Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mung bean report

Mung Bean report:

Ok, so, I like sprouting things. My favorites to date remains lentils and wheat. Wheat has a nice 'snack approved' taste and is full of fiber and such. And Walmart will send you a 26 pound bucket of wheat (with a 30 year shelf life) for about $15. That's about as cheap as it gets, and the sprouts are almost sweet. Now, don't expect a sugary sweet, but they are the sweetest sprout I've found thus far.

Lentils are packed with flavor and can be bought all day long for about a dollar a pound, making them very affordable too. Sprouted, lentils actually pack more flavor then they do as seeds.

And sprouting takes just a few minutes a day, about a gallon of water a day, and some form of plastic containers (think Tupperware). It couldn't be easier, and a tablespoon of seeds easily makes a cup of sprouts.

But my mung bean experiment is a bust.

Yes, they sprout faster than anything else, but they are 4-8 times as expensive as other seeds, so to be worth it they would have to be scrumptious. And they were just OK. Actually, I like the taste of lentils much better. Mung bean sprouts simply didn't add anything to my meals. Cooked, they were much like flavorless noodles, which is what I'll probably end up using them for.


I had high expectations for mung beans, and had heard SOOO many good things about them. But in a way I'm very relieved. They were very expensive per pound and rather difficult to get.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Autonomous road rage

I'm a big fan of autonomous driving cars, I think it's the future and I can't wait... except that there are HUGE problems with it.

Let's start with auto-braking systems.

On the surface, this sounds fine. Cars that take over the braking if the driver doesn't react fast enough is much like ABS brakes of the 90s. People didn't like the idea of the brakes not being in the driver's control, but ABS has prevented lots of cars and trucks from losing control and is now an accepted technology.

But as similar as these sound, auto-braking is not just a fancier and better Anti-Lock brake system.

Auto-braking can be hacked, and it will not require a pimply teenager to do it (although they will be among the first to discover the hacks)

Today, if you cut someone off and slam on the brakes in front of them, the driver in the rear has the option of ramming into you for your bad behavior. In a future with auto-braking cars, the computer will take that option away from you.

So, if the auto-braking car is being followed too closely by a human driven car behind it, and some pimply kid with a learners permit cuts off the auto-braking car and slams on the brakes in front of it, the computer will react and prevent the front end collision – While reacting faster than the human behind it could possibly react, THUS causing a rear-end collision to occur.

I also foresee other hacks.

When cars use optics and radar to 'see', both can be hacked. Painting illusions and such on roads could trick auto-driving cars into changing lanes when no human would. And radar can be jammed. This will become the high-tech equivalent of tossing rocks from overpasses.

It will happen.

Mung bean sprouts Day2

Solar powered roads to poverty

Let me start by saying that I'm a fan of solar and wind. When I was a teen, I made a solar cooker out of cardboard boxes and a roll of aluminum foil. But these alternatives are often asked to do things that they simply can't, like cooking at night or breakfast in the morning, there ar things they simply can never do. In the case of the cardboard cooker, you 'can' use it to make breakfast or dinner after midnight, but you have to 'bake' a 40 pound brick of concrete during the day, then store it in an insulated 'stove' or 'hot box' and use the stone for all your cooking. This is hugely problematic and takes an inexpensive cardboard and foil design and blows a billion dollar hole in its budget.

I see the same thing happening with solar and wind. We are told they're cheaper alternatives to messy and complicated coal, and in a cardboard and foil sense, everything we're being told is true. But to make them work in a world that likes breakfast before sunrise and dinner after dark, you have to do some truly expensive things that you just don't have to fool with with dirty coal and oil.

Today I saw where millions of our tax dollars are going to building expensive solar panels into roads. Yes, roads, where heavy cars slam on brakes, burn rubber, and sling mud. Ok, forgetting that this plan hinges on placing billions of expensive panels where they are the easiest to steal, and forgetting that this means that car wrecks that damage the road could now result in electrocutions of both drivers and rescue workers, and overlooking the whole pothole problem we have with traditional roads, where oh where are they planning on storing all this daytime electricity for night-time use? Wherever it is, let me assure you it will be insanely expensive and it will only be discovered that we need it AFTER the roads are wired up.

Sadly, there IS a way to use roads as a power source.

Stirlings, a very old kind of thermal engine, are very capable of harnessing temperature differences as little as 10 degrees.

By leveraging underground geothermals (averaging 60 degrees) against road surfaces, it would be easy to harness black surfaces like roads, but unlike the proposed photovoltaics, thermal engines can be made to run WHEN THERE IS A DEMAND for ELECTRICTY, not just when the sun is shining. And, geothermals would allow you to melt the snow on such roads WHILE it was making electricity AT NIGHT. So long as the surface of the road was 10 degrees hotter OR COLDER than the underground geothermal, it could make electricity.

But this is NOT what tax payers are spending money on.


Instead, we are gluing expensive panels where they will be exposed to the highest wear and tear imaginable, if they don't get stolen first.

There is no source of stupidity greater than a politician with the ability to make grants.