In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is King
This "observation" is complete nonsense. There's a confusion about levels here. That observation may be true in what I call Flatland—this is the confused level where nearly all humans live—but it is not true from a vantage point outside of Flatland, where one tries to look at the human experience from an "objective" point of view (i.e., tries to maintain the greatest possible separation from a normal human frame of reference). Such a feat is not perfectly achievable, but I gave it my best shot.
My limitations aside, and contradicting the common wisdom, my experience of writing DOTE over these last four years says this—
In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is merely an observer
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a Great Truth about the Human Condition. Humans can not see themselves for what they are. In my own case, I have written (as of today) 1560 posts trying to explain to them who they are. All to no avail.
Needless to say, my efforts were futile because my goal was impossible. I was like Sysiphus pushing that rock up the hill over and over again, only to see it roll back down again.
[The Gods] had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor...
Like I said, I was merely an observer, even as I pointlessly pushed that rock up the hill over and over again...
You know, I have a kind of wonderful freedom here on DOTE because I can say anything I want to say knowing that only a few people (certainly no one important) is paying any attention to me ...
Although we are in Year 18 of what I call the Bubble Era, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse lately, a development which remained only a (remote?, likely?) possibility only a few years ago.
The world came together in a big way last week in Warsaw, Poland to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which are warming the Earth's surface. Emphasizing what humans have in common while disdaining trivial regional, cultural or racial differences, the climate talks ended happily on Sunday with delegations from every country on Earth joining together to sing a rousing version of Kumbaya. This reporter got goose bumps...
I was nine years old in 1962, the year in which Jack Kennedy sat down with reporters from the three existing television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) to talk about his first two years in office (video below). Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas.
All human enterprises are deeply flawed because they are the products of deeply flawed human beings. But in 1962, seventeen years after the end of World War II, and with Vietnam, Nixon and the dislocations of the 1970s still some years away, it was still possible to talk about The Amercan Century. It was possible to talk about a great country representing great ideals acting in great ways.
Perhaps it's because I've been sick lately — it's some kind of flu that won't go away — but I am feeling very irritated with humans right now. Usually I just find them annoying.
The target of my wrath today is John Cassidy, a writer for the New Yorker. I was reading his article American Inequality In Six Charts. You can read it on your own. I've used some of those charts here on DOTE. Not that endless talk about inequality in America (including my own) has the slightest effect on the ever-worsening distribution of income and wealth—it does not.
I am dee-lighted to inform the 17 people who still read here that it appears that Paul Krugman has gotten a second clue about what happened (and continues to happen) to the U.S. economy. You may recall that I wrote the original post Paul Krugman Gets A Clue! near the end of 2012. And here it is, less than a year later, and Paul is dazzling us with astonishing insight once again. I may have to revise my opinions about the man. This second clue occurs in his recent New York Times column A Permanent Slump?
From the New Yorker'sThe Climate Fixers, a longish article on various geo-engineering schemes.
... the other [geo-engineering] approach is less risky, and involves removing carbon directly from the atmosphere and burying it in vast ocean storage beds or deep inside the earth. But without a significant technological advance such projects will be expensive and may take many years to have any significant effect.
There are dozens of versions of each scheme, and they range from plausible to absurd. There have been proposals to send mirrors, sunshades, and parasols into space.
Recently, the scientific entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold [above], whose company Intellectual Ventures has invested in several geoengineering ideas, said that we could cool the earth by stirring the seas.
Confirmation hearings for Janet Yellen started this week. She will be the next Fed chief, replacing "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke early next year.
Hopey-Changey wanted to nominate The Prince Of Darkness to be the next chairman of the Fed, but it appears that some moves are so outrageously self-serving that our ruliing elites are too embarrassed to go through with them.
We The People of course will be getting screwed over and over again, but it's good to know that there are limits to creating the appearance that we are about to be screwed over and over again.
I have wanted to write this essay for a very long time now. In the last few years, things kind of came together in a way which made writing it possible. The essay is quite long, and will be difficult to follow for those unfamiliar with the territory. I tried to keep things as simple and straightforward as I possibly could, but there's only so much I could do and still get the key points across. That said, I didn't write this for you, the reader, although I tried to consider you at every turn. I wrote this essay because I wanted to write it, and I enjoyed doing it. The last section can be read separately — Dave
*... or they're very rare
Generally speaking, there are two answers to the question Is There Intelligent Life In The Universe?, where the term "intelligent life" means technologically advanced sentient beings broadly similar to humans. In the first essay I discussed optimistic answers to this question. Optimists imagine a Universe teeming with more advanced versions of ourselves, an answer which coincides (not coincidentally) with their vision of a bright human future.
This week we look at the views of the pessimists, who constitute a small minority of those concerned with astrobiological questions. Pessimists believe that Homo sapiens is alone and unique in the observable Universe, or believe that species broadly similar to Homo sapiens are very rare.
I am a pessimist, a position which follows from prolonged contemplation of the Fermi Paradox, which Paul Davies called "the eerie silence" (see the first essay). Let me begin with an illuminating quote from Lee Billings, whose book Five Billion Years of Solitude was recently published by the Penguin Group (October, 2013).
I'm still working on a long essay about the probable non-existence of technologically advanced aliens. (I'm not working hard lately
) So you'll have to make do with this short post for the time being — Dave
A few years ago I told you that "politics makes you stupid," an observation which is readily available every day in every way if you're paying attention. (Most Americans now tune it all out.)
I am always delighted when research in "cognitive science" delivers a luke-warm version (the Flatland version) of what I've already told you, so let's take a look at that. Thanks to reader Brian for the heads up.
Everybody knows that our political views can sometimes get in the way of
But perhaps we don’t realize how bad the problem
There will be nothing this week as I work on a follow-up to my first "where are the aliens?" article. Here's an astonishing story about the oceans for you to consider instead. On a related note, if we're talking about how humans work—and of course we are — the Magic Kingdom is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month — Dave