Monday, October 19, 2015

Agenda 21: Power Dynamics

Agenda 21, pp. 198-202

I decided to turn right.

The significance of this line is that David made a special point of the fact that the compound is circular, so you can go either direction. That was worth noting in two chapters, right?

This chapter covers Emmeline traveling to the Village. Travel segments are inevitably the most boring part of any story, and most writers would recommend a quick segue from location to location. On the other hand, given how few exterior descriptions we've had thus far, this otherwise uninteresting section does show me that I've been wrong about the layout of the area. Several Compounds are present inside a large fence - they are not self-contained as I've been assuming, though they are still spaced very far apart.

Speaking of which, did you know that seeing the term "sprawl" in a statement is an early warning sign that the fascists internationalists bad dudes are taking over your community? I learned that from Glenn Beck.

A few things happen on this little trip. First, we get a good look at Randall, David's not-so-trustworthy messenger:

As he leaned against the gate, I realized he was trying to stand straight, trying to hide the fact that his left leg was shoreter than his right. And when he talked, the left side of his mouth didn't move the same as the right side. And his left eyelid drooped a little. He was not a perfect Citizen.

I think there might be a point buried in here, but it's so subtle that I can't quite catch it.

We also learn that the protagonist is expected to lock up her bike, which seems odd in a society where no one really owns anything. Oh, except their is a reason:

...I didn't want anyone to download my energy into their cycle or storage bar.

Uh...okay, we definitely need to address this "power bike" thing. First off, here's what a human-powered generator looks like in real life:

Photo courtesy of David Shankbone / Wikicommons

You'll note all of the electrical equipment that needs to be affixed to the bicycle to make this at all practical. Apparently, this is all strapped to the bikes in the story universe, which seems a touch impractical, particularly in that the bikes are still meant to be used for transportation.

But I've also been doing just a tiny bit of reading on manual power generation. Wikipedia claims that a "healthy human" (read: not a cyclist) can generate 75 watts of power for a total of eight hours. That's a little more than 2 megajoules, or about the amount of energy that one square meter of open ground receives from the sun in a little over half an hour. Basically, a handful of low-efficiency solar cells could outproduce this entire community, so why aren't we using those again? Couldn't be bothered to think of a reason? Well, maybe in the sequel.

I'm not going to get into the logistics of what were called "download bars" until this chapter, as that gets into electrical engineering and I'm not going to try and bluff my way through that. The insistence on treating electricity as though it were a fluid and not something that needs to form a circuit is certainly something that could be examined, but not by me. There's plenty more coming, believe me, and there's no point in fixating now.

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