29 February 2012

The Road Ahead

I have been reading some of Walter Russell Mead's works on Beyond Blue (part one here, others at the same site) which is looking at the decay of the old Blue Model of Society, which is the Progressive model that started out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  This model had some features to it that were driven by social change, the largest of which is the productivity of farmers in the Midwest and Western US that led to a growing abundance of food.  With higher productivity rates the individual farmer could feed more people per acre and, thusly, fewer farmers were needed to feed not just the Nation but, increasingly, the world.  At the same time the Industrial Revolution's ongoing expansion meant a centralization of production at urban centers and these required a workforce to man them.  The break-up of the old farming economy was due to factors of increased productivity and increased need for workers, which meant a displacement of individuals from rural environs to urban ones.  The effect of this is to concentrate economic and political power in cities and urban environments.

Prior to the post-WWII era the traditional nuclear family transitioned from farm life, where involvement of children in the farm work was a necessity, and this also meant that learning what is necessary for a good life also was taught more at home than in school.  Education was highly valued and rare in the pre-19th century and the migration to cities and increasingly urban jobs meant that children began to be cut off from hands-on knowledge of what it takes to lead a good life and that more time was spent learning in school than learning at home.  The institution of child labor laws, one of the Blue Model's successes, came at the price of distancing children from work and learning how to make a living.  Still, prior to the post-WWII generation a child with a 6th grade education was considered to have more than enough schooling to join an adult workforce.  The Blue Model that grew up for this was also characterized by the Progressive concept of centralizing life in the urban areas and continuing to expand government authority to 'help' these new people living in this environment.  This was a process to acculturate the post-migration generation into a more highly structured life modeled, in large part, on the industries upon which it depended.

This Blue Model faced problems after the post-WWII era due to the withdrawal of government size from its war years and the tax breaks that also arrived with that.  Businesses that expanded or absorbed other businesses during the WWII years now had relatively well equipped factories that saw women leaving them to marry and create families, while men who had a good military work knowledge came home looking for employment.  Higher wages than meager government military pay meant social mobility upwards and the expansion of automobile industry started by Ford, meant actual physical mobility was also available at a low cost.  The migration to the suburban environs became, as Mead attributes to Kenneth Jackson, the "crabgrass frontier" and the suburban home became the new homestead.  To socially centralized political organizations this was a disaster as the very Blue Model they had developed required a centralized workforce that had little mobility.  The answer to this, politically, was to expand education requirements and inculcate an even further distancing from the nuclear family through requirements for higher education for jobs.  Still this was not something that every individual sought and the old industrial society continued onwards as it was at the heart of the new prosperity and supported the social model to a large degree.

In response to changing economic and social mobility women re-entered the workforce utilizing their knowledge of their ability to do that from the WWII years, and were often in entirely different career paths than their husbands.  This did not, of necessity, change society or even business models as the family run or sole proprietor business world continued to expand throughout the post-war era.  In fact it was the small business world that had always had a predominating part of the economy that came into its own in the post-war era and started breaking up the private union system which, like the Blue Model, depended on centralized workforces for survival.  This also started to remove the other part of the Blue Model support system which was the expectation you would only be employed at one business for your life and expect to get compensation from that business via a pension.

At home the expansion of technical jobs ramped up educational needs from that of the pre-war generation and a gradual move to require more than high school education became a factor in decisions made by children and families for what was necessary to actually continue on a socially upward path from generation to generation.  Sociologically American children were now spending more time in the first 20 years of their lives learning about making a life at school than at home, and as no expansion of small business start-ups could range wide enough to become all families, the experience of running a life for oneself also became a more distant phenomena.  The early Blue Model educators had given way to their successors raised totally in the Blue Model in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  A generation of educators who took part in WWII was being supplanted by those who only knew of war by what stories they heard, what they saw on television and the movies, and what their teachers taught them.  An idealized society that the very first Blue Model educators had (Dewey, et. al.) and their Progressive Dream had no viable alternatives when the post-war raised children joined the ranks of education.  The family moved from being a central part of life, with shared activities, to one in which children were increasingly separated from parents and they were taught by children who had grown up this way, as well, often with no other job experience than that of wanting to be a teacher.

By the mid-1980's, however, the Blue Model was starting to decay as the old centralized industrial sector collapsed due to lower price and often higher quality foreign goods, and industries having few incentives to stay with a high cost, high overhead workforce, went overseas as well.  Centralized urban planning of the 1930's dream became the centralized urban decay of the 1980's due, in large part, to the very inflexibility of politics that was supposed to be a buffer against social change.  It is in this timeframe that Social Security was found not to be something that could be supported and that it would have a final date of going red sometime around 2050.  And, in a few short years, that moved back to 2030.  By 2000 that was at going red in 2020, and it finally went red in 2010.  Social services supported by government taxation, supposedly to help the poor and elderly, were joined with new regulatory regimes that began to add cost overhead to the entire way medicine was done.  Educationally the stiff requirements were those expected for any high level engineer as medicine was, indeed, learning the very basics of biology and the intricacies of biochemistry and bodily mechanics.  A doctor trained in 1990 was far superior to any of his or her counter-parts a century earlier.  Government, in doing the regulation of what could and could not be done also began to regulate how much it paid out for goods and services in medicine, and found that this was not the full fare necessary to sustain the system.  The unmet cost got moved over to everyone else, so that beyond taxation and government overhead there was cost shifting and price increases due to government being unwilling to pay the full price for costly services.  Before the last hurrah! of the Great Society and the Blue Model was to come, the cost of treatment and medicine remained relatively stable, although on an inflationary price increase it was to meet inflation, only.  Post-Medicare and Medicaid the price of medicine undergoes a rapid increase that, like all bubbles, is to this day, unsustainable.

To inject the Blue Model further via government expansion in the 1970's was folly and yet done under both Democrats and Republican Administrations, so that modest programs set up to help Veterans get loans for home mortgages required a revamping and liquidation of the entire banking system so that everyone could take part in this.  It was not, of necessity, done at a conscious level, but the moves by government to not only allow commercial banks into the mortgage business and then have a government agency securitize them, meant that the old fashioned and localized S&L was put into direct competition against far larger institutions with far deeper pockets and political clout.  Within 15 years of the new regulatory regime, the S&L system had been largely obliterated at very high cost to all concerned.

Government also tried to 'help' individuals in creating IRA accounts that were protected from bankruptcy, and this meant that investments in IRA's were safer than your home.  Until the invention of the IRA in the 1970's, the family home grew only slowly in value and the expectation was that it would be worth about the same as it was when it was purchased, adjusted for inflation.  To compensate for the death of the S&L's, government at the federal level stepped in with the Community Reinvestment Act which brought yet more regulatory control to this area which, as happens with any area with more such control over the mechanisms at the lowest level, raised the cost of getting a loan.  Luckily the government was also grading the security of that loan so individuals had raised expectations of what they could afford and sellers adjusted accordingly.  By the second set of regulations in the 1990's, the government had fully stepped in to require banks to give loans to those who had no income, no job or assets and then turned around and graded and backed the grading of those loans as secure.

At this point actually having a job in a productive sector was something that was being actively discouraged not just by regulation but by cost overhead for that regulatory regime.  Sociologically the children of the 1960's had now trained their replacements in the old Blue Model regime of centralized planning and teachers were often twice removed from ever knowing a household that had anyone who did a job that actually produced a product or provided a service directly.  It is this generation that began to think of itself not in terms of children of parents who worked at productive jobs, but as consumers of items and creators of a 'lifestyle', not a life.  Automation is only to blame in part for these shifts, while other factors include such things as crony capitalism, where favored Blue Model big businesses (and they are ALL big businesses that support this model) and the barrier to competition they can get via influencing regulations at the lowest level not just at the legislative level but at the inner workings of the machinery via a revolving door between the governed and the regulators.  These businesses established yet more educational requirements (be they needed or not) and government got into the business of backing those loans, as well.  As with all such interventions, this has created yet another bubble in the economy in the name of 'helping' individuals.

Cumulatively the bubbles coming up from the Blue Model are those of a ship already underwater and the first big bubbles should have been a warning sign: S&L's and the housing market.  Next up are Social Security, the M&Ms, and the education bubble.  Additional bubbles in commercial property and environmental areas (like energy) are also appearing and nothing done to patch up the Blue Model can work as it is now putting society on a course for insolvency from the Nation State to the Individual.

This is horrific, of course.

That is, however, not how I see the trendlines now in motion.

As I've described in other pieces there are countervailing forces also at work which are, at one stroke, destroying the last of the Blue Model and giving a pathway out of this mess.  Not all of it is decentralized, but all of the solutions are competition based or based on small groups or individuals willing to take a hand and pick up a new way of life.

Of the semi-structured systems coming to the forefront are those of biotechnology, offering solutions to ending some of the most endemic viral diseases seen in mankind's history.  Also from this semi-structured area are advances in biotechnology offering ways to treat diseases that have been challenges to every change in our knowledge as they have been sitting in a realm that no one could easily address: auto-immune diseases.  With these also comes the genetic portion of understanding which is offering the promise of treating aging as a disease and possibly even arresting it and reversing it.  That is if the regulatory regimes let them, and as the regimes are old Blue Model ones meant to exist on relatively early deaths after a productive life, the fight to remove the regulations will increasingly involve a larger segment of society that is also hemmed in by laws on working age and retirement.  A continued and energetic life obviates the need for a Blue Model plan to 'help' people as they may retain physical function and capability well beyond normal life expectancy and keep right on going.  In these areas, as we are seeing now, the concept is that for you to be convenient to government you must die soon after your working life is over by government diktat.  When you can live to be 100 and have the body and energy of a 30 year old, then government is seen as an impediment, not a 'help'.

These technologies rely upon larger firms, but also upon new startups leveraging high tech to gain a foothold in new areas of medicine.  Basic physics, long thought to be something only geared to rocket scientists, is about to make a come-back as new space start-ups finally begin to cash in on the economics of a new frontier and more efficient systems to get to space (not just rockets but by other means as well) that will open up the 1960's promised 'Final Frontier'.  This is already beginning today as the current Administration, in an attempt to kill off spaceflight under government control, has now opened up the field to everyone willing to try and get to space on their own.  This includes the last wave of high-tech financiers and backers who are taking part in this dream to deliver it not just for themselves but for everyone with a will to use it.  What is forming up is a new generation of manned, autonomous and semi-autonomous space exploration working in harmony (although not via plan) that will play upon the positive aspects each can deliver.  This High Frontier will serve as the final drainage point for those willing to make a new life with all the risks involved that any frontiersman has ever had, just delivered with the finality of the vacuum of space.

Back on earth the prior generation of machining at factories is now delivering new, low cost, machine tools that anyone with a decent job of any sort can afford.  If you can afford a high end computer, you can afford a low-end lathe or mill.  Unlike the Maoist 'Great Leap Forward' this will not be done via a centralized plan but upon individuals finally wanting to make things themselves.  There has always been a hand-craft segment of society and that will not include metalworkers, who can now custom make smaller items and even afford to automate their rigs to make a lot of them for businesses.  On the personal freedom front this means that all manufacturing laws for things like firearms will be moot: when you can construct your own devices, not made for sale, you are then out of the realm of any law and able to back it up with your own tooled mechanisms.  Already States like MT, WY and UT are seeking to remove in-state firearms sales restrictions from federal purview as no sale will cross State lines.  Of all the challenges to the Blue State Model, this one is probably one of the most lethal as it pits the old and failing centralized government concept against the even older federalist doctrine upon which the States exist.  What is even better is that these same individual or small businesses that start up (and have been for nearly a decade) will begin to supply other businesses and firms with parts.  Like the new space industry.

Education is also in the cross-hairs of new technology and the harbinger of free courses offered by high name recognition institutions (like MIT) are now offering a new venue for self-education.  When basic courses can be instructed once, and offered at a self-paced and self-determined course, then the need for centralized education declines.  The 14th century model of an educator at an institution with a roomful of students will be supplanted  by one of a distributed, self-paced system that has no centralized theme to it.  The idea of home schooling currently offers not just a system for interaction between parents and children, but amongst parents and children who are home schooled.  It is possible to cooperate with other parents on getting lab and science time from instructors at low cost or to share costs amongst a group of parents for children so as to learn about scientific subjects at a more personal level and get hands-on experience.  Increasing use of networks of parents not just locally but regionally and nationally will become a new theme of this era that is coming, and educational institutions that want to exist past the first decades of this century will begin to decentralize to meet them.  Boutique and cloistered teaching systems of the old style will continue for those backwards enough to want them, of course, but that old Blue Model cannot even begin to understand the way this new model will work.

Unlike the views ahead of the cybernetics community that have given us such visions as Colossus, Skynet and the Singularity, there is no direction towards greater centralization to attempt to abolish individuality through a communal consciousness or movement towards a centralized cybernetic consciousness.  A decentralized set of cybernetic beings, however, is within the scope of this and that will grow out of the individualized wants and needs from within the human spirit, not dictated by a government bureaucracy or some 'inevitable' outcome of technology.  Prior generations of futurists had the Blue Model to deal with and they either incorporated it (in full or at least in general theme) or moved from it to utilize older paradigms and recast them into the future utilizing future recursion concepts based on past history.  This playing out of themes in human history, dominated for most of human history by centralized authority, is playing out yet again.  The long and epic history of failure of centralized systems from hydraulic Empires to the USSR, demonstrates a lack of capacity and flexibility necessary to deal with an unknown future.  Today that future is neither assured nor even possible if we do not, as a species, survive the next two decades.  To survive these new times requires the very flexibility and capacity to adapt that is lacking in centralized visions of society (be they only human or some cybernetic amalgam).  To put it more clearly: a collective state is not only a short term loser in history (for all the fact it keeps coming back), but a long term dead end as it is not a guarantee of success but of failure.

Is the old Blue Model of society, economics, and politics dying? Yes and without question, it is not just bankrupt of cash but of morality as well.

Is what will follow a guarantee of success? No, it offers a possibility for success and our chance to make of ourselves better individuals and, from that, a better society as a whole by recognizing that not only our rights but responsibilities and accountability for them start within us and do not rest in any collective organization we create.  Government, at its best, only has power to remove those who exercise negative liberties against society that is the only set of morality type that government knows and it is power.  To create a better society requires far, far more than government and each and every time government tries to 'help' it absorbs liberty it isn't designed to deal with and lessens our responsibilities and liberty, both, to the benefit of none and the detriment of all.  The future belongs to those willing to step into this future and its unknowns with open eyes and a willing soul to experience the joys and horrors of it as they go together when we exercise our liberty and freedom.  Tyranny and repression awaits on this other path we are on that ends at the abyss.  Many are trying to shove us over this edge by lying to us about it and what happens on that next step over it... and they are the dinosaurs who are already dead as the shockwaves of the impact of the next Great Awakening are already on the move and that will sweep all in its path if we aren't all killed, first. 

That is our simple choice, to live free or die. 

It always has been no matter what your Blue Model teachers have taught you, because they cannot live thinking it is true and will gladly end your liberty to deny it.

They are always willing to sacrifice others to their ends, never themselves.

Are you willing to sacrifice yourself from this comfortable Blue Model coffin to gain a better world for all of us by choosing a different path?  Will you stop the lid from coming down on your liberty or not?

One path offers opportunity and the hope of a better life, the other assured misery for generations... which do you choose?

Because if you don't make a choice, it will be made for you by those who seek power and only end up with ashes.

16 February 2012

First you get chronic illnesses...

...and then you get sick.

I am lucky in that the number of upper respiratory tract infections that I get have dropped from their extreme high in my teen years (anywhere from 3 to 5 per year with some of them lasting nearly a month) to merely 1 or 2 a year.  No matter how well I take care of myself, I still get the bugs... but taking good care of my diabetes allows me to track when something is trying to get a jumping off point and deal with it.  I may get a 3 day stint of relatively high readings and then my body will have gotten rid of the germ and I'm right as rain.

Still, once or twice a year I get something that isn't so easy to shake and I have one of those now.  I would well and truly not have survived my teen years without modern medicine circa post-1940.  One or two sulfa drugs I can stand but they never dealt with the infections I've gotten in the upper respiratory tract.  That is the ears, sinus, throat and, when things get really bad, the upper parts of the lungs although that hasn't happened since I was 16.

I can't really do much of anything safely with tools of any sort, although that doesn't mean I can't find things to do or things find their way to me.

My lady's laptop, a Dell Inspiron 1721 bought a few months after mine, decided that its problems with the battery system (that is it hasn't been recharging them properly) now needed to have a hard disc problem.  As I had been looking a bit deeper at the recharge problem and realized that it wasn't the batteries or the software, that meant that it was the hardware which is on the main board of the system.  Here is what I do when I see a major problem on the motherboard of a system that is over 5 years old: I get a replacement and build a new system.  I can't do that with a laptop and had to buy a replacement and decided on one of the HP Pavilion line of computers... refurbished, natch.

The Inspiron finally coughed up a major problem on the hard drive and it took half an hour just to boot enough of a system to see the drive errors that filled the error log.  Since I had already gotten the major apps installed on the HP, plus removed a bit of the built-in cruft (although I never got to removing all the games and other junk that came with it, but it sits quiescent, unused and, therefore, relatively safe) put in my favored AV (Avast!) and the Comodo free firewall, it was ready for use.  The first order of business was to take a look at the drive from the Inspiron on another computer, which would require that I get the actual hardware to do that, a USB to SATA/IDE drive connector.  Since I was doing that at NewEgg I also got a new drive for the system and scared up some freeware to copy a drive image if I could find it.  Those both arrived just as I was starting to get sick...fun, fun, fun!

A day after it arrived I put the old drive onto a system and did a basic scan, which didn't show much.  Then I took an image of the drive, and put an image of that on the new drive.  That drive wouldn't boot.  Thus I had to scare up a Live CD to see what was going on and that finally revealed that the drive wasn't being properly recognized by the system.  I put on an MBR and still, no dice.  Pull the new drive with image and then put a really nasty chkdsk /f on it.  An hour later... it was bad news for the old drive image.  The second chkdsk /f only took about 10 minutes revealing no other problems.  For S&G's I put it in the system and no boot, of course.  Two directories held massive amounts of recovered files, all unusable.  Thus it was time to pull out the old install DVD and get to work...

The new drive is functional and happy, the old image is mostly awful and unrecoverable, and yesterday I spent most of the day hunting down drivers, apps, and generally getting enough on the Inspiron to get it past the bootable stage and close to useful.  I slapped an AV on it and still have to put on another firewall, and then have to do a final clean-up, defrag and general getting it back into functional order and examine any NEW errors coming up.  Both of the Dell laptops are the same vintage and I'm guessing some minor thing like, oh, a cosmic ray toasted out part of the old hard drive on the machine I was working on.  A thorough low-level disc scan and sector map should figure that out and would make the difference between having a drive that had some minor but critical event and one that is wholly unreliable.  Since there are no cables I can easily get at involved, if its the cables then I'm to stripping the system apart and if I have to do that I will see if I can scare up a new motherboard from that old line of Inspirons.  Basically, by the time you put in the cost and effort to get an old machine up and running, you are at the cost of a low-end refurbished machine that will do more.

Until the economy truly tanks when we are seen as an unreliable spendthrift.

All bets are off, then.

I can do a lot more than just woodworking... a bit of firearms work... geology...

Actually it seems as if my interest in a lot of subjects has some dividend to it.

Another project I'm taking up... where do I get these ideas, anyways?... is an adsorption cooling system/refrigerator.

Basically most refrigerators around your house run on electricity and have a compressor involved.  Those running on propane or other fuels have a burner to heat up a liquid to its vapor point and then evaporating coils to get the vapor to phase change back to a liquid (thus cooling what it is in contact with) and then a final condensation set of coils to make sure the liquid gets back safe and sound to the heater.  You can make that into a solar system, and efficiencies vary.  These ones with minimal to no compressors are absorption systems.

What an adsorption system does, in contrast, is uses a medium to temporarily bind the vaporizing medium to the surface of it as a liquid.  That surface, when heated, breaks the weak surface attraction bonds and creates a vapor that then goes away from the region being heated.  Cooler areas will draw off heat to start and then, since the liquid is barely in a vapor state, the vapor condenses and removes heat from the area.  Since it is a phase change it takes more heat away than it puts in, thus chilling the area down.  This is a chiller, not a real refrigerator, but gets to much of the same ends.  The physics is pretty old, going back to Van der Walls force and the equations that govern this attraction between gases and liquids when they are in relation to surfaces.  It was not applied to chillers until... I think it was 2003 or 04 by Toshiba.  Amazing how 19th century physics can still be used today, isn't it?

Doing a bit of reading up on the subject the main elements for a solar chiller consist of a liquid that easily turns into vapor at a relatively low temp, an adsorption media that can attract a lot of molecules to its surface, a heating chamber with the materials in it, and a cooling area.  That is it, no pump.  Nature does the work both at the chiller area and, when the sun goes down, the liquid and vapor go back to the cooling region with the adsorption material due to the attractive force it has on its surface.

That's the theory, at least.

So what are the actual materials?

Methanol and activated carbon.

Methanol you can get from various sources, but you want it anhydrous.  Anyone doing biodiesel can point you to suppliers.

And activated carbon?  Used for filtering fish tanks.  Get it in the spherical, low dust version as you don't want carbon dust clogging the thing up over the years.  Some fine screening might be a good plus for the system.

I've ordered the basics for a rig to test it out:

- A length of 2" black pipe, 24" long with couplers and bushings to get the ends down to 1/2".

- Copper pipe in 1/4" for the chilling/condensing region

- Copper pipe in 3/8" for the heating to chilling region, thus giving the vapor a slightly easier path up to the 3/8" to 1/4" reducer

- Brass pipe fittings to mate all this up, I have teflon pipe tape

- Plastic boxes used for scrapbook making, which I will fill with brine and use bulkhead 1/4" connectors for, and this will be the chilling region... I may need to put a minor coating of something on the copper pipe, like shellac, say... dunno

Still to be made are a simple stand to hold the rig in place, and a couple of cardboard boxes so I can test the thing out.

For a simple test the black pipe gets mounted on black painted wood, perhaps in an open box configuration to help concentrate the heat, the copper runs up the sides to a platform with a brine filled box, and the 1/4" pipe has some gentle bends coming out of them (and some tighter ones inside the brine containers) to serve as condensers and a simple bend pipe trap to allow liquid to serve as a barrier to any back pressure coming from the heating area so the flow goes in one direction.

I am not expecting more than a few degrees difference between the box with brine and pipe and the box that will just have a brine container without pipe.  A couple of sunny and dry days will help this out no end once it is built.  If I can get any results then I will have the known factors for materials, sizing, volume and so on to allow for scaling up of things.  I'm figuring more heating chambers in a flat box with glazed glass over it, and a top and bottom vent to allow hot air to move slowly out of the system will be a final design goal.

That and an old refrigerator I can strip out and put in some better insulation to help things along.

In theory this all works, although size and scaling is unknown.

Getting to the practice part is the hard part... but even a small chilling box that keeps a constant temp for medications and other such items would be great to have.  Plus it is no maintenance once it is put together with a sturdy frame and always works so long as there is any sunshine at all.  Weatherizing it may take a bit, but that is another bridge to blow up when I come to it.

Just because I'm sick doesn't mean I'm out of it.

Operations just shift venues for awhile.

08 February 2012

Time in the shop

So what have I been doing with my time, lately?  Mostly working in the shop to get a set of drawers and shelves put into my workbench.  I am at the end of Phase I for that, which is getting the frame parts made and a couple of the melamine shelves and its a milestone point to now map out the shelves, drawers, trays, doors and facing that goes on the thing.  I'm doing this to increase the storage space in the workbench and the rigidity of it which leaves a lot to be desired.  I got it from Harbor Freight when it was discounted steeply and had free shipping, and while its not one of those European high end workbenches, it does for relatively light work, like making boxes or reloading (it is sold as a reloading bench at most places).  But try to use a hand plane or even some light hand saws on it and the thing sways all over the place.  Plus it has only four shelves and one large tray on the bottom and that gets taken up real quickly since it is built within the rectangle of the workbench.  I had that thing packed in next to no time with stuff and none of it was really easy to get at.

So after putting together a simple cabinet for the drill press, getting a useable workbench for other projects got to be my top priority.

Here is Phase I, front and back and its been seen in various other posts when I was working on the SKS and Mosin-Nagant:

Shop_08JAN201_ 003  Shop_08JAN201_ 004

Yes I've been working on it!  Making parts to put into the workbench... neat how that goes...

Perhaps doing away with the toe-kick space isn't the best idea I've had, but with the way the bench was I couldn't really get my upper body into doing anything on the bench because it would shift and sway.  So what I did was make three sets of plywood that would allow for drawer/tray/shelf inserts to be put into them.  At the ends I put knockdown bolts through the uprights of the bench so that they plywood would be secure.  This has the benefit of resisting any torsional motion of the bench, which is rotation around any point on the bench to its outer legs.  The third piece goes onto a 2x2 that has a groove in it to add support to the plywood as it will be held in place by that and the shelves/drawer frames.  Finally, where there was toe and foot space under the workbench, goes a 2x2 to connect up the central 2x2 plus one each backing the inside of the legs on the frame (more or less).  Knockdown bolts go through the feet and the front of the long 2x2 pieces to finally put a solid frame on the bottom that will resist sliding of the bench front to back. 

There is no fastener between the pre-existing drawer center piece of plywood and the new plywood upright with the grooved 2x2 under it.  That is due to the compression between the tray frames on the top centering the center piece and the 2x2 being a tight fit so that the center plywood is compressed between it and the original center piece for the drawers.  The long 2x2 pieces then fasten that into place as they are fastened to the feet making it a relatively rigid and tight fit that shouldn't shift with lateral forces left to right on the bench surface.  I could install Z-clips (I would do 2 front and two rear fastened through the original drawer center piece) but will hold off on that since it shouldn't be a problem.

White pieces are melamine which are shelves.  Melamine is an engineered wood product that is a form of relatively dense particle board and faced with a durable surface that is resistant to chemicals, scratches and such.  Since I will be placing some of the power tools and cans of various finishes and solvents in there, that will be a useful quality to have.  Mostly I need a place for my hand power tools and that will be done by those shelves.  The lowest on the left has some dead space under it which is acceptable.  Its companion will have a simple wood piece dropped in for storage of boxed material, like nails, screws, etc.

Early on I decided that the original boards for the mid-level tray could stay as they helped a bit on pulling the bench together.  On the left a drawer (and I'm putting in set of boards to stop stuff from dropping down to the bottom) will go flush over it, while on the left it will serve as a lip for items placed on the lower shelf.  As seen from the back there is a half-shelf above that of melamine meant for smaller objects, and I haven't decided if it is worth putting a low lip around that.  Another, large drawer on the right will be above the mid-level one and then there will be one half-tray per side at the very top.

The finish on the interior wood (not melamine) is Tung Oil for a couple of applications, one of BLO and then another of Tung oil.  The long 2x2s were done with Tung Oil for three applications with each getting one of Walnut Oil between the second and third application.  Over that goes shellac of the Super Blond plus Buttonlac (dewaxed at home), plus a single go over with Orange Shellac before a final SB+B, all sanded with 220 grit sandpaper.  All the finishes got 220 grit sandpapering between applications after drying, and since I'm not looking for a real glossy look that is that.

Out of all of this there have only been a few glitches.  One is cutting the melamine nearly exactly dead-on.  I had forgotten to account for the minimal dimensional changes that oil finish brings with it and getting those pieces in took the use of some of the extension clamps I have plus some hammering with the rubber mallet.  Another is on the rear long board that, somewhere, lost a bit less than 1/8" and needed an MDF shim on the left side, back.  No idea why on that as the two boards Front/Back are dimensionally the same.  A couple of the knockdown inserts had to be pulled out and epoxied in place as they weren't holding in place.  The front long board had to be stripped and re-finished due to a screw-up on the shellac application.

Next up is making the trays, drawers, front facing pieces and then doors.  After that making a rear piece to cover over everything and stop dust and stuff from getting into the back of the bench.  I may have to make wells for the top holes in back or put a ledge back there as dusty open air storage... I'll blow that bridge up when I get to it.

The rest of the shop is pretty tight confines for now as it has one other project ongoing.

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Two router tables may seem a bit extreme, but the small one in back is good for some of the tight work, while I have to multi-purpose the large router to a planing sled.  Here seen to the left of my table saw, leaning up against it.

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Luckily I'm about it for working down there and the rest is just static storage space.

As I go on with this I will be looking at some other projects in the near future:

1) Making an adsorption chiller.  This is a totally solar power, no moving parts refrigerator using methanol and activated carbon.  No designs or plans that I can find anywhere and its used at an industrial scale, right now.  I don't need a real refrigerator, as such, just something to keep things relatively cool on a constant basis.  It is one of those ideas I've run across and if you have an EMP or real CME event, well, a zero electricity chiller sounds like a great thing to have.  I'll do the old Mythbusters small scale test rig first, then see what the results are and plan a full scale rig.  The full scale will just be a current refrigerator from a junk yard or abandoned for county pick-up... so long as it has the coils in it that is all I care about.

2) Modular work platforms for power tools.  Really I don't have room for a massive workbench, but a set of interlocking work stations all at the same height, with mating power and exhaust feeds would do wonders for the shop and allow me to get the stationary power tools into an easily useful set-up.  A real router table (not just a benchtop), a miter saw station and a fine-work station (gun cleaning and minor metal work) would do wonders for the place and finally open up some space.

3) Gun cabinet.  Display, not ready rack... although if I can build one of those in...

This stuff takes a lot out of me, but is teaching me very valuable and necessary skills.

Natural and Unnatural law

The following was originally posted at The Jacksonian Party.

Between the Moral Law of God and the Civil Law of Man that is guided by Moral Law there is the other realm of law, which is Natural Law.  This thing known as Natural Law are the boundaries that Nature places upon us, and in this I do not speak of the philosophical 'nature' (that is what are the characteristics of a thing or person) but the Universal Nature, which is the physical realm of the universe.  This physical realm has two aspects to it: chaos and order. 

Chaos is represented by the randomness of nature from the lowest levels, upwards.  Brownian motion is bounded but chaotic in that it can have limitations upon it (based on volume, media type and temperature) but that what results in the way of motion is unpredictable at any given moment.  Chaos creates randomness in events so that there is a factor of indeterminacy involved.  This fact is part of Quantum Mechanics and comes from examining how Nature works.

Order is the sudden appearance of direction or higher order stability that resists chaos.  The association of atoms in the form of molecules then has a larger scale set of predictable factors to them in the form of physical properties and structure.  The capability for an underlying chaotic system to have structure appear is described by the concept known as emergence.  When a number of unrelated factors then fall together into a new and unpredictable form of orderly behavior, then you have an emergent behavior that is unpredictable based on its component parts.  All of this plays out in a framework within space and time, and these parts of the framework give rise to the effects we see.  Part of that framework is chaos at the lowest most level and, from that, the framework will have chaotic things happen within it.  Everything must cope abide by that at all other levels that coincide and derive from it.

Nature is, from that, chaotic and emergent to forms of order.

From this order is not the same as law, which makes law a separate realm from chaos, emergent behavior and order.

In Moral Law there is the requirement to acknowledge that we get it from something outside of ourselves and is a requirement for the Order of Man.  Can Moral Law be described as an emergent phenomena?  This would require answering the question: what is the source of the emergent phenomena?  In the Universal sense this is God, that thing that all can know and yet none can fully define.  Moral Law, recorded in scripture, also appears (in part) in other cultures as well that do not have scriptural basis for their Moral Law.  What parts of this are Universal to Man?  And why ask that question at all?

The reason for asking the question is that Man is a rational being (that is able to discern cause and effect, remember them and think about them dispassionately) and seeks to find those patterns that exist across different areas of knowledge to see if they are related.  A positive relationship (that is an equivalence of pattern) then points to underlying structure with possible variations that can be examined as to their true universality.  A truly Universal conclusion is true across all domains that are encompassed by the hypothesis, while a localized one is that which is true only for a locality.  Thus for those things that Man finds across cultures that are equivalent, there can be some examination as to what the source of those qualities are.

The most Universal quality of man is this thing we do known as 'marriage' or the bonding of man and woman to create a family via intimate relationships.  Marriage is seen across all cultures in some formulation and across all eras of mankind that we have records for.  From that we can put the hypothesis down that marriage is a Universal quality for those beings that are capable of recognizing the need for such a bond and being able to assent to it in a voluntary fashion.  Traditions of 'arranged marriages' through matchmakers or other venues is a cultural phenomena on top of the underlying structure of marriage and is created to turn a voluntary and yet wholly necessary need into a stable system of society that is involuntary.  Those systems, then, are phenomena based on the underlying premise, not the underlying premise itself as, absent those social structures, the quality of Man to seek marriage would still exist.

To marry is to form a social unit called the family.  Doing this then has other requirements with it to safeguard the family.  The first of those is self-sacrifice on the part of parents for their children so that the children may survive to continue the lineage and social order of that family.  This is not just a mother or father dying to save a child, but goes much deeper into us as individuals to address our negative natural liberties and rights.  There is no such thing as a purely positive liberty or right: all liberties and rights are of two parts via Nature so that they are not biased and have no direction to them.  By having natural liberty and rights in equal parts (though not, of necessity, equal amounts) chaos is guaranteed expression via both venues.  To gain order from these natural rights and liberties requires an assertion of willpower over them when they are exercised.  Thus to put aside negative natural liberty of, say, offensive warfare without cause then requires an expression of will on a continual basis by individuals to not use this negative right to exercise this negative liberty to put the family in danger.

Because this is of primary importance as warfare is lethal, it must be agreed upon by all family members and that agreement made specific and stated for all involved.  From this we get this thing called Civil Law within the context of Law of Nations.  Civil Law is nothing more than the assertion of will over our negative liberties in a way agreed upon by our fellow man so as to not exercise the natural rights associated with them and this adhered to by all with consequences for not following those agreements.  The result of such Civil Law is emergent order from the society that is created by these agreements.  Because such agreements need to be remembered in their specifics an organ of society known as government is created to be the holder of these agreements about our negative natural liberties.  Although there is a Moral Law of 'Thou shall not kill', which is part of a formulation of creation of Civil Law, this is understood to be in the realm of Moral expression in the Civil arena.  There is no 'Thou shall not go to war on your lonesome' edict and, indeed, there are individuals that find themselves doing just that without moral or civil justification for their acts.  Such individuals have decided not to follow Civil Law under Law of Nations and reclaim their full natural liberty and rights for themselves and are now in opposition to those who follow Civil Law which is part of this thing known as Civilization.  This is a reversion to base savagery against civilization, a return to natural man who is full of chaos and unwilling to assert will to get a social order.

Law is the creation of order via the assertion of will and the restraint of use of negative natural rights and liberties.  This is true of Law of Nations, that law created by marriage, and for Civil Law, that law that comes from the creation of society for protection amongst families and for family members within the family unit.  Moral Law is a bias or direction to Natural Law which itself is without bias and equal in treatment to all within it.  Man cannot make Natural Law because we live within Nature and are natural beings.  Man can find or have revealed Moral Law as it is that which is outside the realm of Nature, outside the realm of thought and wholly within the realm of the Eternal but can be expressed within the Natural realm.

From these things we find the following Laws:

1) Moral Law can be discovered via revelation or via chance (such as social groups finding that the punishing of those killing within that social group requires a cost to that action to deter it).  As such the foundations for a moral outlook are Universally available, although the pathway to that understanding can be indirect as well as direct.  If you do not have revelation, then you have trial and error using rational observation to see what the results are for certain action and re-action pairings.

2) Natural Law acts upon all things in Nature and is universal within the realm of Nature.  Being within this domain of law means we do not set it, do not create it, and it exists wholly outside of our sphere of influence,  Nature provides us with our bodies, our lives, and the physical world which we can manipulate.  Nature is uncaring, neutral, and provides much in the way of the physical domain that we don't understand and may never be able to understand.

3) Law of Nations is the unwritten law that Man discovers via the application of Moral Law to oneself for the creation of family.  Law of Nations is universal to all thinking beings who have access to Moral Law, which is to say all rational beings that procreate and create families via a bond of marriage or other, similar, dedication.  This exists not just within the confines of Natural Law but as a concept separate from Natural Law, making Law of Nations Universal to all rational beings.

4) Civil Law is created by society which, itself, is made under Law of Nations, and is the expression of Moral Law within Law of Nations by a society which wishes to create a State for safeguarding the population against those who would express their negative natural rights and liberties against their fellow man.  Moral Law gives founding to direction and bias on those Natural liberties and rights that we have, and when we create a family we find that Moral Law almost immediately from being Natural Beings who must protect our offspring from Nature's creatures that do not so well discriminate their negative liberties and rights than do we.

When man has no ability to write, indeed has no alphabet but does have a spoken language or other means of communication, items from the realms of unwritten law become an integral part of the communication's tradition so that it may be passed on and preserved.  Moral Law can be revealed and passed down by word of mouth, Natural Law is always present to present questions and get results and those results are reflective of Nature, Law of Nations to protect family and create the Nation is universal upon first creating family and its form becomes apparent because of that.  Civil Law is the last law that is derived from the other laws and it, too, can exist in an unwritten form as a set of customs or practices that those within a given society live by.

There are interesting aspects of Moral Law in this arrangement, in that it is not (of necessity) written down but can be discovered by Man who utilizes both emotions and reason, together, to find answers to problems that arise in society.  Law of Nations is that which is about structure, duty, and ordering of power by society due to it being a society and interacting with other societies that hold different customs.  Before revelation man utilized chance, which is to say trying things differently until finding something that worked, to deal with problems created between men within society.  Law of Nations can only speak of this as a manifestation within society that is stable, it cannot say what Moral Law is but that it is a formulary necessary for Law of Nations to happen fully. 

By staying one's hand within a family, by not killing each other, by not stealing from each other, indeed, by not inflicting lasting harm upon the family the expression of Moral Law becomes visible: it is that which guides us on how to create a stable family and society.  This requires both reason (as understanding that harming a family member will rebound negatively on oneself) and emotion (to understand that forgiveness for the faults of family members is necessary to have a family, but that forgiving only comes with the atonement by that individual that did wrong by the family).  That same staying and continued withholding of it creates the family, as well.  When spouses are abusive to their mate, their children or themselves, there is a fundamental violation of Moral Law, and as it is destructive to Law of Nations it is a negative factor for having Nations and even civil society.  That is why we have Civil Law so as to penalize such activities and safeguard families from abusive parents: it is to transmit that the family order has a reason behind it, a rationale, that it is positive when upheld and negative to not just the family but the Nation when it is neglected or abused.  To not punish these actions by actors is to invite the decay of society and the downfall of it and the Nation that is sustained by the family.  Penalties in this realm have been severe on the Civil Law side and for Natural Law the ability to protect oneself and one's family invokes the positive liberty and right of warfare: defensive war for survival and self-protection.

From all of this there are interesting questions that can be posed in the context of Universal Laws, but they are more of interest to philosophers or theologians than to those surviving a daily life.  That we can even formulate such questions is a testament to the power of these Laws and that our holding to them can create a long lasting society and the concept of Nation even when Nation States rise and fall many times in the same region. 

The actual ability to even ask those questions has required that there be tolerance for asking them, and that has been a high powered, long fought after battle that has spanned nearly all of human history, was first given any written establishment for Nations in 1648, and is still NOT recognized by large swaths of mankind and is being actively fought against within those areas that have it.  Yet religious tolerance has become an instance of the highest order of civilization so long as a religion does not dictate to the State and only to the individual, and that society remains open to other religious beliefs that do not seek to impose themselves by negative natural rights and liberty.  That is an effect of how a fight for aspects of Moral Law that have the same basis has established a common space for those religions to exist in a secular realm.  The secular realm, itself, must be open to religious teachings of all religions that follow the same civil principles of respect and tolerance for believers of other faiths. 

To try and exclude Moral Law as garnered by religious faith from the secular space is destructive to that space as it undercuts its very existence: to find commonality across beliefs that can be upheld without imposition of any particular faith upon those who do not believe in it.  By holding commonalities to be common requires the robust and civil discussion of Moral Law within that secular space so that better Civil Laws can be found.  Do note that even atheists, agnostics or those who civilly practice relatively unusual religious rights are not the holder of this secular space, but participants in it.  Those who do not believe in religious basis for the underpinning of the secular space must recognize the origins of that space, their protection within it as a higher form of learning and that, in particular, if it is garnered via mere trial and error via faiths, then it is more precious than any single faith within that realm and therefore MUST be upheld as a neutral space for such civil discussions.

Secular space for government does not mean that such government does not recognize the foundation of the secular space or those things necessary to uphold it: indeed it was formed to protect those practices, not expunge them.

Secular space for society is a recognition and acceptance amongst all members of society as individuals that their practice of faith (or lack thereof) may not put the civil basis for society at risk without penalties and that their ability to practice a faith and even change faiths is upheld by having a neutral secular space that is common for all of society.  What you do with your life and within your household shall not undercut that common space that must be open to all arguments and that arguments on Moral Law must first be won by civil discourse, not by secular fiat or by gaming government practices.  Indeed when government becomes biased to exclude Moral Law and its teachings from the secular space, or to only allow a delimited set of discussions via civil means, it becomes destructive of the entire society that creates that secular space for religious freedom.  The worst of all tyrannies is government deciding which religion is and is not acceptable within the civil sphere and then using the power of government to enforce that.  When the State comes to mandate its presence upon the alter, you are then not far away from open warfare as this is a desecration of the advanced civilized understandings of tolerance for religious worship and practice within realm of civil society.

By utilizing the understandings of Laws Natural and those outside of Nature (although available within Nature) and then adding historical understanding of practice and conflict of many Nations, States and societies, the foundations of the framework for the modern world lay exposed and available to all willing to see them.  Even if you disagree with how they got there or deny the impetus to make them, the recognition of the self-evident presence of it must be admitted: argue about the source of the foundations as you will, we must accept that they exist, have instance and are there.

To not do so is to invite the decay and collapse of civilization as we know it and to seek savagery not only for oneself but for all of mankind.  No good will ever come of that.