Some words of wisdom re SETI

An article in BBC News has a thoughtful wrinkle relating to the ongoing SETI efforts to communicate with alien species (alien not meaning the folks on the other side of the border, nor meaning any of the million of kinds of creatures yet to be discovered lurking in the depths of the jungles and at the bottom of the sea.) The referenced article includes the phrases:

"... "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," he said.

"Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.

"He explained: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet." ...."

Beside affecting our efforts to communicate with species elsewhere, Hawking's thoughtful wisdom also might invite some soul-searching of ourselves. Remember, we humans often arrogantly refer to ourselves as the "top of the food chain" and "top predator". Up until fairly recently, the only species on this planet that we actively worked to propagate and nourish, were the ones we used for food in agriculture, like wheat and sheep. Anything else edible was doomed if crossing paths with the hunter-gatherers.

So consider Prof Hawking's wisdom. We might indeed get found by some spacefaring hunter-gatherer bunch with far more experience than we at being top predator, and just as arrogant. (Lots of sci fi has been written about just such a thing. If the sci fi writer wants to sell the books, it better have the humans as the winners. But the real world tells about America's land vs the Amerind's fate; do a reality test and check the results, as suggested by Prof Hawking. And worse yet, those space faring aliens might not recognize us as like themselves, and consider us more like ... maybe turkeys or saber-toothed tigers.)

Yet, it is a big Universe, and there is the principle that "like tends to attract like." I don't know how well it would work, but maybe we might consider working on changing ourselves into something we would want to meet.

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Truthout article: Nine Myths About Socialism in the US

I rarely copy over others’ posts, but this one needs some extra airing. Says some quite clear things about ongoing America, that perhaps ought to provide some data for error corrections on the course being taken by the country. I also notice that it illustrates a wider phenomenon, that of the amazing effectiveness of the brainwashing by those who teamwork guttersnipe targeted perceived "opponents" and use the gossip community to spread lies so far that it becomes as if fact, being heard from so many directions, including “official” since there must be something to it they must “investigate” the accused - which then lends it even more credibility among the gossip community - and it all is to build and retain the wealth and power of a few. “Wealth and power” is not a measure of participation in this, but some clever tricks to get wealth and power (without adding equivalent value added back to the system) often are a measure of it, “wealth and power” becoming a blind game to win by using game techniques, unaware and uncaring that they are having major disruptive effects on the rest of the civilization that gives them life. Anyway, here is the article by Truthout:

"Nine Myths About Socialism in the US
Monday 12 April 2010
by: Bill Quigley, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires are claiming that the US is hot on the path toward socialism. Part of their claim is that the US is much more generous and supportive of our working and poor people than other countries. People may wish it was so, but it is not.

As Sen. Patrick Moynihan used to say "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts."

The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and poor people compared to other countries.

Consider the US in comparison to the rest of the 30 countries that join the US in making up the OECD - the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable European countries, but also include some struggling countries like Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic and Turkey.

When you look at how the US compares to these 30 countries, the hot air myths about the US government going all out toward socialism sort of disappear into thin air. Here are some examples of myths that do not hold up.

Myth No. 1: The US Government Is Involved in Class Warfare, Attacking the Rich to Lift Up the Poor.

There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10 percent in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10 percent in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. The rich in the US have been rapidly leaving the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.

Myth No. 2: The US Already Has the Greatest Health Care System in the World.

Infant mortality in the US is fourth worst among OECD countries - better only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.

Myth No. 3: There Is Less Poverty in the US Than Anywhere.

Child poverty in the US, at over 20 percent or one out of every five kids, is double the average of the 30 OECD countries.

Myth No. 4: The US Is Generous in Its Treatment of Families With Children.

The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial benefits for families with children. Over half of the 30 OECD countries pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the family. Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay additional benefits if the family is low income or one of the parents is unemployed.

Myth No. 5: The US Is Very Supportive of Its Workers.

The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children. Every single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The US ranks dead last in this. Over two-thirds of the countries give some form of paid paternity leave. The US also gives no paid leave for fathers.

In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of eight paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers.

Myth No. 6: Poor People Have More Chance of Becoming Rich in the US Than Anywhere Else.

Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and more of the poor stay poor here in the US.

Myth No. 7: The US Spends Generously on Public Education.

In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US children, however, is seventh worst in the OECD. On public spending for childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.

Myth No. 8: The US Government Is Redistributing Income From the Rich to the Poor.

There is little redistribution of income by government in the US in part because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of governmental spending lower.

Myth No. 9: The US Generously Gives Foreign Aid to Countries Across the World.

The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed countries in the OECD. In 2007, the US was tied for last with Greece. In 2008, we were tied for last with Japan.

Despite the opinions of right-wing folks, the facts say the US is not on the path toward socialism.

But if socialism means the US would go down the path of being more generous with our babies, our children, our working families, our pregnant mothers and our sisters and brothers across the world, I think we could all appreciate it.

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License."

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Profit, carrots, and the free market

Invitation to sign a petition and add a personalized comment to it, to the FCC re net neutrality in this case, got me to add this as my personalized comment:

"There appears to be a basic principle involved here, that of preventing providers to a market from being able to control the market. Because history has shown that when the providers also control the market, they are guided only by maximum profit for least value added, thus drifting away from the original purpose of the providers to the detriment of the customers, the people of the United States."

This seems to approach description of a key parameter involved in the changes that seem to be happening to America in recent years. It involves what has been happening when a "free market" is allowed to run amok. The big business interests, individual corporations or allied large corporations, lose sight of providing customers' needs; and instead, by controlling the market, give the customer only what makes the corporation the most profit for the least value added, as if this were good business sense. The customers are stuck with what is offered by the corporations who control what the customer's options are; thus the customer either has to take what the business sets out for the customer, or the customer has to do without. In this scenario, any alternate product or service opportunity is simply prevented from becoming prominent enough to be visible to the customer, and thus the options die off from lack of customer support. The free market becomes a market controlled by the businesses that control the customer's options - essentially the principle of feedback by the customer base has been stopped, and there is really no free market. It is just a game of who is the biggest and plays bully, nothing new there.

Investors in those big controlling corporations win big, and America in general loses equally big. The part I don't understand is that if those investors are part of America, why don't they see they are really losing. Does super wealth buy that which was prevented from being produced? Somehow I think that they lose along with the rest of us. Yet, they can't see it, blinded by the bottom line of their investment portfolio, which is quantified in dollars, which is too loosely connected to product capabilities.

I wonder if it would help if "the bottom line" had two parts to it, instead of just the profit to be divvied up among the management and the investors. The second part would be in the value added, the product capabilities added, available to the customers. Like in "we had a profit of a thousand dollars and provided a carload of carrots to the customers, some of which were ourselves who also contributed to that thousand dollars profit, and enjoyed some carrots."

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