To AGL

AGL seniors discount letterA friend wrote the following in response to an advertising scam by AGL:

Thanks, but no thanks AGL. Yes, I’m a senior, and you may think that all I’m concerned about with energy costs is to get a discount on my bills when I pay them on time. You’re wrong if that’s the case.

I’ve been keeping an eye on AGL’s enthusiasm for undermining the Renewable Energy Target (along with the other big two energy retailers.)

I’m well aware of the negative impact your undermining tactics have had on the renewable sector, the loss of business confidence and their willingness to invest, the impact this has had on communities across the state. It’s led to uncertainty, unemployment and distress. That’s not something I want to support, not even if I happened to win a $10,000 holiday voucher.

Perhaps you assume that seniors aren’t aware of greenhouse gas emissions or the massive role played by burning brown coal. In 2013-14 apparently 94 per cent of AGL’s reported facility level greenhouse gas emissions was generated from just one brown coal fired power station: Loy Yang A in Victoria.

In addition there are other significant environmental and human impacts from coal mining, including the immediate and after effects of last years Morwell mine fire.

You could do so much better AGL. You could be looking to transition away from brown coal in Victoria. It’s clear you have some ability to diversify. Your name appears on some pretty neat projects including the solar array in Nyngan, yet you’re undermining the RET, so you’re giving the consumer a very mixed message.

At present it seems that basically you don’t want the Australian consumer to benefit from any competition from renewables:

“…weakening the RET would drive up the value of their fossil fuel assets, such as their investments in polluting coal fired power plants and coal seam gas mining. And, of course, it would limit new competition in the energy market, which lowers power prices for consumers, too.”

So, AGL, until your messages are consistent, and until your track record shows clear and unambiguous support for renewable energy, I won’t be switching.

Finally, while an enclosed leaflet notes that the Seniors Card Program doesn’t endorse products, the formal letter using the seniors logo and “age friendly partners program”  as well as the words “Seniors Card selected AGL as its energy partner” certainly looks like an endorsement to me.

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Posted in Australia, environmentality, pollyticks, social justice, what's wrong with these people? | Tagged , , , , , ,

Garden update: Veggie patch overhaul

This is what the yard’s been looking like for most of Winter. Overgrown, muddy and in need of finishing off. I’d started the raised beds after overhauling the second veggie patch out the back, before the cold weather intervened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started this post just before I had to move from the old house, it’s been sitting in drafts for five years. The veggie patch at the new place doesn’t have the art installation yet, but it’s about time to plant the broad beans.

There’s baby kale and chards everywhere. Frost kills lettuce up here, so I’ll go radishes and broccoli instead.The marshmallow takes care of itself.

Posted in Australia, environmentality, green thumbs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

More on privatisation

bill and letterA couple of letters arrived in the post yesterday. It seems Origin have declined to address their errors and Lumo have caved rather than create any division in the monolith that is private utilities’ business model. Bend over further, pensioner, we can’t stab you in the heart from that angle.

I recant what I said about private utilities being like dealing with The Mob. The Mob have some honour. And bikers. In school a bunch of friends had friends and rellies who were bikers, I’ve yet to meet one who would sell Grandma down the river for $457.66. But for private utilities, that’s bread and butter. Rather than foot the bill that ran up while they were farting around, they’ll pass it on to a disabled Grandmother. And the icing on the cake was the offer to negotiate a payment plan. Lumo are based in New Zealand. I’m guessing Kiwi, not Maori, since they shy from a fight with someone their own size.

The next step is to contact Senators again regarding that Federal inquiry into private electricity utilities. At present it’s related to price fixing and nerfing of solar feed, but given the sheer number of people experiencing problems like these, that needs to be expanded. The Ombudsman can only do so much.

By their own admission the whole issue was caused by an “error” made by Origin. They didn’t really mean to transfer my account without my knowledge or consent. It was sheer accident. Honest.

When clarification was requested, whether this was standard treatment of accounts and how insecure the accounting is, the reply was that it was actually a database error. The databases held by private utilities are such that any clerk can upload an old file by mistake and oops, there goes your account. Too bad, so sad.

Redress? Haha. Surely you jest, peasant. They’ll harass you to the point that you’re happy for your phone to be disconnected. Then stuff around for months, then send you an accrued bill, all because they lack the skills to drive a fucking database. And customers are expected to pay up and shut up. At the same time that the utilities have been colluding to restrict and hamper development of local and sustainable energy.

Private utilities’ business model appears to be, let us all hang together lest separately we all be hanged. Fortunately there’s a bunch of people around looking for public, local distributed energy models. Energy Search negotiate bulk representation and discounts for households and small business, if you’d like to give them a look. Expanded local advocacy is another option, to join together and hound the bastards on social media and in VCAT.

In the same mail Lumo have made me an offer to start doing business purely on the internet. Golly gee, folks, what an offer! The people who can’t resolve a database bungle want me to expose more of my private information on their web servers and not get things in writing. I can’t wait!

When Origin and Lumo are rendered obsolete, which will be very soon, they’ll have only themselves to blame. I’ll be too busy partying to shed a tear. And if you vote LNP this Saturday and you or your friends or family end up in a similar situation, consider this warning of what you’re in for.

Posted in Australia, pollyticks, social justice, sustainable community | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Reframing the narrative of separation

Something Russell Brand said the other day caught my attention. It’s important to reframe this. It was in the context of mainstream media reporting on the Ferguson riots. His insight into the way those headlines lead the train of thought was appealing to me.

Well, shake if off cop now has more than 30 million views.

In my mind, the people he’s waving and giving way to are Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

Posted in partnership society, social justice, sustainable community, teh interwebs | Tagged , ,

The illusion of suffering

I’ll grant you, it can be a pretty unpleasant illusion. I mean, people are cutting themselves. It’s not fun.

Why do we do it? This is another of the ‘glitch in the myth’ series, which should all be in the Mysticism category.

Every so often when discussing making changes to the paradigm, improving the lifestyle of 95% of people on the planet, one of the objections that comes up is if you don’t suffer for what you get you don’t appreciate it.

As the great Saint Terence would say,

that’s bullshit.

Russell Brand, who may or may not be a Saint yet, as he’s aiming for Messiah, replied but isn’t that what everyone’s looking for, to be happy?

That’s a good question Rusty. Is that what we’re looking for?

Our evolution has gifted us with a system of neurotransmitters and hormones that orient around us being fairly content. Our baseline physiological homeostatic benchmark is happiness.

The suffering bit in Western myth comes from the doctrine of redemptive suffering. Jesus died on the cross for you, whore, so you can just fucking suffer.

Seems a bit out of date, now that you put it like that. I mean, whose interest does that serve?

Personally I’d rather see all those hours and centuries of mantras envisioning the end of suffering for all beings put into action with our global speed of light communication and open source technology. That seems like the 21st century approach.

Or would you rather play with the bullies a bit longer?

Suffering for your art only counts as long as you want to approach it that way. Authenticity can be elegant. ZEF looks pretty good, eh?

Posted in meditation, mysticism, partnership society | Tagged , , , , ,

Check

Here comes the cavalry.

The CIA got rid of Gough. And who knows what happened to Fraser, who checked out unexpectedly as he was organising a new Party.  Gillard had to fly home from trade talks that came a bit early.

Abbott has three daughters. And a Marine base in Darwin. And Pine Gap.

Even if the LNP did have a vision, spine and a soul, they don’t have a whole lot in the way of options.

We’d best get onto that Transition Towns thing, then. We are the cavalry. Ride a broomstick, if it tickles your fancy, to spray your electronic graffiti. It makes great chaff as well as downloading from the Hivemind fairly reliably. What’s on our mind today, world? Water rights for family farms?

It won’t take long, since the US is grotesquely over extended. Even US military personnel have had a gutful. Keep doing what we need to do until it sinks in at the MSM level. Murdoch’s the only one in that game anymore and who wants to play with a bully?

The US is the home of Occupy. It fits together with Solidarity, Jubilee, Permaculture and Open Source. They’re like the fingers on the hand of the Hivemind, that’s going to save the world.

It’s going to happen as a practical joke. Future me said, in hindsight, how else could we do it, we were so spun up.

Posted in Australia, ausvotes, pollyticks, sock puppets, teh interwebs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Food security in Australia

John Muir hemp farmingThe plight of farmers is of particular concern to me at the moment. Farmers losing their livelihood is a personal face on the huge issues of food sovereignty and production. It is another area where the current flawed application of the free market system is causing a great deal of heartache, not to mention starvation.

You’d think someone who busts a gut humping a tractor 18 hours a day to produce food, which everyone needs, would get a bit of respect. Instead, price wars between the duopoly and free trade agreements see farmers being offered $6 a tonne for pears.

At a time when some are claiming humans lack the ability to feed the world.

Food price speculation is a battleground. Proponents claim that the free market theory applied to food results in distribution according to demand. Progressives point to evidence of starvation in the two thirds world, monopolies on production and distribution and the sheer waste produced in industrialised nations as demonstration that the free market is bastardised by the faulty economics of externalities. If social and environmental costs are tallied up as normal operating costs rather than passed off onto struggling public agencies, things run a lot more smoothly. And do what trade’s supposed to do, which is get people fed. Find a need and meet it. That’s what business does. The share/profit bubble is the result of bad accounting, which is being addressed by people in business and government all over the planet now.

sa farmer

If the free market was going to work with arbitrary national laws and the public wearing the cost of the accounting error with externalities, the people growing our food would be paid a fair amount for the work they do. Everyone knows that’s not what’s happening. Not only are farmers not being fairly paid, their basic security is down the sewer. The story of Charlie Phillott is particularly interesting, he wasn’t even behind on his mortgage and the bank threw him out. Those social and environmental externalities need to be entered as debits, not credits. Pay them like you pay the rent for a tower office building. Palming off the social costs of kicking people off the land does not result in more profit, it’s a bloody accounting error. It looks good on paper for five minutes before you realise something’s really fucking wrong.

Aside from being paid fairly, how about a bit of bloody respect? Agriculture is one of humanity’s oldest technologies. We’ve been farmers for 10,000 years. Everything else we’ve done, culture, technology, language, art, cities, is all built on reliance on farming. Yet the livelihood and social collateral of family farmers in Australia seems oddly understated in debate about food security. Our illustrious PM blamed suicide rates in the bush on the Carbon tax.

Now that we’re able to build pos-net housing, have automated most farming including ploughing and harvest, and anyone can get on the net for education, socialising, travel and games, why would people not aspire to grow up to be market gardeners? It’s about the most constructive thing a person can do. Everything else humanity does depends on it. And farming and gardening provide most of what they produce by growing things that take Carbon out of the air to grow. How ambitious do you want to be? Is saving the planet on your bucket list? How about feeding the world?

Addressing the externalities and resulting bubble fixes a lot more than just dodgy accounting. It gives us a more honest, authentic way to assess value. It provides the economic support to find needs and meet them, sustainably. Instead of hamstringing new technology in the interests of corporate monopolies, it encourages development and local secondary industry. Put the externalities in the debits column and suddenly the whole world looks different, can you picture it?

I think this is what the US Libertarians are on about, except when they say “de-regulation” everyone’s picturing factories exploding. So don’t say “de-regulation,” say “pay the rent.” It’s a different psychology. A different feel. Puts us all at the table because we’re all in business here. That’s what humans do when they’re not fighting over shit. They get on with business. SME’s already pay their rent. It’s the multi-nats who are tax dodging and raking in corporate welfare that are at issue here. It’s not too much to expect the same rules to be applied fairly whether you’re dealing with one market garden or sheep stations. Especially when the application of said rules will result in better conditions for 95% of the people on the planet.

If we organise business tax well, we could eliminate income tax.

To have a profitable, stable business environment, you like people to be secure and be able to spend enough money to keep everything ticking over. Unless you’re a member of the Bush family and milk a bubble by arming both sides of a fabricated conflict. Again with the social costs. When they’re your legs getting blown off, you tend to tally that a little differently. A stable business environment is preferable to anyone who prefers a t-shirt to a kevlar vest. You’d have to be pretty keen on 3D prosthetics to sign up for a war these days.

I am unable to find an image of the amputee chorus line from the movie War Inc. You’ll have to imagine it.

Food security is up there with housing as one of the most basic things any community needs in order to function, let alone survive sustainably. Can we start thinking about real production and the lives of the people who grow food and eat it, rather than share prices in some hallucination in a stock exchange built on an accounting error?

That would be great, thanks.

Posted in Australia, environmentality, pollyticks, social justice | Tagged , , ,

Electric bikes

There’s a mob in Barcelona making vintage styled electric bikes.

I love the styling on these Oto cycles. The colours, the shape, they’re gorgeous.

This is the sort of project that could be adapted for Australia really nicely. Here you need more than 26 km of range, but that’s doable. I wonder what we’d end up with if we put a couple of sheds on properties in towns outside the cities and played with some of the Tesla engine designs?

My idea for the design was to have panniers on the back of a utility bike and put an engine in one side. Depending on how far you wanted to ride the battery could be in the same side, or a larger capacity one in the other pannier. The idea is to get around the restrictions on electric bikes until there’s enough of them, and they’re developed enough, that hundreds of cyclists can turn up at the local council office and wave money in their faces. Here’s $25 for my permit for the year. No council is going to say no to that. There’d be a bit of a chat with the roads people, but the State Governments are desperate for money, too.

By building up the tech off road you get a chance to develop it and do it in numbers. There’s scope for testing tracks to be built and lots of videos to be uploaded, telling the stories of the people building them and what they can be used for.

450w-Electric-Gokart

That way any public body that tries to shit on the idea is visibly trampling hundreds of people’s lives and stories. In general Government tries to be a little more furtive about that sort of thing.

There’s the bonus that you can use shipping containers as sheds for construction and run the whole show off those you-beaut stirling engine micro power plants. While you’re developing your electric bike engine, set up a few stirling engines in shipping containers. (Again, put the videos and blueprints online.) Build some as well, depending on how you go. Then truck them out to small towns across rural Australia to set up distributed power and electric transport.

Extra points to whomever holds the first Australian electric go-kart regatta. This needs to be within a few hours travel of larger cities so that a million bogans can get in on it. Modified versions of the Tesla engine and battery design can have us in electric cars and bikes in no time. It’ll be like the Yarra Bird Man rally, on wheels. No doubt there’ll be Sydney Pride entrants doing Priscilla, electric queen of the desert.

The purpose is not to make a million dollars, it’s to make the point. We’re going to have the Living Income before long anyway, so you’ll be able to live reasonably well and spend all your time playing in the shed. Once the videos get around, you won’t need to buy your own beers down the pub any more and if you travel, there’ll be other folks around the world working on similar stuff that you can visit.

Travel in the new global paradigm is going to be a lot of fun.

Posted in design, environmentality, sustainable community | Tagged , , , , , ,

Abundance by design

apple orchardAs part of the ongoing technology reviews, abundance and the shifting paradigm keep coming up. It’s worth looking at these concepts some more.

Imperial style neo-liberal economics relies on artificially generated scarcity. Warehousing is one name for a system based on bad accounting and outdated management.

A fiery hearing of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on Thursday offered the clearest insight yet into the deals that metal users say created bottlenecks, leading to two-year long queues and pushing physical prices to record highs even as oversupply grew.

If social and environmental costs are erroneously written off, a move like this appears to generate profit. Of course, it is twisted thinking that creates enormous problems, distorting the entire market. It is a perversion of the free market system and blackmailing of the community. When those externalities are put on the books as business costs like any other cost, like rent, for instance, the fatally flawed accounting that made the idea of warehousing look good now reveals where improvements can be made. Improvements like recognising authentic supply and demand indicators in cases of things like food and housing.

Rupert-Murdoch-with-Prince AlwaleedGood design capitalises on technology and resources to create abundance, making more available for everyone. It’s the opposite of warehousing. Business in the 21st century is about finding needs and meeting them, sustainably. That means in the context of 7 billion people who all know each other at least indirectly, living on the same planet. That means robust business strategies, not a bus load of deviants gaming the system at the expense of everyone and everything else.

Whole-House-Greywater-System-700x551One great example is rain water catchment and grey water systems. By making use of rain that falls on the roof, that normally runs down the drain carrying all manner of rubbish with it into the sea, you reduce the burden on public infrastructure and made more water available in the local environment. Since we’ve built suburbs on much of our good farming land, people have worked out how to save what might otherwise be wasted. In the suburbs people are installing water tanks and barrels to use the water on veggie patches and aquaponics. There’s some great technology around that handles mosquitoes and filtration really well so that this can be expanded.

To live sustainably in dry or drought affected areas, rainwater catchment is vital. In areas with low and infrequent rainfall, and to avoid draining ground water, a lot of storage is needed so it’s included in positive-net housing design. Techno hippies love this. Some of them might become Carbon farmers, telemetrically controlling growing and mowing of green manure and hemp crops in between online gaming sessions, living in a pos-net home free of rent and bills, in cottage Primary Industry. Isn’t the future present wonderful?

green pond

Bio-plastics are a truly elegant example of the principle of designing for abundance. They start with vulgar lo tek stuff like hemp or algae. Most of plastic is Carbon and these plants are performing a biological miracle taking it from the atmosphere and putting it into an accessible form. It’s the greatest hack around. Since humanity has the capacity to tailor plastics at the molecular level we can factor in every aspect of the life cycle of the components, source materials and the product itself during this 4D design and manufacture.

From start to finish a product can be sustainable. It serves its purpose as a printed or fabricated part, product or structure. Then at the end of that iteration, it can be either recycled or bio-degrade neutrally into compost, which returns said former atmospheric Carbon to the soil. And you can make it look like whatever you want because it’s plastic. Whether it’s accessories, appliances, transport or housing, the attraction of the thing is not only in a thin veneer of appearance or Brand marketing, it’s the start to finish form and functions of the thing in a global context. Forget being conned into buying things that make you feel sexy. Real elegance goes much deeper than a consumer façade.

electronic-waste-in-guangdong-4279By using the technology that is now available to humanity, none of which is science fiction, btw, we can design for greater abundance at every level of manufacture and disposal. There’s enormous potential just in the organic chemistry that uses Carbon molecules, since we can use motivation to manage the planet’s atmospheric CO2 levels. Addressing the mental block that resulted in bizarre things like warehousing and throw away consumerism frees us to manage the planet’s resources and environment. The emphasis now is on meeting needs elegantly. Win in terms of availability of resources. Win in terms of getting everyone’s needs met. Win in terms of what goes back into the environment at the end of the product’s useful life. Win in terms of reduction of waste.

An additional benefit is the elimination of motivation for warfare, since resources don’t have to be fought over. They can now be either recycled or replaced by sustainables, like algae bio oil or electric engines. Since we’re now talking in terms of meeting needs of humanity around the world, we focus on the needs, not defending warehouses or further enriching the few people who still favour that approach. It’s about being in business day to day maintaining 7 billion people on the planet rather than preferencing a greedy, violent aristocracy. This is not another ideological war either. We’re not making war on poverty. We’re not making war on anything. You won’t need a molotov. It’s not animal farm.

It’s an idea that’s changing, the idea that bullying was the best way to run things. Networking and leadership training over the past six odd decades mean we can handle a change of mind fairly painlessly. So focus on the why, not on accumulating a big pile of cash or trinkets so that a few other people might think you’re in the club. The club was a bunch of bullies with an accounting error. Nobody wants to be in a club like that any more.

You’re not faced with fighting your way up the corporate ladder, you’re identifying the link where you’re most effective and doing what you do best. Every link is worth as much as every other, isn’t that how it goes? That’s been said for a long time now. Most of the reason for updating the model is because we can. As a species we’ve evolved to the point that we understand ourselves, our environment and the technology well enough to use elegant design to meet all our needs.

Personally tailored living that provides you with everything you need and nothing that you don’t.

It’s an attractive option. Warporn or geekgasm, your choice.

Posted in environmentality, partnership society, social justice, sustainability, sustainable community | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carbon capture technology at home

Everyone is pretty much aware now that the best form of Carbon capture and storage is leaving it in the ground. That’s established as being the No. 1 vector of approach for this little issue. Leave it where it is.

What about the cat that’s out of the bag though? Expensive drilling and hi tech sequestration may have their place. I’d like to suggest a lo tek approach that’s suitable for home owners and tenants with no industrial chemistry qualifications.

Kale. Seriously, kale can be grown as a green manure crop. It grows quickly, tall and can be dried and then mowed over into a nice mulch for the lawn and garden. It grows like a weed and willingly self sows. What gardeners call volunteers. Look for the tall variety, not these trendy fluffy things. Although they’d probably do the trick just as well. And they’re fairly ornamental. If you wanted to get it by the landlord and local council, growing on the nature strip, choose a variety of heights and colours.

kale_flowering

Think about the strong stem of four foot tall flowering kale. There’s a lot of cellulose in there. It’s not as woody as hemp or trees, but it does the trick in small spaces. All that cellulose is Carbon that the plant has absorbed out of thin air. That you consume as food and the stems and leftovers go back into the ground. Where the Carbon belongs.

Within a few months you can be picking your own kale and sharing the abundant seeds with friends and neighbours. Kale can be grown in yards, in lawns, on nature strips, in parks… Marshmallow is another one that does the same. Did you know you can eat marshmallow leaves? I wonder if anyone’s tested how much Iron, folate and B vitamins are in marshmallow. Perhaps we could replace half our supplements with forage? Peas and broad beans will also grow tall, quickly, and it’s the perfect time of year for planting them. Eat the peas, put the rest of the plant and pods into compost.

I mentioned hemp to someone online recently and they were all huffy that people would cut down trees to plant hemp. It hardly seems likely to me. Hell, grow hemp as well. It’s not as if you need a farm for that. We’re talking home Carbon capture here in yards, parks and roadside verges. The food is secondary.

You don’t even have to buy the stuff. Ask the Grandmothers around the place who do a bit of gardening. They can probably give you one or two types of kale seeds. Use the Version 0 database to record who has seeds and who needs them, to get this off the ground quickly around the nation.

Mowing-Woman-Grass

Eat some, mow the rest. Mow it before it gets too woody or it’s a pest. Unless you’re looking for a way to replace your expensive gym memberships with some healthy outdoors activity. With friends. Even unemployed people own mowers. Mow-a-thon at the local park and community gardens. No capes.

Prize for the most inventive automation of a mower-float. Try to keep it child friendly, I don’t want to see this in the news.

Posted in environmentality, Go for it!, green thumbs, playing with food, sustainable community | Tagged , , , , , ,