Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's a real world, after all.

Here we are, a few days on, and Gabby has been wiped off the front pages by Tunisia, which has been wiped off the front pages by Egypt.

I was proud of my blog and my readers in your responses to the last post. Thinking people, sane discussions; in spite of what is often an inflammatory topic.

Events like all of these are serving as a Rorschach blot test for our cultures. People and pundits interpret them in the light of their own interests first. I was amused at the number of columnists pointing out that the real failures in Tucson were in the health services department. Why, if only they'd had better funding, surely this poor sick man would have been helped, and all this prevented.

Which is not impossible; but what is also incandescently true is that no matter how well you fund and run any program, some human or other will slide through the remaining tiny cracks, and bad things will happen, regardless. Less often. But you cannot ever reach zero.

Surely we know this.

Then what is required of those of us who think is - some provision for the exceptions.

And what a tangled can of worms we have there. I cannot provide "answers" to the two excellent conundrums posed in the comments to the last post: "should common citizens be armed", and from Steve Salmony: "is there any hope for our species."

But I can, I think, provide a bit of useful insight.

This world of ours is what it is; and we live in it.

Discussions and opinions about what it should be are useful. But they should not be mistaken for realities waiting to pop into place.

Perspective on arming of citizens comes from Egypt, right now. Their police have been rejected by the people, declared and made illegitimate. Leaving the streets open to any and all criminals, who, be assured, were right on their toes waiting for the very first opportunity.

So far, the result in Egypt seems to be that neighbors are arming themselves with anything available, and openly showing that they will resist looters. Often these neighbor-police only have sticks to show. Often the criminal element has an illegal gun or two.

None of which is any answer to whether the situation would be improved by better gun control, or everyone being armed. It's just worth knowing; seeing; you could find yourself in this situation; anywhere in the world.

That's reality.

And it's not easy to come up with pat answers and positions. I'm on the fence myself. We own guns, being way out in the country, and using them for hunting sometimes. At the same time, I think there is some point to trying to decrease the number of guns floating around in cities; and I am fiercely opposed to the idiotic new ruling here in the US allowing people to carry concealed weapons in our National Parks. The Park reality includes the fact that they do have a highly trusted police, who can keep those places as safe as the world is ever likely to be anywhere. We should keep it that way. (rant, rant.)

All of this, and similar stuff, adds up to a response to your question, Steve- likely the only one you'll ever be able to find.

Does our so-promising species have any chance at a future?


There are quite a few of us species members who are going to fight for some kind of future, until we die, no matter what.

We already are.

The real world sucks. It always has; read Charles Dickens if you doubt it.

Incredibly bad things happen. Horrors happen. More of them are ahead of us.

But in all the past horrors, some of our species have struggled to make things better, just a little, whenever possible.

It can be crippling to look at our real world and bemoan what it is not. We could be so much more; so much better. You can freeze yourself into immobile depression by contemplating too long what we don't do.

Better, I think, to just keep in mind: It's a Real, Real, World.

One good response that can help keep you sane; find your iceberg, and push on it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dear NY Times: Just So You Know:

Dear NY Times: Just So You Know:

Once again today, you've sunk to the quite slimy level of parading the leering grin of a mass murderer on your electronic front page.

You purport to provide useful insight into the murderer's mind; something we should all crave.

But in fact, you're just selling advertising.

I'll tell you exactly what's behind the grin- he's smirking at YOU; very specifically; because he's won. You're giving him everything he ever dreamed about.

Immortality. His picture on the front of the New York Times. You are his puppets. You are, in reality, the reason for his insanity, and the deaths he caused.

I, however, am not his pawn, or yours; and this is to inform you that each time I find his photo on your pages, or any other snuff porn pandering to all of humanity's worst sides; I turn you right off.

I close your website-and any others that do the same- and do not visit again for the next 2 days. You're going to lose several fractions of a penny from your advertisers; which should horrify you.

Oh, and, I'm passing this on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wow. Super-Mind-Boggle Time.

Where do I begin? I promise, you'll be amazed, and amused, and terrified, before many more paragraphs have gone by.

I'm seriously still trying to get a grip on this one. I just moments ago found it buried on the BBC "Science" page. Researchers at Cornell (NY) have announced great progress, and wonderful goals, on the "3D Food Printer" they have constructed, and are perfecting. Yup, the idea is to get really great recipes; feed them into the computer- and then print the food out. They've done it; you can print cookies.

The Total Brain Freeze Mind Boggle comes not from the cookie printing; but from what the people working on it are saying:

"And it would have the added benefit of cutting out some of the waste of current food production methods, says Homaro Cantu, chef and owner of the Moto Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, who has printed sushi using an ink jet printer.

"Imagine being able to essentially 'grow', 'cook' or prepare foods without the negative industrial impact - everything from fertilizers to saute pans and even packaging," he says.

"The production chain requirements for food would nearly be eliminated."

Local food, could really mean local.

"You can imagine a 3D printer making homemade apple pie without the need for farming the apples, fertilizing, transporting, refrigerating, packaging, fabricating, cooking, serving and the need for all of the materials in these processes like cars, trucks, pans, coolers, etc," he adds."

Are you boggled yet?

I have to take a little break, and eat some outmoded plain old food; more writing here after lunch. I just couldn't put off getting this much launched into the ether.

Ok. Back after lunch; but slight change in my plans; have to go move some stuff for chicken nest boxes...
Back again; chickens happy. Now, just to clarify; the guy saying "production chain requirements would be nearly eliminated" is a chef, not a PhD. Whew. So, it's only a chef they work with who has no idea whatsoever where eggs, or apples, come from.

The chef also says:

"What if you could have mom's homemade apple pie sent via e-mail and printed up at home? Her apple pie becomes as close as an instant message on Facebook."

Which would pretty much indicate he also has no idea what "mom's homemade apple pie" either is, or means.

The BBC website links to the Cornell group's site; where confidence in the scientists is not entirely inspired by finding this:

posted Jan 20, 2010 12:41 PM by Jeffrey Lipton [ updated Jan 25, 2010 3:12 PM ]
The Fab@Home Project Team is recruiting students from any and all
majors in Cornell Univeristy who want to help shape the future
of personal manufacturing. Look under "Joining the Team"
and "Upcoming Events" for more information"

That little gem has been up for a year- and updated once - without
anyone at Cornell noticing that "recruit" is not spelled with 2 T's.
Details, details. :-)

So perhaps the scientists are not quite as clueless as the article
seems to paint them; but they do surely seem to be somewhat
communications challenged- if their chef-partners are thinking
what the quotes indicate..