Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Tooth Fairy- a Growth Industry!

Now that we all know economic "growth" is dead- the realization is spreading, and turning up in non-intuitive places.

I tripped over this one (on BBC), and laughed so hard I had to share it with you.

Really perfect Polka Dot Gallows material- you don't know whether to laugh or cry; you just kind of sit there, jaw dropped, and boggle.

It's the only remnant of The Capitalist Dream! Enough money to bury you. Obtained, you hope, by a gambling proposition (insurance: I bet I'll pay less in than they'll pay out)- which you believe you'll win. Although all the calculations of the insurance company say- you won't. Their profits depend on that. Do insurance companies make profits? Do fish have sex in the water?

And if you can zoom your screen a little, and get a good look at the fairy's face- it strikes me as skeptical, with a little secret smirk. Right up front.

That's what they're selling, to a herd never weaned from Disney.

I would like to know, scientifically, how many are buying.




Ok, can't help it, it's raining today so I'm inside reading too much.

And just boggling all over the place at the substitution of polysyllabic incompetence for "thinking".

Started off with a diatribe on the NYT "GreenInc" blog. Not posted yet, so who knows; but I'll repeat it here:

All the critics here are correct; but you’ve fallen into the trap set by the scheme instigators.

You’re fighting fire with logic. Doesn’t actually work, in terms of putting any fires out; it just generates committees.

The real problem is professors. (don’t you just love it when people say ‘the real problem is…’ )

Professors- not known for their broadscale thinking, repeatedly find they have a hammer in their possession. And they get enthusiastic about it.

“Look at this huge beautiful hammer!” they cry- attracting many who got Cs in science in high school, and assume professors know what they’re talking about.

“We have to use this hammer! And your problem looks to me like the perfect nail!”

Except is isn’t a nail, at all. This problem right here is an Allen head bolt, and the hammer is not useful.

But the hammer is big and shiny- and expensive, so there’s loads of money to be made studying it all, and building prototypes.

“Hey, technology is huge these days! We’ll figure out fixes for the problems later!:”

Just like they did for corn ethanol- a direction now abandoned by all not brain dead or deeply invested.

CEOs of power companies; and legislators, really need to ask for a full-scale, long term (500 year) plan and extrapolation. If the process proposers don’t have one- that’s really really good evidence they haven’t thought beyond their big shiny hammer, at all.

Do we have time to waste, and money- on Allen head bolts flattened and mashed beyond extraction by big shiny hammers?

That’s supposed to be rhetorical.


Used to be only ninnys didn't think problems all the way through- but it seems to be a pathway now being taught to PhDs.

The next example, which pushed me over the edge, is from BBC Science.

This professor guy (and not a minor professor, but "the director of the scientific aquaculture programme at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts") is spending huge amount of money working on training aquaculture fish to come back when called, in the ocean; by a specific sound.

Then, see, they could go find some of their own food, and wouldn't always be pooping in the same toilet, but would come back when you wanted to feed- or kill them.

First try didn't work. Predators ate them, as soon as they were allowed to escape from the cage. I'll be darned.

Besides which- gosh, if you've got your fish trained to come and be fed, and the signal is a sound... exactly how long do you think it will take the predators to learn that the sound means- time to come and get fed? Right here?

I think any signal, in any medium, you can use to train your fish will emphatically be intercepted by the predators, immediately.

At first, the fish began to forage outside of the aquadome, moving in and out at the prompt of the sound, just as the researchers had hoped.
"But then we start seeing these bluefish circling our cage. And these are notorious for being ravenous and ruthless hunters," he says.
"Very frustratingly, we went back day after day to find these fish still showing up at the cage, and we couldn't for the life of us call the black sea bass back.
Tagged black sea bass (Scott Lindell)
The tags helped the researchers to identify their bass
"They were scared to death - we went diving, and we could see them amongst the rocks, but nothing was going to make them run that gauntlet between the rocks and the cage when it would put their lives at risk."
And the fish had good reason to be scared.
When the team caught one of the bluefish and slit open its belly, they discovered 12 tiny tags - the fish that they had been attached to had already been digested.
But. Big, hopeful, news coverage on the BBC!! Hey, the funders will love it.
And his answer? Gonna build robotic sheep-dog sharks to keep the little predators away.

What a good idea.


Ok, so the hammer is not working on this machine screw. Maybe if I hit it from the side, with more money...