Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

I hope all had a great fourth of July! We started early by going to a parade this morning out in Boulder City. They had a unique ending to the parade with a water entry section - the entries in that section would squirt water into the crowd and the crowd had squirt guns shooting back! There was one point where Fred, Jr, and George were chasing a lady handing out popsicles! The kids loved the parade and scored big on candy and parade paraphernalia!

We then went to one of their friends houses and they swam for what seemed like 10 hours. George talked me into diving in and toting her around from end to end of the pool! Mid-way through the swim-fest we had a break for barbeque and later we had fireworks. Let's just say that our friends brought a bunch of stuff from our neighbors in Moapa - they all loved the fireworks - except for the loud ones!

Happy fourth!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Stephen Hawking - predictions of the future

Surfing through Digg.com today I found an article about Stephen Hawking and his current view of evolution. The basic point of the article is that we have started a new phase of evolution. According to Hawking, in the past, evolution was proceeded by natural selection and random mutation - in other words slow changes to our DNA or our internal record. However, Hawking points out that the external record (information) has grown exponentially. This external record has grown from where someone in the 18th century had read everything that had ever been written to today where it would take someone 15,000 years to read all of the books in our national library.

So what does Hawking make of all of this? Hawking thinks we are in a new phase of evolution; one where we will eventually be able to change and improve our DNA in otherwords "self designed evolution."

So that's the basic premise, but that's not why I'm including this article in my blog. Here is the article if you want to read it. I personally think that maybe Stephen's been watching the Matrix, Terminator, Star Trek the Next Generation, or playing some video games lately because this is one of the themes that you'll find in those media.

The reason why I'm including this article is because of the comments at the bottom of the blog; here are two of the posts that I found rather amusing:

Post 1-

What he's talking about in layman's terms (speaking to the dumbed down U.S. population here) is downloading your brain into a computer. That will be the next evolution of mankind. A lot of people are afraid of this becoming a reality. I welcome it.

Whether you believe in the concensus physical and biological sciences or your roots are of a more spiritual nature, you should agree that we human beings are fundamentally "information". The genetic data which was our foundation and the epigenetic (non-DNA affecting) environmental data which has formed us into the person we are can be modeled by a computer system. Yes it's the Matrix for real, and it's coming within most of our lifetimes. Prepare to live within our collective imagination.

Post 2-

Hello, I'm a Mac..
And I'M a PC..

:)

This definitely will make me laugh every time I see those Mac/PC commercials from now on!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oops, I think I'm in the wrong house...

On the way to work this morning I heard a story about a burglar in England who got more than he bargained for. Yep, Greg McCalium, a 23 year old burglar, burgled the house of 71 year old Frank Corti. Frank was laying in bed with his wife Margaret when he was woken by noises; Frank got up to check out the situation. Greg lunged at Frank with a knife after Frank stumbled upon him in the hall way. Frank simply ducked and then decked the burglar with two massive right hooks. Frank then made a citizen's arrest and watched Greg as he waited for the cops to show up. Here's what Greg looked like after he was taken in:

Gregory McCalium

Here's a picture of Frank:

Still got it ... grandad Frank Corti

For all those who think Frank got lucky, think again. Frank is an ex-boxer. In fact, he boxed as a featherweight in the Royal Engineers, and also at the age of 16 won the National Association of Boys Clubs Championship.

Greg's lawyer said that Greg looked like he was the victim of a "car accident". Maybe Greg will think twice before resorting to burglary again!

Heres a link to the whole story as reported by "The Sun" (a UK newspaper).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Pride Cycle In Our Day...

I came across an article written by David Galland through my free newsletter subscription from John Mauldin. John is a bit of an economist and investment advisor and I was referred to his site by a stock broker I am acquainted with. John has good tidbits now and again so I thought I'd share some information from this week's newsletter. The article is about David's 1997 interview with Neil Howe, a historian/Washington DC-based economist and demographer, concerning Howe's book "The Fourth Turning".

Howe has a theory that every 20 or 30 years our society goes through a turning. A turning comes with each new generation and there are four cyclical turnings that we go through as a society every 80 to 90 years. That's what made me think of the pride cycle that I was taught about in seminary; the pride cycle basically says that society goes through these periods where people are humble and then become prosperous so they then become pridefull and then get humbled through trials, and then it starts over again.

Here's what Howe's "turning" theory states:

1) Turning one - "High" - this period follows a crisis and there is a heightened sense of community and collective sense of optimism as society has just made it through a difficult and challenging time. The most recent "High" was roughly 1940 to 1960.

2) Turning two - "Awakening" - during this period there are signs of progress and prosperity everywhere. Major portions of society begins to chaff under conformity and gravitates to more individualistic pursuits. People begin to demand that their personal interests come first. There is a huge anti-establishment movement during these time periods. The most recent "Awakening" was roughly 1960 to 1980.

3) Turning three - "Unraveling" - individualism dominates this period; institutions are increasingly weak and discredited. It is a time of celebrity circuses and a tremendous amount of personal freedom and creativity. There is little sense of public purpose. The most recent "Unraveling" was roughly 1980 to 2000. (Examples include 1760's, 1850's and 1920's - can anyone say flapper?)

4) Turning four - "Crisis" - during this period seemingly insurmountable problems are addressed, society's basic institutions are torn down and rebuilt. The changes during this period involve a great deal of pain and a reduced standard of living for a large number of people, but by the time the "Crisis" subsides, society will have pretty much remade itself in ways that no one can predict at this point. According to Howe, we are in the beginning stages of this period. The last "Crisis" period was roughly 1920 to 1940. (Examples of "Crisis" times include the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783, the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, and the Great Depression and World War II from 1929 to 1945; I noted that there seems to be some overlapped in some of the turnings - I'm not sure that this is reconcilable other than I don't think the 20 to 30 and 80 to 90 year time frames are necessarily set-in stone; I think it is more of a pattern).

According to Howe, individuals born between 1982 and 2004 belong to a Millennial generation that will become a "Hero" generation, just like the GI Generation that coped so well with the turmoil of the Great Depression and World War II. According to Howe, we as a society have seen dramatic improvements in youth behaviors since the Millennials have come along such as huge declines in violent crime, teenage pregnancy, and the most damaging forms of drug abuse, as well as higher rates of community service and volunteering.

Here's a closer look at the "Crisis" turning:

A) Government grows powerful, and sweeping legislation is enacted.

B) While public history speeds up, personal life slows down (i.e. families will spend more time together).

C) Innovation tends to stagnate, while a few technologies will be chosen to be adopted on a large scale.

D) New laws and regulations will do less to referee a free market and more to pursue one or another national priority.

E) The authority and obligations of community will strengthen at all levels, from local to national and possibly beyond.

F) In the past, the fourth turning always resulted in the nation redefining who we are in some essential way.

G) Baby Boomers will continue to be respected for their cultural achievements, but will be increasingly ignored in the political debate.

H) There will be a growing push to rebuild the middle class.

As I mentioned the interview with Howe was in 1997 when Howe's book "The Fourth Turning" was published. Below is an excerpt from David's article:

"... an excellent case can be made the US is approaching another time of secular crisis, a Fourth Turning, with an expected due date of 2005 - seven years from now - plus or minus a few years in either direction.

The Stamp Acts catalyzed the American Revolution, the election of Lincoln catalyzed the Civil War, the Crash of '29 catalyzed the Depression/WW II era. What might precipitate the elements now floating in solution? The answer is practically any random event that's sufficiently traumatic. Any of the theses of current disaster/action novels and movies will do nicely. Perhaps the accidental or intentional release of a super plague vector. The crashing of an airliner into the Capitol during a joint session. An all-out assault on the IRS computers by an armed group - or perhaps the computers just melting down due to the Year 2000 Problem. Perhaps a financial disaster that cascades into the Greater Depression. In any of these, or a hundred other scenarios, the federal government would almost certainly act precipitously and with a heavy hand, which would bring on a whole other set of consequences.

There's no way of telling where the Crisis will lead, or how it will end. That's going to depend not only on exactly who's in control, but what they do, who they're up against, and a hundred other variables we can't even anticipate.

One thing that seems certain is that real crisis brings out strong leadership. Because of its age and size, it will come from the Boomer generation, and it will be in the mold of Roosevelt or Lincoln - both very dangerous precedents. The Boomers in elderhood will be dogmatic, harsh, puritanical, and quite willing to burn down the barn in order to destroy whatever rats they see. Admix that attitude to a time resembling the Revolution, the Civil War, or WWII, overlain with today's ethnic strife, urbanization, financial overextension, and powerful, compact new weaponry in the hands of foreign fanatics out to teach the Great Satan a lesson and it's a real witch's brew."

If what Howe said is true, then indeed we are in for more government involvement in everything and that it will be 40 or 50 years from now when we see the second turning come around again and we see a return to the celebration of individual rights.

What is the saying? Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I was wondering why it was getting warmer as I typed

According to research from Harvard University, two searches on Google produce the same amount of carbon dioxide as that of a boiling kettle. Yep, it is believed that each Google search throws off 7 grams of carbon. The research bases this off the theory that the power used by both the user's computer and Google's data center and multiple servers used for each query.

I must admit, this is pretty heady research. I can see the Harvard student who gets his/her doctorate degree from doing this study when asked "So what was the thesis that put you over the top to getting your doctorate" - "Yeah, I computed how much carbon dioxide is generate per Google search." That's definitely something to be proud of; way to put that Harvard education to good use! Yeah, I know, I'm just being jealous because I didn't get into Harvard - I'm sure the researchers on this particular project will be making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year when they graduate or working in the rain forest making $100 a month studying tree frogs.

Here's the article for all those that are interested.

None dare call it conspiracy

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Monster Miata

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Flying in a squirrel suit

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