Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What's new in science & tech?

Okay, let's turn to the side of civilization that is doing best. Doing spectacularly well in fact, despite a relentless campaign to undermine science. Just today -- as I type this, in fact -- I am in a conference call as a member of the advisory council of The Planetary Society, hearing reports about how TPS - under Bill Nye's charismatic leadership - has seen a turnaround, with increasing membership and a social media following that has crested above a million! Why? Because people are noticing how many wondrous accomplishments are pouring forth from the universe.

Indeed, I urge you all to not only join the Planetary Society, but engage in Proxy Power -- joining half a dozen of the wonderful NGOs of your own choice, each dedicated to something wonderful and fitting your concerns -- from science to the environment to fighting poverty. There is progress in the world!

And now... a potpourri of science news.

== Onward ==

Good news on the health front: We appear to be winning the war against ancient diseases! The World Health Organization is on track to meet its goals to control, eliminate or eradicate sleeping sickness, Chagas and other ancient illnesses by 2020. Example: In 2016, just 25 people worldwide were infected by Guinea worm disease or dracunculiasis, a parasitic infection transmitted by contaminated drinking water. President Jimmy Carter, whose campaign against this parasite was especially effective, wants the “last Guinea worm to die before I do.”

The Berggruen Institute seeks to identify and nurture new ideas that have the potential to shape a better human future... committed to science as a source of knowledge and innovation and to philosophy as a source of critical perspective and deeper understanding of the place and role of humanity in the world.  Each year they offer the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award that recognizes humanistic thinkers whose ideas have helped us find direction, wisdom, and improved self-understanding in a world being rapidly transformed by profound social, technological, political, cultural, and economic change. 

Is Apple dreaming of space internet?

Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, according to 140 years of data. This article demolishes the insane riff that technology doesn't produce jobs.

Calling the Predictions registry! Back in Earth I wrote about a time when citizens, activists and amateur scientists and sleuths would have in their pockets both vast computing power and science-ready instruments for sensing their surroundings. Now: PocketLab Voyager offers an all-in-one science lab that is "capable enough for a professional engineer and simple enough for a fourth-grade student". Voyager can measure motion, light, magnetic field, and temperature.

Shades of Glory Season: a programming challenge to build a clock that displays accurate time by having pixel elements obey the rules of Conway’s Game of Life.

market-ready manmade spider silk product launched at SXSW this March. Starting with ties. “At the molecular level it is spider silk made by human hands.” Competitors in the market such as Japan-based Spiber, have released concept pieces, like The Moon Parka for The North Face. Similarly Adidas recently teamed up with AMsilk to unveil a shoe made from Biosteel fiber, which it aims to both have on the market later this year

Airbus has revealed a concept for a self-flying car capable of operating both on the ground and in the air, and plans to test it later this year. The cool concept is to separate the three main functions.  The road-wheel-motor system, the flight system and the passenger module.

Scientists at CERN have discovered five new particle states, all at the same time. 

Remember the flashy-starry background behind Lady Gaga, at the start of her Superbowl show, singing from the stadium roof?  Lights that turned into a U.S. flag? They were 300+ drones supplied by Intel. 

A shakeup in the family tree of dinosaurs!  And another coup for the Huxleys.

== Health Updates ==

Yipe!  Apparently bacteria can colonize a J-sink drain, form a biofilm which can persist, climb back up, enabling bacteria to shoot up to a meter away when water runs. Has been observed in hospitals as well, spreading infections.

Can Whole Body Vibration achieve the positive effects of exercise? Not bloody likely, but mouse studies suggest it’s possible. (The mice were undoubtedly under stress.) Yet, more and more we are learning that half the things that work in mice don’t work in humans, at all…for reasons I describe here.

A Mayo Clinic study says the best training for adults is high-intensity aerobic exercise, which they believe can reverse some cellular aspects of aging.

Pre-order this book! Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity, by Professor Daniel P. Keating, offers a glimpse into a new, twilight region that yawns between Nature and Nurture, between genes and behavior, ensnaring both. It is a realm we must explore, without delay, so that our children might have confident children.

It sounds like science fiction, but doctors say a device worn on the head that makes electric fields improved survival for the first time in more than a decade for people with deadly brain tumors.

A hilarious and yet insightful riff on how one can use the placebo effect – even knowing the “medicine” is fake – to achieve positive-desired outcomes.  


== On Planet Earth ==

One of the best written and most fascinating science articles I’ve read in some time, describes recent work on metamorphic rocks in Canada (one of the geologically least-altered places on Earth) where tubelike structures have many of the chemical and physical traits suggestive of primitive life forms… only these would have formed at least 3.8 billion years ago, just as the planet was finishing a pummeling under the Late Heavy Bombardment. If proved out, it would push back our knowledge of life’s history here by over 300 million years, implying that life appeared with stunning rapidity, and diversified early. Suggesting further it may be pervasive in the cosmos.  And believe it or not, I know some dour fellows who deem that to be very, very bad news.

What is the super Volcano under Naples up to? Italy has upgraded the threat level. I mentioned a Naples disaster in Existence.

The strength of Earth’s magnetic field has been decreasing for the last 160 years at an alarming rate. This collapse is centered in a huge expanse of the Southern Hemisphere, extending from Zimbabwe to Chile, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly. The magnetic field strength is so weak there that it’s a hazard for satellites that orbit above the region, potentially portending even more dramatic events, including a global reversal of the magnetic poles. The poles have reversed frequently over the history of the planet, but the last reversal is in the distant past, some 780,000 years ago. 

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is recognized as the biggest living structure on Earth. Unfortunately, it's dying—with many portions facing no hope for recovery—thanks to back to back mass bleaching events. 

== Curiosities and worries ==

Naked mole rats are just so weird! They have a social structure like insects, they're cold-blooded like reptiles, and now scientists found that they use fructose like a plant. This enables them to replace glucose oxidation and thus survive in conditions with ZERO oxygen for up to 20 minutes.  

An inspiring and well-written story about a statistician who discovered a proof to a major mathematical problem, at age 67.

Just released: these color-changing U.S. postage stamps commemorate the upcoming August 2017 solar eclipse. Also, download a free resource guide to the eclipse.

See Flightlapse: incredible video footage of the Milky Way galaxy, shot by a pilot from his cockpit.

Oh, but it is easy to forget what a vibrant, brave and logical and forward-looking civilization we had, and can have, when a fraction of our fellow citizens are afroth, enforcing upon us a war on science that is now explicit and tantamount to treason against our children. Scan the wonders listed above.  They are spilling forth faster than leaks from the Trump White House!

Fight for a civilization that makes you proud. 

85 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

Crafty bacteria.

Don't they have anything better to do?

8)

Alfred Differ said...

Okay. The Game of Life clock is impressive. Look at it up close and you can see how it works. The flying segments that flip the state on a display segment are small and fast, so don't squint.

Robert said...

So. What does the American People do when we learn two of three branches of government are tied to Russia and working against this nation's best interests? This is the Washington Post reporting this, not some liberal trash magazine. It seems the rot goes all throughout the federal Republican Party.

I'm a little iffy on things. If enough Republicans jump ship and join with the Democrats, can they force Ryan out of control of the House? Because all you need is 30 or so Republicans who say "I am loyal to this country, not to Ryan or the Republican National Leadership."

If Ryan isn't either forced to start impeachment proceedings on Trump soon or forced out of his position of power... I don't see Federal elections in two years. Some "emergency" will happen to ensure Republicans remain in power. Because there is no way in hell people are going to vote for these traitors as this comes to air.

Rob H. who was wrong about 100 days. But before 200, we've seen the first official call for Impeachment initiated.

locumranch said...


(1) Bill Nye is a shameless huckster who promotes 'Sex Junk' Science https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wllc5gSc-N8

(2) We've merely 'limited' those ancient diseases instead of eliminating them. Endemic, they remain like Cholera in the Yemen, awaiting the breakdown of civilised precautions so they may wreak havoc on humanity once more, just as Smallpox (now weaponised) still lurks within the confines of various military bunkers.

(3) That electromagnetic waves may cure as well as well as harm should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with both the curative & killing power of radiation in general, yet this does not imply that Fukushima can be repurposed as a 'health resort'. Chemotherapy is likewise toxic, capable of curing & killing in equal measure.

(4) Three cheers for 'Panspermia' theory, making a surprising comeback with the help of some ancient metamorphic rocks. With baited breath, I await the scientific vindication of spontaneous generation.

(5) And, the Great Barrier Reef is the name we give to a giant dead calcium carbonate structure excreted by some of the smallest of all living marine creatures called polyps. These reefs have always been inanimate & devoid of life, being built to serve as the temporary residence for a tiny colonial organism, much in the same way that London, Paris & Detroit are the inanimate non-equivalents of the living humans who once constructed those cities as a temporary residence.

Sing it loud and proud, PP&M:

Where have all the corals gone, long time passing?
Where have all the corals gone, long time ago?
Where have all the corals gone?
Oceans bleached them, every one
Oh when will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?

Where have all the cities gone, long time passing?
Where have all the cities gone, long time ago?
Where have all the cities gone?
Gone to graveyards, every one
Oh when will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?


Best

David Brin said...

Gawd, how awful it must be, to be inside your skull, fellah. Look, I understand the pleasures of snarky cynicism. But while two of your five items have elements of truth, even those two are dismal and only half-truths.

sociotard said...

Did you see the Google balloons successfully brought internet to a flooded part of Peru? Something​ you've been wanting.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. 'Limited'. Should have extended the quotes a bit and said 'merely limited'. We 'merely limited' calamities which our ancestors used to attribute to gods. And we did much of that before we managed to sequence the little beasties. Hmm... before we even knew we COULD sequence them. {whisper mode} Hey fella. Don't poop in the drinking water. {/whisper mode} No. Seriously. Don't do that.

We merely doubled the average life expectancy of rich nations and tripled it in the poorest regions.

Chemotherapy is likewise toxic, capable of curing & killing in equal measure.

Both at the same time even. One of these little tricks is the reason I'm still alive. What I had had a median life expectancy of 5 months after onset. That was 3.5 years ago. Unpleasant, but better than the option. And now they've got a better trick. Neat.

shameless huckster

Hah. Hah. Hah. It's that old bit of nonsense about the work of popularization being beneath our dignity. What a bunch of elitist crap. As if what we've learned is sacred knowledge to be kept only by the anointed and shared only through approved rituals. Hah.

(It was a little alarming to see him killed in that one story, though. Made me jump.)

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I'm a little iffy on things. If enough Republicans jump ship and join with the Democrats, can they force Ryan out of control of the House? Because all you need is 30 or so Republicans who say "I am loyal to this country, not to Ryan or the Republican National Leadership."


Isn't that exactly what they threatened to do to John Boener? Without Democrats, even.

If Ryan isn't either forced to start impeachment proceedings on Trump soon or forced out of his position of power... I don't see Federal elections in two years. Some "emergency" will happen to ensure Republicans remain in power.


That would make him an Illegitimate President for real. Ask Alfred if he thinks the protector caste would go along with that.

Just as we have no mechanism for invalidating the election or calling for new elections, there is also no Consitutional provision for cancelling elections, even in an emergency.

Because there is no way in hell people are going to vote for these traitors as this comes to air.


Oh, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent would still think "but a Democrat would be worse". And what is the FOX bubble actually reporting about all this?

Rob H. who was wrong about 100 days. But before 200, we've seen the first official call for Impeachment initiated.


You keep moving the goalposts. :)

Well, I was wrong about Hillary being our next president, but I was right about her winning the popular vote!

LarryHart said...

@locumranch,

Ok, but Where have all the graveyards gone?

locumranch said...


PP&M proponents of Cyclic History would respond to the question 'Where have all the graveyards gone?' by saying that they've 'Gone to flowers, every one', allowing for renewal, rebirth & a new beginning, whereas most progressives reject this model in favour of historical unidirectionality and argue that the world, humanity & everything is either bound for god-like glory or the 'failure mode' boneyard.

Belonging to former group, I think that the predicted Climate Change Apocalypse is a load of hooey. But, then again, I'm an 'Optimist' who argues that humanity will get things right the NEXT time around, learning from our mistakes (eventually), even if we screw things up the first few times.

For the progressive pessimist, however, the answer to the question of 'Where have all the graveyards gone?' is doom & gloom forever because there cannot be either second chances or renewal. It really must suck to be a progressive.

;)


Best

Paul SB said...

On crafty bacteria, a plumber once told me that you have to pour a cup of bleach down every sink to keep the bacteria down - he suggested doing it 4 times a year. The problem with that recommendation is that it is so easy to forget when the treatments are spaced out by so long.

The flying car looks cool, but how much noise do all those fans make? Regular cars are hazard enough in noise pollution terms - but I can see these used as emergency vehicles. They might be able to replace most "flight for life" helicopters for a lot less money.

The article I found most significant is the one on placebos. It's cool in one way, that people are beginning to scientifically probe the neurochemical and genetic underpinnings of this powerful phenomenon. On the other hand, though, it leans a little too far in the direction of the Mind/Body Connection. The danger there is that it might encourage people to start ignoring it's opposite, the Body/Mind connection. Take this sentence:

"In experiments with postoperative patients, for example, prescription pain medications lost half their effectiveness when the patient did not know that he or she had just been given a painkiller.

Notice that the effect was half, not 100%. But that is one brief, easily forgotten sentence in a very long article that goes on and on about how it's all in your head. Many people will read this and conclude that all medicine is fake, potentially stop taking medicines they need and/or go to quacks, faith healers and exorcists. Another problem is that it quotes a study that shows that psych medications are no more effective than placebos, but it doesn't emphasize the fact that only some psych meds were found to be placebos, not all. A big complicating factor in mental health treatment is that, while every human brain operates on basically the same system, there are enough individual - and undetectable - differences that some medicines work well for some patients but not all. This is hinted at by the discussion of the COMT gene. There are two variants, one which makes people more responsive to the placebo effect, the other less responsive. But as the researcher said, this is likely only one of many genes that have yet to be discovered. Classic polygeny.

Another complicating factor that the article does not mention is that with many mental health issues there are multiple etiologies that produce the same symptoms. Major Depressive Disorder, which has reached epidemic proportions in our high-stress overly competitive society, has 5 known etiologies, 2 of which are dietary, and 1 is a result of heavy metal poisoning. Most psychiatrists don't test for the etiology, though. Most psychiatrists just do what they have always done - prescribe one medicine at random to se if it works, and if it doesn't, they try another, and another until either something works or they exhaust their options. If MDD is being caused by copper overload or lead poisoning, no standard-issue psych med will help. They treat symptoms without addressing the actual cause. The big problem here is that there are too many patients for the number of psychiatrists, who end up shuffling through their patients as fast as possible instead of taking time to run the appropriate tests. It's very similar to the problem with our school system - scalar stress, what happens when there are just too many.

Paul SB said...

Oh, our buddy locum is back, performing his usual obfuscation and conflation trick. Progressive pessimists? These are opposites, and as usual his words are opposite to reality. Progressivism is by definition an optimistic belief that life can be improved, that we are not doomed to repeat the same mistakes and failures of the past. When will he learn that no one here is dumb enough to not see through this rot?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

For the progressive pessimist, however, the answer to the question of 'Where have all the graveyards gone?' is doom & gloom forever because there cannot be either second chances or renewal. It really must suck to be a progressive.


Actually, what I had in mind was that the graveyards have become the fuel that runs the greatest civilization ever. Circle of life and all that.

It must suck to worry yourself sick over what will happen in a billion years. The Roman Republic lasted what?...600 years? 650? London has been London for something like 400. America has had a good run too. The fact that we might go the way of all flesh in centuries and millennia unborn doesn't bother me any more than the fact that I will die in less than 50 years. The measure of success is not "Will this outlive the universe?" Adults know this.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Belonging to former group, I think that the predicted Climate Change Apocalypse is a load of hooey.


You sound like President Snow. Climate change isn't happening. Wait, it is happening, but it's just natural. Well, maybe humans are causing it, but we can't stop it now, so why try. And in any case, it's a good thing.


But, then again, I'm an 'Optimist'...


Heh. Seriously? The only remotely optimistic sense you've conveyed here is confidence in your predictions of misery and doom. I suppose that's a kind of confidence, your Honor. Still, I'd call it a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.


...who argues that humanity will get things right the NEXT time around, learning from our mistakes (eventually), even if we screw things up the first few times.


But will the interregnum last a manageable 1000 years or a potentially-crippling 30,000?

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Oh, our buddy locum is back, performing his usual obfuscation and conflation trick. Progressive pessimists? These are opposites, and as usual his words are opposite to reality.


I'm pretty sure he means that progressives are pessimistic in our secularist belief that nothing follows death, while he "optimistically" believes he'll get to ride dinosaurs with Jesus forever.

LarryHart said...

that was supposed to be...

I suppose that's a kind of OPTIMISM, your Honor.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,
re: last thread, you know we get into this every once in awhile, and every time we conclude that we are mostly in agreement except in degree. Unfortunately when the weather gets gloomy I do to, and often fail to recognize that and check my words. :[

However, as matters of degrees go, your approach is way too slow for my tastes. Think about the lead poisoning example, which you said is a great example of the system working. How great an example is this? How many decades did it take from the time the problem was identified to the time decisive action was taken? There is no way to quantify how many people's lives were destroyed by this pollution in the intervening decades, or how many people's IQ's were depressed enough that they had no prayer of even coming to know their potential, much less reaching it. Public health people call this "preventable death." The key word here is preventable.

As long as businesses are about the "bottom line" they are not incentivized to behave humanely. I just finished reading a book about big businesses that do behave humanely, and it's a breath of fresh air, because these are the exceptions, not the rule. Government is at least ostensibly of, by and for the people. It often does not act that way, especially when a certain party seizes control of it. As Dr. Brin has pointed out so many times, actual outcomes show that one party always improves life while the other makes life worse for people. When the right people run a business, as when the right people run a country, things get better. But a government can move things much faster than a disparate collections of businesses, because it can move things by fiat, where a diversity of business interests operate on the laws of the jungle.

Be careful not to straw man yourself. Have I ever advocated for government taking control of all business? Command economies have proven to be disastrous. Most of what moves a nation is its businesses, but once again, as Dr. Brin so often says, it is only with regulation that business can avoid becoming self-destructive by making the playing field flat, open and fair. You brought up the very same point. So once again, we are in broad agreement. But I would prefer a system that avoids as much preventable death, and preventable misery, as possible. Leaving it in the hands of business will not do that, unless the culture more broadly returns to expecting better. The pendulum swung way too far in the Cold War. If we are lucky, it will start to swing back the other way. If not, then all those improvements you harp on will be reversed in a matter of decades.

I linked to a temperament test in the last thread - the only one out there that is based on actual neuroscience instead of the pop psych drivel that these tests usually amount to. Would you be willing to take it and let us know your result? I have my suspicions, and I have no problem telling you mine, but you would have to read the explanation on Dr. Fisher's web site to get it.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

He is welcome to his form of optimism if it suits him. He's a serotonin type, limited by his neurochemistry to a very rigid approach to all things and an unwillingness to question himself in any matter. That's his problem, as long as he does not have the power to force his ideas on anyone else. He can place his faith in fables if he likes, while we place our faith in facts and the process that discovers them.

Of course, when people listen to stodgy, small-minded people like this, they vote for charismatic thieves and dogmatists who then force their narrow views on everyone else. That's why the work you do here is important.

Darrell E said...

Paul SB said...

"The flying car looks cool, but how much noise do all those fans make?"

I agree. I think noise is going to be one of the more persistent issues. In order to provide enough thrust for VTOL you have to move a certain amount of air at a certain rate and the levels necessary entail significant noise. Not engine noise, just the noise of the fan interacting with the air. You can use bigger fans to move a higher volume at lower velocity per unit of time but fan size becomes impractical before noise levels become practical. At least for the "everyone can have a flying car in their driveway" scenario.

"Regular cars are hazard enough in noise pollution terms - but I can see these used as emergency vehicles. They might be able to replace most "flight for life" helicopters for a lot less money."

That seems likely given time. Helicopters are a mature technology, failures modes are well known and responses to those failure modes well established. For example, if a helicopter loses power it can, within certain parameters, glide (autorotate) to a safe landing due to the same aerodynamic effects that autogyros utilize. A drone type aircraft can't do that and it can't glide like a fixed wing aircraft either. There are of course ways that drone type aircraft will be able mitigate against loss of power events such as, mechanical simplicity / reliability reducing the rate of such events, redundancy such as more motors than strictly necessary, control systems capable of quickly adjusting the output of the motors individually to balance lift and rocket deployed parachutes. But it will take time for the technology to mature and to prove itself.

There is also no getting around the fact that VTOL and non-aerodynamic lift flight is energy intensive. It isn't very efficient compared to a ground car, though "as the crow flies" vs having to follow roads may offset that some.

Darrell E said...

Regarding the dinosaur article, it will be very interesting to see how the reported study pans out over time. Dinosaurs have long been grouped into two Orders, Ornithischia and Saurischia. Since Seeley (1888) the general consensus has been that all carnivorous dinosaurs were within Saurischia, including the ancestors of modern birds. I've always thought this was a bit ironic because Ornithischia means bird hipped and Saurischia means lizard hipped. But Seeley didn't suggest or propose any specific relationship between Ornithischia and modern birds, and the Ornithischia hip structure is only superficially similar to modern bird hip structure.

The article relates how a new analysis suggests that carnivorous dinosaurs, including the ancestors of modern birds and their relatives, actually do belong in Ornithischia rather than Saurischia. This could of course be accurate and it is, or will be once well corroborated, a big surprise, which is always welcome. But I am skeptical. For one example, there is a lot of data that seems to clearly show that bird like hips evolved separately in different groups of dinosaurs at least 3 different times. That doesn't of course mean this new finding couldn't still be accurate, one does not preclude the other, but I think it makes it less likely.

Robert said...

BTW, here's a small volley tossed at Locu who I believe is on the pro-Life category.

The concept of Bodily Autonomy means that when I die, if I have not filled out an organ donor card then my organs cannot be transplanted into other people, no matter how important or innocent, no matter that it would save countless lives.

Bodily Autonomy also means women can choose to terminate a pregnancy.

By stating that a pregnant woman cannot have an abortion, you are giving dead bodies greater rights than living women.

Pro-Life is the greatest form of misogyny around.

----------------

Larry, I did move the goalpost. Fairly early on in fact. But I did state I was wrong with my first 100 days prediction.

That said, the Republican Party is at a crossroads. There are three paths ahead of it. All eventually lead to its death.

The first? The road of Tyranny. Refuse democracy, turn America into a dictatorship under Republican control with Trump as its Lord and Master (until he's killed and then Pence or Ryan or the like.) There will be a lot of dead people as we rise up against it. And in the end, it will fall much as the Third Reich did.

The second? The road of denial. Don't deny democracy but cling to power as-is, hoping that you can keep enough Republicans hating the Liberals that they vote Republicans in power anyway. Claim that "we were joking about Trump being a paid lackey of Putin" and refuse to do investigations or an impeachment, and hope somehow in 2018 Democrats don't take the House and Senate. Except in all likelihood, Trump will drag them down. It will poison the Republican order on the State level as well by association. If somehow the Republican Party remains around afterward, it will be from a grassroots level with the old leadership cast out, the old ways discarded, and it won't be the Republicans of the last 30 years. Thus it will be dead.

The third? The road of gradual decay. This is the path Republicans were on before Trump supercharged things. Republicans "sadly" impeach Trump and kick him out of office. Pence becomes President, Republicans lose the House and Senate, possibly a number of State legislatures, and then struggles to remain a valid party having lost considerable face.

You know... while it means two years of Trump, I almost hope #2 is the path Republicans choose. Though #1 would be a resumption of the Civil War... and this time I don't think we'd let the Old Southern Aristocracy remain in any form of power or keep any of their money.

Rob H. who is likely to resume lurking as RL is around

Darrell E said...

Regarding the Mayo Clinic article about exercise and some of the quotes from the researcher(s).

"“We encourage everyone to exercise regularly, but the take-home message for aging adults is that supervised high-intensity training is probably best, because, both metabolically and at the molecular level, it confers the most benefits,” says K. Sreekumaran Nair, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and senior researcher on the study."

This claim shortsightedly assumes, and or suggests, that only one method of exercise be done. Going by the results of the study, and additional statements by the researcher(s), what would actually be much better would be to do both high intensity training and resistance training. By their own data resistance training is significantly effective for achieving the "anti-aging" benefits they found high intensity training to be most effective for and has, as they themselves point out, additional benefits that high intensity training does not. Do both.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

Since Seeley (1888) the general consensus has been that all carnivorous dinosaurs were within Saurischia, including the ancestors of modern birds.


Heh. I'm flashing on the Monty Python with Anne Elk "brackets Miss brackets" and her theory that "All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much MUCH thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the other end."

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Pro-Life is the greatest form of misogyny around.


For loc, that's a feature, not a bug.


Larry, I did move the goalpost. Fairly early on in fact. But I did state I was wrong with my first 100 days prediction.


I only mention it because I was impressed and dismayed that your prediction of Trump winning was so accurate back when I thought Hillary would have 400 electoral votes. So I need to convince myself that you're not infallible, and by extension that I'm not completely fallible. That's all.

Robert said...

Oh, it wasn't a dig on you. It was a reminder to myself to remain honest. I am not the most honest of people. I was trained in dishonesty when growing up and learning that I can't tell the truth with a straight face. (This may in fact be part of why people believe lies so much more readily than the truth. You train yourself to lie effectively. But how many of us train ourselves to tell the truth in the same cold hard fashion?)

But I've a good online friend going through some hard times right now. And she values honesty. So I'm training myself once more to be honest to a fault. To not tell convenient lies or lie through omission. And let's be frank about it - honesty is the path of greatest laziness. ;) After all, if you tell the truth then you don't need to worry about keeping your stories straight, just your facts. :)

Honesty isn't easy. That's why politicians prefer lies, I suspect.

Rob H.

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said...
Darrell E:

"Heh. I'm flashing on the Monty Python with Anne Elk "brackets Miss brackets" and her theory that "All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much MUCH thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the other end.""

Well, she definitely wasn't wrong about that!

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I was trained in dishonesty when growing up and learning that I can't tell the truth with a straight face.


When I interviewed for a job that required a security clearance in the 1980s, I found out that I can't pass a lie detector test, even if I really am telling the truth. My bodily functions react as if I know I must be lying (because why else would they be interrogating me like this?). I think it's the same phenomenon that makes someone who sees a policeman think "He must be after me."


Honesty isn't easy. That's why politicians prefer lies, I suspect.


Off-the-cuff lying is hard because, as you mentioned, you have to remember your story. However, a professional liar can tailor a lie to be plausible, whereas the truth is often strange enough to be less so. I think "Lies are neat--truth is messy" is the way it was put in a 1970s Captain America comic book.

LarryHart said...

I see in the New York Times that Roger Ailes is dead.

While I don't typically speak ill of the dead, I can make an exception here. I hope the m---erf---er is burning in Hell, along with Jerry Falwell and Andrew Breitbart.

What, too soon?

Darrell E said...

In tribute to one of my favorite Hitchens quotes, they could save some money on the coffin if they gave him an enema first.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I've a good online friend going through some hard times right now. And she values honesty. So I'm training myself once more to be honest to a fault.


Sounds like the old quote about sincerity applies here. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Robert said...

Darrell, I hope you don't mind if I share that line on FB.

Larry... I suppose backstory is required.

Recently after not having heard from my friend, she returned and we chatted a bit on FB. And when she asked me how I was doing, I asked if she wanted the quiet lie or the truth. She asked for the truth because she is sick and tired of being lied to. So I've been honest with her.

But it's easy to lie when you let casual lies into everyday life. So... I'm trying to stop lying. Misunderstandings still happen. You have to be careful. But... so long as you show respect and concern, it shouldn't be that big of a problem.

And yes, sincerity is also quite important. But honest sincerity rings far truer than faked sincerity. The only ones who truly can fake sincerity are those who fully believe in their own lies.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

RobH, great point about body autonomy. People who don’t fill a donor card, to share organs after death are, in effect, murderers! As are those who refuse to let hospitals harvest from all dean bodies. Far more innocent lives lost than through abortion.

I think most Republican leaders can sense that the civil service and officer corps are too strong to allow #1.

David Brin said...

Never, ever do cyclical “history” fans rise to show with evidence that it actually, actually happens. Because they can’t. Because it doesn’t. Even at all.

Yes, decadence and decline have been seen to happen, because feudal, top-down leadership tends toward criticism-repression and hence stupidity. And yes, many renaissances have glimmered, before being crushed back into feudal oligarchy. That is a pattern. But it’s not “cyclical” as in a human life cycle. Fans of CH yammer about it in order not to face the universality of the feudal attractor as the principal human social failure mode.

Likewise, we have “learned to do better” not so much by recovering from collapses as we have from raising better-smarter-wiser children who stand upon the enlightenment wonders that we’ve built and criticize us, then build higher still. But then, CH people are morons, typified by - “predicted Climate Change Apocalypse is a load of hooey.”

Morons.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

I can almost hear George Washington from "Hamilton" admonishing:

Lying is easy, young man.
Honesty's harder.

Marino said...

@Larry
Re: the departing of mr. Ailes...I've just posted on a blog I read a convoluted and sarcastic translation in Italian of what amounts to "burn in hell and p.ss on your grave"...No more Mr. Nice Guy...

occcam's comic said...

hey I found this bat shit crazy idea that gets better the more you read.

Is hybridization an important process for the origin of species?

http://www.macroevolution.net/index.html


Here is a quote about the possibility of humans being the result of chimp - pig hybridization.

If we supposed standard theory to be correct, it would seem most peculiar that pigs and humans share features that distinguish human beings from chimpanzees, but that pigs and chimpanzees should not. Conventional theory (which assumes that pigs are equally as far removed from humans as from chimpanzees) says that pigs and chimpanzees would share about as many such traits as would pigs and humans. And yet, I have never been able to identify any such trait—despite assiduous investigation. The actual finding is that traits distinguishing chimpanzees from humans consistently link pigs with humans alone. It will be difficult to account in terms of natural selection for this fact. For each such feature, we will have to come up with a separate ad hoc argument, explaining how the feature has helped both pigs and humans to survive and reproduce. On the other hand, a single, simple assumption (that modern humans, or earlier hominids that gave rise to modern humans, arose from a cross between pig and chimpanzee) will account for all of these features at a single stroke.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

On the other hand, a single, simple assumption (that modern humans, or earlier hominids that gave rise to modern humans, arose from a cross between pig and chimpanzee) will account for all of these features at a single stroke.


Have you ever looked closely at lemurs? I swear they are the missing link between monkeys and cats.

Jumper said...

http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/2010/03/trip-to-lemuria.html
or
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/2009/06/i-say.html

Darrell E said...

Robert,

Please feel free to, and thanks.

sociotard said...

The House just sent a bill to the Senate that would strip the Librarian of Congress of the authority to appoint the next Register of Copyrights, giving the authority to the President instead.

David Brin said...

Occam: heh, there was a sci fi story long ago about how nurses would play tricks on each other putting infant pigs in blankets. They fooled nurses more often than ape infants did.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Yes. A failure to hold an election that leaves Trump in office WOULD make him illegitimate. I don’t really care what the emergency is. At best he would be an ‘acting’ President with the power employees of the Executive Branch tolerated giving him.

I suspect Rob H is feeling the doom and gloom of all our stress. Elections WILL happen, though. I suspect we’d hold elections even if we got seriously nuked. Lots of us would volunteer to staff the polls.

Jumper said...

There was an old SF story about a researcher who discovered people were descended from our porcine cousins. In the story the shock to humanity was significant. I doubt I can remember more but a Google search might be fruitful.

Jumper said...

http://www.unz.org/Pub/AnalogSF-1953apr-00137

I love the internet. Alan Nourse, 1953, "A Family Resemblance."

locumranch said...


David quotes a scene right out of 'Alice in Wonderland' which references the 'pig in a poke' idiom.

The old adage is that 'Embryology recapitulates Phylogeny', meaning that the developing embryo tends to reflect that organisms course of evolutionary development. Shared mammalian ancestry between pigs & humans can therefore account for their striking fetal, developmental & embryological similarities between pig and man, making OC's Chimpanzee-Pig Love Theory of Human Evolution both unnecessary & incredibly offensive to most pigs.

Even so, this old adage should in no way discourage OC's ongoing line of research into 'poking a pig' (as it were).

I'm not 'Pro-Life', btw, and I whole-heartedly support the right of the gender-autonomous individual to terminate the parasitic fetal dependent in accord with personal choice, regardless of any assumed future utility and/or fetal potential, which would allow me to terminate my alimony dependent ex-wife with a clean conscience.

But seriously ...

Our group culture allows only for limited autonomy. It lays claim to the lives & resources of every individual (aka 'taxation') for the collective good; it demands that some autonomous individuals sacrifice their very lives for the sake of the collective; it forbids suicide as an individual crime of theft against group interest; and it even demands that most individuals support and succor those who are entirely, irreversibly & parasitically dependent on the largesse of others.

Yet, for some inexplicable reason, these limits on individual autonomy do not apply to both genders equally, as women appear to exist as a protected class who are often placed above & beyond these lawful limits to autonomy.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | Progressive pessimists? These are opposites…

Not from where I sit. Progressives are simultaneously optimistic that life can be improved and pessimistic that we can do better than design ways to improve life. Evolution works far better than Design, but it is slow as you’ve noted. The pessimism is a little disturbing to someone like me since it is also connected to what I see as an insanity of the type where a repeated behavior is expected to deliver a different result next time. I doubt this is what locumranch is seeing, though. He’d have to admit the positive sum nature of evolution.

every time we conclude that we are mostly in agreement except in degree.

No doubt we will again. 8)

However, as matters of degrees go, your approach is way too slow for my tastes.

While I am tempted to go another round with you regarding lead in gasoline and all the other preventable damage, let me pause for a moment and focus on the slow approach because this is THE fundamental difference between us. We agree on a lot, so let me put this out there to be chewed upon.

The slow approach is the ONLY way that has proven to work at lifting and removing the misery of human life. Seriously. The ONLY way forward that we KNOW works is the slow one. We’ve tried faster ways many, many times. At best they do little. At worst, they are responsible for countless millions of deaths and a vast amount of human suffering.

The slow way works because it is an evolutionary process that takes advantage of the many things individuals know that simply cannot be collected and centralized for a design process to use, let alone improve upon. Hayek explained it from an economist’s perspective in ’45, but what he wrote applies more broadly. Please consider reading it carefully. The implications are disastrous for so many public policies it is hard to count them.

http://home.uchicago.edu/~vlima/courses/econ200/spring01/hayek.pdf
Now add on some history. We’ve socially evolved our way out of subsistence living, child mortality, a long list of diseases, short life spans, ignorance, slavery, unclean drinking water, social violence, grinding labor, and so many other things you’d have to be an anthropologist to realize how much has changed. Oh? Yah. You DO have that background. You should know. 8)

Consider this one graph at GapMinder and the consider playing with the chart to look at the other data. The implications are disastrous for so much doom and gloom plans it is hard to count them.

http://www.gapminder.org/tools/#_locale_id=en;&state_marker_axis/_y_which=child/_mortality/_0/_5/_year/_olds/_dying/_per/_1000/_born&domainMin:null&domainMax:null&zoomedMin:null&zoomedMax:null&scaleType=log;;;&chart-type=bubbles

The important thing, though, is to put these two things together. If subsistence living (=$3/day/person or $1000/year/person) has diminished as a percentage of the population and recently in absolute numbers too AND we cannot centralize the information needed to design our social institutions in a way to make that happen, how exactly did it happen? How COULD it have happened? Well… it did… without us understanding how to do it, we did it anyway… the slow way. We did it through the coordinating actions of our markets because they are the ONLY way we’ve found that brings our knowledge together in ways that are positive sum. The eco-system that is us CAN do what we cannot… and it is working… and it can keep working if we have the courage to let it.

Can you understand yet my gut response to the notion that ‘the economy is an engine’? Pfft. It is part of an eco-system and FAR more complicated than an engine. We can’t even write down what it is. No one can.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | (continued)

Now let us return to lead, BPA, and all the other preventable harm. In hindsight, they are relatively easy to see, right? Ex Post Facto observations are useful for correcting our theories of the world, but they don’t save the babies lost. For that we need Ex Ante capabilities. Do you think you have them? We all do to some extent. Our pre-frontal lobes are rather useful. HOWEVER, how do we act on what you know in light of what Hayek explained? At best, YOU can act to influence others and that puts you on the slow path. If you want to do that, I’m very supportive. If the influence you wish to push would change the rules under which our evolutionary process works, though, I’ll become deeply skeptical. Profoundly skeptical. Babies could be dying left and right and I’d still stall.

As long as businesses are about the "bottom line" they are not incentivized to behave humanely.

No. This is a fundamental error. They’ve already proven they are incentivized to behave humanely. Look at all the things we’ve evolved out of again. History backs me. If they can’t do this by paying attention to the bottom line… they obviously aren’t just paying attention to the bottom line. We are already in the ex post facto state here.

I just finished reading a book about big businesses that do behave humanely, and it's a breath of fresh air, because these are the exceptions, not the rule.

I’m glad you can see them, but they aren’t exceptions except in the mind of the author. It IS possible to run a business in an inhumane manner. People do it often enough for us to notice. You gave a price gouger example the other day. Most do not, though. Most fly under the radar, though, so we are prone to a selection bias.

As Dr. Brin has pointed out so many times, actual outcomes show that one party always improves life while the other makes life worse for people.

I’m inclined to agree with him on the data he presents, but I suspect he is cherry-picking. It doesn’t matter much to me, though. I agree with his end goal enough not to care enough to do the work of proving him wrong.

But a government can move things much faster than a disparate collections of businesses, because it can move things by fiat, where a diversity of business interests operate on the laws of the jungle.

See? This is where I have to oppose you. It NEVER works at fixing what actually has to be fixed. Lifting people out of misery is what matters. Free, fair, and flat markets are what get us there. No one can design such things. Re-read Hayek if you don’t see this. What he wrote is THAT important. If a billion people get clean drinking water in 10 years, I’m not going to care too much if someone becomes filthy rich along the way. I might even put up with a gouger.

Be careful not to straw man yourself.

Okay. Fair point. You aren’t advocating a command economy. Hayek faced real people who thought it was a good idea, but most of us have dropped it as nonsense. It’s just that I blame millions of deaths and much more suffering on the fools who tried. That makes me a little touchy on the subject. 8)

I don’t mind you all regulating as long as you are careful to preserve the only method proven to work at fixing what matters.

But I would prefer a system that avoids as much preventable death, and preventable misery, as possible. Leaving it in the hands of business will not do that, unless the culture more broadly returns to expecting better. The pendulum swung way too far in the Cold War. If we are lucky, it will start to swing back the other way. If not, then all those improvements you harp on will be reversed in a matter of decades.

Very human of you, but I think you are mistaken about what has been happening in the last few decades. In terms of what really matters, we are accomplishing many miracles at once.

And sure, I’ll try that temperament test. I’ll have to go find the link, though. I usually gloss over those things since there IS so much drivel out there. 8)

Jumper said...

I suspect in philosophy, at least, for-profit organizations tend to discount the grandkids more than the rest of society.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
I will take the ACC - as I referenced before as a government organisation that works really really well

Re Pigs/Apes

The main difference/similarity is in the fact that pigs and humans store fat under the skin - apes like most other animals don't
This is why a baby ape looks like a wizened old man

The rest of the anatomy humans are much much more like apes

There is no actual fossil evidence but I think that the Aquatic Ape hypothesis matches the facts quite well - and something similar in the pig history

Beaches/shores are extremely rich environments for an early tool - user
all those shellfish! - and all you have to do is wade out a couple of feet

An early tool user that eats meat - how many ape/men could live on the shore?

Man - quite early on - became a championship runner - how fast can you run on a savanna? - how fast can you run on a beach?

There is no fossil evidence of this stage in evolution - but how long would it have been??
And is a beach a good place for creating fossils - I would have said that a beach is a terrible place to create fossils

TheMadLibrarian said...

One of my friend's favorite battle cries is "Where's my jetpack? Where's my flying car?" A flying car might be more useful as a GEV, ground-effect vehicle, where it would not be constrained by roads, but could zip along coastlines and up rivers. Emergency vehicles in particular would be a good fit. We have a lot of hillsides with ravines and no roads, where brushfires are very prone to spring up. A flying fire truck could bring firefighters or water tankers to where they could be best applied, before the fire got entrenched in an inaccessible area.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Anyone here interested in real-life premises for SF stories?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/18/atmosphere-discovery-makes-trappist-1-exoplanet-priority-in-hunt-for-alien-life

"

Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample


"An Earth-sized world that swings around a star in the constellation of Aquarius has become a priority in the search for extraterrestrial life after scientists found that an atmosphere could have enveloped the planet for billions of years.

"The planet is one of seven circling a small and feeble star called Trappist-1 which astronomers reported in a wave of excitement in February this year. The rocky world lies in the habitable zone around its parent star, where temperatures should allow for free-running water, but that would count for little if the planet has no atmosphere."

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan,

I'm not saying an ACC can't work. I'm glad it does for you over there. Do you think it would work with 300 million Americans? Honest question.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB,

I am a Director/Explorer according to the test. (Funny that I still have my hair.)

I'd bet my house my wife is accurately described by the combination I'm supposed to be drawn toward. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

I don't see why not - it's just standard actuarial numbers -

Although actually NO
It wouldn't work in the USA because of your (lack of) a health service - that would need to be fixed first

Here with the National Health system it does work very well
Which is NOT to say perfectly

A few years ago the Government decided that the ACC was not bringing in enough money to match it's total liabilities - so there was a general increase - then after another few years it became obvious that ACC was taking in too much money so there was a decrease

Fine tuning!!

When ACC was introduced some people wanted it to cover illness as well - I expect that eventually it will cover illness
At the moment the biggest problems we have are at the intersection - if you damage your back ACC covers you - - if you have a back "illness" then it doesn't
As you can imagine that does cause some arguments

If you had a reasonable "Single Payer" health service then ACC would work very well in the USA
And it is
"The Accident Compensation Corporation" - so it's not damned socialism
So it could actually fit very well in the USA

Darrell E said...

Duncan Cairncross said...

"Re Pigs/Apes

The main difference/similarity is in the fact that pigs and humans store fat under the skin - apes like most other animals don't
This is why a baby ape looks like a wizened old man"


My children, twins, were born 2 months premature and they looked very much like that because they were born before the period in gestation during which that layer of "baby fat" develops. They looked very strange, like tiny bodybuilders. You could see every muscle and even the striations in the muscles.

"The rest of the anatomy humans are much much more like apes

There is no actual fossil evidence but I think that the Aquatic Ape hypothesis matches the facts quite well - and something similar in the pig history"


Aside from the fact that no fossil evidence has been discovered which supports the Aquatic Ape hypothesis there is a huge amount of evidence that refutes it and it has been very thoroughly debunked.

Paul SB said...

Duncan,

"The Accident Compensation Corporation" - so it's not damned socialism
- Most people here are completely unaware that the IRS and the Fed are both private corporations, not branches of the government. They are contractors to the government, just like the contractors that made $6000 brass pins to hold the seats of jet fighters in place and built cheap-ass o-rings on exploding space shuttle booster rockets. Makes you feel so comfy about the value of the profit motive, doesn't it?

Maybe the US should consider emulating Japan where health insurance is concerned. Everyone is required to have health insurance by law (the mandate that Repubs bitch about), the insurance companies are all private, but the government has the right to impose price caps so premiums don't get so high that only the rich can afford insurance. Oh, but that's the point, isn't it? Only the rich can afford insurance, because this is meritocracy and only the rich deserve insurance. Besides, few Americans take anything seriously that comes from any other country.

Paul SB said...

Alfred, let me start by saying that it's early and my thinking might be a little fuzzy (especially after reading Hayek), but I can throw out a couple counter examples to this statement:

"The slow approach is the ONLY way that has proven to work at lifting and removing the misery of human life. Seriously. The ONLY way forward that we KNOW works is the slow one. We’ve tried faster ways many, many times. At best they do little. At worst, they are responsible for countless millions of deaths and a vast amount of human suffering.”

- The invention of ethyl ether dramatically reduced the rate of deaths in both surgery and childbirth, at least in the West where it was available. Then there’s penicillin and the veritable storm of antibiotics created in the 50s and 60s. The invention of the automobile, later facilitated by national highway systems, has wrought huge changes in a matter of decades. There are quite a few changes that have happened quite rapidly that were not unmitigated disasters. Most of these have been technological in nature, and most of them happened with both private and government support - not one or the other.

" It NEVER works at fixing what actually has to be fixed.”
- Child labor laws, the 40-hour week ...

"Free, fair, and flat markets are what get us there.”
- And what makes markets free, fair and flat? Markets don’t do that, markets make monopolies that crush free, fair and flat markets. Capitalism is an inherently self-destructive system, even if most of businesses are honest.

“If a billion people get clean drinking water in 10 years, I’m not going to care too much if someone becomes filthy rich along the way. I might even put up with a gouger.”
- You still seem to be obsessing over the idea that people are just jealous and want to take money away from the rich to line their own pockets. That is an issue for some people, but not for people who are honest with themselves. The issue is the damage that some - not all - rich, ruthless business people do to other people. A price gouger who gouges on luxuries is one thing, a price gouger who gouges people out of their medicine is another matter entirely.

Paul SB said...

Alfred con.t,

I am a Director/Explorer according to the test. (Funny that I still have my hair.)

I'd bet my house my wife is accurately described by the combination I'm supposed to be drawn toward. 8)
Negotiator/Explorer, presumably, though in the book Fisher explains that any combination can work, but some are much harder to work and more likely to fail.
I suspected the Director, you have the straightforwardness, impatience and eye for details. Given your profession I did not expect the Explorer, though, but that’s not to say I don’t see how such a temperament could work, only that it would be less typical.
The real point of these things is not to give ourselves labels, but to get an idea of how our underlying instincts work. What is just as important as which are your two highest is by how much? If the spread is very small, the tendencies are not very strong and are easier to overcome with some frontal-lobe action (which is what it’s all about - if you don’t know your instincts they boss you around and you use your wits to rationalize them). But if one or the other stands out from the rest, either much higher or much lower, it gives you some very important feedback about strengths and weaknesses. Of course, this information is most useful when you are young and have more time to affect the trajectory of your life. I could have really used this book 30 years ago.
I, by the way, came out with 3 of the 4 exactly the same, so I really don’t have a secondary. My high was dopamine (Explorer) by 6 points, which is enough to not be insignificant - I can clearly see those traits in myself - but not overwhelming. I'm basically pretty balanced, which is probably why women have always found me so boring. Other factors, like upbringing, all those factors that the book on anxiety Dr. Brin linked to no doubt discuss, are part of the picture, too. Fisher suggests that these inherited factors make up about half of any person's personality, not all of it, by any means.

Paul SB said...

Alfred con.t again,

And that brings up a point I have made before. You aren’t a whole lot older than I am, but enough that we grew up in rather different social environments. When I was still larval the Cold War fears that weighed on the minds of earlier generations were not nearly as salient, even in the staunchly conservative place I had the misfortune to grow up in. Most of those horrors were in the past and were seen as the paranoias of the parents. I graduated from high school before the Wall came down, not long before Ceausescu (can never remember how to spell that guy!), and China still has its oligarchy that pretends to be communist, but years before the Wall young people were far more worried about getting a job that won’t drive them crazy, being able to pay the rent and maybe even get ahead of their parents.
Last night as I was driving home I heard an interview with a comedian who was the son of a chemist and a doctor from India, and he talked about the day after 9/11 when someone called them with a death threat, then the next day smashed the windows of their car. His father got a broom and quietly cleaned up the glass, and when he asked about why he was so calm, the father told him that encountering some racism and violence is just the price of coming to a different country. If you get out with your life, he said, you’re lucky. But the son had been born and raised here, and wanted better. He wanted Americans to live up to the ideals that supposedly made America. Different social environment, different expectations. I met an elderly lady from Ireland a few months back who was bothered by how people here seem to think that you have to get a job that is satisfying. To her a job is what you do to make money, and if it doesn’t suck and make you miserable, you’re lucky.

To me, if it makes you so miserable you have to be medicated, (doctors have handed out prozac like it’s candy and have for a number of decades now), there is something deeply wrong with the system, something that desperately needs to be repaired. The alternatives are not commie dictators or glorious capitalism. Communism is pretty much out of the picture. The alternatives are a society in which half the country has to be medicated because of how badly they are treated at work by toxic, hyper-competitive management, or a society in which humane treatment of everybody (regardless of race, sex or SES) is the standard.

The problem is American culture more than American economics. We were already way too competitive as a hold-over from frontier days, but the Cold War made it much worse. In any normal group of Paleolithic hominids, there would be a balance of those 4 temperaments Fisher talks about. Numerically speaking, that balance probably still exists, but for the majority of human existence there were no inherited status differences and humans lived in very small groups that operated off of peer pressure rather than formalized relationships. That means that social power was much more balanced. A testosterone-driven director might think he’s in charge because his testosterone level makes him more pushy than most, but if he starts doing things that the band thinks is unfair or foolish, they just don’t have to follow him. The system we have is dramatically imbalanced in favor of high-t directors who have the formal authority to run roughshod over everyone else and can ignore the wisdom in the other three types with impunity. Hierarchy creates unhealthy imbalance.

Paul SB said...

Alfred con.t again again (can you name that reference?),

"(Funny that I still have my hair.)”
- And funny that I don’t. The typical traits are not the traits of everyone. How much circulates in your blood and how much circulates in your brain are not always equivalent - and then there’s the “you don’t know what you don’t know” factor, like what specific parts have what level of receptor density.

"Free, fair, and flat markets are what get us there. No one can design such things.”
- It’s not a question of anyone designing such things, it’s a question of guidance and oversight. Your generation sees “design” as an issue because that is how it was presented to you in that time, that was the impression given by Marx, Engels, Mao and most clearly Stalin. But from the viewpoint of big oil, IBM and other powerful businesses over here, this was just a canard to keep government from preventing them from screwing the people. Back to the leaded gasoline example, it wasn’t the market that stopped it, it was scientists competing for the attention of government committees, themselves made up of competing interests, that eventually coalesced around a plan of action to stop it at its source. Standard Oil wasn’t going to do that on its own.

One problem, on reading Hayek, in assuming that the blind market will always do the right thing and the government will always do the wrong thing is the assumption that the government is one single entity, opposite to the market. The government is not one single entity. Even under the Divine Right of Kings it was still a mixture of different influences competing with each other for the king's ear, but most nations today are democracies, not dictatoriships. And like a market, when most of the players are channeled into seeing things the same way, the entity as a whole will make the same strides and the same mistakes as its majority components. Democracy makes government akin to markets in many important ways, with very similar emergent properties. The issue is not whether government or markets are better, the issue is whether they can balance each other out to create a lasting civilization that serves the needs of its citizens. Poisoning the people with toxic stress to the point that fully 25% have to be hospitalized for mental disorders is not serving the people, even if most of them have some crusty bread on their tables.

Paul SB said...

Capitalism’s grow-or-die imperative stands radically at odds with ecology’s imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other; nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

Anything that grows beyond maturity is obesity or cancer. Either is likely to be fatal. But evolution has consigned over 99% of all species that ever existed to the dustbin of extinction. If the human species follows the path of American-style capitalism, extinction is pretty predictable, regardless of who benefits from it in the short term.

Paul SB said...

Darrell,

And now for something completely different...

"There is also no getting around the fact that VTOL and non-aerodynamic lift flight is energy intensive. It isn't very efficient compared to a ground car, though "as the crow flies" vs having to follow roads may offset that some."
- The point about efficiency is well-taken, but when you look at how much time people spend stuck in traffic, you can bet that those who have the money to VTOL will, to spend less time stuck on the roads. Then, of course, there's the conspicuous consumption thing. It will be another symbol of pride, as they glance down their noses at the peons trapped on the highway and snidely remark to their trophy mistresses about how much smarter they and are more manly and how big their beautiful hands are than all those saps down beneath them.

But after awhile the cost will come down, the technology will continue to improve, and the population will steadily go up. Then our cities will have traffic like we saw in that tacky (but funny) Bruce Willis movie "The Fifth Element."

Mad Librarian,

"A flying car might be more useful as a GEV, ground-effect vehicle, where it would not be constrained by roads, but could zip along coastlines and up rivers."
- I had that idea when I was a youthful larva, though I was thinking more about snow. Back when it used to snow where I grew up (precipitation has gone down over the decades and they don't get the school-closing blizzards of my youth) I saw ambulances stuck in the snow and police cars spinning out on black ice. A nice GEV would solve that problem. Braking is a problem for GEV's in an urban environment, though. If you could figure out a way to brake as quickly as wheeled vehicles, the snow problem wouldn't be as much of a problem for emergency vehicles.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

Perhaps the cyclical history people just don't know enough mathematics to viscerally understand the concept of the local maximum (or minimum).

I'd certainly like to think that (your version of) feudalism is just a local minimum that we keep sliding back to. And that if we could just get far enough away from it on the curve, there would be a higher minimum to slide towards. But my more realistic side tells me that keeping us at or near a maximum takes a lot of energy.

Alfred Differ,

While child mortality is a good topic, try having a look at mother mortality in the first year after birth. US is double Britain's, and several times the rate in other developed nations. And often completely preventable.

matthew said...

Alfred reveals his bias with the statement that Government Never Works, only private enterprise. "It NEVER works at fixing what actually has to be fixed." Utter, pathological bullshit statement, disproved by evidence all around us. Alfred has drank the libertarian idiotic koolaid to the point of not being able to see any argument that does not match his world view. He claims to be a Smithian Liberal, but makes statements such as the above or his oft-repeated "taxation is theft" that show his true pathological bias.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

Thanks for mentioning maternal mortality. It is something i was thinking of but forgot to bring up. The US also has the highest infant mortality rate in the Free West as well, though both of these are dramatically better than third world nations. Comparing third world apples to first world oranges isn't entirely fair. Socialist Europe has as much to do - likely more - with the alleviation of poverty worldwide as capitalist America.

Matthew,

I wouldn't go so far as to call this pathological. It's enculturated. Whenever you see such entrained thinking, it's culture, which is to say, it looks like common sense to people who grew up with that culture.

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
- Albert Einstein

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
- Albert Einstein


Jeez, I can barely remember age eighteen.

locumranch said...



Such ingrained ignorance:

(1) The 'Cyclic' in the 'Cyclic History Model' refers to the ups & downs of a sinusoidal function (NOT a 'circle') and it has been proven over & over, whereas Pinker's non-existent 'Linear History Model' is just self-delusion & wishful thinking; and (2) the so-called 'high' US Infant Mortality Rate is a mere definitional artifact because the US defines a premature neonatal death (aka 'a spontaneous abortion') as 'Infant Mortality' while our more enlightened neighbours do not.


The progressive is, by definition, a backwards-looking pessimist "who tends to see the worst aspect of things" in temporal setting of both the past & present.

By arguing that the past & present are both irreversibly flawed and imperfect, the progressive justifies continuous quality improvement (CQI) under the ill-conceived assumption that the yet-unrealised future will be 'better' because it still possesses the 'grass is greener' Illusion of Perfectibility that only such ephemera can possess.

Like the unregenerate gambler, the progressive depreciates the (proven) conservative past, devalues the apparent successes of present, and throws good after bad in pursuit of an uncertain & unknowable future.

Over & over, the progressive emphasises the failures of the past & present. Why, during this week alone, I have heard NPR report the following historical revisions in order to justify aggressive but unproven social reforms:

(1) That the fossil fuel-based economy is irredeemably evil (because CC) even though it has given humanity unprecedented historical prosperity;

(2) That the success of US Space program was only made possible by the exploitation of certain morally-superior minorities [Hidden Figures];

(3) That the US Federal Housing Authority, whose (racist) home mortgage policies created our (racist) 'diamond-shaped' middle class society, is irredeemably racist because it was created at a time when racial segregation was the norm;

(4) That the Old Confederacy (existence, heroes & history) deserves both erasure & censure because it owed its existence to legal slavery & racism; and

(5) That the bad old US Military, which also practiced racial & gender segregation during WW2, is the moral equivalent of the defeated NAZI opposition.


Such ignoramuses never learn: When you deny the past & disown the present, you destroy the future.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

1) The 'Cyclic' in the 'Cyclic History Model' refers to the ups & downs of a sinusoidal function (NOT a 'circle')


Waitaminute! Aren't you the one who insists that words like "civilization" must be used in the most literal sense to refer to the linguistic root of "city"? Why are you the only one who gets to say that "cyclic" doesn't refer to a circle?

LarryHart said...

loumranch:

Like the unregenerate gambler, the progressive depreciates the (proven) conservative past, devalues the apparent successes of present, and throws good after bad in pursuit of an uncertain & unknowable future.

Over & over, the progressive emphasises the failures of the past & present. Why, during this week alone, I have heard NPR report the following historical revisions in order to justify aggressive but unproven social reforms:

(1) That the fossil fuel-based economy is irredeemably evil (because CC) even though it has given humanity unprecedented historical prosperity;


Is it worth noting that at one point, the Industrial Revolution was a new way of organizing humanity, and that it depreciated the (proven) conservative past as seen from the early nineteenth century?

Your "proven conservative past" is nothing more than the succession of progressive improvements which survived the test of time. You'd have stood athwart history halting each improvement until faced with the obvious success of the best of them, you belatedly claim them as your own.

By now, your detested feminism is the (proven) conservative past which you have no problem depreciating to your heart's content.

Again, you insist everyone else play by rules you refuse to apply to your own self. When you complain about feminism or global elites or deep state and such, you don't mean that those things have failed to survive. You mean you are dissatisfied with the effects that those things have upon humanity or upon human civilization, and you wish to remedy those effects by rooting out the causes. Yet when progressives attempt the exact same thing for the exact same reason, you complain that (for example) slavery or religious persecution or the Divine Right of Kings must not be questioned because they have proven their value by virtue of the fact that they are the end result of a Darwinian evolutionary process.

Physician, heal thyself.

locumranch said...



Yes, indeed. My 'proven conservative past is nothing more than the succession of progressive improvements'. That's what 'conservatism' is, btw, the preservation of the valued metaphorical baby when the time comes to discard the soiled bathwater.

A very effective rant overall, especially when delivered by a person who attempts to describe Frequency Units in terms of 'CIRCLES per second': Ignorance 'Hertz', don't it?.

Stay in school.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

That's what 'conservatism' is, btw, the preservation of the valued metaphorical baby when the time comes to discard the soiled bathwater.


That's what conservatism should be. You, like most modern conservatives, can't distinguish the baby from the bathwater. You either think "keeping" is a good thing or else that "discarding" is a good thing, and apply the favored verb to baby and bathwater alike.


A very effective rant overall, especially when delivered by a person who attempts to describe Frequency Units in terms of 'CIRCLES per second'


Reducto ad absurdum. For the next time you try to parse terms along the lines of "'Civilization' only refers to cities!"


Stay in school.


I wish! That's where most of the hot chicks are.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan,

I was thinking more along the lines of how we would game such a system. I’ve heard y’all are nicer people than we are when it comes to defending useful social institutions, so I’m looking at ways some of us would abuse it all. We are a collection of about 10 cultures loosely grouped in a couple of large sets and some of us have axes to grind and wouldn’t mind harming an institution to get at the group they think wronged them.

I’ve no doubt the morally correct thing to do is to set up something like your ACC and a big national health system that ensures at least basic needs are met for each citizen. At the risk of losing my libertarian registration card, I’d even be willing to pay into such a system. It would be an extension of my moral obligation to ensure my neighbors don’t starve or die of some other thing I could have taken reasonable steps to avoid. I don’t doubt it is the morally correct thing to do. I doubt that I know how to do it in such a large and heterogeneous system we have. Fortunately, I don’t have to know how. My job as a member of this civilization is to act on what I DO know and trust in the slow evolutionary process that I know will eventually work.

I am coming around to an argument for more government intervention, though, and the thought comes from one of Piketty’s* points. It isn’t the one he suggests, but it IS about the mismatch between the rate of return on capital and the growth rate. The fertility rate came down as women began to believe their children would survive to have children of their own. What would drive down the interest rate on capital in an analogous way? Taxing is still a form of punishment for a high savings rate, but why do we save and then demand high returns on our savings? Could it be that we lack confidence in our own survival needs? If I worry about paying medical bills or putting food on the table for my family, does that drive a demand for a high rate of return on my savings? If so, a bit more financial security could help trim ‘r’ through competitive market forces. Hmm. It is an idea that would support your ACC and a UBI.

*There are some technical flaws in Piketty's book, but it is still interesting. I'm near the end of part two.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | Aw man. I assure you I don't eat babies. I'm just an old-school liberal that your kind pushed aside about three generations ago.

It's not that government never works. It's that government isn't the magic unicorn some of you would like to believe. It doesn't do what many of you think it does. It cannot do what many of you would like to believe it can. It CAN do useful things, though, and I can admit that at the risk of annoying my libertarian friends.

Alfred Differ said...

@Locumranch | Sinusoidal function are essentially the same as functions on a circle. Look up the definition of sin(angle) if you don’t believe me. In a circular geometry, the angle between two lines can be larger than 360 degrees. How many degrees does the second hand on a clock sweep out in one minute? Two minutes? 60 minutes? Map the angular parameter to a line and you get a sinusoid.

This isn’t mathematical nitpicking. To a bunch of science trained people, a cyclic history theory is worse than nonsense. It is an attractive bit of propaganda with a history of trapping the imaginations of otherwise creative people. It is like the arrival of a flea bearing a nasty parasite. You just KNOW people are going to be coughing up blood soon.

You are attached to a particular loathsome ethic that holds us to the great feudal attractor, so I’m going to skip over some of what you said. I don’t have the energy to deal with it right now.

Robert said...

What I find pathetic is Locu's claim of "Oh, I'm all for abortion! Retroactive." because he fucked up and married someone who was not suited for him, and now has to pay money to help support that woman. BTW, Locu. Alimony is a conservative artifact that doesn't really work in a modern feminist society which sees women as being able to care for themselves and work and have a job. You're hating the very thing that would free you from alimony.

Of course since alimony goes to women, it just goes to show you hate women - thus feminism and alimony (despite being contrary to one another) are to be despised because both are associated with women.

My personal suspicion is that you are actually against abortion as well but chose to claim not to be so you could make your crude pathetic little aborted attempt at humor. Well, don't quit your day job.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

why do we save and then demand high returns on our savings? Could it be that we lack confidence in our own survival needs? If I worry about paying medical bills or putting food on the table for my family, does that drive a demand for a high rate of return on my savings? If so, a bit more financial security could help trim ‘r’ through competitive market forces.


That there is an argument for universal health coverage which does not rely on morality or compassion. The former-congressman Joe Walsh approach--that if someone has an expensive malady, he should have saved more money or gotten a job with better health coverage, and that he (the rich bystander) is under no obligation to help--is unsustainable. Everyone can't sock three or four million dollars away in case of emergency, and if they could, it would take way too much value out of circulation. Universal coverage means the tax-supported treasury pays the bills for those who need the service, so that everyone doesn't have to live as if they might be the one needing it.

Tangentially, there's something pathological about the super-wealthy needing to wall off more and more of the money for their own selves. I remember a decade or so back when one of the big lotteries had a $500 million jackpot. In my fantasy of winning, I figured I'd do as follows: First, just write off approximately two-thirds of the money as going to federal and state taxes. Never mind figuring out how to shelter it--just pay the damn tax. That leaves me about $150 million after tax. I figured there were five people to whom I would just give $10 million apiece as a gift. That leaves me $100 million. I would not be looking to invest that money for high risk/reward, but rather for principal conservation--metaphorically (or maybe literally) burying it in the back yard. At a generous 50 years to live, I'd ration spending to $2 million a year and be happy as a pig in shit. Why would I need anything more?

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

It's not that government never works. It's that government isn't the magic unicorn some of you would like to believe. It doesn't do what many of you think it does. It cannot do what many of you would like to believe it can. It CAN do useful things, though, and I can admit that at the risk of annoying my libertarian friends.


What government does--at least in a functioning democracy--is to manage the commons. Government can do things that fall into that category. It can't do things that fall outside of that category, at least not well.

The devil is in the details of what falls into "the commons". In 2017, access to electricity and even internet connectivity would seem to fit, even though the latter would not have seemed so in 1990, nor the former in 1890. Health care, at least certain kinds of health care, would seem to be in the process of becoming so defined.

Berial said...

@LarryHart
I think I've heard of something called the 4% rule which basically boils down to, "Since the average investment returns 7% over time, if you only take out 4% of your principal per year there is something approaching a 90+% chance that you'll NEVER run out of retirement to live on."

But I'm not a sophisticated investor and could definitely be very wrong on that. Just something I've heard.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

BTW, Locu. Alimony is a conservative artifact that doesn't really work in a modern feminist society which sees women as being able to care for themselves and work and have a job. You're hating the very thing that would free you from alimony.


Well, to be fair, abortion would have freed him from child support, not alimony. They are different things, (though not entirely opposite things).

David Brin said...

“The 'Cyclic' in the 'Cyclic History Model' refers to the ups & downs of a sinusoidal function (NOT a 'circle') and it has been proven over & over”

LIAR! Big fat total and complete-absolute liar. I look you in the eye sir and demand that you show this “proof” — other than some kook’s assertion-rife rant. Spengler? Har! Toynbee and every modern historian calls it utter hogwash.

“(1) That the fossil fuel-based economy is irredeemably evil (because CC) even though it has given humanity unprecedented historical prosperity;”

Fool. Everyone knows that fossil fuels were our bridge to industrialization. I don’t hate them, I am grateful for the boost! But it is now time to break the habit and move on to the next phase, or this gift will kill us.

“(2) That the success of US Space program was only made possible by the exploitation of certain morally-superior minorities [Hidden Figures];”

ANECDOTE RESENTMENT! Sure the movie oversimplified to correct an injustice and to inspire girls and minorities into science. Your paranoid reaction is just loopy

All the rest is loopy, too. Especially as the US military officer corps flees almost en masse to the Democratic Party.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Robert said...

Larry, he specifically stated "alimony" - he wants to retroactively abort *cough*murder*cough* his ex-wife, in other words. Oh wait. He was joking. Of course. Right. I've always found that sort of joke... isn't.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | (again again) {Le Muppets}

Regarding your examples, I’m not arguing for a divorce between private and public interests. I’m a fan of antibiotics, planetary space flight, and lots of other things that involve a combination of the two. If you think the government created the value we have received from penicillin, though, you are sadly mistaken. During Act One the government and academia were heavily involved. By the time Act Three was underway, though, it was out among the rest of us and private interests drove the innovations. The real value, of course, is indirect. Many of us are alive and capable of creating other innovations as a result of its discovery and production.

This stuff is hard to describe without a common background for us. If you don’t follow the three act stage play analogy I use (I learned it from McCloskey), then it is hard to track the value being created and the point of the slow approach. Act One is easy to see for pretty much everyone because it is so flashy and compact. Act Two is obvious to anyone who has ever innovated because that’s when they feel like their competitors are stealing everything. Others don’t usually notice it unless they appreciate knock-off products and services. Act Three is hard to watch because the stage for it is so huge. Everyone is involved.

- Child labor laws, the 40-hour week ...

Heh. You’ve got things backward. We introduced those after we got rich enough to want to put an end to sacrificing ourselves and our children to our financial interests. Before we got rich enough, we were subsistence living anyway, so anything was better that once-per-decade famines. We came around to the notion that such things were immoral when the memory of famines faded and THEN used government to enforce the social rules. WE moved first… not governments.

markets make monopolies that crush free, fair and flat markets

This will sound like I’m nit picking, but No. People do that. Some people do that. Markets do not. Markets aren’t coordinated enough to do that. Markets are the eco-system in which monopolies can grow, but they also support other kinds of life.

obsessing over the idea that people are just jealous …and ….The issue is the damage that some - not all - rich, ruthless business people do to other people.

It’s not really an obsession. It’s a concern that some are jealous and convince others that it is the morally correct thing to do. Others rationalize re-distribution. Even our host does it to some degree. I get that some ruthless people are harming others, but the harm they do is small compared to the harm the remedy could do. The harm they do isn’t small in the absolute sense, but if you don’t pay attention to the harm the remedy does, you don’t have the right context. Try to recall the harm people thought the markets caused when the Depression occurred. So much misery. Their remedy involved command economies. So MUCH MORE misery ensued and millions died. How about I offer to support the breaking of patents for gougers instead? I’m already inclined to do so regarding companies who hoard patents to stop innovation.

Alfred Differ said...

oops. I'll post that forward.

David Brin said...

Okay, keep talking here, if you guys like. But I have moved...

...onward