SocraticGadfly: 9/9/12 - 9/16/12

September 12, 2012

Live to 150? Fuhgeddabouttit

Indeed, a majority of Americans say "nety" to ideas like this, whether hyped by futurists like Ray Kurzweil and his singularity and Michio Kaku and his techno-contact lenses, or quack peddlers of human growth hormone substitutes, or borderline illegal peddlers of the real deal and other substances.

Reality? A full 60 percent of Americans (a study of 30,000 is definitely statistically accurate) are fine with the current lifespan of 80 years. Some 30 percent would like to live to 120, and only 10 percent want to hit 150.
Overwhelmingly the reason given was that people didn’t want to be old and infirm any longer than they had to be, even if a pill allowed them to delay this inevitability. 

Others were concerned about a range of issues both personal and societal that might result from extending the life spans of millions of people in a short time. These included everything from boredom and the cost of paying for a longer life to the impact of so many extra people on planetary resources and on the environment. Some worried that millions of healthy centenarians still working and calling the shots in society would leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren without the jobs and opportunities that have traditionally come about with the passing of generations.
And, people had a fourth option — eternity, albeit on planet Earth.

Either a lot of people haven't really thought about traditional religious ideas of heaven, or else they expect God to be a great entertainer, because only 1 percent wanted this option.

They also reject Kurzweil's cyborg/computer fueled singularity equivalent, or at least steps in that direction through bionics:
Curiously, after learning about these possibilities, few people wanted to change their votes. Even if I asked them to imagine that a pill had been invented to slow aging down by one-half, allowing a person who is, say, 60 years old to have the body of a 30-year-old, only about 10 percent of audiences switched to favoring a life span of 150 years. 
So, there you go. To riff on Bruce Springsteen, if there's 5,700 channels and nothing on for 150 years, most people don't want that.

The story is good otherwise in assessing what's realistic in terms of life extension in the next couple of decades.

September 11, 2012

Berkman for Pujols officially a failure for #stlcards

Nearly 18 months ago, after the St. Louis Cardinals had signed Lance Berkman for 2011, I wondered if GM John Mozeliak wasn't already looking at plugging him in at 1B in 2012 and letting Albert Pujols go.

Well, whether or not that was a conscious plan of his, that's what happened.

Only thing is, Berkman's been on the shelf with injuries more than half the year this year. And now he needs knee surgery. I can't see the Cards resigning him next year, even if he wants to come back, which he might not. That's especially since he had surgery on the same knee in May. And, indeed, a possible retirement is the word out of St. Louis. (And I laugh while thinking of fluffers at ESPN touting him as a borderline Hall of Famer earlier this year.)

So, can Matt Carpenter duplicate his spot play performance from this year for a full year next year? The 2013 Redbird season may hinge in part on that, since I expect Carlos Beltran to be even more creaky next year, and not to play like he did in the first half of this year. (And that means, barring a free agent signing or a big arrival from Memphis, Allen Craig is playing more OF next year, so he won't be the sole replacement for Berkman at 1B.)

Is this what happened to #LanceArmstrong?

And, I'm not being (totally) snarky, because I know that, especially before his first Tour de France win, he had a reputation as a party boy, as well as having anger issues, but, a new study says pot smoking can increase the risk of one type of testicular cancer.

Now the risk increase is from "almost none" to "minimal," and the findings are being disputed. But ... if they pan out?

9-11 — 11 years later

I was headed into work Tuesday, Sept.11, 2001, at the time the second plane hit. I was listening to classical music on the radio, and don't normally watch TV when I get up, so I had no idea bout the first plane.

But, it was clear what was up was more than just an accident. And, although not at a daily, I was in the newspaper biz, as I *still am* today .

So, one of our ad salespeople had friends she knew were in NYC, and we got through to one of them before cell phone service was overwhelmed.

A week later, I wrote an “open letter to President Bush” editorial column, asking that he NOT use this as an excuse to create something like what became called the Patriot Act.

A year later, I wrote a column noting that, while 9/11 deaths should not be minimized, they should be put into context, especially related to self-destructive deaths. And, no, not suicide. I noted that cigarettes killed as many people every couple of days, and alcohol abuse every week or so, as 9/11 did.

But, even today, some people think we didn’t overreact. And need to be refuted.

Meanwhile, we continue to play “whack a mole” with alleged Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, when it’s clear that it’s structured differently from a U.S capitalist corporation and keeps on keeping on. Beyond that, Dear Leader, President Obama, can’t explain why we remain in that doorknob-forsaken place propping up a kleptocratic ruler.

And, then, there’s Iraq. War in the name of a lie, as Obama, albeit perhaps in part for political reasons but more for reasons of state, refuses to bring the liars to justice. That's even as it's clear than ever that even before the Aug. 6, 2001 famous Presidential Daily Brief, Bush had clear information al Qaeda was looking to strike inside the U.S.

Are we “safer”?

Maybe it’s the wrong question to ask. Maybe we need to rethink the issue of “safety.”

We've had attempts at further actions since then. Maybe they would have been worse without the bureaucratic Department of Homeland Security; maybe not. Maybe they wouldn't have been worse without invading Iraq.

And, speaking of, a weakened Iraq has emboldened Iran, which in turn has tempted U.S. neoconservatives and Israeli hardliners with the dream of a pre-emptive strike against its nuclear development, whatever it is.

And, since Obama’s election, our “post-racial president” has seen increases in presidential threats, veiled attacks on race, and domestic terrorism against Sikhs, Muslims, and federal government employees.

As far as the other U.S. wet dream, more that of Cheneyites than true blue neocons, control of Iraq hasn't done much for oil prices. If anything, Bush's Great Recession (with Dems helping it out somewhat) plus fracking for shale oil, have been the primary factors in keeping oil prices away from that $147/bbl speculator fueled peak in 2008. (Not that either party has seen to address commodities speculation since.)

Obama's stricter EPA standards will help with lessening oil reliance, but ... they're riddled with loopholes, including for flex-fuel vehicles. And, other than the overpriced Volt, GM is abandoning even lite hybrids, which means that it will probably either pay big fines to the EPA or else ask for exemptions or waivers.

So, "oil security" isn't all that, either.