Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 70

1. Slavery lives in the 21st century. Of course, the worst offenders worship the Religion of Peace.

2. World's oldest blogger dies at 108. Let's see, if I'm still blogging in 2066, I could break her record.

3. Quote of the day:

"Well, you could be serious and still have fun. In fact, he believed it was the secret of a happy life, if anybody wanted to know a secret."

Elmore Leonard, LaBrava

4. Some stunning pictures of Martian valleys. Also, Rick Moran is wary of "active SETI" -- sending signals into space that would announce there is a technological civilization on Earth.

I think the fact that we have never seen alien life is evidence that FTL is impossible. If FTL were possible, wouldn't aliens be popping into orbit around Earth daily? The speed of light is the speed limit and interstellar travel is hugely difficult, expensive and time-consuming.

5. They don't make 'em like they used to -- unless they're Alicia Keys. Her latest hit, "Teenage Love Affair," has a '70s sound to me.

6. Inflation highest in 27 years.

UPDATE: A local paper did an article on me. The quotes are all taken from acting posts on this blog. (The headshot also comes from this blog.) I was never actually interviewed by a reporter. Just another way the internet makes life more efficient!


madmax said...

"The speed of light is the speed limit..."

Actually from what I have been reading from the physicists on HBL, it seems that the fastest speed may be capped too low; the speed of light may not be the fastest speed possible. This fact may solve many of the so called "paradoxes" of quantum physics especially the wave-particle duality or the "action-at-a-distance" phenomenon.

As for aliens. IMO, I think any advanced civilization gets past its primitive period; which is exactly what we are in. I bet all advanced civilizations have to progress philosophically along the same stages we are. Once they advanced to the fully rational stage, what possible interest could humans at their present level of insanity offer them? If there is some sort of intergalactic "federation" of species I think a planet could only join once it had become fully rational. Becoming fully rational and fully free, and thus super advanced, would be like a right of initiation. Once a species accomplishes that, then they are likely to make "first contact".

Advanced aliens probably have a map of our quadrant with the sign over it: "Steer Clear of those Wackos!"

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Thanks for the link.

The inflation rate is awful - thanks to the Feds fiddling with interest rates.

Chuck said...

Not sure if we're allowed to comment on earlier comments, but I'd like to respond to madmax' comments on "advanced civilizations."

There never will be a time when any species reaches "the fully rational stage." As long as intelligent life has free will, there will be hordes of irrational beings in every civilization.

Rationality can never be automatic.
And where there are irrational beings, there will be the lust to plunder and rule anyone weaker.

EdMcGon said...

Why would an advanced species NEED to contact us? I can see why they might want to study us, but they can do so without making contact.

Sorry Myrhaf, just because we haven't discovered the FTL technology yet doesn't make it impossible. I think intergalactic travel will require the "folding" of space.

Chuck said...

When has conquest ever been a question of need? Did Hitler need to invade Poland? Did Alexander or Genghis Khan need to conquer huge swaths of the world? They did not. They were simply bent on conquest.

There is no reason to expect advanced alien civilizations to be any different. Perhaps someone should define what they mean by an "advanced species" or an "advanced civilization." As I said in my previous comment, there is no reason to suppose any advanced species will ever exist that does not have free will.

As long as there is free will, there will be Hitlers, Stalins, Alexanders, and Khans. And we should prepare accordingly in any potential contact with an alien civilization.

mike18xx said...


Genetic re-sequencing to eliminate the "stupidity" and "asshole" genes is how alien species solve that. to why we haven't seen hide nor hair of 'em: I suspect that all sufficiently technologically advanced alien races split this "dump" 3d universe across a "membrane" into more interesting, higher-order dimensions.

Chuck said...

The only Weebles I'm familiar with are the ones who wobble, but don't fall down.

I expect your comment on eliminating the stupidity, etc., genes, was in jest. Because stupidity certainly cannot be eliminated by gene manipulation.

Even if an alien species put the equivalent of all the knowledge ever discovered on a computer chip, and embedded it in the brains of all the members of its species, that still wouldn't prevent them from being irrational and acting irrationally.

Or do you think it would?

Jim May said...

Arthur C. Clarke, in his short story "The Sentinel" (from which "2001" was developed) postulated that there was a specific set of challenges, in particular the mastery of space travel, and of nuclear technology *without* ending up destroying ourselves.

My idea is that the ultimate challenge we must pass is the development of an advanced morality to go with our advanced technology. Thanks to Kant, the danger of obliterating ourselves is very real, as Ayn Rand noted when she painted the image of Attila the Hun balancing a nuclear weapon in his hand and consulting an astrologer regarding whether to toss it.

Well, imagine a time when technology progresses to the point where someone discovers how to build a neutron bomb (or its equivalent) using cheap and commonly available technology. That would mean that we only need a very few idiots to build these, and fewer to set them off, to wreck a big chunk of civilization.

In such a scenario, even if 99% of the population were solidly rational and trustworthy, that leaves enough evil people and idiots around to knock us back into the stone ages.

I'm hoping that's not the explanation... the quarantine idea (who wants to go near moral primitives with nuclear weapons?) holds more appeal to me.

Inspector said...

Actually, there is a whole school of speculation about this topic of alien civilizations.

The jist of it is that we don't have any evidence of advanced civilizations. Given the vastness and age of the universe, this would seem to imply that there is a "barrier" of some kind, which statistically causes civilizations to be destroyed. (i.e. asteroids, plagues, ionizing cosmic radiation, nuclear war, etc)

The question they ponder is: Is this "barrier" something we've already encountered and survived or is it something we've yet to encounter?

The answer is meaningful not only in terms of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, but also for whether some Horrible Impending Doom yet awaits us.

Fascinating stuff.

Myrhaf said...

I doubt that there is a barrier that destroys civilizations. I really think there's no getting around the speed of light. Thus interstellar travel is so difficult and expensive that only the greatest and most determined explorers every achieve it, and then only with limited success before their efforts peter out. On top of that, I suspect that conceptual consciousness is extremely rare in the universe. In three billion years it has evolved on Earth exactly once, genus homo. Without our genus, this planet could easily have gone through its existence until the sun eventually explodes without one concept being thought on it.

The biggest "barrier" to interstellar travel, as I wrote in my post "Where Are They?," is that it is not in a civilization's economic self-interest to explore the stars. The time horizons are so long that no one can gain a profit from deep space travel. So it's all expense -- massive expense. It must be funded by government or charity, both inefficient.

mike18xx said...

> Because stupidity certainly cannot be eliminated by gene manipulation....

Intelligence is one of the most highly transmissible genetic traits across generations. When the genome is fully sequenced and understood, it shouldn't be hard to figure out.