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[P]
It's The End Of The World As We Know It

By ZorbaTHut in Op-Ed
Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 02:35:31 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Every time I get into a conversation online, or read a news site, or watch TV, or browse the supermarket tabloids, it seems someone is telling me We're All Doomed, Save Yourselves While You Still Can. Are people just being sensationalistic or are we really going to hell in a handbasket?


Browse any major news site and you'll stories about how terrible the world is becoming. A certain news site that I'm sure we're all familiar with provides the following nuggets of doomsaying:

The Decline of Our Nation and the Pinnacle of Our Arrogance - ". . . instead of clinging to the ideals that define our national identity, we continue to turn our back on the principles that made our nation great."
Is American Politics Dead? - "Has it become impossible to debate political questions first on their ethical and human merits, and only then on their economic implications?"
Superstition: past, present, and future - "Welcome to the modern Demon Haunted World."
Retail Stores Beginning to Fingerprint Customers - "Not only do stores want your entire life's history on your check, some now want your thumbprint."

This is just K5's front page. Under Everything I count 4 of 10 articles as of this moment that I'd classify as "look how horrible the world is".

Before I go any farther, I'm perfectly willing to admit that this is just my viewpoint. Perhaps I'm a pessimist, and I'm seeing doomsayers where there are none.

But it's not hard to find The End Of The World anywhere else. Supermarket tabloids are famous for this, claiming that the world will literally end within days on more than one occasion. Even ignoring the news industry (which, let's face it, is generally motivated by money) and the public news communities (which tend to publish what people are interested in), I find an enormous number of otherwise sane people ignoring the facts and trends and proclaiming the eventual destruction of all we know and love. Did you know that EFNet is dying? It'll be dead within a year. By my count, this state has persisted for almost half a decade, and yet there are still people claiming "This time! Really! This is the straw that breaks the camel's back!" And in two years EFNet will be dying for a different reason.

The listeners are to blame for this partially. The classic way to get a cult is to proclaim the end of the world and get people to pray with you. Then when the world doesn't end, tell them it was because of their incredible willpower. Americans almost for it - I don't know if this is as prevalent in other countries.

All I'm asking, really, is to look at what you're saying before you say it. If you're telling us how Big Business will oppress us all next year, think about whether you were claiming that last year also. If you want to rant about the DMCA and the vanishing intellectual freedom, drop it unless you really have something new to say. Microsoft isn't going to conquer the planet, and Disney is making no attempts to hypnotize our children into buying Britney Spears CDs. The NSA probably couldn't care less about your warezed software (whichever country you're living in), and while there are quite a few countries who could start a global war at any moment, the fact is, they haven't.

And yes, it's good to know about these things, just to be on guard. But enough is enough already!

I suppose I should really stop it here, except for one little issue - has anyone noticed that even this article is explaining how bad off we all are?

Guess you just can't get away from it.

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Poll
What's going to destroy the world first?
o Big business 21%
o DMCA 5%
o Dubya 19%
o Entropy 10%
o Global thermonuclear war 9%
o Majestic 12 6%
o Mutant rats 5%
o Slashdot 22%

Votes: 135
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o news site
o The Decline of Our Nation and the Pinnacle of Our Arrogance
o Is American Politics Dead?
o Superstiti on: past, present, and future
o Retail Stores Beginning to Fingerprint Customers
o Everything
o Supermarke t
o tabloids
o news
o communitie s
o Big Business
o DMCA
o Microsoft
o Disney
o Britney Spears
o CDs
o NSA
o warezed
o Also by ZorbaTHut


Display: Sort:
It's The End Of The World As We Know It | 111 comments (106 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1 FP -- Chicken Little Corrupts Youth (3.42 / 7) (#3)
by zastruga on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 08:06:35 PM EST

As the perpetrator of the title "Is American Politics Dead?", I can answer you definitively that its intent was sensationalistic rather than pessimistic (although the article itself was serious). But see how it is now being mentioned by people I don't even know? The attention, as you'll probably find from your current, first post, is flattering, and you get more if you employ a bright, shiny, and apocalyptic title. Alas.



That's so true (4.66 / 9) (#4)
by Wondertoad on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 09:06:43 PM EST

Both here and in the media, there is an interest in making every story as SERIOUS and IMPORTANT as possible. In the media, they do it because they are looking for viewers/readers/listeners. Here, they do it because it's a scored system.

Same goes, obviously, for the comments. We all know that if we stop at one paragraph, we'll get hit with a shortness ratings tax of about a point. Which is why I wrote this second paragraph. My first paragraph said everything I needed to say. And often, it's better to be pithy; on other communities, the value of the one-liner is not lost.

In my defense.. (2.00 / 3) (#5)
by Apuleius on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 09:26:32 PM EST

I was trying to be alarmist, not pessimist. I prefer to keep my yap shut about things I don't have any hope over.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Not a first time offender (1.75 / 4) (#6)
by turtleshadow on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 10:47:46 PM EST

This has happened before in Latin America and other places world wide.

It's important to note that I did recieve a mailer today saying that for 130 UPCs of a certain brand I could send away for a free sold oak birdhouse.
At $X a pack that makes sense.
I don't understand why these guys are in business... oh yea Congressional Buddies.
Turtleshadow

Makes more sense if .... (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by turtleshadow on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 10:52:18 PM EST

Ok wrong window... Mea Culpa... See Over Here

[ Parent ]
I remain an optimist! (2.50 / 4) (#8)
by daystar on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:27:52 PM EST

Thank god for the late, great Julian Simon.

Everybody go read THE ULTIMATE RESOURCE II and feel good about humans.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.

End of the world as we know it, news at 11 (4.62 / 8) (#11)
by The Larch on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 01:38:46 AM EST

Sometime back in the mid-90's there was an amazing miniseries called "A Glorious Accident" in which this Dutch guy interviewed six very intelligent and/or interesting people (Oliver Sacks, Stephen Jay Gould, Dan Dennett, Freeman Dyson, Rupert Sheldrake, and Stephen Toulmin) and finally got them together for dinner and free ranging discussion on life, the Universe, and everything. If you missed it, you can get the book on Amazon.

In his interview, Freeman Dyson recounts growing up in the aftermath of World War 1 where the best and the brightest died for nothing in anonymous trenches, and in the anticipation of the next great war that would decimate most of Europe with bacteriological weapons. And after WW2 finally came and went, and most of Europe survived and life eventually resumed its normal course, he couldn't ever get all worked up over the next imminent end of the world.

And that's how it is. Life goes on, even if Microsoft acquires 99% market share and 0wnz your baby daughter, even if goatse.cx trolls manage to metamoderate Slashdot, even if non-Christian interests gain access to nuclear weapons and wipe out half the globe. There will always be a few people left who'll have learned from the mistakes.

Yeah, hyperbole is always good for getting that extra bit of attention, but a very good rule of thumb in evaluating the ratio of spin to objective facts on any news item is, would buy a mutual fund that was advertised with similar language? If not, why would you buy the rhetoric?

WWII wasn't the endoftheworld, but it wasn't nice (3.50 / 2) (#78)
by miller on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:52:17 PM EST

There can *always* be something worse. Environmental catastrophe might not be the literal end of the world, but it would be something I'd rather avoid. It would likely be worse than a few thousand people losing half their savings. And yet that's still worth getting worked up about.

Don't believe anything because of the hype, true, but don't disbelieve for the same reason either.

--
It's too bad I don't take drugs, I think it would be even better. -- Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

The world _is_ going to end... (3.60 / 5) (#13)
by joto on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 03:36:45 AM EST

...sometime!

But maybe not in the near future. Well, at least so far, WW3, nuclear contamination, acid rain, the ozone-hole, global warming, aids, radiation from cell-phones, Y2K, mad-cow-disease or any other popular reason for world destruction has had one thing in common: they failed.

Does that mean we should ignore anyone claiming serious threats to humanity from now on? No, while the claims of danger might be exaggerated, there is usually a real danger somewhere (perhaps not when it comes to the cell-phone radiation, but who am I to judge).

The sensionalism makes people interested in an issue, they work to combat it, and the threat is over. Of course, in retrospect, it's easy to say that none of them were real dangers, but hey, I'm sure that most of this sensationalism is actually a good thing, helping out to prevent bad stuff from actually happening.

Is it silly? Yes, but so is most of human nature. We are not rational beings, but at least the sensationalism causes someone to react. It would of course be better if we all were rational, risk-calculating, unemotional robots, but I think that might have some disadvantages as well :-)

Global warming failed? (none / 0) (#109)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 02:30:05 AM EST

What the fuck? Did you think that the predictions were for last year? They weren't. The time frame for global warming has just barely begun.

I don't mean to imply much by this on the topic of global warming except that 'global warming has failed' is a bull shit thing to say. Its like pulling out of the driveway and five seconds later concluding, on the basis of not having hit anything so far, that you won't all day. I.e. it is just plain silly.



[ Parent ]

The boiling frog syndrome (4.22 / 9) (#14)
by anansi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 03:47:24 AM EST

You've proabably heard of this one: toss a frog into boiling water, and he'll jump right out again. But put him in room tempreature water, then slowly bring the heat up to boiling, and the frog will cook without even noticing.

Things are bad, and they're getting worse. As bad a time as I had in grade school and juniour high, no one was bringing guns to school. And... no, don't get me started. Any example I come up with, someone else is going to say I exaggerate or it's always been that way.

The problem is, when really big downturns hit, they happen so large and so slow, that it's easier to ignore it as just more noise. Rome didn't fall in a day, and there were forcasters of doom in the 2nd and 3rd centuries who were ignored. Why not? It wasn't their lifetimes that were affected! Brad and circuses works great, until it suddenly doesn't- just hope that yours isn't the generation that's stuck with the bill. All the gloom and doom being preached in the 60's hasn't happened yet.. or has it? It depends on which side of the unemplyment line you happen to find yourself.

It will always be easier and more comfortable to believe that things are fine and getting better. To let other people's pain impact you is a lonely painful way to be, so just let it be someone else's problem, and then when it's your problem, no one will want to hear about it.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

Boiling frog.... (4.40 / 5) (#18)
by Vermifax on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:37:22 AM EST

Ahhh, the good ole boiling frog story...

It would be a more usefull analogy if it were actually true.

Since the frog in question actually jumps out of slowly heated water, does this mean they are smarter than humans?


- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]

What a test! (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by Monkey Baister on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 09:29:19 AM EST

Take one frog, not many, and put in in cold water and turn up the heat. Then measure the distance it jumped.

Take another frog, again, only one, and put it in lukewarm water and turn up the heat at a different rate. Then again, only measure the distance it jumped.

Great, they didn't even have a control group for each beginning temperature of water, didn't use many frogs to average the results, didn't even say how long they stayed in the water or at what temperature they jumped out at!

By the same standards of not beliving the original assertion, this test shouldn't be belived either.

[ Parent ]

Whatever (3.25 / 4) (#29)
by delmoi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 11:05:08 AM EST

The test was only to disprove the saying... that a slowly boiled frog will sit there and be boiled. They didn't test droppig a frog into boling water, but they still did a decent job of disproving the second (and more imporntant) part of the thesis.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Decent? (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by Monkey Baister on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 07:43:07 PM EST

This test does a horrible job of proving or disproving ANY hypothisis.

They only did the test with two frogs. This does not allow for any scientific conclusions. There are just too many questions that can be asked.

At what temperature did the frog jump out?

At what time did the frog jump out?

Did the frog jump out because of the temperature change or because of other reasons?

Did the frog suffer any injuries?

Was the frog alive after jumping out of the water?

How does the size, species, and age of the frog play into when the frog jumps out?

Too many questions to draw a useful conclusion.

Just to clear something up, I don't support EITHER conclusion.

[ Parent ]

On the contrary (2.50 / 2) (#67)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:32:59 AM EST

Frogs jump in and out of water whether its warm boiling or not, its what they do its in there nature, a frog might jump out of slowly heating water just because thats what they do. I have a pond in the back garden, and I see frogs and toads jumping in and out of water despite the temperature remaining constant.

If you want an apropriate analogy try something which makes the slightest bit of sense. or at least cook the frog with a lid on.

On a side point if you dropped a frog in boiling water it probably wouldn't jump out as the shock would probably kill it. I mean would you jump out of a vat of boiling water if someone dropped you in it?

I would say a better analogy is, "It takes longer for a frog in water to realise the heat change when the heat change is gradual than a frog thats dropped into boiling water if the frog that was dropped into the boiling water stays alive long enough to notice the heat change, or infact frogs notice heat change at all and don't just jump in and out of water because they are amphibians.

[ Parent ]
Well. (2.66 / 3) (#39)
by Vermifax on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:16:47 PM EST

"By the same standards of not beliving the original assertion, this test shouldn't be belived either."

Not even close. There is SOME evidence that the assertion is false, and NONE that is isn't.

Besides the test wasn't as important for me as the quote from Professor Melton.
- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]

The burden of proof (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by error 404 on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 04:44:18 PM EST

Is on the proposition that a frog will not jump out of slowly heated water.

The default hypothesis is that a frog will act as neccessary for survival. This is a weak default, and perhaps easily disproved. But the burden of proof, no matter how light, is on the interesting idea. And I am not aware of a single documented incident of a frog fataly failing to jump because of a slow change in temperature. The test provided an opportunity for such an incident. It is not conclusive, but suggestive.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

The burden of proof (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by error 404 on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 04:44:40 PM EST

Is on the proposition that a frog will not jump out of slowly heated water.

The default hypothesis is that a frog will act as neccessary for survival. This is a weak default, and perhaps easily disproved. But the burden of proof, no matter how light, is on the interesting idea. And I am not aware of a single documented incident of a frog fataly failing to jump because of a slow change in temperature. The test provided an opportunity for such an incident. It is not conclusive, but suggestive.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Well, foo! (3.33 / 3) (#32)
by anansi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 01:24:14 PM EST

I suppose I'll have to downgrade that story from science to archetype. On the human side, though, I think the story illustrates a real phenomenon. The question I like to ask is, "who's jumping now?"

Upton Sinclair jumped when he wrote The Jungle Rachel Carson's leap was Silent Spring The Unibomber and Timothy McVey were leapers too, pity they couldn't have just written a bestselling book. Protesters at globalization talks have jumped, as did draft resisters in the 60's.

It's not a matter of all human life on earth coming to an end. It's a question of how bad 'we' (whaddaya mean "we", Kimo Sabe?) let it get before deciding to inconvinience ourselves on someone else's behalf. Maybe your pet peeve is Dmitry's improsonment-that still puts you on the same political spectrum as envoronmentalists or any other activists.

When someone says, "That's just the way things are, no use fighting city hall" it really means they like the way things are, and don't try to imagine different.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Actually, its slightly misquoted, (3.00 / 1) (#101)
by Ward57 on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 01:20:17 PM EST

.. the creature in question is a lobster. This is well know because lobsters are traditionally kept alive until cooked, in order to preserve freshness. Ward57

[ Parent ]
No it doesn't (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by ajduk on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 03:47:31 AM EST

If you put a lid on the pan, or put it in the microwave.

[ Parent ]
Bad Example (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by DeadBaby on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:57:18 AM EST

School violence is actually down, a lot.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
Why I hate statistics... (4.25 / 4) (#26)
by MrSmithers on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:33:56 AM EST

(Not replying directly to this poster, just a random rant that the parent comment reminded me to make)

One thing I don't see mentioned a lot is that even if school violence were up (I'm not going to touch that since it's already debated heavily), so is the number of schools.

That's right Dorothy, as you increase the population of the control group, the number of deviations from the "norm" increases too. I really hate it when doomsayers go on and on about how many more criminals/terrorists/phychos/CowboyNeals there are today while completely ignoring the fact that there are more people today, period. I'd really like to see a study based on percentages or some other relative measurement instead of absolute counts that are meainingless because the group is increasing.

Oh yeah, and Texas has a higher prison population than most states because it has a higher population than most states. It's much more fair to compare to New York or Califonia rather than say, Rhode Island or Utah.



[ Parent ]
Per capita (1.50 / 2) (#94)
by Scrymarch on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 06:48:13 AM EST

I think if you look into the per capita figures for these things the US is going to do worse. Eg, school shooting figures per capita for a sample of OECD non-US countries:

Australia 0
Iceland 0
United Kingdom 0

Amnesty international has been bandying about a figure of Oklahoma having higher per capita execution rates than China and Iraq. If you look about I think you'd find those studies ..

[ Parent ]

Really? (3.33 / 3) (#34)
by darthaggie on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 03:19:44 PM EST

Things are bad, and they're getting worse.

They are? we're not:

    fighting a world war
    subject to the draft
    in a depression
    ruled by a dictator
    worried about meglamaniacs who are busy committing atrocities and planning our downfall
When all is said and done, we're pretty well off in the Western world.

And before you start flaming away, ask yourself this question: would you like to be alive now, or in 1935?

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Really! (3.00 / 4) (#36)
by anansi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 04:05:28 PM EST

They are? we're not:

fighting a world war

The war on drugs is global, so is the cold war. And if we "won" the cold war, why do we still need SDI?

subject to the draft

That could change at the drop of a hat, with peacetime draft registration still required

in a depression

You obviously still have a job

ruled by a dictator

No, just the son of a CIA head, who stole an election in full view of everybody.

worried about meglamaniacs who are busy committing atrocities and planning our downfall

You're not worried, anyways. Am I supposed to take comfort in that?

When all is said and done, we're pretty well off in the Western world.

At the expense of everyone in the "developing world". You think there would be so much civil unreast over there, if we weren't robbing at gunpoint?

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Blah (2.50 / 2) (#40)
by mold on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:22:49 PM EST

The "war on drugs" is the various governments' way of giving away money for political purposes without actually doing anything. It's a croc.

Unemployment is the lowest it has been in a long time. If you don't have a job, sorry, but you aren't the norm right now.

I don't see how you can see our government as being ruled by a dictator. Your argument made no sense at all. Our current president is president because of old laws created at the birth of our nation that don't really apply any more. It wasn't stolen, it was legally done. Our laws need to be revamped, but they're still (mostly) better than a lot of nations in the world.

The civil unrest in the developing world has a lot to do with who owns what piece of land. We aren't "robbing at gunpoint." If anyone is, it would be the large oil barons in the middle east, taking our money. And that just goes to the wealthy who, again, own the land. It doesn't go towards helping the lower classes. Although I admit that the latest gas price increases are due to occurances in the western world.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
It depends on what you consider bad. (2.00 / 2) (#65)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:23:41 AM EST

Things are bad, and they're getting worse. They are? we're not: fighting a world war subject to the draft in a depression ruled by a dictator worried about meglamaniacs who are busy committing atrocities and planning our downfall When all is said and done, we're pretty well off in the Western world. And before you start flaming away, ask yourself this question: would you like to be alive now, or in 1935?

Yeah its called stagnation, We have got it easy, we don't have to worry about the other things, but we still worry and now we worry about other things, whether we can pay our bills and tax, if we can afford health insurance for our family, if our kids are safe at school, if we can walk safely on the streets.
So right now we have got it the best we ever had and its still utter shit, its worse than in the war because at least then we were united under one purpose. There was cameradery, people were far more friendly and helpful. Sure you had to worry about dying, but these days who doesn't have to watch there weight and blood levels, avoid being run over by cars, avoid being shot, or mugged. These days its all everyone for themselves.

Ok so maybe i'm paranoid, maladjusted, cynical ,and a manic depressive, But you know just a while ago I was nearly all over that, then I was proved that I was right all along when some toerag broke into my car and stole my radio. I didn't deserve it, it wasn't a very good stereo, its not even a great car, but someone felt they had to take it all away from me. Just like everyone who takes my money feels I don't deserve to have any money, and anyone who robs me decides I don't deserve to own anything nice, i don't deserve to lsten to the radio when i'm driving home. because I'm better off than them I don't deserve a thing, even if I'm only a micromillimetre above the bog bottom of the bum tube of ecesstophy, there are people who want to take away everything i've worked for.

The world just needs something to shake us up, Maybe its good George W Bush is nuts, a nuclear war might just make things change around here.


[ Parent ]

Unemployment rate at the momment is 4.5% (3.00 / 3) (#41)
by nads on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:28:44 PM EST

The unemployment rate now is lower than it was in the 80's. It usually hovers in the 3-5% range. That means, odds are, you are employed. And if you are not, you probably will be if you go and look.

[ Parent ]
I love statistics (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by anansi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 07:33:18 PM EST

The problem with US unemployment figures is that they conceal more than they show. If someone has a part time job, it counts just as much as full timers do. If one is working McDonald's, they're still employed, even if they have a masters degree.

Raw unemployment figures tell us nothing about the quality of the jobs that are available. A generation of workers chronically underemployed, working jobs that don't begin to challenge them: this is a depressing thought, no matter what the numbers say.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Um... (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by nads on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 08:01:18 PM EST

... Well considereing the service I recieve at McDonalds and guestimating the ages of people I see when I'm there, I highly doubt most of them have even completed highschool. Secondly, the unemployment statistic (even if it considers part-time employed) is better than your vague claims that don't seem to be backed up at all.

[ Parent ]
Unemployment! (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:09:11 AM EST

Is unemployment the standard by which we live our lives, can one statistic really encompass the whole of the social and political and economic forces in the world. I think not Having a job doesn't mean you suddenly become happy, it just means you have money.
As soon as you have money people start to take it away from you.
peple taking away the money you worked so hard for makes you unhappy.

I therefore say I'm afraid that argument is inconclusive if not entirely irrelevant ;p

[ Parent ]
...and rising (2.00 / 1) (#84)
by anonymous cowerd on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 07:25:21 PM EST

Check it out.

...under a pro-business, anti-labor administration that has historically paid much credence to the concept of a "natural rate of unemployment." And you computer geek types out there beware, that absurd dot-com bubble has burst, once and for all; the furure's not so bright any more, better take off them shades.

Maybe there's no cause for immediate panic just yet, but smart readers will be on their toes.

Yours WD "nervous" K - WKiernan@concentric.net

To honor our dead, not a moment of silence, rather a lifetime of struggle.
[ Parent ]

Easy question (2.40 / 5) (#15)
by jackdoe on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 04:16:29 AM EST

They're being sensationalistic.

The More Things Change... (4.66 / 3) (#16)
by Bad Harmony on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 04:44:17 AM EST

There are probably hieroglyphics in Egypt that complain that Egyptian society is going to hell in a handbasket, and that the youth don't respect their elders, wear outrageous clothes and listen to weird music.

Sometimes it is true, and the society disintegrates or fades away to a shell of itself.

5440' or Fight!

It did (4.60 / 5) (#17)
by Scrymarch on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:07:12 AM EST

There are probably hieroglyphics in Egypt that complain that Egyptian society is going to hell in a handbasket, and that the youth don't respect their elders, wear outrageous clothes and listen to weird music.

Well, Egypt did go to hell in a handbasket.

"Youth today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, no respect for older people, and talk nonsense when they should be working. Young people do not stand up any longer when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, talk too much in company, guzzle their food, lay their legs on the table and tyrannize their elders." Socrates 500 B.C.

Come to think of it, Greece went to hell in a handbasket too. The city states were absorbed into kingdoms and then subjugated under Roman rule. Luckily, the Romans had complete control over their destiny, and steered themselves successfully into ... the Dark Ages and their remains being picked over by Visigoths.

Past empires and prosperity have collapsed. People are right to fear it. I agree with the poster though - popular analysis of this is horribly short term, tuned to the talk show circuit. The response should not be an absurd extrapolation of short-term trends but an attempt to look clear-eyed at a broader sweep of geography and history to attempt to determine if civilisation is disintegrating.

The picture I can see currently (as an amateur) is of world prosperity increasing while beset by environmental and social issues we didn't even realise existed until we were this rich. This doesn't stop them threatening civilisation though - wasn't one cause of the fall of Egypt irrigation failure?

[ Parent ]

Life is more efficient now (4.00 / 3) (#21)
by Nezumi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 08:16:33 AM EST

Egypt and Greece surely did go to hell in a handbasket. But it took them much, much longer to do so than any country in North America has existed.

Thank goodness for the modern age, which allows us to skip the intervening centuries of success and prosperity, and simply slip into oblivion and chaos immediately.



[ Parent ]
The so-called Dark Ages (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by Luyseyal on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:51:12 AM EST

The Dark Ages were not really all that dark compared to the Enlightenment. In light of the continual plagues, I'd say folk progressed pretty well. I wish we so sensitive moderns could think of a better term for the period than just The Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Medieval, etc. Those terms were Protestant jabs at old Catholicism (as if Catholicism were the only thing going on in Europe at the time and as if all Catholicism were always bad in every way).

I'm not Catholic, P.C., postmodern, etc., but I am a Classics student and it always bugged me that 300CE - 1200CE is basically ignored unless you specifically study it. There are a lot of things going on but they remain ignored due to neo-Classical Enlightenment snobbery.

I'll shut up now.
-l

[ Parent ]
Umm (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:04:38 AM EST

Aren't the dark ages and middle ages specifically different ? "The Dark Ages", from 300 - 1100 CE, are called so because there is so little archaeological evidence about them, and almost nothing written. "The Middle Ages" refers to the period of feudalism and of the Catholic church's power (prior to 1100 it was fairly weak - to the extent little is known of the popes in that period). The middle ages stop, and the modern period starts, some time late in the reformation - around 1600, I guess.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Mass media is inherently negative. (3.00 / 5) (#19)
by sakusha on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:47:56 AM EST

You should go read the classic book "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander. He argues that mass media in general is incapable of transmitting positive messages, and can only motivate the audience by negative imagery. Think about that.

Going to hell prevents being in hell (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by JonesBoy on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 08:56:24 AM EST

I think the sensationalistic media actually helps... to a point.

Yes, in this day and age we are seeing some knee-jerk reactions to the online pedos and guns is schools, but there also exists some good legislation being passed. Lets face it, if a topic becomes large enough in the public eye, then our elected officials must respond in favor of the vox populi. If there is no voice, then there is no guidance and they will make their votes based on personal experience (and sometimes gain). If there were no organizations, such as this website, that discussed the serious implications of technological progress, then these apocalyptic stories would prove true.

This is the reason that we are supposed to have free press in the US. It is unfortunate that the fed allowed the newspapers to get bought up by the media conglomerates, which effectively reduced their content to sensationalism and propaganda. Keep in mind, you can't blame the butcher for selling what the people are buying. We like hearing bad things. It makes us feel like warriors struggling through tyranny. I personally find that people are interested in alternative news, but just lack the proper sources.

If we all turned away in indifference, this world would become the horror we all read about. The only prevention that we have is the handful of people that dedicate their lives to fight for our rights. Take a look at the auto industry. It took 1 relentless person - Ralph Nader - to make safety an issue in the american automotive industry. I guess what I am saying is that if all this sensationalism can influence just one person to stand up and take responsibility for the fight, it is all worth it.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
voice of money (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by planders on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 08:15:58 PM EST

Lets face it, if a topic becomes large enough in the public eye, then our elected officials must respond in favor of the vox populi.

That's where you're wrong. Our 'Elected' officials only answer to vox aurum. This is hardly recent history either, and I dare say things have not gotten much better lately.



[ Parent ]
The solution (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by JonesBoy on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 09:30:57 AM EST


Unfortunate, but true (unless, of course, its an election year). Special interest group representatives and prospectors^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H legislators should be burned at the stake.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
The world needs zealots (4.50 / 2) (#54)
by Pseudonym on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 02:25:04 AM EST

Expanding on that...

If there is no voice, then there is no guidance and they will make their votes based on personal experience (and sometimes gain). If there were no organizations, such as this website, that discussed the serious implications of technological progress, then these apocalyptic stories would prove true.
I'd go further. The world needs zealots to sow the seeds of real change.

My classic example is RMS. There's a zealot if there ever was one. I disagree with a lot of what he says. However, I have to acknowledge (and not reluctantly, I might add) that he's doing a bloody good job in bringing some important issues into the public consciousness.

That's why I'm thankful that we have him.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Good example (3.50 / 2) (#57)
by JonesBoy on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 09:43:39 AM EST

Darn good example, even though guy kinda weirds me out once in a while, he is staying true to his cause. I do feel sorry for him though. He did a lot of work, and nobody seems to give him the credit. Then again, he named his work after an African animal whose name is unpronouncable in most tongues.

I can't remember who said it (and it isn't important) but, "to obtain moderation, one must be fanatical." I hope RMS's tirades pay off, and people realize the importance of free (speech,beer) source.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
What ever happened to Evolution? (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by Centaur on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:04:24 AM EST

Why has man stopped evolving? Our current level of intelligence does not allow us to comprehend what is through the portal in to the future. We, as humans, can make our signifigant advancements in every day life, but we need to look to what we can do to evolve as a species. We have worked in reverse in many cases. We have created a slower more innefficient human that is far too habitual to except real change. Our general level of mental capacity (keep in mind I am speaking in terms of the lowest common denominator here - sorry) would not allow for the growth potential to propel ourselves to the next level.

This particular country has disgraced itself in the eyes of the world by being a so-called, self-procalimed leader in human rights and advancement for humanity. Yet we offer daily programming via the mass mdeia that would lead one to believe that we have stepped far and away from the goal of man. Which is what? If we look at the future and we see our selves in it, what do we see? The same inbred, twisted sociecty attempting to make do with the things that we are given. Our minds and our physical sense. This is taking place in a world that will forever change until it is time for Earth to pass on in the universal time scale while man steadfastly remains the same.

We ARE evolving... in very slow motion. (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by maynard on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:24:23 AM EST

Every child who's born with cystic fibrosis, down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, and a host of other genetic ailments (even simply low sexual attractiveness) which might reduce the likelihood of their reproduction later on in life represents Darwinian "failures" -- evolution in action. The vast majority of genetic mutation in any population turns out to have little to no benefit morphologically, and often a huge detriment. This is why major morphological change to a new species or subspecies takes quite a number of generations to stabilize. You're never likely to see real change in the human population during your lifetime, unless we use technology to change our genome artificially (not that I think this is a good idea).

--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

All natural evolution (3.00 / 4) (#30)
by l0gichunt3r on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 11:14:06 AM EST

We are evolving slowly if you only consider genetics and the amount of hair on our body. The human body hasn't changed much over the last one hundred years.

However, our bodies now stand ready to rapidly evolve thanks to science and technology. As a whole, parts of the human race has evolved quite quickly.

With new gene technology we could prolong life, increase natural abilities, and quickly evolve as a human race.

Who's to say that interferring with our evolutionary process is not part of the evolutionary process.

I cringe at the idea of some genetically altered uber-human race, however doesn't it seem like the next logical step? Perhaps it's just my own short-comings that make me so afraid of that evolutionary step.

[ Parent ]
Engineered Humanity (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by mold on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:06:58 PM EST

It isn't that we're afraid of destroying the future generations of humans, but that we will no longer have a chance to be the best. All humans have a chance at being the "best person" in society, as is. With a better type of person out there, one that genetically proven to be farther on the evolutionary chain, won't that make it a lot harder to be the best?

Oh well, its something to think about, at least.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
Difficult questions indeed (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by SIGFPE on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:10:53 PM EST

one that genetically proven to be farther on the evolutionary chain
What does that mean? What does genetically 'proven' mean? How do you prove someone is 'the best' genetically? And what does 'the best' mean anyway? And who cares about being the "best person" in society? Logically there can only be one such person so it's not really worth me trying to be it and I'm not sure I've met many people who state that as any sort of goal. And what is the "evolutionary chain"? Where does it begin and end? What are its links? And lastly...why should being able to produce (genetically proven) superior people make "best people" any less likely. There is always precisely one "best person" no matter what the conditions are.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Exactly! (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:24:38 PM EST

How do you prove someone is 'the best' genetically?
We would do well to remember that many genetic "defects" confer benefits. The classic example of this is the genetic sequence thought to be responsible for sickle cell anemia that confers resistance to malaria. In a malaria free world such a genetic sequence would undoubtedly be viewed as a defect. In the world where we live where malaria is rampant on many continents, whether or not this particular genetic sequence is really a defect is open to debate.

Another portion of the question that I have not seen addressed is the hypothesis that cultural evolution is more important in modern human society than genetic evolution.

[ Parent ]

You're not seeing the forest for the trees (none / 0) (#81)
by SIGFPE on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 02:08:13 PM EST

the hypothesis that cultural evolution is more important in modern human society than genetic evolution
Er...isn't that the basic hypothesis of history or anthropology. Nobody discusses it because it's too obvious to state :-)
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Ahh the hierachy (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:58:56 AM EST

It isn't that we're afraid of destroying the future generations of humans, but that we will no longer have a chance to be the best. All humans have a chance at being the "best person" in society, as is. With a better type of person out there, one that genetically proven to be farther on the evolutionary chain, won't that make it a lot harder to be the best?

Yes we wouldn't want to be equal would we, if everyone was genetically engineered to be flawless who would we be mean to, who could we bully, and rely on to do the suboid gamma work eh?
The fight here is the fight of Logic over our own preconceptions, The idea to advance ourself genetically makes so much sense if we can do it why not?, yet the Morality and other factors, the way people feel pulls the other way.

[ Parent ]

Augmenting my post here. (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by Centaur on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:28:26 AM EST

I definitely missed proposing this portion in my post. I completely agree with all that has been added to this string. The physical aspects of our existence ARE changing. At a rate that we will not see in our own life times but over many.

I attempted to mean in a mental capacity sense. The ability to comprehend the universe and how we fit in to it and where we plan to go in it. Can we? Will we? Most likely not in our remote life times but in the future when they are able to move beyond, will all of mankind be prepared to see what has never been seen. The ability to comprehend the existence in the universe is a way to see our selves. In such a way that allows us to make room for the fact that we are just one example of life in an unexplainable existence that is life itself. As we continue to grow as a species, I do hope that our mental state for the sake of all, will grow with it and not continue on the self destructive path it has been taking in known history.

[ Parent ]
Flawed logic? (2.00 / 1) (#62)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:53:11 AM EST

Every child who's born with cystic fibrosis, down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, and a host of other genetic ailments (even simply low sexual attractiveness) which might reduce the likelihood of their reproduction later on in life represents Darwinian "failures" -- evolution in action. The vast majority of genetic mutation in any population turns out to have little to no benefit morphologically, and often a huge detriment. This is why major morphological change to a new species or subspecies takes quite a number of generations to stabilize. You're never likely to see real change in the human population during your lifetime, unless we use technology to change our genome artificially (not that I think this is a good idea).

Sickle cell isn't a good example here, because women can carry the gene and not be affected and any male offspring they have may have sickle cell, so over several generations one person could pass the sickle cell gene down to hundred of ancestors, theres no evolution there.
Now If we let nature take its course, and these people died it would be ok, but we have a habit of keeping people alive, with this whole doctor hospital thing, so peopl affected by these defects can reproduce. Just because someone is diseased doesn't mean they can't reproduce. I mean just look at Hawkins he's had two wifes and several kids.
So here we've lost a mechanism for evolution, Survival of the fittest, it doesn't happen anymore, its more survival of the richest.
You make the point that most natural mutations are of no benefit, But the problem here is that because these people are likely to survive, these mutations with no benefit will be passed on.
I wonder what kind of Mutation could possibly be of use to someone in this day and age which will show itself in a few generations time. Resistance to drugs maybe.


[ Parent ]

fit, rich; tomato, tomato (none / 0) (#86)
by cory on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 08:02:35 PM EST

"So here we've lost a mechanism for evolution, Survival of the fittest, it doesn't happen anymore, its more survival of the richest."

Who's to say being "rich" (eg, having more and better access to resources) isn't "fit" in a Darwinian sense? Granted, it isn't something you can pass on through your genes, but if there's something in your genes that enabled you to get rich (other than who gave you your genes), that could be the source of your "fitness".

As for Hawkins, he's someone who should be encouraged to have as many kids as he can. Eventually, there'll be a cure for MLS. Coming up with the right gene cocktail to create someone capable of understanding the foundations of the universe, that's a bit trickier.

Cory


[ Parent ]
Hawkins (none / 0) (#92)
by Akaru on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 03:58:13 AM EST

Unfortunately His kids show no signs of being super bright, maybe it skips a generation ;)

[ Parent ]
What "fit" means (4.00 / 1) (#100)
by error 404 on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 12:12:47 PM EST

Good at producing viable offspring.

That's it. End of story.

Fit does not mean strong or smart or motivated or beautiful or excellent in any sense other than reproductive.

Now, as it happens, there are sometimes situations where excellence in some sense that delights us (strong, smart, beautiful, motivated, etc.) is correlated to evolutionary fitness. But there is nothing inherent in it. A more "highly evolved" organism is not neccessarily better in any way. Evolution is (despite being true) not to be worshipped.

And the scale on which it works, in time, numbers, and subtlety (there isn't a gene for "smart", there are genes for "this kind of cell produces this protein under these circumstances" and one side effect might be a smarter individual, another side effect may be a slightly off body aroma) is such that attempting to do anything about it on an individual basis, like seeing to it that Hawkins has a lot of offspring, is futile.

The time scale for civilization and for evolution are completely mismatched. If we have stopped evolution by caring for the weak, it is an imperceptible pause. The 10,000 years that we have been growing food intentionaly is less than a thousand generations. A bacterial infection in a person probably lasts longer than that before the person realizes they are sick.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

If you recall... (3.40 / 5) (#35)
by trhurler on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 03:20:35 PM EST

Evolution is predicated on "evolutionary pressures," which, in the end, have to do with whose genes get propagated and whose don't. Without them, you don't evolve. Well, guess what? There are essentially zero evolutionary pressures on modern man. Unless you're a truly diseased, malformed, or otherwise exceptionally bad specimen, your odds of reproducing are quite high(and mostly depend on your desire to do so,) and the odds of you reproducing actually drop off statistically as your desirable qualities as a human being increase(more intelligent and more prudent people have fewer kids.) If we're evolving at all, we're becoming welfare-chugging trailer trash. In general, a truly dominant species isn't going to evolve much, and the notion that "evolution" always proceeds forward rather than in some sort of regression of ability is merely a reflection of the fact that evolution as observed has always been among genuine competitors. We're not competing - for all intents and purposes, we've won.

Basically, if we want further improvement in the human genome on any significant scale, we're going to have to do it ourselves. That's not an argument as to whether we should or shouldn't do it ourselves, or when, or how - it is merely a statement of a near certainty.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Not true on the whole (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by RadiantMatrix on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 07:14:14 PM EST

There are essentially zero evolutionary pressures on modern man. Unless you're a truly diseased, malformed, or otherwise exceptionally bad specimen, your odds of reproducing are quite high(and mostly depend on your desire to do so,)
This may well be an accurate picture of the situation in first-world countries. However, first-worlders are an astonishingly small portion of the world. In the poorer developming nations that don't have the quality of health care available to the richer ones, evolutionary pressures certainly exist.

Besides, even in the US (which most accurately fits the picture you describe) small evolutionary forces are at work. It is unavoidable -- entropy will increase to the point where conditions will make evolutionary pressures more pronounced.

--
No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.

[ Parent ]

I think you are mistaken (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by trhurler on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 07:55:30 PM EST

This may well be an accurate picture of the situation in first-world countries. However, first-worlders are an astonishingly small portion of the world. In the poorer developming nations that don't have the quality of health care available to the richer ones, evolutionary pressures certainly exist.
I doubt this seriously; the poorest breed the fastest, and that's true throughout almost all of the world. Sure, they might suffer more, but suffering unto itself is not an evolutionary pressure.
Besides, even in the US (which most accurately fits the picture you describe) small evolutionary forces are at work. It is unavoidable -- entropy will increase to the point where conditions will make evolutionary pressures more pronounced.
If population growth were unbounded or territory were bounded, this might be true. However, neither of those is a correct statement. Human beings are so dominant that even significant genetic diseases frequently do not preclude procreation, to say nothing of minor abnormalities. As it stands, unless we find ourselves in vastly different circumstances, I really don't think people are going to naturally evolve.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Suffering and evolution (none / 0) (#107)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 06:39:49 PM EST

I doubt this seriously; the poorest breed the fastest, and that's true throughout almost all of the world. Sure, they might suffer more, but suffering unto itself is not an evolutionary pressure.
Suffering does not lead to evolution: on this point we can agree. However, the lack of available treatments for diseases which are either genetically-based or for which genetic tendencies exist does lead to a situation where natural selection is more active -- and therefore evolutionary pressures are allowed to exert themselves.

--
No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.

[ Parent ]
Entropy What? (2.50 / 2) (#61)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:24:02 AM EST

Besides, even in the US (which most accurately fits the picture you describe) small evolutionary forces are at work. It is unavoidable -- entropy will increase to the point where conditions will make evolutionary pressures more pronounced.

You mention Entropy here, surely the heat death of the universe has no effect on evolution, I very much doubt that thermodynamics can be seen as any reason for evolution.

The only evolution we are undergoing now is freak evolution caused by a mutation in out genes, Not only is this so unlikely to happen, its also even more unlikely that this mutation would be beneficial. And even if it wasn't the case the chance of passing on a non beneficial Mutation out weighs the chance of passing on a beneficial mutation, So the evolution we'll get from this is virtually nil.

Apart from that if someone is born superior, because there is no pressure for that person to survive or do better or to have kids, there is no way that improvement can spread to the masses of the population.

The only evolution we have now is a social evolution where we change the way we think, the way society works, and even thats pretty slow (not compared to normal evolution but to the life time of a person) because we are really stubborn!


[ Parent ]

wrong field of science (none / 0) (#74)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:28:26 PM EST

You mention Entropy here, surely the heat death of the universe has no effect on evolution, I very much doubt that thermodynamics can be seen as any reason for evolution.
Genes, by virtue of being information, fall into the realm of information theory which uses the term entropy in a manner similar to but distinct from that in physics. Chemistry uses yet another meaning.

If I recall correctly, entropy in information theory refers to the amount of unintended change in a message. Think the unintended changes to the secret message in the game of telephone.

Regards,

Lee Malatesta

[ Parent ]

stupid stupid stupid (none / 0) (#93)
by Akaru on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 04:02:59 AM EST

Yeah I see what you mean now I don't think its used in Chemistry but enthalpy(sp?) is which is similar, yeah entropy: A measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message, I guess thats what was meant, Stupid english language, stupid Science, stupid stupid stupid.

[ Parent ]
No, you were right.. (none / 0) (#97)
by ajduk on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 11:09:08 AM EST

It is used in chemistry; that's the original definition.

Gibbs free energy = Enthalpy + Entropy

i.e. The amount of (useful) work you can get out of a reaction.

An important difference is that the Chemical entropy, the entropy of the entire system (ultimately the universe) can only ever go up. This is a stastical law.


In the Information sense, it is quite possable for a transmission to increase the information content of a message (decrease it's entropy). In terms of genetics, this could be caused by a gene or chromosome duplication followed by specalisation of both the resultant genes/chromosomes.



[ Parent ]
Evolution: still happening (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by isobars on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:44:27 PM EST

Currently, the evolutionary process is in a state of expansion.

Man is slowly (and i do mean slowly) changing over time, and varying. People who would have died 100 years ago (diabetics etc) are now living and passing on their genes. We as a species get the advantages of this variation. It may well be that society gets twisted, or there ARE killer ants (slashdot trolls?) that destroy most of mankind. However it may well be that SOME will survive, and fill the remaining niche. The more varying we do now until a disaster/world conflict/etc the more chance we have that SOME will survive. This is all part of evolution.

You may argue that because people now live with potentially life threatening disabilities, there is no evolving going on. This is not true, some people still do not pass on genes, although this is admittedly smaller. But the increased variety and gene pool means that when natural selection is more demanding, someone lives up to it.

Hope that made sense (and i hope it was intellectually true as well)



He who laughs last... Hasnt Seen the Cattle Prod
[ Parent ]
Re: Evolution (none / 0) (#76)
by spammacus on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:31:48 PM EST

We are not evolving in the strictest sense of the word because we are no longer living in a Darwinian environment. We have largely managed to create our own environment, which does not depend on the survival (and reproduction) of the "fittest" (or which even defines what "fittest' means). Instead we have to make a concious effort to make progress as a culture.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
In the long run, we're all dead (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by mveloso on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:45:48 AM EST

People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. To date they've been wrong, except for those dinosaur prognosticators who were finally vindicated by the big ball of fire that fell from the sky.

In the words of a famous economist who's name now escapes me, "In the long run, we're all dead."

What's amazing is that people actually believe a lot of this stuff. Back in my day, we didn't need the internet to spread doom-and-gloom, we had the weekly world news. Now with all this newfangled technology the True Believers are multiplying like Code Red II worms in an NT server farm. Heck, if the D&G folks like paul erlich were correct, we'd all be dead by now from:

* nuclear winter
* overpopulation
* lack of fossil fuels
* pollution
* global warming
* innundation by rising sea levels
* drought of fresh water
* big rocks from outer space
* diseases from the defoilation of the rainforest
* lack of base metals due to overmining
* overproduction
* underproduction
* inflation
* deflation
* sulfates in wine
* targeted nanotechnology viruses

Get a life! The world isn't going to end anytime soon. If it does, you personally can't do anything about it, so it's pointless to worry about it.

I think, though, that some people get stoked by getting all wound up about The End. It's a market, so other people cater to it. Oh well.

Yes but... (3.50 / 2) (#60)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:10:10 AM EST

Replying To:
In the long run, we're all dead (4.00 / 2) (#27) by mveloso on Tue Aug 7th, 2001 at 10:45:48 AM EST

Get a life! The world isn't going to end anytime soon. If it does, you personally can't do anything about it, so it's pointless to worry about it.

I think he problem is its true there is nothing we can do about it, thats the problem, we just feel utterly useless, we aren't in control, Theres nothing we can do about Global warming and destruction of the Ozone layer, theres nothign we can do about Overpopulation, hell we can't even do anything about homeless people, Crime, High taxes on fuels etc.

Of course if the World ends it'll solve all these problems. Its the Logical thing to happen.

We never have been in control. We just have started thinking about how not in control we are now. The Media have been flooding us with TV programs books and films, about conspiracys, and death doom and destruction, so were becomign paranoid, and we don't know why and we don't know how to stop it, because we don't understand it, and because were not in control of it there is nothing we can do.
What we need is a good world war, not with nukes or anything we want guns and stuff, so we can make it last for a few years, naturally we'll all suffer, less food and resources, but it'll take our mind off what we've been worrying about. And after the depression we'll be extra happy because we will have stopped being opressed, and we'll have a few decades of "The Golden Era", eventually it'll decline again so if we have a major world war every 20 years or so, it'll solve the problem, and it'll keep the population in check.


[ Parent ]

In the long run, we're all dead (4.00 / 2) (#71)
by Begbie on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:59:39 AM EST

In the words of a famous economist who's name now escapes me, "In the long run, we're all dead."

That famous economist would be John Maynard Keynes ...

It's a bit out of context ... when confronted with the fact that defict spending would increase inflation, and the arguement that in the long run the market, if left by itself, would correct unemployment he said that a bit of inflation to ease unemployment is worth it, since in the long we're all dead anyways.

[ Parent ]
true, but (2.00 / 1) (#98)
by mveloso on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 11:13:09 AM EST

that's what recycling is all about! The quote is just too wonderful to be locked into its original context :)

A side note:

What's interesting is that the last period of economic expansion in the US (the dot-com bubble era) actually was in outside of the accepted model of economic growth, and it required an unprecedented (and massive) intervention by the Fed to stop it. What would have happened if the Fed hadn't intervened? Was the last period an example of an upward economic spiral, in contrast to the normal downward economic spiral?

Who knows now. But it's funny watching Greenspan try and fix is mistake, isn't it?

[ Parent ]
It's not the shootings, it's the attitudes (3.75 / 4) (#31)
by Wondertoad on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 11:27:22 AM EST

As someone else pointed out, school violence is down. Schools are actually one of the safest places to be.

What is changing is not the level of violence, but our attitudes towards that violence. And so, the reaction to those shootings is what's getting hotter and hotter.

And so far, the overreaction has been much more painful and harmful than the shootings. Yeah, I know, I know; the shootings are the worst possible event. But as someone pointed out, they are probably statistically unavoidable. The overreaction is farther reaching and more traumatic. A friend of mine is a teacher and she talks about children who are afraid to go to school because they've been indoctrinated that they are in danger. The overreaction is going to get a LOT worse before it gets any better...

My point exactly (3.00 / 3) (#44)
by anansi on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:57:42 PM EST

When I was in grade school, I painted pictures of the school exploding, I quoted "Maxwell's silver hammer" at great length, and generally talked a lot of shit. Statistically, I was no better or worse than any of the kids today, the difference being today, one can expect to be suspended for the kind of thing that used to be shrugged off.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Doom... doom... doom... doom... (3.75 / 4) (#33)
by endymion on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 02:41:07 PM EST

Life is a bifurcating chaotic attractor.

And then you die.

;)


- The Code Nazi

Then what do we read and talk about? (2.50 / 2) (#37)
by Hefty on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 04:09:35 PM EST

Yeah I can see your point about how it seems that publications/TV/Radio/Web Sites go on and on about seemingly unimportant things. However, you must realize that is what the media is supposed to do. If they said, "fine, were not going to talk about crack babies, how your teams quarterback isn't going to take your city to the Superbowl, or how little/to much freedom you all have, etc., etc.", then the media wouldn't have anything to say. I like to listen to talk radio shows on the AM dial and at times when there is not much of anything newsworthy they tend to drone on about the same subjects, over, and over again. Or, the talk show hosts make fart noises - at least the ones I listen to. Every once in a while you'll get a fed up listener who will call in and say, "Hey I heard enough about (so and so) and I'm getting sick and tired of everyone talking about this. Just get over it already." The talk show hosts admittedly get defensive and say, "well sorry for trying to do our job here, that is what we do in the media. We take very small issues and make them into large issues so that we can have a show about them." The same is true for K5 where people can post their extensive thoughts about remotely interesting and particularly obscure issues. We can use the power of the Internet and this page's design to add to those thoughts and ideas and inflate these things to newsworthy appeal. Information is like a vast ocean -- mostly blue water with something interesting occasionally swimming around in there.

I'm gonna sing the doom song, now! (3.50 / 4) (#43)
by UncleMikey on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:06:09 PM EST

Doom doom doom da-doom doom doom Doom da-doom Doom Doom doomdooomdoomdoomdoom ...

Sorry...couldn't resist...

Well...OK...yes, I could have. I didn't.

Seriously (well, semi-)

More than half the time, when our elders say, "The world is doomed," what they really mean is, "Nobody's listening to me any more."

The reasons why civilizations actually fall is that there is a small fraction of the time when the world really is doomed -- Rome being the most commonly cited example. Civilizations almost never see the roots of their own downfall.

On the other hand, 225 years ago, a lot of very smart people would have bet good money that a kingless society could not survive 225 days... Difference frightens people. That's all there is to it.
--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]

On a long enough time line.... (2.00 / 1) (#48)
by rabbit on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 07:51:29 PM EST

the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.
-- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
um (3.40 / 5) (#55)
by bitspotter on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 02:39:18 AM EST

Trustworthy sources tell me that birth is the leading cause of death among human beings.

End of the world. (3.50 / 4) (#58)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 09:54:51 AM EST

I think there is a general trend in society which means more people are thinking that things are bad. And maybe they're right. Hell when i was a kid I was never a victim of crime, these days I have at least one serious crime happen to me a year.

Add to that that the world has become a lot more driven by money, Non profit companys are falling by the wayside, because people want to make money, There is an increasing number of people who are becoming disillusioned with the way things are.
In the old days the good guys always won, these days, were only told that the good guys always win, whilst the bad guys are busy winning.
Looking at it its because of the years of relative stability that society has had, for 50 years, no real major wars or upsets. Its just plodding along going nowhere. Its easy to just get the idea that we are just cogs in a machine that is ambling aimlessly along.

I mean in the old days we could be seen working towards helping the war effort, or beating the Russians in the cold war, getting to the moon first, they were goals that bought together people in a sustained effort. What do we have now? Nothing, and more than ever people are trying to stab you in the back, to get your money anyway they can.

So we have a society with no aims, crumbling values thats based on money. Not only that Its boring, I mean who wants to read a newspaper about how nothign really exciting has happened recently, So lets sensationalise something. I think the whole end of the world is something left over from the millenium with some dystopian/cyberpunk outlook on life, its become fashionable to predict death doom and destruction, Just like its become even more popular to be a "Goth".

So we have a boring society with no aims, crumbling values thats based on money.

Theres nothing to believe in anymore, all the religions are just not believable, theres no fantastic visions of the future, no trips to mars, there are no hero's to look up to. People are becoming devalued, and all that counts is money, you either have money or you have no money. Companys are run for profits, not for what they create or what they do if they don't make a profit they dissapear.

Its not the end, its really just the beginning, I personally think that as society stagnates, and things become worse, people will rebel against the way things are happening and things will change.
Looking back on history no changes happen gradually over time, or at least no changes for the better, they generally happen explosively.

So for now were the lost generation, no goal to work for, just a bunch of selfish people working for our own good.

A few arguments. (none / 0) (#69)
by crcerror on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:39:51 AM EST

I think there is a general trend in society which means more people are thinking that things are bad. And maybe they're right. Hell when i was a kid I was never a victim of crime, these days I have at least one serious crime happen to me a year.

See but how often do serious crimes happen to kids? I've thought about this one before and how many kids are put in situations where they can get mugged, robbed or beaten? I'm in my early twenties and though I can agree that I am a victim of crime more now then I was back then, I think it's more situation based. I tend to go to clubs now which are located in a pretty seedy area in my local city, muggings are not unheard of there. I'll occasionally go to a bar, where things can get rowdy and though I've been never involved in any sort of an altercation at a bar, I've seen them happen. I drive much more now and that leaves me open for incidents of road rage and violence on the roads. When I was a teenager and younger, I was exposed to these things less and therefore was rarely (if ever, I honestly cannot recall one incident) exposed to a crime.

Add to that that the world has become a lot more driven by money [...]

Frankly, from what I've heard the 70's and 80's were a time when greed ran rampant. Now I have no direct knowledge of this because being a little kid at that point, I was somewhat sheltered from the world so maybe I'm wrong but I've heard that the world has become less greed oriented than the 80's and perhaps the 70's. That's kind of relayed hearsay however...

Theres nothing to believe in anymore, all the religions are just not believable, theres no fantastic visions of the future, no trips to mars, there are no hero's to look up to.

Oh, please. :-) I personally don't believe in what the organized religions of the world have to offer but there are a number of people out there and do and others that have their own personal belief systems. Perhaps the fantastic visions of the future are no longer being expressed so loudly but they are there as well if you read between the lines the media. Genetic engineering, the Internet and other mass forms of communication, new medical breakthroughs and yes, there are plans for trips to mars in the next decade or so. There's always been a pervasive doom and gloom sentiment in society, people have been screaming about "the end" since "the beginning". Look at newspapers back during the Cuban Missile crisis, we got articles about the world ending in a nuclear holocaust but I'm sure if you look at Popular Mechanics of the same era, it probably portrayed some flying car that we'd all be driving in a few decades. The good and bad go hand and hand but it's true, our media focuses on the bad and probably it's because that's what we love to hear about.

So for now were the lost generation, no goal to work for, just a bunch of selfish people working for our own good.

One last, kind of OT thing, where did you hear the term "lost generation" to describe us? I heard it a long time ago, I've used it and very few people have heard that... they always ask me where I heard it from and I can never remember.



[ Parent ]
Lost generation (none / 0) (#70)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:53:33 AM EST

Heh, here i go with my complete role reversal hold tight.

Of course your right, I am seeing the world from my point of view, I'm sure people have felt the same way before, infact i know they have, in the early 80's everyone was sure the world would end in a nuclear holocaust, governments made leaflets explaining what kind of crispy fried human you'd become if someone nuked your city.

And yes the 80's were very bad, because of the tory goverment, And now we have a different goverment its just as bad, just Government kissing the ass of business's, so i guess no change there.

The only thing I think has changed is the attitudes of people. but then again I am only looking from my own world view and i'm probably just in the minority of crazy monkeys who are disillusioned with life.

Its interesting it always comes down to your standard reference model, Everything is relative, in life. Whats bad for me might be good for someone else. So just know despite me being entirely right and everyone else is wrong, (After all I am GOD) Everyone else thinks they know best or know better( Which they don't ;) But as I generally agree with all views to a certain extent and disagree with all views to other extents I can't really go wrong. Its giving with one hand taking with the other...

And finally, the term, "Lost Generation" We'll I know of no one who has coined it. But many have used it, i don't know who it has been attributed to, if you can't think of anyone it was me. On the other hand I probably started using it after I watched the Intro to Freespace 2, and it was used on there.



[ Parent ]
Which one of us is in the minority? :) (none / 0) (#73)
by crcerror on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:28:02 PM EST

I don't think you're in the minority but I also don't think it's something new. I think the majority of people have always had this attitude. Every generation worries that theirs and the following one are falling a part. Perhaps I'm just too much of an optimist for the rest of society but I think we've come this far without destroying ourselves and we'll continue on. Sure, we'll have patches of corruption and destruction in our history but life always pushes forward and harping on it may only add to it. After rereading that paragraph, I think I definately am in the minority! :)

Okay, I could have sworn I saw the "lost generation" on some TV talk show about the evils of today's youth. ;-) But I suppose from here on out, I'll just attribute to you. heh



[ Parent ]
No really.... (none / 0) (#91)
by Akaru on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 03:54:07 AM EST

Well I think it is a case of people always thinking the worse is happening, I just think people are probably closer the mark now than before.

I really do believe that things aren't improving, for us in many measures, I mean sure unemployment is down, crime is down etc. But consider the fact that Governments are passing laws that are taking away our rights and getting away with it.
Things are changing from being for the people to being for business, I mean The American government can't even break up Microsoft, for the good of the people of the world, everyone knows there products is poor because it has no competition, everyone knows they've abused there position as market leader to create a monopoly, but the government can't do dick about it.
The companys are being strengthened and the people being weakened, its the same problem that happened with Communism, corruption and greed. So instead of Capitalism working for the people with companys competing to bring quality products for the best price, its become who can get the greatest profit margin. And the greatest profit margin is by having the greatest market share selling the cheapest product you can for the most Money.
Cooperative and mutuals are being closed down or run out of business because they aren't run for a profit they're run to provide a service. The banks and businesses that replace them provide a service that doesn't exist because the service is needed the service exists because it makes money.

People don't make money, people are awkward, people would rather not pay money for stuff, People are bad, by removing there rights and removing things that benefit people, they lose their say, they end up being controlled by the businesses who end up changing humans into money making machines.

You might be in the minority on this discussion board but over all I don't think your in the minority in the world, who knows.

[ Parent ]
Lost Generation?? (none / 0) (#102)
by Bisun on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 04:00:48 PM EST

Lost Generation?? I was hoping someone else would speak here, since I'm a bit vague about the details, but here goes...

I forget who used the term "Lost Generation" first. I seem to recall that it was originally used to describe the Beats and the outlaw motorcycle gangs in the 50's, but it could have been earlier. For some reason I also associate it with Hemmingway and Faulkner.

It doesn't describe the same thing that's happening now. People may feel powerless, but they don't feel ripped apart the way people do after a war. I'm pretty sure a war was involved, I just can't remember which one, Korea, WWII, or WWI. It was definitely not used to describe the VietNam vets, though it sure could have been. But they were a bit too small a part of the country, and the gov did an impressive fan dance to distract people from the way those vets just got thrown away. That was when they cancelled the veteran educational benefits, though I think many of the vets actually managed to get in before the cancellation actually took effect. Still, the timing speaks volumes. But they didn't get called the lost generation, because the term was already taken.



[ Parent ]

Fuck you and your site. (1.00 / 18) (#66)
by Anonymity on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:30:36 AM EST

Watch as this comment promptly gets deleted.
Freedom of speech my ass.
Hypocrites.

Simply disgusting...


what? (2.33 / 3) (#68)
by Akaru on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 11:37:56 AM EST

You know a comment like that is all very well but... What are you going on about?, if you can't explain what your going on about, and why we are hipocrites and why you are obviously better than us, we may as well reguard you as an idiot and crank. Add to that you created your account for the express purpose of posting this comment I have to ask. Why?

I think the reason is because your just a trolly trolly troll who hasn't the guts to accept responsibility for your own stupid mistakes.

It will be no suprise if it does get deleted when you consider the above. Idiot!

[ Parent ]
like duh (3.50 / 2) (#85)
by anonymous cowerd on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 07:33:32 PM EST

Watch as this comment promptly gets deleted.
Freedom of speech my ass.
Hypocrites.

Simply disgusting...

No one is restricting in the least your so-called "freedom of speech." Conversely no one is required to publish, at their own expense, any of the things that you say. Since when did anyone running K5 guarantee you the unrestricted right to have anything you choose to post here displayed for all the world to read? This is a privately owned web log, you know. Or maybe you don't know; go read the FAQ.

Yours WD "hth" K - WKiernan@concentric.net

To honor our dead, not a moment of silence, rather a lifetime of struggle.
[ Parent ]

So what isn't privately owned these days? (none / 0) (#87)
by marlowe on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 09:47:47 PM EST

It's really horrible to say privately owned forums are exempt from free speech when every possible forum is owned by somebody. Hell, the Internet itself is owned by those who provide the connectivity and the server space. You're prividing an argument for corporate censorship, which, in an incrasingly privatized world, amounts to totla censorship.

Please do think out the implications of your position a bit more thoroughly.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
right of way (5.00 / 3) (#88)
by anonymous cowerd on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:15:25 PM EST

It's really horrible to say privately owned forums are exempt from free speech when every possible forum is owned by somebody.

You're right, you're completely right. I agree. It is horrible, but it also happens to be true.

This and that, here and there; freerepublic.com is as free as Stalin's Politburo, K5 is reasonably spacious and gracious but still, usenet's practically the old Wild West but even usenet is owned and even loosely policed, not by you either. What remains wholly in the public domain, where even ordinary citizens who can't afford to buy and run printing presses can express themselves? As far as I know, the only place upon the land of this country, the only place physical or digital or whatever, where everyone is literally guaranteed freedom of discourse twenty-four hours a day, is in the public right-of-way, out in the streets.

That's why, even if you happen to be indifferent to their causes, it's so important for you to support and promote the right of demonstrators to assemble, no matter how severely it may annoy the gentlemen who lead their governments, in the streets of Seattle or Quebec or Genoa or wherever, and not be arbitrarily fenced out of them, or bullhorned off them, or tear-gassed off them, or clubbed and shot off them by hordes of policemen and soldiers.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

The one thing that really disturbs me about America is that people don't like to read. - Keith Richards
[ Parent ]

The problem lies in Cartoons (3.66 / 3) (#75)
by Scooby on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:58:04 PM EST

I've thought about this for a while, and I've come to the conclusion that all of these problems that we may or may not be having are all, in fact, due to a problem with today's cartoons.


1) No new Loony-Toons episodes.
AFAIK, Warner has stopped creating Loony-Toons cartoons. The last one that I've seen made was a movie, Space Jam. Bah. We need good, old fashioned Loony-Tunes being made.

2) No really bad, moral building cartoons
I haven't seen any cartoons in a while that actually had a moral, or lesson to be learned from the story. Heck, even He-Man and the Masters of the Universe had this.

3) No cartoons on at 5:30am Saturday Mornings
I don't think anything really needs to be said about this, there's no kids waking up early, even at 6:30 anymore to watch cartoons and intake massive quantities of sugar.

4) Well, I had a number four a second ago, but I've seen to have forgoteen it =/

Anyways, I think it's a slow degredation of the imagination of children due to lack of good cartoons. Or I could be paranoid. Either idea has a very good chance of being true.

*Puts on tin-foil hat*

Unbreakable *spoilers* (none / 0) (#79)
by anansi on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:53:39 PM EST

Have you seen Unbreakable?

If you haven't, then don't read this any farther! The suprise twist ending is well worth the admission price, and I don't want to be accused of ruining an excellent movie.

Okay.. the way I interpreted the ending, was Mr. Glass stood for the invisible conspiracy of illuminati, who were behind every war of the 20th century. Their goal was to bring out the best in people, by bringing out the worst in (other) people. So they backed (and later crippled) Hitler, Tojo, and Stalin's social movements in order to challenge other social movements.

(I have now outed myself as a paranoid delusional lunatic, but the conspiracy has had my number for years now, so it no longer matters...)

The ending, where Glass effectively surrenders to our caped crusader, represents the end of that illuminati strategy of 'cartoon' polarization. They have milked that approach for all it's worth, and now need to find other, non-polarizing ways of challenging mere humans to their very core.

So although your point was meant to be funny, and I liked the humor in it, there is also a serious point to be made, if a person hasn't taken their meds today....

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Cartoon Morals the Basis of a Whole new Civilisati (none / 0) (#90)
by Akaru on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 03:28:37 AM EST

Your so right, I used to live by He Mans morals at the end of cartoons, hell just the Other day I was going on about cartoons these days not having enough morals, I swear you must of been listening in to me.

[ Parent ]
On the one hand... (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by jd on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:45:32 PM EST

Good news doesn't sell. Bad news - you'll run out of copies before you'll run out of customers.

A newscaster for ITN, some years back, stated that in his view the depressed atmosphere of the news was a leading cause of violence, and that showing some =GOOD= news once in a while might do more for society than all the police initiatives in the world. (The guy was laughed out of town.)

On the other hand, it has to be said that we had one global recession in the 80's (largely as a result of Margret Thatcher and her Amazing Ego), and we're in another one now. (Go ahrad - tell me that 40,000+ jobs lost at Lucent is a sign of a healthy tech industry!)

Psychologists have argued since the 1960s that a lot of social "norms" are, in reality, poisonous to the mind. Various self-help groups have argued the same points even longer. These are not "doom-sayers". They get nothing from being right -or- from being wrong, and either could destroy them.

Now, how to fit these views together? After all, they're about the same world. The people might be coming from different directions, but they must still be seeing essentially the same thing, even if their interpretations are worlds apart.

Easy. We make the world we live in. We make it bad, because we believe that that is how it fundamentally is. In truth, though, it's not fundamentally -anything-. It's just a world, nothing more, nothing less. If we were to approach the world as fundamentally OK, and be utterly convinced of that in our thoughts and actions, then -that- is what it will be. Enough people with enough positive attitude -will- make a positive difference.

Laurie Anderson said it better (3.00 / 3) (#80)
by anansi on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 02:06:51 PM EST

Zorba said, Are people just being sensationalistic or are we really going to hell in a handbasket?

And Laurie said it, Are things getting better, or are they getting worse?

Stop

Rewind

We're in 'record'...

...To which I have to answer, Yes, things are getting better, and they're getting worse.

The question is, what do you want to do about it?

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

...And I feel fine (1.00 / 1) (#89)
by Mertamet on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 10:21:44 PM EST

People have been complaining that things aren't like they used to be forever. But, lifespans are longer, we don't have to kill animals or toil in the fields, just to survive. I would say in general, for most people, things are pretty good. We have the luxury of worrying about how bad things are. The way I see it, the more we worry, the more things must be good, otherwise we wouldn't be able to worry. Nuff said.

WTF? (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by gordonjcp on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 07:56:16 AM EST

we don't have to kill animals or toil in the fields, just to survive.

*Someone* has to!
Those lovely organic Mediterranean Peppers you had with pesto and feta cheese didn't get shrinkwrapped into the polystyrene tray in Sainsbury's by themselves, you know

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
ugh... (none / 0) (#96)
by flummox on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 10:54:53 AM EST

i hate "nuff said"... what a stupid comment. quit trying to be cool. spell the word out... enough... enough... enough...

it's not that hard, and you look far less stupid...

before you can flame me, piss off...

cap'n flummox


...bring me my cheese...

[ Parent ]
arrogance is absurd (none / 0) (#99)
by flummox on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 11:33:52 AM EST

i think you should change the title to "it's the end of humanity as we know it" (shitty rem fan...)

it's just stupid to ASSume that once humanity is gone, the world will go with it as well. dinosaurs came and went; the planet (world) survived. and, once humans are gone, the planet will go on. just because humans aren't around, doesn't mean other things cannot be. it's a stupid ASSumption to think that humans are the end all be all of life.

the world, or even the universe, WILL exist long after human dna has been eraticated off of this planet and the rest of the universe. don't be so egotistical...

later,

cap'n flummox


...bring me my cheese...

End of a world, anyway (4.00 / 2) (#103)
by Bisun on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 04:16:16 PM EST

We seem to be moving towards a more highly controlled world, where the central figures grasp the power tightly to themselves, and suppress dissent.

I didn't see anything about violence in the projection, so it's quite interesting that so many of the posts are denying an increase in violence. That's sort of orthogonal to what was being talked about. Tightly controlled societies aren't usually particularly violent. At least internally. And this "new society" seems to intend to be world encompassing.

Possibly the attempt is only to bring all people to the same average level of liberty that has traditionally been true for the world. For some reason I find myself bothered by this notion. I'd rather increase the amount of freedom available. But the centralized nodes of control of our society seem to have been grasped by psychotic sociopaths. Perhaps this is an inevitable result of the change in the population age curve so that there are a larger number of older people. Perhaps. But the phone clerk who won't un-slam you has a somewhat different explanation that "It's the population age curve.", so I rather expect that many effects are happening simultaneously, and that they are just reinforcing themselves in a quite undesireable way. Only a small part of the changes are intentionally malicious. But they tend to get reinforced by the others. But there are other effects too. Attempting to run this circus must be like trying to balence on a two legged stool, so people who feel that it needs to be run are probably a bit desperate.



Nonsense (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by NotZen on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 05:25:03 AM EST

We seem to be moving towards a more highly controlled world, where the central figures grasp the power tightly to themselves, and suppress dissent.

Considering that for pretty much the whole of history, humanity has been largely rules by tyrants who ruled through fear and violence, killing or imprisoning those with dissenting viewpoints (and that this is still true in large chunks of the planet), this statement just seems ridiculous.

If you're lucky enough to live in the western world, you have unprecedented levels of freedom of speech and information, and the tendency is towards more freedom, not less.

[ Parent ]
Nonsense, but also not (none / 0) (#110)
by Bisun on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 06:17:43 PM EST

It all depends on exactly which distance you look. But currently the move is toward more centralized control. A decade ago it was quite otherwise. And if you look multiple centuries ago, then there wasn't much central control, but there was lots of arbitrary local control, which is only slightly better (or worse). Until the telegraph extended central control wasn't possible. Until the computer it couldn't be managed in any detail.

I acknowledge that localized centers of control have existed since before we were human, but that isn't what I'm talking about. That seems to be at a relatively stable level, and will probably stay there. I'm talking about centrallized control. I'm talking about Kmart deciding what to offer in all of their stores from one central location (if they do... I'm guessing wildly here from a local version). I'm talking about Florida police tracking down someone by his face using a database search. Pity they didn't know he was just a model. I'm talking about the same music playing on the network stations all over the country.

These may not all be happening, but they are definitly things that have been moving closer for the last decade. And one can expect them to continue to move closer, and always not for any good reason. Sometimes that we can do it is reason enough. But I don't necessarily like it.



[ Parent ]

The Extropians have a word for this (3.00 / 2) (#106)
by khallow on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 02:13:52 PM EST

From the Extropians, Disasturbation - wishful disaster scenarios. Disclaimer, while I have conversed repeated via mailing lists with suspected Extropians, I have no idea what to do if you actually run into one. After contact, wash repeatedly? ;-)

I think disasters fill a fantasy adventure thing in people. I.e., asteroid hits the earth, I get to be heroic, and everyone/everything I don't like gets smeared by the asteroid. Plus, you acquire a license to pontificate endlessly.

it's the lack of real challenge/problems... (4.00 / 2) (#108)
by americanfrog on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 09:04:35 PM EST

I've thought for a long time that the basic problem with american society (and other western societies, but america in general) is that we have no REAL problems.

Think about it. When we settled this country, we had to grow our own food, take care of our own animals, build our own shelter, defend ourselves against attack by indians/spaniards/pirates/nature, or whatnot. Back then, in any country, people dealt with the elements and enemies on a daily basis. Our days consisted of constant activity to SURVIVE. (unless, i suppose, you were a rich lord or something, but then again - look how they acted back then...)

It just seems to me that we no longer need to fight to survive anymore. We can just sit around and watch tv and eat frozen pizzas and surf the internet and complain about the little piddly shit that really doesn't MATTER in reality, because we have nothing else to worry about.

I think that's why there has suddenly been an increase in 'extreme' sports recently too. There is no danger of dying or being killed, or starving to death or even finding a job anymore. So we all sit around and get depressed and complain, and need something else to propel us out of our apathy. We are JUST like the indolent rich nobility of the 18th century. They partied every night all night and wasted huge amounts of money on 'fun'. That doesn't seem so different from what I watch my friends do every night.

I'm a 28 year old woman. If I had been born even a hundred years earlier, I'd be married with a few kids, and responsible for the working of the house, feeding my kids, the farm chores, and whatnot. Unless I had the privilege of being born into money, I'd be concerned every day with how I was going to feed and protect my family. I woudln't have TIME to worry about whether or not my peanuts were too salty or not salty enough. I'd just be damn happy that i even had peanuts.

just a thought...


"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." - Albert Camus

Beyond the End of the World (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by Perianwyr on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 09:30:19 AM EST

Everyone has a yearning for change- it grows greater the more unnatural our world becomes. We all have something inside us that, regardless of the circumstances surrounding our lives, knows when we are not living how we could be. It's a "gut" feeling, and it's so deep in us that we can't really put our minds to work at analyzing it in normal day-to-day life.

This part of us reacts most strongly in two circumstances: first, when we see the possibility for the growth of something we love, and second, when the possibility of great, sweeping, "let the chips fall where they may" change is in the air.

Thinking about a nuclear holocaust, a great plague, or the End of Freedom As We Know It brings the thrill of insurrection into our blood. We know that our world is dehumanizing us, but this idea lets us go out and finally vocalize that gut feeling we've always had. And we all want to save the world, even if we would love to see it destroyed- very few people enjoy the idea of not surviving a nuclear holocaust.

I am like everyone else- I sometimes catch myself thinking about what I would do "after the bomb", regardless of what bomb someone may set up.

But I can't help but think that we can take this inner dream of life to a new level on our own, without the crutch of disaster to do all the work for us. Of course, that's the kicker- work. Without a truly bad star, we will have to create our own cultural apocalypse.

There are those that seem to realize this now. While I do not agree with everything the WTO protestors may do, I see where they are coming from. They are a group of people in which the Word in their gut is made Flesh in the streets.

This is the attraction of any sort of protest. The chants cut through the smoky air, the cops mass before you like so many nightmare demons- you look behind you, and it feels like you are at the crest of a wave. You feel *real change* come over you. It's the thrill of insurrection, aimed straight at our collective reality.

Overtly militant people can easily take control of this sort of situation (from both sides) simply because the urge for change is always looking for a suddent, violent fix.

But with every real act of insurrection, a thousand smaller, unrelated ones bloom in each individual heart. Harnessing these inner liberations is the first step to real change. The sound and fury, in the long run, means nothing.

It's The End Of The World As We Know It | 111 comments (106 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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