Archive for January, 2012

Whip Your Hair

24 January 2012

Why do people go crazy when they assume positions of power?

Jimmy Fallon is a TV personality who has a show called “Late Night” on NBC.

In November of 2010 he did a bit with Bruce Springsteen where they covered Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.”

I found out about this when I heard Terry Gross interview Fallon in May of 2011 for her NPR show “Fresh Air.”

This morning, in bed, I found myself thinking of that interview and cover song, and began singing it.

This led to a long philosophic conversation with myself regarding many and diverse topics, beginning with, if I recall, why people go crazy when they assume positions of power.

The Power Formula

In Scientology we have something called Ethics Conditions, and each condition has a formula that you apply to get through that condition and move up to the next one. At the bottom is Confusion, and at the top is Power.

I realized that this is probably the first time anyone has tried to educate the general public on how to hold power without going insane. LRH wrote quite a bit about the subject. I found myself contemplating what a person must go through as they recover their spiritual abilities…


At about this time in my solo discourse, I noticed someone leave their apartment, and I looked at my clock. 6AM. That’s when I used to have to get up when I worked.

I caught a bus a little before 7 to get to Bellevue by 9. The trip home also took about 2 hours, from 5 to 7 pm. That’s 12 hours from leaving home to returning home, with only 8 hours spent at work; 12 hours of time spent for 8 hours of production time. That’s an efficiency (Pout/Pin) of only 67%.

We should work where we live

For 26 years I worked about 100 yards away from where I lived. Why isn’t society arranged that way?

Farmers live where they work. But migrant farm workers only do this by moving around a lot. That’s called “nomadic.” “Primitive” people were nomadic because of seasonal changes in their environments or because they would ruin an area after living in it for a year or two.

I once saw a TV show (It was a 1973 British show called Bellamy on Botany – that’s Dr. David Bellamy, now 78 and still an environmental activist) that demonstrated how overgrazing of sheep and goats in Spain had caused rampant deforestation there, and a resulting significant change in the local climate where this had occurred. Sounded like those sheep herders should have been more nomadic, but something was preventing them from being so.

Private property ownership

Nomadic agricultural practices cannot occur in a modern context unless the herders own all the land they use for grazing. The “modern” agricultural paradigm uses a private property model that effectively prevents such forms of communal ownership in most parts of the world.

Private ownership of land is definitely a contributing factor to the inefficiencies found in “modern” society. This concept, as practiced in “modern” times, treats land as a commodity that can be owned by a person the same way one owns his shoes or his food until he eats it. But who manufactured that commodity? Nature; mother earth. So who should really be profiting from letting us use the land? Mother earth.

Why can I survive on $1,000 a month when most people need $3,000 or more? Because they believe a lot more in private property than I do. Per one website, in 2006, the average monthly cost for a mortgage in the US was $1,687. People think they are paying for their house. But in recent times (per one study) almost half the price of a house is in the land. Between 1975 and 2006, per this study, the price of residential land increased by 4 times, while the cost of building a house remained basically constant. (Davis and Heathcote, 2006)

The earth has only so much surface area. If we price land by its surface area, then as population increases, land prices will move up. But 4 times in America is way beyond the rate of population growth. There was another factor: The cost and availability of mortgages. Over the same period, the supply of mortgage money increased dramatically. This resulted in “houses” increasing in price from $30,000 to $130,000. But almost all of this increase is due to inflation, per the graph I am viewing, indicating that the price rise was driven by the money supply. I found a graph of “mortgage originations” from 1990 to 2008. It starts at about $100 billion in 1990, and goes up to almost $400 billion in 2006. There’s your 4x. This does not included mortgage refinancing. This was nearly zero in 1990 and peaked in 2003 at about $700 billion.

In the late 1800’s Henry George warned us about the dangers of treating land as a commodity subject to price speculation. We should have listened.

I got up to write this down

It is a bit after 9am now. I have watched Willow Smith’s music video for “Whip My Hair” and watched David Bellamy debunk greenhouse gasses on the BBC.

I expanded the previous section with data from the internet.

And I look forward to a new day full of things to do.

Who do I have to thank? My father? He used part of a government grant to finance a house in the Berkeley hills in 1961. He used the proceeds of that sale to buy a new house in Ann Arbor in 1964. And in the 13 or so years that I lived there, he earned, saved, and invested. Even I did. But today he can afford a nice retirement, and I can’t. I bought out of that dream so violently that I became a pauper, depending on handouts from my family to survive.

The slave model versus the family model

My family had 5 members. Two parents and three children. That is a correct size for a group. “Primitive” people knew this and used the family as the basic organizing model. One parent is the I/C (In Charge), the other becomes the Deputy I/C, and the children become juniors. The deputy runs the juniors and the I/C spends most of his or her time working for the group above him (or her). The I/C also serves as representative for his (or her) group in meetings of the higher-level group. This pattern can be extended ad infinitum to make an organization of any size and complexity.

Why didn’t we use this model originally?

Someone thought the “primitives” were primitive! Lie!

Those liars believed in the slave model. One master, many slaves. The slaves are supposed to do what the master tells them to do. The ones that don’t are punished or killed. That’s called “natural selection.” This model has been used extensively by liars throughout recorded (and unrecorded) history. It has been uniformly unsuccessful. Yet it was chosen as the model on which to build societies on earth. What was wrong with those rulers to choose a failed model? They must have been crazy!

So now you know why I worry about how to make the powerful sane.

My room only has one chair.

21 January 2012


(enigma: A riddle or a perplexing, ambiguous statement. From Greek.)

Enigma has worked in art and literature. It is almost expected. But I find it a bit soft and squishy now. My title seems a bit that way. But I thought it would be a good way to introduce this short update.

The situation

I bought my big table from Ikea when I moved into this place. It was the only table in my room. So I did everything on it. This made sense to me. But the space became very cluttered. With all my electronics stuff on the table, there was barely room for me to work on my computer. A huge CRT monitor sat over my head on a hastily-built frame, though I had since purchased a used flat screen for $25. There was no room for another monitor on my table, although I occasionally wanted to use two computers at the same time.

I had another table. The top came from my friends at the Museum of the Mysteries. They let me take it when they moved from Broadway to Union. (They are in the Inscape Building in the International District now.) I attached some “legs” to it fashioned from a broken clothing rack that someone had thrown away. But it was too low to work at, so I just put things on it.

Taking a Look

I looked at the mess on my desk. And I looked at my life and my interests and my dreams. And I realized that I was being an artist. Maybe I wasn’t doing a very good job of it, but that seems to be what I was, and what I had wanted to be from an early age.

Making some space for my art

I decided that if I was an artist then I needed a space to be an artist. And I set about re-arranging the room so that my “art” would have its own table. It is a work in progress. But I did well for spending almost no money on it. I figured out how to use the wood from the frame holding up the CRT monitor to make extensions for the legs of my second table, and a cross brace on the back side to stiffen it.

I re-arranged my shelves so that I could move another little rolling table next to this new work table and use it to hold the things that had been on the other table.

It was good.

Briefcase projects

I make my electronics creations in three different form-factors (mostly). Some of them are in little plastic boxes, some of them are built into rack-mount cabinets (17 inches wide with a 19-inch wide flanged front panel) and I decided to make some that would fit into briefcases (16 inches wide, 12 inches high, and 3 to 6 inches deep depending on the briefcase. I had a couple of big “tool box” briefcases from Home Depot and I wanted to use them more efficiently. I came up with several different projects for this “briefcase” form-factor.

  1. Motors and stepper motors. With a possible audio component relating to the measurement of sound interference patterns.
  2. Magnetics and power. Low and high voltage power supplies, a pulse train generator, and a means for triggering magnetic coils.
  3. Resonance and overtones. Playing with resonant circuits in the audio ranges and higher, with a mixer to combine signals to get a complex output.
  4. Programmable micro-controllers. This is how most equipment works now. It is controlled by a little micro-computer loaded with a dedicated program. Widely used in engineering classes.
  5. Process control simulations. Use electronic components to simulate the operation of manufacturing equipment. Use the micro-controller or other hardware to control the process. This is the technology of industrial automation.

And so I was able to organize a lot of my junk in alignment with these projects and begin to put together some prototypes.


Creating stepper motor drivers and control waveforms has been a huge challenge for me. But I realized as I was mounting my various stepper motors (mostly ripped out of printers) that they could produce signals that I could probably observe on my sound card oscilloscope. Sure enough, they do! Then I decided to amplify those signals using a little audio amplifier, and use that to drive another stepper motor. I had the second motor mimicking what I did with the signal motor! Very nice!

I was also trying to put together a motor (or step-up transformer) driver using what is known as an “H” configuration of transistors. Usually they use all MOSFET transistors. You need two n-channel units for the bottom of the H and two p-channel units for the top of the H. But I didn’t have any p-channel units. Finally I realized that I might be able to use PNP transistors instead of the MOSFETS. Clever! I tried it and it worked!

Now this driver feeds a high frequency neon sign transformer to produce about 500v AC, which can be rectified into a relatively high voltage to drive my coils with.

A change for the better?

Only time will tell. I feel bad putting so much time into what could easily be brushed off as just a hobby. But when one finds something fascinating and compelling to do, why turn away from it? Why not try to make it your life? It basically is already. Why not try owning who you really are?

I still have just one chair. I have to move it, and the board underneath it which I use to protect the floor, when I want to work at the other table. But I’ve done it and it’s fun. My table #2 has a view, while my “office” table faces away from the window. So I hope I will be sitting at my other table more often in the future.