Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hi all,

Back from a wedding on Cape Cod, saw a lot of the area and was certainly admiring of the preservation of both small boat cruising and vintage(read practical) types of boats. It is so very important to realize that boats are expressions of their environment and tasks, and that no type of boat is equally successful in all environments.

It is critically important to understand just what one is going to expect a sailboat to do.

Had an interesting conversation with a fellow from a local maritime museum. He was familiar with my projects and very supportive of the need to preserve sail-handling techniques. The museum had just completed a replica of a typical cape cod fishing cat boat and was actually going to exhibit scallop fishing under sail for the first time in nearly a century. I was very keen on the project indeed, as net handling under sail is something I know nothing about but certainly have a good deal of interest, and would say that THIS is the sort of preservation programs we need to see more of--and less of the tall ship bullshit that really teaches very little but exclusivity and bad renditions of watered down sea-chanties.

The great PROBLEM with the program, however, was this--we're talking about a $300000 30 foot boat. Sure, a beautiful thing for certain--solid old-growth cypress with a spit shine--but all in all wholly misses a very critical component of traditional sailing: COST EFFECTIVENESS. I wonder if the boat will actually ever break the 100 dollars a scallop mark for return on investment. I doubt it. There is no way in hell that such boat represent anything working craft at all--it's purely a rich man's toy to dabble with playing fisherman--and in some ways an affront to the whole idea. I'm not against building such a boat, but I'd probably not launch it--rather put it in a glass case for people to look at. If you want to fish scallops, build a boat that's similar in concept but built out of old car hoods or ferrocement--something that will actually fire at cost effectiveness. We'd learn more all in all.

Working sail craft is on the cusp of viability as we speak. Ocean freight for small packages is currently selling at 5 dollars a cubic foot to major ports, more expensive to small ports. Fishing open source fisheries under sail becomes profitable as fuel for run and travel time becomes more and more expensive and the fish of less value. Sail has the potential to be very very very cost effective indeed, especially with long lived modern materials--and I really hope we don't loose all the skills needed before it all comes back. The average sailor doesn't know what he doesn't know, and it will be a rude awakening for many to rediscover these skills.

Just proves again how important the Oar Club and Seasteading projects really are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Be the change you want to see in the world. . .

That's been my mantra from the start.

First, I've certainly realized early on that as we as a culture move through our predicted "revaluation of all values" there would be a great deal of social confusion. And confusion there certainly is: not a single pillar of our social values has remained unshaken--roles of friendship, partnership, family, responsibility(if any) to others, to society, to mankind--relationships between children and parents, parents and children, business, employer/employee relationships. . .if we look, most every relationship involved with human life has in the last 20 years taken a large step into the unknown and has been left on questionable ground. Most of us simply don't know where we stand. All too often what passes for "appropriate" behavior within society has come down to a personal selection of the most advantageous broken pieces of our social mores--advantageous to the "me" involved, and everyone else can take a hike.

That's sensible to a degree, and there's something to be said for the integrity of the Ayn Randian non-altruistic midset, as, we must admit, that's really how most(if not all) people really do behave. Maybe the only difference between ethical behavior and unethical behavior at the core is simply honesty: it's all about me, and if I admit that and play straight up about that, I'm ethical--if I lie about that fact, I'm not. Of course it's really not advantageous to be honest about that.

Who cares--does it really matter?

This morass is the reason I've abandoned such musings in the last couple years, and have discarded the terminology of "ethical" for "constructive." The trouble with "ethics" as a study is that it assumes there is a higher good from the start. Of course, that's indefensible. Constructive, however, as a value, only assumes that you indeed consciously and effectually move towards that you have chosen(arbitrarily) to pursue. Once you make this assumption, you discover many "values" cannot be constructive ultimately, because they're self-defeating. For example, one might decide purposely and deliberately to be the worlds greatest alcoholic. Sure, go for it. While I can't argue that there is some value in becoming the greatest anything, unfortunately the activity itself will defeat the end, as you'll die in the process. But, don't take it all too seriously, as that's where we all end up anyway. Still, some concepts, goals, and ideas are greatly more constructive than others.

SO, after all that blather, one of my personal goals has been to personally demonstrate the possibility of living a constructive life in the absence of god. While all the atheistic books have got the press lately, and I certainly laud Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and others for making the notion popular, I've got to say, that topic is pretty tired and among progressive thinkers about 150 years out of date. As well, ultimately, so much of what is published is really baby steps into the realm of the godless universe--and the same crap said early, more or less attempting to keep the same values and inserting "science and reason" for "god" as a first principle. Hume won that argument, didn't he? As far as I'm concerned, he sure did.

An atheist in my definition isn't simply someone who doesn't believe in god. An atheist is someone who knows god doesn't exist and knows that the fact of the absence of god is important.

So, certainly my sailing adventures, my books, and the Oarclub and Sea-Steading projects have been part of this whole affair. The new adventure in Hawaii is as well. Simply put, it's a desperate attempt as an orphan of the universe to wrest some meaning out of the unfathomable, and to breathe life into purpose. No small thing that, but knowing what I'm doing all along makes it all a lot more sensible. . .

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Death of the Environmental Movement

Ah, well, I've often mused that virtue is a luxury item.

As we get more hyped every day about global warming, and as more and more money gets dumped into the propaganda machine, there seems to be to be one obvious and glaring omission from the discussion. . .the omission?

First, preface the issue.

A) Global warming is unquestionably happening, and human activity is unquestionably the major cause of it.

B) The tremendous resistance to meaningful change at this--too late moment--will accelerate us into the higher quintiles of the probability curve of events. The devastating 2-3 degrees C by mid century becomes more likely every moment at we drag our feet and propose one stupid green "solution" after another.

C) Of the carbon fuels we now use--we use the CLEANEST of the lot. For example, the lowest emmission vehicles now available, with conventional gas engines, run on high end formulated fuels in California, actually create less greenhouse gasses than the hybrids do. As fuel prices increase due to consumption pressure and depletion, the pressure to use the remaining dirtier fuels will increase. As we run out of Natural Gas, we'll move to coal. Unfortunately, there's a lot of coal.

Ok, now for my version of the inconvenient truth.

If we want to talk about concepts like "carbon footprint" and sustainability, we make a tacit assumption that every living creature, humans included, have a "birthright" to a piece of the ecological pie. That by the pure fact of existing, one is entitled to a certain amount of resources to exist. That's a sensible assumption, and the alternative--that some people are not entitled to anything at all, is hard to defend. Now, the question becomes: what is fair? That as well is easy to determine. If we assume that a given amount of sunlight falls on the earth, and that human beings have the technology at this moment to claim a given percent of that amount, it's simply a matter of dividing by the global population to determine the number that is "fair" to use. Well, whatever that number is, it isn't much. . .

Here's another metric, and one more candy coated than the first, as it doesn't assume sustainability and relies on depletion--global GDP. While one can cook the books one way or another, one's fair share of global GDP is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3500 dollars year. That's your fair share. Making more than that? Nice for you, but it demands that half the world population life on much less than that amount, in desperate squalor, and that we import the goods of the land they live on for our own use.

So, again, my inconvenient truth. . .

So, we in the developing world, having killed the "golden goose," having used the best resources in the world for our own pleasure, and now, becoming aware that we've wrecked the planet in our doing so--are we really going to now demand that the rest of the world REMAIN in poverty for all time as so to not FURTHER destroy the global environment? Carbon footprint be damned, those people want clean water, and that needs infrastructure, and electricity, and they're going to build coal fired plants the second they can get to it. . .and we're going to tell them no?

I don't see very many ecologists living on that global level of scale--what does Sierra Club boss make again? You couldn't design anybody more suited to make the ecological cause look stupid and hypocritical.

It's easy to cuss at assholes of the likes of John Travolta, who likes to play environmentalist--who also owns a hybrid(and a couple dozen other vehicles) and lecture us in his semi-narcoleptic manner--while he parks his private fucking 737 in his front yard. . .the hubris of these people is scarce to be believed. BUT, I must say, surely much of the world views all Americans is the manner I might view the elite eco-rich. And surely, having tamped them full of propaganda of the American good life they want a piece of that pie too. . .and they'll have it, by god. . .

We're really screwed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

News from financial ground zero:

Being like the only builder in LA county that has a job at the moment, I must post a little information. . .

You people have no idea what's going on here. We're a inch away from real financial disaster. In a number of neighborhood here the foreclosure rates are no running 1 house in 20--that's right--and there is simply panicked selling but no buying. When one stops to consider the amount of paper wealth that has simply vanished in the last 3 months, well, one becomes desperate to move to Hawaii or someplace like that.

I'm certain that home values here will slide 30 to 40 percent. Certain.

But that's not the end of it all. The credit crunch that just ran through the world and is far from over has a peculiar cause. It ISN'T the sub prime market defaults. These haven't even hit the books yet. The defaults that are coming so far are from builders, with houses they can't move, and from developers in general. The sub prime will hit the market soon(november) and all hell will break loose.

No, the simple cause is that someone somewhere called bullshit on the A ratings of the garbage bond ratings that have floated this whole market. That's all. They didn't buy 'em. And that was the end of that. People panicked, tried to sell what they had, but there just wasn't anybody dumb enough to buy that crap anymore. Finally, in the greater fools game, we ran out of fools.

Or almost, there's still the fed.

Actually, the fed knows exactly what it's doing. It's just waffling on the repercussions of what's going to happen and is nervous about the fallout of it's next move.

That move, of course, is a bailout.

A bailout is the absolute worst thing that could happen to the average financially responsible American citizen. The bailout will and can only come in the form of a expansion of the monetary supply, with the result of high inflation and the immediate devaluation of the dollar(which has already slid 30 percent in the last two years). And of course, none of this will help the economy for the average person, as recession is where we're headed, we're looking at real loss of jobs, economy, high prices, high inflation--far worse than just what an honest crash will cause.

But that's been the point all along--it's just the trick needed to shed cooperate debt, especially debt in dollars-- ie, pension obligations, wages to current US workers, etc. It also solves the social security and Medicaid issue. These won't go bankrupt. You'll just receive your payments at vastly devalued rate while the government receives taxes at the current rate of taxation and inflationary pressure in the real value of present dollars.

So screwed we are.

It's 12 o'clock, do you know where your 401k is?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A busy few weeks


So as of last post was ready to start building the new catamaran, had very nearly purchased plans, and fate strikes. . .

So the yard that I was lined up with for a build site calls and says the deal is off. They're done with boat building and don't want to have anything to do with it anymore. They're going through an eviction with someone--a "boatbuilder" just like me--who has been squatting in the boat yard and it's all going to go to court, and well, its just not worth it to cater to the likes of me, apparently.

Well, so it goes.

This was discouraging to say the least. This particular yard was the most affordable by some measure the the whole area, and the only one I could find that was remotely favorable to a boat building sort of project. Elsewise it all involves one-sided leases(I sign up for a year but they can kick me out any time) huge costs of 1200 bucks a month or more for an unimproved site and generally a hassle altogether. And it's not like THIS yard was convenient, nor comfortable, nor serviceable really. It was the only option and the only I could find that would work.

So what next?

Well, I just bought 3 acres in Hawaii as a build site. Why not? The cost of the property is near to what the rental cost of the build site would be, I actually own something, and any improvements I make to the site, ie, boat shed, etc., I actually get to keep when I'm done. Besides, it's Hawaii, and the thought of building a double voyaging canoe there sounds like much more fun in spite of the rain.

So, it's official, the Seasteader's Institute exists. #45 Kalaponi Rd, Mountain View, Hawaii, 96720. Other project minded people welcome.

I'm heading over there in November/December and will bash a build site out of the jungle and build some sort of cabin/bunkhouse. I hope to have help with a pole building for cat building, and will likely set up from the start to crack out cylinder molded cats. I plan as well to plant Paulownia trees all over the back two acres which should provide the lumber to build boats as fast as I can build boats. True, green, sustainable boat building? Really? I'm going native.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

So, the new boat project.

So my new boat will be designed to be as practical, as minimalistic, as capable, and of course as fun as possible.

A question that I've been asked a few times, however, is this: Jay, are you going to build this boat out of renewable resources?

Hell no, I reply, at least not purposely.

Simply by the fact I intend to really build on the cheap I'll obviously engage in a lot of personal recycling, and have already started my scrounge for bits and pieces to work into the boat. But, by and large, none of the plywoods, epoxies, nor sailcloth will have a renewable aspect.

Why? Because it's pointless.

From my perspective of NON-PARTICIPATION it's very clear. At this point conversation policy only emphasizes voluntary reductions in personal consumption, not mandatory caps, the best I personally can hope to achieve by my personal reductions is subsidizing someone else's excesses. And I'm not willing to do that. While I might currently drive the highest gas-mileage pickup that can be bought, I do so because I'm cheap, not because I'm trying to save the world. The world is fucked. I can save some cash, but I'm very aware that while policy is what it is, if I personally don't burn the gas, it just lesses demand that very infinitesimal amount, which lowers cost, and encourages someone else to drive a "hummer." Mandatory caps on personal consumption would change all that, but I'll put that concept under "fat chance."

So again, any ecological aspect of this project is simply a net product of living, in essence, non-consumptively. The whole of this boat in terms of it's carbon footprint is more or less equal to that of the average American's fuel usage for two years. Considering the boat should have a lifespan of 50 year, and should produce no emissions during that period, its damn green without trying much to be.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hi all, getting started here.

Of course I'll try to keep things up on the website as well, but I'm going to try to keep my more political and philosophical views here rather than there. Looks like it all works and we're up and running! Posting pictures is easy here too.

Anyhow, as we work through on the Alpha Pod project, it's important to keep our eye on the prize, even if the prize isn't anything more than just getting caught up in the forthcoming crisis. That's prize enough!

Talked to the film crew today, and they're as ready as ever--chomping at the bit even to see some Sea-Steading in action. So here we go. It's up to us. If we fail, it only us that makes it so.