Get your Divinity Degree from the Church of Ineffable Stupidity

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1949 – USSR detonates the first Hydrogen Bomb in the world

1966 – The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

2010 – Glenn Beck celebrates his 1,780,000 fans before whom he preached about how he is just like MLK.

FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:

So, what happened yesterday?  Some here complain about the insult to MLK, others crow about Beck not meeting his numbers. A few say we should ignore it all, because there are so few Tea Baggers in this world. Still others suggest that the Beck fan base is simply a misguided, doddering, pale-faced, slow-witted group of befuddled conservative christians.

I suggest that all of the above may be true, just as all of the above completely miss the point.

There is something far more important and critical going on here. There is a broad, deep, and growing discontentment in America. Frankly, it exists throughout the world. Today, we learned of even greater instability within China, of right wing groups protesting in Japan, even of riots organized by the right wing English Defense League in the UK last night. Europe, Asia, Africa, hell, everywhere change is coming, and it is being met with resistance and fear.

What is happening? Simply put, our global society is on a collision course with something else – the explosive growth of technological change. Not with just computers, Frankenfood, or material science, but in each and every aspect of technology, in every facet of our lives.

In his seminal book, “The Singularity is Near,”  Ray Kurzwell describes what he calls The Six Epochs, essentially describing the history of the universe, and how complexity in forms, starting with basic Chemistry after the big bang, to Biology & DNA, followed by Brains, Technology,  to the Merger of Technology with Human Intelligence, leading finally to the scariest thought of all, “The Universe Wakes Up.”  Kurzwell measures human progress and repeatedly notes that growth in systems is always misread and underpredicted – by experts, at least. I strongly suggest this book. It makes the Tea Bagger scenario so obvious, in retrospect.

“Another error that prognosticators make is to consider the transformations that will result from a single trend in today’s world, as though nothing else will change. A good example is the concern that radical life extension will result in overpopulation and and the exhaustion of limited material resources to sustain human life, which ignores comparably radical wealth creation from nanotechnology and strong AI. For example, nano-based manufacturing devices in the 2020s will be capable of creating almost any physical product from inexpensive raw materials and information.

“I emphasize the exponential versus linear perspective because it’s the most important failure that prognosticators make in considering future trends. Most technology forecasts and forecasters ignore altogether this historical exponential view of technological progress. Indeed, almost everyone I meethas a linear view of the future. That’s why people tend to overestimate what can be achieve in the short term (because we tend to leave out necessary details) but underestimate what can be achieved in the long term (Because exponential growth is ignored).”

It is not that the Tea Baggers are idiots, morons, and sheeple, easily led by knaves. It is precisely because they sense what we sense – there is a rapidly increasing change to our society, and the leaps and bounds taken by technology have a huge impact on our lives, each and every day. It is the ever accelerating pace of change that scares them silly.

You don’t believe it?  Think about this: It took 14 years from the development of the first commercial PC to the birth of the World Wide Web. When the “Internet” finally reached 1,000 nodes, people were actually worried about the Web coming to a crawl, because of a lack of capacity. Today, there are

billions of e-mails

transmitted each day. Every day. Cell phones are now the norm, not a unique, rather ineffective, heavy box that you would lug around.  Photos, music, video, are now sent from one user to another, without either party thinking about how new and powerful this technology has become.

Artificial intelligence is now the norm, even if it is in in infancy. Banks, credit card companies, Wall Street all live or die on AI, and it will not be long before every part of our lives are improved with AI, computer interfaces, and more. Should we join the Tea Baggers being afraid. Probably.

Tea Baggers (being more technologically impaired, and frightened off by Microsoft’s hideous OS systems of the past, Vista included), were and are rightly afraid of change, because they have not had the chance, or more likely, do not believe that they possess the capacity to accept and involve themselves with the changes we see each day.

For the most part, their past brushes with technology proved them right. Trying to reboot after yet another blue screen of death caused an emotional response to technology, one that is extremely hard to remove. To your Tea Bagger, seeing even more advances means only one thing, they are being “left behind,” and not just in the warped sense contained in some end of times, christian  novel written by a couple of christian charlatans.

If you actually sit down and have the chance interview a Tea Bagger, (any close family member will do) you will find that much of what is driving their actions, ideas and thoughts, is fear. Fear of the future. Fear of change. And the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins of this world cravenly combine forces to control that fear, even to instill more, directing it against their political targets, for their own personal and professional gain. Throwing fuel on the fire is precisely what they do, because the time is right for them to do it – and to get away with it.

Tea Baggers see no difference between a smooth speaking, calm Obama explaining the intricacies of financial reform, or a smooth speaking Wall Street bank exec explaining why the Bush Tax Cuts must continue. So what happens? They fear and hate both, because of their own lack of understanding and lack of knowledge. Even worse, they lack the technical means to even begin to learn about what either or both really mean.

When they sense that increases and gains technology (and the related societal changes) are accelerating,  that ratchets up their fear even more. They are truly becoming desperate. The world is speeding up, and leaving them behind. They sense no security, no semblance of stability, nothing that they can grab and hang on to.

The seductive quality of Glenn Beck cannot be ignored. He panders to the lowest common denominator, and in doing so, he makes those slightly smarter feel, well, slightly smarter. He provides easily identified villains (liberals, democrats, progressives, social nets, Obama, and anyone who reads a lot of books) and constantly harps on their foibles, true or false. He scares people non-stop, and willingly plays the fool, because by being foolish, he gives his listeners and viewers an excuse – the excuse not to think, not to take responsibility, and the excuse not to work on working on our new society.   Religion, that old time religion, banning evolution, teaching older values, changing history to erroneously call our Founding Fathers  christians, these are all deliberate, planned means of controlling the sheeple who fear our world the most.

With many exceptions, especially here, generally, the older people are, the less they like technology, and the less they like how our world is changing.

There are several solutions, only one of which will benefit me personally, so I raise it first. Send me money. Lots of money. If I deem it enough, and if you pass the Church of Ineffable Stupidity worksheets, quizzes and exams, you will be awarded Divinity Degree in the Church of Ineffable Stupidity. Diplomas will follow through snail mail.

Another solution is less obvious, but more powerful. It is best described as self-correction. When there is a need, somehow, humanity finds a way to fill the gap, either with direct or indirect action. Often, over the longer term, the indirect action is the most beneficial, and provides the best fit.

Take the iPad, for example. I have a father who hates computers, cell phones, even voice mail. Yet, he still practices law, and has been forced to use technology, despite his hatred, even self-described fear of it. (“But, I can’t, I am afraid I’ll break it.”)  But, when I got him to finally try the iPad, he took to it like a fertile, pregnant, Snakehead Carp has taken to Lake Michigan, far happier than a clam in today’s Gulf.  Not only did technology create the problem (hideous human – technology interfaces), technology became so advanced that it solved them.

Many here are immune to Glenn’s attraction. For myself, I cannot stand more than three minutes, before I want to tear my eyes out, and stuff lit firecrackers in my ears. But, we have to take note of the movement that is driving his popularity. It is real. It is substantial. It is scared as hell, mostly because they see just how fast the change is accelerating. To make things worse, Obama ran on “Change” which is precisely what they fear most.

No matter how corrosive and destructive Beck and Palin are to America, they will fail. The juggernaut of technological growth has a life of its own. Its growth is exponential. If you look back to the past and try to measure the future, you will fail, just as Kurzwell described. It is incredibly hard to focus on the future. For one thing, it is too high up the slope. For another, we concentrate on failures and errors, on roadblocks, just as other means and methods, other systems and discoveries lead to leapfrogging over the spot where we thought we were stuck.

That is why I view this idea of net neutrality is a false issue. Technologies are growing so fast, that should a company or three decide to limit access and charge more for archaic  “premium” internet access, they will have created the very means of their own destruction. By pressing on technology in one place, (by monopolizing the internet), technology will pop up and skip that blockage elsewhere. What will replace the internet, I do not know. But the days of wired connectivity will soon be at an end. Much like the singing telegram, cables, and semaphore from ship to shore, we live in a very unbrave new world.

So, sign up for my classes and earn your degree in your spare time! Send a check for 19.95 by February 30, 2011, and you will get a free surprise gift!

THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:
DIVINITY CLASS – 1.01

Reading list:

  1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Sir Adams)
  1. The Singularity is Near (Kurzwell)

Read these bibles carefully. There will be a test next week on content, imagery, and philosophical impact of each.

HOMEWORK:

List three ineffable stupid things that belong in a church sermon, that you personally viewed or experienced. (Personal experiences earn extra credit!)
Write down two ways that Tea Baggers’ faith can be used to keep them non-violent.
Boycott your local Target, if you have more spare time.

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33 Responses to "Get your Divinity Degree from the Church of Ineffable Stupidity"

  1. minimalist  August 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I am drawn to thoughts of the Universal Life church. At least the upshot of that “calling’ was the fact that you could perform marriage ceremonies for your friends, neighbors, or others who didn’t want to pay the JP 25 bucks. You offer mere idiocy. Your analysis is based entirely on your arrogance and narcissism.

    Fear of warp-speed change is not the issue for Tea Baggers (or others) without your self-proclaimed omniscience, but blindingly-fast subjugation is. Especially for their progeny. They are more interested in a future of solvency. They are more interested in preservation of individuality and self-determination. They are more interested in traditional American values. They are more interested in freedom.

    They don’t want central planning and control. They don’t want a “post-American” future. Maybe most of all, they don’t want some dumbass like you telling them what they think or believe.

  2. DejaVuAllOver  August 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I think it’s even simpler than that, Rob. White I completely agree that fear (usually of change) is and always has been the biggest tool of demagogues, we need to look at who the real demagogues are, in this case. Beck is a mouthpiece, for sure. Anyone care to venture a guess as to for whom he speaks? Remember that, when demagogues want to start a WAR (i.e. BIG war) they use fear and anger as their main tools…….

    • Almandine  August 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      Fortunately, this piece is about the followers, the partiers, the ignorant, not the knaves. Just as fortunately, it misses the mark on almost all counts.

  3. Carl Nemo  August 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    An interesting piece Rob, but I have to disagree that the hypothesized Kurzweil singularity will somehow offer deliverance for mankind. If so, it won’t be us merging with technology because we’re all going to be under 80 feet of hard pack, long forgotten as a race of beings; ie., if there are any sapient lifeforms to even remember us or ken our former existence from the rock strata. We as a species are nothing but a fireflies wink in the cosmic night and a cocky, shallow lot to boot.

    Here’s a link to Kurzweil. His singularity concept is nothing but chewing gum for the imagination; ie., sci-fi, nothing more nothing less.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Kurzweil

    We’re headed towards national/world insolvency; ie., hyperinflation along with a run on the dollar. The result will be that it’s no longer the world’s reserve currency no different than the British pound post WWI and beyond. Even the hyped Euro and a host of lesser currencies are headed for the ashbin of history.

    The Chinese are coming on like gangbusters with their GDP now exceeding that of Japan, they being second in the production of goods and services. Unfortunately they too have serious systemic issues such as 80% of their rivers cannot sustain life along with 70% of their groundwater being heavily polluted. So their success has come at a dear price.

    Those nations rich in remaining resources will do the best while those that must import just about everything to sustain their populations will suffer mightily. At this point in time it would take the resources of 4.5 earths if the now 7 billion world population wants to emulate the lifestyle of the U.S. and Western Europe.

    The entire world’s technocratic paradigm emergent since WWII is headed for a mighty crash and except for the wealthy and connected who can afford to live in bunkers or remote self-sufficient enclaves, the disenfranchised will be reduced to living in tar paper shacks spearing rats with fire-hardened sticks or worse if the end result of this unraveling precipitates nuclear holocaust.

    Do I see the glass half full or half empty? I see a broken glass that can no longer hold water for the luxury of this cognitive artifice. The following quote best sums up our collective predicament relative to politics, economics and sound infrastructure management. The best and brightest are not at the helm.

    *****

    In a mad world only the mad are sane. — Akira Kurosawa

    *****

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Almandine  August 29, 2010 at 10:59 pm

      “At this point in time it would take the resources of 4.5 earths if the now 7 billion world population wants to emulate the lifestyle of the U.S. and Western Europe.”

      The same thing was said of England in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, when the population was a mere fraction of what it is today. This was the pre-socialist time there, a time of infectious capitalism, a time when the division of labor across the British empire and its trading partners expanded productivity to allow an expansion in the quality of life and the standard of living, accompanied by a concomitant expansion of the populace. Not that “empire” is the point, but instead it was the increased standard of living that produced more healthy humans, which in turn enhanced their survivability. EVERYTHING got better… and it was all because of a robust capitalist marketplace.

      The system was not – and still is not – a zero-sum game, not something by which some got richer at the detriment of all the others… not a static-sized pie that when eaten by those at the top left nothing for those below. Yes, some did get richer, much richer, but the entire system gained wealth. Such has it been in this country for decades, as many get extremely wealthy while the standard of living grows for all.

      In this country the standard of living for even the poorest is still far above that for most of the world’s citizens, far above where we all were only a few decades ago, and why? Let me tell you… accumulation of capital wealth by which production capacity was able to expand and by the division of labor, in which tasks were distributed among those willing to work. Without either of those factors, we’d still be dirt farming.

      Now I know you’ve become fond of bashing the “shadowy corporatists and elites,” those who have the capital wealth to drive the system, suggesting as you do that they are ALL crooked and we’ll be better off as soon as we can somehow repossess their wealth or put them in jail. Similarly, you’ve become fond of seeing the average Joe as too weak and stupid to do just that… as if some other productive force (govt?) could step in as substitute.

      I’ve taken your ranting as born of frustration and needing release, but the time has come to think about what you’re putting forth and analyze exactly why you need to promote policies that would truly kill our golden goose. The issue is not US against the world, but how can US leverage what we still have left to maximize our future success. We need all the best ideas we can come up with, because I do agree with you… things appear broken and it’s going to take all of us the right the ship and put it back on course.

      Read von Mises… it’ll help clear your fog.

  4. Carl Nemo  August 30, 2010 at 12:02 am

    “Read von Mises… it’ll help clear your fog.” …extract from post

    Almandine you seem peevish with my thoughts on this subject. Seemingly you perceive the glass to be half full in these challenging times…no? / : |

    I’ve read some of the work by Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard et al. who support the concept of classical liberalism and ‘free market’ capitalism, looked upon by the movers and shakers that run this planet as simply quaint 19th to early 20th century “theories” that surely don’t serve their predilection for rigged markets. I’m not denigrating these aforementioned men, since they are correct, but their ideas are not friendly to those entities that enjoy operating a casino where all the ‘games’ are rigged for their benefit.

    Unfortunately we’ve long since lost our path as a nation. Our markets are rigged and skewed against allowing forces of the market place to operate as they should as a function of supply vs. demand. Instead the Federal Reserve along with the shadowy entitites that own the institution and their associate movers and shakers that own planet earth lock, stock and barrel embraced the concept of “modern macroeconomics” as promoted by John Maynard Keynes a British economist in which the central bankers along with world governments puppeteered by the same control a nation’s wealth along with boom and bust cycles; ie., market socialism and its associated liberalism run amok. We’re now paying the supreme price.

    Thomas Malthus an 18th century economist predicted that the ultimate downfall of world society would be linked to overpopulation and seemingly he is correct. There’s going to be mighty resource wars within the next 50 years or less as the last of the easy and cheap to extract minerals, oil and other products from the earth necessary to sustain life become everso dear. To deny such in that peoples of earth have endless possibilities if we simply embrace down home, old fashioned “free market capitlism” as espoused by Mises, Hayek, Rothbard et al. won’t cut it. The Chinese are traveling about planet earth and nailing down forward contracts for all major commodities with their vast cash hoard. Lithium, oil, coal, rare earths and even the means of state of the art agricultural production are being swallowed whole while we as a nation are thrashinig about, wasting our precious reserves on offshore adventurism; ie., contrived wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, maintaining hundreds of vestigial military bases worldwide along with marginally operated social services on the home front which are prone to pilferage and corruption. We’re witnessing the collapse of the planet’s premier welfare/warfare state; ie., our nation. Seemingly we are headed for the ash bin of history.

    I’ll supply one of my favorite desktop links to netlingo.com which is a world population counter. Also click on the link supplied in the lower right hand corner that says “go here”. It will then break down a host of stats on births, deaths, world production, resource useage, species extinctions etc. It’s quite sobering and scary at the same time.

    http://www.netlingo.com/more/poptick.html

    ***

    “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man” …Thomas Malthus

    ***

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Almandine  August 30, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Hey Carl, thanks for the studied and thoughtful reply, a return to old form, no?! :) I have indeed become somewhat peeved at your downtrodden rhetoric. It offers no escape; it spells only doom; and most of all in the economic realm, it implies the need for protectionism and interventionism, which by your reference to your own reading list is something you know that would snatch defeat from the jaws of whatever hope there is. Notice that I don’t vacuously imply imminent victory at this juncture.

      But then again, I agree with Woody below… the future is unknown, as my reference to England shows. Certain lack of resource-based demise was inescapable, according to what the pundits said then. But, successful avoidance of that fate, based on classical liberal principles, staunch capital formation, and the division of labor won the day. If history has shown us anything, it is that the future is only limited by our own imagination and our efforts. You of all people, a military man with a view of the possible made reality via human drive and sacrifice, know the expansion of boundaries that can occur through common goals and determination. Yeah… it peeves me to witness desolation in the face of immensely important challenge.

      • Carl Nemo  August 30, 2010 at 11:43 pm

        Your thoughts have classical merit Almandine, but in this newer age paradigm we are confronted with guiltless sociopaths from the lowest to highest levels of society; all incrementally adding to the crux of problem; ie., their reluctance to both play by the rules of ethical business practices and so too, contemplate the negative consequences of their terminal, and in some cases criminally disposed “greed” . : |

        Carl Nemo **==

  5. DejaVuAllOver  August 30, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Yeah, Almandine, us worker-bees have sure been sucking up the joi de vivre while our jobs have gone to Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Mexico and now China. We’re having a blast competing with professional gamblers, speculators and manipulators so we can afford a million-dollar McMansion close to our so-called livelihoods….. We former middle-class types sure have had a hoot buying products made in China we used to make for ourselves. We love being forced to change professions every few years, from real jobs to the paper pusher / exploiter class, so the corporate banksters can keep us on the treadmill at “maximum productivity.” Sure, the numbers look great when 5% of our population controls 70% of the wealth and thankfully those 5% make sure to constantly tell me how lucky I am. And it just makes my spine tingle watching our kids die and those pesky Muslims bleed in the sewer (no wait, we blew those up) so our largest enterprise, the MIC, has healthy quarterly returns.

    I’d just like to see any one of the above MBA Master Class Cretins survive, on penalty of death, a sophomore level engineering class at a good university. The problems would go away VERY quickly.

  6. DejaVuAllOver  August 30, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Nice retort, Carl.

  7. griff  August 30, 2010 at 7:26 am

    “It is real. It is substantial. It is scared as hell, mostly because they see just how fast the change is accelerating. To make things worse, Obama ran on “Change” which is precisely what they fear most.”

    We’ve been undergoing more than a century of change here in America., with each “change of ministers” pushing us further and further from our roots; the very ideals that made this country the greatest example of human liberty the world has ever seen.

    Technology is changing every aspect of our lives. At the risk of sounding comic-book cliche’, it could be used for evil as well as good.

    Two things that never change – human nature and the nature of government. The two are closely intertwined. The Constitution was designed to restrain the natural inclination for those in power to seek ever more dominion over those they “serve.”

    If I were to have to choose between the so-called “progress” either party advocates and a return to individual liberty and self-determination, states’ rights over the federal monstrosity, true free markets and honest, sound money, I’ll take the latter.

    Beck and Palin are Pied Pipers for the Establishment, as was Obama. Many people know this, but sadly many do not.

    • logtroll  September 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

      Just what the hell is a “true free market” anyway? And while you’re at it, clear me up on what “sound money” is? My money (an abstract symbol that works inconsistently as a surrogate medium of exchange for actual goods and services) is on the fact that “true free markets” are mythological idols conjured from the ether for them that can’t face the vagaries of reality.

      Money is not real, it’s value is determined only by agreement, and that value can be changed by agreement. Problem is, we ain’t too damn good at stinking agreements!

      • griff  September 2, 2010 at 10:14 pm

        Exactly why a fiat currency doesn’t work…Hello?

        End the Fed.

        • logtroll  September 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

          Hello? What is the intrinsic value of gold? Hello? Gold as currency is every bit as abstract as fiat money. Hello?

          You forgot to enlighten me on what’s a true free market. Hello?

          • Almandine  September 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

            A true free market exists when each party to a trade(s) is able to enter into an exchange freely, without externalities, and derive what each considers to be an enhancement of his/her position. The scope of such a market is dependent on the number of traders thusly served.

          • Almandine  September 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm

            I’ll take all that abstract gold you want to send my way, because when the dollar tanks, the rest of the world will still be taking doubloons.

          • logtroll  September 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

            Al,
            You can have the gold, I’ll take a bit of land, some tools, and water. I’ll want some friendly neighbors, too. Now that’s currency!!

          • Almandine  September 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm

            I remember you said that once before awhile ago, and i agreed then as now. Failing any ability to have someone do that for us, I’ll still take the gold over the dollar.

  8. woody188  August 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Rob, maybe if you could make your point without stereotypes?

    Anyone that would give up their freedom in the hopes of a technological utopia is a fool. Need I remind you that 50 years ago they were saying we’d all have flying cars by 2000?

    Kurzwell is making wild eyed predictions just like flying cars. It’s funny how you believe we are the path to some type of Federation of Planets ala Star Trek while others see us heading towards the Empire of the Star Wars franchise.

    If you look back to the past and try to measure the future, you will fail, just as Kurzwell described.

    Perhaps, but I think another person has maybe mentioned this:

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

    How many Federation of Planets have existed in our past?

    How many Imperial Empires?

  9. Fivebyfives  September 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    In the 1970′s a film was being made in Berlin about Adoph Hitler. As an experiment, the actor portraying Hitler went for a stroll dressed in the nazi uniform. What shocked the film crew was the large number of older Germans approaching the actor and shaking his hand with heartfelt devotion. By interviewing these people (mostly elderly) it was found that they did not miss the monster who was responsible for so much death and destruction, but rather the things they remembered Hitler doing prior to the war….the economy improved, infrastructure improved, etc.

    The followers of Beck and Palin are no different I think. They want a “leader” with what they perceive as clear and uncompromisng goals. They cannot see the ashes of the future that will drift about following a government that fulfills the fantasies of these so-called “leaders.”

    This desire is separate from the impact of technology. Prior to the Great Depression, the then technology enabled greater and greater productivity. Unfortunately, the great American Corporate model of keeping everything for those at the top brought about the collapse of the economy, as well as prolonging the Depression.

    Today’s “modern” technology is in essence no different from the old. The computer chip has enabled fantastic productivity gains, as well as enslaving millions in a Big Brother working environment. One only need have a glance at Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” to see a repeat of technology’s de-humanizing aspect. We live in a rather rude and uncivil society, partly facilitated by the long-term affects of this. Beck and Palin are demagogues who will take advantage of this for their own immediate gains. The price for their gain will be borne, as always, by those who are running on the treadmill of production.

    I lived abroad for ten years and returned twenty years ago with certain qualms about my country. I watched a researcher, who had spent ten years in Brazil, describe how the U.S. was on track to emulate Brazil, in that a growing wealth at the top would squeeze the rest into poverty.

    With respect, I believe the advances in techology will simply allow the rise of another Hitler that much more easily.

    • minimalist  September 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      Another socialist diatribe.

    • Carl Nemo  September 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      A nice piece of societal analysis Fivebyfives and suspect you are spot-on. : |

      Carl Nemo **==

  10. Guardhouse lawyer  September 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Rob,

    You certainly struck a bunch of nerves with this piece. I laughed and laughed while reading the responses, particularly:

    “You offer mere idiocy. Your analysis is based entirely on your arrogance and narcissism.”

    If all else fails, and if there are no other refutations available, denigrate, deride and discredit the messenger by applying pejorative words and phrases.

    Kurzwell is a titan among intellectuals and inventors:

    * First place in the 1965 International Science Fair[4] for inventing the classical music synthesizing computer.
    * The 1978 Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. The award is given annually to one “outstanding young computer professional” and is accompanied by a $35,000 prize.[19] Kurzweil won it for his invention of the Kurzweil Reading Machine.[20]
    * The 1990 “Engineer of the Year” award from Design News.[21]
    * The 1994 Dickson Prize in Science. One is awarded every year by Carnegie Mellon University to individuals who have “notably advanced the field of science.” Both a medal and a $50,000 prize are presented to winners.[22]
    * The 1998 “Inventor of the Year” award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[23]
    * The 1999 National Medal of Technology.[24] This is the highest award the President of the United States can bestow upon individuals and groups for pioneering new technologies, and the President dispenses the award at his discretion.[25] Bill Clinton presented Kurzweil with the National Medal of Technology during a White House ceremony in recognition of Kurzweil’s development of computer-based technologies to help the disabled.
    * The 2000 Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology.[26] Two other individuals also received the same honor that year. The award is presented yearly to people who “exemplify the life, times and standard of contribution of Tesla, Westinghouse and Nunn.”
    * The 2001 Lemelson-MIT Prize for a lifetime of developing technologies to help the disabled and to enrich the arts.[27] Only one is meted out each year to highly successful, mid-career inventors. A $500,000 award accompanies the prize.[28]
    * Kurzweil was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002 for inventing the Kurzweil Reading Machine.[29] The organization “honors the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible.”[30] Fifteen other people were inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year.[31]
    * The Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award on April 20, 2009 for lifetime achievement as an inventor and futurist in computer-based technologies.[32]
    * Kurzweil has received seventeen honorary doctorates:

    Type of degree College Year awarded
    Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[33][34] Hofstra University 1982
    Honorary Doctorate of Music[33][35] Berklee College of Music 1987
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33][36] Northeastern University 1988
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1988
    Honorary Doctorate of Engineering[33] Merrimack College 1989
    Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[33] Misericordia University 1989
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] New Jersey Institute of Technology 1990
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Queens College, City University of New York 1991
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] Dominican College 1993
    Honorary Doctorate in Science and Humanities[33][37] Michigan State University 2000
    Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[33][38] Landmark College 2002
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33][39] Worcester Polytechnic Institute 2005
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] DePaul University 2006
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33][40] Bloomfield College 2007
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33][41] McGill University 2008
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33][42] Clarkson University 2009
    Honorary Doctorate of Science[33] [43] New York Institute of Technology 2010

    The willingness to dismiss such a brilliant mind with statements like “Kurzwell is making wild eyed predictions just like flying cars” and “His singularity concept is nothing but chewing gum for the imagination; ie., sci-fi, nothing more nothing less” is bewildering, particularly considering how far above us Kurzwell towers.

    • woody188  September 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      You forgot to mention Ray Kurzweil’s transhumanist views and how he is a beloved speaker at the Council on Foreign Relations. Let’s just hope their brain augmentation technology isn’t run on Microsoft’s Windows. Other Kurzeil predictions that have yet to come to fruition but are past their predicted date and other scary quotes:

      By 2010 computers will start to disappear. They won’t be these small objects that we put in our pockets. They will be in our clothing.

      People are already relying on Google for their memory; you don’t have to remember things anymore.

      But these will be ubiquitous technologies early in the next decade. We’ll be online all the time. The electronics will be woven in our clothing. We’ll be interacting with virtual personalities that will have these (sort of ?) pop-up displays. As we look at people — you look at someone who gives you information about them, like remind you their name. That — even that would be very helpful.

      I don’t like the word transhumanist, which is commonly used to describe some these ideas because it means going beyond being human.

      Nanotechnology will have a peril if self-replicating nanotechnology gets out of control. That would be a new danger. And artificial intelligence, if it’s malevolent and more intelligent than us, is obviously a danger.

      If we can do half as well as we’ve done with software viruses in say the biological arena or nanotechnology, we’ll be doing well.

      I’d like to add, if we do half as well as we have with software viruses, we are all doomed. How many of you have had software viruses?

      • Carl Nemo  September 3, 2010 at 11:34 pm

        Brilliant “thought forensics” Woody188 concerning Ray Kurzweil along with “considering how far above us he towers”..re: GHL post?! : )

        I’m detecting intellectual obsequiousness with such comments myself, possibly indicating they’ve won the minds and hearts of the unwashed masses too. The success of fluoridation, TV, computers and mass dispensation of antidepressants seems to have prevailed for their benefit.

        Possibly Ray is a “sociopath” with a brilliant mind and his ‘list’ of lifetime achievements best serves the interests of the movers and shakers that own this planet lock, stock and barrel…no? / : |

        Carl Nemo **==

      • Bogofree  September 4, 2010 at 8:26 am

        Very common themes in SF. Amazing how technology is capable of advancing and the “what if?” writers love to have some fun with it.

  11. Bogofree  September 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    KERZWEIL! Damn it! KURZWEIL! OK…got that out of my system.

    As a retired SPED teacher I have seen his developments first hand and how some of his applications have impacted in such a positive way.

    The first time I recall even hearing about Kurzwell…oops…KURZWEIL was on a radio talk show years ago on a SF round table. Totally fascinating. I didn’t realize how extensive his portfolio was until it was listed in a previous post.

    I do believe I heard him on another show (Davis Brudnoy?) 20 years ago discussing advances in computer graphics and what will be possible with creating rather graphic imagines. Is it still or would be considered porn if it was computer generated? One of many topics discussed with the very entertaining Brudnoy. I wish I was positive it was Kurzwell…kurz….heck….I give up.

  12. Carl Nemo  September 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Yep GHL, it’s surely impressive all those “Honorary Doctorates”. Our President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Hmmm? / : |

    Granted Ray has a brilliant intellect and list of lifetime achievements, but surely he hasn’t invented a time machine. Therefore his speculation about the concept of singularity and the universe achieving conciousness is pure speculatiion.

    Carl Nemo **==

  13. Senegoid  September 2, 2010 at 7:22 am

    “So long, and thanks for all the fish”

  14. Senegoid  September 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

    HHGTHG – on the monetary thing:

    “In fact there are three freely convertible currencies in the Galaxy, but none of them count. The Altarian Dollar has recently collapsed, the Flainian Pobble Bead is only exchangeable for other Flainian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. It exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Nigis are not negotiable currency, because Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination.”

    That sounds about right.

  15. minimalist  September 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    GHL missed my main point, which was:

    People want to talk about how those old Tea Baggers can’t keep up, can’t take the heat of the moment, can’t stand change, and are so afraid because of it. But that misses what the issue really is, which is the Quality and Direction of the change being implemented.

    As I said, “They are more interested in a future of solvency. They are more interested in preservation of individuality and self-determination. They are more interested in traditional American values. They are more interested in freedom. They don’t want central planning and control. They don’t want a “post-American” future. ”

    Tell you what – TRIPLE THE SPEED OF CHANGE thusly: expand personal freedom, establish mechanisms that will reduce the federal debt, reduce unemployment, reestablish the purchasing power of our money, stabilize Social Security and increase property values; end the war, restore the rule of law, and re-humanize our society.

    You won’t hear a bit of fearful noise from them. You won’t see them rise up and demand better. You won’t hear them say America is headed to hell in a handbasket, you won’t hear them say we’re on the wrong path and need to rechart our course.

    What you will see is that it is not change, per se, that has them up in arms, not some kind of general fear of the future, not some inability to keep up, and certainly not a lack of understanding about the current vision for America’s future being promulgated by those “enlightened” ones who are leading this country where it clearly needs NOT to go.

  16. Fivebyfives  September 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Minimalist makes a valid point. The primary emotion of those in the Tea Party movement is disgust, not fear. My neighbor is such, and considers Palin & Beck the last people he wants speaking for him. He is a successful capitalist, and his success is to be celebrated, not scorned.

    We agree on many things; the mis-reading of a “mandate” by Obama and the Dems. being the most obvious. As Doug Thompson has made clear time and again, the political system we have is so thoroughly rotten that modifications are insufficient to correct it. I don’t know what the answer is, but have strong feelings of what it is NOT.

    One area where technology will never help is one simple idea: read legislation before voting on it. I know that sounds like heresy, but it certainly might have prevented such things as the Patriot Act, the Health Insurance Protection Act, or that ridiculous “stimulus” bill.

    We elect representatives to bake a loaf of bread, and they produce a bowl of noodles, every time. I feel the current government is the 1972 Democratic conventon come to power. Anyone familiar with what happened at that mess will remember that the delegates in their attempt at “fairness” produced a Kafkaesque nightmare.

    It is worth noting that with all the technology available now…smart phones, emails, etc., the disconnect between the governed and the anointed continues to worsen.

    As Forest’s mama said,” Stupid is that stupid does.”

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