30 December 2015
25 December 2015
20 December 2015
- The current regime of production and exploitation of resources and people by and for elites is unsustainable and if not changed will result in the collapse of advanced civilization on Earth (a not unlikely outcome).
- This is true in broad outlines everywhere.
- Where cultures do achieve success and longevity, and become true spacefaring civilizations (leave aside for the moment whether quasi-magical technology is possible; Banks obviously chose to adopt that, since it makes the stories more fun)... they are necessarily economies of abundance, where scarcity is not a driving factor and people can pretty much have what they want; possession and control of resources stops being the primary motivating factor in the existence of the "people." (Who may or may not be human).
- A fairly obvious and consistent kind of overarching morality is a necessary element in all that.
- "Flesh sentients" ultimately aren't as good at balancing all these factors and making good decisions as AIs, so AIs end up running the place.
18 December 2015
From: Carl Gibson <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 6:09 PM
Subject: Almost 250,000 signatures demanding the DNC return Bernie's voter file!
Thank you SO much for signing the petition to Debbie Wasserman Schultz demanding the DNC restore the Sanders campaign's access to the voter database. We're on the verge of a quarter million signatures in under 24 hours thanks to your signing and sharing this critically-important petition.
Our goal is to reach 500,000 signatures before tomorrow night's Democratic debate to send a strong message to the DNC that we won't tolerate their sabotage of the Sanders campaign. Please share this link with all of your friends to help us reach our goal:
If the DNC refuses to reverse their decision to cut the Sanders campaign off from their own data this weekend, we'll deliver all of the signatures to the DNC offices on Monday morning.
Thanks for everything you've done so far!
This message was sent to David Studhalter by Carl Gibson through MoveOn's public petition website. MoveOn Political Action licensed and paid for this service, but does not endorse contents of this message. To unsubscribe or report this email as inappropriate, click here: http://petitions.moveon.org/unsub.html?i=32323-14160954-h6aO7Q
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14 December 2015
07 December 2015
I worry that, although in reality terrorism, awful as it is, simply is NOT an existential threat to the US, it will end up highjacking our whole political climate, AGAIN, and remove the focus from critical issues like income inequality, oligarchic control and and power of money in politics, infrastructure investment, universal health care, and, the real biggie, the REAL existential threat, conversion to a renewable energy future so we have a livable planet as the century progresses.
04 December 2015
23 November 2015
14 November 2015
13 November 2015
I do not appreciate, being asked to provide a credit card and told a totally incorrect probable patient responsibility amount, and I invariably refuse this request, although it is asked in such a way that many unsuspecting clients may not realize that they are under no legal obligation to comply. My insurance is supposed to pay for diagnostic tests in full but there is usually some amount you people claim I owe you, which indicates that you are charging more than a reasonable and customary amount (not to mention that the practice of charging uninsured patients far more is tantamount to profiteering but is apparently legal, due to a failure of regulation on Federal and State levels). Further, the estimated amount is never correct or even close (the amount they state is usually many hundreds of percent of the actual residual charge). Moreover, I do not and will not give out a credit card to be billed an unknown amount at any time and you should not be asking patients to do this.
It is my firm belief that all health care should be provided on a non-profit basis and therefore companies like Quest are, in my opinion, profiteering rackets which should, by rights, be illegal. In the future, we will eventually reach a consensus that health care is a right, not a privilege, and that profiteering on health care is deeply immoral and unacceptable in a civilized society. At that time, we will look back on operations such as yours the way we look back today on child labor sweatshops of the early 20th century: vestiges of an age of barbarism when activity which is clearly criminal in nature was tolerated.
12 November 2015
Ian Masters reported on Veterans Day about the alarming practice of categorizing wounded soldiers as having personality disorder, rather than PTSD or other effects from injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton should come out strongly in favor of ending the practice of categorizing personality disorder as an ineligible condition for continued medical care for veterans. It is absolutely scandalous that this country is turning people out with a fake diagnosis of mental illness, and refusing them the medical care that they need. To add insult to injury, some of these veterans are even being required to rebate part of their signing bonus, because they are being discharged with a fake mental illness. This reminds me of the practice of the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution of billing families for the bullet used to execute their family member. I am ashamed of my country that this is going on.
07 November 2015
Him: "They're all nuts."
Me: "Seriously. What do you really think of them?"
Him: "I just told you. They're bonkers. Bizarre. They're like a Star Wars bar room."
Me: "How did it happen? How did your party manage to come up with this collection?"
Him: "We didn't. They came up with themselves. There's no party any more. It's chaos. Anybody can just decide they want to be the Republican nominee, and make a run for it. Carson? Trump? They're in the lead, and they're both out of their f*cking minds."
Me: "That's not reassuring."
Him: "It's a disaster. I'm telling you, if either of them is elected, this country is going to hell. The rest of them aren't much better. I mean, Carly Fiorina? Really? Rubio? Please. Ted Cruz? Oh my god. And the people we thought had it sewn up, who are halfway sane — Bush and Christie — they're sounding almost as batty as the rest."
Me: "Who's to blame for this mess?"
Him: "Roger Ailes, David and Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh. I could go on. They've poisoned the American mind and destroyed the Republican Party.
The following is Washington Monthly weekend blogger, Nancy LeTourneau's comment: "Wow! One has to wonder how many more there are out there like this guy. Too bad he doesn't have the courage to say all that publicly. But that probably wouldn't make much difference anyway."
06 November 2015
Here is my characteristically grumpy response (Warning: of no interest to people who don't think long term and have an interest in the future of humanity at the longest time scales).
This was fairly interesting, although in terms of giving any real indication that it will ever be possible to move ordinary matter (such as human beings) at superluminal speeds, I'd say, pretty much: zippo. Glashow was the most conservative, but there's really nothing any of them said that indicates there's any reason to believe physics will ever open that door.
I'm not troubled by that. It is apparent to me, speaking quasi-teleologically, that the universe is organized in such a way that the great leap, on the scale of the bodies of, and in terms of distances accessible to, naturally evolved beings and their artificial civilizations, is the relatively great distances between stars. The inferrable fact that these distances are bridgeable at all only with difficulty, and that they will never be bridgeable casually, in spans of time short in comparison to the "attention span" of such natural beings, has two major implications: there is a strong natural incentive to achieve long term sustainability, balance and efficient resource utilization within star systems, and the universe is not likely to be overrun by extremely advanced civilizations that plow through the field and destroy the opportunities for unique evolution in many disparate locales. Essentially, physics, and therefore economics, favors staying home and cultivating one's own star-system garden, and maybe colonizing slowly nearby stars. Galaxy-spanning empires are just too expensive and impractical to be worth pursuing. In general.
Another possible implication is that either in the future, or elsewhere already, it is probably transcendent organisms, possibly of artificial origin, that have the capacity to exist for extremely long periods of time, that will or already have the ability to practically travel among the stars. That this is not apparent indicates to me that it happens either rarely, or that, in this comparatively young universe, it has not yet become common.
Note that that doesn't refer to slow colonization of other stars, and slow spread of civilization, which I believe is possible for our kind, or beings much like us, without much enhancement or modification through intentional artificial evolution. The evidence (peace to theories to the contrary) that visitation to the Earth by other life has either not occurred (my view), or, at minimum, has been exceedingly rare (no more than which I believe the evidence allows), suggests that even this does not commonly occur in the wider universe, since, for reasons we've discussed several times before, if civilizations were common that 1) were able to sustainably begin a program of even subluminal speed colonization, and 2) were able to survive and prosecute such a program for at least hundreds of thousands of years or more, we would almost certainly already know about them, because any such civilization could colonize an entire galaxy in a period of time short in relation to the period of time that habitable worlds, and thus, probably, life, have existed in any given galaxy. And as far as we can see, and that's actually rather a lot (I cite Kepler and the "absence of evidence" from SETI), this has not happened in our Galaxy and probably not in any nearby galaxy (since even a civilization of that level of advancement would probably leave evidence of mega-engineering that would be detectable at prodigious distances).
I admit I have very definite views on this subject, which I find endlessly fascinating. I am a little intolerant of speculation that doesn't address the issues. That's one of the things I dislike about a lot of science fiction. Somehow if it just drops all pretense and posits magic (hyperspace drive or whatever), that's preferable to when it pretends to address the implications of the actual limits of physical reality, but then just ignores the objections. Most "wormhole" stuff in science fiction, for example, is just nonsense, because it completely ignores well-known effects of General Relativity.
27 October 2015
Everyone can make their own judgments, of course. That's democracy. As for me, I am working for the nomination and election of Bernie Sanders. But if he is not the nominee, I am realistic. We have a completely bipolar system in this country. The nominee of one of the two "main" parties is always elected president. Ask President Gore about the 200,000 wasted votes for Nader in Florida in 2000, and how that "protest vote" affected his election to the presidency. So, I for one will follow Bernie Sanders's stated preferences, if it comes to that, and VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE in November 2016, whether it's Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or (conceivably but highly unlikely) someone else.
26 October 2015
Universal health care, many Americans do not know, started in Canada a Saskatchewan provincial law (in 1946; primarily as a response to a shortage of doctors, although it's hardly a coincidence that the NHS in Britain dates from around the same time). Only later was it adopted by the nation as a whole.
America is a more difficult case, because the health insurance industry is so deeply entrenched in a for-profit high-marketing expense model, and is already regulated, for better or worse, heavily, on a Federal level (not particularly for the benefit of consumers, but it is regulated). This makes it really hard for states, especially smaller states, to institute truly universal health care for their own citizens.
What is clearly needed is to amend the ACA to allow more robust negotiation, especially with regard to pharmaceuticals, incentivize and later require health providers to be non-profit, and ditto insurance providers, and, most importantly, 1) enhance Medicare so that for its enrollees it is a true universal health care system, like Australia's or Taiwan's... AND.... 2) offer it, in addition to its current aged-and-disabled enrollee elibility class, as a premium-based PUBLIC OPTION to everyone, and FREE to children. This should be Bernie's (or Hillary's for that matter) plan, and, frankly, they should both publish model legislation and promise to do their damndest to get it passed in their first term.
Either concurrently or shortly afterwards, Medicaid could be converted to sliding scale subsidy program for low income people, to pay for the Public Option. Then we would have one form of public health care, which is available to everyone, although not necessarily free to everyone. The subsidies would have to go deep enough to truly guarantee that public option health care is a RIGHT of all citizens, not a privilege that only the wealthy can afford.
I would envision, down the road, that a VA-style public health network would be instituted as an option available to most people (depending on geography), which would provide advanced health care at the lowest possible cost within this system.
As Dennis Kucinich used to frequently say, the profit motive and health care simply do not mix.
21 October 2015
All of which is prelude to saying that even though I thought it was just possible that a Biden candidacy would end up helping Bernie, probably only marginally, but some, so I was kind of hoping he WOULD run, I AGREE with Clinton's castigation of Republicans, and I think Biden's apologia for his "Republican friends" is nonsense. The Republicans have not made themselves the "enemy" of Progressive policy and politics because they're awful people (although some of them are, of course), but because they are deluded and believe in policies that have terrible consequences for ordinary people. I am not their "enemy" in the way we were the enemies of the Nazis in WWII. It's not a fight with weapons, and something short of total surrender (by them) is possible. But politically, OF COURSE they are the enemy. They are trying to create a society in America that I don't want to see come about, and I'm not sure I could bear to live in. Fighting them on every front is IMPORTANT. And it's TOO IMPORTANT to waste our votes... if we can get Bernie nominated, that will be absolutely wonderful, and I am confident we can get him elected. If not, we have to get the Democrat elected anyway, because at least we will be forestalling the truly frightening and horrible prospect of a unified REPUBLICAN government, free to wreak havoc on our Democracy and society unimpaired.
19 October 2015
Of course I blame George W. Bush for 9/11... not entirely, but he is partly responsible, and here's why
REPORTS: Jeb! is incredulous that anyone can blame his brother for 9/11.
Here's how it works. If it were a murder, obviously Al Qaida is analogous to the actual murderer. But it you were the newly elected sheriff, and your deputy told you there was a call warning that someone had repeatedly threatened the victim, you knew who that someone was, and all you did was say "OK, Deputy, thanks, you've covered your ass, but that was a big deal to the last sheriff, and I won the election," you'd hold that new sheriff culpable for allowing the PREVENTABLE crime to occur. It's much the same. The Bush administration in the Summer of 2001 had literally hundreds of warnings that Al Qaida was planning a terror operation in the US, and they did absolutely nothing. So, it's reasonable to conclude that 9/11 could have been prevented, and they were too stupid and stubborn to do so. I call that blameworthy. Of course they didn't DO it. But they are nonetheless partially responsible.
And politically, they SHOULD be deemed accountable. Many of the political changes in our country, such as the trillion dollar national security industrial complex since 2001, the Patriot Act and wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment (imagine the hue and cry if they did that to the Second Amendment!)... are the result of the 9/11 attacks, which by any reasonable analysis the Bush administration FAILED to prevent, due to incompetence and negligence. The party that still adheres to the same world view as Bush and his cronies should be thrown out of every political office in the land!
16 October 2015
And it just doesn't matter. As Sanders supporters, our job is to put out his message and try to convince people to support him on the issues... which is his entire message. His has always been a come-from-behind campaign, and we will have to work like hell if he is to have a chance at success. She has only to hold on to a lead she's had all along.
12 October 2015
*Capital in the Twenty-First Century, [Engl. Translation] 2014.
10 October 2015
08 October 2015
06 October 2015
05 October 2015
- Life originated about as quickly on Earth as possible after conditions on this planet settled down to the point where water remained liquid and the planet was no longer being bombarded by numerous large impacts that had the effect of melting the surface of the planet repeatedly; about 4 by ago.
- Given the presence of minute amounts of liquid water on Mars and the known existence on earth of extremophiles that can live chemoautotrophically deep beneath the surface of Earth, present day Earth life could almost certainly find a toehold and survive on Mars.
- Conditions on ancient Mars were more hospitable, with a thicker atmosphere and liquid water, earlier than on Earth.
- No evidence has arisen for the existence of life on Mars.
Stay tuned. We may have the answer to this conundrum in the not too distant future.
Here's an article from last May in which Paul Krugman calls out the Obama administration for failing to address criticisms of the TPP. It's hardly a ringing denunciation, but even Krugman, who has what you might call free trade DNA, saw that this agreement isn't really about trade at all, but corporate privilege. So, Paul, I call on you now: DENOUNCE THE TPP and explain in your inimitable style why it's a bad deal for the American public as a whole.
The top 15% or so of Chomolungma (you heard it here first (probably): McKinley is Denali, Everest will revert to Chomolungma, the Tibetan name for it recorded at least as early as 1715).... is in the freaking stratosphere. Human beings cannot live there. Not even for a couple of days. 24 hours, maybe, with oxygen. So why do people do this? Up to 1990 or so one in four who tried the summit died. (The first people who probably reached the summit, Mallory and Irvine, in 1924, were never seen again: most people who die on Everest die on the way down.) After they instituted the tourist agencies that did most of the work for the climbers, it went down to about 3%. But if you had a 3% chance of dying if you got in your car to drive to San Franscisco, would you even think about doing it? Yet people paid tens of thousands of dollars to do this; so many that the principal reason the 1996 disaster (the subject of film, since surpassed by the Avalanche of 2014 and the Earthquake/Avalanche of 2015). ..was mainly overcrowding. There were 34 people attempting the summit that day. Secondarily a hellacious blizzard, which is what you expect on Everest.
http://letter2congress.rallycongress.com/698/ (free email, they'll send paper letters for $3 each).
04 October 2015
02 October 2015
Anyway, if you would like to understand the simplest basic reason that we have not, as a civilization, realized the "Space Age" promise of Gerard O'Neill's cities in space, moon colonies, etc., it's this:
But I do believe that humanity, if it doesn't destroy itself and our world first, will eventually move out into space. Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Paul Allen, and their ilk obviously believe this, although I think their faith in rocketry is probably futile. What is needed is leaps forward in materials science, because the way it's done (I'd be willing to bet the way it is being done by some intelligent beings, somewhere out there in the vastness of the cosmos), is with space elevators. It's an old concept. Tsiolkovsky himself wrote about it. The problem is that there is no known material strong enough to create a space elevator on Earth. Mars, almost; the Moon, yes, but not the Earth. Yet. We will have to figure this out. And when we do, which I'd guess will be in a century or two, then, and only then, will the real Space Age begin.
A space elevator is a proposed type of space transportation system. Its main component is a ribbon-like cable (also called a tether) anchored to the surface and extending into space. It is designed to permit vehicle transport along the cable from a planetary surface, such as the Earth's, directly…
29 September 2015
LA City Council
Dear Mr. Krekorian:
I would like to suggest that serious study be made of the efficacy and advisability of installing roundabouts, initially at two key intersections in your district. Studies have shown that roundabouts, especially at 3-street intersections, significantly INCREASE traffic flow, and REDUCE accidents. They are in widespread use in the Greater Boston area, for example, and in some locales in West Coast states as well, although not nearly as much as they should be. Mistimed traffic lights, gridlock caused by inadequate left turn lanes, etc. are serious traffic impediments in the Valley, and where you have 3 arteries coming together, the delays can be quite substantial.
25 September 2015
CNN Poll results released today, 9/25/2015
CNN Poll results released today, 9/25/2015
Democratic Primary, New Hampshire • Only identified Democratic voters polled
Sanders "favorable" 78%
Clinton "favorable" 67%
ratic Primary, New Hampshire
Sanders "favorable" 78%
Clinton "favorable" 67%