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A Belated Temperate-climate Garden in Spring

by paul spencer Sun Jun 1st, 2008 at 10:32:32 AM EST

With all of the serious matters at-hand, as reflected in the recent diaries, I hesitate to write such an ordinary diary. But life goes on - for most of us - and gardens deliver many benefits in any kind of times, interesting or otherwise.

I returned to the Pacific NW on May 5, took a couple of days to recover, then went to work on the fallow garden. I had turned under the leaves, plus some composted bovine manure, before I left, so the garden soil was ready to plant.

Read more... (4 comments, 1576 words in story)

3rd-4th May meet-up in Paris

by paul spencer Mon Apr 28th, 2008 at 07:40:40 AM EST

First, I met Melancthon and linca last - what? Friday? - in Paris. We had a very nice lunch, though Melancthon threatened me with some kind of Lyons Cultural Police action, if I don't come there and admit that it is the gastronomical capital of the world.

In any case it was a beautiful day in a beautiful city, and we had a very pleasant get-together. I'm very glad to have met you both. (I take it that we are the far-left of ET.)

Read more... (70 comments, 401 words in story)

Paris meet-up update

by paul spencer Mon Apr 7th, 2008 at 02:45:16 PM EST

Currently, linca and I are getting together for lunch on April 11 somewhere near The Louvre.  Correct, linca? If so, anyone else?

From what I read in the latest comments on the last update diary, it appears that folks are working out the details for the May get-together. My statement from the last diary seems to be correct: "Looks like May 4 (a Sunday) works best for the largest group. At this point that seems to include Migeru, Metatone, Cyrille, Melanchthon, LEP, Helen, In Wales, geezer in paris with 'possibles' from Jerome, margouillat, afew, and Loefing." Est-ce vrai? Lunch, picnic, supper, some combination?

Migeru, redstar, and I will try to get together Saturday evening, yes?  Again - I am the least constrained and the least knowledgeable, so y'all need to tell me where to be and when.

Read more... (21 comments, 247 words in story)

Paris meet-up

by paul spencer Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 09:57:59 PM EST

Looks like May 4 (a Sunday) works best for the largest group.  At this point that seems to include Migeru, Metatone, Cyrille, Melanchthon, LEP, Helen, In Wales, geezer in paris with 'possibles' from Jerome, margouillat, afew, and Loefing. Frank S. and sven have sent their regrets, and The3rdColumn has gone GBCW.

As to where, exactly when, and how to get there, I am the least likely person to decide. My plan is to do what y'all tell me to do.

Read more... (69 comments, 121 words in story)

ET Meet-up in April or May - Update time.

by paul spencer Sun Mar 16th, 2008 at 10:06:43 PM EST

Here's a table of the possibilities from the earlier diary:

Name             04/11/08 04/12/08 05/02/08 05/03/08 05/04/08
redstar                 1        1
The3rdColumn            1        1
Helen                   1        1        1        1        1
Migeru                  1        1        1        1        1
Frank Schnittger        1        1        1        1        1
Melancthon                                         1
LEP                                       1        1        1
margouillat             ?        ?        ?        ?        ?
Metatone                ?        ?        ?        ?        ?
Loefing                 ?        ?        ?        ?        ?
afew                    ?        ?        ?        ?        ?
Sven Triloquist         ?        ?        ?        ?        ?
geezer in Paris         1        1        1        1        1
In Wales                1        1        1        1        1
Jerome a Paris          ?        ?        ?        ?        ?

Read more... (19 comments, 782 words in story)

Land Co-operative Update

by paul spencer Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 07:24:47 PM EST

Here is a link to my diary from December, titled "A Real Estate Co-op - Dollar Hedge Or Lifestyle - Or Both" http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/12/6/222537/054. Since that diary, I have registered the Klickitat Land LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Washington state, dated Jan. 28, 2008. Below the fold is a draft members' agreement. It has been reviewed and critiqued by several friends/accomplices, but I am sending it around to several forums for broader review. This document - or its successor - will become the operating bylaws of the LLC, after I submit it to the state. Any critique or suggestions are appreciated. (Again, this is not a solicitation or a prospectus.)

Read more... (3276 words in story)

LQD: "mortgage walkers"

by paul spencer Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 11:03:03 AM EST

Here is - at least - an original piece of thinking on the credit/financial crisis. It's admittedly anecdotal, but purports to have authoritative sources. I cannot speak to some of the "facts" alleged in it, but maybe some of the ET bankers can.

Of course the point of the article is closely targetted to the portion of mortgage holders who have virtually no 'equity' - paper or market-based. The majority of mortgage-holders have enough faith in the system (it is, after all, a faith-based system) and enough investment in the idea of their home's equity that they will fight and sweat it out.

But, if the tendency becomes a trend among the folks described in the article, this could become one of those Naomi Klein junctures of political history. That's my only excuse for bringing in another U.S.-centric diary - the potential effect of such a development to wreak havoc on a large scale.

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Hikes in the Pacific Northwest - Mt. Adams

by paul spencer Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 01:55:08 PM EST

This area is called Bird Creek Meadows, and it is owned by the Yakima Indian Nation. The 'Meadows' are essentially the south face of Mt. Adams, which is about 70 miles east-northeast of Portland, OR. Adams is a little less than 4000 meters above sea level, and the hike goes from around the 1700 meter level to approximately 2200 meters. Round trip on the paths that I take is about 12 km.

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Paris meet-up in mid-April or early May.

by paul spencer Thu Jan 31st, 2008 at 10:42:37 AM EST

As mentioned yesterday, I'll be in Paris April 10 - 13 and, again, May 1 - 5; but, realistically, I may not be available on the boundary dates. Looks like Redstar may be there on April 12, and others have expressed interest in getting together. Migeru suggested a poll to establish best date(s), so please see below.

Also, this is a first notice. I'll re-submit this in late March, for those whose plans may evolve.

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A Temperate-climate Garden in Winter

by paul spencer Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 03:49:43 PM EST

This is just one family's approach to gardening, but there may be a few lessons for novices in similar climates.  The pictures are of our second garden, which is about 3 years old.  (Our first garden was on the other side of our current home, and we used it for about 18 years.)  The (sort of) parallelogram borders were picked for aesthetics, more than as frames for raised-beds.

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A Solar Project in Burma

by paul spencer Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 04:43:57 PM EST

This is part of a report by a group of extra-NGOs who build small, solar-based projects in various 'difficult' regions. There is some trepidation about publishing such reports broadside, because the folks involved are somewhat exposed - but I'll let Walt characterize the problem:

Sat, 29 Dec 2007 18:50:51 -0800
Hey Paul -

On the Burma project - feel free to share the report with others.  It is kind of a two edged sword.  If we don't talk about it, we don't raise funds. ...

Heading out soon to Burundi. ...

Take care,

Read more... (2 comments, 114 words in story)

A Real Estate Co-op - Dollar Hedge Or Lifestyle - Or Both

by paul spencer Thu Dec 6th, 2007 at 10:25:37 PM EST

More than 100 years ago, somebody (J.S. Mill? Henry George? Ricardo?) stated or implied that land is the only real (tangible) value. Far as I'm concerned, that's pretty close to true (except that love and honor count for at least as much, even if less tangible). Land gives us the best opportunity to earn a living on our own terms. On the other hand, if we have dollars, we are participants in a system that relies on the large-scale interaction of the self-interests of untrustworthy gamesters. Now - if you can have land in concert with peer stakeholders, you have the potential advantage of larger-scale action, and your partners should be natural allies in the pursuit of added value.

Read more... (10 comments, 1709 words in story)

An Integrated Solar Power System

by paul spencer Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 11:38:37 AM EST

I have collected the pieces of an interesting puzzle - an experiment actually.  Y'all might be interested in the results, when they become available.  I should have some initial data within three months.

Ingredients (puzzle pieces): forty 6-volt, 180 amp-hour batteries; one 2.5 kilowatt, true-sine-wave, grid-tie inverter; 0.6 kw capability photovoltaic modules; five 4-feet by 12-feet, black rubber, solar-water-heating "pads"; two 275 gallon (U.S.) plastic water tanks; two ½ horsepower electric pumps; one water-to-air heat pump (5-ton capacity).

Diary Rescue by Migeru

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ET Think Tank draft summary - Draft # 2 -

by paul spencer Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 12:06:46 AM EST

Per today's discussion, here is a different approach to format.

Jerome's and Melancthon's caveats are now included. If I missed other pertinent comments, please notify me.

Poemless - I didn't include your comments, because you seemed disinclined to participate. As to the specific quotation, I included it to illustrate Migeru's demonstration of "opportunity cost". In fact I didn't consider your remark snarky; I thought that it was your normal well-developed and very-entertaining wit.

From the first draft: "This is a draft. Any suggestions are welcome. For that matter, I am going to continue to work it, as I'm quite sure that there are bits that should be rearranged. I just wanted to get it out for further work.

"Since I'm editing, I'm going to editorialize a little, too. Concerns about the role or interface of a possible "company" within the blog are understood. Someone suggested that we could perhaps have a folder like the "Debates" section. If this is acceptable, I think it would be excellent. Beyond that, some member of the "company" could write a weekly report diary for the blog."

           Bootstrapping the ET think tank

        1.  Introduction:

        2.  Perspectives and Rationales:

        3.  Organizational suggestions:

        4.  Potential operational details:

        5.  Potential projects:

        6.  Caveats:

        7,  Resources:

1.  Bootstrapping the ET think tank  by Migeru   (Tue Nov 6th, 2007 at 08:17:25 AM EDT)

Over the months there has been a lot of suggestive talk about taking ET to the next level, whatever that may be. For lack of a better term, one could call this next level "the ET Think Tank". I personally don't like the label Think Tank because I associate it too strongly to intellectual whoring, but for instance I'd like to be able to devote time to macroeconomic/ecological systems research without having to worry that my savings will run out and then what? You can call that kind of work Think-Tanking but I prefer to think about an ET Research Unit. There has also been talk of coordinating cooperative work better, of having a dedicated LTE editor, things like that. The problem is that I cannot see these things being done on people's free time. It's a qualitative step away (up, down, forward, back or sideways, I don't know) from blogging. There has also been talk of "meta-consulting".

So this got me thinking about the business model and while I haven't reached any definite conclusions, I think the Research University model is instructive. There, the professors want to do research and the universities want the status that comes with having prestigious researchers among the faculty. But research doesn't pay the bills. The solution is that researchers spend (say) half their time raising money for the university [teaching fee-paying students, writing grants] and the rest of their time doing what they really want to do, which is research (or playing the fiddle: once you get tenure you don't really have to be all that productive as long as you help raise revenue by teaching your classes).
So maybe the ET Think Tank should be run on a similar basis: half-time "gainful" activity and half-time "vocational" activity. What could be the "gainful" part?

I could say "don't ask me, I couldn't sell anything, I don't know how to identify demand for services, get yourself a marketing person (like Sven?)". But even if you can identify demand you still have to figure out how (whether) you're going to meet it. Who's going to be doing the work and what work can they do?

Initially there's going to be no revenue, so you have to work essentially for free, eating your seed grain if you may, while you set up something that will provide you with, if not steady but in bursts, at least sufficient income to keep yourself going. The problem is most of us face huge opportunity costs for doing that kind of thing. What is the opportunity cost of, say, Jérôme going 3/4 time at work so he can devote 10 hours a week to developing the business side of the ET Think Tank?

In terms of opportunity cost there are three categories of people:

  1.   retired or unemployed (this includes me, but I don't know for how long) people: they face zero opportunity cost to working on the ET Think Tank.
  2.  self-employed people, or people working on an hourly or contract basis: they have the flexibility to shift their working time from their current activity to the ET Think Tank, but initially at an hourly opportunity cost, as long as the ET Think Tank revenue doesn't pick up sufficiently.
  3.   people on full-time employment: they generally face the opportunity cost of their whole income, or at least discrete chunks like going from full-time to 3/4 time which normally results in a more than proportional loss of income.

So I see therefore three stages in the bootstrapping of the ET Think Tank. The first stage involves people who face no income opportunity cost for working on business development. If and when revenue starts being raised, we enter a second phase where self-employed people can be compensated for their opportunity cost. As the business grows it gets to the point where it begins to make sense to hire people "full time" (it being understood they retain "half time" to do their research/writing/activism/advocacy) and then people can actually quit their unfulfilling jobs and come to work for the ET Think Tank.

Comments >> (42 comments)

Bush in Anbar province - Portent of the New Strategery?

by paul spencer Thu Sep 6th, 2007 at 12:41:08 AM EST

Of course, Bush was actually ensconced at the Al-Asad Air Force Base, an "island" fortress with some 12 miles of desert moat on all sides.  In the new Iraq strategy, though, this will be the main base of U.S. operations in southwest Asia for at least the remainder of the Bush regime.  As I have diaried Oil and the new Sunni alliance with the U.S. and updated The Developing Situation in Iraq, I think that we have embarked on a two- or three-state (if Kurdistan is allowed to survive) solution to the national problem, formerly known as Iraq.

Read more... (6 comments, 658 words in story)

The Developing Situation in Iraq

by paul spencer Tue Aug 28th, 2007 at 01:23:33 AM EST

I wrote a diary last week - Oil and the new Sunni alliance with the U.S. - and there are some interesting developments to this story for your consideration.

David Ignatius (WaPo) published an article today in which one Ayad Allawi figures prominently.  Ignatius, in true Beltway-insider form, quotes a "high official" as stating that frustration with Iranian meddling has caused the U.S. occupation establishment to decide that al-Maliki is too much of an Iranian ally (whether consciously or objectively is not germane), and that new leadership is needed.  If you read my previous, related diary, then you know that I think that this is window-dressing for a decision to separate Iraq into two or three "states".

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Oil and the new Sunni alliance with the U.S.

by paul spencer Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 07:19:56 PM EST

So the Sunni warlords/tribal chieftains/ex-Baathists/take-your-pick have decided to oppose the Al Qaeda gang in western Iraq and to cooperate with the U.S. forces.  Let us revisit the journey of one Dick Cheney to Saudi Arabia in May of this year.

At the time the CW was that Dick was being chastised by the house of Saud for the sectarian cleansing of Sunnis in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.  Maybe ...

Read more... (5 comments, 669 words in story)
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