The Watering Hole, Monday, May 9th, 2016: Are We There Yet?

Here’s two (well, sort of – you’ll see what I mean) predictions about frightening futures, which we seem to be fulfilling here in the largest superpower on the planet.

First, an interesting article entitled “Neil Postman Predicted Trumpocalypse 30 Years Ago”, by Dr. Richard D. Land at the Christian Post. Dr. Land discusses a 1985 book by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves to Death. Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. An excerpt:

Postman started off his book by contrasting the two most dystopian visions of modern civilization’s future, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932).
Postman’s contrast of the two dystopian visions of the future is chilling:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies . . .”

The Internet has changed the basic DNA of our culture, including our social and personal relationships and our information access. It has radically democratized communication, while at the same time condemning any effective editorial or verifying filter as the unwelcome control of a hated elite. Consequently, we are being engulfed not only in a sea of moral relativism, but information relativism as well. The immersion of our culture in Internet speak has brought us perilously close to a denial, if not a revocation of the late, great, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s statement that “you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Now, opinions too often masquerade as facts, and fewer and fewer know the difference and increasingly fewer care.

As Postman pointed out, Huxley was trying to warn the future “that what afflicted people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now a more pithy prediction in a similar vein, from Carl Sagan’s 1996 “The Demon-Haunted World”:
sagan hauntedHave we arrived at any – or all of – these future visions?

This is our daily Open Thread – you know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 29th, 2014: Intelligent Life…Please?

Although I’ve only been back online since the beginning of the weekend (my home computer crashed early last week, and access from the office was hit-or-miss, too), my search for intelligent life in American politics found little. So for today’s post I’m turning to the infinite wonder and majesty of “space, the final frontier”, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, there could be a civilization out there that isn’t aiming to destroy itself through its own arrogant stupidity.

The following are just a few of the more recent Hubble Deep-Space images from a photo gallery that I found at space.com:

"All-sky-view of Magellanic Stream"

“All-sky-view of Magellanic Stream”

"A Selection of Hubble's planetary nebulae"

“A Selection of Hubble’s planetary nebulae”

"...two galaxies interacting. NGC 2936, once a standard spiral galaxy, and NGC 2937, a smaller elliptical, bear a striking resemblance to a penguin guarding its egg."

“…two galaxies interacting. NGC 2936, once a standard spiral galaxy, and NGC 2937, a smaller elliptical, bear a striking resemblance to a penguin guarding its egg.”

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss intelligence, life, whatever you want.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 8th: There’s Someplace Like Home?

Kepler-22b

Kepler-22-b - "Goldilocks" Planet? (Artist's rendering provided by NASA)

Nasa’s Kepler telescope, whose specific mission is to explore strange new worlds – er, uh, to seek out possible Earth-like planets, has already discovered more than 1000 new exoplanets (outside of our solar system.) One planet, which made news earlier this year, was dubbed “Tatooine”, as it revolves around twin suns. The Planet Habitability Laboratory has an online catalogue of such discoveries, and a current update now lists Kepler-22-b, featured as part of the First Kepler Scientific Conference.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the popular astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, had met the team of NASA scientists at Ames Research Center earlier this week. In an interview with The Weather Channel, Dr. Tyson stated that Kepler-22-b “is the first Earth-like planet in a Goldilocks zone around a sun-like star. This one hits a check in every box.” Exciting news, indeed. Unfortunately, Kepler-22-b is 600 light-years from Earth, and as Dr. Tyson says, “The fastest spacecraft we have ever launched would take 50,000 years to get to Kepler-22b.”  When asked in The Weather Channel interview, “Given the population explosion and impact on the environment, would inhabiting another planet give humankind a chance to start over?“, Dr. Tyson responded:

“After we mess up this planet go move to another one? If you had the power to move to another planet then you’ve got the power to fix your own planet. I’m much more in favor of thinking of other planets as a place to expand to, not a place to escape to because we’ve trashed Earth…don’t think of it as an escape hatch.”

Damn! I was really hoping that the science of cryogenics might advance enough within my lifetime that I could be frozen, then sent to Kepler-22-b and thawed in order to request political asylum from any ‘overlords’ there may be on this possible new home.

The Watering Hole: November 5 – Then and Now

Then

The Marshall Plan or the European Recovery Program (ERP) was the large-scale American program to aid Europe in which the United States (US) gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of WWII in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism.

The monies involved were $13 million in US aid (5% of US GDP, a drop in the bucket!) on top of $12 billion in American aid already spent in Europe up to that time.. The monies provided were eventually returned to the United States. In addition, Germany also repaid 16 billion marks of debts from the 1920s which had defaulted in the 1930s, but which Germany decided to repay to restore its reputation.

Former enemies as well as allies were recipients of this aid.

At that time, the US economy was, by far, the most powerful in the world.

During the Eisenhower(R?) administration the Interstate Highway System began as a military asset, but made it was available to every American.

This describes post-war America through the 1950s.

The United States put men on the moon in July 1969. The rescue of the crew in the Apollo 13 mission riveted the world in 1971. The rapid response to a potentially fatal outcome was diverted by United States’ can-do attitude and technological prowess.

The Space Shuttle was first launched in 1981, a heavy lift vehicle that has never been matched. It served for 30 years. It was used to assemble the International Space Station as well as deploy and repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

The collapse of the USSR between January 19, 1990 and December 31, 1991 left the United States as the sole major power on earth.

Now

From then on, the United States has rested on its laurels. Tax revenues from corporations and the rich have been pared to the bone. The Iraqi invasion and occupation has depleted the national treasury simply because there were no “matching funds”. The nation was trying to drive a Lamborghini on a burger flipper’s salary. The solution was to slash entitlement and infrastructure programs which had served the nation very well since the mid 1930s.

Now China has been asked for assistance by European for assistance in support of the economic collapse resulting from weak economies in Greece, Italy and Spain. The US is in a position where it cannot help – the dollar is weak and US manufacturing is struggling at best! And China rebuffed the request until Europe gets its house in order.

Just this week, mainland China demonstrated a first step towards development of its own space station which when completed be truly international – available to all nations (There are nations denied access to the “International” Space Station.).

China is starting the development of naval airpower and stealth aircraft.

China is in the process of becoming a world power in solar energy conversion using either steam or silicon.

This is our Open Thread. Now how did we get into this fine kettle of fish?

The Watering Hole: October 29 – Old Vs. New

The TRF receiver was patented in 1916 by Ernst Alexanderson. His concept was that each stage would amplify the desired signal while reducing the interfering ones.

In the preceding circuit diagram, each of those circular things is a vacuum tube, each about the size of a reddi-whip can and each needs the equivalent of 16 watts of power. Add to that the power supplies and amplifiers, the total comes to about 160 watts. The total size was about that of a dorm fridge.

Now with integrated circuits, the total draw of a TRF system comes to about .46 watts in a package that contains but one 14 (7 in-line) terminal IC, one four terminal IC power amp and six passive components. The total size was about that of a deck of cards. The circuit is not that much different from the old:

The first diagram illustrates the world when I was born and the second, the state of the art 40 years ago. I was 30 in 1971- do you believe there have been changes since then?

This is our Open Thread. How do you think technology has changed since you were born? Remember that the Apple II, the first genuine home computer, was introduced on April 16, 1977.