Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 13th, 2008

Secret rooms and hidden passages

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They still have an enormous appeal to me. Go look.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Daily life

Peak Oil and the financial meltdown

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It is not a coincidence that just as we are hitting peak oil, world monetary systems seem to be edging toward collapse. Monetary systems are debt based, and depend on growth to continue. Resources are finite, and we are reaching limitations on them. Many of us have predicted that monetary systems may collapse, either as we approach peak oil, or shortly after peak oil. I have talked about the connection between peak oil and monetary system collapse in a number of posts. In this post, I reprint relevant sections from one of my earliest TOD posts, written in April 2007.

Back on April 30, 2007, Prof. Goose posted an article I had written called Our World Is Finite: Is This a Problem? as a guest post. In that article, I talked about the fact that we are reaching limitations on resources of many kinds, and that whenever we try to overcome one kind of resource limitation with a substitute, such as corn ethanol for gasoline, we run into other resource limitations. This is a where I saw things going, back in that early post.By the way, I do not claim originality in predicting the connection between peak oil and collapse of the monetary system. Collin Campbell also predicted such a collapse as early as 2006. This video by Collin Campbell is from October 2007.

This is the section from my April 2007 post dealing with monetary collapse, and also the conclusion section from the same post:

What if we don’t find technological solutions?

We can’t know for sure what will happen, but these are some hypotheses: …

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 1:52 pm

Forestalling corrective actions

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Interesting article:

While Wall Street financiers stoked today’s financial meltdown with explosive investing in high-risk mortgage loans, politicians, federal officials and lobbyists shielded them from lawsuits that would have protected borrowers and tempered the frenzy.

A principle known as assignee liability would have allowed borrowers to sue anyone holding paper on their loan, from the originators who sold it to them to the Wall Street investment bankers who ultimately funded it.

Without the measure in place, Wall Street increased by eightfold its financing of subprime and nontraditional loans between 2001 and 2006, including mortgages in which borrowers with no proof of income, jobs or assets were encouraged by brokers to take out loans, according to statistics provided by mortgage trackers.

The Bush administration and members of Congress — including a key Republican subcommittee chairman who was later sent to prison for political corruption — sided with lending-industry lobbyists and free marketers who hotly and successfully opposed blanket liability for Wall Street firms selling mortgage-backed securities, according to congressional testimony, other records and interviews.

Those loans are what taxpayers will be buying under the $700 billion bailout plan approved by Congress and signed by President Bush last week.

The Seattle P-I examined the roots of today’s mortgage crisis from downtown Seattle to Wall Street in New York. The research included government records, court cases, industry reports, congressional testimony and interviews with experts from all sides of the issue. Although many factors contributed to the crisis, including low interest rates, demand for housing and predatory lending, experts agree that the lack of liability played a key role.

Beginning in the 1990s, …

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Daily life

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Via Andrew Sullivan:

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

The Certainty Bias: a mental flaw

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Good article in the Scientific American. It begins:

Robert Burton is the former chief of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco-Mt. Zion hospital. He recently wrote a book, On Being Certain, that explored the neuroscience behind the feeling of certainty, or why we are so convinced we’re right even when we’re wrong. He and Jonah Lehrer, the editor of Mind Matters, discussed the science of certainty.

LEHRER: What first got you interested in studying the mental state of certainty?

BURTON: A personal confession: I have always been puzzled by those who seem utterly confident in their knowledge. Perhaps this is a constitutional defect on my part, but I seldom have the sense of knowing unequivocally that I am right. Consequently I have looked upon those who ooze self-confidence and certainty with a combination of envy and suspicion. At a professional level, I have long wondered why so many physicians will recommend unproven, even risky therapies simply because they “know” that these treatments work.

It is easy to be cynical and suspect the worst of motives, from greed to ignorance, but I have known many first-rate, highly concerned and seemingly well motivated physicians who, nevertheless, operate based upon gut feelings and personal beliefs even in the face of contrary scientific evidence. After years of rumination, it gradually dawned on me that there may be an underlying biological component to such behavior.

LEHRER: In your book, you compare the “feeling of certainty” that accompanies things such as religious fundamentalism to the feeling that occurs when we have a word on the-tip-of-our-tongue. Could you explain?

BURTON: There are two separate aspects of a thought, namely the actual thought, and an independent involuntary assessment of the accuracy of that thought.

To get a feeling for this separation, look at the Muller-Lyer optical illusion.

Even when we consciously know and can accurately determine that these two horizontal lines are the same length, we experience the simultaneous disquieting sensation that this thought—the lines are of equal length—is not correct. This isn’t a feeling that we can easily overcome through logic and reason; it simply happens to us. …

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

GOP: Party of lies

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Just go read. They lie and lie and lie and lie.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 12:13 pm

Posted in GOP

Corruption still bubbling up in Alaska

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Read this post, which begins:

Remember back to the first week in September, when it seemed like every day there was a new “gate”?  Actually, believe it or not, “Troopergate” used to be known as “Palingate” in Alaska because we naively believed there was only one.  Oh, how innocent we were.

Since that long ago time, our naivete has fallen away, and “gates” have been springing up like mushrooms all over Alaska:  Troopergate, babygate, bookgate, pastorgate…the list seemed endless.  Add to that a whole host of more recent and harder to say “gates” – Leaving-your-town-in-debt-gate, collecting-per-diem-while-living-at-home-gate, charging-victims-for-rape-kits-gate, trying-to-rid-the-world-of-wolves-and-polar-bears-gate, and we’ve been busy people.  We’ve been focusing on John McCain’s I-didn’t-vet-my-running-mate-so-I’m-going-te-let-everyone-else-do-it-gate.

But now, a brand new “gate” surfaces.  I present “House Gate”.  There will be more digging on this one in the days to come, but here’s what we know now.

Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city …

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 11:33 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

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