31 March, 2009

Tough Love For US Automakers

I love this tough love approach Barak Obama took to the auto manufacturers in the USA, now to hope that Kevin Rudd has the cojones to pull off a few similar iron fist in velvet glove moves here with our greedy almost-monopolistic companies.  And that everyone in the world grows enough of a pair to stick all the banks back in their box again.

Tell you what - if we lost all the large conglomerates and companies, if all banks were suddenly split into individual local banks again, and if every supermarket, hypermart, what-have-you - if they were all shut down today, I reckon by two weeks at the most we'd be over the hiatus, our world would suddenly be a lot cleaner, and a lot of people would start being healthier and happier.  The only downside I can see to it is that it would be hard to get decent coffee and wine.  For a while...  So really, I can't see any downside . . .

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26 March, 2009

The Good Life. Part III

So in the last two articles, I summed up how we got to be dependent on the diet we have, how (possibly - there are always a variety of views, after all, and no-one knows for sure which, if any, are right) our forebears ensured that our bodies are now attuned to foods they had around back then, and how food is the biggest and fastest-acting evolutionary driver.

At the moment we're in one of those flux points in our systemic evolution.  We have ways to extend the season of the foods we eat (as opposed to eating only foods in season, with a few exceptions) and to extend high-value foods with less valued foods, to preserve and enhance the flavours and appearances of foods, and so much more.  We know that evolution generally is a good thing, but it acts over tens to hundreds of generations and is no good to us in our current food crisis.

We can either all eat these foods and take the consequences and let evolution, in a thousand or so years, come up with homo trashophage who can eat anything the laboratories of the world can come up with.  Or we can reduce our dependence on those adulterated foods and make careful food choices.

Please note that we also have an economic crisis, which is not over yet, not by a long shot.  And which threatens to undermine the things which those unscrupulous food manufacturers rely on, constant economic growth and consumerism.  We have a very serious climate crisis which no-one can predict the end result of yet and which may yet destroy much of the food infrastructure we are currently in the first stages of adapting the species to.    And indeed, that food infrastructure (land clearing, farming, chemicals to grow the food that then leach into the water table or our bodies, pollution to process and transport that food, refrigerate it, etc) is directly or indirectly responsible for probably 2/3 of the ecosystem, changes which have precipitated this crisis.

So we can choose to continue to damage the Earth, use more and more chemicals and technological means to sustain life on Earth, kill off 90% of the population who will become ecological "also-rans," or we can put a spoke in the wheel of that food machine, go back to basics grown basically, and get that kind of Golden Age come back, only with slightly less rock-like people to enjoy it.

As we really and truly ARE on the cusp of this event, either path is valid.

Put all our faith in technology, and we could end up as I said, able to eat pure chemical nutrients, and technology would insulate us from what will become increasingly hostile weather, remove the need to be responsible stewards of the Earth, and probably eventually lead to lengthy and epic journeys into the Universe to populate other worlds.  The catch is that we will of course be adapted mainly to chemical nutrients and artificial environments, and maybe we'll just stay in spaceships and never bother to make landfall.   After all, look how readily we take to sitting in front of a computer and interacting via technology.

The alternative is that we dismantle the machineries that have allowed us to live comfortably, and face the fact that responsible living entails personal responsibility and we will have to each of us make hundreds of choices every week, not always eat the most convenient packaged food, and spend a lot more time on our food preparation.  On the upside, this does mean that the coming climate shake-up we're in for may not last for as long, and perhaps may not get as severe.

The point is, that both these events are going to happen now no matter what we do, economy and climate events are not going to go away just because we grow a vegetable garden.  But whether you have a vegetable garden and good food habits or not may well dictate how well, and how many members of, your family survive...  And I'm not trying to sensationalise this, nor do I think I'm being extreme.  If experience has taught us one thing, it's that if you're prepared for the worse of two similar scenarios, you're prepared for the less severe as well.  If you keep a garden and have local sources of fresh food, you'll be better off even if nothing happens.

Also, don't forget that if you do brave all the additives, people in a few thousand years may well thank you for conferring immunity on them - but it does bugger-all good for you in the here and now...

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25 March, 2009

The Good Life. Part Two.

Food is THE single most important resource this world runs on.  Everything consumes something else, and is in turn consumed by something else.  According to most researchers, this cycle of eating food and becoming food is what drove our ascent to intelligence, and has culminated in me sitting in front of this computer writing this article and you sitting there reading it.  Food is one of our most important evolutionary drivers, so much so that researchers have discovered that changes in food lead to changes in species within a relatively few generations, compared to thousands of generations for most other influences.

Now look at our history.  For hundred of thousands of generations, our forebears ate opportunistically, and remained in almost the same state of advancement for millenium after millenium. They doubtless lived short lives, cut short by misadventure and predators, with a range of illnesses mostly caused by lack of nutrition, and relatively few diseases such as obesity, inflammatory illnesses, or cancers.  This was a kind of Golden Age you could say, where not much changed, you knew where you fitted into the scheme of things, you foraged for your food, and that was it for the next couple of hundred generations.  But also, of course, it wasn't like those ancestors could appreciate that they were in a Golden Age, because they were pretty much stupid animals. The ancestors of dolphins and octopuses must have been gleefully looking forward to dominating the Earth.

But things change.  Somewhere, some pre-human a bit dumber than all the others ate something none of the others had tried to eat before.  And okay - he died, because funny mushrooms are seldom funny.  But if there's one thing history teaches us, it's that there are a lot of dumb ones in any given species.  So another really dumb pre-human found itself strangely attracted to, and ate, some bird's eggs it found.  And it discovered that it wasn't as hungry, could spend some time picking among the forage for "better" foods.  Maybe one of the smarter ones noticed, or maybe this particular one just lived longer because of its habit of eating eggs, and so managed to still be alive to impregnate or be impregnated when its contemporaries had long succumbed to starvation.  No matter - the point is that a particular trick of the genes had been captured in a new generation, and now found an attraction for eggs to be normal.

Now there's a generation of pre-humans who don;t need to spend the entire day foraging and scrambling for food, that leaves time for other things.  Copulating and breeding can only remain attractive for so many hours a day... (And besides it was breeding all these freakish critturs that ate other animals, their eggs and young, and selectively higher-value forage plants!) What to do with the other few hours of the day?  Well, once you'd dozed in the sun a while, pretty much you'd start talking about the weather...

BTW I don't know if it was chickens or eggs or minivelociraptor drumsticks, and I emphasise that this did not happen overnight, it happened over hundreds and perhaps even thousands of generations, and in only a small subsection of the whole species, maybe just one particular valley.  The thing is that whatever powers evolution, whatever forces are at work there, it resulted in that particular population slowly becoming tolerant of the change in their diet, and finally, their bodies were adapted to it and required it as part of their normal functioning.  That particular branch of the species didn't need to spend as much time hunting down food and could afford to spend more time - well, thinking might be a good term for it.

Eventually, out of all those different branches of pre-humanity that had adapted to different diets (and now you can see why it initially took so long) several emerged that also had a strange compulsion to hoard foods...

Also note that in each case, the evolutionary change that provided benefits was the one which prevailed.  That's how evolution works - it doesn't "favour" chickens that flee and hide if they see a hawk-shape in the sky.  It's just that those chickens that don't run and hide get eaten, and so don't pass on anything to future generations...

The most important thing for us to take home from the above is that our bodies are superbly adapted to the food we eat.  Provided it is food that was introduced 7,000 years or longer ago.  Any newer foods and ways of preparing food our bodies are still in the process of adapting to.

Let me give you a most brutal example:  Our foods for the last 200 years have increasingly contained additives and extenders and modifiers.  These may provide us with the benefit of more food being available more of the time, and thus allow us to breed more and more humans with more and more non-food-gathering time in their hands.  But they are not suitable for our bodies, and cause disease and illness.  Those that can tolerate this range of poisons will live longer, and pass on some of those traits.  The rest will die of food-related illnesses and not pass on as many genes.  Look around you at the number of obese people with diabetes, stomach bowel and colon cancers, heart diseases and so forth - do you really think this is the natural lot of people?

So - if you're one of the five people in the whole population whose bodies tolerate all those additives and want to pass on that to the next generation, go ahead.  It will be a valuable thing for future generations, say in the next 1,000 years or so. For the rest of us, there are only two choices, either to become a statistic and one of the negative shapers of evolution, or else do the right thing by ourself and start really looking at every skerrick of food we put into our bodies.

Get a copy of my book, (or email me if you genuinely can't afford it) and add this blog to your reading list.

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How Do They Avoid Live Prongs?

This wind power device (http://www.clariantechnologies.com/main/page_plugin_wind_power.html) violates the plug/socket rules, unless they have some super secret way to plug it in.  See, power plugs and sockets are sneakily designed.  Anything that's liable to have power coming out of it has socket holes.  That keeps fingers from easily contacting the electricity.  The devices you plug in, they have a set of male prongs to reach in and exploit that female socket.

This system works the way it's supposed to, it keeps everyone except that idiot with the butter knife (yes you, didn't you know you're about to fry yourself?) from coming into contact with lethal quantities of electricity.

Now you come to this little generator.  If you plug it into your existing wall sockets as they claim, then it must have a male plug end coming out of the generator.  Assume you're carrying that plug to the wall socket to plug it in, there's a gust of wind, and the cord slips out of your hand.  You grab to catch it before it falls in the cat's water bowl, and . . .  Kapow!

Okay so you put a socket on the end, that's much safer.  Only.  Now what do you plug it into?  If you put male prongs onto your live electrical circuit in the house, those prongs will be live and just waiting to bite someone as they brush past...

And if they need a special "plocket" installed then they're not as plug and play as the makers claim.

One last nitpick.  The manufacturers claim that if the grid shuts down the generator will also automatically shut down, but I have a couple of problems with that.  One, if there are several of them on one circuit, the grid power shuts down, but each generator sees the others as being still there and still a "grid" power supply so they keep happily on generating.  In other words, nil safety for power and electrical workers.  

Secondly, if, as the makers may also mean, the inbuilt wireless and signalling is used to shut the generators down when the grid goes down, then how does that work and continue to work if there's no power to the wireless transmitting devices?  And you can say "battery backup" or whatever you like and I will still say that anything that relies something as unreliable as batteries that may or may not have been checked and which may or may not work when needed, is as unreliable itself.

And - more importantly:  I would install such a device to make me relatively immune to the grid's shutdowns and fluctuations.  Doesn't it seem stupid to install a power generating device that switches itself off when the power goes off?

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The Good Life. Part 1.

I guess you who check out my Flickr stream and other online indicators of life know that I've moved out of the city to a tiny place about fifty miles out, on the bank of the Murray river. (Yep, there's a Murray river in Western Australia too, not just the Murray over east which is under stress.)  More recent peeks into the murky stream of my life may have revealed that besides my cat Ghostie, there has been a dwarf holland lop rabbit named Peta Rabbit, aka BimBomBunney. And more recently, a friend who bought a rabbit for christmas passed him on to Trish, who kept him for a while and then passed him on to me, so I now have a rabbit couple.

Also, as soon as the weather permitted me with my wheezy lungs to work outside, I've dug garden beds and planted out the first of a bunch of crops.  This is a BIG block, I figure half an acre or so, and my landlord lets me make gardens etc.  With our weather in Australia, and given the trees that shade the place so nicely in summer, it should be possible to put in a fairly steady rotation of crops.  I've placed a fair selection in tubs and pots, because that way they become portable should I start off on the road anytime soon.  What I'd like to achieve is to have as wide a range of foods as I can, and make this as portable as possible.

Anyhow - one of the first things I noticed when I was given Peta was the profusion of "experts" online who were quite happy dictating the exact types of foods and hay and pellets a rabbit was "allowed" to eat, when that rabbit should sleep, when it should eat, shit, etc.  And it got me wondering - who makes sure rabbits do "rabbit" things out in the wild?  Poor things, they must all be killing themselves with eating whatever they decided they needed, when they needed it....

So with Peta it's been trial and error, commonsense, and rabbit sense.  I'd offer a selection of foods, she'd throw aside foods she didn't like, and eat those that she did like.  If a food she liked was too sugary or too salty or too starchy, I'd make sure there was a bit less of it available than the staple foods of hay and pellets and the other vegetables she liked.  I have a happy healthy rabbit, the "experts" (I noticed, reading the forums) have rabbits whose stools go runny or whose digestive tracts block up, or fat obese rabbits that can no longer do all the things rabbits need to do in order to maintain their health.

This is a bit like many diets out there.  They dictate almost to the species of lettuce you're "allowed," the quantity to the nearest milligram, and so forth.  It's a bit like painting by numbers, you end up with a picture, but it may just not be a picture of health.  Commonsense.  It is to our diets what rabbit sense is to rabbits' diets. You already know that a fast food burger is bad for you.  You're aware that a couple of serves of fresh vegetables a day and a few pieces of fruit are good for you.  And I daresay most people try to do the right thing, which is why a strictly laid-down diet is counter-productive.

Also remember that we are fast losing much of the traditional oral lore of food, as foods are more and more put through production processes that make it unlike that same food would have been one hundred years ago.  How many people have ever seen a beetroot that wasn't in a tin and already boiled in standardised water salt and sugar?  There is a large body of myth surrounding modern food, and the manufacturers feed this Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) by making the truth harder to get to, by giving you "health thermometer" scales on the packaging, by providing lists of ingredients where they deliberately avoid listing the harmful and make the other ingredients as hard to understand as possible.

When I started writing my diet book, I was concerned about my then looming prostate cancer.  As I researched and took the notes that later became my diet book, I was concerned about why I'd been gifted with cancer in the first place, and I was appalled at the things my research uncovered about food practices. You - yes, you reading this - right now have enough toxic material in your kitchen to make yourself very very sick.  And that was what I ended up addressing in the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook more than anything else.  Oh yes - the book has a set of foods that will help reduce cancer cell activity and allow your body to deal with the dysplasic cells - but there's a good helping of that nouveau food lore in there to empower your common sense.

I figure that once you're aware that your average cake mix you're buying for your child's first birthday contains chemicals that cause irritation and blindness, you'll reconsider the cake mix and instead buy flour and sugar and eggs and do it yourself.  Once you know that it's not a nice beefy mince on the tray at the butchers but a platter of meat that's been sprayed with a powerful irritant which is known to cause mucous membrane inflammation, respiratory distress, and may be implicated in bowel and colon cancer, you'll avoid that lovely red-raw-irritated look and pick the darker, naturally aged mince at the better butcher.

Because my research has shown me that food manufacturers don't give a flying fuck what effect they have on your health or the health of the environment, they are only out for profit profit and more profit.  And - and I stress this and can't stress it often or loudly enough - the more a large food conglomerate trumpets about being "healthy" and "natural" the more you can be sure that they totally are NOT being either.

So - take a look at my book, if you can't afford the $15 email me and I'll give you a free full copy of the book.  And follow this blog, put it in your reader list, because I'll keep the food lore flowing.

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Example Of Bad Headline

Dishonesty is, like, everywhere man!  Greedy corporations are takin'...  Oh.  Hang on.  Sorry.  Red meat!  Yeah, red meat!  Gonna kill us, gonna kill us all!  And that brings me back to dishonesty.  One of these headlines has taken a fast and loose approach to the truth in favour of being sensationalist.  See if you can pick which one...

The first one sounds so damn dramatic, doesn't it? Eat red meat, and for every steak you eat, your lifeline gets shortened by six weeks!  Except it isn't true - it's as the second headline suggests, that there is an increased risk of death to people who eat red meat every day.

These assholes are dealing with people's health and lives here and they would prefer sensationalism to helping.  Yes they are both published by the same news source, and yes they are both women.  But being a woman doesn't preclude you from being a sensationalist asshole.  And it seems that "editorial" staff at Yahoo aren't above seeing the same story twice, and allowing what's basically an untrue headline.

I normally wouldn't get quite this upset, but you know that health is my "thing" and healthy diet is pretty much my alpha and my omega, as I've discovered over and over how important good food is to health.  So to see such an outright beat-up bullshit headline makes me upset.  People read that first headline they start to actively avoid red meat, next thing their bodies are having to learn to cope without the source of aminos and proteins that it's been used to having for all your life, and then you're wide open to a whole range of diseases.

Yes our ancestors had to make do with a low-meat diet but that's it - LOW meat not NO meat and certainly not ALL meat.  And these articles, when you read them, bears that out.  Consuming less red meat is more like our ancestors' diet. It wasn't something you had access to seven days a week, and now that we can, doesn't man we should.  I haven't done the maths (am too slack to!) but suppose everyone in the developed world cut down to one meal with beef per week, one meal with pork, one with chicken, another with lamb or capretto, and you compared the carbon footprint of that, I reckon you'd find several million cattle a year less are needed, with the attendant reduction in greenhouse gases, and an attendant increase in health.  And all those resources that are being put into raising cattle now could be put into feeding a few third world countries...  

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15 March, 2009

Which Food Would You Choose?

How ironic - as one country makes all the right food choices and ensures the health and wellbeing of its citizens, another country buries their citizens and organic farmers in piles of bureaucratic shit...  

And we're rapidly going down the same path, Aussies!  The damage done by years of Liberal sabotaging of the retail economy by giving advantages to the most heartless and wrongdoing large corporations needs to be undone, and quickly.  Show your support for farmer's markets and small fruit and vegetable markets and local butchers, because otherwise we too will finish up in a legal farce like the USA, our food required to be adulterated and turned to shit, by Law.

Look - the problem in the USA is empire building by the food producers and manufacturers.  The bigger they can get, the more profits they can squeeze out.  The less competition they have, the more they can afford to let the actual nutritional qualities of the food they make be eroded with preservatives and fillers and other shit designed to stretch even more profit out of the product.  And of course, the larger they get, the wider the sphere of damage when their foodstuff is contaminated, the more people's health they will ruin.  All without a single care, consideration, or retribution in the world.

In contrast, a smaller more localised producer will maybe affect a few thousand people, and at that, only as long as it takes for the locals to get the pitchforks and burning torches and run them out of town on a rail...  Large manufacturers have no problems storing fruit and vegetables for (sometimes) years before selling the by now well and truly valueless food at monopoly prices.  Local producers' only weapon is to have the best and freshest produce.

It makes sense that the more you use local produce, the healthier you will live, and the more control you will have over your food and your life.  Don't be lazy, take personal responsibility and KEEP THE BASTARDS HONEST!

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11 March, 2009

Eco Predictions Fail - both Eco's.

There's a worrying trend.  That's the trend for "experts" to continually revise their estimates.  To the gloomy side.  Just think - in regard to the economy, for example - these are the very bastards that got the world's economic system into this predicament in the first place.  Experts?  Pah.  Greedy little piggy people (sorry to re-invoke a decades-old image) with their little piggy snouts in the trough, expecting you to fill it for them, more likely.

And when you hear these "experts" saying to batten down the hatches, it's going to be worse than we think, then you'd better be considering how you want to go through this never-before-seen event, this World Global Recession the like of which we have never had before, and which therefore the "experts" aren't actually so "expert" about.  Me I'm thinking a nice country vacation to a little hobby farm might be just the thing.  I won't be able to eat dollars once they become worthless, but I can grow food...

I like to remember that there are no "experts" or "specialists" in climate change either, as it's not exactly something anyone could have prior experience with, unless they were extremely long-lived and/or from another planet that's just succumbed to climate change.

But we can see that the worrisome trend of "experts" revising their worst fears to even worse continues, and it's time I became an "expert on the accelerating trend of experts to espouse ever more dire predictions."

Given this article as the latest expert opinion about sea level change, I too can make a prediction:

Since these "experts" revise the timeframe to ever shorter and shorter spans, and the threats to ever more disastrous and dire levels, you can safely say that we don't have a lot of time, we can't actually "fix" what's wrong, and we're in for a rough ride, really really soon.

Don't forget, also, that these revised predictions are generally based on results seen now, in other words when they say "at least a meter rise by 2100" that could mean "actually, five meters rise by 2100.  And the rise doesn't happen all at once in 2100 - it's happening right now to cause such a drastic re-evaluation.  As I'm typing this, the average sea level has risen by a perceptible amount...

In other words, the predictions have been and probably still are woefully under-estimating the actual rate we're stuffing up the world at, and we're already in for a tough and possibly lethal ride.  If you live along the coast, or on low-lying islands, learn to swim...

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07 March, 2009

The Slow Food Benefit - Weight Loss

If you can excuse the slightly smug tone of this article, it's actually a good addendum to my Zen Cookbook.  This is why I lost weight while using the recipes in it, because it was a far better way to eat than fast food burgers and pizzas, and I remember thinking that at almost a kilo a week for a few months it was too good to be true.  And, eventually, it was.  Bad food habits crept in again, and so did those lost kilos.

I was eating only maybe one fast food or junk food meal every week or two, but that was enough to make my system misbehave and store fat.  So honestly, reconsider just grabbing that fast burger and chips on the way home, because it really does seem to be a leading cause of obesity and system overload.

What has really driven this home to me is that I've moved south of the city, and about 8km from the nearest supermarket.  I prefer to drive 12km the other direction to get to a fresh produce place named the Spud Shed, and I buy a lot of vegetables and fruit there, because I have animals that like fruit and veg, and because I like a good dollop of fresh F&V in my meals anyway. In four months here I've lost 10kg again, just because I couldn't give in to the temptation to buy a burger or pizza or packaged white bread without either paying the local exorbitant prices or driving into Pinjarra or Mandurah.

While I've been here, T has come to visit me every weekend, and she is an obese person - but only since coming back to Australia.  When she lived in Cyprus in a rural area, she ate plentifully but stayed at her correct weight.  Back in Australia with our processed and additive-laden crap foods, and she not only became obese but also scored Type 2 diabetes into the bargain.

Another friend, J, came to visit on the weekend.  I haven't seen J in years but he was never more than borderline overweight, and now he was thin and trimmed down in weight because he'd "had Type 2 - didn't you know?"  No I didn't know, and as I said I would never have considerd J to be overweight - but he was, as was I, a computer and IT person and we often lived on fast food and junk food.

So what else can I put it down to?  If you eat processed foods with lots of additives, food that has had the natural nutrients processed out of it, and which is an admixture of the processed food itself, plus additives to restore its nutritive content, and extra nutrients that were never in the original food, then your system goes into an overload.  Common signals such as repleteness, insulin triggers, and the general warning signs your body give, get ignored as they are triggered continuously, and systems go out of whack.  (And oh yes, your cells give out literally millions of warnings all day every day when on adulterated foods - just that, like the sound of traffic outside your window, the sound of rain on the roof after a while, your brain ignores them.)

Once one system goes out of kilter, others will follow it.  And before you know it your body is sensing itself under threat and starts to lay in fat to at least provide energy for fighting back the other "infections" it senses.  As it happens, this leads to a vicious circle, because these days, food *IS* the infecting agent, in 80% of the food you eat.  It's what triggers fatty liver and Type 2, arterial plaques, and (in my experience, at any rate) some of the worse cancers such as prostate, cervical, bowel, and colon.  Anywhere that this crap slop that the supermarkets sell as food ends up going through... 

I don't think I need to make this point any more but I will, just for the sake of making it clear:  ANY food that has additives that were not known to mankind 5,000 to 10,000 years ago; any food that is processed in a manner that wasn't around 5,000 to 10,000 years ago; and any food that itself wasn't around 5,000 to 10,000 years ago in it's season;  ALL of these will do you damage.  Just like tobacco does certain damage, so do adulterated foods.  Important - 5,000 to 10,000 years ago we knew how to store certain foods such as cereals and roots against the off-peak seasons, we knew how to preserve foods by smoking, salting, brining, and pickling; and we knew how to make wines and beers.  ALL WITHOUT ANY ADDITIVES.  Not many people died of obesity-related diseases, nor of diabetes, nor of cancers.  'Nuff said . . .

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04 March, 2009

Brammo Bicycle Best Buy Bamboozlement

Electric Vehicles (EVs) need to make a radical departure from conventional automobiles in order to make an impact.  By that I don't mean that these vehicles should look like a roller skate mated with the ugliest Skoda (which is unfortunately what most manufacturers seem to have taken their cue from) but that they should be sold and marketed in an entire different way.

I've been saying that big showrooms are not the way - you're trying to market frugality and economy here, after all... Most specifically in terms of environmental impact being as low as possible, but preferably also in terms the consumer will understand, i.e. effect on their hip-pocket nerve.  In order to do that you need to take the approach that your vehicle is a commodity not a religious artifact.  Get away from the empire palaces built on obscene profits, the huge glass showrooms, and start selling your cars like an MP3 player - which you can now buy in the electrical good aisle of your local big chain supermarket, and from little booths set up in the local mall.

 This approach (http://i.gizmodo.com/5162905/best-buy-to-sell-12000-electric-motorcycle-probably-with-a-4000-service-plan) is probably exactly along the lines I've been thinking of.  Except for the price for what is essentially a bicycle with a battery and electric motor...

I guess that Brammo is probably trading on being the first one to do this, but that's still no excuse for such an atrocious price.  As with my recent article on the atrociously inflated price of solar panels, the production costs are way down, now pass it on you greedy sods!

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01 March, 2009

Solar Scammer Sods.

Now that the cost of solar electric power has dived through the $1/watt mark, the solar panels I have on the bus are theoretically worth $120 between them.

I know they were probably bought at a time when solar panels like that (60W) would have cost something like $700 apiece, back when solar panels were still very rare items.  I also know that two years ago I started looking for solar panels in the 60W - 120W range and got prices varying from $500 for a 60W panel and about $700 - $800 for the 120W model.

Since then solar panel technology has supposedly become cheaper, so it was a surprise to me to six months ago to go to a well-known 12V electrics and solar shop and get a price of just under $1,400 (!!!) for a 120W panel.    Clearly it pays to shop around, there are some really dodgy suppliers around.

Why I am looking for more panels is simple - I can get hold of any number of old lead acid batteries and there are some simple gadgets you can make to recondition many of those batteries.  I have enough inverter power in the bus that I could run most of the gear I need, provided I have enough charged batteries.  And I could charge a hella lot more batteries if I had a few more solar panels.  And if the lowered price is ever allowed to be reflected in our Australian prices, I will be able to do that...

Another thing for K-Rudd to look at - rip-off solar places.  I had one offer to install solar panels on the house, "it's cheap, the Government's gonna pay for almost all of it" over the phone.  It was such a pathetic amount of solar panels (eight, I think) and didn't include the installation cost or the cost of inverters in the bit that the "Government's gonna pay for" and in the end I realised it was probably priced at exactly double what it was worth.  And now that the insulation incentive thing has gone through there will be a million salesmen in your phone for that, too...

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