28 August 2011
23 August 2011
Suffice it to say that the TLUD is the way of the future. Forget braziers and patio heaters - this is hot hot heat from fully renewable sources.
17 August 2011
I made this wee beauty from an old paint tin, a tin of dried baby milk and a tin of pineapple chunks. Additional equipment: a hammer, nail, old scissors, tin-opener and pliers.
The principle of the TLUD is simple - burn the gas, not the wood. As wood is heated it gives off various gases in a process known as pyrolysis. Usually these rapidly combine with oxygen resulting in a relatively inefficient local burn, but if you heat the wood in the relative absence of oxygen, the gases can be channelled for secondary combustion. The result is a very clean, efficient burn that delivers most of the wood's energy to the gas flame. If used for cooking, it is many times more efficient than an open fire. You need a lot less fuel, and you generate a lot less smoke. The applications for the developing world are obvious. Since it generates charcoal, you can bury this as biochar, making the process carbon negative - ie you are effectively removing carbon from the atmosphere.
So spread the TLUD gospel! Get out and make your own! Experiment with different designs and tweaks.
12 August 2011
recent riots in England (funny - they are calling them "UK Riots" now,
but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland seem miraculously spared).
It's all supposed to be down to this government or that government or
social inequality or absent fathers or police brutality or base
criminality or some such horseshit. Don't get me wrong - some of those
may be enabling factors that need addressed, but focusing on these
issues alone is missing the elephant in the room. That elephant is the
behaviour of people when they are in groups.
In the BBC documentary series "The Code", presented by Marcus du
Sautoy (sorry for the earlier twitterification of everything, but you
may want to follow Marcus!), there is a really fascinating sequence
involving starling flocks in Denmark. This enormous flock of birds
behaves almost as a single vast organism, and you'd think it needs a
vast controlling intelligence to make it move. However, the rules
governing the behaviour of a flock are surprisingly simple - indeed
spectacularly so. All each individual starling needs to do is keep an
eye on it seven nearest neighbours, and match what they do - speed,
direction, etc, and avoid predators. The behaviour of the huge group
emerges from those simple rules - complexity emerging from deep
simplicity. It turns out that humans are really no different - our
incredibly complex behaviour is the result of very simple rules.
So how do we apply this to the utter arsebiscuits that went on in
London? Is it a disaffected generation venting its social isolation,
or is it something a lot more simple than that? Is the looting and
rioting any different *really* to the banking crisis or MPs' expenses?
I would suggest that they are all *precisely* the same phenomenon.
Here's why. A store gets broken into. Some people (Bad People) start
taking things from the store. Other people see this and think: hey,
it's unfair that they should be able to get stuff that I can't. I'll
go and take something too. Someone else sees this, and breaks into
another store for the same reason, and so on and so forth. It is the
perception that members of your peer group are getting things that
you're not. You feel disadvantaged, not because of social ills, but
merely due to the fact that by holding back, you're missing an
opportunity. So you join in the group behaviour. No complex
co-ordination - just group behaviour. Morality, after all, is a social
contract, and if you feel that the rules have shifted (rightly or
wrongly), you are more likely to join in the "new" rules, rather than
stand back and take a good look.
And in the midst of all this, this is the realisation that society
needs to deal with. In crowds, people can do astonishingly stupid and
immoral things. If we want to prevent rioting and looting, we need to
acknowledge this, and develop strategies for applying it, instead of
wringing our hands and indulging in the sort of self-righteous
angstgasms that have coruscaded over the media and Twitter the last
02 August 2011
Several people have commented that much cooking in the Developing World is done on open fires or in environments that are not exactly efficient or healthy; fires produce lots of smoke, require lots of energy, resulting in respiratory diseases, fires themselves, and environmental damage. If families could be shown how to construct spectacularly cheap TLUDs and use these instead, the environmental impact could be enormous. AND since a TLUD produces charcoal as a by-product, this could also be used either as biochar to enhance crop yields and sequester carbon, or even as a fuel in charcoal-fed appliances (of which there are also numerous).
So all of you outdoorsy types - become a TLUDdite - develop your own TLUDs and share the designs. I'll post mine soon when I've finished drawing up my retrospective blueprints...
01 August 2011
Anyway, what you will find is that the authors of Matthew and Luke did pretty much the same thing - they borrowed very very extensively from Mark. And this is one reason why we can be very sure that they based their documents on documents, not on eyewitness accounts. And it also makes the discrepancies very very interesting. Not because they are discrepancies per se, but because of the spin the different authors put on the stories to advance their own personal agendas. Not the agenda of Jesus, but the agenda of "Matthew" and the agenda of Luke.
Try it - have a really good look at the different stories around the resurrection in particular. If you are interested in actual history, it's well worth it. And don't bother going near the apologetic rubbish that seeks to harmonise the stories. That's just lame.