Ratios, Efficiency, and Decentralization


Ratios are great tools in helping develop an intuition or insight on how thing/variables relate to one another.  Meaningful relationships between two or more items of interest, or variables, guide and help us to make informed decisions without opinion or fear.  As the ratios get more complex they tend to be non-linear with the behavior of interest being the inter-reaction between the parts and not of any one part it self.  This non-linear behavior, as we will find out, does not bode well for centralized systems.  Additionally, with this type of formulated information a determination can be made as to what’s the highest and best use of material, time, energy, etc. 

Some familiar examples of ratios are miles/gallon (mpg), miles/hour (mph), price/gallon, Dow/gold, gold/silver, price/pound ($/lb), price/ounce ($/oz), surface/volume, price/hour (labor), price/KiloWatt-hr ($/Kwh), mass/volume (density), number of occurrences/time (frequency), circumference/diameter (pi), electrical voltage/current (resistance), etc.  It’s intuitive when shopping at the grocery store to compare the $/oz of similar items of different brands to make a purchase decision.  It’s also apparent that when they use different units of measurements ($/oz, $/lb, $/grams, $/liter, etc) a conversion factor must be applied to standardized the ratio or you might make a wrong decision, one that could harm your family.

Ratios can be expanded to handle more complex interrelationships.  For example, in thermal insulating a structure from hot or cold temperatures the meaningful relationships that go into thermal resistance equation, the R value, and the prices associated with the variables of the R value warrant a closer examination.

R = x / (k*A)        and         $/k, $/x, $/A

Where R is Thermal resistance, x is the thickness of the material used, k is the thermal conductivity of the material used, and A is the area of the material.  The relationships are

1) x  increases – R increases,

2) k  increase   – R decreases

3) A increases  – R decreases. 


The goal is to maximize R so we want to maximize x and minimize k and A. The x and A analysis is straight forward, thicker material/walls and smaller surface areas make for a higher R value. The k value (something you look up) for concrete is about 9 while the k value for steel is about 319 and the k value for silver is about 2980.  So in this case for both max R value and lower costs, concrete is the winner. 

Now you can look at any math equation and get a handle on the interrelationships of the variables and further relate them to price or something else …… so give your self some credit, you can do it.

When evaluating ratios in which currency ($) is involve, a little caution is in order.  The signals received in evaluating investments or saving of large sums over long periods of time (future values of $) will probably be misleading since currency has no store of or intrinsic value, is centrally controlled and susceptible to psychological revaluations i.e. inherently unstable.  We have seen examples from DTOM and TGTNT on how to evaluate price ratios when currencies fail, especially where labor is involved.  You need a more stable denominator.



The sum total of human experiences through out written history and from our own experiences reveals an accelerating trend of doing ever more with ever less.  Total wealth consists of the physical and metaphysical (mind, know-how). Physical wealth is large and finite but the metaphysical wealth is, as yet, infinite.  It also appears that the power structures/schemers are using every means available to monopolize know-how.  We have also noticed that where capitalism is exercised competitively and collaboratively prices tend to go down but when monopolized/regulated, prices always go up. That’s way competition is a sin.  The drive of capitalism to make money has an inadvertent side affect of lowing cost, doing more with less, innovation, and improved efficiency just as a bumble bee’s drive for honey has the inadvertent side affect of pollinating plants.  These side affects might be nature’s main effects. 

Efficiency will play a larger role in how we structure our lives and communities when honest valuations of resources are levied upon the globe.  Its not that there isn’t enough energy it’s that we waste what we have. Take for example some of our common transportation methods, the efficiency of a gas powered car is between 10 -20%, diesel is around 30%, turbine engines are around 40%, jet engines are around 60%, and fuel cells are around 80%.  So we see that cars waste 80% of the gasoline energy as mostly heat. When we brake we convert kinetic energy to heat and brake pad dust instead of converting it to electrical capacitance to be re-released back as kinetic energy to initially accelerate the car when the brake is released.

The saying that you don’t need to make a lot of money, you just need to keep what you make goes equally well towards energy, in that you don’t need to produce a lot of energy you just need to use what you have efficiently. We are highly inefficient.  In part, some of these inefficiencies are purposeful to keep volume sales/cash flows growing, some are due to special interest, some to job security/fear (trade union, etc) and some from not being informed of commercial off the shelf (COTs) technologies that are available and of many basic scientific principles.  What is the highest and best use of time, material, and energy and how do we make it work for us?

In Maslow’s hierarchy/pyramid of needs we’ve learned that the lower levels are important to creating a stable living/home environment that transcend the reptilian brain’s scarcity response of it’s either you or me but not enough for both.  So it seems fitting that, in part, the precessional affects of capitalism like efficiency and innovation can flip this ingrained response to something like there is enough for both you and me. A quick look at housing might peak interest in trying to get more out of our living structures and appliances’ by improving their efficiency, design and inter-relatedness through technology and scientific principles.  The littlest step is still a step.

A solar thermal collector takes sun energy and converts it to heat in a primary loop which transfers its heat energy to your domestic hot water tank for direct use or acts as a per-heater for the regular gas/electric hot water heater inlet water.  If the system is large enough it can also be used to heat the house in part or in whole.  When designing the system, if the solar collector was above the water tank, a pump is required to circulate the primary loop.  A better design is to place the water tank above the collector to take advantage of convection or natural circulation.  The heated water exiting the collector is less dense and will rise naturally to transfer its heat to the water tank whereby becoming relativity cooler and denser thus descended back to the collector.  It becomes a passive self regulating design.  This is an example of total wealth.

All structures have a surface area to volume ratio and the most efficient ones have the smallest surface area to volume ratio.  If we want to lower structural heat loss, one of the variables we want to minimize from the thermal insulation R factor above is surface area (A).  Spheres have the least surface area to volume and therefore lose or gain the least heat energy through its surface of any modern structure.  Domes or dome like structures, segments of spheres, are convex on the out side and concave on the inside.  The convex exterior diffuses/scatters energy, in this case heat, creating ascending convective heat flows that draw air out along the dome’s ground opening vents creating a slight vacuum inside.  A ceiling vent that is smaller in area then the ground vents would draft in accelerated air flow thereby cooling the structure through the Bernoulli Effect during the day light hours.  Use of gravity, captured rain water, and insightful design can completely or partly augment total water usage.  Properly designed septic systems can provide generations of passive-no-power waste disposal functions.  Many living functions, when properly designed, can be accomplished passively with no/minimum use of energy inputs, last for generations and provide a higher standard of living.

Solar electric arrays can be used for either off-grid or grid-tie operations. With grid-tie systems you don’t need batteries to store electricity for night or cloudy days and since the excess power you make goes into the grid and is kept track of as a credit, you can think of the grid as your battery bank. The term grid could just be the electrical infrastructure of a independent community of like minded people.  The size of your array will depend on your electrical consumption but in general your solar array might not be large enough to power high amperage electrical appliances like a dryer, oven, or hot water tank.  Gas is more efficient than electricity for those applications.  However, if you design a community where your independent systems are all inter-connected via a grid you might be able to address the high amperage appliances issue.  When designing an array consider its interrelatedness (synergy) in support of other requirements, have it pull double duty if you will.  For instance the solar array can be incorporated into the house as an awning for a covered outdoor area, shade, cooling and also used as a rain run-off water collector.  An awning can be positioned to take advantage of the suns declination in your area so that summer sun is kept out of the house and winter sun let in.

What can we learn about home electrical wiring?  Using copper wiring as the base case and searching for a better conductor we find silver to be about 6% better.  Since silver is around $320/lb and copper is around 3.26$/lb it’s clear that on a cost basis and for the proposed purpose, copper is more cost effective despite its somewhat lower conductivity.  A higher gauge copper wire (over sized) would exceed the performance of a lower gauge silver wire and still cost significantly less.  However, if our purpose was for small electrical devices where size and weight are important and power is limited/scarce then the 6% silver wire advantage might make a large difference.  Here we have touch on how we would begin to analysis a material’s highest and best use.

There are many ways to reduce demand and use the environment efficiency while maintaining a high standard of living.  Technology changes our environment and in turn the new environment changes us.  The web site, “Build it Solar” has lots of great inexpensive do-it-yourself wealth creating projects (http://www.builditsolar.com). Look for great ideas and innovation coming from architecture, the design sciences for human living accommodation, in aeronautical and nautical applications.  These artist-scientists are innovative, efficient, and their designs are purposeful in every aspect (material, function, shape, weight, interrelationship, etc).  They thrive at getting the most with the least.  With the average home weighting in a at over 50 tons, its clear that we’re paying for a lot of mass that doesn’t net us much efficiency.  With few exceptions, the stress on airplane fuselage and wings far exceed those experienced by current housing structures. Also their cost, weight, and materials requirements reconfigured into housing are but a fraction of current construction practices.  The home building industry needs to let go of its fear and catch up.


Many man made systems tend to be centralized with a command and control center at the top that operates/schemes down through a hierarchical chain of networks, nodes, and lines of control.  In observing how the Universe works we find no command and control center dictating the tune to which the Universe dances. If our solar system were a centralized system, it might be reasoned that the sun is the command and control center since it contains over 99% of the total mass of our solar system.  Who in the sun manages the day to day operations of the system, writes directives, employs checkers to check checkers, does payroll, ensures the planets orbit as they should, etc?  The solar system has no central controller; the planets are independent entities which operate/associate via pure principle (gravity) which is seen only in the interaction between planets.  These interaction based properties disappear when the parts are studied individually.  An extensive study of a single planet would disclose nothing of gravity.  The complex systems of nature on our planet revels a similar picture.  Centralized systems tend to be linear, predicable, smooth and continuous.  It’s like a volume knob on a radio, if you turn it clockwise the volume increases a predictable amount and if you turn it counter clockwise the volume goes down a predictable amount. 

Centralized systems produce dead mechanical order with limited variability, you know that your happy meal will look and taste the same anywhere on earth where as in decentralized systems you can produce infinite variability and possibilities.  As a centralize system gets larger the costs tend to grow exponentially because the nodes and line of control exponentially increase (electrical resistance increases as your electrical wire length increase and will eventually draw so much current that the breakers trip), thus bankrupting the system.  With a growing decentralize system, cost growth is not exponential.  With a centralized system the interactions between the parts tend to be one way, predicable, and mechanical where as in the decentralize system all parts can freely interact with all other parts and produce un-predictive dynamic behavior.  

Centralize systems require lines of communications and control to function in a top down fashion, this can be seen and understood in their visible forms such as in all types of media news, a company’s vision statement, Government’s foreign policy directive, or the State of the Union.  There are of course non-general invisible lines of communication and controls like censorship, regulations, political destabilization, and the world reserve currency.  The world reserve currency is the entity that at first connects but ends up tying and binding the world (unlike money which does not tie or bind).  For the power structure schemers, the ins, adjusting and fine tuning the reserve currency control devices can produce quite satisfactory results within the system.  It’s similar to how the sewer piping system, water lines, and power lines of a city connects, ties, and binds all its residents …….  You will comply (volunteeringly of course).  In decentralize systems you have lines of communication but not so much in the way of control, you are not bound but free to go (with your gold).  The power of a decentralized system is that the individual parts can work problems, design communities, produce different solutions, ideas, etc then communicate those results through the associative network and arrive at collaborative net-solutions that generate the best ideas and practices for the beneficent of all.

Other things to ponder are all the pushed statistics coming from the centralized system/schemers.  All the sample data collected, presented, and interpreted for you are assumed to be random and independent.  Random sampling processes are straight forward and checkable, but are the data points truly independent?  If the news broadcasts, that formulate public opinion, come mostly from pushed centralized media narratives then any statistical public polling should be held in suspected of not being independently derived.  Perhaps the real value/interpretation of the pushed statistics is actually a measure of how well the centralized system’s message/scheme is being assimilated. In a decentralized system the piece parts of the system are to a much greater extent independent and not coupled to a single narrative whereby avoiding the pitfalls of group/dependent/influenced think.

So it just might be that the aware and prepared Silver community would be best served through decentralized associations instead of physical and intellectual thought centralized centers.  It appears better for the independent parts of the systems to be able to freely associate and disassociate at will.  This might also have an inadvertent side affect of bounding the association, as humanly possible, to integrity and truth.

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