Sunday, August 14, 2016

Return to Muslandia

It is hard to understand how any sane person can follow an ideology that supports the death of others. If there are deadly penalties in your holy books, you have a moral, ethical and human obligation to not only walk away from it, but to denounce it at the highest mountain tops. I would go even further, if your ideology has EVER condoned the use of deadly force, you need to walk away.

We are none of us saints, probably because the whole idea of saints is a man made myth to an ideal that is unattainable,but we do have aspirations towards basic decency that all religions and the gods that were created around them want to deny us. There is nothing noble in presenting the other cheek, just abasement and humility. There is no virtue in telling half the world that they are second class and beneath interest or contempt, is there any justice in an eye for an eye?

The true study of the holy books written by unholy men should be counting the number of ways we are urged to murder. If genocide is acceptable today it's only because prophet after prophet, holy man afetr holy man and fanatic after fanatic has made it not only acceptable but also compulsory. If beating up the weak and the poor is the norm it's only because there is biblical, koranic and other precenednt. It is clear that the moment mankind introduces a god then it creates murder as an option.

Could this be the necessary and sufficient condition for the proof of the existence of god, the approval and the urge to kill your fellow man? You could even argue that demeaning women is another proof of god since all religions at one time oppressed the weaker sex by divine intervention and permission. But to that consider other ways religion is inhuman. They all denied obvious science and refused to accept the evidence of science, glorying in the beautiful events their books describe. They walk away from medical advances and propagate old medical practices, often as a threat to their own survival.

Muslandia is no better, but it could be when they actually purge the teachings of their mouthpiece with the emetic power of common sense and hope. And yet they resist because to admit a crack in the wall destroyss all they have lived, killed and died for over the centuries.

The day tat Muslandia allows women a say in their teachings and the power to change those teaching, will probably be the day they start joining humanity and become truly mythless.

The Bernie Phenomena

The 2016 election has been highly entertaining so far. Less for the ideas expressed and the advances provided to humanity of how we, as a species, a nation or a group can better ourselves than for just a Kardashian exuberance for the cult of the almighty ME.
A very long time ago when I was in high school, one of my teachers asked us to write down and sign the following: "I, Peter Brown, am the least interesting person in the world." His point was manifold, but in effect he was telling us that in the great unveiling of the Universe our fifteen year old opinions and thoughts mattered little. He was right, of course, and in many ways he still is and most specifically when I overhear discussions punctuated by the immortal I and ME.
This election cycle has brought the ME syndrome to the forefront of the selection dance. The obvious champion of the genre is the immortal Trump. But he is in no way alone at the top. On the Democratic side we have the resurrected Bernie, or more specifically the Bernie followers. Who, because for the first time in their lives, actually got involved in a large political movement, still firmly believe that they are entitled to the nomination. In spite of overwhelming evidence that hey never had the votes or even the support of the country, they still demand justice and the nomination.
It came as no surprise that the two noisiest factions were the losers and the soon to be loser because only in religion does the ego of the one sway nations. To do that all the great messiahs have enlisted hypothetical support from a great unnamed source.
We are not there yet, but the race is in its early days  and who knows what will happen in the days ahead.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Rules of War

What we are seeing is not war. What we are seeing are random acts of violence that have no relation to the age old concept of war. There are specific rules to war, rules that stipulate what aggression and organized murder has to take in order to be called a war.

Wars must be fought between armies, not small children watching fireworks. The combat unit is called a soldier. He is a trained operator working for pay and prestige engaged in working against similar units on the other side. The war itself must be declared between nations who sponsor their units. If you are not a recognized unit, you cannot participate. The price for a civilian to jump into a war is very high and can lead to the execution of hostages from the civilian's immediate surroundings.

Realistically what we are seeing are just a series of murders that the public, which should not be involved, has, in its ignorance, called wars. In effect all the "terror attacks" should be treated strictly as random murders and investigates and solved by the police forces of the country where they occurred. By elevating mass murder to a war level serves only to glorify the sociopathic tendencies of the murderers. This is proven by the fact that these sociopaths compares themselves to the highest authorities in the land by claiming that God alone makes their acts justified.

God does not exist anywhere in the panoply of war and has no standing in the laws that govern these contests. The invocation of arcane items in mythical texts is a clear indication that the murders are not acts of war but delusions of sick minds, hence the narcissistic sociopath's position as the central figure in the event comparing himself to a mythological figure of great power.

Maybe, if we lower the rhetoric to the level of simple acts of murder by sick people we would see a diminution of these events based on an increase of education for those afflicted by the delusions.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The hidden agenda of BREXIT


1932 all over again, different players, same old shit. With Russia starting its gnawing away at its neighbors in order to get more territory, the UK is groping its way towards the US. Military and religious unrest in the middle east taking petro power away from the civilized world, all we need is for one of several small conflicts to give one or more tin pot dictator to become offended and start something.

Do you think that Donald has the brains of a Hitler? Does Hollande look like a Petain? Is there a country on the planet with an incredible arsenal and has it been training their troops with mini-wars for a while?

Are parts of the world loaded with ultra rich, ultra educated young people fanatically following some sort of leader we know little about? Is the Koran the new Mein Kampf? Why is all wealth accumulated in a small enclave of the disgustingly rich and taxes abrogated for them? Those tax dollars, Euros, Riyals and Rubles that should be staving off the forces of evil are, in fact, stoking the wars.

Am I getting nervous? You bet, Brexit is a symptom and it will disenfranchise our allies.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sex and God the two sides of the same coin?

Sex and God.
It occurs to me, a well meaning atheist, that there is little difference between how individuals treat their sex life and their religious affiliations. For the most part they are handled the same way, a sort of benign and almost embarrassed afterthought that is really nobody else’s concern. It is not, in general, discussed unless you are in a sort of frat party situation where great exaggeration are the norm, seriously.

Think about that kegger moment when you and your co-believers got tanked and started making those absurd claims of my dick is bigger than your dick! Or at the local mosque, temple or church when the minister full of himself and the Holy Spirit declares that his god is bigger, nastier or flat out better than all other gods. As the tempo escalates you can bring in “proof” of the most absurd kind and very often those discussions degenerate into physical violence.

We all know, especially the women, that the differences are very small, that they mean nothing in the outcome and that both really do not bring anything new to the table, as it were. But nevertheless there it is, now deal with it!

The best way to deal with it is to treat both in the same way, what you do in your sex life should be very, very private unless you happen to be a member of the GOP, then it appears to be fair game for all and sundry. Religion is the same, really and absolutely the same. If you are gay or straight, transgender or a pedophile, that is on you and you alone and if you need to impose your thoughts on others, others have the right to defend themselves. If you are Christian, Muslim, Mormon or Pastafarian, that is on you and you alone and a handful of like minded believers. Pushing the metaphor a little here, I have never gone to my front door and been asked by a well meaning deviant if I had ever heard the good news about fellatio or gay sex. I have never heard of fisting experts declaiming every Sunday about the uplifting reasons to pursue that peculiar rite.

So be it for religion. I admit that some well intentioned fanatics want to make it their business what you do in the bedroom, but they feel no compunction about proselytizing about their peculiar religious aberrations. On the contrary, we have gotten to the point now where a religion has absolutely no qualms about proclaiming that not only is their long dead head honcho the bomb, but that he wants all of us to either swallow the bomb or make them. Imagine if you will a conspiracy of righteous rightists telling the world that if you ascribe to certain bodily activities, they have a divinely ordained duty to kill you. The closest I would come to that (pun) is strangulation sex, and that may be whole new religion.

My advice is to treat God and sex in the same manner, keep it personal, off the streets and if it works for you fine, just remember that what pulls your chain or saves your soul is your problem, not to be shared. Both will do for you whatever you want it to do, just keep the noise down, close the windows and curtains and be slightly ashamed at your position and the weird noises you have to make getting where you need to be.


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Horst Wessel and John Birch

Who will be next dead Horst Wessel or John Birch hero of intransigence? I ask because there are already a number of volunteers on the ISIS side who have postulated for the honor. Many have applied and the closest we have come is Jihadi John, the British, now hamburger meat, who took great satisfaction in beheading people.

Oh, sorry, I forgot to explain. As you know Horst and John were the poster children of extremist movements who achieved such high honor by conveniently dying. Horst on the Nazi side and John on the GOP side. They were both firm supporters of a certain ideology and it seems that extremist groups really need this type of figurehead, so when Mein Trumpf decided to embrace right wing thuggery the search was on for a suitable candidate. The main drawback is that no one has died yet in the service of Mein Trumpf. There has been a lot of Sturm und Drang, incoherent rants and raves, a smidgen of violence encouraged and embraced by the Yam, but no real substance.

But hair Trump is nothing if not ingenious and his adoption of the Hitler salute was sheer genius. Quite a few people do not have fond memories of Uncle Adolph's ability to generate dead people. So the Donald must be counting on someone in one those rallies to get out of hand and either get whacked or whack someone in order to create his poster child. We can only hope that the candidate is an acceptable victim. The Trumpinator does have his standards you know, no Muslims, no Immigrants, damn few Democrats, probably have to be white and Christian, and no, not even in the running, a woman. He could put an ad in the KKK newsletter and would easily score any number of decent, law abiding bigots.

Either way, the originals should not be too difficult to emulate, Horst was a pimp who wrote popular marching songs and John was a missionary in China. so the bar is low. About as low as Mein Trumpf's IQ.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The VW TDI Engine Tragedy.


Clearly VW has stepped in it big time, and clearly they will have to pay but just as clearly there are dangers in sacrificing the baby with the NOX bath water. As an expert in crisis PR with an abiding interest in energy and more recently renewable clean energy, there are some serious silver linings in this black cloud story, but first let’s try and analyze the problem in a mature and adult manner.
What is the crux of this situation, in a sense is  VW and Audi’s almost slave like determination to promote their hugely successful TDI engines beyond what they could support or deliver. The little machine that won LeMans several years in a row, put diesel power way ahead of a number of very sophisticated gasoline engines while delivering unbelievable MPG and performance still has a long life ahead of it.
The TDI is what the diesel should have been when it was first started running on peanut oil. Then the actual petroleum fuel that came out of the design centers in Germany exploited the additional energy that resides in diesel fuel. Make no mistake, the diesel engine by and of itself stands way above any other system in their ability to transform a liquid into work. And therein lies the tragedy.
Because it forgoes the ignition system of the four stroke gas powered engine, it causes the fuel to burn through a scientific combination of pressure generating heat which reaches the explosion phase at just the right time of the cycle. In the beginning the diesel engine was used for its immense torque in very large applications like trucks, power plants and ships. The delicate balance between torque and performance dictated the application and with the advent of renewable biodiesel, the possibility of using the diesel in more mainstream applications became a real quest to have their cake and to eat it cleanly.
In the US the diesel continued to be the ugly, smelly and noisy duckling that could never become a swan, but in Europe, where the cost of fuel was through the roof, the governments subsidized the sale of diesel fuel and in consequence diesel engines. Mercedes, VW, Audi, later all the French and British manufacturers followed suit and soon whatever was available in gas was available in Diesel. In France, for example, over 40% of the cars ran on diesel, even though the cost of the car was higher due to the more expensive power plants and support.
Millions were invested and all was well with the world, but two looming issues would soon challenge the emerging diesel supremacy. The first was the search for power, nothing new there because diesel cars have always been perceived as being poky and all the refinements brought to the gas engine could not be adapted to diesel, ignition fiddles, higher compression, and others were non starters. The only advantage the diesel really had was the fact that because of its compression ignition happening at high temperatures generated by high compression, the machine itself had to be built like a brick outhouse.
It actually goes beyond the simple software fiddles, to make the engines perform as stated they had to increase the amount of oxygen going through, hence the turbochargers that stuffed air through the intakes. But while stuffing air meant more oxygen it also meant more nitrogen and oxygen and nitrogen combining at high pressure and temperature made the NOx levels skyrocket and there are no shortcuts to chemical reactions. That this was happening was suspected and proven way before the scandal broke as several research studies had proven. Essentially what the US study had proven was that what was too good to be true, was too good to be true and how the fiddle had been performed.
VW and others rigged the game simply by detecting testing situations, dialing them into the software and rigging the exhaust parameters to show much lower levels of pollutions when only the driven wheels were turning as it happens in a smog test.  But it was an open secret based on the assumption by VW that allowed those bypass codes to be invoked in critical situations that could endanger the engine or the occupants. In short, they were allowed to design bypass scenarios, they were not allowed to use them at will.
So what of the fuel? Simply put, diesel fuel has gone through a slow and steady redesign over the years and right now there are several grades of refined diesel fuels available on the market. From the sludge like bunker fuels taken on board to power supertankers to the ULSD (ultra low sulfur diesel) available at the pumps as well as the additional availability of various concentration of biodiesel, from B5 or 5% bio to B100, pure diesel fuels from various organically grown vegetable oils and fats.
It is worth noting here all that fuels have been manipulated to allow higher compressions, reduce specific knocking issues and generally be altered to meet specific environmental conditions like lead poisoning that spurred the elimination of tetrahedral lead from the seventies to the year 2000. California and other regions have area specific fuels designed to meet more or less stringent conditions. Could this be one avenue for the diesel fuel and engine? Probably less easily as can be imagined. Early engines did not rely on digital fixes that allowed the ECU to control the parameters of the fuel consumption so they had to change the game by changing the fuel. Just removing the lead created significant problems for the engine makers as well as the petroleum companies, and yet hardened valve seats were installed, timing was adjusted, direct injection and other evolutionary fixes were installed and horsepower increased.
But in those remote times, when a chemical product threatened the planet, the financial interests of the corporations took a back seat to the health of the world. Recall the incredibly effective Freon recall that slowed the erosion of the Ozone layer in a matter of years. Recall also the lead, the PCB and other hugely successful products banned and dismissed quickly and permanently with little fuss and bother. That is no longer the case in America and a few other countries. The movement is to deny evidence and press on regardless with the damaging situation.
Global warming is undeniable. Ocean pollution is undeniable, GMO poisoning and widespread use of antibiotics damage are undeniable, and yet, and yet we have our new corporate citizens in denial for as long as the profits flow like tar sands to the refineries.
Back to the TDI, it operates at high compression with massive amounts of air being rammed through to mix with an essentially unsuitable fuel. There are ways to solve the software by rewriting code to not circumventing the testing parameters, what is harder will be rewriting the chemistry of a non-NOx producing engine.
Arguably the simplest solution could be for VW to offer a onetime conversion kit to natural gas for all the affected engines. On paper it would work simply because methane and other forms of natural gas have a lower burn temperature for peak output without significantly affecting the horsepower of the engine. With all the sick TDIs running around, the case could be made to have VW recall and convert, then resell the cars into a completely clean transportation cadre. That kind of project would work for a government agency that could develop the infrastructure to support the project.
VW is in a crisis, make no mistake, because they not only cheated, they did it blatantly and over a long period of time. They were outed supposedly by an American team of engineers making some very obvious studies. In effect the team brought their exceptional PR backing which made the story more appealing although less relevant.  In crisis PR the key is always to explain what happened then find a solution that will stop hurting the company and start it on the road to recovery. The cost is irrelevant if within reason. Converting to natural gas is one, very attractive, solution that would open up the TDI to a whole new market and if done correctly still allow the little diesel to romp and play in the diesel world.
Peter Brown, a recognized author of several articles on climate change, biodiesel, solar and other alternate energy sources, is the founder and Principal of Euro Marketing Tools, a sales and marketing group specializing in the creation of ecologically friendly energy producing facilities in Europe and the United States. Peter has had extensive experience in various forms of power and energy project marketing, from CANDU reactors before Three Mile Island, to the James Bay Project and more recently solar, biomass and biodiesel projects.  A multilingual graduate of Washington College, he now specializes in bringing biodiesel to Europe and Africa from his home base in California. He can be contacted at peter@euromarketingtools.com or 1-408 628 9020




Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Praise of the Older Employee.


 

As a senior citizen I now have the option of looking back on a series of careers that spanned being a boatyard mechanic, selling nuclear power plants, handling marketing and PR for an uncounted number of high technology firms and now driving cars and people around for a large rental agency. My conclusions, which are aimed at the hiring managers, HR people and the PR departments of some of the larger corporations in America, Europe and even Japan at one time are that I am syill useful and decidedly underutilized.

For the last few years I have tried to land a position that would provide me with more than a minimum wage, using my experience and skills to the betterment of the company that hires me. I am afraid to say that that will probably not happen. It has less to do with my skills than the hiring personnel ethics. Let me explain.

The HR department operates under a number of fallacies bolstered by a perceived evaluation of its mandate and importance. The most pernicious fallacy is that you are looking for the ideal candidate based on a number of misconceptions not the least of which is that your solution will work for your company forever. Maybe that is true in your company, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average is 4.6 years and then gone. The numbers are half that for younger employees. (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm )

So hiring for the long term should be the least consideration, but us older people have learned through bitter experience that job changing does not improve anything, a small incremental change in income is not good enough, the better office, the new title really mean Jack. So we tend to stay and try to modify the environment to better suit our talents.  In so doing we will probably make life a whole lot more palatable for the other people you hired. As an older employee I instituted the four day work week in a large semiconductor company’s marketing department for the summer months. I did it because during those months, one member of the family was stuck at work which meant that the rest of the family was missing some serious face time. ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/peggydrexler/2014/09/29/consider-the-benefits-of-the-4-day-work-week/ ) I did it because I could see beyond the corporate need to take it on the chin for the company, productivity was up, and no earth shattering events occurred as a result.

The other fallacy is that only candidates versed in the latest technologies and buzz words will be acceptable. On examination this is truly corporate BS at its best. If you look behind the buzz you will see that theolder techniques still apply. For example all the noise about working off the cloud is not new. We used to call it distributed computing with intelligent terminals. I’m sure that there are IT departments out there who will dispute this, but our technology may have advanced while the applications are still in operation as always.  In this day and age of huge storage devices, from terabyte hard drives to 128GB thumb drives, there are very few reasons to not keep your data and apps close to home.

I have also noticed a tendency to downgrade experience. In our careers we have seen a lot of behavior trends that if identified early enough could have averted major corporate disasters. From bad product design to tactial blunders on a personal level there are early warning signs that should trigger alerts based on experience. If a CEO is accused of sexual harassment, deal with it immediately, not because it is bad for the company image, but because that CEO will do worse if he is allowed any leeway. Too early in my career I was put in charge of the Canadian Nuclear Engineering response to the Three Mile Island accident, I wrote my thesis on it as a matter of fact. The basic PR mistakes we made at that time continue to haunt the nuclear industry to this day. In retrospect I would handle it completely differently today, and that applies to Fukushima and other situations where an uninformed public is being panicked into knee jerk responses by uneducated reporters and pundits. If someone tells you that personal experience based on personal events is guiding his responses, pay attention. The big buzzword and industry surrounding crisis PR and management is best not used to test theories. The shit is in the fan, now what should be the attitude.

We also appreciate the quaint notion that you are hiring people who can step right in and implement all the latest techniques. The first thing that crosses my mind is the cost, something we old folks are very aware of at all time, from a personal to a corporate point of view. I was given a $4.5 million marketing budget, and came within $7,000 in the green to spending it all during one fiscal year.  That is experience at work, not fancy new software productivity tools and sales force spreadsheets and pink call papers.

Networking is also a highly undervalued commodity. Fossils have vast networks of people on tap at every level, every industry and country. Business is international; which means that there are no borders until you try to move money. Ideas travel without passports and being able to tell someone that you know a guy is more powerful than an HR person trying to fill a quota.  Personally I remember working with an engineering firm in Montreal on an assignment in Madagascar. I needed local talent for photography and for support services, yes I had a friend in Toulouse who had the necessary contacts, and yes the assignment turned out quite well.

The point of my diatribe is simple; most HR people we rub up against are younger, filling time and a slot matching badly written HR requests full of meaningless jargon. It is meaningless for two reasons, the first is that the HR department has no clue what the executive who put out the RFP for a specific skill, and he as to embroider his idea of what he thinks he heard. But having no experience in the function will miss the essence of the job and hire something he can relate to. Second, the hiring executive does not have the background to judge the fat old guy sitting in front of him who put together some of the largest engineering projects in his market.

My advice here to the HR humanoid is simple, offer the candidate you think will do the job right out of the box because he has done it before not the position but a consulting gig to meet your immediate needs. If, as you suspect, he does not fall flat on his face, then trot out all the corporate benefits of a permanent position. You will do two things, both good for you and your company, you will get the job done and you will earn the undying loyalty of a new, but older employee who will outshine his boss, but will not want that job.