Saturday, May 26, 2012

New building design: OctaYurt

Hexayurts are an incredibly simple, and affordable design  to make a self supported fully enclosed building using common materials with a few simple cuts, and no material waste.  If made out of plywood, they are animal proof, and if made out of insulation foam board, they are light and foldable.  A Hexayurt has 6 sides, and with light materials, can be held together with tape.  The link above shows how easy they are to make.

I've designed a variation called an OctaYurt because it has 8 sides.  In addition to being substantially larger than a Hexayurt, it has a steeper initial roof pitch, allowing more headroom throughout.  Here is a link to a google sketchup model.  Using 8'x4' boards, an octayurt is 309 square feet.  The core physics principles behind both hexayurts and octayurts is that the roof stays up as long as it has something pushing it in, and the connected outer ring provides that stability.  The roof is resistant to too much force pushing it in because it reciprocates against the roof pieces next to it.

The easiest way to understand an octayurt is from the roof down.  The roof is made with 8 isosceles triangles.4 are made by cutting an 8x4 along its long diagonal, and the other 4 are made by cutting an 8x2 along its diagonal.  Here is what the roof looks like flat.

There are 3 levels to an octayurt.  The 2nd level is made up of 4 8x4s attached to the large roof triangles, and 3 trapezoids attached to the smaller triangles.  The trapezoids are made by cutting away a 4x2 triangle from each side of an 8x4, such that the trapezoid has a top side that is 4 wide, bottom side 8 wide, and height of 4.  The reason there are 3 trapezoids instead of 4, is that one of the short sides of the roof is used for a door.  Each section of the middle level is angled at 45*, and this causes the trapeze and rectangles to flush and reciprocate.  On the door side, 2 middle level rectangles rest against shaped walls that act as a brace support.

The 3rd and last level is simply 7 8x4s stood vertically on their long sides on every side of the octagon except for the door side.  The 6 2x4 triangles cut out to make trapezes, can be used to make an awning for the doorway.

Unlike the hexayurt, the octayurt does not have perfect math with these standard building materials.  You can notice, on the south west corner, that there is an 8" "window" at the base of the top roof.  This needs to be braced somehow.  An approximate 27* angle will allow the top roof to be flush against each adjacent triangle, but a steeper angle for the large triangles allowing for narrow triangles to float on top a bit, and rest atop an extra strip of wood at its base that also spans between two large triangles in the roof.  Another support strategy may be to use a steeper roof and have each adjacent triangle support the next, and ultimately supported by the door braces.

The Octiyurt is likely to require the same bracing techniques as the plywood hexayurt, and is too big to be practical as a festival tent replacement anyway.  Uses include homeless and emergency shelters, but also retail kiosks, school and office space, and cabins in areas that allow temporary buildings without a building permit.  The plywood hexayurt techniques still allow the building to be fairly easily dismantled by unscrewing braces.

If you have built a hexayurt before, you can reuse almost all of the parts for an octayurt.

Friday, April 13, 2012

In recent Canadian budget, Conservatives stole up to $30,528 from Canadians under age 54

By raising eligibility of OAS and GIS to 67 (equivalent to US social security), the Canadian Government took $30,528 from the poorest (1278/month), and at least $13000 (540.12/month) from all Canadians (who will live in Canada for 20+ years before retirement) . They may take even more from you by raising the eligibility age again before you reach 67, or canceling the benefits altogether.
The root of the problem is that young people will be paying taxes to support the old, while only the current old get the benefits. The baby boomer generation who has been spoiled by past social programs will naturally be more willing to bankrupt the country (and others in OECD) destroying society within 50 years (after their death) if they get to maintain or increase their social benefits at the expense of everyone else. This makes democracy corrupt and unworkable, and at a crisis point over the world
The answer, IMO, is to reduce the eligibility age for OAS to 18. All adults would receive it. Can get rid of welfare, GIS, EI to help pay for it. Another name for this is basic income, and at $7000/year would actually not be an extra expense on the government/tax payers
While lucky and successful working people would still be subsidizing those who are less fortunate, by paying more than they receive, they would at least be paying for a safety net they not just merely eligible to receive, but actively receive it each month themselves.
For young people, they could use the money for university or booze or help pump up the economy in other ways. They're all free to work as much as they want ontop of the OAS funds, and not trapped into staying poor or unemployed in order to keep qualifying for handouts.

The retirement social contract
National pensions and old age security have some philosophical and economic justification.  The retirement social contract justifies that most of the taxes you pay in your youth will be returned to you at retirement in the form of pensions and healthcare.  The human nature and economic presumptions of old age benefits compared to basic income is that it forces the young to enslave themselves until retirement, and so serves corporate masters with a larger supply of slaves.  There is also a principle of reward and compassion provided to those who likely spent their life contributing to society.

The retirement social contract is a bit of an illusion and pyramid scheme because today's taxes are used to pay for today's retirees. It is only reasonably fair if the benefits are guaranteed for every current generation. If today's baby boomers and seniors benefited from generous social programs in their youth, deficit financed useless wars (fought by the young), deficit financed prescription drug entitlements, and calamitous sea level rise scheduled 50 years from now, and then keeping retirement benefits only for themselves, while gutting programs benefiting younger generations, is pure evil theft by conservative politicians and conservative-voting age brackets. Guaranteeing the retirement pyramid scheme for all current generations by taxing enough to create budget surpluses, or eliminating useless and corrupt programs is the only moral option to providing basic income (or OAS to 18+ year olds). If basic income turns out to be unsustainable, then civilization collapses for everyone at the same time, having received equal benefits... having extracted an equal amount of flesh from the carcass. More importantly, it creates an equal say in preventing social collapse.

Timing the collapse of society for just after the full and long life of baby boomers is so digusting that it justifies expelling conservative politicians and their supporters from our nations... treating them like thieves. This abuse is as discriminatory as giving benefits only to the majority race or gender.

If we are going to intentionally allow the destruction of civilization, the only moral choice, is to schedule it to happen 90 years from now.  Alternatively, if retirement or other entitlements have just been discovered to be unsustainable, replace them with basic income that are scheduled to run out in 30-50 years, so that the costs and benefits of that unsustainability are spread out among all generations.  

Another alternative is that if only those over 54 are eligible for some current and future benefits, then those over 54 should pay higher tax rates.