Sunday, October 30, 2005

Nobelist Richard Smalley dead at 62

Nobel winner who discovered 'buckyballs' dead at 62 - Yahoo! News

Smalley was an important man who was taken well before his time. His death is bad news for everyone, whether they've heard of him or not.

My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, and to the rest of us, too.

The Smalley Group - Rice University

Check out Dr. Smalley's presentation, "Our Energy Challenge", as delivered at Columbia University. Smalley's message is among the most important messages of all time.

Smalley's presentation is available from Rice University in Windows media format in low and high bandwidth versions. It is linked right at the top of The Smalley Group's web page. Might as well save it to your computer - it's a keeper.

Black Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week is a DEA ongoing program using the memory of Kiki Camarena, the agent tortured and killed back in early 1985 by drug runners in Guadalajara, Mexico, after having been kidnapped by Mexican cops in their employ.

What the poor man suffered was awful - anyone treating another human being as Camarena was treated is a monster who should be killed. Period. In fact, anyone who treats any creature as Camarena was treated is a monster who should be killed. Period. What was done to Camarena proves (yet again) the falsehood of "inherent human dignity" dogma.

Using Camarena's gruesome death to tug at people's heart strings in a "let him not have died in vain" manner is to be expected from those who benefit from the continuing symbiotic farce of a "drug war".

Read Michael Fitzgerald's piece, Bleak News From the Drug War. [Updated link]

Read I Volunteer to Kidnap Ollie North by Mike Levine, one of Camarena's fellow drug agents.

The drug war produces nothing but ill effects. Red Ribbon Week uses Camarena's memory to propagandize for the continuation of this farce. This dishonors Camarena (who did, in fact, die in vain).

I am a conscientious objector in the war on drugs.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Prompted by "The Ethics of Belief" by Peter Singer

Singer notes:
Even if 90 percent of Americans share Bush's naive beliefs (and I hope that the figure is significantly lower than that), the rest of us need to ask what we are to think, ethically, of someone who bases his or her life on unquestioning faith.
Yes, well...

Everybody supposes that President Bush's faith is real. "The Jesus Factor" episode of PBS' Frontline seemed to depict a genuinely faithful individual. I have yet to see one syllable questioning the President's faith among all the other critiques of him. He seems like a genuine guy.

Somehow, though, I just don't buy it. I tend to think it's more likely that he's just another Machiavellian:
A prince must take great care never to let anything come from his mouth that is not full of [saintly bullshit], and he must appear to all who see and hear him to be completely pious, completely faithful, completely honest, completely humane, and completely religious. And nothing is more important than to appear to have that last quality.
I'm not blasting Machiavelli or Machiavellians; rather, I'm wondering whether it's more likely that:
1) President Bush is a talented Machiavellian, or
2) President Bush is a type of useful idiot.

Mr. Singer's question assumes the latter (in far different terms, of course). Seems I tend toward the former (though at times it seems nobody could be that good).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Discrediting and Lies

Arianna Huffington says that Plamegate is worse than Watergate. Nobody died in Watergate but thousands have died in Iraq.

Huffington's piece is about all the lies. What I'm interested in, though, is how does letting it be known that Mr. Wilson's wife is a covert CIA operative discredit Mr. Wilson? Plame was supposedly outed to discredit her husband, right? How exactly is Mr. Wilson supposed to be discredited by this news about his wife? I have a hard time believing Mr. Cheney is that stupid, especially given that Cheney is the smartest man besides Bill Gates that John Perry Barlow had ever met.

Maybe the question of how Mrs. Wilson's outing discredits Mr. Wilson has to be considered in light of among whom was Mr. Wilson to be discredited?

I can see where Mr. Wilson might be discredited among a certain type of cretin who would have preferred Wilson to keep the li'l woman at home, barefoot and pregnant rather than be an anti-war pussy. What I didn't realize was that there might have been enough of this type of person among the pro-war crowd to make it worth the trouble.

No, I don't think so. Everything about this story reeks, and not all of the stench is from the White House.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Buckley: Is it stupid when Christians feed the hungry?

The question is actually Andrew Sullivan's: "Is it stupid when Christians feed the hungry?"

Buckley's piece describes how Bill Maher made Andrew Sullivan look stupid for being religious or something like that. That's the context for Sullivan's question in response, Is it stupid when Christians feed the hungry?

It's a good question.

I don't think a Christian feeding the hungry is necessarily being stupid, I think he's being human.

I think the Christian feeding the hungry is trying to ease suffering in the hungry while oblivious or even resistive to the awful truth that he might be making the problem much worse down the road. The idea that by saving one person today you're condemning four others to die tomorrow that wouldn't have died otherwise is certainly uncomfortable.

I wonder how Christians feeding the hungry deal with Hardin's The Tragedy of The Commons? I think faith tends to shield one from having to deal with The Tragedy of The Commons in the first place.

A General Statement of the Tragedy of the Commons, by Herschel Elliott

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sheer Stupidity

Arkansas Mother Gives Birth to 16th Child

There oughta be a law.

Energy Minister vs. Neanderthals

I think I like this guy! I'd like him even better if he said, "And no more gas burners either! Renewables - especially nuclear - only."

Coal power plants out, energy minister says

TORONTO -- Ontario has no plans to listen to "Neanderthals" who want the province to keep its coal-burning power plants operating, even if that's what a report being prepared for the government recommends, says Energy Minister Dwight Duncan.

Duncan offered an emphatic "no" when asked whether he'd be willing to revisit the Liberal government's promise to stop burning coal for electricity even if the Ontario Power Authority calls for exactly that in a report expected in December.

"We are moving to close the coal plants, period, full stop," Duncan said.

More than 80 per cent of the province's power generation needs to be rebuilt or replaced over the next 20 years. The OPA has been meeting with energy industry stakeholders to determine what sources of new power generation the province should invest in.

Ontario is powered 49 per cent by nuclear reactors. Twenty-five per cent is supplied by hydro, 17 per cent by coal, seven per cent by gas and the remainder from wind and other alternative energy sources.

Duncan has said the government will agree to build new nuclear reactors should the OPA recommend it. But he says those lobbying the authority to recommend so-called cleaner coal technology and keeping the plants open are a century behind the times.

"I say to the Neanderthals . . . we're moving forward responsibly to ensure that we clean up our air," Duncan said. "We're in the 21st century. They're in the 19th century."

Air pollution remains a key concern in Ontario. Fifty smog advisories have been issued for the province this year, including a rare October advisory issued last week.

"I am sick and tired of having smog days in October," he said. "We had a smog day in February. We've had smog days in Algonquin Park."

He's also unimpressed with a report by Energy Probe, a national energy and environmental research group, which last week listed two Ontario coal-fired plants as among the cleanest in North America.

"So we may have among some of the better of the worst forms of energy producers in North America. Who cares?" Duncan said. "We want to get rid of them. It's the equivalent of taking every vehicle, every car and every light truck off the road in this province."

Duncan's resistance to coal is a mistake, argues Energy Probe executive director Tom Adams.

Adams wants the province to keep at least two units at its Lambton station at Courtright, which rank fourth and ninth out of 403 in the report's list of the cleanest plants on the continent.

Adams argues closing the units would end up requiring the province to import coal-fired power from the United States.

Secretary of The Future

KURT VONNEGUT: Look, I'll tell you. It's one thing that no cabinet had ever had, is a Secretary Of The Future. And there are no plans at all for my grandchildren and my great grandchildren.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: That's a great idea. In other words a Cabinet post--

KURT VONNEGUT: Well, it's too late! Look, the game is over! The game is over.

Secretary of The Future. That is a great idea. I hate to admit, though, that I agree with Vonnegut. It's too late.

Even if there had been a Secretary of The Future it would have been futile. The Secretary would have had to go up against too many unmovables. Such a Cabinet Secretary would have had to disabuse us of the idea of perpetual, or even steady, growth. That immediately implies conflict with religion and politicians always wanting to grow us out of economic challenges. The hopelessness of it all becomes quickly apparent.

Great idea, Secretary of The Future. Kind of like Secretary of Peace. Nice fantasy.

A Man Without a Country - Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Phoenix Sunrise 9 October 2005

=======nice picture===========
UPDATE 200510090051Z: For some reason the second and last pictures don't download properly. Maybe it's lag at Blogger. I'll see if I can figure out what's wrong. I was afraid that they'd be full-sized downloads,which would have been a couple three meg or more, but Blogger has nicely sized them for display on the screen. They're on the order of 40k each.
UPDATE 200510102307Z: Still don't know what the problem is/was with downloading the images by clicking on them. Last night I noticed that they downloaded fine in Internet Explorer, thought the continued to have problems in Firefox. This morning I tried with Konqueror and Mozilla 1.7, and both browsers had trouble. Konqueror kept throwing up a dialog asking if I wanted to open this text file and which text application to use.

So later on I downloaded and saved the images to my desktop using Internet Explorer in order to see if Firefox would open the files, which it did. Even later on I went back to this post with Firefox, and this time it downloaded the images no problem. So I don't know what the problem was/is, except that now everything seems to be OK. Maybe I'll do an experiment later on to try to pin it down.

I forgot to crop the pictures, but this way you can see how many images I stitched together with AutoStitch to create the panoramas. Practice makes perfect, they say. Next time.

These panoramas were taken of the Phoenix sunrise on 9 October 2005, using an Olympus Stylus 300 digital camera.

This camera comes with software, Camedia Master, that will make panoramas from appropriately spaced shots if you put the camera in panorama mode and if (and only if) you have the Olympus brand SD card. Strangely, you can use another SD card that claims compatibility with the camera, but there's something about the Olympus brand SD card that enables the automatic panorama function of the software.

You can also upgrade the Olympus Camedia software for twenty bucks and get a "free stitch" function that works adequately, but does not allow you to retain full resolution.

This is not what I used to assemble these panoramas, though. Since I got the camera and software I found a program (hat tip Wikipedia) called AutoStitch which is a so-far free offering from Mathew Brown at UBC, where it is part of his Doctoral work and a prospective commercial venture. All I can say to Mr. Brown is, "More power to you, Sir." His panorama software works wonderfully for what I have tried.

Brown's AutoStitch has some settings I don't quite understand, and it doesn't do cylindrical or planar projections (only 1-D), but I guess I have not tried anything where these were required.

If you look at Brown's web site you'll see a graphical description of what his software does, but you don't see the graphical stuff when you use the software. The first time I used AutoStitch I thought my computer had frozen when in reality it was just working really hard. This is apparently very processor intensive stuff, especially the way I've been doing it (full size, 100 percent JPEG fidelity).

AutoStitch only takes JPEGs as input but that has not been a hindrance to me. I've either converted what I've wanted to stitch into JPEG or used JPEG to start with. Actually, the Olympus Stylus 300 I'm using only does JPEG anyway.

I've posted a picture or two in my blog before, but never several in one post. It has not been as straightforward as I'd have thought. For instance, the first time I uploaded the pictures, I uploaded all four at once. I was then unable to place text as usual, and the pictures flowed themselves into the text of the following post on a different topic, forcing that text off to the side of the pictures.

So I deleted that post and tried again, this time uploading the pictures individually rather than as a group. Again the formatting was off. I'd been composing the post using, naturally enough, the "Compose" tab of the Blogger user interface. Finally I took the hint presented in the "Edit Html" tab right beside the "Compose" tab, and here I am editing the HTML.

I'm not really editing the HTML so much as moving stuff around, checking the preview to see what happened, then moving stuff around some more, etc. Slowly the post has taken the shape in which I (and I hope you) see it. Along the way, as I mentioned before in a probably-now-deleted comment, the pictures appeared in reverse order from what I expected, i.e.: the last one uploaded appeared at the top of the post, the second-to-last picture uploaded appeared next, and the last picture I uploaded appeared at the top of the post.

I don't know why things worked that way, but using the "Edit Html" tab I was able to move the HTML code blocks around so that they appeared correctly, so that the earlier picures appear above the later ones.

So, Mr. Mathew Brown, congratulations on some fine software, and thanks for letting me use it. I hope you are able to get it adopted into a Google Picasa or something commercial like that and make some bucks from your good work.

Google, thanks to you, too. Picasa is great, Blogger is great, and GMail is great. More power to Google!

Olympus, I like your little Stylus 300 snapshot digital camera, too.

HEY! It looks like we're about to get another great sunSET here in Phoenix. It it's spectacular I'll try to get some shots of it.


Citroen 'goddess' feted in Paris

Citroen DSAs the BBC piece says, France has marked the 50th anniversary of one of the great design icons of the last century - the Citroen DS, or Deesse, saloon car.

A deserving observance it is.

My Mother bought one of these things back in the late '60s (this was in Guatemala - I don't know if the car was ever brought to the United States). I thought it was a great car. Not perfect, just great.

My Mom's car looked just like the one in the picture here except for the lights. I think the one in the picture is a '68 or '69 model, whereas my Mom's was one year earlier, before Citroen put in the directional headlights. The larger light was stationary while the smaller, inboard lamp followed the steering.

This article says: Citroen DS: They Said it Was 20 Years Ahead of its Time - 20 Years Later it Was Still Ahead. When Would the Others Catch Up?

Well, the car certainly was ahead of its time.

As far as I know, the Citroen DS was the first car to incorporate a crumple zone for occupant safety. The steering wheel had one large, curved spoke that pointed out the driver's door when the wheels were in center position, the idea behind which was to prevent the driver from becoming impaled in the event of a head-on crash (the wheel would deflect inward and the driver would tend to slide toward the center of the vehicle.

The suspension on this vehicle was wonderful, like riding on a cloud. In the "road" position you could drive over railroad tracks and never know it, and yet somehow the driver retained a very good feel for the road. "Road" position? Yes, the suspension was configurable from inside the vehicle, with five positions on the lever. The "road" position was the lowest of the three driving positions, while the two higher positions were for off-road and really-off-road. In the upper two positions the ride became more like that of a Land Rover - pretty rough - but the ground clearance became like a Land Rover's, too.

The car was very, very stable with the suspension in "road" position. Some said you couldn't flip it if you tried. I never tried to flip it, but I can attest to the car's stability.

The car had no jack for changing tires. Rather, you'd put the suspension in the highest position, put a post under the side with the flat, and then drop the suspension to the lowest position. The flat tire would lift up off the ground and you'd change it. If you had no spare, you just made sure the flat was on the rear and drive the car on three wheels with the suspension in the high position.

Want to take the doors off for some reason? Easy! Just unscrew the pin hinges and off they came.

Want to ford a river without flooding the engine, or drive in arctic conditions? Pull the chain to close or damp off the radiator air intake.

Even the radio was cool: a Blaupunkt with short-wave and whatnot. In the evenings we'd drive up to the top of the mountain and listen to radio station KAAY from Little Rock, Arkansas, which in those days played great rock and roll (which we didn't necessarily get the best of down in Guatemala). On short-wave we'd tune to the Voice of America to hear how many commies we'd killed in Vietnam, and Radio Moscow or Havana to hear the other side.

For tax reasons, the car my Mom bought had been imported to Guatemala as an ambulance, and it came with a stretcher. I drove my Grandfather to the hospital in that stretcher the day he died. All of the other memories of that car are better than that one.

The engine was a four cylinder thing with enough power to maintain a good highway speed, but insufficient power for the drag strip. Twenty second, 60 mph quarter miles anybody?

I remember driving down the Pan American highway near Guatemala City one time (racing is probably the better term for what I was doing). I rounded a turn and there was a Guatemalan Army rat patrol (two jeeps with machine guns mounted on posts in the rear) stopping traffic. Well, there was no way I could stop before going past them, and I think the soldiers were kind of pissed off at me for that. (I'll never forget the feeling I got from seeing the machine gun swing around at me in the rear-view mirror as I'm braking to a stop way too far down the road from them.) After they searched the car I got on their good side by showing them where they had missed a big hiding place in which a bad guy could hide all kinds of weapons in the Citroen.

There was one bad thing about the car: the same hydraulic system ran the steering, the brakes and the suspension. It so happened that the year after my Mom's car came out they changed the hydraulic fluid formulation. At one service they changed the hydraulic fluid and put in the wrong kind, which wound up blowing out all kinds of seals. Later on I found myself driving down the highway when all of a sudden the steering got hard, I had no brakes and the car sunk all the way to the lowest suspension setting. That was a little dangerous! The same thing happened another time when a filter clogged in the hydraulic system, probably from residue left over from the wrong-fluid fiasco.

All in all I really like the "Sit-tron" (as my friends called it). Most people thought it was plug ugly, but I thought it was cool looking, all aerodynamic and such. I'd like to have one today.

Maybe I can some day. I just found the The Citroen Club Of America!

I had some really good times in and with that car. Some of them would have curled my Mother's teeth, but hey, I was a teen-ager, OK?

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Oil Drum on Deepwater Oil and Related Things

The Oil Drum featured a particularly interesting post, made so largely by comments following. Starts out about deepwater oil and continues on into economics, politics and so on. Very interesting, with some interesting links to follow, including to a Morgan Stanley piece on "optimists vs. pessimists" and "A PEDestrian's GUIDE to the ECONOMY" among others.

The crowd didn't seem to like economists much, though there are some good comments of appreciation and a caution about what might lie on the fringes if economics is dismissed.

Good stuff.

Capt. Ian Fishback - A Matter of Honor

[Hat tip to Mark Kleiman, The Washington Post, and of course to Captain Fishback.]

A Matter of Honor

The following letter was sent to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sept. 16:

Dear Senator McCain:

I am a graduate of West Point currently serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry. I have served two combat tours with the 82nd Airborne Division, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq. While I served in the Global War on Terror, the actions and statements of my leadership led me to believe that United States policy did not require application of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. On 7 May 2004, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's testimony that the United States followed the Geneva Conventions in Iraq and the "spirit" of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan prompted me to begin an approach for clarification. For 17 months, I tried to determine what specific standards governed the treatment of detainees by consulting my chain of command through battalion commander, multiple JAG lawyers, multiple Democrat and Republican Congressmen and their aides, the Ft. Bragg Inspector General's office, multiple government reports, the Secretary of the Army and multiple general officers, a professional interrogator at Guantanamo Bay, the deputy head of the department at West Point responsible for teaching Just War Theory and Law of Land Warfare, and numerous peers who I regard as honorable and intelligent men.

Instead of resolving my concerns, the approach for clarification process leaves me deeply troubled. Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees. I am certain that this confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment. I and troops under my command witnessed some of these abuses in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is a tragedy. I can remember, as a cadet at West Point, resolving to ensure that my men would never commit a dishonorable act; that I would protect them from that type of burden. It absolutely breaks my heart that I have failed some of them in this regard.

That is in the past and there is nothing we can do about it now. But, we can learn from our mistakes and ensure that this does not happen again. Take a major step in that direction; eliminate the confusion. My approach for clarification provides clear evidence that confusion over standards was a major contributor to the prisoner abuse. We owe our soldiers better than this. Give them a clear standard that is in accordance with the bedrock principles of our nation.

Some do not see the need for this work. Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable.

Both of these arguments stem from the larger question, the most important question that this generation will answer. Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security? Terrorism inspires fear and suppresses ideals like freedom and individual rights. Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is "America."

Once again, I strongly urge you to do justice to your men and women in uniform. Give them clear standards of conduct that reflect the ideals they risk their lives for.

With the Utmost Respect,

-- Capt. Ian Fishback
1st Battalion,
504th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
82nd Airborne Division,
Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Captain Fishback seems to be the sort of officer I remember most from my time in the Army back in the '70s, a good man.

Now Slate thinks the US Army has dumbed down since Iraq. Maybe so, but it seems to me the process started long ago, before Iraq, when the all-volunteer military came about.

Among many other things,we need a universal draft. A fair draft. I think we'll get a draft, but I wonder whether it'll be a fair draft.

Google Search: "It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse"

Oct 05, 2005 -- 02:30:01 PM EST
Remarks by Al Gore as prepared
Associated Press / The Media Center
October 5, 2005

I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger.
At first I thought the exhaustive, non-stop coverage of the O.J. trial was just an unfortunate excess that marked an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. But now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time.
The coverage of political campaigns focuses on the "horse race" and little else. And the well-known axiom that guides most local television news is "if it bleeds, it leads." (To which some disheartened journalists add, "If it thinks, it stinks.")
Decades ago Walter Lippman wrote, "the manufacture of consent...was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy...but it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technique...under the impact of propaganda, it is no longer plausible to believe in the original dogma of democracy."
Make no mistake, full-motion video is what makes television such a powerful medium. Our brains - like the brains of all vertebrates - are hard-wired to immediately notice sudden movement in our field of vision. We not only notice, we are compelled to look. When our evolutionary predecessors gathered on the African savanna a million years ago and the leaves next to them moved, the ones who didn't look are not our ancestors. The ones who did look passed on to us the genetic trait that neuroscientists call "the establishing reflex." And that is the brain syndrome activated by television continuously - sometimes as frequently as once per second. That is the reason why the industry phrase, "glue eyeballs to the screen," is actually more than a glib and idle boast. It is also a major part of the reason why Americans watch the TV screen an average of four and a half hours a day.

Part of me wants to applaud Al Gore for what is a good speech and a noble effort.

Unfortunately, the bigger part of me is restrained by what I think is a correct realization that it simply doesn't matter, because there is nothing that can be done to stop the general slide we're in - the overshoot we're in and the dieoff we're apparently headed for - on account of our natural, human inability to arrange our affairs sustainably, to understand such messages as those of Hardin and Tainter, all the while embracing such things as religion and a belief in perpetual growth.

Oh, well... Good luck Mr. Gore. I'll be on your bus as the caravan heads for the cliff. I've added your "Current TV" to my link list, and I've put a full "Fair Use" cache of your remarks in the first comment below.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Expecting Disappointment - Supreme Court hears arguments over Oregon's assisted-suicide law

I fully expect to be disappointed when this decision is announced. I expect the Court to please the right-to-lifers, but it'll take a miracle for me to ever agree that end-of-life decisions like these are any business of the Federal government's.

A court that rules intrA-state, non-commercial, LEGAL, medically prescribed provision of marijuana to dying people is the Federal governments business under the interstate commerce clause of the constitution, or that finds it's OK to steal someone's property because someone else's use of it for private purposes would be better for the community, is not one that I have much use for.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - Cocaine blight spreads in Colombia

That we continue to believe in prohibition and place the blame for its side effects on the objects of prohibition marks us as FUCKING IDIOTS.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Responding to Yamauchi's Paradox

Peaknik posted at The Oil Drum that he'd like some opinion on what he'd written on his own blog, so I followed him there and posted what follows:

At The Oil Drum you mentioned writing this piece, and that it would be nice to hear some opinion about what happens when your mind and your job go in different directions.

It's not just gamers or Mr. Yamauchi. I think the majority of brilliant people don't seem to acknowledge the problem of peak oil, because brilliant people are just a subset of people, and of the various personality types among people, only a small number seem to see this problem. I read somewhere that someone had looked at this and concluded that of the 16 Myers-Briggs types, peak oilers came from just two of those types. Personality-types and population proportions are two different things, but peak oil worriers are in the minority in either case.

Someone observed that people tend to reject uncomfortable truths in favor of comfortable falsehoods. It's just the way most of us are. You can see the same workings in other arenas like religion or belief in perpetual growth against limits.

Michael Shermer (of Skeptic Magazine among other things) thinks that smart people believe weird things because they are very good at rationalizing. Sounds plausible to me.

So what do you and I do in the face of all this? Have you read "On The Beach" or seen the movie(s)? What would you do if presented with the fact of impending catastrophe? Well, it's not radiation, but it sure seems to me that for various reasons the fairly near-term future is rather likely to be catastrophic. What to do when there's no real hope? Pretend or act as though there is hope and aspire to be proven wrong in the end? Why not; it's probably kinder.

Don't let me stop you, but I don't think you'd be likely to accomplish much by starting a dialog among gamers because gamers are just people, too. Some number of them are already aware or could be made aware, but I think the population of gamers would break out in similar proportion to the general population on this and similar issues. Gamers might even be worse than the general population if the Google crowd's reaction to Kunstler is a guide. "Yo, Dude, you're so, like, wrong! We've got, like, technology!"

I don't think there are any tipping points to be reached before their time here, and their time probably won't come until it's too late, unfortunately.

To each his own, I guess. As for me, I like the line from that Tom Hanks movie about being stranded on a desert island where he says something like, "You've just got to keep on breathing, because you never know what tomorrow might bring."

Guess I'd better go post this comment on my own blog now. Thanks for giving me something to write about.

Salud, amor, pesetas, y el tiempo para disfrutarlas! Steve