Monday, May 29, 2006
Why we do anything
Lance has been reading science fiction magazines again. Go see his post so I don't have to rehash it for you. Seriously, because I'm not going to and this might not make sense if you don't.
Lance brings up a point about Star Trek that's always bugged me too: they have free energy and the means to create whatever they want out of it. Why don't they all just relax? What's the point of all that running around, building spaceships, stressing out over the Romulans or Cardassians or Jem'Hadar or whatever? What's the deal?
In season 1 episode 26, "The Neutral Zone," the cryogenically-frozen 20th century financier expresses doubt when he learns of this futuristic moneyless society: 'what's the challenge?' he asks. Picard replies, 'to better yourself,' or some such. The point is, technology improved and made things easier, so people improved too and went looking for new challenges or, put another way, went looking to make things harder again.
Lance frets: will we, in fact, have the wisdom and fortitude to seek new challenges when the magic button takes care of the old ones for us? I submit that we will, but first some more discussion.
It is perfectly plausible that, freed from want, we would take a long planetwide vacation; kick back, lounge about, play a few holodeck games. At least until the alien invaders show up and then I hope someone had the foresight to program these into that magic button.
Point number one: the humans of Star Trek had other races to compete with.
Point number two: the humans of Star Trek had plenty of time to get used to the new technology. Captain Archer didn't have replicators, neither did Captain Kirk. The hapless folk in Lance's SF story apparently had the things dropped in their laps, while the Trek people were evolving and assimilating all the new stuff that comes out of joining the, er, galactic community.
I started to digress into a description of a couple conversations from DS9; one between Bashir and O'Brien about the cultural effects of Terran artists trying out extraterrestrial art forms, the other between Quark and Garak about root beer. They're pertinent, honest. But, this is turning into an attempt at a serious discussion of the result of free energy in society, and that's really not necessary. You see, the entirety of human achievement throughout history can be ascribed to one thing - the desire to impress the opposite sex. [Or the same sex, if that's your deal, nothing wrong with that.] As long as we have that, we're gonna be okay.
At least until those damn Xindi show up.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
That 'N' stands for knowledge
Trying to get a youtube video in a post here. Repeated failures are exposing my woeful lack of design ability. Anybody able to help?
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Repressed much? "Google, the world’s most popular Internet search engine, has found in a survey that mostly Muslim states seek access to sex-related websites..."
Six of the top ten porn-consuming nations are officially or predominantly Muslim. Of the remaining four, two have significant Muslim populations. Of the remaining two, neither is the USA. Which leads me to ask, what gives?
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I forgot, I meant to comment on the sentencing of dipshit terrorist Moussaoui (sp?). Short version, I don't care. Slightly longer version, on the difference between life in prison and the death penalty: ask Jeffrey Dahmer.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Instapundit linked to a story
About ground-based light generators that could be used to knock out enemy satellites. The author had some objections about using the funds for such a warlike purpose. Naturally, I don't share them. I love stuff like this.
Plus, think how handy they'll be when the insecto-robot alien invaders show up. It could be anytime.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Does your employer make you go to motivational seminars? Mine does!
The Zig Ziglar motivational seminar came to Des Moines last Monday. There were an estimated 20,000 attendees, which was nice since construction on the highway recently resumed and the venue is right smack in the middle of downtown. There were nine speakers: three ‘motivational speakers,’ each a bigger waste of time than the last; three financial advisers, two of whom had some interesting things to say about investing; and three celebrity speakers who I was pretty excited about.
The first ‘motivational speaker’ was a sales guy who wouldn’t know a funny joke if it bit him in the ass. The first finance guy had a good enough spiel that I actually signed up to attend one of his seminars.
In between them, former Presidential candidate and all-around rich guy Steve Forbes.
Needless to say, Forbes is still pitching the flat tax. He had some interesting info (did you know that the federal excise tax was originally instituted as a way to finance the 1898 Spanish-American War? Me neither). He framed income tax as a price we pay to work. Anytime you raise the price of something, you wind up getting less of it (demand goes down), therefore income tax is a disincentive to work. Et cetera. I have no problem with this message, and it certainly went over big with the crowd. I have no problem with the idea that cutting taxes creates more wealth, and thus increases tax revenues. I wonder, though, where the limit is; at some point the increase in revenue due to greater wealth has to be overcome by the loss of revenue from deeper tax cuts. Otherwise, why not cut them all?
Also, I can’t help but think that yes, cutting taxes is a good thing that pleases my libertarian instincts, but we’ve already spent the money.
Following Forbes was another celebrity. George Foreman. Cool. He had a great speech. Lots of jokes and personal anecdotes about how he got into boxing, how he got involved marketing that grill thing, etc. Lots of fun.
I’ve got one of those grills, y’know. I love it.
Then, another ‘motivational speaker’ with a pretty lame power-of-positive-thinking message. And another financial guru. I couldn’t quite figure out what she was talking about. She did make me wonder what a ‘living reworkable trust’ is.
Then Zig Ziglar himself. Yes, that’s his real name. He, at least, was funny, but after the first 45 minutes I began to wish he’d shut up.
Another financial guy talking about real estate. Ho hum.
He was fantastic. His speech was about his philosophy of leadership (he wrote a book about it). He had moving stories about 9-11, and President Bush’s visit a few days later. He talked about Reagan and ML King. He paused to answer the ‘I love you Rudy’ shouts and digressed into a story about Dr. Strangelove in response to a woman’s cell phone ringing.
He also told a story about Vince Lombardi that I’d never heard before. At the end of his career a reporter was interviewing Vince, who made the claim that he had never lost a game. The reporter mentioned one that he did lose and asked him about that. Vince said ‘I didn’t lose that game, I just ran out of time.’ [The point - leaders have to be optimists.]
I hadn’t really thought about it before, but now I’m wondering about a Rudy/Condi ticket. I’m also wondering if Rudy’d like to jump to the libertarians for a third party run.
One last thing: I noticed across the arena from me there was a sign language interpreter translating for a small group of people. I bet his arms were tired.