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Season 4

Episode 22: “Barnabas Lives!”: with Lionel & Jim

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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Jim and Lionel recording the 22nd episode of Season 4 of funny not funny

Jim starts talking about the transparent OLED display at the current CES. We move on to keyboards you stick on your iPhone and the new round of visors.

Lionel is inspired to go on 2 rants. The first is about youtube reviewers who get free gear. His second rant is about a story that shows how AI can be used to get around restrictions imposed on AI. Jim compares this to the Heartbleed exploit of the past decade but much worse. Given the carelessness with which these Artificial Garbage Generators have been put together, Jim expresses his concerns about twitter’s security now that Musk is cutting it to the bone. Lionel says the horse has left the barn.

Jim talks about the I Ching Oracle by Catherine Pilfrey and shares a card he picked to start his day. He then recaps his recent trip to Carmel, California and talks about recent churn in the Pacific Ocean, food, wine (Boekenoogen, Carmel Road, Parsonage), & relaxation. He mentions that he saw a grey whale and also saw a Hyundai Nexo, which is a hydrogen fuel cell electric car. They start talking about the nature of hydrogen as a fuel, but Jim insists that it's a sort of battery, referring it erroneously as a molecule rather than an element. Lionel brings up his feeling that fusion is the deal breaker, but Jim presses his idea that electrolysis should happen inside a car.

Lionel touts the benefits of petroleum products for manufacturing. We touch on Bakelite, Cellophane, and Mauve dye, which were synthetics created prior to the petroleum age. Jim comes back to hydrogen, unable to let go of his idea. Lionel mentions the Family Atomics from Dune, and the subject changes to Climate Change.

They talk about changes in culture and religion that relate directly to our preservation of the ecosystem. Jim talks about how doing the right thing can be made fun and feel futuristic, relating it to his experience renting a Chevy Bolt EUV (not a Ford, as he mistakenly says). Lionel wonders whether it's better to get a new electric car or to run his current car to the ground, mentioning the problems with that argument. They move on to find figures on the biggest greenhouse emitters today, googling franticly to get figures on power generation statistics and power use statistics by industry sector. Jim mentions hempcrete and Lionel despairs that everything is turning into Jim’s cyber-hippie novels. The conversation breaks down along super-nerd lines by mentioning the Pierson’s Puppeteers of Larry Niven’s books.

Lionel says another game changer will be the advent of the sodium battery in cars. We branch off into nuclear and solar energy, touching on France’s use of nuclear energy, and battery storage for renewable power. The fact that solar is decentralized makes it the most attractive option according to both Lionel and Jim. Jim mentions a cartoon he saw about how from the point of view of the energy barons solar power is not feasible.

Lionel mentions a documentary about Vangelis, the composer who created the soundtrack to Blade Runner. Jim says he wanted to read the book Trust by Hernan Diaz on his flight to California, but watched the Barbie Movie instead. Praises are sung. Jim also mentions a movie he saw, that felt like an indie called Landscape with Invisible Hand (not hidden hand, as he says, quoting his own song.) Robert Reich is mentioned tangentially as part of a discussion about what makes a great story.

Finally, they come back to the book Trust, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, which Jim had not finished, but which they will return to in future episodes.

This long conversation continues until Teletubbies are mentioned, and they reach a merciful end.