Archive for November, 2008


Sunday, November 30th, 2008

In the good old days of writing software we used to reorganize it, now we ‘refactor’ it.

Why are we here?

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

“Why are we here?” An age old question that lots of people ask and nobody really has a good answer to. We look to religion and google, and google just refers us back to religion. That must be what religion is for, to answer the question, why are we here.

I don’t think there is one single correct answer for everybody, and I don’t think that everybody needs an answer in the first place. But if you do, you have to come up with an answer that suits you. And if you don’t want to, you can always use somebody else’s answer.

I’m reading this book called “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn. It is one of those books that tells you a story that makes you think. I don’t know if its intention was to get me to think about why we’re here, but that’s what it did.

I believe there is no reason why we’re here. We just are. Here. I think if you have to have an answer to the reason why we’re here, you have to make one up.

The conclusion I’ve come to is this: We are here to increase our quality of life.

I don’t see any other purpose to being here, so while we’re here, we might as well make it as least miserable as possible. The next obvious question is: “Well, if there’s no point to being here, why don’t we kill ourselves?” Apparently we tried that, and evolution came up with ‘survival instinct’ so that we’d stop doing that. I have another rant about suicide, but that’s for another time. I’ll summarize that rant with this: “If you feel like you want to kill yourself, try running away first.” No problem is so large that it can not be run away from.

So we’re stuck here, or we run away, and we’re stuck somewhere else, still with no real purpose. So while we’re here sticking it out until our bodies give out on us, why not make it fun, or at least not unpleasant for ourselves. I’ve spent lots of time over the past 10-15 years mulling this idea over and I really haven’t come up with anything better than to try and make life enjoyable for the duration.

Of course it fits our American culture: more better faster. But if that’s what you like, then why not. Other cultures might have different answers but that’s what works for me in our culture that I was raised in.

The book goes on about how our civilization and culture is going to kill us. We keep multiplying in vast numbers and consuming irreplaceable resources, yet somehow think this will go on forever and science will solve the problems as they come up. By now most people realize we’re going to die out long before the sun stops burning. But there’s no one master body of power that says to everybody “Okay, look here people, this isn’t working, and if you want to survive as a species, you better stop what you’re doing now.” There are plenty of people who already say it’s too late for that. I think they’re wrong. But the fact is that there IS no one commanding body of power that can force that change, so in fact we will go on reproducing and consuming until the first thing that gives out, gives out.

It might be water, it might be breathable air, it might be food, land to live on, maybe some disease will do it to us that we have no antibiotic for because it’s become resistant to all known remedies. But no question, something is going to give out, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Because nobody can make everybody else stop.

So we will die out. Some future generation will start suffering, starving, dying of dehydration. It probably won’t happen all at once, and possibly our numbers will lower to a point where it becomes sustainable again and humans can go on for a while. Perhaps it depends on which humans survive. Given our society though, the self sufficient and the rich are likely to survive, and the rich won’t be very helpful.

Everybody is wrapped up in their day to day routine so much that rarely do they lift their heads to see what the future unquestionably holds. And since there are more problems to deal with right now than in the future, it is quickly forgotten in trade for remembering to pick up milk.

The reality is that there’s no law of physics that requires that everything be good and work out to our advantage. When the water runs out, we will dehydrate and die. Period. It may be the government’s fault, it may be the fault of some other species, but it doesn’t matter, because people will be dying. Assigning blame won’t change anything.

So far we’ve been lucky that things have worked out fairly well for lots of people, but that’s going to change. And this entitlement that we Americans have that we deserve things to be good, again, is not a law of physics. There will be a big wake-up call for a lot of people when suddenly things aren’t going their way and no amount of yelling and phone calls and lawyers will be able to do anything about it.

The twin towers collapse was a good example. We’re technologically more advanced than anybody in the history of mankind, but there was nothing anybody could do to stop those buildings from falling. Nothing anybody could do to rescue the people from those buildings. The laws of physics say the metal under extreme temperatures will weaken, and so they did. And that was that. No amount of blame, emotion, screaming or whining changed a thing.

That’s what’s going to happen to us in the future a few generations from now.

But we can all ignore it because we won’t be here to suffer the consequences. It will be our children’s problem, and while we can think enough ahead to say that, it appears to me we’re still not doing anything about it.

So why do you think we are here.

Here’s a conspiracy for you.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

I just heard that gas is $1.71 in Edison new jersey.
And it occurred to me that the gas price fixing is the tool the government uses to help or hinder the
When the housing bubble was ramping up, they wanted to slow down the economy so they raised the price
of gas, didn’t work so well, the bubble popped, and now we’re in the dumps. So to spur consumer spending,
they’re lowering the price of gas to help the economy out.
It’s not working either, but at least there’s cheap gas.
Not bad for a conspiracy, eh?

The whole thing is a farce

Friday, November 14th, 2008

“The market is down today.”

Have you ever really thought about what they’re saying? When they say “the market” they (you know, they, the people who fix the roads… ‘they’) are really just generalizing, and are really referring to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This is a phrase referring to a number that represents a sum of the trading value of some particular companies selected to be representative of the market as a whole.

But it’s not.  Every once in a while a company is removed or added to the list of what is used in the index calculation. On that day, the value of “the market” changes, not because anything went up or down in value, but because somebody decided some company was more or less good at representing the market on that day.

Then there’s the fact that the companies listed as part of the DJIA index are not weighted, so if a $1.00 company gains a dollar and a $100 company gains a dollar, it amounts to the same thing in the index.

Take into account that it’s all perception (I hope we all know that by now) and not actual value of companies that make up their stock price that goes into the index calculation and it’s hard to imagine how anybody can take “The market is down today” at all seriously. But people do and it affects their mood and their likelihood to spend.

Here’s another example: “Prices haven’t been this low since 1984.” That’s another brainless comment. If something costs $5.00 today,  and it cost $5.00 in 1984 are you going to tell me it was the same price and has the same value? Having the same price is a meaningless comparison because it doesn’t take into account inflation. But what you hear is that the price now has dropped to the same numerical dollar value as it was in 1984. Well, in 1984 $5.00 was worth a lot more than it is now. So in fact if the price now drops to 1984 values you gotta think we’re much worse off than in 1984. But they’re not saying that. It’s part of the farce of finance.

It’s all a big uncontrollable farce.

We are not alone, but we might as well be

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Crichton has a silly rant about global warming here: but it starts off with a rant on SETI.

Which reminds me of something that always seemed pretty obvious to me.

We know the universe is pretty damn big. Some of us think we evolved through the wonders of chaos starting somewhere near the cellular level. If that’s so, it stands to reason that this evolution could happen elsewhere. Given the size of the universe (bigger than we can imagine) it’s not too big a reach to imagine it happening elsewhere and at some point in time, past present or future, there is likely to be another intelligent species of some kind living on some kind of planet.

But given what science has also told us about time and space travel, and given what a uninteresting part of an uninteresting galaxy we live in, it is unlikely that anybody will ever find us. Or we them.

Which is probably a good thing.

On perspective

Friday, November 7th, 2008

If you don’t get this picture, you shouldn’t be in public office.

My first and last two cents on politics

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Now that the fiasco is over (although I have to say, without TV, it’s not all that noticable) it’s pretty evident that mccain lost through no fault of his own. The worst president in my lifetime sets a pretty poor stage for any follow up act. I don’t think it was possible for any republican to win, unless maybe George Bush ran as a democrat.

Let bush go down in history as he deserves, the most incompetent, government leader in living memory.

From the la times:

As Americans are turning out to the polls in record numbers, Bush’s approval rating, according to the latest CBS News tracking poll, has dipped to 20%, the lowest ever recorded for a president. His disapproval rating of 72% matches his all-time high, reached last month.

Not found before.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I found a bug in Web 2.0 and will be releasing a patch for 2.01 shortly.