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Slave To The Machine: No Free Lunch

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  • Slave To The Machine: No Free Lunch

    There is no 'Free Lunch'
    Believe it or not Portland Oregon used to be the most dangerous and corrupt seaport in the USA. This might strike you as odd since Portland is 70 miles inland but it is in fact true.
    The US merchant fleet used to set sail from Boston and NYC around Cape Horn up the coast of South America to California, Oregon and Washington where it would trade manufactured goods for furs which it could then sell in the orient for it's weight in gold, yes GOLD.
    With the advent of the California Gold Rush ships crews abandoned thier vessels in San Francisco. A ship with-out a crew soon sinks so the ship's capitan quickly learned that he could kidnap a new 'crew' out of Portland OR. and sail for Shainghi, a seven year round trip.
    Being "Shanghied" was usually a death sentance for the dupe, but it was a thriving business to provide dupes along the Columbia River and especially in Portland. Local taverns had dead drops installed along thier floors and advertised a "Free Lunch" to draw in hapless suckers who were drugged and shipped-out to slavery.
    This entire bit of history is to illustrate that there is no 'Free Lunch'. A sailor jumps ship to get rich in the California gold fields but the ship's captain and the ship's investors are seeking gold in asia so some poor drunken shlub gets drugged and Shanghied out of Portland to slave his life away. Someone (at the bottom) always pays.
    All this history brings us (obviously) to the self-powered generator, or more correctly termed the Human powered generator. Lets assume you are wealthy enough to have one of these when the power goes fritz. How long can you pedal this thing? You will quickly want a crew so that you can take a rest and work in turns. How will you pay them? If you have several of these 'Self Powered Generators' how will you control your 'Crew'? When money or food runs short what will happen? Will you enslave them? Or will they control you?
    Someone always pays, someone at the bottom, there is no free lunch.
    Last edited by kenno; 10-10-2008, 09:04 PM.
    The road to serfdom is paved with free electric golf carts.

  • #2
    Kenno, You are so correct. The acronym TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) is among my favorite ones.

    Your point about human-powered generators is among the many reasons why I think that any off-grid power system needs a variety of sources, not just human-powered, but water- or wind-powered, solar-powered, with generators powered by multiple fuels (e.g. gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, biofuel, etc.)

    Also, every off-grid power system needs a good system of storage batteries and a repair manual and parts for all components.

    Where possible, home appliances and devices need to be both AC- and DC-powered or even independent of electricity entirely. Alas, all the canned goods in the world are useless without a means to open them, and that means having both manual and electric can openers, (or even hammers and chisels if the manual can openers break.)
    Last edited by TheUnboundOne; 10-11-2008, 05:02 PM. Reason: Omitted word
    "Apocalypse is by no means inevitable." --Jim Rice.


    • #3
      Wow, how unfortunate. I don't see any benefit to slavery in a survival situation so the point is rather mute. TUO has answered the question of a human powered generator/dynamo's need for batteries.


      • #4
        Kenno and Das,

        I meant to add also: The batteries for off-grid power systems I've seen in catalogs like Kansas Wind Power are typically Lead-based, wet-cell, deep-cycle batteries, such as found on golf carts.

        Although they are long-lasting, eventually they deteriorate and lose the ability to hold a charge and have to be disposed of in a way that doesn't pollute water tables. Hence, if one uses an off-grid power system, one also has to make provisions for such disposal and, of course, replacement. Alas, the TANSTAAFL principle doesn't cut us slack on anything.

        For more information and products related to off-grid energy, check out Kansas Wind Power's Web Site:

        Kansas Wind Power since 1975. A good source for solar, wind & hydro electric independent power systems, energy saving products, water pumping, solar cookers, DC lights, gas refrigerators, composting toilets, shortwave radios and telescopes for homes, cabins, farms, boats, RV's.

        and especially this page:

        Batteries, Chargers
        lead acid battery, deep cycle batteries, solar battery, wind turbine generator battery, offgrid batteries, sealed maintenace free batteries, industrial batteries, rolls surrette batteries, iota efficient and high amps battery chargers, battery desulfators, battery life saver battery desulfator, battery improvers remove sulfation, battery exhaust fan, water miser battery vent safety cap reduces battery watering,
        "Apocalypse is by no means inevitable." --Jim Rice.