Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
"During fiscal year 2009 the U.S. Treasury is on-track to pay over $500 billion just in interest payments to finance the already-existing debt. New debt this year will likely exceed a trillion dollars. The total debt burden on the economy as a whole could reach $70 trillion by 2010, with annual interest payments for individuals, households, businesses, and all levels of government likely to reach $3 trillion out of a $14 trillion GDP that is now in sharp decline.
Financing the deficit continues to depend on whether China will still purchase Treasury bonds. This is why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said frankly during last week’s trip to China:
“We are relying on the Chinese government to continue to buy our debt.”
But neither President Obama, nor his Democratic supporters or Republican antagonists, should feel badly about what is happening. This is because the system they have been given to work with was designed to fail. The U.S. was saddled long ago with a debt-based monetary system, whereby the only way money can be introduced into circulation is through bank lending. It was the system that was instituted in 1913 when Congress gave away its constitutional power over money creation to the private banking industry by passing the Federal Reserve Act.
It was then that the catastrophe we are now facing became inevitable. It took nearly a century to get here but it finally happened. "
Click here to read about Richard C. Cook, the author of this rather interesting piece.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
To whit..."Research has shown that words are stored in our memories not as isolated entities but as part of a network of related words. This explains why seeing or hearing a word activates words related to it through prior experiences. In trying to understand these connections, scientists visualize a map of links among words called the mental lexicon that shows how words in a vocabulary are interconnected through other words.
However, it’s not clear just how this word association network works. For instance, does word association spread like a wave through a fixed network, weakening with conceptual distance, as suggested by the “Spreading Activation” model? Or does a word activate every other associated word simultaneously, as suggested in a model called “Spooky Activation at a Distance”?
Although these two explanations appear to be mutually exclusive, a recent study reveals a connection between the explanations by making one novel assumption: that words can become entangled in the human mental lexicon."
All of my life, I have wondered how we connect words together to generate meaning but never knew how this mysterious process could occur. This connectivity issue becomes even more mysterious in composing music as the thought process involved radically differs from word smithing even though bringing this construct into reality follows the same entanglement process as per the word model the researchers have created in attempting to better understand the brain's astonishing ability to generate meaning out of entities, that on the surface, should be discrete and not subject to entanglement.
Now that we have tools able to tease out elements of the quantum, the integration of same into research of all kinds is changing everything we know about existence, something very cool to see in the eyes of this writer.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
"First impressions are highly influential, despite the well-worn admonition not to judge a book by its cover. Within a tenth of a second of seeing an unfamiliar face we have already made a judgement about its owner's character - caring, trustworthy, aggressive, extrovert, competent and so on (Psychological Science, vol 17, p 592). Once that snap judgement has formed, it is surprisingly hard to budge. What's more, different people come to strikingly similar conclusions about a particular face - as shown in our own experiment (see "The New Scientist face experiment").People also act on these snap judgements. Politicians with competent-looking faces have a greater chance of being elected, and CEOs who look dominant are more likely to run a profitable company."
To give credence to this analysis, I give you Warren G. Harding, a good looking predecessor to "W".
"Behind the facade, not all of Harding's Administration was so impressive. Word began to reach the President that some of his friends were using their official positions for their own enrichment. Alarmed, he complained, "My...friends...they're the ones that keep me walking the floors nights!"
"Although a commanding and powerful speaker, Harding was notorious for his verbal gaffes, such as his comment "I would like the government to do all it can to mitigate, then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved."
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In the weeks and months ahead, upcoming posts will focus on developing possible solutions to societal problems gleaned, in part, from the hundreds of articles posted on the BRT site as we feel our generalistic approach to understanding how civilization works from the tech perspective has merit and should be leveraged in proposing different approaches to conditions that should not continue if we are to be responsible stewards to planet earth.
We want input from you, the reader, to tell us what you think we should do as we move deeper into the 21st century.
The irony of all of this is the fact some of the players who gamed the system are now considered to be part of the solution, something that doesn't auger well as we move out of the aughts of the 21st century.
Here's the NY Times take on the myth of the IM.
Adding fuel to the fire, here's another blurb on the O Man team.
"Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a "team of rivals." America was told that finally, after years of yes men running the government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln’s lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas. Little did we know that "team of rivals" was what George Orwell calls "newspeak": an empty slogan "claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts.
Obama's national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq war opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The only "rivalry" is between those who back increasing the already bloated defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a ludicrous amount.
Of course, that lockstep uniformity pales in comparison to the White House's economic team -- a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public servants.
At the top is Lawrence Summers, the director of Obama's National Economic Council. As Bill Clinton's treasury secretary in the late 1990s, Summers worked with his deputy, Tim Geithner (now Obama's treasury secretary), and Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel (now Obama's chief of staff) to champion job-killing trade deals and deregulation that Obama Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg helped shepherd through Congress as a Republican senator. Now, this pinstriped band of brothers is proposing a "cash for trash" scheme that would force the public to guarantee the financial industry's bad loans. It's another ploy "to hand taxpayer dollars to the banks through a variety of complex mechanisms," says economist Dean Baker -- and noticeably absent is anything even resembling a "rival" voice inside the White House.
That's not an oversight. From former federal officials like Robert Reich and Brooksley Born, to Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, to business leaders like Leo Hindery, there's no shortage of qualified experts who have challenged market fundamentalism. But they have been barred from an administration focused on ideological purity.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
It turns out they both can, it just depends on the nature of the task or message. The study, which could have major implications for advertising and interior design, finds that red is the most effective at enhancing our attention to detail, while blue is best at boosting our ability to think creatively.
"Previous research linked blue and red to enhanced cognitive performance, but disagreed on which provides the greatest boost," says Juliet Zhu of UBC's Sauder School of Business, author of the study which will appear in the Feb. 5 issue of Science. 'It really depends on the nature of the task.' "
When you look at this amazing research, one starts to realize that perhaps bills presented to Congress should be color keyed in order to facilitate cognitive and creative thinking on the part of our "wonderful" elected leaders who seem to have lost the ability to understand anything more complex than the crucial issue of getting reelected rather than dealing with the most important issues this country has ever faced since the founding of our nation.
Addendum,: The NY Times has a followup on this very important finding. Click Reinvent Wheel? Blue Room... to see why.
Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them. - Einstein
Thursday, February 05, 2009
"So how does the brain conjure up gods? One of the key factors, says Bloom, is the fact that our brains have separate cognitive systems for dealing with living things - things with minds, or at least volition - and inanimate objects.
Bloom says the two systems are autonomous, leaving us with two viewpoints on the world: one that deals with minds, and one that handles physical aspects of the world. He calls this innate assumption that mind and matter are distinct "common-sense dualism". The body is for physical processes, like eating and moving, while the mind carries our consciousness in a separate - and separable - package. "We very naturally accept you can leave your body in a dream, or in astral projection or some sort of magic," Bloom says. "These are universal views."
The ability to conceive of gods, however, is not sufficient to give rise to religion. The mind has another essential attribute: an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect which primes us to see purpose and design everywhere, even where there is none. "You see bushes rustle, you assume there's somebody or something there," Bloom says.
Even so, religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring in our brain, says Bloom. "All humans possess the brain circuitry and that never goes away." Petrovich adds that even adults who describe themselves as atheists and agnostics are prone to supernatural thinking. Bering has seen this too. When one of his students carried out interviews with atheists, it became clear that they often tacitly attribute purpose to significant or traumatic moments in their lives, as if some agency were intervening to make it happen. "They don't completely exorcise the ghost of god - they just muzzle it," Bering says"
Click here for the New Scientist view on why we are hard wired to believe.
Even though I fit in the Non-Religious category, exorcising the ghost of god is a very hard thing to do but then again, I do have help from a higher power. :)
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Solemnly, as though he’s reciting the names of his own deceased ancestors, Memo begins: the sea cucumbers, the fan clam, the lion’s paw scallop . . . . He’s working his way back in time, I think, moving from the most recently vanished toward the creatures that disappeared when he was a child.
In the early ’90s, he reaches the sharks; in the ’70s, the sea turtles; in the ’60s, the giant sea bass; and in the years of his childhood, the great totoaba, a six-foot croaker that was once pulled from these waters by the million."
The author, Aaron Hirsh, goes on to speak eloquently about the Sole Owner and the art of sustainability.
"If a fish population is controlled by a single, perfectly rational agent — an idealized entity economists refer to as “the sole owner” — he or she will manage it to maximize its total value over time. For almost every population, that means leaving a lot of fish in the water, where they can continue to make young fish. The sole owner, then, will cautiously withdraw the biological equivalent of interest, without reducing the capital — the healthy population that remains in the sea.
But if the fish population is available to many independent parties, competition becomes a driving concern. If I don’t extract as much as I can today, there’s no guarantee you won’t take everything tomorrow. Sure, in a perfect world, you and I would trust each other, exercise restraint, and in the long run, grow wealthier for it, but I’d better just play it safe and get those fish before you do. The race for fish ensues, and soon, the tragedy of the commons has struck."
Add to this the radical notion of leaving some of the big ones to breed could bring back the fish stocks sooner than later. Click here to see why.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
The image above is a sample from the Glocal Similarity Map Engine, (Surrey Tech Lab) the software search environment that connects similar pictures together.
The Web rules.
The problem with the vested interests who want this document to go away is the fact the 13 writers are non-partisan pentagon insiders who know the drill and know where the bodies lie. Sort of like Dick Cheney knowing Washington big time except these guys are telling the truth about something that's too important to ignore.
To add credence to Meltdown, read The New York Times Flames Out in Defense Dogfight by Chuck Spinney, a guy who was intimately connected to the pentagon as a top analyst specializing in new weapon systems. (Whistle Blower Supreme that even Congress listens to)
"Bottom line: The Pentagon is in a crisis, the editors of the New Times would unknowingly reinforce it. Readers interested in how we might reform the Pentagon's self-destructive-decision process are referred to my testimony cited in the previous paragraph or the somewhat different recommendations in a remarkable new anthology, America’s Defense Meltdown, published by the Center for Defense Information. This new anthology is designed to give President Obama and Congress a guide to placing the Pentagon back onto a pathway toward an effective defense at a cost a nation in recession can afford. Written by retired military officers and civilians with over 350 years experience in the defense business, this book is unique in that it provides a view from the trenches by people who have struggled to reform the way the Pentagon does business."
If civilian tech worked like the Pentagon, computers would never have left the staging area due to the inability to handle the vagaries of the real world.
The so-called Fermi Paradox has haunted SETI researchers ever since. Not least because the famous Drake equation, which attempts put a figure on the number intelligent civilisations out there now, implies that if the number of intelligent civilisations capable of communication in our galaxy is greater than 1, then we should eventually hear from them.
That overlooks one small factor, says Reginald Smith from the Bouchet-Franklin Institute in Rochester, New York state. He says that there is a limit to how far a signal from ET can travel before it becomes too faint to hear. And when you factor that in, everything changes."
Click here for the Broadcasting but not receiving PDF and here for an alternative view on why we hear nothing titled An Astrophysical Explanation for the Great Silence.
"A driver gets into his car and turns the ignition key. The dashboard, which was black just a moment ago, now reveals itself as a 3-D display with a simple but modern design. If his son were at the wheel, the controls for the mp3 player would now appear in the foreground: “Please select an artist”. After choosing some music, he would set off.
The display would show a 3-D model of the town, and the integrated navigation system would direct him to his destination. The car owner, however, prefers other types of information, such as the latest traffic reports. He also likes to have the rev counter in view at all times. After he has driven for a while, the display changes and an alert message literally jumps out at him: “Please refuel"."
With this tech, I can just see how imaginative the excuses will be when a fender bender happens. :)