from the you-can-trust-us dept.
From Slashdot.org comes a posting reflecting how science fiction might become science fact - within our lifetimes, perhaps! (Well...probably not within my lifetime, but within the lifetimes of some of you.)
As my blog friends have proven to be a savvy bunch (witness comments to previous postings concerning particle physics), I'm sure that you are all well ahead of me in reading about and interpreting reports from CERN's LHC exerimental teams. None-the-less, I pass along the latest posting from Slashdot.org.
While I'm posting, I pass along this thought-provoking article from the same source.
Further, from the same source, comes a hopeful development that reminds me of beating swords into plowshares.
And, finally, an item from the same source - concerning an "Aha!" moment brought on by our own global pollution considerations.
Now that the elections are over in the USA, can I (please!) quit being exposed to blogs wherein the writers lament/obsess/wail/caterwaul/blather about how the Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians/Greens/Independents are nothing but a bunch of lying/thieving/inhumane/stupid crooks? I have had it "up to 'here'"! There for a while, I was threatening myself to remove my whole blog roll, it got so bad; but, that would have kept me from reading the one blogger who did not get him/herself all lathered up.
Whew! I feel better, now!
The main thrust of the following item from Slashdot.com is true for more than just highways. We are (most of us, I warrant) 'way too enamored of shiny new things. How much of what do we really need?We Don't Need More Highways122
One of my favorite blogs does not appear on my blogroll for three reasons: 1) I have no "personal" online relationship with its author, 2) I think that many of my blog friends already go there, and 3) I don't go there daily because it takes too long to do that blog (and the 60-100 commenters on each posting) justice. I found a posting there, just now, that deserves a bit of publicity. The blog to which I refer is Murrmurrs by Murr Brewster. The posting that caught my eye, today is In God We Bluster. Below are two excerpts from the posting.
This one concerns the mention of god on our money: "Theodore Roosevelt objected to putting God on our coins because he thought, with some biblical justification, that it was sacrilegious to put the name of God on money, but modern Republicans recognize that it just makes money that much easier to worship. In God We Trust has thus become the official motto of the United States, replacing E Pluribus Unum...."
And this one offers a tongue-in-cheek update to the Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, the real one who created the whole world and the sky and everything six thousand years ago and just try to get your other gods to pull off something like that...."
Most of the following articles illustrate how squishy human standards of truth and logic seem to be.
From The Psychologist:
Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz describe some fascinating findings on how fluency affects judgement, choice and processing style - Pages: 108-111
Suppose you ponder whether a new exercise routine is suitable for you or whether a statement like ‘Orsono is a city in Chile’ is true or false. What would your decision be based on? Most psychological theories suggest that you would consider the nature of the exercise or draw on your knowledge about geography to arrive at an informed decision. Surely, you wouldn’t base your judgement on the print font in which the material is presented – or would you?
Surprisingly, recent experimental research shows that the print font can exert a profound influence on such decisions. This is the case because print fonts and related variables influence how fluently new information can be processed. The resulting feeling of ease or difficulty, in turn, informs a wide variety of judgements, from judgements of effort to judgements of familiarity, truth, risk and beauty (for a review see Schwarz et al., 2009). We illustrate some of these effects, discuss their applied implications, and note parallels between people’s reliance on the metacognitive feelings of ease and difficulty and their reliance on moods and emotions as sources of information (Schwarz & Clore, 2007).
Inauguration of the huge new $4,000,000,000 work-relief program increased the New Deal alphabetical list to 84 units. The NRA decision chopped off a few of that number. But the work-relief program to take people off the dole and put them to work has already added five new agencies, including DAL, WAD, WPA, RRA and REA. Four others were created by Congress later in the session recently closed. These were NBCC, BCLB, RRR and SSB, bringing the total to nearly 90. All of the alphabet agencies, however, were not created by the present administration. Some of them were adoptions from previous administrations. The complete list of alphabetical units, past and present, follows:
AAA--Agricultural Adjustment Administration.
ALB--Automobile Labor Board (defunct).
AVA--Administrator of Veteran Affairs.
BAPC--Business Advisory and Planning Council.
BCLB--Bituminous Coal Labor Board.
BOB--Bureau of the Budget.
CAB--Consumers Advisory Board (defunct).
CCC--Civilian Conservation Corps.
CCC--Commodity Credit Corporation.
CES--Committee on Economic Security.
CSB--Central Statistical Board.
CWA--Civil Works Administration (defunct).
DAI--Division of Applications and Information.
ECW--Emergency Conservation Work.
EHC--Emergency Housing Corporation.
EHFA--Electric Home and Farm Authority.
FAA--Federal Alcohol Administration.
FAC--Federal Advisory Council.
FAC--Federal Aviation Commission.
FCA--Farm Credit Administration.
FCC--Federal Communications Commission.
FCT--Federal Coordinator of Transportation.
FCUS--Federal Credit Union System.
FDIC--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
FEHC--Federal Emergency Housing Corporation.
FERA--Federal Emergency Relief Administration.
FESO--Federal Employment Stabilization.
FHA--Federal Housing Administration.
FHC--Farm Homes' Corporation.
FHLBB--Federal Home Loan Bank Board.
FICB--Federal Intermediate Credit Banks.
FMC--Farm Mortgage Corporation.
FPC--Federal Power Commission.
FRB--Federal Reserve Board.
FSHC--Federal Subsistence Homestead Corporation.
FSRC--Federal Surplus Relief Corporation.
FTC--Federal Trade Commission.
FTZB--Foreign Trade Zones Board.
GFA--Grain Futures Administration.
HOLC--Home Owners' Loan Corporation.
IAB--Industrial Advisory Board (defunct).
ICC--Interstate Commerce Commission.
IEC--Industrial Emergency Council.
JEB--Joint Economy Board.
LAB--Labor Advisory Board (defunct).
NBCC--National Bituminous Coal Commission.
NCB--National Compliance Board.
NEC--National Emergency Council.
NIRA--National Industrial Recovery Act.
NIRB--National Industrial Recovery Board.
NLRB--National Labor Relations Board.
NMB--National Mediation Board.
NPB--National Planning Board.
NPPC--National Power Policy Committee.
NRA--National Recovery Administration.
NRB--National Resources Board.
NRS--National Reemployment Service.
NYA--National Youth Administration.
PAB--Petroleum Administrative Board (defunct).
PLPC--Petroleum Labor Policy Board (defunct).
PWA--Public Works Administration.
PWAP--Public Works of Art Projects.
RACC--Regional Agricultural Credit Corporations.
REA--Rural Electrification Administration.
RFC--Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
RRA--Rural Resettlement Administration.
RRR--Railroad Retirement Board.
SAB--Science Advisory Board.
SAPFT--Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Trade (defunct).
SBPW--Special Board for Public Works.
SEC--Securities and Exchange Commission.
SES--Soil Erosion Service.
SHD--Subsistence Homesteads Division.
SLIC--Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation.
SLRB--Steel Labor Relations Board.
SSB--Social Security Board.
TEC--The (President's) Executive Council.
TFI--Textile Foundation, Inc.
TLRB--Textile Labor Relations Board.
TVA--Tennessee Valley Authority.
TVAC--Tennessee Valley Associated Co-operatives.
TWAB--Textile Work Assignment Boards.
USES--United States Employment Service.
USIS--United States Information Service.
WAD--Works Allotment Division.
The above article is the text of a newspaper clipping saved in a scrapbook by my mother. I believe it to be from a Nevada MO newspaper circa 1936.
According to North Carolina law, I am a billionaire. I have a full-time nanny for my children, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and I get to spend the entire year taking guitar lessons from Mark Knopfler. Oh, my avatar? I haven’t got around to changing it, but by law, I now look like George Clooney. There’s also a supermodel clause, but discussing the details would be boasting.
You think I’m kidding, but listen to me: I’m from North Carolina, and that’s how we roll. We take what we want to be reality, and we just make it law. So I’m having my state senator introduce legislation writing into law all the stuff I mentioned above. This is North Carolina, state motto: “Because that’s how I WANT it to be.”
You know, of course, about our passing May 8 of Amendment One, which has now written into our constitution anti-marriage discrimination against anyone who doesn’t fit one group’s image of marriage. It’s just as ugly as it sounds – just as ugly as the last time we wrote such marriage discrimination into our constitution, in 1875, when instead of protecting us against the idea of same-sex couples marrying, it was protecting us against racial miscegenation – down to the third generation, mind you. Good times!
Okay, though. These are hard days, people are crazyish, and you just have to soldier on, right? But then it turns out that North Carolina legislators are now tossing around bills that not only protect themselves from concepts that make them uncomfortable, they’re DETERMINING HOW WE MEASURE REALITY.
A couple of paragraphs later:
Here’s a link to the circulated Replacement House Bill 819. The key language is in section 2, paragraph e, talking about rates of sea level rise: “These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly. …” It goes on, but there’s the core: North Carolina legislators have decided that the way to make exponential increases in sea level rise – caused by those inconvenient feedback loops we keep hearing about from scientists – go away is to make it against the law to extrapolate exponential; we can only extrapolate along a line predicted by previous sea level rises.
Which, yes, is exactly like saying, do not predict tomorrow’s weather based on radar images of a hurricane swirling offshore, moving west towards us with 60-mph winds and ten inches of rain. Predict the weather based on the last two weeks of fair weather with gentle breezes towards the east. Don’t use radar and barometers; use the Farmer’s Almanac and what grandpa remembers.
Please note the disclaimer at the bottom of the article:
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
It would be entertaining if it weren't so stooooopid. I would be the last to argue that all scientific forecasts (on anything!) are correct; but, to deny people the advantage of the very best forecasting that can be had???? OK. So, the constitution is changed and the legal forecasts say that certain lands will not be affected by sea level rise. People pour millions/billions into developing the land - and - if and when the lands get flooded out on a permanent basis, those developers/owners will stick their hands out expecting that the Federal Government (funded by us taxpayers) will foot the bill to either buy them out or to build dikes to keep the law-flouting waters out.