Monthly Archives: July 2018

Gen X Saves The Day?

1024px-Bell_X-1_in_flight.jpg

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Bell_X-1#/media/File:Bell_X-1_in_flight.jpg (Public Domain) No, not that X generation!  But a great picture…

It may be a bit ahead of the curve (and the book isn’t even out yet), but a new title caught my eye, and it is definitely on the radar.   It’s Zero Hour for Gen-X – How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials, based on an article at City Journal. Now, from the gist of it, it sounds like a attempted body slam on both the Boomers and Millennials.  It’s been written about before in this blog (my take is that we may wind up being referees between the two generations).

For sure, our elders are getting, well, older, and don’t care as much as they might have in the past.  Some older people I’ve spoken with have actually said, “well, I’ll be long gone,” but a few do know that hard times are coming for the younger generations.   Although anecdotal, I have seen quite a few Millennials who have been sucked into their smartphones at dinner, which is now becoming a bit of a trope.   Some aren’t like that for sure, but the love of Silicon Valley, the Internet of Things, and inability to fathom a world where patience was built-in to everyday life are certainly going to cause problems down the road (if not now).

Questions:

  • Any thoughts on the article?  Are we, Gen-X, the last hope, like Obi-Wan?
  • Every generation complains about the others.   Has this ever not been the case, or has the technological change inherent in our world made this more pronounced?
  • When technology didn’t change much, did generations merely carry on, without the labeling?   Did this generational squabbling occur much before the Lost Generation, or are we just writing/whining about it more?

 

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After

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozymandias#/media/File:Ozymandias_The_Examiner_1818.jpg

Yeah, things aren’t stellar.   Our collective political systems continue to seem crazier than any Onion story, and the climate data still continues to tell a sad tale.   There are a zillion futures to choose from, and the most realistic ones show a lower technology world (or at least a much less-high-tech one for many of us), less populated, less energy intensive, and most likely more polluted, especially in the short term.  It sure doesn’t sound very enjoyable.  Those of us who may survive aren’t going to be happy campers.

Humanity has gone through tough times before; wars, famines, pestilence, all the big doomer fears and/or (depending on the point of view) fantasies.   Afterwards, somewhat positive things have happened, in spite of the horrors.   The Black Death helped bring along the end of feudalism.  Chemical weapon use was drastically reduced (but not eliminated) after WW1.  The horrors of WW2, the Holocaust, and the atomic bombings of Japan probably made the idea of the United Nations more palatable, and knock on wood, nobody has used a nuclear weapon since 1945.   Not a great track record, but one might argue that some progress has been made, although we still seem to be making big mistakes, and each successive wave of screw-ups becomes more dangerous to humanity as a whole.

It’s sad that we have to go through these major man-made insanities to make what seems to be halting ‘progress’, like a country-western song (two steps forward, and one step back…). I do wonder if there truly is an incremental improvement in the human condition.    Dave, over at Decline of the Empire, still reminds us that there’s an immense amount of suffering, and humanity’s track record hasn’t been great (in fact, awful), and has said so quite eloquently.

The coming collective intersection of human-caused screw ups are going to hurt, and hurt a lot.   After things go south, there might be anywhere from a few billion to a few hundred million to zero humans left in one hundred years; and in a thousand years, the possibilities become anybody’s guess.   Dave’s thesis is that there is no evidence that our self awareness is growing, but is this the final word here?

Just to be clear – this isn’t to say the lives of people hundreds and thousands of years from now are going to be unicorns farting rainbows.  My engineering background, reading of the science, and gut tell me that no, we are, with a high probability, driving into a brick wall.  The question here is would an incredibly catastrophic series of disasters, more than we’ve ever faced, force a small but significant change upon those who might survive?  JMG writes of a Star’s Reach world, where people remember this world, and the excesses that occurred (for example, people get swiftly and fatally punished for violating new taboos, such as the burning of fossil fuels).   There’s another component to this, and it hinges on things like spirituality and souls.   People give me flack whenever this is mentioned, but there does seem to be an other-worldlyness component to humans.  Again, this doesn’t mean there’s going to be a classic Rapture, or that angels/UFOs/alien space bats are going to come and save our bacon.   I’m not expecting people to stop killing each other.  I’m not expecting people to be that much different than they are today, but is it possible will they be sufficiently different to stop the increasing cycle of madness?

We are going to have a lot fewer resources in the future.  The ruins of the fossil-fueled machines and infrastructure of our destruction will surround our collective descendants, and will remind those for a very long time of what not to do.   Doing the kinds of damage as we do now will become close to impossible.  But unlike past civilizations that have fallen, the wreckage of ours will be global, and our mistakes are going to remind every human on the planet for centuries, no matter where they exist.  Will it be enough?  The unfortunate reality is that the survivors might be just the sort of people we don’t need (i.e., sociopaths), so the interlude between the big mess that awaits us and an evolutionary dead end might be shorter than we think.  Just wondering.

 

 

 

 

Even smart people

 

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#/media/File:Albert_Einstein_Head.jpg – Public Domain

A quick post, it’s hot.

There are some disturbing trends in what smart/wealthy people are doing, and you have to wonder if something is in the water.

A few that jump out:

  • 100 year bonds.
  • Loaning money for things like shopping malls in Miami.
  • Universities creating buildings with “50 year payback” timelines, on shorelines that their own scientists say will be under water by then.

The cognitive dissonance systems in people’s heads must be working triple overtime.

As Albert E. said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

Carry on.

 

 

 

 

Climate Wannsee

1920px-Haus_der_Wannsee-Konferenz_02-2014.jpg

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannsee_Conference#/media/File:Haus_der_Wannsee-Konferenz_02-2014.jpg, A. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Watching the movie Conspiracy, and always ruminating on what our descendants might think of us (yes, it is a theme here on this blog); has anyone thought of the realities of climate change, knowing full well what the models are, wholeheartedly believing in their veracity, and made big decisions that completely fly in the face of what should be done?

We have to be a bit careful here; the science of climate change is still science, and nobody knows the future for certain.  The folks at the Wannsee Conference knew full well what they were doing, and the actions they were taking (and the methods they were using) were fully known to them, and already being utilized at a smaller scale.  Had they not acted, millions might not have died in such an industrial fashion.   The movie dramatization of the original Wannsee Conference was chilling; no blood was spilled, no gas chambers and images of concentration camps were trotted out to scare you.  What was the darkest part of the movie was how even-keeled all the participants generally were, and as much as they might have argued over details, they came to a conclusion without any vehement opposition. Heydrich is portrayed as a man whose heart breaks at Schubert, runs the meeting with polite overtures, and smiles as he plans genocide.  One infuriating part of that calm, quick, and yet horrific planning meeting was that only a few participants were brought to justice.  For example, Eichmann didn’t see justice until Israel captured him and brought him to Jerusalem for trial.   Many survived the war, faded into the background, and continued to live.

Will we have a climate version of the Wannsee Conference moment, or has it possibly already happened?  Will some mid or high-level bureaucrats meet, and say to themselves “Yes, we absolutely feel that climate change is real, is happening and will be very bad, but we will do this other thing, and accelerate this process to expedite another ideal or project?”

The analogy may be a bit weak; planning the direct killing of millions of innocents via concrete, direct human action is a cold-blooded and horrific thing.   Deciding to continue to extract fossil fuels, even when many think they must remain in the ground might be considered madness, but even those planning might have rational (or rationalized) points for their decisions, and think that it is a survivable thing, or that in spite of some “rough patches”, things will work out.   It might not be considered genocide directly, but if sea levels rise, droughts become more frequent, and weather systems wreak havoc and cause millions to suffer, the net effect could be the same.

There are those who truly and absolutely think man-made climate change is an illusion, and that humanity who has no real influence over what is going on.   For them, decisions to burn more fossil fuels may make sense from their perspective.  However, if you feel the climate data and science is real, and you are one that makes big decisions that fly in the face of this data, how much blame be placed on you by your descendants; how harshly should those decision makers be judged?   Climate change will affect us all, of course, but some may be affected a lot more, and a lot sooner than others.  Climate change doesn’t single out one ethnic or religious group; it affects us all.

Some may pull in the classic tropes of a secret or semi-secret group of folks who meet and control the world.   Some claim that Exxon knew about climate change as much as forty years ago, but the models and projections of forty years ago (as claimed in the article) may have been just been scientists being cautious.  There is a comprehensive article on this, but Wikipedia may not be the best reference on any controversial topic and there may be biases (it’s all enough to make your head spin).

What sort of smoking gun would it take to have a clear and unambiguous signal that someone up the food chain knew fairly well what would happen, and deliberately made policy in direct contradiction to their understanding?   In the fictional movie Twilight’s Last Gleaming, for example, a damning secret report on the Vietnam War (we went to war to prove to the Russians we would continue to fight, even if we were to lose) was the predicating factor for the action of the movie.   Will we ever see the minutes of a climate Wannsee, showing a deliberate and cold decision to put some other goal above that of mitigating what could be the greatest disaster to ever befall us?   Conversely (and very much playing devil’s advocate here), is there are converse, where climate change (manmade or not) has been trumped up to further another goal?

If there is a glimmer of hope, it must be said that there are large and well-funded organizations (such as the US military) who have already noted that climate change is a serious problem (not exactly a group of left-wing treehuggers).  Climate change is seen as a threat, and the US military plans for a wide variety of possible scenarios.   Groups that see a reality of climate change, and work against mitigating it may exist; will this pit the bureaucracy of the US military against that of whatever group flies in the face of this?  If the military sees a threat, they can plan on countering it directly via reaction, or via preemption.  Will preemption ever become, as they say, “kinetic”?

As always, there are many questions.

 

 

 

 

You can’t make this stuff up

Amblyomma_americanum_tick.jpg
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amblyomma_americanum#/media/File:Amblyomma_americanum_tick.jpg ; in the public domain.

As the old quip goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense.”  Last year, with the picture of a tick, the post “The Troubled Northeast,” was put up,  bringing up the tick/disease problem that might exist in what some might think was the ‘safer and saner’ region of the country.

It took a while for me to be clued in, but as reported here, here, and here, it seems that again, truth is stranger than fiction – there are tick bites that can lead you to become allergic to meat and dairy.   A pretty quick and brutal way to become vegetarian/vegan, but one wonders if the Gaia Hypothesis has a bit of truth to it.  Some of the best ways to reduce your carbon foot print are to have few children, and stop eating meat.  With human male sperm counts dropping, we are two for two.

Questions:

  • What else can the Earth/Gaia do to us?  As Saint George Carlin has stated, “The Earth’s going to get rid of us like a bad case of fleas.”
  • Saint George, in the same clip,  even mentioned other diseases.  We seem to have a handle on that particular issue nowadays, but dropping sperm counts and allergies to meat might have more of an impact.   Is it long before something comes along to make transcontinental and transoceanic airline travel dangerous/allergy inducing and/or impossible?  Will Cthulhu develop a taste for Boeing and Airbus aluminum?