Daily Archives: October 19, 2015

The three gravest threats facing our world

BOOK REVIEW

The Great Escape, Author: Angus Deaton.

By John Lloyd – You may be able to live with — even if you are moved by — future flooding in far-flung parts of the world: But when New York City becomes regularly flooded in events like Hurricane Sandy (three years ago this month: 200 dead, $75 billion in damages), then sympathy will turn to horror.

In Africa and parts of the Middle East (not to mention California), however, water is not everywhere but rather nowhere. Violent struggles over its availability are already evident, and will get worse. This isn’t a fear voiced by ranting liberal ecologists — it’s a truth acknowledged by the United States military. more> http://tinyurl.com/pe7r4ws

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The free-will scale

By Stephen Cave – When we join the available dots we get a fairly clear sketch of what FQ (freedom quotient) might aspire to measure. And it is simply this: the ability to generate options for oneself, to choose, and then to pursue one or more of those options.

Each of these parts is important.

First: the capacity to generate options. We are not inclined to ascribe much free will to the creature that sees only one possible course of action, particularly in situations where that course is failing to deliver the goods.

That is the kind of behavior we might associate with an automaton – with the robot whose axles keep turning even though the wheels have fallen off. more> http://tinyurl.com/nuohs69

Jumping Plankton May Help Improve Engineering Processes

By Greg Watry – According to Virginia Tech’s Sunghwan Jung, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics, the research may help scientists design tiny jumping aquatic robots.

Many whales, dolphins and fish are known for accomplishing aerial acrobatics. Great white sharks are known to leap out of the water when hunting seals. According to The Atlantic, an 11.5-foot shark is capable of jumping 8 ft out of the water. That feat requires the sharp-toothed behemoth to reach speeds over 21 mph.

Some of the copepods, measuring 3 mm long, achieved impact speeds around 1 m/sec, which is equivalent to a human swimming at 600 m/sec. more> http://tinyurl.com/o3esjyg

Capitalism and Its Regulation Delusion: Lessons From the Volkswagen Debacle

By Richard D. Wolff – As products using computer devices increase, they spread opportunities for similar evasions of regulations. New mechanisms have enabled electrical appliance makers to falsify regulated energy-use tests.

Capitalist competition and profit were motivators in these and many other regulation evasions too. The problem is endemic, for example, in the food and drink industry. Since 2008’s global capitalist crash, the world has learned of parallel failures of financial regulation with horrific social consequences.

Nor is the failed relationship of capitalism and regulation only a US problem; it is global.

If corporate obstruction eventually fails, legislation creates an agency empowered to regulate certain practices, enterprises and/or industries. Immediately, the affected capitalist corporations commence new evasive actions. more> http://tinyurl.com/orntseo