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Cheaper Windows

I discovered windows one afternoon and after that, nothing was ever the same.”
Anne Spollen

A “high efficiency” window in an insulated wall works much like a hole in a waterproof container. Insulation and windows can be viewed as opposites.  If you have R-90 in the floor, ceiling and two walls of a cube, and glaze the other two walls with a state of the art triple glazed, low-e, argon-filled, high-priced floor to ceiling window, the overall insulation drops to around R-61, or a 32% drop in efficiency.  If you start with R-30, the overall effect is  smaller, to around R-21, only a 28% drop in insulation value, but the plunge remains. There is no way around it.  The 5th Dimension of Letting the Sunshine In for the Age of Aquarius costs a lot of energy.  And it costs lots of money, if that helps you feel better about it.

Of course there are some profound solutions.  An array of televisions with a camera outside is cheaper than deluxe windows — both installation and energy consumption.  An added benefit is you have a record of the days to rebroadcast when the gloom rolls in.

Another practical solution is higher walls, as I discussed in Art of Architecture for Art.  While this will not change the amount of illumination, it will change its character.

More conventional thinking (yet often ignored) suggests ways of capturing light and directing it through small spaces.  Light comes from the south in the northern hemisphere, so southern glazing makes sense, even in rooms on the North side of a structure.  Directing light through the ceiling/floor joists via bright, reflective ducting works just great, and it provides advantages: one, the light is easily diffused and introduced high in the room, and two, the darker the season, the more direct the source of light into the southern exposure. Yet another is greater security.  And privacy. And fewer drafts.

Speaking of porting light, all square feet of glazing are not all equal.  The advantages of material thickness to insulation is proportional, as is the insulation value of space itself.  If you replace a gazillion dollar low-e, triple-pane, etc. etc., window with a glass block port and a couple of panes of glass along the way to the outlet,  the R-value keeps increasing while the light itself keeps pouring in.

Finally for this article, if you just have to have lots of huge windows so the world can look at you making payments on glazing and spending energy, make them temporary.  Create your own clever system of closing the walls against the windows as much as you know how to close the windows against the storms and cold.  The main times for loss of the most energy tend to be the exact opposite of the times most people want the view (namely, nights and inclement weather) so close the walls when you are not watching.

Or, just turn the TV screens back to yesterday.

 

Vernacular Architecture

My passion for structures has its roots and primary fascination in the world’s houses, and the people who built and lived in them.  (Scuppers, the Sailor Dog, was first.) Of the people, by the people, for the people.

The unusual term for the overwhelming majority of people’s homes applied by the architectural elite, “Vernacular,”  is out of place, borrowed from linguistics.  Vernacular conventionally means domestic, native, indigenous, but not really.  It really means verna cular or “small homes of the slaves.”  We can forgive the “polite” architect, however, because he rarely is an English major who studies Latin.  “Vernacular” architecture should be something any architect yearns for and greatly respects, rather than contributing to the notion of We, the People, being the chattel of a lesser grade.

Definitions for “vernacular” in architectural literature usually fail because they generally ignore the most vital aspects of what makes people’s houses such engineering marvels: comfort, experience, environment, occupation, climate, family size, culture, and history in practice head the list.

The vernacular (here, I mean the true vernacular of language) is well illustrated by the telephone.  It rings, and we need to convey an audible acknowledgement that we recognize there is no visual feed to give the caller notice we are ready to converse.  We therefore indicate our readiness to engage in the first words of conversation, and assure that we are paying attention, by saying, “hello.” It didn’t originate at MIT or Cambridge.  It works universally.  It is the vernacular of the hoidy-toidy as well as the lowly commoner.

So the design of our homes is not an architectural achievement of some higher class, but the vernacular language of the people, revised, standardized, and often bastardized by architect and engineer.  Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, or Le Corbusier, immediately comes to mind.  Snob, genius, and idiot.  Great technical ideas, lovely views of architecture as true art, but a hideous example of contempt for mankind.  To be fair, he never tried to do this, but people with six names and titles tend to be that way.

Just a machine?

A house is a machine for living in,” he famously said, though he never reconciled that with, “You know, it is life that is right and the architect who is wrong.”  He simultaneously venerated history and tried replace it with his ideas.  That, in a nutshell, is the expression of arrogance and authoritarianism.

An architect should be the mechanic for the people’s vision — not its source. The biggest problem is that “great architects” have stolen our bits of individual history, collected genius, personality, joy and inspiration, and given us tract homes.

The “vernacular” of architecture should mean “what has developed from thousands of years of development, refinement, joy, preference, and personal taste and character.”  The architect of the people — all of us — needs to be from us.  To be great,  the architect simply says, “hello.”

Art of Architecture for Art

You want to raise the stage and make it diffuse.” – Brad

That bit of advise from an audiophile is true for all arts.  Beauty in creative space is “up there.” Light, sound, and energy all seem to originate overhead. Our appreciation for space starts when it gets to mingle with itself above us and drift down.

No matter how good the architecture, it will be better up higher. “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of light, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” James wrote in his letter to the Christian Church. That reality extends to every good purpose, especially the creative and noble.

We used to understand this. Cathedrals and great halls benefited from open spaces overhead.  We want our light from above.  Glaring lights to the left and right, or directly in front of us at our brow, can never replace the joy of diffuse light from above.  The artist, whether culinary, cabinet maker, musician, columnist, stone cutter, painter, potter, or tailor, will thrill at the highest ceiling.

An architect will always be appreciated and long remembered if he designs at least the artist’s studio, whether kitchen or sewing room, shop or gallery, to be as high as possible and full of light and resonant space.

Epstein Suicide Update

The Washington Post reports that Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy reveals “broken bones in the neck, including the hyoid bone.”  The hyoid bone is the bone that forms a sort of protective collar at the base of the jaw.  It is the the only bone besides the spine itself in the neck. The quote is “bones,” plural, in the original. The only other bones in the neck are the vertebra of the spine. Several dozen spinoff reports, from virtually every News agency, ignores the plural “bones” statement. Each briefly mention the hyoid bone.

Along with exclusive coverage of the broken bones, the Post also stands alone in reporting the cause for the delay.  Because of the “unusual” finding, the Medical Examiner (and former Chief Medical Examiner and observer, Dr. Michael Baden) ruled the results “pending.” They are seeking any video or other information that may indicate other people entering or exiting the cell during the night, and any toxicology information that might indicate Epstein was drugged. (Extremely unlikely, unless an amateur sneaked in to kill him.) This remarkably significant announcement comes as no surprise, but points to earlier reports that “none of the cameras show Epstein’s cell, or a number of critical pathways to and from his cell.” How terribly inconvenient that the US Dept of Corrections has no indication of who came or went during the night.

It was also reported over and over again that “Epstein attempted suicide just two weeks before,” yet that was never admitted or established.  Epstein himself claimed someone tried to kill him.  He was found “unconscious in a fetal position on the floor of his cell, with bruises on his neck.” That would be a strange way to discover an attempted suicide by hanging, indeed!

The next step was to remove Epstein’s ex-cop cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, who called for help the night Epstein was found. That meant Epstein was alone. That does seem remarkable. If he tried to commit suicide, he should not be left alone, but strangely, he was not on suicide watch, indicating he had no desire to commit suicide. We can only imagine what a man found unconscious on the floor of his cell with bruising on his neck and no desire to kill himself was doing alone and isolated from any observation in his solitary cell when he committed suicide.

This is not new to our Criminal Justice system, of course. During the Clinton administration, a suspicious and tragic death led to a full-scale Congressional investigation that still has no resolution. It seems our federal prison system has remained its own watchdog and operates by its own rules. The Hill’s John Solomon covers this scandal superbly. You can read about it at The Hill, here.

The federal prison system has placed the full responsibility on the guards. All three were suspended. That clears up everything.

Special note: if yesterday’s introduction (The Epstein Conspiracy, Theory or Not) left you wondering if I am critical of the Corrections Officers themselves, absolutely not. Where I wrote, “abject incompetence at every stage of our ‘justice system,’ ” I only include what corruption may be central to the administrative problems, horrible management decisions, and hideous outcomes of a rogue DOC.

The Epstein Conspiracy, Theory or Not

Epstein. Now dead. Could it possibly be anything but conspiracy? Convicted pedophile. Known abuser. Sex trafficker. Sleaze bag. You pick the disgusting title of your choosing, and it probably fits. Jeffrey Epstein was a major moral mess in a morass of political connections and high society. His real claim to fame is from his place as the most important prisoner since at least El Chapo — who escaped.

No person needs a credible conspiracy theory to determine that a conspiracy of evil certainly exists.

Death might be an appropriate end, but it is not satisfying or proper. It is hard to imagine people grieving his shortcut to hell, but along with his wretched life went a list of names and faces that should be placed along side him in the low-life hall of fame. He deserves the company of those who shared his life and slaves, perversions, and lurid pleasure derived from victims of human power.

This case involves the biggest names in the world. Former President Bill Clinton, British royalty, Kevin Spacey, possibly the sitting President Donald Trump. Congress members past and present. A truly bi-partisan list. And Epstein was ignored all night.

What may we conclude? At the very least, abject incompetence at every stage of our “justice system.” Even if he simply killed himself, there is no possible way to justify the negligence and nonchalance of the corrupt system that had responsibility to preserve him and care for him until trial. No rational person should idly accept that determination. Only the vigorously naive will start there.

Again, no person needs a credible conspiracy theory to determine that a conspiracy of evil certainly exists.

He was left alone, utterly ignored by guards, staffed by “unknown personnel,” without cameras to monitor or even record the activities in his cell. ABC and NBC report “shouting and screams were heard coming from his cell.” A hurried autopsy was to be completed Sunday afternoon, but as of early Tuesday evening, that autopsy is still “awaiting further information.” No report of what information they are awaiting, or who is creating it.

He attempted suicide already. Is that true?

Reread your papers, or your online sources. “Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found with marks on his neck.” Two weeks later, he was not on suicide watch, was housed alone, was ignored, and found dead in the morning.

No person needs a credible conspiracy theory to determine that a conspiracy of evil certainly exists.

No rational individual can dismiss this without at least some thought of very, very deep corruption. No moral agent can reach an innocent conclusion without entertaining some thought of Epstein being “suicided.” Nobody can trust the deepest of the Deep State that almost certainly — in one way or several — stinks at every turn of Epstein’s corpse.

Trump’s Racism

Since the House Censure yesterday does not include the text of their concern, it must be assumed that this is it:

In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave. The simple fact of the matter is, the four Congresswomen think that America is wicked in its origins, they think that America is even more wicked now, that we are all racist and evil. They’re entitled to their opinion, they’re Americans. Now I’m entitled to my opinion, & I just think they’re left wing cranks.

There is also a quote from Louisiana Senator John Kennedy.  Trump then addresses what he is most angry about: He wants the bitter “four horsemen” to “apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said.’’

Again, let’s be clear, there is not one quote of President Trump’s actual text or verbiage besides individual words (“hate”, “go back” and “invaders”) yet the resolution contains the following three “charges of racism,” and states:

“That the House of Representatives —

“(1) believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations;

“(2) is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and

“(3) condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should “go back” to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders,” and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly said and demonstrated his belief that “immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations.”  He consistently supports “keeping America open to all who lawfully seek refuge and asylum.”  Only Democrats reject the “lawfully” part. And yes, he has called illegal aliens who are thugs, gang members, racists, drug traffickers and murders “invaders.”  They are.

Only the Press and members of the Democrat Party has made racist comments, such as NPR saying Trump criticizes, “a group of Democratic lawmakers, all women of color, [who] should ‘go back’ to countries of their ancestry and that they ‘hate’ America.”  Trump never mentions “women of color” or “countries of ancestry.”  And, of course, Nancy Pelosi and other wack jobs call Mr. Trump “a racist” for affirming the three points and attempting to secure them.  Against their wishes.

Ilhan Omar, a Progressive Socialist, is from Mogadishu.  She was born there. The other three are American born.  Rahida Tlaib, a Progressive Socialist, was born  to Palestinian immigrants in Dearborn, Michigan.  Occasio-Cortez, a Progressive Socialist, is an American with a Puerto Rican mother in the Bronx.  Ayana Pressley, a Progressive Socialist, was raised on Chicago’s Northside. More than their “birth origins,” all four Congressional freshmen are Progressive Socialists — supporting and working for State control of all financial, educational, and production interests.  This is foreign to the established American government and Constitution, and representative of the failed policies, corruption, and squalor of Communist principles that Trump loathes.

Mr. Trump clarifies his contempt very specifically by singling out those who accuse America of being built on a “wicked foundation,” and “think that America is even more wicked now, that we are all racist and evil.” (We can assume that Pelosi called him a racist for pointing out that she and the DNC think he’s a racist.)

Wack jobs? Is that racist? Consider Cortez’s bold statement that, “the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border,” to name just one of a host of her wack job comments. Were they “immigrant communities” when Obama’s administration used them?

Or, consider Tlaib’s wack job statement: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”  (She later apologized for the “use of the word ‘hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds.”)

Pressley may win the “wack job” award for her comment on climate change: “we have to talk about climate change in a way that we can also talk about mass incarceration – in a way that allows us to see the relationships between multiple struggles happening together. All of these things that are driving climate change are interconnected. That’s why we have to look through a lens of intersectionality and equity, or it won’t matter what we do.”

Quick to condemn Trump for anything he never said or implied, the House remains notably silent about the Progressive Socialists. They overwhelmingly resolved to avoid their own members’ racism, but never mentioned Tlaib and Omar for their anti-Semitism that instigated the resolution.

It remains a notable curiosity that the House Censure of the President does not include his statements.  It relies entirely on the spin of the Press that injects racism (including Naziism) into anything a Republican or Trump says. As a man they hate, he has no right to his opinion.

Progressive Communism

This short article covers only general principles, but if America ignores these realities, the evils of collective totalitarianism is our future. If any of this is wrong, just comment. Research it yourself, and share what you learn. If you use Google, you might have trouble finding the actual philosophy stuff. It will all be glowing recommendations of how nice it will be once we evolve. After all, Communism has not yet been tried — just poorly attempted — because we have not been ready to evolve.

“Progressive” is coined from the progress from savagery to feudalism to capitalism to socialism to communism. It is 100% communist ideology. Marx and Engels believed and taught this as evolution. The ultimate joy and liberty in the end was to do whatever we want in a society where we necessarily want the same things. Once there, everything selfish will be for the good of all. Selfishness, the highest virtue. We will be happy.

This philosophy of Marx and Engels is based on Georg Hegel’s ideas. Communism shares his religious concepts. Communism is metaphysics, so it replaces God with something better. That is why “God is dead.” God is replaced with perfect society without need of morals or ethics. It is entirely an ideal of a flawless human condition without contradictions, built on the “selfish will to the communist good.” Communism is god. It will tell you what to do and how to think. If you obey and act according to the common will, you will be in Paradise. “Primitive religions” are not only useless, but dangerous obstacles to Communist perfection. It is, of course, “survival of the fittest.” That is why society’s desperate lecherous and stupid will be used to fight against the capitalists. They are expendable.

Communism requires “evolution of mind” to allow the creation of the “new freedom.” The specific order is that savages are free. Savages traded their “freedom” for the “bondage of society and submission to religion and conscience.” Hegel felt it was time to remove those chains by making man submissive to the evolved common will.

Marx and Engels then argued that we would evolve into a common ideology (through practice and reeducation.) That would result in enlightened selfishness, because we all want the same thing. That simply meant creating the same desires in all of us (socialism) until we achieve perfect selfishness (communism.)  Then, one person could ably and effectively dictate the whole world order because we would all be on the same page. When the dictator dictates, we all joyfully cooperate. Think of Star Trek, and the Borg.

The Borg are a fantasy humanoid civilization who desired idealistic perfection. To do this, they started assimilating all species into a self-maintained “brain trust.” All Borg have a common mission and purpose. Individuality is stripped. Each member of Borg society is controlled, of course, by the Collectivist Borg. The Borg Queen was created as a single unifying voice. The Borg reflect the philosophy of Hegel, Marx and Lenin perfectly. Communism, they knew, requires a dictator. (first citizen, core leader, chairman, etc.)

Collectivism includes “Progressive Socialism” (or the Orwellian notion of “Democratic Socialism.” This kind of Democracy replaces “the will of the majority” with “what is best for the evolution of society.”) It also includes variations.

Fascism and Nazi-ism are both powerfully Hegelian Socialist evolutionary designs, but the evolutionary mind says, “There has been no communism, and those were not communist ideals.”

Bear in mind that both Socialism and Communism in numerous forms have been successfully implemented in Russian, China, Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba, and many other European, South American, Asian, and African nations. Virtually all of them require the death or imprisonment of large portions of their own people “for resistance to the Borg,” and violent revolution. Even on paper, you must be happy and content in Communism. There is no room for non-conformity. Pol Pot killed around two million. Hitler killed 11 million, Stalin killed 20 million. Mao killed around 50 million. If you are not evolving, you are a savage, feudal, fundamentalist capitalist. What would you expect?

Communism is not a “welfare state.” It is not a source of free stuff. You will have a job, and you will do it. It will be assigned to you by the Borg, based on the needs of society as seen by the first citizen or Queen. You will get just what the Borg thinks you need. “Free” lunch programs, daycare, healthcare, education, transportation, etc. are expensive. That is why Bernie, Kamala, and Elizabeth simply say, “We’ll tax the rich.” The fact is, the rich cannot afford it. Real communists know that. So do you. Communists will gladly pay for all of society by their selfish hard work. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” deteriorates quickly into “from each in his poverty, to each according to what remains.” You will desire to pay with harder work, which will be required of you. Hegel’s “yoke of necessity” is capitalism. You only think you need it. Of course, you will be happy.

These ideas are not “the evil world of communism according to Dave Delany.” They are accurate communist ideals filtered through reality.

Religious Voodoo

[The truly perceptive will note and understand that before we found out who she was, the Wicked Witch of the West rode in on a bicycle.]

Pilate said to him, “What is truth? – John 18:38

Intelligence, reason, and logic are not what they used to be.  Irrefutable facts bow down to theories today. Facts can be acceptably over-ridden.  Life is fantasy.  Science is religion.  Truth, if it exists at all, is only one part of reality.

It is easy to spot fantasy if we honestly look, but the fantasy prevents looking. Well meaning “religionists” prefer to make truth the “alternate reality.”

There is a vague understanding of this in psychology texts.  Called Fantasy Prone Personality Disorder (FPPD), it is associated with growing with up around schizophrenia.  It results in a “privileged opportunity to avoid responsibility, refuse conformity, and abandon accountability.”  Sound familiar?

It shows clearly in the religion of science (not to be confused with real science.) Two of the holy slogans in religious science are, “We Now Know . . .” (meaning,“We changed our mind yet again.”) and “Science Tells Us . . .” (meaning, “How dare you challenge this statement?”

As an example of both, Nature magazine published horrifying “science” that suggested the rise in temperature was much higher “than anticipated,” Mainlined News bought it.  When math errors were found in the artificial neural network calculations (more on that in a moment), the frightening conclusion disappeared.

“Just a few hours of analysis and calculations was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.”  Surely inadvertent.  In a sincere quest for truth, Nature immediately retracted the whole thing, and dedicated an article to correcting the false data. . .

Oh, wait a minute.  No, they did not.  You can still read it here.  The “correction” that appears (if you look hard enough to find it at the end) says simply, “Editor’s Note: We would like to alert readers that the authors have informed us of errors in the paper. An implication of the errors is that the uncertainties in ocean heat content are substantially underestimated.

Even that sounds scary to Fantasy sufferers, and clearly comes from a Fantasy perspective.  “Wow! We can’t even determine how bad it is! We now know it could be worse!  They underestimated!”  Not really.  They screwed up the math. There is nothing to see.

Speaking of math, you may remember learning that you can never get an answer more exact than the limits of the data you enter.  It is impossible (and very wrong) to claim that “roughly two x about two precisely equals 4.17419.”  That is, unless you are a True Science Believer.

Here are two graphs, both offered by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) showing how easy it is to make truth.

NOAA science priests were able to “correct” the false, actual data from the first graph and turn it into the quality assured reality of the second graph using mathematics and sound scientific religion.  Here’s how:

The history of climate research goes back to days when wind speed was determined by the sting on your face, and sea temperature was calculated by randomly hoisting a bucket onto a ship and sticking an analog thermometer into it.  The priests of climate science now know how to divine the truth.  First you guess, then you create an impressive formula to make it work in your favor.

Seriously.  They even have a name for their guesses.  First, they give the guess an impressive feminine name, ANN: “Artificial Neural Network.” (Artificial means “not real,” neural means “brain,” and network means “linked together.”  They create fake brains to link their guesses.)  Insert your dream and a dollar. ANN will make it true.

They then assemble their intended guesses, and determine how much they want to fix the history by the size of the fudge factor to insert (called “synaptic weights”) and apply them as truth generators (“activation functions”) to create the truth from possibly careless, corrupt, and missing data. From this mathematical scientific religion they are able to to reveal the fudge factors (“hidden nodes”) that will be true and correct.  No kidding.  This is as real as it is incredible.  Om, or whatever.

“Inputs are multiplied by synaptic weights and then fed to the layers through a transfer function (activation function). The transfer function f converts the summation of the synaptic weights vector and inputs vector to a corresponding output vector y as

Alchemy.  The mystic art of change made possible by Fantasy in the Temples and Mosques of the scientific religion.

ANN’s Fantasy Prone Personality Disorder also applies to politics, of course.  If you do not like him, or if you are a Democrat, that is not enough.  We now know the current President is insane, fascist, racist, misogynistic, bigoted, stupid, anti-American, hateful, delusional, pro-Soviet, Nazi-like, a war hawk, homophobic, etc., etc., etc., etc.  Just plug in your intended function, and, “It’s all true. There is no discovered evidence, but it works in our formula, and we believe it.

So, it is all artificially neural networked to be truth.  Or, you can be a backwoods Bible believers who understands,

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

By all means, PLEASE share comments!

 

Design of Buildings with Fabric

“O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.” – Psalm 104, 1-2 ESV

Ultimately, the joy of studying textiles and working with fabric applies to my interest in structures — whether handbags or buildings. Fabrics are incredibly flexible, and their wear strength and shear strength are phenomenal. This comes from the shared load of tension across more than one direction.

“Fabric,” of course, includes any woven material, not just wool, cotton, and clothing materials.  While we generally think of fabric as a plane, it can be woven zig-zags, trusses, etc. as well.

Simple fabric weaves, like the woven plastic straps that create a lawn chair, transfer loads in two directions. Straps of fabric go both side to side (weft) and front to back (warp.), Wherever you sit, your body weight is carried in both directions. Not only that, but the tension becomes a compression on the next piece of plastic, which then translates to the tension on that next strap. In other words, the load transfer is not linear, but bidirectional. As this bidirectional shift in loads occurs, the weight transfer continues to travel, creating a virtually circular distribution that ultimately extends to the very edges.

This non-linear aspect of fabric results from changes in geometry that occur under load, even though the materials remain linearly elastic.

This change in geometry creates a wonderful quality. If properly designed, the load bearing capacity of stretched fabric increases to carry loads as the fabric deforms. In fact, these structures are capable of maintaining a very high ratio of applied loads to self-weight, in contrast to steel, concrete. or other rigid structures of the same spans.

Make no mistake. The design possibilities are enormous to an almost ridiculous level, and perhaps even more surprising, the engineering limitations are virtually non-existent. It is almost a safe statement that the engineering possibilities in the mechanical, structural, design, appearance, or textural use of fabric are limitless!  (Imagine tapping into the “fabric of light” and “stretching the heavens as a tent”!  While that is God’s domain, we probably have a taste of it available to us.)

The primary challenge of using fabric is the relatively quick decay of materials used, meaning that fabric, while incredibly strong and flexible, has to be replaced quite often. The decay results primarily from UV radiation and from the extremely high surface area of the fabric to thickness. By nature, fabric is made of individual strands, woven into a moderately solid sheet. Every “thread” is almost completely and thoroughly exposed to decay factors. Decay results in significant changes in the fabric. Loss of tensile strength, flexibility, and shear can be catastrophic.

To me, this calls for a very simple (in theory) solution: Better fabric materials! By combining the use of surface coatings, shifting the insulation to the exterior and the interior, and adding a second layer of “roof” or external covering to absorb the UV and atmospheric gases can protect the fabric from corrosives by simply reducing contact, etc.  It may also be possible to create the fabric assembly to be suspended in a very light hydraulic fluid or inert gas so that it can be repaired or replaced by simply sliding out the old or damaged section without significant disassembly of the entire structure.

Of course, fabric is only useful in tension, not compression, but consider how this could be resolved by massing fabric into compressive bundles like bolts of fabric, stiffened by . . . tension! — pulling the fabric very tightly around itself, or around a rigid core, increasing the compression to take advantage of its greatest asset, namely, using tension to form a compression reaction in opposition. The resulting posts would have all the tensile characteristics of fabric, making them almost infinitely flexible while providing tremendous strength from the non-linear tension holding them.

This is not an essentially novel idea – just not fully implemented. Fabric has been with us forever. It is suggested in the nature of steel reinforced concrete, where steel grids and cables add the tension that concrete lacks, and concrete provides the compression resistance that can limit steel. It is also used for some domes and other roof structures. Converting steel cables to interconnected fabric would solve all the existing problems in current practices of pre- and post-stressing concrete.

Another great benefit of such innovation is weight reduction. If a structure that requires 100 tons of concrete, say, were reduced to a comparative weight of 20 tons, and gained the flex and load distributing properties of fabric, you could theoretically gain an additional 80 tons of support and load capacity for the contents of the structure without an overall change in weight. Improved stability and flexibility of a fabric foundation, and the use of adjacent structures (primarily roads, sidewalks, and parking lots) as part of the fabric foundation in building design would bear weight normally transferred directly to the ground structures directly beneath a building or other structure.

One final note on fabric as a building material is cost. Steel and concrete are reasonably cheap. Way outside of my capacity, however, are cost estimates over time. If load capacity, stability, duration, safety and design can be improved or “solved,” we are in a solid position to make headway and some needed change.

Consider that the last 30 years have yielded an increase of triple the number of deaths from natural disasters. We have witnessed structural failure and loss of service to buildings and other structures like towers, dams and bridges (meaning displacement and isolattion of populations, loss of production, storage, utilities, communication, transportation and services.) If fabric construction can end or significantly reduce these problems, then building costs plummet.

A Christian’s Options

This is the third article in the series, following Church Money Problems

Obviously, Christianity requires fellowship.  We are commanded “forsake not the gathering of the saints.”  We can’t do it alone.  How, then, do we find the “right” fellowship and gathering?

The answer we created for ourselves is more difficult and complicated than it should be.  (Our attitude should be, “I am a member of all the Christians in <my home town>.)  First, because we splintered ourselves into pigeon-hole groups of generally myopic focus, like, “is the communion actually, substantially, nearly, or just representative, of His body?” and “Do we sprinkle, dip, pour, or immerse ourselves for real baptism?”  Some say these are very important issues . . . and they are!   We should never stop talking about them until Jesus returns.  But we did stop talking when we separated.  Now, we just do it the way our denomination always did it, and ignore those who do it differently.  Without a thought.

Then we went a step beyond reason.  We let people who had no business in the pulpit or in leadership preach and lead, and took on “members” who are not members of Christ’s body!  Rather than inviting and encouraging them to attend, we signed them up to “share” in the direction and administration of the body.  That’s somewhere between letting kindergartner’s teach the class, and having prisoners control the jail.

Can we get back to something healthy?  Yes, of course!  It seems, however, that we might have to recreate the fellowship — and not through another denomination!  We need to work at de-denominating.  I spent six years preaching in a small country church.  It had been a Wesleyan fellowship, that dropped the “official” title and took on a Methodist minister, then a few variable denominational and independent baptists, then a Pilgrim Holiness preacher, then me.  Whatever I am.  Christian.  It was small enough to adapt, and bold enough to call out challenges during my sermons.  Usually spot on, valuable questions, and often embarrassing.

<Your denomination here> needs that.  If not in the way our little congregation “took what they could get,” but there is plenty of room for Christian “guests” in your pulpit, and Christian “guests” in their pews.  Guests who can and will challenge strange doctrines.  Make noise, but be polite.

If your denomination is “corporate,” you may have to resort to radical means.  “If you will not address this issue in a theologically sound Christian manner, pastor, I will send my weekly tithes and offerings to third world countries that will use it preach the Gospel and serve a needy community.”

Our piddling $50 goes a long way when we get to send it to Christian orphanages in Africa and Pakistan.  It hardly affects whatever fellowship we have joined, but a dozen people like us might make a difference.  100 would.  1,000 might create a vital revolution.  Let the interlopers, anti-Christian, and syncretists have it.

10,000 unitarian, agnostic, and other strange fellowships will not harm the body of Christ, until and unless they run Christ’s Church on earth.  Continued participation works against the whole Church of God, breaks it up more and more, little by little, and might really bring back the first Century faith, with real Christians gathering secretly in the shadows and being fed to the lions.