Been busy lately. But I have enjoyed the rambunctious and intellectually stimulating discussions going on, down below in the commentary layer. You are the brightest bunch on the internet!
Hence, let me toss in a batch of news items for you to chew on, before I get around to another contrarian rant! ;-)
In an article for The Edge, Chris Anderson writes: "Percentage of males estimated to have died in violence in hunter gatherer societies? Approximately 30%. Percentage of males who died in violence in the 20th century complete with two world wars and a couple of nukes? Approximately 1%. Trends for violent deaths so far in the 21st century? Falling. Sharply.” (Let me add that the distinction sharpens when you pan ACROSS the 20th century, with the steepest drop of all time happening in the 1950s though 1990s.)
Then there is the possibility that we are RIGHT NOW experiencing not one aha moment but two of them -- in the Great Big War On Cancer -- similar to the one when Jonas Salk announced the polio vaccine. A moment everybody, forever after, remembered. Well, it’d be nice. http://physorg.com/news87565573.html
The government's ability to understand and predict hurricanes, drought and climate changes of all kinds is in danger because of deep cuts facing many Earth satellite programs and major delays in launching some of its most important new instruments. A two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences determined that NASA's earth science budget has declined by 30% since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars
A study has found that people who are temperamentally pessimistic are more likely to die of heart disease and other causes than those who are by nature optimistic. Yup, and Nobel Prizes add 2 years to the winner’s life. So do Academy Awards. I need more Hugos I guess. (Still, didn't I say that personality matters? Often much more than our surface ideologies and rationalizations.)
Green architecture has become glamorous, and even economical. The cycle of innovation for sustainable building technologies is now staggeringly short, given how long it takes to complete a building. We are close to the tipping point at which green design becomes the default option for smart building.
Oh, and the latest news. What is the state in the Union with the highest energy efficiency? Flamboyant and individualistic California! More proof that the positive sum game is possible. Combine reasonable legislation and honest government with moderately higher energy costs and a business environment that is unafraid of challenges, and you get good energy economy PLUS a good economy. Some regulation to help our descendants, WHILE encouraging flagrant individualistic eccentricity. Modernism is alive. I only wish we had a presidential candidate to offer the rest of you.
This has been the biggest pleasant surprise of the century so far. Signs of an economic boom are everywhere in India's cities. If trends continue, India's economy may then surpass the US and be second only to China's by mid-century. Within 15 years Indians should, on average, be four times richer than today, buying five times as many cars, and the country will burn three times as much crude oil to power its growth, putting yet more strain on the world's resources.
Computer experts have traced a $1 million online bank heist in Sweden to a Russian hacker known only by his colorful sobriquet - the Corpse - in one of the more brazen Internet banking crimes of recent memory. As the extent of the fraud became known this week at the Scandinavian bank involved, attention shifted to the Russian-made virus behind the crime and the darker world of Russian programming, where talented minds still struggle to find legitimate outlets for the computer skills.
People may not perform selfless acts just for an emotional reward, a new brain study suggests. Instead, they may do good because they're acutely tuned into the needs and actions of others. Scientists say a piece of the brain linked to perceiving others' intentions shows more activity in unselfish vs. selfish types.
A new, major environmental report highlights a growing disconnect between the power of global risks to cause major systemic disruption and our ability to mitigate them. Many of the 23 core global risks explored in the report have worsened over the last 12 months, despite growing awareness of their potential impacts, according to the report. In addition to specific risk mitigation measures, institutional innovations may be needed to create effective responses to a complex risk landscape.
By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at MIT will be available online to anyone in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted. The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at MIT in 2002, has now spread to some 120 other universities.
Chew on that... and more soon.