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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Miscellaneous Debris Part 5: Cars, Alternative Energy, & Harry Potter


Here are a couple of really cool 'Green' sports cars.
Check out the all electric Tesla Roadster, write a check for $50K and reserve yours now.

FuelVapor Technologies describes their 3 wheeled “alé” thusly:

The car’s key innovation's are the fuel vapor system and it's light weight aerodynamic body. This fuel vapor technology (which is in the patent pending process) allows the engine to run on “fuel vapors” rather than liquid fuel. The majority of gas engines today run 14.7:1 – (14.7 parts air to 1 part gasoline). This proprietary fuel vapor system allows the “alé” to run on a ratio of over 20:1 without compromising performance. According to the textbooks, this ratio is impossible, as a standard engine would not start or run on a air/fuel ratio this low. With a 10 gallon gas tank found on most vehicles, the “alé” can travel from Vancouver BC to San Francisco CA on one tank. Over 15 hours of driving without filling up.

The “alé” reminds me of a 21st century version of Buckminster Fuller's three wheeled Dymaxion Car.

Fuller and Tesla are two of my favorite figures in American History.

Alternative Energy

Steorn is a company that is currently demonstrating in London what it claims is a 'free energy' machine. I'm skeptical.

Something like THIS is probably more realistic. And if it only costs $700 it is alternative energy that would be accessible to almost any homeowner. Of course these are being made in Australia, and something like that on my roof would give my HOA heart palpitations.

Space Based Solar power could provide a large scale solution if access to space could be made less expensive. Perhaps a space elevator.
Space Solar Power is a blog dedicated to the notion.

Harry Potter

Many Harry Potter fans have constructed elaborate inferred histories of the Wizarding World based on hints, innuendo, and scraps of facts from the novels.

The Red Hen has volumes of material containing inferred history as well as numerous theories about character relationships & motivations, reconstructions of behind the scenes events not explicitly laid out in the novels (i.e. Rita Skeeter's motivations and who might be pulling her strings). You will also find lots of speculation about Book 7.

Here is a fascinating essay that explains the way the Wizarding World works, and it has really affected my current reading of the series in preparation for Deathly Hallows. The essay describes a patron-client network:

the system works by otherwise unprotected wizards attaching themselves to a powerful "patron" and becoming his "clients." The patron will smooth over any problems his client might have with the Ministry of Magic, and use his money and connections to help him out of his difficulties, and keep him out of Azkaban – as Dumbledore did with Mundungus Fletcher. In return, the client himself becomes a part of the patron's entourage and connections. The patron ends up with a large body of wizards dependent on him whom he can rely on (a private army, in other words) which effectively puts him above the law, because the wizarding world doesn't actually have armies, at least in the Muggle sense of the word. Some patrons may well have an even more powerful patron of their own, and a wizard at the top of a patronage tree is a very powerful figure indeed: such are Dumbledore, and Lucius Malfoy, to whom wizards like Crabbe and Goyle defer. Their sons in turn attend on Draco, as bodyguard and entourage; this makes them part of the same patronage network, because Draco's patron is his father.

Death Eaters, The Ministry of Magic, the Order of the Phoenix, and even Dumbledore's Army all represent examples of such a network. These networks have overlapping members each exerting influence on the others in their own ways. Dumbledore's Army could be described as a client-patron network with Harry as patron, but also as a sub-network of Dumbledore's, because Harry is a client of Dumbledore's.

This Essay by swythyv details the importance of Nicolas Flamel, and how his decision to let go of life at the end of Sorcerer's Stone led to much of Dumbledore's political troubles starting with Malfoy's influence over the school governors in Chamber of Secrets.

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