Man Must Ultimately Take to the Stars

In order for man to survive in the next thousand years without resorting to apocalyptic  means or adapting universally enforced birth control laws he will have to take to space and inhabit other worlds. While this concern is not immediately obvious and will most likely not be in issue in your lifetime or mine, it is still something to ponder and plan on. We need to find the best planet near to our solar system which is the right distance from its sun that water will not evaporate or freeze, and hopefully where there is an abundance of oxygen. There are some prospects out there, including Gliese 581 d which I will refer to as ‘Gliese’ and HD 85512 b ‘HD’ which have been shown to orbit within a habitable zone in their respective solar systems.

Gliese is 5.6X the mass of Earth at a distance of 20 light years (200 trillion kilometers) and HD is between 3 and 4 times the mass of Earth and around 36 light years away. Unfortunately, settlers who first make the mission will have to cope with communication delay of over 40 years round trip between their planet and Earth – not to mention that a conventional space flight would at current technology take over 700,000 years! Perhaps a more immediate solution then would be to terraform an existing planet to the best of mankind’s ability within the immediate solar system. Mars would by far be the best candidate, however given the hostile environment coupled with poor atmosphere building on Mar would probably be unprofitable and leech from Earths resources.

What do you think humans should do in the future to solve the inevitable depletion of Earth’s resources?

My Pollution Solution

Now here’s my plan, set up an international organization that collects money from each polluting country based strictly upon carbon emissions multiplied by a coefficient which is related to a country’s GDP and perhaps the longitude (since countries farther north need to use more fuel just to survive). As it is now, developing or poor countries are basically begging money from richer countries for their own use to put towards reducing their own emissions. The reason this won’t work is that in my estimation most of these poorer countries have leadership of questionable integrity especially when given essentially blank checks to be used towards lowering emissions, while many of their people can’t even afford food to keep themselves alive. Instead, there should be a third party to implement effective systems to reduce carbon emissions. The third party will be completely transparent, and have no prerogatives to appease one country over the other or award contracts to one company over another.

Joining would be completely voluntary, but would yield benefits such as technology-sharing in clean energy technologies, and also a certain amount of peer-pressure should arise from those who decide not to join. The money will be used for mitigating the effects of global warming wherever on the globe it is more economical or effective. Certain methods, which have been speculated upon yet not yet proven, include spraying minuscule water droplets into the atmosphere over the ocean to reflect the sunlight before it hits water… The point being, if there is any active way to reduce the problem, money will be used to do this. The proportion of work could be based on a country’s contribution – say the United States contributes 30% towards the fund, then 30% of the effort will be concentrated on reducing pollution or mitigating its effects inside the U.S.

Sure, this sounds like another large and wasteful bureaucracy, yet for some reason the problem is apparently not able to be tackled by traditional organizations such as the United Nations or country governments, who squabble amongst themselves… As of today, China and the United States lead the world in pollution production. Although there has been a parade of hand slapping from the EU and environmental groups, real change is not expected in the near future. China said it would reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP, meaning emissions will grow (assuming China’s GDP continues to grow). The U.S. claims it will reduce emissions over 10% (I am unsure of the exact figure) by 2020…

Clean coal technology, increasing use of natural gas and nuclear power, and a shift towards mass-transit systems may or may not be the primary goal of this organization – but it should have solid technical know-how in these areas. Considering a few companies well versed in these technologies – Bombadier, General Electric, Siemens, Vattenfall to list a few, could possibly contribute technology, manpower, and know-how towards this new organization’s effectiveness in exchange for tax-breaks with equivalent costs put towards their respective countrys’ payment towards the organization.

A few ideas for the organization’s name: GCCI (Global Climate Change Initiative), APL (Anti-Pollution League) just to name two…

Comment and tell me what you think, or any suggestions/comments/hate-speech/etc.

What Does it Mean to be Disinterested?

Naturally, the common fallacy is to believe that to be disinterested in something is to ‘not be interested’. However, one will find hopefully now better than later that disinterestedness is the state of being free of bias or self-interest. One could say George Bush was not disinterested to go to war with Iraq. One could also say that judges and juries should be disinterested. I personally find disinterested people hard to find, as everyone is looking out for themselves or have had life experiences which force naturally occurring biases to be formed on a myriad of subjects.

What Happened to the Space Race?

Here we are, just after the 40 year anniversary of the first moon walk, and things have stagnated. Funding or drive and ambition is not as high as it was when the USSR was around, but the urgency and need for space colonization is as high if not higher as it was back then. As the world population skyrockets and oil and other natural resources diminish, man must eventually take to the heavens to expand that which is his: the universe.

My Thoughts On Japan Summer 2009

Having recently returned from a nine day trip from Japan, I would like to report on what changes I have seen, and what phenomenon are occurring on the East Asian island of Japan.

During these nine days my girlfriend and I visited multiple cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, Kobe, and Himeji. Osaka was probably the best city in terms of excitement, restaurants, nightlife, and price. Osaka was the historical capital of Japan and the center of culture and trade.

Tokyo was simply busy and serious, but I enjoyed visiting the Tokyo tower and to Ginza and Akhiyabara. Although traditionally Akhiyabara is supposed to be the best place to buy electronics I prefer Shenzhen, as there is more selection and the prices are much better. As a bonus products bought in Shenzhen often have English user manuals and come tax-free (unlike many products you will find in Japan). In fact, there are some models of cameras that are not allowed to be purchased by foreigners in Japan! If one decides to go into an arcade, one should be prepared to fork over around 5 USD for a game which usually costs 1 USD in the US.

Nara was one of the best cities I visited, as there are deer roaming the streets and people are more friendly there. You can buy a pack of deer food for 150 yen and then try to feed the deer without getting jabbed by a male deer with antlers. It’s truly amazing how brave the deer are, and they don’t mind sitting in the middle of a temple (see the photo). I got bit in the stomach by a hungry deer, but it didn’t hurt too much.

I didn’t spend too much time in Kobe, as the main purpose of the visit was to eat Kobe beef, which in the end I decided not to as the meal we saw cost almost 200 USD for a small piece of the meat and I was hungry for something else.

In Himeji I visited Himeji Castle, and had fun imagining what it would be like to live 500 years ago and fight from inside.

I must admit that the typical allure and grandeur of seeing a technologically advanced Asian country eluded me. I have spent now quite a bit of time in Asia and in particular China’s larger cities, and to be quite honest China’s cities have developed to the point of surpassing Japan in terms of architecture and visual appeal.

How to detect a scam

Even in the few years I have been around, I have been scammed more than once. So far I have caught on quick and undone any damage, but some scams are very costly to get caught buy. Of every single scam, they all share the same attributes. I would like to share them with you below:

  • They promise you something (they make you think you will profit in some way by going with the deal)
  • They give you a personal touch (they present their own lifestyle, girlfriends, items, etc. based on what they have made from this deal; if not that they will show you a check for a large sum of money based on what they have done as proof)
  • They will warn you not to go with others similar to them (they like to use reverse-psychology to fool you into thinking this is the real deal)
  • They will ask for a signup fee (fee for learning how to do something, to get started, etc.)

These are aspects most scams are comprised of, so if you see them just run. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. I will not mention from where I was scammed, but if you comment with your email address I will tell you. If something that supposedly pays well requires only for you to pay to enter, it is not good. In fact in many cases a pyramid scheme is used, where after joining you are actually trying to get other people to join so you get a cut of their entrance payment. Other cases of scams include drastically overpriced goods such as adding 10% or more premiums to gold coins based on their grading (these days all new gold coins are NS70 so don’t feel yours is special) or software (some people kept nagging me about this stock trading program, I told them I wasn’t interested, and they kept calling and e-mailing). If not the above two, then it could be identity theft. In any case, especially with a worsening economy, be careful not to be caught in a scam.

“Lee”, the Most Popular Name on Earth

Lee is the most popular name on Earth. In China, it is tied with Zhang (popularly known as ‘Chang’ in the US) with 100 million bearing the name.

In Korea, it is second only to ‘Kim’.

If you tie the verbal pronunciation to the name then ‘Lee’ of England is also included.

If you are interested in which is the most popular first name on Earth, then the answer is “Mohammed”.

Below are a few rough statistics on “Lee” around the world:

China: ~10%

Korea: ~16%

United States: >=~.22%

 

My United States estimate is based on a 1990 census and does not include the “Li” form. If you are interested in the most common or popular surnames in the United States as of 1990 I will include them below:

 

SMITH          1.006  1.006      1
JOHNSON        0.810  1.816      2
WILLIAMS       0.699  2.515      3
JONES          0.621  3.136      4
BROWN          0.621  3.757      5
DAVIS          0.480  4.237      6
MILLER         0.424  4.660      7
WILSON         0.339  5.000      8
MOORE          0.312  5.312      9
TAYLOR         0.311  5.623     10
ANDERSON       0.311  5.934     11
THOMAS         0.311  6.245     12
JACKSON        0.310  6.554     13
WHITE          0.279  6.834     14
HARRIS         0.275  7.109     15
MARTIN         0.273  7.382     16
THOMPSON       0.269  7.651     17
GARCIA         0.254  7.905     18
MARTINEZ       0.234  8.140     19
ROBINSON       0.233  8.372     20
CLARK          0.231  8.603     21
RODRIGUEZ      0.229  8.832     22
LEWIS          0.226  9.058     23
LEE            0.220  9.278     24

So, if we take into consideration solely those of the US, China, and Korea, the population that has the last name “Lee” is: 300M * .0022 + 1.3B * .1 + 50M * .16 = 660,000 + 208,000,000 + 8,000,000 = 216,660,000. I will not go into how many people share this name in other countries such as Indoneisa etc. as that would take too much time.

The Time Travel Dilemma

Today the subject came up between my brothers, father, and I. If you had to choose whether to permanently travel ahead or behind in time, which would you choose? Seems everyone except I wanted to go back in time, mostly for monetary gain or on account of their perceived intellectual advantage. I chose to go forward in time for the reasons listed below.

  1. Generally, humans have it better off as time progresses, at least in terms of medicine, standards of living, hygiene, and transportation.
  2. Going forward in time means better technology, unless something cataclysmic happens. This includes the quality of game graphics, going backwards in time one will have to (has had too?) deal with lower quality graphics and games. Slower internet too (If I go back to a point in time after 1990).
  3. Although you would have a distinct disadvantage in terms of technical know how, street smarts, and proper behavior in the future, you probably won’t be burned as a witch or killed randomly by a dinosaur (this all of course depends on which time period in the past you are traveling too).
  4. Generally the average lifespan would be greater in the future than in the past, though admittedly the past has a lot of cool things the future doesn’t (the Roman Empire, Gengis Khan, Queen Elizabeth, etc.).
  5. Although it would be a lot easier making money in the past than the future (Based on knowledge of future events), you might not be able to use that money to buy things that interest you, since you come from an age of higher-tech gadgets and luxuries.

It is for these reasons that given the choice I would rather travel ahead in time than back in time. Going back in time does have many perks, including the safety to know whether mankind is still around, but going forward in time is certainly more adventurous and probably more rewarding.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue as well, if you have an idea of your own or have decided which route you would take, then please comment on this post.

Auto Bailout A Responsible Use of Bailout Funds?

Yeah!

The recent decision to use up some of the seven hundred billion dollars to help out the auto industry was in my view well thought out. However idealistic one may be about the free market one should be practical enough to realize that not bailing out the US auto industry would not only weaken the US economy as a whole but also weaken US industrial production strength. Many of the parts manufactures would go bankrupt as a result of a GM/ Chrysler failure, and that in turn would hurt raw material suppliers to the US.

The US auto industry is crucial to the well being of the United States, because quite frankly a country of 300 billion isn’t going to get by with Google and Apple. We need manufacturing, and we need medium-paying jobs to sustain a middle-class. Now I realize that labor has for the past decade or more been outsourced to countries such as Mexico, India, and China for these jobs (in fact GM has plants in China and other parts of the world). This is not a bad thing, and in fact it is good for corporate profits. But by letting GM and Chrysler die, the US would be forfeiting an entire industry to foreigners.

When I say die, I am referring to going bankrupt, and although some argue that allowing bankruptcy is the best option, I argue otherwise. In the case that GM goes bankrupt, for example, this would cause suppliers to change their billing agreements. Payments that could be put on credit for weeks or even months would now be required to be up-front. After all, the parts manufacturers can’t really trust a company that has no money, can they? Another result of a GM bankruptcy would be the inability for GM to finance their sold vehicles. As this is an economic downturn, few people have the option to buy a car strait-up without financing, so this would cause a cataclysmic circle of events that would end in economic tragedy.

This bankruptcy, if it were to happen, would be the “Bankruptcies of Bankruptcies”, as no large a corporation has ever in the history of mankind gone bankrupt (the largest I can recall is United Airlines).

But…

Has it ever come to mind that even with the “bailout” GM would go bankrupt? Well, according to its financial trends this is certainly the case. A practical mind cannot stop and wonder what miracle would be required for GM, regardless of how much money presented to it, would not go bankrupt. A company that is leaking more than five million dollars a day is certainly not a company I would want to invest in, and quite honestly I would rather pay a little more and get a quality Toyota than risk my luck with another GM vehicle (personal experience).

What if GM wastes all of the taxpayer money in a foolhardy attempt to reinvent itself? Of course only a fool repeats the same things over and over again and expects a different result, and so it would be if GM continued its same business practices and followed the same model; this is especially true in these financially challenging times.

Right now, the world is shifting into “save” mode, and unless something drastic occurs, we are going to be in this sorry state of affairs for probably a year or more longer. The “Ripple Effect” is in effect, and the ripple has not reached the edge of the lake, sorry to say.

So…

So is the auto bailout a good thing, or is it a bad thing? I really don’t know, and I’m sure no one quite knows. Just like no one I know knew that this financial catastrophe would ever occur, and in the year 2008 of all years! A perfect solution to the problem just doesn’t seem visible. When one is faced with two tough decisions, and one doesn’t have the power to decide which will be decided, then one can feel secure knowing that he/she wasn’t the one responsible for the negative consequences of that choice.

If you’ve read this entire article, then you certainly have some time on your hands, but thanks.

The World’s Increasing Dependence on Google’s Integrity

As Google puts forth more web-based data intensive applications for free, more and more people are coming to rely on Google for document, email, and photo services. Google has expanded its reach to allow for free personalized / group websites, and also has its own personalized friend spaces (Orkut). In addition to the above, Google owns YouTube and its videos, and crawls personal information (such as your e-mail, GoogleDocs) by way of automation to present relevant data. This data crawling is justified by Google based on its non-personal nature (because it is using algorithms to search your information to find ads instead of directly looking at your works).

This presents a new challenge to our generation, are we to trust Google to run all forms of our internet lives in using highly effective and free tools by a company who became famous for freely archiving and linking the World Wide Web? What happens if Google becomes Microsoft? Now it relies mostly on income from the relevant ads presented with Adsense, but how long will that last? BotNets are being developed at this very moment to utilize a zombie computer (a computer that has been hacked and is now secretly holding a BotNet) to serf to the attacker’s website and click on his/her own ads to generate income to fund their hacking projects. Can Google protect its advertisers from click fraud?

It is quite noticeable that we as a Web Civilization are moving towards a more WebOS dominant environment. Computers, cell-phones, and palm pilots all rely extensively on their ability to connect to the web, and more and more data is being outsourced from the PC to the Internet. Only time will tell if these free information reserves will remain free or secure.

Iowa State’s “Bird” Problem

Iowa State is a great University. Along with its outstanding academics its campus is one of the Nation’s finest. Central campus is devoid of buildings, and is filled with green grass, old trees, and much history. Walking through you get the sense of tradition, as you pass monuments and little groves dedicated to people and persons long gone. In addition to the hundred-year-old groves of trees and campanile, you can also view the stunning architecture of Beardshear hall, the newly renovated Morrill Hall, and others.

Unfortunately, there is a problem. In the Fall thousands of crows come to ISU to settle down. They pollute the ground with their filth and pollute the sky with their presence and noise. I hope that ISU figures out how to deal with their numbers, which I estimate to be in the tens of thousands. They especially tend to flock around the MU and Friley Hall.

Bird Mess

China’s Stem Cell Treatment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m49oBGbRMX4

In the video linked above, we find a Chinese doctor who educated in the US and returned to China. Now he freely uses embryonic stem cells to help partially cure patients suffering from nervous disorders / damage. Although the practice is illegal in the Untied States, China can try to use the embryonic olfactory bulb cells to improve the lives of others through surgery. Stem cells can develop into different cell types, which makes them useful for curing a variety of different conditions. They can also be reproduced, and injected directly onto the affected part of the spine/brain.