[ExI] merry christmas! was: RE: The president's letter

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Wed Dec 18 17:35:22 UTC 2019

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Hibbard <hibbard at wisc.edu> 

>...Merry Christmas Spike! And a happy, healthy 2020!... Meanwhile, do what
you can and Merry Christmas!...

Thanks Bill!  Very much the same to you sir.

I will put aside the overly introspective questions on the nature of "merry"
and offer a perspective of our world today.

Technological change is disrupting our world on many levels.  One of our own
former ExI posters, Julian Assange was pointing out 20 years ago in this
forum that government power is enabled by secrecy, and that if the secrets
were exposed corruption would be forced out.  We are compelled to admit he
has a valid point.  It is becoming ever clearer the man was right on the
money.  China is locking down their societies (or attempting to.)  But
information wants to be free.  The Chinese people can see what the Hong Kong
people have, and they want that.  Rather than trying to give that to a
billion people, China's strategy is to stop the Chinese people from seeing
what the Hong Kong people have.  An alternative would be to take away the
freedoms and material wealth the Hong Kong people have.  I am very
optimistic in the near-term outlook for China, for I suspect that once the
genie of freedom is out of the bottle, the commies will be unable to stuff
him back in.

Anyone who is into astronomy can scarcely fail to be merry in our times.
Those LIGO results continue to stream in and they seldom fail to amaze.
Then that crazy weird 70 solar mass black hole, discovered right here in our
own galaxy, by the Chinese of all things.  How crazy is that?  They
discovered that black hole without even government command.  How can a 70
solar mass black hole have formed in this neighborhood?

Medical technology marches on as it always has, but a most promising trend
which has been steadily increasing for decades is the patient's access to
his own test results.  Any patient enabled with the understanding of how to
access information has such a powerful tool set in gaining and maintaining
health.  A week ago today I landed in the hospital for the first time in my
(long) life with a lung infection.  The experience was most educational.
Details available on request.  The medics tell me I will live.

My contact with young people fills me with both hope and fear on many
levels.  I commented earlier on Maslow's Hierarchy.  When I was the age my
Science Olympians are now, my peers and I were thinking of what menial job
we might be able to land and our aspirations to break 3 dollars an hour,
that sort of thing, down in the safety and comfort range.  None of these
young people, growing up in an ordinary middle-class setting, is anywhere
other than right up at the top, diving deep on self-actualization.  Think
about how difficult it must me for them.  They can't get any
self-actualization from having climbed up that ladder, managing to escape
dangerous neighborhoods and poverty.  These poor souls don't even know they
started at the top of Mazlow's Hierarchy!  At the same time, some of them
know not where their next meal is coming from.  They might cruise Luigi's
for pizza or the Outrageous Burrito, or of their posse so decides, they
might end up at one of the old reliable standards such as Burger King or
Taco Bell.  Some are so poverty-stricken, they might be compelled to just go
home and raid the refrigerator, unable to afford even basic sushi.  They
don't know where that next meal is coming from.  Pitiful souls they are.
But they are damn good at putting together a counterfeit science project on
short notice.  They know how to make those look really good, in just a
coupla hours, completely devoid of any actual understanding of the topic at
hand, but still look great doing it.

I am thankful in a way for living when I do and being in the front row for
the coming spectacle in the 2020 summer games, as our societies follow the
logical path and recognize we could have easily anticipated male athletes
vaguely pretending to be transgender, showing up wanting to compete in
women's weightlifting, track, cycling etc.  I don't know how that is going
to play out, but I shall enjoy watching them struggle with the question.

I do feel deep pity for those who must convince others how bad it all is.
If their jobs require this for some reason, such as aspiring
revolutionaries, it must be so frustrating to find that every oppressed
faceless mass thinks he is going to be a millionaire.  Even more frustrating
to the revolutionary is knowing that many of these oppressed fools damn well
might do so, in spite of the unfairness of it all.  They are too stupid to
be unhappy!  Life must be so hard for revolutionaries today, with society
all around them crushed by grinding prosperity.

I do wish all of you the merriest of Christmas seasons.  May your m approach
1 and stay there as long as necessary to provide sufficient contrast next
Christmas season when it must be again increased even artificially be
chemical means.  May my Extropian friends and their families enjoy a
prosperous and healthy 2020.


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