Efficiency as a Vice

In modern economic thought, efficiency is paramount. The goal of economic systems, and entities within those systems, is to maximize efficiency. Policymakers are supposed to remove impediments that are making markets inefficient, and cut government inefficiency. Even those that claim not to buy into such thinking often still do without realizing it. There have been … Continue Reading

The Energetic Basis of Wealth

Last year I did an analysis to try to understand whether it’s possible to feed the world sustainably. Today I’d like to try to understand what happens to countries as they must rely upon the sun for energy (and, indirectly, wealth). An old proposition in the sustainability community is that the material wealth we enjoy … Continue Reading

Observations and Questions

For some time I’ve been accumulating observations and questions on a variety of topics but have felt the need to have, for the former, deep analysis, and for the latter, answers. I don’t have much in the way of either, but I’d like to share them nevertheless. Cause and Effect. Is technological progress driving prosperity, … Continue Reading

Networking for Undeveloping Regions

I wrote the short position paper below, with a bit of help from a colleague, for an academic audience, but never published it. Today I was thinking about it and realized that it synthesizes some of my thinking on computing and economic trends. For the last decade there has been an active area of computing … Continue Reading

A Singul(arity) Track Mind

I like reading things that I think I’ll disagree with. I just borrowed one such book from the library—Peter Diamandis’s Abundance. His book has gotten a fair bit of traction in the mainstream and technology press, and more than that Diamandis seemed to be one of the few techno-centric authors willing to at least attempt … Continue Reading

Horse Equivalents

What if we visualized cars with horses in front of them? We’ve gotten used to thinking about engines in terms of horsepower, but rarely step back to consider what that unit of power means: a rough equivalent in horses. Consider the Geo Metro. It was one of the smallest cars available on the U.S. market … Continue Reading

The Power of Transformity

I recently understood the elegance of H.T. Odum’s concept of transformity. The transformity table presented at the link above shows that electricity has a transformity of 300,000 seJ/J, where seJ stands for solar-equivalent joule. It’s a weird unit, so I tried to digest it as follows: to produce electricity requires 300,000 solar-equivalent joules per joule. … Continue Reading

The Wisdom of Deathbed Conversion

In 2005 it seemed that everything had changed. And then in 2007 it happened again. All of a sudden the only thing to expect was the unexpected. I’m talking of course about the weather, and the changes due to radiation entrapment. The climate seemed like it was dying. Out of desperation, many prominent environmentalists converted … Continue Reading