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Member since: Sat Mar 29, 2008, 10:11 PM
Number of posts: 45,851

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On The Beach

NASA-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?


A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

"The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent."

Read the rest of the article at the link.

Asimov's guide to understanding people...

Since we have been talking about Asimov lately I thought this quote from Foundation's Edge was interesting.

“There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else. We’re in no way different ourselves... You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself.”

Chapter 11 “Sayshell” section 3, p. 205

"If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm"

If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain‐moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen — you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived. -Isaac Asimov

"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it."

"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time." -Isaac Asimov

The single most powerful moral statement the USA could make against Putin moving into Crimea

Put Dick and Dubya on trial for Iraq.

Extra points for conviction of war crimes.

DougJ @ Balloon-Juice: "I believe that trolling is the highest form of human expression."

DougJ is hands down the most brilliant troll I have ever seen in my extensive online wanderings, he mostly trolls conservatives including quite a few "journalists" but he is not above trolling his own OPs with sockpuppets too.


I believe that trolling is the highest form of human expression. Art, music, and literature are too often about fantasies, the notion that the world is beautiful, that human beings have some decency, things that no adult could possibly believe. Trolling, by contrast (when done properly), illustrates the most profound eternal truth, that people are mostly ignorant, delusional sociopaths. I believe that the Socratic method is just a sophisticated form of trolling since its goal is to get people to say things so stupid that they’re temporarily shocked into trying to think.

This clip of Alex Pareene on CNBC is trolling at its best. Pareene says Jamie Dimon should step down as head of JP Morgan because of all the JP Morgan scandals. Who knows if he’s serious or not — though his point about bad PR is more relevant than his interviewers want to admit — but he gets Maria Bartiromo to sputter “the New York Times!”, revealing to all that she’s a teahadist whack job who has no place in journalism.

The comments on this OP are worth a look too, for instance:

I love the sarcastic way Bartiromo shouted “Oh, the New York Times,” as if it were the National Enquirer or Weekly World News. It really is mind-boggling how often ostensibly media savvy people unthinkingly make complete asses of themselves on national TV. It’s like watching self-proclaimed gun experts repeatedly shoot themselves in the gut while cleaning their rifle collection.
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