteries at this point, are still not designed or warrantied for this kind of use.

I didn't get to see as much, or meet as many people as I would have liked to. The trade show floor closed in the early afternoon the day before the conference ended. I hadn't expected that.

Friday, August 14, 2009


"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Arthur Schopenhauer
German philosopher (1788 - 1860)

It's amazing how many scientists are ridiculed when they come up with something new. Even so many things we now take for granted. Check out some excerpts from a small compilation here:

Ignaz Semmelweis (surgeons wash hands, puerperal fever )

Semmelweis brought the medical community the idea that they were killing large numbers of new mothers by working with festering wounds in surgery, then immediately assisting with births without even washing hands. Such a truth was far too shameful for a community of experts to accept, so he was ignored. Semmelweis finally ended up in a mental hospital, and his ideas caught fire after he had died.

Chladni (meteorites in 1800)

The scientific community regarded Meteorites in the same way that modern scientists regard UFO abductions and psychic phenomenon: quaint superstitions only believed by peasant folk. All the eyewitness reports were disbelieved. At one point the ridicule became so intense that many museums with meteorites in their geology collections decided to trash those valuable samples. (Sometimes hostile skepticism controls reality, and the strongest evidence is edited to conform to concensus disbeliefs.) Finally in the early 1800's Ernst Chladni actually sat down and inspected the evidence professionally, and found that claimed meteorites were entirely unlike known earth rocks. His study changed some minds. At the same time some large meteor falls were witnessed by scientists, and the majority who insisted that only ignorant peasants ever saw such things were shamed into silence. The tide of disbelief shifted... yet this important event is not taught to science students, and those ignorant of such history repeat such failures over and over, as with the hostile disbelief regarding Ball Lightning.

Stanford R. Ovshinsky (amorphous semiconductor devices)

Physicists "knew" that chips and transistors could only be made from expensive slices of ultra-pure single-crystal semiconductor. Ovshinsky's breakthrough invention of glasslike semiconductors was attacked by physicists and then ignored for more than a decade. (When evidence contradicts consensus belief, inspecting that evidence somehow becomes a waste of time.) Ovshinsky was bankrupt and destitute when finally the Japanese took interest and funded his work. The result: the new science of amorphous semiconductor physics, as well as inexpensive thin-film semiconductor technology (in particular the amorphous solar cell, photocopier components, and writeable CDROMS sold by Sharp Inc.) made millions for Japan rather than for the US.

Check out the rest.

The Wright Brothers

Recently, I reread the story of the Wright Brothers.

What struck me was that, the Wright Brothers were not scientists. They were inventors.

Their background was running a bicycle shop, and they operated on limited funds.

Others working on the issues of flight were wealthy or government-funded: Ader, Maxim, Langley and Santos-Dumont. Samuel Pierpont Langley, the nation's "foremost scientist" had received more than $50,000 in government funds to create his man-carrying Great Langley Aerodrome, which plunged twice into the Potomac River.

The Wright Flyer however, cost less than $1000.00 to build.

The real success of the Wright Flyer was the control mechanisms. Many had experimented with gliders. And so many had crashed because they could not control the machine.

"The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer 'the flying problem', rather than developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did. Their careful wind tunnel tests produced better aeronautical data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers more effective than any before. Their U.S. patent 821,393 claims the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulates a flying machine's surfaces."

They did a lot of systematic and scientific testing. Not unlike I do in tech.

Most of their development was to build gliders that could fly and be successfully controlled. They cautiously didn't even man them, but flew them like a kite, controlling them by cords from the ground.

"They built a six-foot wind tunnel in their shop and conducted systematic tests on miniature wings from October to December 1901. … The devices allowed the brothers to balance lift against drag and accurately calculate the performance of each wing. They could also see which wings worked well as they looked through the viewing window in the top of the tunnel."

"The Wrights took a huge step forward and made basic wind tunnel tests on 200 wings of many shapes and airfoil curves, followed by detailed tests on 38 of them. The tests, according to biographer Howard, 'were the most crucial and fruitful aeronautical experiments ever conducted in so short a time with so few materials and at so little expense'. An important discovery was the benefit of longer narrower wings: in aeronautical terms, wings with a larger aspect ratio (wingspan divided by chord—the wing's front-to-back dimension). Such shapes offered much better lift-to-drag ratio than the broader wings the brothers had tried so far."

They questioned the constant for the Smeaton coefficient equation that had been around for 100 years. "The Wrights—and Lilienthal—used the equation to calculate the amount of lift that wings of various sizes would produce. Based on measurements of lift and wind during the 1901 glider's kite and free flights, Wilbur believed (correctly, as tests later showed) that the Smeaton number was very close to 0.0033, not the traditionally used 60 percent larger 0.0054, which would exaggerate predicted lift."

Smart! And truly scientific. Look at the data, and make inferences from the data. Not the other way around: attempting to make the data fit a preconceived notion.

I doubt any venture capitalist would fund them today. The Wright Brothers don't fit the "profile": a masters degree and a consistent history of other business and career successes.

Yet, they successfully developed one of the most important and influential inventions of the modern world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shift Happens

Shift Happens

This presentation blew my socks off!

It was originally created to help
school administrators think about what curriculum they should be creating for this day and age.

It contains examples of how demographics and exponential functions are affecting the USA and the world in very big ways.

Ie. In 2006, 1.3 million students graduated from college in the USA.

3.1 million graduated in India.

3.3 million graduated in China

India has more honors kids than the USA has kids!

The population of China with the top 25% IQs is bigger than the entire population of North America.

China will soon become the number one English speaking country in the world.

We are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist using technologies that have not been invented in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.

And stats on how the explosive growth of the internet and information is affecting us all. Google, Ebay, Myspace, Youtube, publishing.

See an earlier version here:

And definitely check it out!

More info here:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jonathan Goodwin and Neil Young's LincVolt

Jonathan Goodwin’s other big project these days is the LincVolt, a modification of Neil Young’s 1959 Lincoln Continental into a plug in hybrid.

On November 2, 2008, Jonathan Goodwin and Neil Young presented the LincVolt at the DreamForce ( conference in San Francisco, and made a big splash.

In the video, Neil talks about his visionary ideas, and Jonathan talks about how he has implemented them in the car. The 500 horsepower electric UQM motor runs on batteries, which can drive the car over 80 miles. When the car runs of battery power, the batteries are charged by a Mazda RX7 rotary engine, fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). By running the rotary engine on CNG, it is even more efficient than with conventional liquid fuel.

Goodwin says that the energy concept for the car, is very similar to how diesel electric trains are powered. And pointed out that diesel electric trains are some of the most efficient vehicles in the world.

The rotary engine drives a 75 kilowatt generator, which is a LOT of electricity, charging the batteries really fast. You can also plug the car into the house to charge the batteries. However, Jonathan claims that you could also power six houses off the car’s battery! Smart grid, here we come.

The Lincvolt also has multiple sensors in the car from Perrone Robotics that monitors the car. It also sends wireless RSS feeds are sent to the website, which is powered under the covers by There, the general public can see stats such as: MPG, altitude, position, and others. How’s that for web 2.0?

Neil Young has also appeared on Charlie Rose, and David Letterman

One of Neil’s big goals is to eliminate roadside refueling. By using CNG, which is found in the states, we don’t need to import the oil from overseas. These strategies will eliminate much of the distribution cost of the fuel.

Not only that, he’d like to create a car that actually creates its own fuel; onboard refueling. And, not take energy out of the electric grid, but put energy back into the electric grid. If everyone owned a car like this, there would be no more brown outs in the electrical grid. Visionary and ambitious!

One of his thoughts is that just to build a new car requires a certain amount of fuel; about 1000 gallons by his estimate. If he can modify his existing Lincoln, less gasoline is used in the conversion. Not only that, he likes his 1959 Lincoln very much, considering it a work of art.

Jonathan and Neil are now thinking of even better generators for the newer versions of the Lincvolt. So advanced, it’s a little hard to describe. Neil Young says

“We’re putting in a special generator set in it that we are developing in Australia with a scientist and some aeronautics guys that make airplanes that do … long, long, long range airplanes, like a single engine type of prop plane that flew around the world. Both ways, up and down, and around. Very interesting. They use a lot of stuff with heat recovery and everything to make it incredibly efficient. And we use this to … it’s an electric car, so we use this generator for the long range part of it.”

Some other ideas they are considering: using multiple blended fuels at the same time, and displacing part of the fuel with water.

They are looking to win the 10 million dollar X prize, for breaking the 100 MPG barrier. But it’s a labor of love. Because it’s such a big collaboration, it’s not something that any backyard mechanic can do. Partly by using the web, the Lincvolt project is working with companies such as UQM for the electric motor, Uli Kruger and Roger Davies in Australia, robotics expert Paul Perrone,, Sun Microsystems, among others. And, via the Lincvolt website, enthusiasts around the globe send in their ideas.

How is that for collaboration?

Check it out:

Motorhead Messiah - Jonathan Goodwin

It’s hard to summarize all the things that Jonathan Goodwin has been doing with cars, but it’s all really very exciting. And when I say very exciting, I really mean VERY exciting.

He has been converting many large vehicles to be both fuel efficient, and more powerful, at the same time! No trade offs here. Kind of like, twice as fast, with half the work.

His website says that he routinely modifies large “Hummers from gasoline, 325 hp, and 8-12 mpg to eco-friendly biodiesel 650+ horsepower and around 25 miles per gallon.”

One project has been to modify a '65 Chevy Impala, and when the conversion was done, he'd doubled its mileage to 25 mpg and increased its pull from 250 to 800 horsepower.

It was so powerful it actually beat a Lamborghini on the racetrack. Who would have ever thought???

When not modifying Impalas and Hummers into powerful fuel efficient diesels, he is experimenting with a lot of new ideas: converting large vehicles into plug in electric hybrids, lithium ion batteries, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, and turbine engines!

One project is to turn a Hummer into an electric hybrid. But instead of using a diesel engine to charge the batteries, it will use a turbine engine, that you might otherwise find in a military helicopter. “Whenever the truck's juice runs low, the turbine will roar into action for a few seconds, powering a generator with such gusto that it'll recharge a set of "supercapacitor" batteries in seconds.” He estimates that the truck’s horsepower from 300 to 600. Cool!

As far out as all this sounds, Goodwin says that he uses mostly off the shelf parts from GM. And that "Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to."

"I can go next door to Ace Hardware and buy a DC electric motor, go out to my four-wheel-drive truck, remove the transmission and engine, bolt the electric motor onto the back of the transfer case, put a series of lead-acid batteries up to 240 volts in the back of the bed, and we're good to go. I guarantee you I could drive all around town and do whatever I need, go home at night, and hook up a couple of battery chargers, plug one into an outlet, and be good to go the next day.

Jonathan’s other big project is the Lincvolt, which is intriguing enough to have it’s own entry.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


PESWIKI is a cool website highlighting many alternative energy technologies.

See their list of
Top 100 energy technologies here:

Many are really unknown, but very cool, such as the Tiny Yet Mighty engine

"The MYT (Massive Yet Tiny) Engine by inventor Raphial Morgado, is an internal combustion engine of new design the features multiple firings in one cycle, producing enormous torque in a small area.

With 40 times higher power to weight ratio, low parts count, low maintenance, high mechanical efficiency, and low pollution, the MYT™ Engine will benefit airplane, big ship, 18 wheeler, SUV, passenger car, even down to carry on power generator applications. The MYT™ Engine as a pump/compressor also exceeds existing pumps/compressors in providing massive pressure, volume, and flow, all in one unit.

The first prototype model exerts 850 cubic inches of displacement even though the size is only 14" diameter by 14" long, weighing 150 lbs, compared to 3000 lbs for a comparable engine of conventional size capable of that much power output."

Check them out!

My Model Stirling Engine

Check out the model stirling engine I bought from Kontax.

On a single cup of hot water, the flywheel turned for almost 3 hours! And on a single cup of ICE water, it turned in the opposite direction, for over 2 hours! Cool!

See what I wrote about Stirling Engines here:

(Hmm. Is this writing, or reading?)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

If you have have already seen all the documentaries I've noted, here is a great site where you can watch more documentaries for free!

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

This is a fabulous documentary about the Enron scandal.

It's for everybody who works in finance.

And anyone else with any savings in the stock market.

Unfortunately, bigger scandals have occurred since then.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - Part 1

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Level 1 Exam

In June 2007, I passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level I exam. Not an easy feat.

The CFA L1 exam is something that I've clearly done a LOT of reading on. But unless you are already enrolled in the CFA program, it isn't something that blog readers will either start or finish.

However, do read about my experience studying for, and passing the CFA L1 exam on Rodger's Writing.

Bert Dohmen

I met Bert Dohmen at a conference in 2008, and picked up his book, Prelude to Meltdown.

He wrote about a lot of potential problems in the economy -before- the financial problems started in 2007.
Here's an excerpt from his website :

'At the beginning of 2007, Bert started warning about a financial crisis, which could turn into the worst since the early 1930's. But almost everyone scoffed at the idea. In April 2007, the headline of his prestigious Bert Dohmen's WELLINGTON LETTER was: "THE PERFECT FINANCIAL STORM."

While everyone on Wall Street talked about the huge amount of "liquidity," Bert pointed out that genuine liquidity is cash, and that Wall Street confused liquidity with "credit" which could disappear overnight. And that's exactly what has happened.

The world financial system is leveraged beyond comprehension. It's estimated that $500-700 TRILLION of derivatives are outstanding. Compare this with total economic activity (GDP) of the world, which is around $50 Trillion, and you can see that even a 5% drop in value of the derivatives is beyond the rescue capability of the world's central banks.'

From what I understand, he was an early adopter of technical indicators. His analysis seemed spot on, so, I've subscribed to his newsletter, and recommend it to others.

Chinese Proverbs

Chinese Proverbs

I came across this webpage, while doing a search for something else. I'm not sure all of these are Chinese proverbs, but I like a lot of them, such as:

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.

While so many people talk from theory, or opinion, I like to listen to people who speak from successful experience. For years, I went to the MIT Enterprise Forum, and listened to business people present how they made their business succeed. While I value my teachings from business school, I got so much more out of these presentations.

Of the hundreds of proverbs, here's a sample:

A bad word whispered will echo a hundred miles.
A bad workman blames his tools.
A man cannot become wealthy without earnings apart from his regular salaries.
A man without a smiling face must not open shop.
A person who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.
A vacant mind is open to all suggestions.
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion.
Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.
Corporations have neither bodies to be punished nor souls to be damned.
Despise learning and make everyone pay for your ignorance.
Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails, not their tongues.
Don't build a new ship out of old wood.
Don't waste good iron for nails or good men for soldiers.
Easy to believe in heaven's law, but so hard to keep.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.
Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat forever.
Giving your son a skill is better than giving him one thousand pieces of gold.
He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.
Learning is treasure no thief can touch.
Rotten wood cannot be carved.
Men trip not on mountains, they stumble on stones.
The diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
The one who first resorts to violence shows that he has no more arguments.
The one who understands does not speak, the one who speaks does not understand.
To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art.
Two good talkers are not worth one good listener.
Victory has hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.
With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Who Killed The Electric Car?

Who Killed The Electric Car?

Little known to me, and the rest of the general public,
General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Honda sold electric vehicles in the mid 1990s.

They performed fabulously. GM's EV1, designed as
a family car, actually accelerated faster than a Corvette!

Most anyone who leased one, wanted to own it. Yet still, GM and most
other companies refused to allow their customers to buy the cars, then repossessed, and crushed most all of them. The exception was Toyota, which sold a few hundred of their RAV4s.

Who Killed The Electric Car? is a fabulous documentary
about the story, which I highly recommend to everyone.

There are number of myths circulating about the subject, which the documentary disproves. One being, the range of the batteries was not far enough. To see why, check out the official website.

or purchase the documentary from Plug In America

Or watch the documentaries on Youtube.

Who Killed the Electric Car Part 1 of 10

See some more electric car links here:

Real life EV Stories:

GM's EV1:

Info on the Honda EV:

EV Album

Suzuki Samurai

Dave Muse claims to have owned an electric car for 25 years.

Electric Cars Are For Girls

Plug In America

Plug In America is a non profit organization that promotes electric vehicles at the consumer, government, and car manufacturer level.

I first heard about them when I attended the Electric Car Parade in
Santa Monica, January 2009.

Some Plug In America members get to test drive some of the new trendsetting electric cars before the rest of the general public does. Lucky!

Some quick facts from their website:

- Today's batteries can take EVs 300 miles on a single charge.

- Battery Electric Vehicles (EVs) are by far the most efficient motorized vehicles in the world and use 3-4 times LESS energy than hydrogen fuel cell cars.

- EVs powered by the US electrical grid are cleaner than gas, E85, biodiesel & fuel cells.

- Plug-in cars capable of 50 miles per day would meet the needs of 80% of the American driving public. Source: U.S. Department of Transportation.

- We will never fight a war over electricity.

Check it out!

The SOLD Project

The SOLD Project

Recently, I have had the honor of meeting Rachel Sparks, and seeing the great documentary she has produced: The SOLD Project.

It is about young girls (and boys) in Thailand who are tricked into, abducted into, or sold into, prostitution. It is a very moving documentary.

When I saw it, I remembered what Benizir Bhutto said when I saw her speak once. She wanted to build a society where every child was "fed, clothed, sheltered, protected, nutured, educated, and loved". In other words, child prostitution is the antithesis of such an ideal.

See the trailer here:

more videos here:

the website here:

and the blog here:

The organization is now creating non-profit groups to help prevent village girls going into prostitution. One method is education in the villages. Another is the creation of scholarships to pay for the schooling of young girls who are at risk of becoming prostitutes.

See how little it takes, and consider donating, here:

Wind Power Conference 2009

May 2009 I went to the AWEA conference: WindPower 2009

It was awesome! So, this wasn't just another "reading". It was
presentations, trade show, talking with industry experts, socializing, etc.

See my other blog, Rodger's Writing, for my comments on the conference.

American Wind Power Association

AWEA - American Wind Energy Association

The American Wind Energy Association is a fabulous website about Wind Energy. Like their Danish counterparts, the AWEA website has a wealth of information. So much information, it can take days to read!

Check out the FAQ:

and Wind Energy Basics

"U.S. winds could generate more electricity in 15 years than all of Saudi Arabia's oil, without being depleted." Cool!

and Wind Potential

"North Dakota alone is theoretically capable (if there were enough transmission capacity) of producing enough wind-generated power to meet more than fourth of U.S. electricity demand."

and Wind Power myths versus facts:

One myth is that wind turbines kill a lot of birds. Yet studies show that for every bird killed by a wind turbine, 700 are killed by cars, 1000 birds are killed by cats, and 5500 are killed by stationary buildings and windows!

A few decades ago, I understand the Wind industry was composed of a just a small number of companies and inventors. Looking at the AWEA website, it is amazing how sophisticated and professional that the Wind industry has become!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Danish Wind Industry Association

Danish Wind Industry Association

This website has an incredible amount of information on it. It is a really great primer on Wind Power. The technology, environment, public policy, and lots more. Very easy to read too!

The Danish have got it figured out. Over 20% of their electricity comes from wind power. Each megawatt produced by wind power is money that does not need to be sent abroad to purchase fossil fuels. And, about 90% of the wind turbines they produce, are exported. Their currency is definitely not going to depreciate because of their wind industry, but appreciate.

Kondratieff Cycle Theory

Kondratieff Cycle Theory

The Kondratieff wave cycle goes through four distinct phases of beneficial inflation (spring), stagflation (summer), beneficial deflation (autumn), and deflation (winter). Since, the last Kontratyev cycle ended around 1949, we have seen beneficial inflation 1949-1966, stagflation 1966-1982, beneficial deflation 1982-2000 and according to Kondratieff, we are now in the (winter) deflation cycle which should lead to depression.

Check it out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See

This is indeed an important video to watch. It's a lecture by a professor emeritus of Physics at Univ of Colorado-Boulder.

He expands on the simple exponential functions that we learned in high school. And applies their consequences to the real world.

One example, a population of 10,000, and a population growth of 7%, will double its population to 20,000 in only 10 years. In 20 years, the same population will be 40,000! And that is not for the metropolitan area. That is for the same land mass! If a city thought it had problems with only 10,000 people, imagine the problems with 40,000!

He also notes how our use of oil is expanding in an exponential function. And that we will soon have serious issues if we don't get things under control.

The implications should blow your socks off.

Part 5 of 8 is here:

Go to Youtube and watch all 8 parts, starting here:

The Documentary: FUEL

The documentary, FUEL, is a must see!

I met the director, Josh Tickell, and his wife, Rebecca Harrell, at one of the openings in Santa Monica. They are very smart, and very enthusiastic about their subject.

And Josh knows what he is talking about. He was a very early adopter of using waste vegetable oil to drive diesel engines, and drove around the country in his veggie van.

The film looks at the problems of using imported oil. And a lot of things you probably haven't heard about. As much as I am interested in, and read about alternative energy, I was surprised by a number of the points the film brought up.

One being huge health problems that oil causes. His own mother, living in the New Orleans area, exposed to the many oil refineries there, had multiple miscarriages! Hurricane Katrina caused an oil spill bigger than the Exxon Valdex. That Rudolf Diesel originally invented the diesel engine to run on vegetable oils, and mysteriously and suddenly disappeared. That the prohibition of alcohol in the twenties is arguably linked to repressing the use of alcohol as a fuel for transportation.

But unlike a lot of documentaries, it offers solutions to the issues. He looks at multiple realistic ways to eliminate the use of imported oil. Wind, solar, conservation, algae to create biodiesel, buildings that produce food and energy.

This film not disappoint you.
See the trailer here:

And see the whole show in the theater

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peter Schiff

Peter Schiff

Peter Schiff is a stock broker, and a brilliant guy who foresaw a lot of the economic problems that started occurring in 2007.

I read Peter Schiff's book, Crash Proof , in 2007 and was really impressed. So impressed, that I went to a conference to see him speak, and shake hands with him.

Check out the great speech that he gave at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, in March 2009:

He talks about all the ridiculous speculation people were doing, first in the internet bubble, and then in the real estate bubble. A lot of it is really funny!

Peter used to be invited to speak at organizations, and talk shows, and his ideas were usually scoffed at. Now that he has been proven correct, a lot of these same organizations don't invite him back.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Often the less someone knows about a subject, the bigger is their opinion.

Often the less someone knows about a subject, the bigger is their opinion.

Steve Martin, in one of his early comedy routines, responded to the question, "Steve is there some way, I can be funny, too?". One of his sarcastic suggestions was to "criticize things you don't know about".

There is a big difference between facts, opinions, and beliefs:

And, there is a big difference between being opinionated. And having an opinion, being opinioned.

opinion noun
1. A subjective thought that a person has formed about a topic or issue.

opinionated adjective
1. Holding to one's own opinion, obstinately, stubbornly and unreasonable, unreasonably.

What I've concluded over the last few years, is that often the more ignorant someone is about a subject, the bigger is their opinion!

This is seen in lots of places. People have really strong opinions on:
- alternative energy they have no experience with, or knowledge of
- economics
- movies they have never seen, often based on who is acting / producing / directing / involved
- countries they have never been to
- cultures they have never studied, or people they have never met
- food they have never tasted
- etc.

Just try reading some of the nasty feedback on articles found at People attack the writers personally, ferociously, call him/her names, and stereotype them. That is, rather than responding with facts that would dispute the subject matter. It seems that the internet often brings out the worst in people.

I think a lot of ignorant opinions are sometimes formed based on tiny bits of information that have been presented through the media. The media can put a slight spin on the subject, or at the other extreme, have a very real bias. In the media, often opinions, or beliefs are presented as "facts". If you search the internet for media bias, you will find lots of information on the subject.

Note how on television, there are a lot of opinion based shows, such as Hardball. Complex subjects are presented in quick soundbites, as if you could master or just present an entire first year university course in as few minutes! Few facts are presented. Instead you see lots and lots of very strong opinionated views from opposing sides! As if the one who believes or presents the strongest opinion is "right". It's bizarre. Why not debate whether the planet Pluto exists in the same manner?

I would like to see a new reality show. Opinionated participants would be told that they had been selected to give thoughts on "their subject". But first, to qualify, as a "screen test", they would have their knowledge tested. They would be filmed as they were asked about pertinent knowledge on the subject. Later, they would be filmed when they were given the "test results", and told the real truth by subject matter experts. I'm convinced that most people would fail the tests miserably, and be completely unqualified to talk about the subject at all.

The subject matter of some websites that I've read, are often subjects that people aren't very familiar with. Yet many have very strong opinions about them. So I hope people will actually read or watch the links all the way through, before expressing any opinions. And that they will respond with facts and intelligent conversation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chris Martenson Crash Course

I've been referring to everyone the Chris Martenson Crash Course.

The subjects covered in here, have profound implications for all of us. It is very, very, well researched, by a scientist with a PhD.

Chris says: the next twenty years are going to look very different from the last twenty years. He covers exponential functions, economics, energy, and environment.

I was so impressed with what I saw on the website, that I took a flight to Massachusetts to see his conference in January 2009. This is not just highly recommended; I think it should be required reading for anyone and everyone.

See one his presentations on economic bubbles, such as the tech, and real estate bubbles, here:

Check out the whole (free) online course here: