The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eccentric Energy

Prisoner power producing "Pedal Vision"
Photo credit Myfoxphoenix.com
         

           Years ago I proposed the idea of taking idle prisoners and putting them to work generating electricity on stationary bicycles.  I had seen television programs and read stories about prisoners who had all of this idle time which often led to mischief.  Then recently I heard about how the notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio took that unused idea of mine and put it into use. 
          
           Arpaio noticed how these overweight prisoners were just sitting around watching their TVs when they could be doing something more productive.  He came up with the idea of the electricity generating stationary bikes serving the dual purpose of helping the prisoners get exercise and lose weight while producing the energy needed to power their television sets.

        The concept of the electricity-generating stationary bike is not new by any means.  When I was a kid I can recall the generating devices on bicycles that powered the bicycle head and tail lights. These can still be found in use on bicycles today.  There are several gyms and individuals who have gym equipment that generates power.   Just think of the amount of power that could be generated by these and similar means if this human exercise powered energy was in wide use.

         There has been much talk of alternative energy in the past several decades.  Some scoffers might prefer to think of it as "eccentric energy".   These are the voices of the "it'll never work" crowd.  Regenerating fuel generators for hydrogen powered engines have been around since at least the 1970s.   Why aren't we using some of the amazing ideas that innovators have been coming up with for as much as a hundred years?

          A lot of people like to blame the big oil companies or the automobile companies for the repression of innovation that leads to a lack of progress.  They may be partly to blame, but certainly they can adapt since there will continue to be a market for non-renewable energy sources.  Are those companies the ones with the most to lose?

          What about the government?   Petroleum products, coal, and other fuels are commodities that can be traded with taxes attached to them.  How do you tax the sun, the wind, the tides, or energy that is regenerating?   Alternative energy may be labeled as "eccentric" or "impractical" because there may be a huge loss of revenue to our government.

           Next time you fill up your car at the gas pump take note of how much of the fuel price includes federal, state, and local taxes.   Figure out how much in taxes you paid for that fill-up.  Then multiply that by the millions of vehicles that are filled up weekly and, in some cases, daily.   That is a lot of tax dollars. 

             Now tell me how it would benefit the government to switch to those nutty forms of eccentric energy that would save us all a lot of money and clean up the environment.  Call me a dreamer.  Call me eccentric.  There are some ideas that are at least worth trying.


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74 comments:

  1. Hey Lee, you dreamer.
    Too much money to be made in oil for the powers that be to let us have cheap, clean fuel. Although I agree we should get prisoners doing someting other than sitting in their cells watching tv. I believe reading a book is very energy efficient.
    cheers,
    mood
    Moody Writing

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  2. Love this post, seems we are word cousins today :) Norway is one of the leading Oil contributors in the world but you wouldn't know it by the prices we pay pr. liter for gasoline or diesel fuel. Just recently the norwegian people had a protest day and refused to fill there tanks on that day. Did it work? Not yet, but you bet we were heard and we won't stop raising our voice.

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  3. What I'd like is a energy storage unit that I could attach to my bike so all the energy I create cycling could then be taken into my home and used to power something, like my laptop, or electric kettle, or a reading lamp. I should develop this idea, patent it and buy myself a house.

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  4. The system in place currently is for the hydrocarbon fuel, the cars, the airplanes, and everything else. Therefore, it is hard to change the entire system. Hard, of course does not mean it can't be done.

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  5. I'm guessing "forcing" prisoners to exercise a little to power their TVs will be labeled as "cruel and unusual punishment" :(

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  6. You're really one of a kind - very unique! I've never ever came up with the idea of thinking on something like that! :-) I would say, that's the fun part of the A-Z challenge, to read posts like that with unusual words! Yeah!

    Anyway, today I asked myself about E for Einzigartigkeit (uniqueness) What makes one particular book (my book) stand out in the masses?

    Wish you all a wonderful unique day!

    Karin @ Nofretiris Dream Of Writing

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  7. I'd put those bikes in all the state legislatures, too.

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  8. I taught English in an energy producer last year and my students explained that until someone develops a battery powerful enough to store electricity to be used at leisure, then the system won't change much. I can't remember much of the details of what they said, but it makes sense. We can't predict the sun or wind so can't rely on it 100% but we can control when we turn on the oil, coal or nuclear plants. And we human beings like to pretend we can control such things (pretend: see BP oil spill, Japan nuclear disaster).

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  9. That was one innovative sheriff. I wonder what his captive audience thought of his idea.

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  10. That's a good way to keep the prisoners occupied. I think prisoners should go into the police force upon release - they'd be great!

    Duncan In Kuantan

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  11. well that's some cruel and unusual punishment! might deter some criminals

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  12. Fascinating post, Arlee. I think you're spot on when it comes to governments and eccentric energy!

    Ellie Garratt

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  13. I like this idea a lot. It won't generate that much power but if it provided a enough to operate the tv they would have at least earned the privilage of seeing the show.

    My post today was called: Elaine - Born in a bar.

    Http://mynext20yearsofliving.blogspot.com

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  14. I don't think any Governments around the world will take alternative energy seriously while they can earn tax from oil. Plus many politicians are involved in the big oil based companies.
    Love the idea of prisoners on bikes :-)

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  15. An excellent post Lee, talking about energy I could do with a boost right now.

    Yvonne.

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  16. You know that all those including the government who profit from oil will not go down easily or without a fight. People who have grown use to having their pockets lined don't like it when the lining grows thin. Good post!


    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

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  17. I LOVE the idea. Maybe I'm a dreamer too. :-)

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  18. Oh, I'm with you. Something has to be done to limit the amount of un-renewable resources we use.

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  19. It's really strange being overseas. Electric, gas, and water is not constantly, or easily available. Sometimes it's there sometimes it isn't. You just learn to adjust when it isn't. Some of the things people here have invented and sell to others to generate power and get water is absolutely mind blowing to me.

    Dafeenah

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  20. Thanks for all of the fine comments this morning. It's a controversial topic with no easy solutions. But the talk of solutions has been around for decades.

    I truly think that the technology is out there to solve most of the matters, but much is being repressed because it would cut into revenues for many in government and business. Our government has been talking about energy changes and self-reliance for years. If we were able to send a man to the moon in the short time that we did some of the energy problems certainly could have been addressed with the same kind of focus.

    Lee

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  21. he he love that pic :) I hear the scientist have recently invented some batteries which will draw energy from our bodily heat :) Imagine us as walking talking power plants.

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  22. We just got a treadmill that requires energy to burn off our energy. A treadmill used to be a power source. It was rather like a human-sized hamster wheel, and prisoners were made to walk, or trot, or run all day long to power pumps or fans in mines that were worked by other prisioners. A form of punishment has become a luxury item. What a world! What a world!

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  23. love this post. Wish I could attach my computer to a bike to force me to exercise while I'm sitting here blogging!

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  24. Come the day the oil runs out - people will be baying for this 'alternative' technology!

    I still think that if every household here in the UK had some pedal-powered electrical generators we'd save money, reduce carcon emmisions, and be fitter, to boot!

    And if I could get my hands on such a device (at a reasonable price, and with the ability to store the enegy produced) I'd have one fitted in my garage today!

    SueH I refuse to go quietly!

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  25. I wouldn't be surprised, once Japan gets back up on its feet (which I have no doubt it will) that the Japanese will figure out how to produce cheap energy. After all, after being hit with two nuclear bombs they came up with the transistor and electronics was turned on its ear. They seem to be a determined and inventive people.

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  26. As fuel prices rise this year (again!) many of us wish that there was some way that was dependable to store energy for use.

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  27. Great idea...make the prisoners work at something productive. They want gyms anyways.

    I am hating the gas prices. I only live 10 miles from work, and sometimes thats too far. Wish our office didnt move, used to be 4 miles, and I would bike into work. I don't like the busy road to get to work now, so biking is out.

    I wonder about my coworkers who have an hour or so to get to work...it eats up a lot of money in gas, not to mention wear on their cars.

    Sig

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  28. Yes, we need to do it. It might keep school children awake, alternating so many students in each class to ride.
    Love it~

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  29. Such an interesting post. Makes me wonder how much weight I would lose if I had to use an exercise bike to power my computer!

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  30. Nice word eccentric energy! I chose "Epidemic" for my challenge.

    http://umaspoembook.blogspot.com/2011/04/whispering-tree-poetry-epidemic-e.html

    Written in haiku :)

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  31. Ha! Love that ideer - as do I love the ideer of the A-Z challenge. Think I'ma hafta do it unofficially now. Thanks for being cool - love your blog.

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  32. This is an interesting idea! New ideas always seem wild at first. It just takes one person to try it out and prove it works!

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  33. There was a programme on UK TV last year where they had a whole warehouse full of people trying to provide the energy for a house for a day (I think). You wouldn't believe how many cyclists you need to power just the general daily activities of one household.

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  34. More good thoughts-- thank you! According to once source I'd read, if every prisoner in the U.S. pedaled for power 2.5 hours per day the energy savings would amount to something like 40 million dollars per year-- money the correctional systems could sorely use. Not cruel and unusual punishment at all, but beneficial to the health of the prisoners and it allows them to give something back to society

    Lee

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  35. I know he's not all that well-liked, but Joe Arpaio is an innovator! What a novel idea!

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  36. I think it is a fine idea as well. Great posting and great challenge my friend! My blog is loving it as well!

    Popping in by way of the A-Z Challenge. I’m blogging at:
    http://rodneysouthernsays.blogspot.com/

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  37. I remember seeing a 20/20 show way-back-when where a Dad put the stationary bike in the living room. The only way the family could watch TV was for someone to peddle. :o) Excellent 'E' post, Lee. Happy Wednesday! :o)

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  38. Great post Lee! I think you make some excellent points. There are plenty of other options out there, but the powers that be like the money too much, it seems.

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  39. I think this is an awesome idea. It bothers me to see people with nothing to do. Put these men and women to work to produce something from society. This could help them pay their debt to society.

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  40. In alternate source of fuel (other than fossil fuels) is a good source of energy in my opinion.

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  41. Great idea! I wish I could generate power with my bike or my treadmill. :)

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  42. How about bike powered DS games for kids.... hmm... some might just decide to go outside and play again!

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  43. Lee, I'm new to your blog... and so glad I found you through Jean Yeats blog! That being said I can't believe that I stumbled on your blog the day you are posting about "Energy"! I was just talking to someone about this exact subject and back in 2007 a car was developed that ran on compressed air, yes compressed air. Zero pollution! It was supposed to be lauched in the US in 2010 but the problem is that a "big auto company" bought the design and patents form the developer and decided to "shelf" the idea... they claim that if this car that runs on compressed air was put in production that the industry would see to many jobs lost. I don't know if there would be a substantial loss of job or not.. I'm not a market analyst, I just thought that you would find this little tidbit interesting... I will get down from my soapbox now :) It's very nice to meet you!
    Sally www.wireworked.com

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  44. I'll pass on this one, Lee, as it infuriates me that many do without so that others can have unlimited.

    Noticed you shut off new entries. Maybe I'll make it through the list. I'm trying.
    MaryV

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  45. Prison pedalers, huh? Makes a whole lot of sense--I think I'm a believer! Although, coming from a legal background (Sadly, I'm a lawyer by day, writer by night), I can almost guarantee someone from the ACLU will have a hissy fight over that one. But it's a great idea worthy of discussion!

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  46. I guess it's a great way to deter idle minds, so they have no time for evil planning.
    Excellent idea!

    http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/04/e-is-for-elvis.html

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  47. You hit a bit of a nerve with the Arpaio thing. I hate that man! I don't like to say I hate anyone, but darned if I don't hate him. He not only treats prisoners like they are inhuman scum he treats women prisoners even worse. Plus he is a racist. Argue if you want it's just the truth.

    I can't disagree with you on the energy issue. I say if there is a way for the government to tax the sun they would do it.

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  48. >>...If we were able to send a man to the moon in the short time that we did some of the energy problems certainly could have been addressed with the same kind of focus.

    BOID ~
    I think you ought to have capitalized the word "if", because that's a BIG "IF".

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  49. Fat prisoners on bikes is my kind of energy solution! I hope that more people start using alternative and eccentric forms of energy production. Students on a treadmill with a beer dangling in front of them is another one:P

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  50. Can we place politicians on bikes and let them generate something useful?

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  51. Great idea. You could use all sorts of things to generate energy. If all the trolleys being pushed round supermarkets were connected to a generator we could make electricity while she shop... Nah! Wouldn't work. The wires would get tangled. Oh well, I never was very good at physics.

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  52. I think all of us eccentrics need to hang together!

    See what I mean in my E blog post... (I realized I love the letter E!)

    E is for....

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  53. Thank you for the continued comments.

    Sally -- You make an important point. I think a lot of technology is repressed by business in fear that it will put them out of business. So often it's more important to create disposable product that requires added maintenance and accessories than to keep things simple and not have to be replaced as frequently. I like the compressed air car, but I'm not sure how that would work exactly--I say let's give it a shot.

    Marjorie -- I realize many people dislike Arpaio but at least he is trying innovative ideas rather than allowing crime to be operated from within prison walls and there to be no rehabilitation of criminals.

    StMc -- Okay, the moon example was a bad idea for you, but substitute some amazing technological innovations that you believe exist. Don't you think there is some absolutely amazing and totally functional technology that is being repressed for the reasons I've stated or otherwise? Have you seen the film Who Killed the Electric Car? or whatever that documentary was called. I believe the technology is out there but somebody doesn't want it out there because they won't be able to make enough money off of it.

    Alex -- If we could just harness all the hot air produced by the politicians we could do wonders.

    Lee

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  54. My post for letter E is up ... all about Easter decorations.

    http://mom2nick.typepad.com/heres_whats_new/2011/04/e-is-for-easter-decorations-.html

    Thanks for stopping by.
    Laura T

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  55. I would love to hire some prisoners to run my home during the Arizona summertime. Just the lifers though...I don't want to be cruel. LOL

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  56. Saving money and helping the environment? Now, there is a win-win that I could totally get behind.

    I think that many of us, including those that are at the top of the decision making totem poll when it comes to natural resources and alternative energies, are very lazy and would rather use money to solve problems than putting more effort or elbow grease aka physical work into trying to improve the land that we utilize every second of every day.

    I wouldn't deem those bikes cruel and unusual punishment for the prisoners, because it would help them to get exercise, which helps them to stay healthy.

    The Madlab Post

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  57. Lee, this is such an original post and a truly great idea! It's a win-win situation. Julie

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  58. Now that is an interesting alternative fuel. Eccentric yes!! But still...has some good points! ;-)

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  59. I Arlee, I'm new to your blog. I wanted to thank you for the Blogging A-Z Challenge. It has motivated me when nothing else did. You are definitely an eclectic writer.

    MM the Queen of English
    queenofenglish.wordpress.com

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  60. Here in Germany we use a lot of solar and wind power, but we could still improve.
    And don't even get me started on fuel prices. I laugh at my American family and friends when they complain about the prices they pay.
    But really, we are all paying high prices, aren't we?

    By the way, I signed up to follow your blog the day the A to Z challenge started. As someone new to blogging, I am enjoying it and learning a lot.

    My blog:
    http://lind-guistics.blogspot.com/

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  61. Thanks for all the comments from visitors since I was last here.

    MM -- Welcome to my blog and glad you became more motivated. I feel complimented.

    Linda -- I left you some advice on your blog that I hope you will find useful.

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  62. Here in Aus we have an awesome source of energy that the govt is unwilling to invest in - SOLAR ENERGY!! We have so much damn sun it's ridiculous not to make use of it. But they're not interested in doing anything that is long-term, and that a future govt can take credit for.

    I hate politicians ;)

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  63. Trisha -- We have many areas in the US that also get much sun and they have put up some "solar farms" and offer tax credits and assistance for people to put solar panels on their roofs. I've heard that it has been somewhat effective in adding back to the energy drain from traditional sources. I also understand the current solar cells aren't especially effective and very expensive, but I don't know that for a fact. Things are being done here, but I think it's going to be necessary to think bigger and more eccentrically.

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  64. I liked the idea of the prisoners generating their own power. If they want to watch TV, let them do a little exercise to get it. It won't hurt them. It's one of the few things about Sheriff Joe I can stand.

    As far as alternative energy, we just need a Mr. Fusion on everybody's DeLorean. ;)

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  65. Totally a good idea. More people need to support things like this - even if the big guys lose a bit in the end.

    Today I did "E is for Exercise" - sounds so fun, eh?

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  66. haha! amazing! I'm all for it :)

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  67. I Like this post Lee. It makes me angry to think we don't have something a little more energy efficient. I love the idea of the solar panels ontop of roofs. Except, they are so darn expensive, who can afford that and those of us in condos/associations that are so big in Southern CA.

    Also, those wind turbines in Palm Springs...why aren't there more of those?

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com

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  68. LOL! This could almost be an April 1st post. Gosh what a story :O)

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  69. Lee, I think renewable energy will become a necessity, and with necessity comes change.

    One day, all the people snubbing alternative energy will begin praising it, and claiming they had always supported it. That time will be when alternative energy makes them more or the same money as conventional energy sources do.

    The governments, the politicians, will just follow industry and public opinion, they rarely innovate anyway.


    My Blog

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  70. I never could understand why they stopped making prisoners do hard labor. Even if it only makes them self-sufficient, that's something.

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  71. Absolutely worth trying. But why would they go backward in their technology? Government's always about doing the newer and the best, and they don't stop to think that the older might be the best.

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  72. Another thank you to the rest of you who stopped by to leave your comments. I appreciate all of you.

    Lee

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