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 The Powers of Junk Joules
Bonus Joules discovers an eternal companion in Junk Joules and steps into the Land of the Other.


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Blog by Dave McArthur 25 July 2007

Does democracy still exist in a country where people can vote for their Members of Parliament but those Members are powerless to manage critical infrastructure. No? Then New Zealand is not a democracy. It’s just a black box.

  The lack of critical thinking in the universities and the media of our country has been highlighted in a couple of ways this week. Each of them points to a nation bereft of principle and which is an increasing liability to humanity. As regular readers of my blogs know, I believe the NZ Electricity Reforms are fascist. I also believe only those nations that create intelligent uses of our electrical potential and of our solar potential will survive. Those that fail to develop these potentials and who persist with economies based on mindless population increases and the depletion of our mineral resources (soil, oil, coal, Natural Gas etc) will implode in war and misery.

In New Zealand critical infrastructure such has the 230 volt electrical meters in our dwellings are just black boxes for us i.e. pieces of technology over which citizens have no say or control. All we vaguely sense and know is this black box is working against our interests. It’s sucking our wealth away. This disempowerment pretty much makes the whole country a black box.

My June 14 blog was dedicated to the memory of Folole Maliaga. Folole died soon after her local Bulk-gen electricity supplier turned off her breathing support system. In that blog I attempted to put her death in the context of New Zealand’s use of our electrical potential this last hundred years of so. My July 14 blog continued this theme by illustrating how our Electricity Commission is framed to fail us.    

The first event that highlighted how much New Zealand is now a failing democracy was an American report I read. That nation too is on the verge of imploding but it still sustains levels of critical thinking far superior to ours. I am privileged to be able to contribute to the Sustainable Energy Forum and the article prompted me to make the following posting:



There is a growing consensus that democracy in the USA is diminishing fast in a wide range of areas. The consensus is based on statistics such as rising imprisonment rates and wealth inequity, the continuing slaughter of the Iraqi and other peoples, media control trends, its flawed electronic voting system etc. However elements of democracy still exist and some robust debate continues over critical issues. For example:

  Who Would Have Thought the iPhone Would Become a Political Issue?

By Annalee Newitz, AlterNet. Posted July 17, 2007.

  So what's the big deal? Why do people even want a $600 phone, and why has this luxury device for the pampered techie become such a hot political issue?  

The article ends:

The iPhone is political because it somehow manages to capture the essence of authoritarianism in its shiny little box. Totally locked down, it runs only preapproved software on a prechosen phone network that is subject to government surveillance. Long live the iPhone! Long live democracy!

  The article articulates the concerns that are sparking the political debate thus:

Meanwhile, digital freedom lovers have been up in arms over Apple's many closed-door policies for the phone. Not only are the damn things locked into using AT&T as a carrier, but iPhones are also designed to prevent users from writing additional software for them. Nothing but Apple-approved software may run on the iPhone. That means people who want to play music on the iPhone will have the same problems they have with iTunes on the iPod -- you can put as much music on the phone as you want, but you can't transfer it to another device. Nor can you choose a secure browser over Safari, or an e-mail program of your choice. Even free-software activist Richard Stallman is pissed about the iPhone, and he's a guy who rarely gives little toys from Apple a second thought.

So what's the big deal? Why do people even want a $600 phone, and why has this luxury device for the pampered techie become such a hot political issue? I think the answer to the first question is easy: the iPhone is the first truly cool convergence phone that combines multimedia with multispectrum goodies like Bluetooth, wi-fi, and of course, a phone network. Who doesn't wish to combine phones, iPods, and laptops into one nifty thing?

That's where politics come in. In the United States we have a long history of government regulations on the phone network, as well as on what can plug into the phone network, so naturally the public wonders what the government is going to do with the iPhone. Especially when other components of the iPhone, such as its ability to play music, touch on another government-regulated area: copyright law. And then there's another issue that few people have commented on, which is that Apple's chosen carrier for the iPhone, AT&T, has a history of letting the government spy on its phone networks. So every way you slice it, the iPhone is subject to government. 

What does this suggest about the state of democracy in New Zealand? We are faced with an even more critical issue and there is profound silence. The issue? How we use the stuff that underpins our civilisation and which is vital in determining whether we make the transition beyond the Cheap Oil/Gas Age. I refer to our rights and capacities to make use of our electrical potential.

  On 17-18 July 2007 one of NZ’s most critical meetings of this century occurred.

The Commission held a technical forum at Te Papa on 17 and 18 July 2007 for reconciliation (retailers, data administrators, network owners, and distributors) and metering participants (meter owners and test houses).

The first session on 17 July 07 was dedicated to an overview of the service provider process, introducing the retail service providers, the reconciliation rules and a presentation of the transition and implementation plan to achieve the go-live date.

The second day of the forum comprised separate reconciliation and metering discussion sessions.

Note – link includes pdfs of presentations.

I did not attend because I did not know to attend and anyway the forum seems worded to exclude public interest and involvement.  I do not recall postings about it on the Sustainable Energy Forum, less still any debate. Indeed on two occasions recently I posted detailed statements on SEF in which I backgrounded how this critical issue is framed in fascism. I pointed out our Parliament has yet again endorsed the 1998 Electricity Reforms that disenfranchised 99.999% of us. I pointed out that the common 19th Century switch board in dwellings is about to undergo an unprecedented revolution with the convergence of broadband, distributed generation, smart appliance, demand/response, metering, radiotelecomunications etc.

I pointed to the ARC technology as a precursor example of first truly cool convergence switchboard that combines all the above goodies.

I understand 5000 Hawkes Bay and about 30,000 Christchurch dwellings are fitted with this technology now.

I did not receive a single response to the posting on SEF, not even to my provocative statement that New Zealand is not longer a functioning democracy:

Individuals and communities no longer have an effective vote on how we use our electrical potential.

We no longer own the knowledge of how we live and how our dwellings are used.

We can no longer pool our collective intelligence to combine our electrical potential with other local resources. 

Our Parliament has reaffirmed the current ownership regime which states that we cannot effectively own our own switchboards (metering and response switches) and we are not permitted to communicate household data to who we like eg consumer advocate group, local territorial authority or other group of our choice so they can buy and sell Bulk-gen and Dwelling- gen electricity on our behalf.

The legislation effectively mandates that the information of how we use our electrical potential is the property of the Bulk-gen electricity company of our “choice”. We have no choice about using other trading mechanisms than Bulk-gen electricity companies.

As you can see, all the arguments and issues surrounding the iPhone exist here with one critical difference. As the iPhone article points out this piece of technology is at present just a plaything for the wealthy. The dwelling switchboard determines whether people live or die in some cases. In poor households it demands all discretionary income. It shapes the household psyche and the shape of our land and the balances of the air that we breathe.

The deafening silence on SEF is not unique. It echoes through our universities and our media. Not one media (TVNZ, Sunday Star Times, not even SCOOP) acknowledged receipt of my missives on the subject. I doubt there was a single representative from any of our major media present at the conference.

As SEF knows, I have repeatedly written to Dr Keith Turner, CEO of Meridian Energy, controller of ARC technology, asking if citizens will have the right to broadcast their dwelling data to the institution of their choice. I also asked what protections are in place to prevent a Bulk-gen company trading our dwelling’s data with other companies, just as we citizens are now traded between companies. I also asked if we are permitted to have reversible metering with the technology (as is common in greater democracies such as USA and Australia). A year on and he still has not acknowledged receipts of my letters even.

Maybe the widespread silence is because people are too preoccupied to acknowledge how issues surrounding ownership the “metering” technology and its knowledge potential go the heart of sustainability (democracy) in a post Cheap Oil/Gas Age. Maybe people are “too busy” to be concerned about democracy. Maybe people just don’t care about democracy. I know some on SEF approve of the Electricity Reforms and so their silence is understandable. All I know is that the Sustainability Principle predicts the Electricity Reforms and lack of effective concern for democracy will have dire consequences for humanity if replicated globally.

Hey, I just think I have written a blog for my website.

May all know that energy is sustained.



Before discussing the other signal event this week I will give out the Junk Joules Award for this blog. It goes to all those who advised our Prime Minister that New Zealand should become a “carbon neutral nation”.  The concept is nonsense. Dangerous nonsense. We are Carbon Beings. We cannot escape responsibility for our use of carbon. The danger of the nonsense is that the concept blinds us to the impact of our use of carbon in the form of coal, Natural Gas and oil. Our chronic waste uses of these, especially oil, is the source of our inflation with its resultant wealth loss in the form of excessive rates of household debt growth, homeless young, Reserve Bank interest and trading dollar values.

The nonsense is also dangerous because it actively destroys our spirit of stewardship.

 The Bonus Joules Award this blog goes to India.

To quote a Times of India report:

India leads the pack and is likely to be rewarded for its newly-revealed climate change ‘cool’ with trend-setting 'green' financial banking instruments, such as solar panel or biogas mortgages, specially developed for it by HSBC. The 'green' financial packages for Indian customers would be the first in the world. The index, based on a survey of 9,000 people across four continents, demonstrated that 60% of Indians were deeply concerned about climate change, compared to just 22% in the UK and 26% in Germany.
…. The 'green' banking packages would award Indians easy loans, should they want them, for a diverse basket of eco-friendly commodities, such as solar panel installation or a biogas cooker.

Though Williams refused to specify the size of the potential Indian 'green' market, he said it was likely to be big and would harness all forms of alternative energy, including wind power generating sources and waste-into-energy processes. He insisted that the Indian can-do spirit about climate change was "a well-informed optimism", not "blind ignorance".

I posted the link on SEF and a respondent pointed out the survey was only of the affluent Indian middle class. My comment was that this made the study all the more relevant. The Indian middle class is about 250 million and comparable to the mass middleclass of Europe and the USA. My SEF posting, with the subject title Asia=Future? Electricity Commission = No Future? below predates reading the article on the impacts of technology convergence as in the iPhone.



Hi SEF and Murray

A couple of other quick reflections on the 'Climate Confidex Index’ survey.

In 2000 I found myself in the position of teaching the nature of energy as part of an “energy efficiency” resource. I soon realised that what I had been taught in New Zealand was confused and conflicting. The whole language surrounding the topic is hopelessly compromised here. I now find that even our use of the science symbol is fatally flawed.

Earlier this year I proposed on SEF a principle of energy, which I am tentatively calling the Sustainability Principle:

“When a symbol use works to deny change it will materially alter the potential of the universe (energy) in a way that results in a reduction in the capacity of the symbol user to mirror reality. When a symbol use works for the acceptance of change it will increase the capacity of the symbol user to mirror reality.”

This emerged from my analyses of our use of key power/energy/climate symbols as to whether they supported or denied the Conservation Principle of Energy.  As I may have mentioned on SEF I posted it to my daughter who was studying the ancient knowledge of the Buddha in India. She informed me that there was remarkable congruence.

In brief the Sustainability Principle can be used to evaluate whether a symbol use or strategy will tend to generate harmony and well being or war and misery. Which is what SEF theoretically is all about.

My research six years ago into the immediate sources of NZ’s current unsustainable uses of the energy and power symbols indicated the USA was the most profound source with Europe having a distinct influence too. By contrast I found Asia retained a far higher level of science in its use.

(I summed the global picture up in this cartoon about 2002.

 The quasi-religious language is deliberate as the use of these symbols reflects deep held beliefs about the nature of existence.)

 The Sustainability Principle suggests that Asia will tend to make more intelligent use of our solar and electrical resources than Europe and become the saner innovators for humanity.

Germany is an interesting case. Though its symbol use had major flaws I found it was far more scientific than Anglo countries, which of course includes us. This was reflected in comparatively more sustainable developments in technology.  However I have noticed this century a rapid decline in the sustainability of its symbol use and now there are even moves to create a Ministry of Energy. This is a recipe far worse than limbo – its more a recipe for hell!

The Sustainability Principle also predicts that movies such as The Day After Tomorrow (which the Potsdam Institute advised on) and An Inconvenient Truth will have worked to increase dissonance with the climate in the wider German culture. Potsdam’s own research of the impact of TDAT showed it undermined public confidence in climate science.

 In summary the deterioration in their symbol use indicates Germany will move to more militaristic responses similar to USA, UK etc.

 It is interesting to note that one of the greatest recorded “Green revolutions” in history occurred in India under King Asoka. Some estimate he created 10,000 miles of tree lined roads complete with wells, plantations and hospitals to sustain the traveller. We are now bulldozing them to make way for cars.

 It was an Indian thermodynamics engineer who was able to provide me with sustainable uses of the energy and power symbols. It is telling that he could not get employment in New Zealand and had to return to India where he continues to work selflessly designing small-scale solar technologies when he is not caring for his sick father 24/7.

At one point he asked me how do we build houses in New Zealand. So I mapped him out a standard dwelling based on the Building Codes handbook 3604. According to his calculations there is no way our buildings meet the legislated standards. For instance where an envelope of R1.9 is required our technology can only attain R1.6. His calculations were checked by an independent engineering company and found to be true.

As part of my research I have compared the psychology of various regions in terms of their religions etc. Speaking very generally European sourced psychology tends to deny change and concepts of personal stewardship compared to the Asian area. It is the latter psychology that drives my use of carbon now, for instance and which puts me at odds with the carbon trading ethos. This Asian sourced psychology also enhances my capacity to grapple with the paradoxes inherent in the Uncertainty Principle.

I discuss the dilemma KiwiSaver puts me in re carbon in my latest blog that I have just posted. I devote much of it to reflections on the Electricity Commission public update on the state of “the electricity market” in Wellington last week. Two things were very clear to me. The Electricity Commission cannot be a sustainable force while our Parliament makes it subservient to the current ownership regime. The second thing is that our current lack of democracy means we are going to be denied the benefits of the confluence of broadband-metering-telephone technologies and left only with the risks of it.

The blog can begins:

KiwiSaver = KiwiKiller and Carbon Polluter? As I deconstruct the hype this scary equation emerges complete with inflation and the end of universal superannuation. What’s a bloke to do? 

 Two footnote thoughts:

India managed to create an electron voting system that contained three sets of safeguards to prevent vote tampering within the system. The USA has not managed to create an electronic voting system with one set of safeguards and there is growing evidence that tampering of votes within the system enabled the current President to bypass democracy in two elections now.

The Sustainability Principle suggests a nation that confuses oil with energy is at great risk. One of the great risks is that because all forms, including oil, are limited then as the commodity becomes scare the economy will suffer destructive forces such as wealth-depleting inflation and increasingly volatile currencies. Which are this morning’s headlines in New Zealand. The Reserve Bank is as impotent as the Electricity Commission.

All the best


And finally a quick intro to the cartoon that accompanies this. It was first published in 2003. New Zealand had been binging on Bulk-generated electricity and the hydrodams were a bit low. Bonus Joules has arrived at Parliament as part of the search to understand the nature of energy and finds the place in having an “energy” panic. Junk Joules emerges as the complementary, coevolving twin of Bonus Joules and here we see how dominant Junk Joules is in New Zealand.

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