Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stephen Hawking's Sell By Date For Humanity LBC 09/01/2017

It is no surprise that scientists have said for years that earth has a finite  life span. I can recall my junior high (what is called middle school today - teacher, Mr. Jorgensen telling us that  the sun - like any star - will eventually die. When that happens this third rock from the sun will no longer sustain life as we know it.  OK - he did not  call Earth the Third Rock from the Sun, but I was fond of that TV show. So it comes as no surprise the most brilliant  mind in modern physics would suggest  we have what is essentially a sell by date to - as he says it colonize other planets. It all sounds rather like a good science fiction movie like Forbidden Planet,  the 1956 movie that forever guaranteed I would be a fan of good science fiction.
What  may come as a surprise is that Hawking suggested we needed  to be gone within 1000 - 10,000 years. Mr. Jorgensen suggested millions if not billions of years.  But wait! Hawking recently changed that to around 100 years. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF) - what happened?

The answer is simply stated as global warming and the resultant changes happening now and into the future.  This topic was not suggested as an open forum on so-called man-made global warming. There is over 90% agreement that global warming is occurring,  the argument is whether it is man-made or naturally occurring. At this point does it really matter?  The polar ice caps are melting, temperatures are getting warmer and we may be headed for more hurricane Harvey like disasters than we can imagine.

So what do we do about it?  Good question. If temperature patterns continue we may no longer be able to produce enough food to sustain the population of the planet - something we have been able to do since the green revolution of the sixties and seventies. You may suggest we cannot produce enough food now but I contend we have a massive distribution problem - not production problems.

Here we sit - if Hawking is correct, we have 100 or so years to find an inhabitable new home and move us all to said planet, colonize it and establish a workable political system that can develop and sustain the population. We certainly need a few dozen Elon Musks and  Sir Richard Bransons to help us with that massive transportation issue. And goodness but we have enough globalism naysayers here in the USA so what will happen when someone starts talking interstellar? 45s head will explode trying to  to keep up with that one on twitter. (My snarky side would suggest that is not a bad idea but this blog is being done by my kinder, gentler side).

My pessimistic side says if Hawking is correct we are essentially screwed (without the benefit of a good time). My optimistic side says but wait - if we can imagine it we can do it. The realist in me simply hopes Hawking is wrong and that his interactions with Sheldon  Cooper have  warped is sense  of reality.

There are also the evangelicals and other bible thumpers who simply think it is  just the natural progression of things as stated in the bible. In other words it is all God's will. They've been wrong before - whether they admit it or not. Here's hoping their failures continue.

That is my admittedly light-hearted. take on what can be considered a dark, serious topic that I suggested myself. Be sure to check the other LBC bloggers to see what - if anything - they have to say.  Ramana,  Maria,  Pravin and Ashok

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Decision Making LBC 08/25/2017

This week's topic - Decision Making, comes from the sage of Pune - Ramana. Time to decide how to tackle the topic. Hmm - decision-making time.

Indeed - it's not often easy and it's not often kind.
Have you ever considered how many decisions we make on a daily basis? Have you ever considered what a strain so many decisions would place on you if you actually pondered each decision? Think about how you feel after struggling with a decision and imagine that magnified by the infinite number of decisions you make daily.
That's why most decisions are made from habit. In fact, 40 - 45% of our daily activity is actually a habit. You know red means stop, green means go and yellow means hurry up - it is about to go red so your brain automatically kicks into gear and your response kicks in. Of course, you can override that decision and when you see yellow make a decision to slow down and stop.

When you get into a car you automatically fasten your seatbelt. Or not. Either way, it is a habit. Getting into a car triggered the habit to fasten or not fasten the seat belt. And what is the value of these habits? Efficiency. Our brain conditions automatic responses that require little or no thought so that it can be ready when called on to make a real decision.
And how do you deal with decision making that is not a habit? Well of course that varies  Are you as cool as a cucumber or so wired you are literally bouncing off walls? But you can thank your efficient brain for the ability to actually think and decide. And yes - some habits are good and some are bad and with effort can be changed. But changing habits is for another week.

If you are interested in the power of habit, check The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg here - it says free to download but I did not test it.

Curious to see what others think?  Check my cohorts at their respective blogs
RamanaPravinAshok and Maria.

That's my quick shack take on this week's  topic. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Behavioral Science

This weeks topic - Behavioral Science - is in some circles considered an oxymoron. There is no science in studying behavior.

I believe there can be a scientific study of behavior but predicting behavior is another thing altogether. One need look no further than Facebook to see the results of some Behavioral Science guru - have you ever paid attention to the ads you encounter while on FB?

Those ads are tailored just for you and will include sites you have visited along with similar sites. Some marketing guru is paying a lot of money to get those ads to you, and assuming you will buy goods and/or services from one of the advertisers. Of course, this assumes you have cookies enabled and many sites insist that be the case. Test it by visiting a site like and then loading FB.

Companies use behavioral science to maximize their marketing strategies all of the time. This seems to bother some people as they see it as an invasion of their privacy. Having been in the retail world for over three decades, it does not bother me and I see it as a way for companies to maximize the effectiveness of their advertising dollars. As long as the company allows you to "opt out" you can manage what info is collected about you. If you are really hard-core about protecting your privacy and hiding from those behavioral science gurus check out the tor browser. It is relatively easy to browse the Internet privately if that is truly your desire.

Of course, there are the "real" behavioral sciences - disciplines like psychology, psychobiology and cognitive science - not to be confused with social science disciplines like economics, political science (my field) and others.

Have you ever watched the television show Criminal Minds?  That show is centered around the BAU of the FBI.That is "Behavioral Analysis Unit".  The BAU is a very real part of the FBI, but I admit I have no idea how accurate the TV show portrays the unit. The profilers investigate and solve cases weekly based upon their analysis of the crimes and offer a profile of the suspect (called unsub) on the show, Profiling is widely used in law enforcement, and occasionally abused - typically when racial profiling is employed. If a suspected criminal is described as - for example - Asian, racial profiling encourages law enforcement to stop and check any Asian.  The opportunity for abuse should be fairly obvious.'

That's a quick shack look at this week's topic, which was offered by Ramana. Be sure to check the blogs of other LBC bloggers at RamanaPravinAshok, and Maria.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Future Shock

This weeks topic was my suggestion. Future Shock by Alvin and Heidi (uncredited) Tofler was assigned reading in my college days and I thoroughly enjoyed the book - easily one of my two favorite assigned reading books in college, the other being Earth Ahides by George R. Stewart.

The Toflers were futurists and according to them, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” Among the accelerating changes they predicted are the “electronic frontier” of the Internet, Prozac, YouTube, cloning, home-schooling, the self-induced paralysis of too many choices, instant celebrities “swiftly fabricated and ruthlessly destroyed,” and the end of blue-collar “second-wave” manufacturing, to be replaced by a “third wave” of knowledge workers. The book was published in 1970.  The future they were discussing is now.

The Toflers divided civilization into three phases which they called waves. 
  1. First Wave - the agricultural revolution
  2. Second Wave - the industrial revolution too much change in too short a period of time.
  3. Third Wave - the information age - which is now ongoing
Future shock is defined in several ways, the simplest and most straight forward is too much change in too short a period of time. The result of the rapid change is people are overwhelmed. Information overload creates a sort of social paralysis. While the rapid changes are occurring people lose touch with the familiarity of older institutions.  Does any of that sound familiar? Have you ever seen a post on Facebook harkening back to "the old days" by starting off "Back in the day". If your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine there are several such posts a day. It is usually a post by an aging baby boomer who has been through decades of rapid changes and longs for a simpler time.

The Toflers got many of their predictions correct but they seem to have underestimated the ability of people to cope with rapid change. Take a look at Millennials - they are quick on their feet and very tech savvy. They seem to cope with change quite well although they seem to demand immediate gratification in most things, That is a change they will have to make IMHO.

How well do you deal with the rapid changes we have been dealing with for decades? I have embraced the changes that advance us technologically and for an old guy am comfortable with most technology. The preponderance of social media platforms is fascinating but I still prefer direct contact, even if by email. I find a lot of what gets posted on Facebook unintentionally hilarious, especially if the poster is a Millennial. It seems everything is fair game.

I find as a society we have managed the stresses presented by the Toflers quite well, although the 2016 election here is something of an anomaly.   POTUS 45 was a lifelong Democrat who switched parties and managed to appeal to enough folks to win an electoral college victory while losing the popular vote by three million or so votes, Now we are in a position of having to deal with what we asked for (he is my President regardless of who I preferred).

The evangelicals are certainly happy and would prefer rolling the culture back 50 years or so. My regular readers no doubt recall where I stand on religion and God
If not or if you are interested, simply click here.

We are legitimately at a point in time that can be called the best of times and the worst of times. I have dealt with the passing of my life partner (we were together for 45 years) and have recently connected with family members through and have seen a  family tree with 10,000 names that includes mine. A newly reconnected cousin and I share the most DNA from our shared heritage - I knew her and her sisters when I was a child in Colorado.

Since this weekly blogging exercise is not a school exercise, while there is much more to say that will have to be for a different time. Be sure to check RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok to see what they have to say.

With a bit of luck we can all look back and realize we have survived the stresses of change because we were all so much older then but we are younger than that now.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Eastern And Western Culture, The Reflections Of Hidden Potential In Between

Eastern And Western Culture, The Reflections Of Hidden Potential In Between.  That is our topic this week. It comes from  Ramana's blogger friend from Indonesia - Tikno
 and Ramana made it this week's topic.

My approach is limited by the fact that I have not been to the east - not the east of this topic at least. My observations are limited by my own limited contact with  and study of the east but that does include my interaction and friendship with the sage of Pune himself - Ramana. I have jokingly called us brothers from different mothers as over the years we have discovered a remarkable degree of what Ramana calls synchronicity. While absolutely examples of our respective eastern and western cultures we are remarkably similar in many ways including attitudes and thoughts.

The differences between western and eastern culture are varied  and  wide. Eastern culture typically includes Asian nations and Muslim nations whereas Christian nations are considered Western. The geographic split is a bit fuzzier - Europe, North, South and Central America along with Australia/New Zealand being the west. The question becomes whether or not there is any hidden potential between the two.

Some Eastern cultures embrace the west and make the best of both worlds. Japan, South Korea, India and to a degree China all fit this  model - Japan and Korea have made nenormous advances due to their embrace of the west.  They have taken to capitalism like fish to water. There is evidence a similar thing is happening in Vietnam as well. The east has put its own cultural spin on capitalism and adopted capitalism to their own way of education and interpersonal relationships. And if there is a more entrepreneurial society than that in India I am not aware of it.

There are major differences in the way children are educated and raised in the east and the west, religions are different, family interactions are somewhat different - both cultures are family centric. The east tends to be more conservative.

Hidden benefits?  I think tolerance is a hidden benefit - to interact, both the east and west need to be tolerant of each other.  I suggest China is a good example - China is a growing economic power since it embraced capitalism - something not long ago would have been unthinkable (embracing capitalism). The fact that South Korea and Japan have grown into substantial economic powers is another hidden benefit. Vietnam is growing rapidly economically with a GDP approaching  5.2%.  We should be so lucky.

As the world becomes more interdependent,  we all become more global citizens. That is directly contrary to the political forces here that are the base of support for POTUS 45 here. They are most decidedly anti global and very nationalistic. Some might say antagonizing POTUS45 is a hidden benefit.  A  globalist viewpoint is beneficial to a degree - there is after all only one planet we inhabit.  

Be sure to see what the other LBC bloggers have to say -  RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok