December 10, 2011

The Atlantic

Green Army: Communications

David Biello:
[The] Chinese, who are ostensibly Communist, are going to have the world’s largest carbon-trading market, while the United States, which is ostensibly capitalist, can’t fathom the idea of a free-market solution to our climate-change challenge. …
Most members of the [Chinese] government have been trained in science, and they don’t have a problem with climate change the way [we] do.
There is no debate over the reality of climate change.
And … they are aware that climate change poses even more significant challenges to China than it does to the United States …
(Robinson Meyer, President Trump and the Unnatural World, 21 December 2016)

Vannevar Bush (1890 – 1974)


The advanced arithmetical machines of the future will be electrical in nature, and they will perform at 100 times present speeds, or more.
Moreover, they will be far more versatile than present commercial machines, so that they may readily be adapted for a wide variety of operations.
  • They will be controlled by a control card or film,
  • they will select their own data and manipulate it in accordance with the instructions thus inserted,
  • they will perform complex arithmetical computations at exceedingly high speeds, and
  • they will record results in such form as to be readily available for distribution or for later further manipulation.
Such machines will have enormous appetites.
One of them will take instructions and data from a whole roomful of girls armed with simple key board punches, and will deliver sheets of computed results every few minutes.
There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. …

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. …
A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility.
It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works.
On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading.
There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. …

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. …
Thus science may implement the ways in which man produces, stores, and consults the record of the race. …

The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthily therein.
They have enabled him to throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons.
They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience.
He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good.
Yet, in the application of science to the needs and desires of man, it would seem to be a singularly unfortunate stage at which
  • to terminate the process, or
  • to lose hope as to the outcome.

(As We May Think, July 1945)


Contents


The Greatest Generation or the Most Narcissistic?

How to Shave a Bundle Off the Deficit: Spend Less on Nukes


THE ATLANTIC

  • Dismal scientists: how the crash is reshaping economics, 16 February 2009.
    Gregory Clark (1957): Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis.
  • Millennials: The Greatest Generation or the Most Narcissistic?, 2 May 2012.
    Jean Twenge: Professor of psychology, San Diego State University.

    Two large datasets — the Monitoring the Future survey of [half a million] high school students and the American Freshman survey of [9 million] entering college students … showed generational increases in self-esteem, assertiveness, self-importance, narcissism, and high expectations [indicating] a clear cultural shift toward individualism and focusing on the self. …

    Millennials [born, roughly, 1982 to 1999] were less likely than Boomers and even GenXers
    • to say they thought about social problems,
    • to be interested in politics and government,
    • to contact public officials …
    • to work for a political campaign. …
    • to say they trusted the government to do what's right [or]
    • to say they were interested in government and current events. …
    Three times as many Millennials as Boomers said they made no personal effort to help the environment. …
    Volunteering rates did increase, the only item out of 30 measuring concern for others that did.
    However, this rise occurred at the same time that high schools increasingly required volunteer service to graduate.

    [Rates] of teen pregnancy, early sexual intercourse, alcohol abuse, and youth crime have continued to decline.
    However, these behaviors aren't [just related] to civic orientation …
    They are also determined by [other factors] such as demographics, drug wars, policing, birth control availability, and … the legalization of abortion. …

    The survey data … captured what Millennials said about themselves …
    If we're going to understand our culture and how it's changed, we need to listen to what [they] say.

  • How to Shave a Bundle Off the Deficit: Spend Less on Nukes, 13 July 2011.
    Cirincione, Joseph: President, Ploughshares Fund.
    They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation.
    (Isaiah, 2:4)
    The government is set to spend almost $700 billion on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years …

    President Obama is struggling to implement the updated nuclear strategy agreed upon by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Defense in last year's Nuclear Posture Review. …

    As Forbes recently noted,
    "Barack Obama is likely to spend more money on the U.S. nuclear arsenal than any U.S. president since Ronald Reagan."
    Right now, the United States spends about $54 billion each year on nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs.
    President Obama has pledged to increase the budgets by about $2 billion a year for new bomb factories, plus spend about $12 billion more per year over the next decade to develop a new generation of nuclear-armed missiles, submarines and bombers.
    Some of these programs are essential.
    Many are not. …

    The Pentagon budget includes funds to develop a new fleet of 12 nuclear-armed submarines with an estimated cost of $110 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
    Also planned is $55 billion for 100 new bombers, and a new missile to replace the recently upgraded 450 Minutemen III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Energy is planning to add new military capabilities to nearly every warhead in the active nuclear stockpile, with programs stretching beyond 2030. …

    Typically, contractors and military services low-ball initial estimates to win program approval.
    Once budgets are locked in, programs build constituent support, thwarting cancellation even as costs double or triple. …
    The Navy subs alone would be able to carry roughly 800 nuclear bombs through the middle of the century. …

    This is where Congress comes in.
    Members should not approve any of these new programs without a nuclear roadmap. …

    As the Nuclear Posture Review says,
    Our most pressing security challenge at present is preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, for which a nuclear force of thousands of weapons has little relevance.
    Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov recommend that the US and Russia reduce from the current 1,550 strategic warheads each side can deploy to no more than 1,000.
    This could save billions annually.
    In 2006, Steven Kosiak, now at the Office of Management and Budget, estimated that the United States could sustain an arsenal of this size for one-third the current annual cost.

    Would you like to know more?

  • The Capitalist Threat, February 1997.
    George Soros.

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