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T in AZ 31st December 2009 07:37 PM

Baaa...New Year same as the Old Year
Another “new” year coming and in some parts of the world it is already here. I sit here contemplating my life and I wonder how many more new years are left, not for me but the civilized world as a whole. Today I went to a local junk store and bought a UPS for $1US and I realized that there was nothing wrong except the battery was bad. Because the company that makes the UPS designed it to use a proprietary battery, it’s cheaper to buy the whole unit than just the battery and have a tech install it, so the business that owned it donated it and got a tax write off and bought another UPS that will need a new battery in a year and I got a board with some goodies, how long can this go on, not all bad UPS’s are reused, most are just dumped. This use of proprietary components instead of standardized is a big problem, it’s anti macroeconomics. The civilized are becoming a thing of the past; the thing that makes humanity different from other animals is the ability to have compassion, guilt, morality and beliefs, to have self-awareness and to project themselves into future events. I’ve seen many of these traits under attack from the “civilized”, our humanity is the enemy, be more like a machine, we have to compete against a machine everyday in some way. Why? Profit margin. Well profit from the destruction of earth is not a formula for success. Not sure what I’m trying to say, just a rant from a civilized man.

Glowbug 31st December 2009 07:39 PM

My advice? :drink: :drink::cheers:

wakibaki 31st December 2009 09:26 PM

I think it's hard not to be in despair about the course of world events in general, a bunch of our so-called representatives just failed to reach agreement about arguably the greatest ever known danger to civilization.

On the one hand you have a global economy built on the expectation of the continuing expansion of consumption and on the other the rational recognition that resources are ultimately limited. I know there are asteroids of iron out there, but that's not going to help right now. There has always been a recognition that the market is intended to harness greed and turn it to the benefit of all. That was OK when resources were effectively infinite in relation to the effect of human activity on them. It was the path of least resistance. It produced an improvement in the conditions of very many people around the world.

It avoided the despotism of communism, which was not the invention of evil men.

It has, however concentrated arbitrary power in the hands of individuals.

I can take as many flights as I can afford. Drive as fuel-hungry a car as I can afford. Fly my helicopter out to my yacht and drive to the antipodes if I want to.

All good fun, and I'd be loth to be deprived of these pleasures, and perhaps there's some way that we can keep a system that preserves important freedoms like these, but I suspect not.

Thousands of bankers were paid million dollar + bonuses this year which we were told 2 years ago was an underlying cause of the recession which drastically affected the financial stability of the whole world, but the authorities seem powerless to take control of the situation since apparently all the bankers will just switch to banks who will pay the bonuses if the existing ones won't.

I have a horrible feeling that what we need is something closer to martial law.

Under the proposed scheme millions will lose their living space and many species their habitat. Of course, where the Earth is concerned, the only constant is change, and we cannot expect to hold back time indefinitely, but the actual goals are indefensible. We should aim for the absolute minimum technically achievable and consistent with improving the living standards of the poorest. As it is many still do not have enough to eat. Perhaps the reasons for climate change are misunderstood and maybe even the interpretation of the data is incorrect, but surely that cannot be an excuse for not following the best current advice. And that means, somehow, globally.

On the other hand there is much to be optimistic about. 2 cancers have just been sequenced. Science and technology continue to solve myriads of problems daily. My phone connects to my car radio for handsfree and the SD card has room for all the music I want. Once these things were desirable, now they're cheap enough it doesn't make sense to fit anything less.

Maybe it'll all work out OK. It has pretty much in the past with a few hiccups.

Love and Peace.

Have a good new year everybody.


SY 31st December 2009 09:31 PM

Remember the bet between prophet-of-doom Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon? I'll make that bet. Humans are smart, innovative, and creative. Despite our "leaders" doing their best to keep us down, they can't- the world is (overall) infinitely better and more wonderful than it was 10 or 20 years ago by any objective measure. I'm very optimistic about our future.

T in AZ 31st December 2009 11:39 PM

Sy I hope you are right, but I don’t see a free society that is only concerned with their own pleasure principal, change to grasp the future unless they can profit from it. This would also lead to a major conflict with the ones that are profiting now by keeping things the same.. There are immutable laws that cannot be broken, no matter how much we might want to. One law is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed. With energy and time anything can be created, that makes energy an important Item. Another law is the law of economy, if energy is used faster then it is supplied then the user will become non-existent. The next law, specialization leads to extinction, if you cannot adapt you will become extinct. There is one adaptation that no one wants to talk about except the "lunatic fringe" Free energy. Free energy isn't really free, it just requires a more efficient way of obtaining it, energy exists all around us. Anything above absolute zero gives off energy in the form of heat called thermal energy, but free energy could also be called cosmic, gamma, X ray, light, infra red, radio,... the frequency is the only difference. The problem with free energy is that it runs into the law of cash flow. If the cost of energy falls below what is needed to keep the flow of capital at a level that will maintain a civilization based on capitalism, the civilization will go in to a deflationary trend that will lead to a total economic collapse, I don’t remember the bet between prophet-of-doom Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon, but I’ll Google it and read.

SY 31st December 2009 11:49 PM

Yet, we have the means to create far more energy than we do, and more cleanly. And I'll not be surprised if new technologies appear that you and I can't even imagine yet.

Things often go sideways- suppose that, instead of limiting CO2 into the atmosphere, a technology is developed which captures and sequesters it...?

Cal Weldon 31st December 2009 11:54 PM

..and fires it into the sedimentary layers of Utah. Wonder what happens when the earth burps?

MJL21193 1st January 2010 12:15 AM

I got a new cell phone recently, after about 2 years use out of my "old" one - the battery tanked and is much cheaper (free actually with my service plan) to pick out a brand new one and chuck the old one. In the garbage.
Jump in your time machine and take that same disposable piece of technology back to 1974 and it's worth billions, trillions, priceless even.

As for sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, if there is profit in it, it shall be done. Otherwise, no.

Happy new year.

T in AZ 1st January 2010 12:35 AM

SY, I wish more people thought that way, I know we have tech now that could change everything for the good, for all of the peoples of the world for the future, I just don't know that those techs will come online soon enough. When I was young the skies were deep blue, almost black, now they are always light blue. I wonder what they will be when China and India become like us and have two cars per person? This is a profound point in our time, but the decision isn't mine. Live your life the best you can, as we all try to. Cheers! Thomas

kevinkr 1st January 2010 12:38 AM

Although I often wonder where we are headed, SY makes a good point - I certainly have no desire to return to the past and give up the many good things we all take for granted.

I'm also aware of the fact that through the ages there were always those who noted the "new" level of human selfishness prevailing as compared to some prior "golden age." Even the ancient Greeks talked of such things.. :p

Once it becomes important enough a lot of these problems will undoubtedly be solved. The question is at what price?

I have rescued obsolete UPS and found inexpensive replacement batteries and pressed them back into service. I have done the same with a lot of older computer hardware over the years. I'm still driving my now 8yr old fuel efficient car with nearly 160K miles on the clock....I've installed a high efficiency boiler, insulation, and low E double glazed windows in my house. (All our major appliances are energy star.) My wife and I try hard to recycle what we can, and make do - not replacing things for the sake of having something new. We still have all analog CRT based TVs.. (Ouch :) ) We can all make small contributions and make our voices heard. (Probably the things I am doing were pretty standard in my parent's generation, so no originality there.)

I do have the feeling sometimes that the focus is more on maximizing short term economic gain with little regard to long term societal interests. Take the rise of the disposable skilled workforce as an example, the manufacture of consumer products far from where they are used, think about the dirty fuel used in merchant ships transporting these goods to U.S. and European shores, and the many "local" jobs eliminated all up and down the supply chain. Don't even think about the loss of our skilled workforce and the longterm implications of that, or the total lack of respect for science or engineering that seems prevalent in the West today.

I live in an area that has extensive public transit which is literally falling apart because once the system was built no one really wanted to pay for its maintenance.

It took federal law to clean up the harbor here, there was no real local impetus for that before the EPA.. Flaming rivers.. So some things do get better once the nation recognizes that something needs to be done.

I probably haven't answered any questions or made anyone feel any better, but I bet if you change a few comments you will see similar trends all through history. Living a while certainly provides more questions than answers in my experience. Ah, the innocence of youth, I know so much less now, and what I do know is with much less certainty having lived so much longer.. (My parents were pretty amused when I mentioned this recently..)

Happy New Year everyone!!

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