Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Standard adolescent cruelty

[See previous]

Internet lets teen bullies inflict suffering from afar

From the article:If you are a teenager, or if you are a parent raising teenagers, this is one more thing to worry about.

Here is my question. Why does "standard adolescent cruelty" exist? Anybody who has been to an American high school knows that it exists. There are bullies, and then there is the herd mentality that bludgeons anyone who does not "fit in". Lord help you if you are "nerdy" or "ugly" or "different" as a teenager. You will be harassed relentlessly, both physically and with words. This behavior seems to be wired in to a large percentage of human teenage brains. The behavior seems to be equally distributed between males and females.

What purpose does this behavior serve? It is as useless as racism. It is a purely negative force.

If you are religious and believe that God created humans in God's image, why did God wire this in?

If you believe humans come from an evolutionary chain, what evolutionary value does this behavior serve?

Why didn't God or evolution instead wire in "cooperation" and "acceptance"? It is interesting that all intelligent adults see the stupidity of behaviors like bullying and racism, reject them, and then move to a higher plane in their thinking. Why isn't that intelligence/wisdom wired in, instead of the purely destructive behavior of "standard adolescent cruelty"?

Monday, August 30, 2004

Hard to believe but true...

[See Previous]

Waiter tip tricks

From the article:The tricks include everything from smiling to squatting to touching to drawing smiley faces!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Go directly to jail...

Authorities: Don't Sell Your Vote On eBay

From the article:

Monday, August 23, 2004

John Titor and the Republican Convention

Not many people have heard of him, but the story of John Titor is interesting. John Titor was, allegedly, a time traveler from the year 2036 who stopped by in November 2000 to offer his insights on various Internet newsgroups. According to the JohnTitor.com web site:I don't know anyone who thinks this was anything except a hoax (although a fascinating one), but this week may be an important week in proving or disproving the John Titor legend. John Titor made predictions in 2000 and 2001 that are about to ripen if they are true. For example, these three predictions are very relevant around the Republican Convention in NYC this week:A "civil war" in the United States seemed pretty farfetched in 2000, but is not quite so farfetched today. And "civil unrest" around the 2004 election seems downright likely. For example: Protesters set for GOP convention. If those protests end up being muted or non-existent, then John Titor was certainly a hoax. But if they escalate into large riots that spread nationwide in the weeks to come, then you have to wonder...

Friday, August 20, 2004

Something else to worry about...

[See Previous]

Iran threatens to attack US forces in Gulf

From the article:Also relevant: Would Israel strike first at Iran?

Monday, August 16, 2004

Looking on the bright side...

[See previous]

Stabilizing the global 'greenhouse' may not be so hard

From the article:

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Hibernation on space flights

The European Space Agency is starting to study hibernation as a way to handle long space missions:

Could astronauts sleep their way to the stars?

From the article:The reasons for the research are easy to understand:To end psychological stress, eliminate the large amounts of space needed for astronauts and reduce food requirements, hibernation is not optimal. It would be much easier to simply discard the astronauts' bodies and send only their brains, as discussed in A Revolutionary Mission to Mars.

Since the Mission to Mars article was published, it has received a truly remarkable amount of feedback from readers. It is interesting how attached people are to the concept of "body", and the concept that "mind" and "body" are inseparable. I think that those feelings are so prevalent right now because there is no other option, and there has been no other option since the beginning of time. It will be fascinating to watch that mindset change as robotic bodies and virtual environments first equal, and then surpass, what we see today.

It is also interesting to read the Mission to Mars article and then look at the obituaries. For example, just to pick an obituary page at random, look at this Milestones page from the August 9, 2004 issue of Time Magazine:Every day, thousands of people die of cancer and other diseases that destroy the body, but have no effect on the mind. Think about all of the children that die this way. These people are trapped in their failing bodies with no way out -- the worst sort of imprisonment. Many of them would gladly escape their bodies if they could, and they would be able to live decades longer.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Stiletto Heels

This article goes in the same category with the question, "What makes cigarettes sexy?" It seems odd that putting 4-inch spikes on a woman's (not an man's) feet would trigger "sex" in the human brain. Yet that is exactly what it does:

Stiletto Heels the Ultimate Sex Appeal Item

The article surveyed 55,000 people and found things like this:How can this be? Yet again, it has to do with the effects of markers. The appeal of heels is that they act as a publicly visible marker for sexuality, just like cigarettes. According to the article: "The survey also revealed... that overall, heel lovers were much more adventurous in their love lives."

See also: Cell phones and sex and Smoking and sex.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Tiny computers

A fascinating collection of small computers that run Linux:

Tiny SBCs for Embedded Linux based projects

GumStix is typical of the genre.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Something else to worry about...

[See Previous]

Disaster at sea: global warming hits UK birds

From the article:The reason for the collapse is linked to a small fish that the birds would normally feed on while nesting:So, instead of breeding, the birds starved to death.

Why did the fish disappear?These movements of the plankton are affecting all the higher species that depend on them in one way or another.

The closing quote in the article mentions this:And that is true. Lots of people care about the environmental impacts of global climate change. But let's say you could care less about breeding seabirds. In that case, we know that most glaciers and ice sheets are now melting. Eventually, cities like NY, LA, DC, London, etc. will see the impact of rising ocean levels. So, whether you are an environmentalist worried about wildlife or a capitalist worried about trillions of dollars in real estate, you have an interest in stopping global warming.

What is so interesting about global climate change is our apparent inability to help ourselves. Even though we all know what is causing global warming (fossil fuels), and even though we all know how to stop it (stop burning fossil fuels), we are unable to do anything about the problem. We all need to go to work -- There is no alternative. To get to work we need to use cars or buses or trains, all of which burn fossil fuels either directly or indirectly. There is no alternative to that either, unless you ride a bicycle, which most people cannot do. Therefore, we all contribute to global warming every day. We have wired modern society so that, in order to survive, we must contribute to global warming.

It is a classic Tragedy of the Commons situation, where there is no short-term economic benefit to solving the problem, and quite a bit of short-term benefit to perpetuating it. So we spiral downward. One of three things will happen:We can all watch and see what happens.

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