The world is burning
It’s true. The world is burning, both literally and figuratively.
Global warming is a real problem. We’re in the middle of a human-caused mass-extinction and our planet is being trashed by our burning of our favorite fuel source, yet we have people in high places in our governments who not only refuse to acknowledge the issue, but actively fight against it. As if turning your back on a Tsunami will stop the inevitable.
Those who deny climate change will be dead in the geological blink of an eye (or even sooner, we can hope), leaving the next generations to inherit the consequences. What does this mean? Droughts and famine, mainly. The thing is, we are already seeing these. California is in the middle (or the beginning?) of a horrible drought. The 2015/2016 El Niño gave us a few showers, but pathetic in comparison to prior years. This is not isolated. Many other regions are experiencing unprecedented drought conditions as well.
So what? Well, when you have drought, you get lack of food. Without food and water, the next step is civil unrest. This isn’t a theory. When people can’t eat, they get pretty pissed off.
The free market will save us. Right?
Let’s leave the stupid climate for a minute. Let’s talk about the world economy. Now, just about ever major country is based off of a capitalistic growth economy. What does this mean? It means that if you don’t keep shoveling coal into the fire, the fire dies out. So in this example, coal is people working, right? Sorry, no. Coal is people. A growth economy requires more people. More and more and more people. The problem is, the planet’s resources can’t support the amount of people we currently have, much less more of the wretched things. So we have an economy that is betting on resource exhaustion as a method of self-sustaining. On top of requiring more people, many of our wonderful growth economies are built on top of the fact that there is cheap labor in other countries.
Here’s a pattern. We want something built cheaper. We build factories in <insert developing country here>. <Developing country> has so much capital pumped into it that prices rise and their standard of living starts to match the guys on top. Ahh, peasants and their desire to be kings! Suddenly, the factories are more expensive to operate. <Developing nation> starts enacting regulations (gasp), and sooner or later, the poor underdogs who run the multinational corporations are in search for <next developing country> to exploit. Won’t someone think of the shareholders??
Their business model is sound, though. At least, their business model is sound assuming you have endless developing countries to exploit. What happens when the last stable, developing country decides to charge the same to operate your iPhone factory as the factory in the United States? Well, the iPhone jumps from $650 to $3000. The shitty plastic trash bin you used to pay $3.99 for is now $59.99!! Your McDonalds cheedburger is $24.99. Sacrilege!
Suddenly our consumeristic growth economy becomes a…well, what the hell happens now? We don’t have a name for it because there is only the growth economy. Anything else is filthy communism. Nobody wants to talk about any other form of economy besides a growth economy, as if we can grow forever.
Univeral contants, anyone?
Seriously, though. We have a growth economy. Growth requires resources. This is not an opinion, this is a universal constant. In order to grow, a system needs an influx of energy from some external source. Resources. What happens when we run out of these resources?
Economic collapse. The engine stops, and because nobody is willing to talk about what this means or what happens next, it’s going to be a painful process.
Let’s tie this all together: climate change is going to be displacing millions of people in coastal areas as ocean levels rise. At the same time, droughts and famine are going to become much more common. Our global economy, which requires growth, and more growth, oh and some growth, will stop growing roughly around the same time the droughts and famine happen.
Increased population density, compounded by extreme resource limitation (food, water, etc), compounded by economic collapse leaves us with a near human extinction. What drought and famine doesn’t do to us disease will. Viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria love sickly people living in close quarters!
The next 100 years will certainly be an interesting time for humanity.
I’m not saying these things because I hate humanity. I’m saying these things because I love humanity. I think we’re pretty cool. We’ve accomplished much more than many other ape species, probably. A few of us have even evolved passed our ape nature. There’s something here worth saving. I just hope the good parts survive, and the climate-change-denying, growth-economy-touting simpletons die a slow, horrible death.
Radio controlled insects
As much as I love science and the idea of a using science to create a cloud of swarming insects that replaces the sky with eternal darkness, I have to protest. I was browsing through the articles on one of my favorite sites hackaday.com when I happened across a post on controlling beetle flight remotely. Well, that's cool. Someone built a robot beetle that can fly, like in the movies when you see a spy fly that buzzes deep into enemy territory and sniffs out where the terrorist nukes are.
But no, these ain't no robots. An group of engineers from UC Berkeley "restrained" a beetle, implanted electrodes into its brain, and used a remote to force the creature into controlled flight. I have to say this is a pretty disgusting act. As humans, we've now taken another life form, a being with its own free will and consciousness, and stripped it of just about all that makes it alive, and made it dance a jig for us. It still breathes and exists (for how long I wonder) but its very actions are now controlled by some group of people who did it just to see if they could. Congratulations on making the human race as a whole a just bit more repulsive than it was before.
Also, I don't buy the "relax, it's just a beetle" bullshit. Torture is torture, it doesn't matter who it's happening to. None of us can imagine what it's like to have electrodes implanted in our brain administering continuous electrical shocks...and to justify a wrong by saying it happened to something small in size, or happened to something with an exoskeleton is no excuse. What makes it so separate from us? It's a living, breathing, procreating biological machine that feels and responds to its world...just like us. The only real difference between a beetle and a human is that the human falsely thinks there is a difference between the two.
First article from Feb - insect control Article on flight control - flight control
It is my firm belief that everyone who participated should be subject to remote control neural implants for a day, with a retarded 6 year old behind the controls.
Gay marriage - and you!
We've all heard of proposition 8 in California...the ban on gay marriage. It was a dark, bloody political battle that ended in tears, anger, but also joy and a feeling of sanctity for those that won. Let me say that I do not support prop 8. Not because of the rule itself so much as it being a constitutional amendment, not a law. The very document that lists the rights of the residents of the state of California was amended to tell a specific subset of people that they cannot partake in a religious ceremony that binds them for life.
I don't support state-sanctioned gay marriage. Not in any way shape or form. I don't think the state (political state, not geographic state) has the right to marry two men or two women. Neither does it have the right to marry a straight couple though. Marriage, although deeply ingrained in our society, is a religious ceremony. It's a dance two people do to signify their unending commitment.
The state has absolutely no business supporting this ritual. I believe separation of church and state has been defiled by the state taking it upon itself to say who can marry and who cannot. Is that not up to the specific religion the couple in question are marrying under? What moral right does the state have to support a religious ritual and then only for a specific set of people?
I believe the state has overstepped its bounds. I believe the state, as it already does, should allow civil unions between partners, giving them the applicable tax breaks they would receive as a married couple, but not marry people. Marriage is a religious institution and as such should be completely unrecognized by the state.
Note that this would solve all conflicts surrounding marriage. Two gay men can get married at the devil-worshiping, blood-drinking, child-molesting church down the street, and Mr. Conservative who goes to the bread-eating, jesus-praising, child-molesting church up the street doesn't have to recognize the two gay men's marriage. It didn't happen at his church or under his rules, so in his mind, the marriage can be null and void... but the state gives the two gay men their civil union, and then politely bows out of the conflict, letting the upstanding Christian and the society-destroying gays fight it out between themselves.
Everyone wins, and the state can wash its hands clean of all moral conflict surrounding a religous institution.