Is The World Fragile?

Is the World Fragile?

During a recent flight to Europe for business, I was provided with the time and opportunity to read Nassim Nicholas Talebs latest book Antifragial. If you aren’t familiar with Taleb’s work, he is best known for his writings titled The “Black Swan” and “Fooled by Randomness“. Having read both of these (as well as his other lesser known titles), I was not surprised when Antifragial fell into line with these prior works which all focus on the concept of randomness and the need to embrace the unknown rather than trying to explain it away. As Taleb attempts to make the point that all the systems we create are in fact “fragile” systems prone to failure yet we act surprised when they do fail as we have convinced ourselves (falsely in his view) that we understand the risk in these systems.

One of the primary examples he makes is Wall Street and the meltdown we saw in 2007/2008. Here he points out we thought we knew it all with our complex mathematical models and back rooms full of quants with their super computers. Yet even with all of this, how is it possible the event could have even occurred?

This is where Taleb points out to the reader that we will never know what we don’t know until we know it (i.e. until it actually happens). So his basic summation is why waste the efforts of attempting analytical reductions of the risks if we will be simply lying to ourselves, or so Taleb attempts to convince us through a constant stream of (implied) facts.

While there is a “truth” to this, it reminds me of the “chicken and the egg” debate as each side can be an equally valid argument logically. The same to me holds true for risk modeling, as yes there is always a “long tail” to risk meaning an extremely small calculated risk can lead to an amazingly large impact. However to not know the “short tail” risks seems irresponsible to me also.

For me the missing piece of the puzzle is the ability for “man” to lie to him/her self and believe the lie as reality. There is something buried in our primordial minds which allows us to believe in false economies provided by statistics as numbers don’t lie right? Well the one thing we forget when we say that is “man” does [lie] and especially to himself.

Yet concept aside, the writing of the book is near poetic in frame and far better than prior works which were cumbersome and jerky. Believe that this is due to a second writer cleaning up Taleb’s thoughts into cleaner pose than in his prior tomes. This makes for a much more enjoyable read as Taleb tosses (his perceived) facts at the reader in what seems to be at jeopardy lighting round speed.

While I don’t buy into all of Taleb’s arguments, the basics of randomness is an interesting study, Taleb places a lot of information in the users hands for consideration. From here the reader can make up their own mind as what to accept and not. In short, if the unknown is of interest and you don’t mind a bit of one sided ranting, than this book is for you…

Its Time To Think About Data Differently?

Time to think about data differently

Man being a creature of habit tends to incorporate “skeumorphic” elements into evolutionary designs to provide that level of “comfort” as we climb the ladder. Think about it, why does your computer need files, and folders? This paradigm was carried forward from the physical world yet lacks a relevance to the digital one which it is applied to.

Now some may argue this is a requirement for acceptability or better put “understand-ability” of the masses as the path of evolution to revolution is in fact sigmodial and we homosapiens tend to be a funny bunch about dragging our baggage with us. However, to make that final leap we do have to leave that “baggage” behind us as it is accumulative in nature and this brings me to the idea of data.

As the computer does two things, ether it is a reductionary device where it is provided massive amounts of data such as in “Big Data” and it is asked to “reduce” it, or “creationary” where its provided something (typically an Algorithm) and it creates something from that. In the later case, large random number sets for Monte Carlo simulations would be an example. Now since “man” (referred to in a phyla sense) created the computer, they also applied the skeumorphic concepts of “data” to the model so both operations creation & reduction depend upon, and these are now the bottle neck.

As we all know data is growing exponentially and I will save you the rehash of the details, yet the explanation above is important to understand as this is why data is growing. The First Law of Thermodynamics proves this out as we can only shift the information in a system, we can not create nor destroy it, so we are left with a bit of a conundrum.

Lets step back for moment and look at data as well as how it is used by a computer today to better understand how our applied skeumorphism is holding us back. As data exists on a hard disk as series of ones and zeros press very tightly together in a small sequential space on a round spinning disk. For moment we will forget about SSD’s as their relevance isn’t important to the concept, as the point is all of your data exists in “whole” for the most. Your Miley Cyrus songs and all exist in a whole state on your hard drive. Now say you want to share this song (legally) with a friend so you tell your computer to “copy” this data to their computer across the country and what happens?

Well first off your computer will waste a substantial amount of bytes (in reference to the data size you wish to move) just to find and establish a connection with your friends computer, next your computer will say “I have a One, please create a One on your side” and so on till the process is complete yet both computers will spend (waste) a significant about bytes exponentially more than the actual file itself. Note, this discussion isn’t about protocols and the like for communication as all forms of communications have a cost (confirmed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics) so we accept a measure of this as a given. However what if we didn’t have to do this hand shake for each and every byte of information?

How to get around this you ask, the answer is simple math. The computer is a “math” machine, in fact that is all it knows yet we spend large amounts of time and money forcing it to understand our perceived mental models of “data”. With this said, what if we reduced say a terabyte of data to just one algorithm and instead of sending those billions or trillions of bytes we sent one formula? Now you might say we have started down the sigmodial road of this using zip files and WAN compression, yet this is only circumstantial to the greater idea of everything actually being a formula.

In the past, slow processing abilities of the CPU’s created a limiting factor as most of the data taken in by a computer has analog origins and the reduction to a single “formula” if you will was not reasonably possible, yet today those same chains are quickly falling away and new abilities are being created every day.

Evidence of this can be seen in the growth of Regex (Regular Expressions) where linguistic patterns are distilled to mathematical equations which can be rapidly applied to look at vast amounts of data. This is how your spam filters work, as to attempt to a string for string match across the millions of mails passing though those servers would be impossible. Additionally, this is how the NSA also looks at all the data they do, as what people miss is there is to much to read, so the goal is to mathematically mine for items of interest and algorithms allow for this to happen.

Still not convinced this is possible? Well you have to look no further than yourself as you in fact are nothing more than an extremely large hard-drive. What do I mean, every cell in in your body was built by a single root data model named DNA, yes Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Comprised of only five elements being Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon and Phosphorus, they form only 4 (one half of a byte) building blocks being guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine. These four building blocks recombine to from our complete being including “conscience” from this one seemingly data model.

To extent this back to the digital world for moment, what if we could store that terabyte of information we spoke of earlier in just one formula? The imputed abilities and saving of such a capability would be enormous. Simply look at the energy (typically electrical) to store all this data by spinning hard-disk or refreshing SSD’s for each read cycle.

Keep in mind that while we like to think data is “unique” to us in the pictures we take and music we record, this is really not the case as while the possibly for data to be infinite exists, the probability for it to be finite is statically overwhelming…

Absolute Zero

Many years ago in high school chemistry, the idea of absolute zero entered my world of understanding. As the teacher (Mr Robinet) shared the fact that while an interesting concept, the reality was not achievable. He explained should you truly achieve this to a level of say even one molecule, than a chain reaction would occur as other matter would attempt to fill the void as the molecule which reached absolute zero would have collapsed on itself (as at 0 Degrees Kelvin all motion stops and the electrons would fall into the nuclei and the nuclei’s would all fall together) .

The first thing in my mind which was conjured up was a new James Bond theme if you would as the villain would hold the world hostage with an absolute zero bomb. Yet in more realistic terms I did wonder where all this energy did come from (to prevent absolute zero at all costs), and while dating myself this was before the popularity of string theory. Which on the other hand (IMHO) this lends credence to string theory, yet that’s for another post.

As what has me waxing today is an article in Scientific America discussing the idea that the paradoxes of quantum mechanics are in fact only in our heads. In other words, we as humans conjure the concept that a paradox exists in our consciousness and not in fact reality. Yet this is where I become troubled with the whole thing.
As with our telescopes we peer back in time, as for those unaware. When peering through a telescope, you are actually looking backwards in time as the light you see is from what has been and not what is today. The plethora of galaxies seen in the Hubble deep sky survey no longer exist, as we only see the light of what was and not what is as the photons which created that image left not much after the big bang took place.

As in Hubble`s new challenge they are attempting to look even further back to the big bang, now this is to my point. We will never get to see the big bang no matter how hard we look as it is much like attaining absolute zero, this is an impossibility, yet why? To me the answer is simple as one cannot observe the origins of a system which they are part of. Thus as we peer into the depth of the atom, or the darkness of space, we face imposed limits of being part of the system we are trying to understand.

This is why it’s hard to buy into the concept that quantum paradoxes are all in our heads as our heads are in fact part of what creates the paradox, as its only in our heads were this paradox becomes a paradox. Much as which came first the chicken or the egg, as the existence of both are mutually and paradoxically joined together, yet today we have both.

As be it the dark recess of the atom, or the coldness of space there comes a point where sciences and spirituality cross paths.

The End Is Near! Maybe…

Free Stuff

While Fact tends to be stranger than Fiction, as a young lad my parents introduced me to the  “concept” of voting.  Yet even then something struck me being a bit “off” as the masses could vote themselves entitlements!    So those who didn’t want contribute simply needed to be the majority and if the “majority” aligned, they could in turn vote themselves wealth!   Well the other day, this happen to come across my e-mail and I have never seen it put better so it has earned a home here as not only is it a reality.  It is in fact become a vial reality because of the combined anthropological & technical age we now live in:

The folks who are getting the free stuff don’t like the folks who are paying for the free stuff, because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff. And, the folks who are paying for the free stuff want the free stuff to stop. And the folks who are getting the free stuff want even more free stuff on top of the free stuff they are already getting! Now… the people who are forcing the people who pay for the free stuff have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff that the people who are PAYING for the free stuff are being mean, prejudiced, and racist. So… the people who are GETTING the free stuff have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free stuff by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free stuff and giving them the free stuff in the first place. We have let the free stuff giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free stuff than paying for the free stuff. [Note: the majority of American households today pay no Federal Income tax] Now understand this. All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them.

The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 236 years ago. The number of people now getting free stuff outnumbers the people paying for the free stuff.  If you don’t believe this can happen look at Greece and the election that just took place in France .  Now France is a Socialist Country with a 75% tax rate on those that PAY for free stuff .  So the question is why work when all you have to do is vote?  See told yea fact is stranger than fiction…

The Age of Government is Past…

Goverment has been out paced by business.

Up until a decade ago the power of the federal state was the ultimate power of recogning as they controlled the strings, therefore all including business had to follow along like it or not.  Yet the world has changed and government hasn’t here is why we have many of the social problems of the day.  As think about it this way, back in the say the 70’s and even to the 80’s if a company did business globally it was a minority share and typically conducted only as a franchise of the parent.  Meaning it had to bend to local (country) laws and implied social norms.

However fast forward throughout the 90’s and past the turn of the millennium where we find a different world and while buck Rogers is missing the fact companies have out paced government isn’t.  What you say, commercialization has won out over taxation you say?  Well, yes as look at it this way, Apple Computer now has more cash and reach than the US government!  So who needs nukes when you have these things as this is about the only thing which (let’s hope) they don’t have.

Ok, did what I just write sink in?  Yes the multinational companies of today have more reach and money then the Governments they once operated under do as for obvious reasons Governments have remained “regional“, yet multinational companies have out paced (grown) them by going global.  So if a Government does something which one of these behemoths don’t like, they are no longer landlocked subject to the domain of that authority. (note to governments: put away the stick and get the carrots out as you need business more than business needs you)

Need a case in point, SOXs, yes the Sarbanes Oxley Act, one of the worse pieces of legislation to pass through congress and the killer of the US economy as did it have good intentions?  Of course, yet when business saw the negative effect it was going to bring, they packed up and left American shores.  Note, they didn’t go out of business and they still sell their products and services here.  It’s just they have moved their crown jewels to what they believe are friendlier shores.

So who loses out on the this, yes the societies which are left behind, people in the for the first time in the history of the country [America] are seeing a jobless recovery, as how could that be as if people are not working, then where is the money coming from?  Yes Virginia, while Santa Clause maybe imaginary so it seems is our current system(s) of Government is to as there is no longer that a hard link remaining between commercialization and taxation to fund all those soft social programs of the bygone years…

Copyright Gone Too Far…

Copyright Gone Too Far...

With the SOPA Black Out behind us, it amazed me how much I rely on Wikipedia as it just never dawned upon me, however my point is that with any luck people got the message, so the people who are elected to represent us, “us” the people of the Unites States of America and not the liberal Media Companies which bank rolled their campaign war chests.

As my point here is we’ve gone too far with copyright and patent laws as while we require both, things are out of hand now.  The idea of both was to protect unique ideas and innovations to foster the willingness of people and companies to invest in creating them.  This “protection” was initially intended for a limited scope and defined a “reasonable” amount of time before entering the “public domain” to be owned as well as enjoyed without financial impediment or limit.

Now let me say this, cut me and I will bleed capitalism, so this isn’t a socialist thing as by the nature of “capitalism” it should be open as competition is key to capitalistic success.  When we limit the availability to open access of knowledge, then we are limiting competition.  Remember that in the days of old (pre-Internet) is when these [laws] were crafted meaning they are a bit long in the tooth.

It’s also worth noting we can’t do away all together with the protection of intellectual Property where everyone and their brother can set up a “Pirate Bay” site.  However the economic and distribution models need to change as we are now operating in a global economy and the rules of the road in these faraway lands are different than our and our elected officials are that silly to think they are change this with a simple rote swipe of the pen, if this where the case, then they should pass a bill which bans world hunger as they would have more success in that.

As the only thing SOPA will do is form an Oligarchy here, where the few will control what the many have access to as we are headed to a slippery place in the new world where while information wants to be free, it in fact costs a lot and someone has to pay the piper.  As in the old days, yesterday’s news was still worth something as a day old paper still had value; magazines were handed down, etc.  However in today’s world where electrons comprise the manifestation of our information instead of pigmented inks.  They are however are shackled at the ankles by pay-walls which  much like the scenario of Logan’s Run gives it all information only a limited time to live…

China and Saudi Arabia together, What does it mean for the US…

China Arabia Whats Next?
China Arabia Whats Next?

What happens when East meets Middle East? Who wins and who loses?

Sitting here in Southeast Asia as I write this, the news seems to be all about Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visit to the Saudi kingdom as tensions appear to grow over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  At stake for the Saudi Kingdom is $58.5 billion which is the amount China spent on oil with the Arab Kingdom in only the first 11 months of 2011.  To add to this, at least 11 percent of the oil hungry China’s imports come from the rogue Islamic republic of Iran.  Therefore it’s clear as the west moves to lobby sanctions upon Iran, the big losses may in fact be China.

What’s concerning here is what kind of sports will the Chinese be about this, well if I had to bet dollars to donuts, would say not good.  As memories grow old, the pacific component of World War II was driven by the embargoing of materials into Japan and while I’m not trying to say this will be World War III, it surely could lead to an economic show down on a global scale.

What folks especially in the United States are missing is that all roads are crossing in the east. As we drive our large cars and consume all that gasoline, our dollars flow east.  Then as we fill those SUVs at the super stores with goods manufactured in China, more of our dollars end up in the East as in middle with China passing the “buck” along.  This is creating an increasingly large void in the American economy as we run out of cash.  Yes we’ve waxed on this before, yet it’s growing like a malignant tumor with no end in sight other than the consumption of the American economy upon itself.

As come upon the 2012 election year, there will be discussions of illegal immigration, terrorism, and my favorite healthcare.  Yet there is one thing which matters and its critical, that one thing is the repatriation of cash and not going to be easy as it will mean a return to a greater self-sufficiency upon energy being new nuclear developments as well as a greater attempt at oil recovery in the continental US.    While yes what I say is social as well as environmental blasphemy, the fact is the horse is out of the barn and we aren’t going to revert to Amish ways in mass and forego those things which make modern life modern…

 

With this said the win here is to make the best out of what we have learned from the past as the future is all we have left…

The Right Heads Right…

The_Right_Heads_Right
Stop SOPA

Whats the difference between the Great Chinese Firewall and SOPA, let see none...

As agreement on copyright law have never seen to break down neatly along partisan lines in the past, yet it appears today is different.  As here many of the key supporters championing the Stop Online Piracy Act are interestingly enough from the yes political right. Here legislation which is supported by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is enjoying support from none other than the right-leaning, corporate-funded organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Tax Reform.  Yes the typical big brother folks who you would think would be on the side of big media.  Hey wait a minute, isn’t “big media” a liberal left leaning institution after all?

Yet here is a lesson as a growing number of right-leaning individuals as well as organizations have come out vocally against SOPA. Even as of last week, the Heritage Foundation which is one of the nation’s most influential “conservative” think tanks senior researcher and fellow James Gattuso has published an article warning about the “unintended consequences” of SOPA..

It’s in his manifesto of sorts that Gattuso points out that SOPA would in fact undermine Internet security by delaying the implementation of DNSSEC by pushing Internet users to use offshore DNS servers to circumvent DNS blocks. The article also warned that this new government regulation of “search results” would be “the first step down a classic slippery slope of government interference that has no clear stopping point.”

While Gattuso takes no issue with “stealing” needs to stop [as in online privacy], he argues Congress should deal with the problem “in a way that does not disrupt the growth of technology, does not weaken Internet security, and respects free speech rights.”  As its here he doesn’t think SOPA fits the bill as just think about this way as SOPA will “censor” and yes I used the “C” word your DNS!  Do you know what that means?  Most “Joe” averages do not, however DNS (Domain Name Service) is the unsung hero of the internet which makes the internet “human” usable as without it would be nothing more than a bunch of octets.

It also mean the US Government would be encroaching upon the right to free speech there have been many discussions in the past too regarding DNS and the domain (pardon the pun) of free speech.   As the kicker here is there is nothing as Gattuso points out for users not to point their browsers to off shore DNS services.  So we’ve made a lot of ado yet solved nothing other than pushing more “authority” off American shores which is bad for commerce as yes liberals seem to forget without commerce there won’t be people to “legally” buy their products as they just tossed the baby out the 30th floor window with the bath water.

Yet you know what scares me even more, ok think about it for minute [insert pause here] as yes this is the US’s version of the “Great Chinese Firewall”.  As when you start controlling DNS, you start controlling the “free word” and we are a nation based upon our rights of “free speech”  and edification of DNS is no different than the banning of books because someone seems to think they know better…

Back to Fat…

Calories by an other name are Carbohydrates...

So yesterday we where waxing about the topic of fat and that now in  South Africa people are both starving as well as dying of obesity as how can a dichotomy of this nature manifest itself?  Yet to understand this, we need to back up a bit to better understand this as it is one of the main reasons which I started writing this blog in the first place.  As one of the key things I’ve learned is people do not understand there is an “effect” to their “cause”, as they see the world in monochrome as each action is an independent action.

However our friend Sir Isaac Newton was very clear that for every action there would be an “equal and opposite reaction” so in short backing up the second law of thermodynamics which says there isn’t a free lunch in say burn a log, while you’ve changed its ‘state” it’s matter still exists and therefore still is a log.  Yet the dualities of these “actions” are also not independent as many times the “effect” can drive the cause.

Moving back to the physical world for a moment, let’s use the example of the “machine gun” as it has no external power source, yet will keep firing so long as it has bullets.  As its “action” is the firing of the bullet and its “effect” is the recoil and here it uses the “recoil” to fire the next bullet.  In turn it creates a causal cycle which builds in speed until some physical limit kicks in to hinder it.  This in turn is a perfect example of a “Viral Loop” which grows very fast and can end just as quickly as in the gun when the bullets run out its an immediate stop.

So what does all this have to with obesity in South Africa you ask, good question as this is a text book example a cause in effect  scenario playing itself out in society where we can see it.  As unfortunately, social loops are too large to be easily seen and lead “uni-blindness”   meaning we see only one the “cause” side of the equation.

So you want to solve hunger right?  Noble cause to say the least, so how are you going to tackle it is the question as economic (be functional or token denominated) systems are always the limiting factor. So with limited resources you want to supply the most for the least right?  So you buy the highest caloric staple for the dollar you can, correct?  Well what happens then, ok the first when dealing with carbohydrates, it is easy to overrun the calories which the body needs as the basal rate for an average adult is about 11 calories per pound, per day so a 160 pound person at rest would require only 1,760 calories per day. So round up to about 2,000 and  anything over that is going to fat production an yes, all calories are not created equal.

As without going into a lot of nutritional and metabolic mumbo jumbo the human has a hard time with “complex” sugars (another phrase for crabo’s) as its designed to burn simple sugars so  it likes to convert them to fat first then simple sugars so you get the picture.  The piece you might of missed is above I shared that basal caloric needs are based upon body weight and therefore as body weight rises so does the need for more calories so is a negative cycle forming here or what.

Finely (for today’s post) is when high carbohydrate food is “handed out”, less effort needs to be applied [on aggregate] to obtain those calories so the need actually falls yet the availability rises.  Again not a good cycle as we are now “fattening” people even more and all we wanted to do is feed the hungry right?  Well, you have to remember the world like it or not is “zero sum”.  Whoa you say Campbell,  zero sum really!  Well we will pick that up tomorrow…

And We Just Keep Getting Fatter…

Its interesting to understand how the body handles sugars...

Obesity fascinates me as it carries with it a ton of social “tells” if you will about how things work within that “society” as in general “obesity” is not a [in general] a natural act. Yes you read that correctly as in nature how many “obese” animals do you see where man hasn’t lent a hand? Case in point is my back yard, as a couple months ago we had several [White tail] deer come in so the wife started feeding them. After she started so did then neighbors and so on, so now you guessed it we have chubby deer and not only a fact of the number of people feeding them, it’s more so “what” we are feeding them. As prior to dinning at the Campbell household, their staple food was “grass” which was low in caloric value and high in fiber [meaning it moved quickly through the gut further reducing caloric absorption], yet we have altered their diet feeding them shelled corn. Yes, we have introduced them to a high caloric low fiber diet which is costly so what have we also done? Well of course, tossed in a good round of carbohydrates too in the form of deer kibble further raising the caloric count!

Yet more so back to my main point as what got me on this was an Economist article titled “Fat is bad but beautiful” which discusses the rapid growth of obesity in South Africa. As even though the goes that 40% of its 50m people live off less than $2 a day, South Africa has become one of the world’s fattest countries. As an amazing Six out of ten (60% majority) South Africans are now clinically overweight or obese. Additionally a quarter of teenagers and one in six children under nine are too as the story starts out to tell us of the death of 250lb nine year old boy of heart failure. So how can a society which lives on $2 a day be obese you ask?

Well that in itself is the answer as the poor here are damned if they do and the same if they don’t. As yes fast food (including processed) is booming there because it is cheap and it is empty. What do I mean by empty, well in short nutritional value as what we’ve figured out how to do is chain together long form sugar to create carbohydrates which carry no “nutritional value”. So the question is why do this, simple its cheap in fact very cheap and that is one of the reasons the poor pay if you will as its either no food or well obesity. As the human body was not designed to take in the levels of [man made] carbohydrates which we provide to it today on top of we are far less active then our forefathers where so again as a whole society needs less calories today than in the past, yet today we have far more calories available to us than any time in our past. As its this shift in affluence and what it means to society that we will tackle tomorrow as we are what we eat, like it or not…

Who Says Space Isn’t Important…

There was once a day we soared to the heavens, we commanded the sky! Yet today, our wings clipped we stand on Terra Firma and watch as the world passes us by...

There is a race going and we are not part of it and we all know if you’re not in a race, you can’t be a winner and that is on many fronts.  As Asia’s current space race could also turn into an arms race akin to what we saw in the days of the Cold War.  Well that is I guess according to James Clay Moltz, who is a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School.

As he writes that the major Asian nations, namely China, Japan, India, and South Korea, are all investing monies to expand their space programs [are we? No] with little-to-no cooperation. While these efforts appear to be driven by want of national prestige there also exist geopolitical rivalries, similar to the ones faced by the US and Soviet’s in the space race of the 1960s. The thing is and what most westerners forget is that during the period of the “space race” it stimulated technological advancements which made us who we are today [and thus missing out on for the future].

While competing agendas in Asia are leading to a duplication of work and mistrust among the countries involved.  Where is also the waste of resources while even worse [for us], is this “competition” if you will is also undermining recent cooperation which has been built up between the US, Russia, and Europe.

As unlike here in the west, Asia doesn’t have any type of regional security organization such as NATO.  So when you add this fact with the long-standing feuds seen between  nations such as China & India, India & Pakistan, to of course  North Korea & South Korea, and on and on and on, well you get the idea as cant we all just get along? Means a civilian space race could turn into an arms race as what other good use of could there be for a big rocket, let see [insert thinking time here].  Aah yes, an ICBM and guess what, yes a big rocket makes for bad bomb building techniques.  As thermo nuclear bombs are easy to build, however it’s hard to make them small, so the issue has been one of “delivery”, whereas have big [rocket] then can deliver.

On the other front, each of these nations has performed separate lunar-mapping missions since 2007, with planned follow ups which will include the deployment of rovers, landers, and lunar bases.  Again without any cooperation, even though a lot of the work will be redundant.   Even our friends in Japan are climbing fast with the most human spaceflight experience in the region.  As with 15 manned flights since 1992 along with a paid membership in the International Space Station.  However it has always had to  hitchhike a ride with either us or Russia.

Here China on the other hand as launched its first astronaut in only 2003  along with many follow-up flights since.  To its most recent accomplishment of launching a Tiangong-1 orbital test module for a planned 2020 space station all on its own!  While not to be out done, India who feels a little earth bound has announced  a planned manned flight to take place in 2016. Have to wonder if they are interested in buying a fleet of slightly used space shuttles?

Worth noting is they don’t also plan to stop with manned  spaceflight efforts either, as the three major nations also have plans to deploy their own solutions to the US-maintained Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network.  In fact, China has already deployed over one third of its planned 35-satellite “BeiDou” network in orbit  Note worthy too is ours are old, theirs are new.

The long story short is we the west are being left behind, we have retired our only good manned way to space and depend now upon others for rides aloft.  We have forgotten how to go to the moon as well as “this that and the other thing”, god speed John Glenn…

Thank You for Smoking…

A personal liberty is only that which is granted by the group...

Today’s post is based upon a 2005 satirical comedy which follows the machinations of “Big Tobacco’s” chief lobbyist, Nick Naylor, whose job was to spin on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son.  As what has me on this today, well its “smoking” and yea this one might hit a nerve with a few people, however that’s life.

As when I come to Houston which I do a lot, my home away from home is a Marriot in the “Medical District” of Houston and it (the District not the hotel) is huge!  Now the Marriot is a NO SMOKING hotel, so if you want to light up its outside you go and trust me there are plenty out there.  So again what’s the big deal Campbell, yea so people are standing outside smoking your point here?

Simple, the people for the most are here for health reasons, mostly cancer yet they continue to light up and smoke their life away!  So here you are having a part of your body cut off and injected with poison to make you deathly ill (chemo) and you have to light up?  Please, ok now many of you (assumingly smokers) are saying “hey wait a minute its my right to smoke”!  Ok, same thing for the motorcyclist who doesn’t want to wear a helmet as it may dampen their manhood as a “rain coat” would and thus the point of today’s post is born.

As we could wax for days what is a personal “liberty” however I don’t have that long and I doubt you do either so let’s cut to the chase.   Personal liberties break down when we join a social order as in these cases we must forego a portion of these applied liberties for the betterment of the whole and if we fail to this we may be asked to leave.  What am I getting at here, simple these people who have a portion of their body removed and are standing out in the cold (yes its rather chilly here today) have insurance.

Ok, so you say they paid into it [insurance] so stop complaining, however so did you, as well as I and isn’t the idea of insurance that the “whole” will protect the few?  However what happens if the whole decide they want to do something which the “whole” cannot afford to pay for?  This is where “social loops” break down because as with most things “personal” liberties are only a manifestation of social constructs.  Much as we’ve wax about “personal” privacy being a fallacy having once been regulated by [high] cost is now open to all with a computer and a little internet savvy.

Here the idea [rhetoric proof if you will] of liberties being falsehoods is the fact they are not universal as you can go to Amsterdam and smoke a little weed.  Yet should you do this in many Asian or Middle Eastern countries you might find yourself forfeiting your life for this “liberty” which you took in Amsterdam.  Therefore the logic which creates this “economy” is a false one as society decides your liberties and not you.  Just something to think about the next time you light up…