I’d buy that for a dollar!

Your wallpaper could soon be an HD display
http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/30/technology/microsoft-vx-display/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

Like that deleted scene in Avatar (available on the extended version), at some point in the not-too-distant-future we will have the ability to have an HD screen the size of our wall for a trivial cost. The screen will double as your computer ‘net interface, video phone, etc. Once they _finally_ work out the problems in OLEDs and make them huge and affordable, then the control issue this article discusses will finally be relevant.

I can’t wait!

A depressing, but important read…

Plutocratic vistas: America’s crisis of democracy
Is the present American national legislature an “exact transcript of the whole society”?
http://www.salon.com/2012/07/30/plutocratic_vistas_salpart/

This is really interesting in its historical perspective. I talked earlier about the elite ‘conspiracy’ to rule the world, some of the historical quotes makes it plain that success came long ago.

The article talks about an interesting approach to a representative government, draw lots from eligible voters:

How would sortition work? Fortunately, there is a blueprint to hand: a short book called A Citizen Legislature by Ernest Callenbach (author of Ecotopia, one of the finest utopian novels ever written) and Michael Phillips. The process is not complicated. Every county in America maintains a list of prospective jurors. Combine these lists in one national master list, and a computer may easily be programmed to choose a random sample of 435 (the size of the present House of Representatives).

I would go with the much more historically realistic number of 10,000 for the House, though.

Of course, it is depressing when one thinks about how long the oligarchy (elite) has been in total control of our government. I suppose that the combination of the stock market crash, depression AND World War II was needed to weaken their power enough to get the dribs and drabs of social safety net that was put in place (only tiny shreds of that meager safety net remain and while I abhor Obama, I am convinced that if Romney is put in charge he will work diligently to strip the last remaining cobwebs).

More police state

Extremism normalized
How Americans are efficiently trained to acquiesce to ideas once deemed so radical as to be unthinkable
http://www.salon.com/2012/07/31/extremism_normalized/

Regular reader(s) will no doubt be well aware of my thoughts on our police state. I haven’t had a lot to say on it recently not because there was nothing to say (quite the contrary!) but because I get tired of typing the same thing over and over and over again. Glenn’s article, though, does a fine job of summarizing how far down the path to Nazism we have traveled already. This quote is particularly interesting:

After Dick Cheney criticized John McCain this weekend for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, this was McCain’s retort:

Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have.

Of course Cheney’s book is nothing but an admission of guilt in engaging in unconstitutional (hence illegal) activities, yet he goes on book tours and makes millions going on about the laws he broke. Isn’t America great? It allows rich and powerful people to do whatever they please and to hell with the rest of the population! Unlike in Germany, there has been no beer hall putsch created out of an economic depression, instead, all of this has been done by and for elected officials in their expected capacity (though we are in an economic depression, it has had nothing to do with the re-purposing of our government against its people). Oh, and the Jews are not being persecuted this time, it is the Muslims instead. The number of parallels are quite eery as is the path our government is taking.

I will note, however, that at the time I was surprised (and gratified) that Bush/Cheney didn’t invoke some sort of scandal or terrorist action as excuse to declare marshal law to keep Obama out of office, but now I see that Obama is just a darker-skinned version of Bush/Cheney so continuity was assured. It is quite clear to me that Romney is no different from Obama (or Bush/Cheney), so our idiotic path following Nazism will be unperturbed no matter who wins in November.

Please read the rest of Glenn’s article, it has several other quite eye opening passages. Eye opening in the sense that today they barely qualify as news at all, which is really terrifying.

Survival of the non-stupid

Distracted pedestrians stumble into danger
http://online.wsj.com/article/AP50e3f5f32487449299f8201a13bd4ad5.html

Personally I think our gene pool needs a bit of scrubbing, so losing some of these people would be a fine thing for me. However, since that won’t be allowed, creating no-texting-while-walking laws are just as idiotic as no-texting-while-driving laws, we don’t need more laws, we need uniform enforcement of our existing laws. Distracted driving is already illegal and I bet there are laws on the book that have something to do with barging out into traffic without looking. If someone isn’t paying attention and walks into someone else, isn’t that the same as assault? Of course our ‘justice’ system is famous for its non-uniform application, so all this ranting is for naught.

This made me chortle so much I was worried my co-workers would think I was having a seizure (particularly the last)…

The cases include a 24-year-old woman who walked into a telephone pole while texting; a 28-year-old man who was walking along a road when he fell into a ditch while talking on a cellphone; a 12-year-old boy who was looking at a video game when he was clipped by a pickup truck as he crossed the street; and a 53-year-old woman who fell off a curb while texting and lacerated her face.

One 67-year-old man walking along the side of a road was hit a by a bicyclist who was talking on a cellphone as he rode. The pedestrian injured a knee.

Not sure how I feel…

Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem
Charles Murray examines the cloud now hanging over American business—and what today’s capitalists can do about it.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443931404577549223178294822.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

I got no idea who this Charles Murray guy is and am more than a bit dubious when the tag at the end of his article is this:

Mr. Murray is the author of “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” and the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Having said that, there are some interesting elements in it. Just as democracy has proven to be a terrible form of government (but better than all the other alternatives) (paraphrased from Winston Churchill), capitalism is probably a horrible means of distributing society’s wealth, just more effective than any other. I do not now believe that unbridled capitalism is ever a good thing (I did think that as a youth, though), I think that constraints need to be put on to keep things from getting to the point where it does more harm to society than it benefits (today is a _perfect_ example of capitalism run amok). For example, the author complains about EPA, OSHA, etc. workplace regulations and how meeting them provides a barrier to entry for smaller organization and thus should be done away with. I consider that argument flatly wrong, (many of) those regulations were put in place to keep workers safe from the excesses of capitalism (e.g., cutting safety corners to maximize profit). If a new entrepreneur can’t find a way to compete in a given regulatory environment, then she should direct her attentions elsewhere. I agree very much, however, with the author’s assertions that our current system is out of control and incapable of benefiting society, but I don’t think the answer is to get rid of the system. Our system is corrupt, that is no doubt, so eliminate the corruption, not the system.

I won’t drone on about this article; I flip flop back and forth liking and hating it. I do, though, think it is something that might interest my reader(s), so wanted to post it here for your consideration.

Brain freeze

The Brain Set Free
Lifting neural constraints could turn back time, making way for youthful flexibility
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/342559/title/The_Brain_Set_Free

It is interesting to me that it might be practical to ‘soften’ the brain a bit to allow for learning complex new subject such as languages. I suspect that this ‘hardening’ process would be a survival characteristic as you need maximal decision making capability when a predator is striking and any sort of fuzzy thinking at that point would be highly counter productive. However, that was then, this is now, and I can see a huge value in allowing the hardened brains of adults to be softened enough to pick up new information (and I am not just talking about the Tea Party ;-)). In particular, given our much longer (on average) lives and our currently rapidly changing society (prior to a century or so ago, little was expected to change in the average lifetime), it might be a huge value to society to allow people in their more mature years to more easily grasp new knowledge. Brain retraining might become something routine, like an oil change for your car.

I have tried to learn a couple of languages (Mandarin and Tagalog most recently, Latin and French whilst in high school) and find/found it very difficult. I can memorize words and some phrases, but find that I am nearly incapable without context. I bet if I could ‘soften’ my brain for a while I might be able to easily become fluent, but as things stand now I doubt I will ever do much.

So obvious to me

GDP likely slowed without strong consumer spending
http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/25/news/economy/GDP-consumer-spending/index.htm?hpt=hp_t2

This is what happens when a strong (financially) government elects to engage in austerity during an economic downturn. The downturn goes on and on and on and on and growth, if there is any measurable, is anemic. The article mentions the chicken-and-egg issue of poor consumer spending keeping wages and jobs down leading to poor consumer spending, round and round she goes. To me the obvious solution is to take the investor dollars being pushed on us (on the U.S., of course, no one wants to give money to ordinary people!) at such low rates that it is below inflation and spend it on fixing our dilapidated infrastructure. That not only provides a HUGE tangible investment (irrespective of any inevitable growth in tax revenues which would likely trivially be able to pay the loans back) with a payback going decades into the future, but it gives a huge shot in the arm to our economy by reducing unemployment and increasing average wages, thus providing the kick to consumer spending that would reverse this negative spiral.

Of course, since we don’t have any economists in our government (just con-artists with law degrees (yet have never even been lawyers in most cases!)) and nearly all are elected by tiny groups of people that are often living in fantasies, instead we have gridlock and dangerous, idiotic games with shutting down government or threatening to stop paying our bills.

I am not sure why I wrote this post, just thinking about the subject makes me depressed and hopeless…

This seals the deal

Romney in Piers Morgan interview: Stop attacking success
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/26/romney-in-piers-morgan-interview-stop-attacking-success/?hpt=hp_c2

I am now committed to voting for Obama (as much as I detest him; I think I would rather have voted for Ron Paul (and I detest him as well)). I now clearly see Romney as the worse evil and as bad as Obama has been for our country I am now convinced that Romney will be worse. The man seems constitutionally incapable of viewing society from any other viewpoint than that of inherited wealth. Well, we can’t all inherit wealth and _someone_ has to work for a living. The article is worth reading entire (as, I suppose, viewing the whole interview), but I copied a couple here for brief discussion…

“Dividing America based on who has money and who hasn’t – who is successful and who is less successful… That is not the American way,” Romney said.

Quite interesting coming from the mouth of someone who is rich because he was born to the right parents and attended the right schools. America has always been divided between those who live large without having to ever lift a finger and those who have to work like hell just to have something to eat at the end of the day (and let us not forget the shrinking middle class that now has to have two incomes just to keep the lights on, let alone plan for retirement). There has always been class in America (like essentially everywhere else in the world, one of the reasons why communism is so quick to devolve into a dictatorship), the difference here has (at least until recently) there was vertical mobility. Vertical mobility, of course, goes both ways, but, as I discuss earlier, the rich are incentivized _against_ vertical mobility because it means they risk losing their wealth. Romney is _clearly_ someone who is intent on blocking vertical mobility and this idiotic blather about ‘dividing America’ is pure and simple smoke screen for the Tea Party idiots and all about maintaining hard class lines and eliminating vertical mobility.

“I heard Marco Rubio the other day, he said, ‘You know, we were poor living in Miami, we saw these big homes across town…my parents never said to us, gee why don’t those people give to us some of what they have. They said instead, aren’t we lucky to live in a country where with education and hard work we might be able to achieve that ourselves’.”

Yeah, except that today, education means a lifetime(!) of student loan payments (I am still making mine and expect to continue for a decade, at least) and and you can’t work hard if you can’t get a damn job! The ‘American dream’ has been lost for at least a whole generation and guess what? That loss came to benefit the already rich and powerful! The rich get richer and everyone else gets poorer and that is all the rich care about.

[Regarding gun control] “The real point has to relate to individuals that are deranged and distressed and to find them, to help them and to keep them from carrying out terrible acts,”

Except the GOP wants to cut the last few shreds of the social safety net that used to help treat ‘deranged and distressed’ that either keep them off the street or help them keep from hurting themselves and others. Now, had the blowhard followed up this statement with “and I am proposing we channel billions of dollars into treatments for the ‘deranged and distressed’, then he might have earned himself some points.

So, to conclude: Obama in ’12! At least he gives you lube when he fucks you!

Sudden melt

NASA: Strange and sudden massive melt in Greenland
The abnormally warm weather is causing meltdowns even in Greenland’s highest and coldest places
http://www.salon.com/2012/07/25/nasa_strange_and_sudden_massive_melt_in_greenland/

I read this yesterday but wasn’t motivated to post at the time. To me this is just a natural variation in weather and climate and essentially meaningless in the global scale. Since I am a global warming skeptic (well, I _am_ skeptical that we need to destroy our society in order to ‘save’ it from human influenced global warming) naturally I more or less ignored the hysterical elements of the article and was just interested in the science.

Today I find this rather interesting, amazingly non-hysterical article on Fox:

Skeptics put the freeze on NASA ‘hot air’ about Greenland ice
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/07/26/skeptics-put-freeze-on-nasa-hot-air-about-greenland-ice/

The title is the most hysterical part of the article; it seems well written to me (I guess, just like the WSJ, occasionally, likely by accident, something gets written and published that isn’t horribly slanted or outright lies). It was this second article that motivated me to post. Just like I got interested when I saw the epigenetic adaptation of fish to higher temps.