Libertarian commentary #16-18D By Nathan Barton
We live in an era in which the great age of invention, which lasted 300 years, may be slowing to a stop, largely due to government controls and regulations and a pathetic desire to be free of risk and to control everything.
Start with this latest: Freedom Net Daily headlined this “US FDA announces plan to expropriate vaping industry on Big Tobacco’s behalf” The Orange County Register reports, “The federal government on Thursday announced sweeping new regulations for electronic cigarettes that could upend the multibillion-dollar industry and for the first time require e-cigarette makers to submit their products for a safety review. Before brands are allowed to stay in the market, regulators would have to check the ingredients, design and flavor of the fast-growing devices, which have found a foothold with teenagers. [and MANY adults]… The rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration would also extend long-standing restrictions on traditional cigarettes to a host of other products, including e-cigarettes, hookah, pipe tobacco and nicotine gels. Minors would be banned from buying the products.”
In video interviews, many people saw this as nothing but driving most small businesses engaged in making and selling these things out of business; driving up compliance costs with what is already a huge array of local and state laws to an intolerable level. The FDA plan also totally negates largely successful efforts by industry and business to take direct responsibility and regulate themselves. Overall, there is no real benefit to be gained except for greater control by a whole host of government agencies.
I love technology, and something like this can be really useful. The Daily Mail discusses a patent application filed by Sony for new contact lenses that record video, and have a whole host of features such as zoom and change in focus, and work while still allowing you to see the real world. I know of many uses, but also recognize that many of them are very much in the mold of 1984 and Brave New World. It can very easily used to spy, not just on other people but on the user themselves. The article doesn’t really make it clear just how close to market this really is, and the cost must surely be frightful. In addition, this doesn’t feature a cable snaking out of your eyelids, so it must use some electromagnetic wireless communication: and you have to wonder if the eyeball is really up to that kind of localized and possibly intense electromagnetic radiation. (The bandwidth HAS to be high.) So much potential for good, and so much for bad. One thing can be sure: that government will use this product for evil.
Mama’s Note: The bionic man/woman creeps ever closer. I immediately thought of the massive and ugly eye piece implant of the “borg” on Star Trek, and how far even our imaginations have come in just a few years. I’m sure this thing could be used for evil, as can nearly anything, but I doubt it will be… or not much. It is too personal, and far too much under the control of the one who wears it. And I suspect that not many will want to bother when there are so many other and less costly options. But, we will see what happens.
The Daily News (a UK paper) also ran an interesting article describing that the benefits of being out in the sun are not limited just to vitamin D, and are far greater than the risks associated with sunburn and potential skin cancer and related ills. Definitely an article worth pondering, both for adults and children. Again, it is interesting to note that decades ago, most children ran around in the sun year-round without PSF-1000 sun screen, and yet did not immediately turn into skin cancer victims at age 20. On the other hand, adult skin exposed to too much sun has often been related to skin cancers and other problems. My, do you think that children might respond differently than adults? And that people can still benefit from something that is now considered “horrible?” And that just maybe, maybe, the politicians and government is wrong in prohibiting tanning and tanning beds for under age 18? Sometimes, inventions are just things that we rediscover after people forget about them: government seems to be very good at getting us to forget about things. And while government can’t regulate sunshine, they can regulate vitamin pills and sunlamps and a lot of other things.
True Activist is one of those sites that is usually it is way off line, but a short article this week describes an interesting contraption: a plant pot that you can use to charge electronic devices (phones, tablets, etc) by letting the plant act as a solar cell. Any sort of plant will work, they claim, so you COULD have a pot-plant-pot charging your iPad. At least as long as someone doesn’t turn you in for it. One can (without too much trouble) conceive of a world where government has forbidden items like this, because they are “off-grid” and can liberate people from being part of “society” – the matrix or the Unity or the collective.
Mama’s Note: Interesting, but I don’t really see a practical application for most people. No indication what this “pot” might cost, but I don’t see much use for it outside of a novelty for geeks. I assume that most folks charge their iPhone and other devices overnight anyway.
Another neat device soon to show up in your local Ace or True Value Hardware store is a flashlight powered by the heat your hand. We’ve all see crank and squeeze flashlights, and even shake flashlights, but this one doesn’t require exertion at all: just a warm body (well, hands or armpits). It is several years old, but you can read about it in Scientific American. A 15-year-old high schooler invented it because her friend in the Philippines was failing school because she had no electricity to provide light to study by. Don’t know the details, but you can bet that government helped make the mess she was in – and that other than providing a school at which the inventor either can’t work to her potential or is kept from achieving it, government had nothing to do with the invention, which uses Peltier tiles.
Why do I mention Peltier tiles? Because they are NEAT – and another way to get off the grid. Peltier tiles generate electricity by converting thermal energy as it flows from a heat source to a cold source – that is, energy flowing from hot to cold. They are cheap and easy to use, and you can get 5 72-watt ones for about thirteen bucks on E-bay. Actually, you can use it both ways: the “Peltier process” really uses electricity to heat one side and cool the other side of the plate: the “Seebeck effect” is where you have a plate hot on one side and cold on the other and generate electricity from it. Not too efficient, but simple. Cold outside air and a car or greenhouse with warm air from the sun is one way. Sunlight on one side and frozen ground on the other is a good way. A computer running hot inside its case versus room-temp air on the outside. All yet another way to slip a bit farther off the grid and off the government’s teat.
We CAN reduce our dependency on government: just say no! Enough is enough.