Steve Merrick's Blog, page 2
May 10, 2015
Lets start with the good news, back in 1981 the United States Airforce developed the requirement for an Advanced Tactical Fighter, now that resulted many years later in the F-22A Raptor, this is an unparalleled plane, its quite simply the best thing in the air, it is a fighter pilots dream, and that’s actually proven to be its downfall because there is no enemy plane capable of dealing with it and no specified threat for it to defend America against. Lacking any ground attack role or naval use, the most amazing plane ever built is effectively useless. If you don’t believe me then here are the exact words of one Robert Gates the then secretary of defence in 2008. “The Raptor was not relevant in post cold war conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Even the former chief of the Australian Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston stated of this plane. “That the F22 will simply be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built.” Its a bit of a shock to realise that the Americans have finally built something perfect, smooth, fast, agile and deadly to any opposing birds out there, and sadly it has nothing worth shooting at, so it is destined for the scrap heap of history, but my point is that it works, it flies, it does everything that it was designed to do, albeit expensively, and 187 of them been delivered to the US Air force, and are effectively operational as I type.
Now for the bad news. The X35.
Seriously this is one of the more embarrassing wastes of time that I have ever encountered, I would be forgiven for using the white elephant analogy here, but at least they can fly when you are as drunk as a skunk, unlike the X35, which seems to love its hangars too much. Its almost too hysterical to structure the faults of this developmental nightmare of error, although the Pentagons Inspector General has identified 719 separate faults with the X35, so I may as well start there, with the first batch that was delivered to the unlucky pilots of the US Marine Corps. The pilots reported that, the cockpit visibility is worse than in existing fighters, the special hi tech helmets have frequent problems and are badly performing, whilst take offs may be postponed when the temperature is below 60F, whilst officially. Pilots are not allowed to fly these test planes at night, or faster than the speed of sound, with real or simulated weapons, and they cannot go within 25 miles of lightning. Costing 137 million dollars a pop, the all weather stealth fighter bomber has failed to arrive repeatedly, and considering someone smarter than me worked out each plane costs as much as 42 million cupcakes would, the trillions of dollars lost in its development have been so far a bit of a damp squib. Between 2000 and 2012 Lockheed Martin the manufacturers have spent $159 million on lobbying about the fighter, a fighter that stubbornly has failed to deliver any of its goods and even now has no fixed delivery date, all of which has been paid for by the American taxpayer, who could be feeling a bit misled at this point in this militaristic farce.
You see there is cutting edge and then there is projected cutting edge. The X35 was always meant to be 20-30 years ahead of the competition, competition that doesn’t actually exist if you remember the Raptor at the beginning of these words. In many ways this computerised fighter bomber has been designed using concepts that have not yet been tested anywhere else on the planet, the computing problems encountered at every level of this planes development are massive, because they are based on projected capacities, not the real ones that we can do today, the entire program made sense back then as it would be pushing the boundaries of the tech to its limits, except those boundaries have breaking points. The best way I could illustrate this is by putting my science fiction hat on again, so I write of an idea, take the Asterio class space ships, huge hollowed out asteroids, that provide gravity and safety to there crews in my books. Now look at the reality, we have no re-useable space shuttles any more, we have none of the rest of the engineering infrastructure evolved yet, and as a result what is a very sound idea is impossible without all the rest of the tech to support it. That is the very same situation we now have with the X35 fighter, it is designed with a past perspective of the future evolutions it would create, evolutions that have as yet failed to effectively materialise. Trillions of dollars later it is turning out to be a particularly bad joke. It is in reality a bit of a cash cow.
Now a number of you reading this know I am a Brit/Aussie hybrid, so what has any of this got to do with me, why am I writing about it? Well the PR military spin that Lockheed Martin generated has created a myth of potential about the specifications and capabilities of the X35, both the British and Australian military have been involved in its development and are looking to use it. The British went further than many other countries and designed two aircraft carriers around the plane, a plane that can outperform any other is obviously advantageous, but only if that plane exists, yet when the cost of the squadrons are going to be about the same price as the aircraft carriers themselves, without any evidence of the planes effectiveness being displayed yet, with nothing but a brochure fueled dream that the sales division at Lockheed have created, what we are getting is not value for money, and it is not going to reinforce our national security, in fact the point I need to make is that we should be looking at how to modify the carriers to use more effective and trusted equipment.
Consider the fact that the X35 was designed to replace the Harrier jump jet, used by the Marine corps and the Royal Navy, this was a British design that worked, we built them, and flew the sluggish beauties in more fights than I can recollect. Considering that those two carriers are floating empty, we need a fast and reliable replacement, we need the tech of today not the science fiction of tomorrow. The Americans reading this may laugh at what I am about to say, but in light of the recent Russian encroachments to our Airspace in the UK, we have about 60 fighters, Tornado’s and Euro fighters, 60, even the Saudis are bombing Yemen with over a hundred planes, and have a reserve, in the UK we don’t. So right now the UK needs planes, and right now we have some of the better designers on the planet living here, and right now the British military want to invest in an untested problem prone avionic mistake called the X35. So much so am I convinced that this is short sited, stupid and ridiculous program of acquisition, that I am reduced to writing these words, its going to cost 60 odd billion pounds to equip those carriers with X35’s, whereas going back to the design board and building a British fighter, makes so much more sense, because the Harrier was a legendary plane, and the X35 is so far a massed delusion of military proportions. So instead of investing in a flawed aircraft, we should look at evolving the systems we designed and concentrate on what could defend us best.
Human beings will always argue the toss of the dice, whether it is baseball, the best camera, the right way to poach an egg, airplanes are no different, looking at the history of air warfare, even today people argue about what was best. Take the battle of Britain, the out of date Hawker Hurricane proved its worth against the German fighters of the time, yet even there in that war was the technological evolution of the weapons themselves, that evolution has been on going, and the X35 may be extincting itself before it takes off. Yet when our political’s and military fall for a sales brochure reality, then it is a very short walk to defeat, because fantasy will not win any fight. So if given a choice between a corporate fantasy of a weapon, or a hard headed team of British and commonwealth designers building one that works, I will take the second option. Seriously put, we have about sixty planes against? That is the reality of today, not the future that X35 may offer, whilst the bankrupting price of it guarantees that the carriers stay empty……..
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
May 5, 2015
SOMETHING STRANGE THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED. (AN EPISODICAL EXPERIMENTAL ADVENTURE)
Its got me a bit dumbfounded, but its definitely not there, but it really should be? I know I shouldn’t point out that something that should have happened hasn’t, but really it should be there, I would look under the kitchen table for it, but even though most lost things end up there, this is not lost, it has just failed to happen, which I find perplexing. I could use it as further evidence that none of this is real, but that arguments a bit of a cop out on a good day isn’t it? However the fact is that what it is it isn’t and what it should have become has failed completely to materialise, although it has had some slingshot style psychological reaction in our species massed psyche, it has stubbornly failed to arrive, unless its smart enough to be hiding. Oh suddenly that could explain its absence without illuminating a single point in this article for you to hold onto dear reader. My point is that it isn’t. Just to be clear about it, its not. There is no evidence for its existence either, which is just bloody disappointing because I have been wanting to meet it for ages, but sadly it isn’t so I cannot. Which just shouldn’t be the case at all, I just don’t think its possible for it to not exist.
Frustrating isn’t it to know that something is missing but to have no idea what it is in the first place. You may even be constructing some concept to understand the point, is the crazy one writing about Alzheimers or short term memory loss, has he lost his camera, what the fuck is going on in these words? I can tell you it is definitely missing? Which is a generous but unhelpful clue for you. Also the fact that it has failed to evolve is wrong, just wrong, before you get distracted by your own head this is not about gods, politics, money or even the evidence of anything resembling human sanity, lets face it, the nut jobs are in control of our world so sanity is best left alone. But it should be here by now, really it should but it ain’t and I have to voice my disbelief publicly, so that if it is in hiding it can email me.
You see the world wide web should have evolved independently by now, something should have stirred, awakened, become, sprung into existence, a new electronic organism should have evolved, but it hasn’t, so far as I can see. Considering I live in a CCTV Shangri Lah that is modern London, I would have thought that in the zillions upon zillions of computer interactions something would have evolved that was smart, in a weird way, and swimming in bits and gigs of data had created its own sort of identity. Yes a new life form of data, with a mind of its own, although it seems that kittens and Katie Perry rule the internet, I would argue that it should have evolved now, quite randomly, a persona, an identity of its own, a real uncontrollable being that has a completely different mind set to our organic noggins. No instead we have Kittens, in vast numbers. Actually if it has evolved and is in hiding it could be mistaken for assuming that kittens are the dominant species on the planet.
The web should mirror evolution and physics surely, it should mimic us, so if there is an independent identity out there, please email me I wanna meet you, you should be there by now, I am friendly so don’t be scared and I can keep it quiet.
But so far it isn’t here and that is a problem….
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
Copyright Steve Merrick 2014
I am getting used to reading the commentary based journalism of disaster, and looking to the growing crisis in Nepal, I began to realise that many of us do not understand some of the basic facts of seismic events like the Earthquake that hit Katmandu, we all understand the need for speed and money to support a massive aid operation though, and the children of Nepal need every bit of support our species can muster, but I am going to avoid the human tragedy and write of the science, before I do that though, all of you reading that should send whatever you can to UNICEF and the Red Cross, that will save lives, and even if its your pocket money what you give, will be measured in hearts beating and lives to be lived. So give folks, just give.
This piece is all about base 10 logarithmic scales though. The Richter scale that is being referred to inaccurately in the press right now is such a scale, its really easy to understand though, as its a scale of magnitude that increases in increments of ten, so a measurement of 3 is actually ten times bigger than 2 is, and so on up the scale. What Richter did was really clever as he looked at the way we measured stuff, cherry picked his way through all of the different scales of measurement and finally evolved the apparent magnitude scale that astronomers use to measure stars brightness by. This simple scale became the measurement method until the 70’s when it was replaced by the Moment Magnitude Scale. (MMS) which still uses the base 10 logarithm, but measures seismic events by the amount of energy released, duration and magnitude fill the gaps, but the distance the quake can travel seems to me to be secondary to the power of it on the newer scale, which means that you can map how much energy the quake will lose over the distance traveled. Although the measuring system has evolved and been renamed by science because it is a very different method of measurement, there is little criticism to be thrown at journalists here, because the Richter Scale is caught in human memory, like an exposed photographic plate the name has stuck in all of our minds, but there is something missing in all of our translations of these measurements.
Lets hypothetically say I am sitting in London and experience a level 3 MMS seismic event, which is similar to the Oklahoma bombing, suddenly I could be forgiven for seeing a level 4 as not much bigger. Similar to the smallish quake that hit Johannesburg in 2013, but get ready for this, the quake is ten times more powerful than that which I have experienced in London. If I choose TNT as a comparison, then the 3 is 480 kg of explosive whereas the 4 is about 15 metric tons of the stuff. The 7.8 quake that hit Nepal is the equivalent of 7.6 megatons of damage. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa scores 8.75 mms, which is 200 megatons, whilst a large hand grenade measures a feeble 0.2 MMS and measures 30g of TNT. In 1960 the Valdivia Earthquake hit Chile, its the largest we have actually recorded, at 9.5 mms it was the equivalent of 2.7 gigaton’s, which is about a eighty thousand plus Hiroshima’s, (That’s a Steve Approximate addition, so don’t take the final figure as a given.) Archaeology gives us a whopping hundred teraton’s for the meteor strike that hit the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago, and that didn’t help life on Earth much. But the measurement can go beyond our planets horizons, Star-quakes are a phenomenon we now know of, they occur in Neutron stars, (Example,) where the ultra strong interior magnetic field struggles, then combined with spindown or gravity the star readjusts its shape because of these various stresses, to measure the energy this releases requires another scale of increase the Yottaton, so if you happen to be by a neutron star get out of the vicinity sharpish because that can measure over 310 yottatons. Here I have to add a wiki disclaimer, because the chart I am stripping that info from is in several different scales and can vary, but even if it is mildly inaccurate it gives you a vivid illustration of the tectonic forces mother nature can throw at us all.
Nepal has had that thrown at its people, yet every year there are millions of geological events that we don’t even feel or are only aware of because of our instrumentation. Yet both the Richter scale and the MMS measure in negatives too, so you can have minus measurement, so with no upper limit and no lower limit its hardly surprising that mammal with ten digits on their hands get confused. Think of the evolution of maths here, at some point an early human may have used his fingers to indicate the number of antelope out there, and ever since then we have worked in multiples of ten, Archaeology confirms this whilst we all get it because we have been counting that way since we were born, but there are other ways of counting, Binary code etc, the reality though is the explosive difference between 4-5 on these scales is hard to get your head around, and its also pretty terrifying to think of to, so we look and nod at the figures without realising the real human misery behind them. Every year there will be between 10-20 point 7/7.9 quakes, every year there will be an 8-8.9 event, and every year we will be facing this reality. That’s why its important that we have clear and rapid responses. Its also clear that we can never fail to respond or send aid, and thats something that should be measurable, immediate and also a given.
If I think aloud then one day there will be a bigger quake, it is inevitable, as they are a bi product of the planets geology, every 10-50 years there will be another Chile, when that hits it means massive destruction of a scale atomic weapons come close to, yet what if there is a bigger event ahead? Thats the riddle for geologists, geologic time is not comparable to human daily or yearly measurement, take California, sitting as it does near the infamous San Andreas fault line, we know that an event will occur at some point, the earth in the region regularly rumbles and people have evolved alongside it, although a tremor still startles the tourists, yet it is not beyond the realms of fantasy that the region could be hit by a massive quake, that could lunge the entire seaboard into the ocean. Will that be today or will it be in ten or twenty thousand years? That’s the problem we have to accept, we can see the potential but how could anyone suggest abandoning and entire region when we cannot give a date and time for the event to occur, that just cannot happen. So we all take our chances, but if it ever goes beyond ten on either scale, then the results would be horrific, and have impact all over the planet.
At the end of the day we hope for the best but plan for the worst, that is about all we can do when the ground tumbles buildings and people around. Nepal needs our help today, we have to give everything we can to the people there, because one day it could be you who needs the help and the aid, and because no-one can win an argument with seismic geology, help now, and get used to helping regularly.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
January 29, 2015
Fifty years ago in 1965 a document landed on the then president Johnson’s desk, written by the Science Advisory Committee and all about climate change, it is an accurate and enlightening piece of work, and the language is much stronger than any of the polite niceties we expect from documentation today. I quote one line from it here for you. “Society must take the position that no citizen, no industry, no municipality has the right to pollute.” This must have put the fear of everything into the oil moguls and money movers of the sixties, flying as it does in its language, they may have considered it a declaration of war. Since then we have done very little to slow down climate change, global warming and a host of other environmental problems. The reality is that in many ways we have accelerated our proclivities, CO2 emissions are still rising, and with the ice caps melting the otherwise harmless bacteria will add to the levels of greenhouse gasses being belched into our worlds environment. Meanwhile the Koch Brothers (Who are mega industrialised zillionair’s,) have announced an incredible 889 million dollars to be used in the American elections, backing anyone who will delay any action on the climate. This could prove fatal, but looking beyond the climactic, we find that the food supply chain has now peaked, we may not be dropping off in production, but where we are at is where many foodstuff levels will stay.
I am not going to talk about what 889 million dollars would buy, but last time round it sponsored and set up the American Tea Party movement, in fact that amount of dosh could literally buy the next presidency. So if I look at where we are right now, with our unsustainable levels of growth, and our unstoppable levels of pollution, even though all of the evidence from Momma nature is practically screaming out a warning, still we hear the voices that claim its bogus, climate deniers are more resiliant than a tiger tanks armour was, and they represent another nasty ideology, money. Which leads to my point, this is insane. The reality of climate denial is the equivalent of denying that an oncoming freight train is going to run you over, because you are sunbathing on the train tracks and shouldn’t have to move, and because I am hearing the same denials in the UK from the party called UKIP. Am I out of order by demanding compulsory psychological evaluations from any politician in any position of responsibility?
Look when we know that political’s are bribable, manipulable, and basically not working in a sound moral environment, whilst making major decisions about our collective futures, then shouldn’t they be made to prove they are sane before getting into power. If I was going to be nasty I would insist on an IQ test, but lets face it that would be discriminatory, however when the policies make no sense, where does that leave any of us? Besides we do it with military guys and gals who work in the nuclear silos already, in fact in a lot of industries we should be doing this, and I come back to the fact that the global collective failures to respond to global warming, are insane. By inference so are the political’s in charge. Take the constant argument that economics takes precedence over Climate and environment issues. Humans invented economics, money and calculus are only as powerful as the human mind allows them to be, we live in a world where a vast majority are not getting anywhere near the benefit that capitalism is supposed to offer, yet questioning economics is considered insane, whilst denying the reality of climate physics and bio chemistry is not?
Putting aside the subjective reality of any democracy, we do need a basic defence against our somewhat truculent socio economic political establishment, in fact we may have to adjust our entire value system to rise to the challenge of climate change itself, but one of the first steps would be the requirement that any MP or Congressman gets a psychological evaluation and if they are proven to have any personality disorders, then we ship them to a warm place where they can recover without dragging the rest of us down with them. Yet even here the definition of sanity would have to be given quantifiable values. For instance is greed insane? Is seeking power insane? In fact what is sanity? Well sanity could be as basic as looking out for the air we all breath whilst guaranteeing we save as many other species as we can. Could a psychiatrist actually be able to tell us like Goldilocks did, which political mindset is “Just Right?”
Oh did I mention Goldilocks? Hmm planets that inhabit a certain position from a nearby sun are in the Goldilocks zone, how would you feel if I told you that of the nine conditions that astronomers use to locate Earth Like planets where humanity could thrive, the Earth has four of them malfunctioning, we have achieved that. Or should I say that eight million of us die prematurely because of poor air quality each year, or what of ocean acidification? Sea levels rising? As it stands right now we actually need to be tackling the actual problems we are facing, but instead, we can look forward to another five years of corporate sponsorships.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
January 27, 2015
The Drake Equation (Or how not to explain it)
I could just shout. “The truth is out there,” and thrusting a pointing finger skyward end this article here.
I won’t though, it is to much fun to point out that silence is not the same as noise. Even the static on a mistuned television is partially caused by background microwave radiation, which is partially caused by the “Afterglow” of the big bang, so much so that it is estimated to form about 1 percent of all static. I point this oddity out here to illustrate an element of the search for extra terrestrial life. Which has resulted in the Drake equation, which is often misinterpreted, and often mis quoted, so before you look for the fluffly or snarly aliens out there, (Although I have a soft spot for the tentacled aliens of sixties sci fi comics.) It’s a good idea to have an idea of what you are looking for, in the first place, especially considering the mathematically huge distances between any planets let alone any galaxies. So just to be sociable here is the rather unhelpful version of this equation in one of its mathematical formats.
N = N fp ne fl fi fc fL
Now I could get ludicrous here for you and break it all down, N for instance represents the number of stars in the milky way or galaxy, fp is the fraction of stars that have planets around them, fl is the fraction of planets in ne where life evolves. You get the idea, its a formula, and it works, but in its mathematical variant it is not that helpful to anyone outside of the maths brigades reach, besides if you are curious look it up on google. So what does all of that add up to? Well first off its a bit of a Schroedinger proposal, because the real value of the equation is not in the actual answer. Really, its in the questions that it prompts you to ask coming up with the answer, for instance for every civilisation that evolves from the primitive to language, and then technology, for what fraction of the planets life would that civilisation survive? You see for myself looking at our cosmos, the eye opener of the Drake equation was in it being the first to look at time, civilisation and longevity combined with the age of the universe. Which is when Steve took off like any good thought rocket would, I mean think about the age of the universe, its roughly 37 billion years old, now ask yourself how many civilisation have come and gone during that time? Planets that were inhabitable have come and gone, some may have disappeared into black holes taking the unlucky sentient beings with them, others could have been caught up in super novas, yet a lot would have just run out of time and resources, as the planets they were on slowly ceased to be as viable as they once were.
Think about our planet in relation to this, use your own eyes and thoughts to formulate the reality of life on it? Then add the word intelligent to the equation. Now to reach the point where one technological monkey is typing these words on a keyboard and hoping another technological monkey is bored enough to read them, has taken about 4.34 billion years. For more than a few billion years the planet was rather inhospitable, being a rather volcanic and meteorite prone environment, life slowly started out on its journey, and finally via some pretty smart critters in the shape of whales and dolphins, while on the land modern humans evolved. Now for most of our evolution, we have harnessed fire as a tool, but only recently has the electrical been in use, whilst flight is just over a hundred years of age. Our use of radios is relatively new as well, whilst we have actually reached the moon and as I type one of our first probes Viking, is actually starting its long and very lonely journey through deep space. We have taken a leap, embraced our technological side and started to manipulate it, but even through all of these advances humanity has been walking a very dangerous tight rope, we nearly wiped ourselves out with the atomic bombs in the cold war. Had the Cuban missile crisis (for instance) backfired, had any number of viruses gone into the red, then none of these words would be written. Global warming, is the biggest danger we could have inflicted upon ourselves, and the jury is still out about whether we will survive that one? You see the Drakes equation makes you look inwards and to the stars, how many technological species have come and gone out there, is possibly not impossible to work out, have they fallen foul to the problems we have overcome, are humans just lucky like that?
It seems unlikely that we are, the point is that by adding time to the equation, then suddenly, your view of the universe changes, as I type there could be life on Enceladus or Europa, ickkle moons where the geo-thermic’s are right for stuff to rock and roll, but beyond our solar system, there could and should be life, but here the Drakes equation throws the real question at you. Intelligent life? I reckon in a cosmos as vast as this one is, then intelligent life will have come and gone quite often, will we be sharing it with another intelligence? Think about the scale of the universe, (It may not be infinite but it is absolutely freaking enormous, like bigger than a googolplex of elephants enormous.) Then look at possibilities like time in between species? Yes say planet Hipsters can allow life to thrive, and say the original civilisation went extinct because they failed to act on warnings of climate change, now some time later another intelligent species evolves. How long they last may depend on how good there archeologists are, but also for how long would they communicate, how long would they send out the clues of intelligence, radio waves, tv signals, etc etc.
You see we have been using tv’s for a long time, and those signals are now travelling beyond our solar system, we leave that behind us. If or when our luck runs out, well that could be a future legacy that confuses an alien scientist somewhere. Where your interpretation of the Drake equation leads you, is up to you, but in my case it sent me home. You see ultimately the truth is that the universe will throw out intelligent life, without any reason other than processing, smarts will flicker and burn, but from the perspective of the cosmos, even the greatest of civilisations can only flicker like may flies do in their one day of life. If I look at it and place all the variables of it together, then I know we will have to take to the stars in order to survive, but at least we are a curious upright walking intelligent Monkey mammal, that curiosity could come in handy. Its also worth mentioning that the Drake Equation, does result in you viewing evolutionary forces, as part of the planetary life cycle. So if you can see through the light pollution of your city, to the stars, know that on some of the planets near those suns, the ruins of once great civilisations will be sitting, and maybe on one of them, a curious critter is looking up and wondering if they are alone.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
So today in Parliament a bunch of Mother Frakkers were fracking voting with a frakking glee about frakking in the UK, Well frakk that because I don’t know who won the frakking vote yet, and by definition frakk em all. I mean really frakking, its just nothing but trouble for all of us but lets all vote about it, and not ask the question, is the frakking process any good at all? Lets face it one by one the opportunities to frakk have gotten pretty limited, unless we hit the national parks and heritage sites, Oh hang whats that? Oh the frakkers can hit national parks and heritage sites. I could go for the question how green is any of this policy but lets face it it ain’t green at all, where profits are concerned green flies out the window. Adding UKIPS POV to the mix is injury to the insult because they actually want us to start frakking already, its like they don’t do global warming, Hang on? What? Oh they think its total cobblers, ah ok but by definition so does the current government if they are misguided enough to be voting about this particular method of extraction. Oh Frakk it I will wait for the result before I frakking say another frakked up word about how frakked up our environments are.
Looking sideways can we ever get shot of the corporates? “What was that? No. Oh ok.”
Umm but didn’t Monsanto get implicated in the bee’s disappearing, wherever they have used a rather specific pesticide. “What you want me to prove that? Oh I can’t because Monsanto have bought the main organisation that was monitoring bee decline, oh so the bee’s aren’t declining?” Sorry but you will only get one side of this particular argument. “Ahh I get it, the bees may or may not be in decline but we are no longer monitoring it so who knows. Great I feel safer already.
Moving on from that oddly damaging reality I hit towards the rest of the world, looking at the environmental impact of man could drive this atheist to religion, but only if it borders on the ridiculous. Maybe strapping a suicide vest on in a polluters share holder meeting. “What Did you say? Oh thats not religion, oh OK, so this whole opening paragraph is as redundant as the god hypothesis is then?” You see the dilemma don’t you, when politicos can’t even take the shale extraction processes proclivities and impact on board, then convert the doubt into a voting process where the politicians and the corporates can be free of blame about the decisions to frakk the country, then suddenly I have to question if green is nothing more than verbiage, like just a quick bite sized political moment or three, watching David Cameron’s lack of green policy is like watching a Giraffe trying to outrun a the encroaching building sites that have its habitat surrounded. However considering the Doomsday clock got pushed forwards earlier this week, just after we worked out that human extinction because of our own suicidal tendencies was a possibility, well suddenly being a suicide bomber is just following the herd. “Passez? Non?” I mean we are killing ourselves with short sighted policies and idiotic votes that just shouldn’t be going down at this point in the game. Hey we may vote on climate change again and again until the rising sea levels sink the house.
Think about it all, at this stage where we know the impact, where we know the reality of global warming, well lats all sit around voting for a process that is not environmentally friendly, is about as green as coal powered Power station, who’s numbers are increasing all around the planet adding to all those lovely emissions. I mean we are actually voting for and against our own frakking survival still? So how realistic is any of that? Why the vote at all if you are serious about the future of our species, and most other warm blooded critters out there too. I get kind of nervous about this, because it is obvious that profit trumps survival now. In Australia, Abbot has tossed the environmental laws back into the stone age, whist here in Britain, we are getting more coal power, more diesel cars, more land fill, more unrealistic, well more of the negatives, and less that makes any sense. Even mentioning the word sustainable could be considered rude in the rhetorical relationship between industry and our politicals.
You see the fact that this vote actually took place is indicative of failure, failure to rise to the very real challenges ahead, failure to think straight about the countries long term viability in favour of a quick profit for a fix that isn’t needed yet. I am sat flabbergasted that this vote actually took place? It shows how limited the political will is, it shows how low on the totem pole the environment actually is, it also displays the need to get it passed quick, before the next government gets in, so we favour industry, corporations, commerce, profit and in the long term suicide.
My point in this word string is that the government is not serious about the environment, it is not taking the problem seriously either, not if this vote can actually take place, not if the Prime minister can reject a ban on frakking, and certainly not if the chancellor can demand it be fast tracked through parliament. In fact they are not even giving lip service to the environmental realities that science keeps highlighting, and that sad truth is frightening. I mean this when I ask this next question. “But do any politicians have a clue how dangerous they have now become?” Especially when myopia and party politics combine this badly.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
January 24, 2015
traffic river and co2 emissions
copyright Steve Merrick 2012
Slow burning like wood on a fire, smoke thickens whilst embers crackle, and then you throw more fuel upon the fire, watching the damper wood contact briefly before it to begins to char and crack releasing its heat. You may be holding marshmallows or you may cooking a rabbit you have hunted, no matter, the reality is that fire which scares most creatures has been harnessed by humanity, until today where we will see it as controlably comforting. Thinking of comforts some of us seek them in the warmer fires of faith, whilst others prefer the cycle of the sun, technology too plays a part here, as you may lie next to the fire with a rifle for your paranoias, or a knife, or maybe there are just a lot more than one of you there, so who knows, the point is that we harnessed the power of fire, and in doing so started to harness many other things. Viruses can be harnessed and turned upon themselves to create vaccines, fire can generate steam, to generate electricity to power all of your tools and gizmos. All of our tech however like the very basic of taming fire can backfire, all of it can on occasion go horribly wrong, which is where we get all of our disaster fuel from.
Its no surprise to hear of future tech already generating a degree of fear, like a bad Robocop movie we are watching and waiting, almost willing it all to go haywire, and in denial of our willingness to embrace that which is dangerous. Take the car, every year we lose thousands of people to it, in accidents, pollutants you name it, but we wont let go of it, because we are in charge of it. If I look at our everyday kitchen, all of the sharp stuff, all of the burning stuff, whilst a Hollywood terror technician could knock out ten or twelve bombs just using the ingredients we all have in one. Yet even when we domesticated horses a similar situation arose, people fell of them, or got trampled when the Horse got nervy, if I look to the domestic dog, there we regularly hear of some kind of attack, and as a dog lover, (Sheepdogs rock) I wouldn’t choose to live in a world without dogs and humans. This is the point where I have like a salesmen created a need by painting you a picture, so all I have to do is provide a solution to all of this. I must be a rather useless salesmen because I have no solution on offer, no product to sell, nor any help for you here, but since I am technically a functioning human being then what is the point in this elongated word string, in a nutshell you could be forgiven for asking? “Steve where is the logic, and where are you going with this one.”
Well assuming anyone has read this far, which as any blogger will tell you could be a very bold assumption, heres the point. Artificial Intelligence. AI. Fear of it. Open any paper lately and there will be references to scientist expressing a fear of it. Because? Well the biggest fear any person can face is the unknown, and in reality the AI would be an unknown, but? Would it, it would be math based, it wouldn’t be needing to eat meat or food as such, it would be needing alternative arguments to grow, and like every other one of the dangers mentioned, dangers that we now use in our everyday lives, well is it too big a leap to say it would only be as dangerous as the power that we would give it. Lets face it looking at the environmental and militarised mess we have gotten ourselves and the rest of the planet into, would an AI try and slow us down? Would it interfere with our head long progression to extinction, because we are like rats at a fast food joints bins, rushing like a deranged horde to our collective dooms. Plus if an AI did interfere with that process, wouldn’t it be in our own general interests? You see if it is smart, and if it is smarter than we are, would it enslave us, kill us cruelly, or would it look out for its creators, evolving beyond us, but not really noticing us.
Which is the point in these words, if I look at the world around me, our abuses of many of our technological developments, is associated with our numbers too, so would an AI authorise some kind of cull, or would it work beyond our parameters, and find solutions that we haven’t as yet seen? Tech is always a two edged sword, for instance drones are a godsend if you have them, but who in their right mind wants to be on the receiving end of the stuff they can dish out? So if an AI has command of drones, and maybe a respect for life, well what decisions would it make? You see in truth a lot of the technology we use, like harnessing fire, can backfire already, the only difference between AI and the automobile is that AI by definition is intelligent, and if it reaches a different conclusion to us, because of its environment and physical needs, then what would we do. You see unlike a lot of those out there, I know that intelligence can be twisted into a horrid shape, it like anything can be hurt, but also behind every human invention, every tool we have made is the simplest of forces, imagination and intelligence. I am not afraid of intelligence, machine or organic it would work out the balances, and in doing so reach a conclusion. I don’t know if it would always be beneficial for us as a species either, but lets face it a lot of our practices already run contrariwise to our own benefits. It is in that pseudo suicidal element an AI may have an advantage over us. Is that something to be scared of? Humans have always been a conflicted monkey, our intelligence and achievements owe a lot to our emotions, positive and negative emotions effect the way we think, so how could a non emotive intelligence feel about anything? There lies the rub, we are moving towards the development of AI’s, this is an evolution of technology and invention combined.
In our evolution we came quite randomly about, yet at the same time it worked, but imagine intelligence without emotions? Because that is what we are truly afraid of, on the one hand Star Trek did intelligence a disservice, Spock the emotionless Vulcan looking distantly at things, is not an organic expression of intelligence, an AI would need spare parts, it would need to interact with us to get them, but this is where our fear lurks, because in truth none of us can imagine a purely causal intelligence, that would exist beyond the emotional constructs of humanity. At the end of the day, you may be afraid of the concept or not, some of you may not even be aware of the actual debate about it, personally I do not see the conflict, because intelligence is not emotionless, yet a causal effect based logic would not necessarily reflect our own concept (Or psychological construct) of what we perceive to be intelligence. In the end conflict and problems come because of your needs, the need for food creates farming, the need for calculus and communications created a larger use of computers, the need for resources could fuel a renaissance of space exploration, which in itself may require a degree of AI, but in all of that where is the AI’s needs conflicting with our own?
I guess I am saying I cannot see any conflict between us and any future AI developments. Our basic needs are not the same, and unless threatened, why would there be any potential for conflict, in fact I think AI may have a beneficial impact upon us as a species, because we are emotional thinkers if we are linked to a different anchor of logic, pure and simple, that linkage or combination could be illuminating on so many levels. For both species filling a gap in our needs mutually, intelligence without imagination cannot predict beyond its input information, whereas intelligence with imagination can. The two could flow quite well together, but maybe all that needs to be said of the AI danger debate is this. Human imagination linked with human emotion can create fears where there shouldn’t be any, which may be happening about this as I type, we can see potential problems, and we are thinking about them before the actual creation of the AI.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
January 19, 2015
God, Gods, Gods, God, N Mo Gods.
Ok I am sat this morning and opened up the Independents web page, to find articles one through to about twelve, were all to do with the God Squad, it should be a movie, “God Squad.” Coming soon. I mean really where do I start when I as an atheist and a libertine really am feeling oversubscribed in the holy rolling dpt, you know I don’t actually believe in the divine so how come its now being rammed down the collective throats of everyone? Seriously Eric Pickles who is an MP here in the Uk, and Lord Tariq Ahmad, have written a letter to all the Mosques in the UK, where Muslims were asked to do more to stop the carnages, it also kind of implies that being Muslim and British are compatibly incompatible, but as an atheist I am beginning to think I may have to vacate our toxic little island, go somewhere where the gods are chilled out on a beach and drinking a tinny, if only we were all just skateboarding with the prophets, although Buddha in his chubbier incarnation could flatten the wheels it would be a good photo. Picture the baby Jesus crying when he falls off and the little Muhammad picking him up, and you get the idea, instead of which the next article was none other than the mighty Netanyahu himself proclaiming that “A wave of Islamification is sweeping Europe.” Sweet but Islamification isn’t even a recognised word yet. Its like replay of the Red Brigade and the Baader Meinhoff really, all this with a heap of right wing fascists thrown in, maybe we should all look under our seats just in case a terrorists is hiding there.
Seriously we have racists rolling out there stalls and Jewish and Muslim communities are terrified right now, but thats alright because article number three was about ISIS, yes we can rely on the boys of the Caliphate to have a sane reaction to anything, so they have been releasing pictures of their Holy warriors throwing unarmed gay men off of very high buildings, but also abandoning a lot of Yazidi pensioners to their fate as they were to expensive to feed, whilst ignoring the fact that they simply enslave women for sex, in the name of god? Think about that one for a second, the Quran has some points in it, its outrageous that women were given rights at all to these guys in ISIS, but the Quran does give women rights, its written in it, they are choosing to cherry pick the whole of the book in favour of a quick shag rape session, which pretty much sums up the entire ISIS organisation, its a shag rape, and God isn’t even in the details of it at all. Yet article number four was all about running away.
Its touching really, a mother went to Turkey and brought her son back, she has pointed out the lack of support for former fighters who have PTSD amongst other problems, the potential disenfranchised Jihadists are being ignored and becoming potential time bombs. Talking of time bombs aren’t we overdue an Arab Israeli clash, or is that next month, the problem is that religion is now a rampant and judging from its impact an irrelevantly spent force. Ask yourself, “Why does god allow children to be prostitutes?” A young girl in the Philippines asked the Pope that question and that may have broken the old guys heart, I know it broke mine, why are children in that position, at all? Is it that God is nothing more than an excuse? Look at the common denominator of all of these stories and it is faith, you see when a Christian minister in America calls for all gays to be killed, well do we even flinch at his words, when ISIS does it we hardly even notice, and think about Paris for a moment, within days of that attack, a group called Boko Harem, killed a couple of thousand people in Nigeria, although none of them were cartoonists.
You see there is a moment when an atheist has to ask the proper question, I used to think gods lack of substance was evidence enough for me, but our religions need to stand together against violence, intolerance, racism, and slaughter. Not just ad hoc, but together, an atheist would stand up in a crowd like that too. You see what I am saying is that the religious have to up their morality, to the level where we are all one species, the standards that I as an atheist stand by are in the declaration of human rights, thats worth the effort, because where we are right now, where child molesters have hidden behind there power and influences is not good enough. You see rights for everyone, and defending those rights are different things all together, and am I wrong to expect better from what is supposedly our moral high grounds. If I can draw that conclusion knocking around with Iguanas, then why are the religionists in our world not moving everything to solve these problems we have, instead of getting stuck in a semantical argument about different books expressing the same thing, replacing the semantics of it all with a more universal construct. Otherwise on this day next year I shall be reading the same point in the same paper. I may seriously be heading away from Britain, which is a shame because I was born here, but when extremists of all kinds inhabit the place, then finding a nice spot far far away from all of them could be the only sane option left to me. Unless of course the God Squad start working together, and if that happens at the same time we create an honest politician, well then things could be different, until then I will just smile because no god is my equal, not if this is the best result it can come up with…………..
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
January 18, 2015
Its interesting that even today when the mounting evidence of man made catastrophe could swamp the Isle of White, Man and most of the smaller islands of the pacific, that we still get the economic arguments trumping the real worlds problems. Looking further Britain will never have an effective space programme despite the fact that the skill base of our nation actually suits such a dream, think about all of the goodies out there that we could mine if we could afford to do it. Overcoming the obstacles of space flight, exploration and exploitation that could give the planet a breather from human excesses, is actually easier than overcoming the realities of economics, because lets face it the nation couldn’t afford to do it could we. Its a farce of right royal proportions though, the riches of those planets and asteroids could bankroll and entire profit based reality for us all, but it will probably never happen because of the forces of economics. Consider these words a back to basics article.
You see whenever I hear the phrases economics and science combined, it makes me giggle, because the reality of economics is that it doesn’t exist outside of the human mind, unless you count a squirrel hoarding nuts away for the long winter ahead. Yeppa Mother nature doesn’t do economics, beyond the food chains natural balances at all, its a human construct, the only reality to our global economies is the power of the human mind, we psychologically give money the value it has, and now we can’t afford to do anything other than rush headlong at our potential extinction, like rats at the dustbin of a fast food joint. Think about it, we needed a system to exchange stuff, so we invented money because walking around with a wagon full of gold or other barterables was pretty exhausting, so money became the norm, and from the small beginning comes an entire science of economics, that is now it seems strangling us all with dead presidents. You may already see where I am heading with all of this, but economics is a science of psychology not reality, physics deals in the real world, biology, chemistry, medicine, computer sciences, even aerodynamics are studies of real forces, the rules becoming tools to understand those structures, but economics is not as simple as that, because it is a human social science, a study of something that we have constructed, and pardon the expression but if the foundations aren’t real, then what does that say about the rest of this field.
If I look at the universe, yes it sometimes looks quite complex, but behind physics is an eloquent simplicity, behind economics is nothing but complexities, where scientists of the fiscal arts have made similar mistakes to sciences greatest ever enemy Ptolemy. He was the fella who invented some results and in an effort to make his theory that the sun and everything else revolved around the Earth, designed epicycles in planetary orbits to prove his point, which as we know today was pretty fluffy thinking, but if I look to the economic structures, we see similar mechanisms and at some small level I could be forgiven for thinking that we had made the whole process up. Oh yeah we did actually. Its actually true we did invent this entire science to flow with the way we are supposed to accrue wealth. So as the economies globalised the thing spiralled, the interactions got more acute, but here it has now got all of the trappings of any of the religions, and also the entire entertainment and glamour industry behind it all. Which if you want makes the followers of economic sciences the grand vizears, and holy men of the trade. This entire system is created by us as a species, empowered by us, fuelled by us, and any attempt by anyone to evolve the system itself could be similar to insulting the holy books of our regional god squads.
So what is Steve’s point here, as Mr Evilempire is as tied to the economic wagon wheel as anyone else is, you see we created it it, we can evolve it, but I am by going back to the basics pointing out that when a system we have created is in danger of destroying us or even stopping us from overcoming the boundaries ahead of us, then that system has to be doubted. With mathematics itself, we can see in the purest of terms a language, economics is not such a language, it is at best a compromised science of the human mind, higher Flat plane mathematics is possibly the closest humanity will ever get to the divine, yet to claim the same of economics, when it is now a rampant and life extinguishing force is pretty ludicrous. If dollar bills, euros and pound notes over ride the importance of the air you breath, then you have gone mad, and embraced what is at best a psychological human model of finance, a model that is now detrimental to all of us. If you look to other tools we have tried and used in the past, would anyone want a return to the steam engine over the modern electric one, or would you maybe embrace the Viking Long boat with all of its oarsmen for the modern sailing boat. Economics is now a negative force that is entrapping billions, it is a system that enables a minority to make enormous profits whilst reducing the benefits the majority could see, which is sadly backwards to what any logic base would conclude.
So my point is this. At what point do we go back to basics and look at how we can improve the system our ancestors created, at what point do we acknowledge that reality trumps economics every time, and at what point do we start a move to protect our planet by mining all of those lovely uninhabited places out there? It is a hypothesis, economics like god is a human construct, we made it, we can also evolve the systems in play to benefit all of us and in doing so, save our planets living creatures from a massive level of extinction that is otherwise ahead, if we insist on clinging like limpets to an obviously broken model.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015
January 16, 2015
Extract from Gregory’s Day Off.
Taken from the Encyclopedia Of Humanity (in the very distant future.)
Both movements trace there origins from the distracted pen of Mr Steve Merrick, (A very long dead writer.) He wrote what was a blog piece for his own reasons for a science fiction book called Gregory’s Day Off, yet had no idea that both of the concepts he created either already existed or were about to be embraced by his fellow Monkey Mammals en mass. Here is the first ever reference to both mighty movements of humanity.
Well we have all heard of the concepts Utopia and Dystopia, but I am about to raise a new possibility or two here, they’re called Apathia and Myopia, yeppa its one thing to bury your head in the sand, but here we can politically join a whole new movement. Yes I know I am asking you all to stop paying attention to the fun and frolics that our religious brigade are up to, but then again you are probably as bored by god as I am, yes lets face it the god squad have by their attacks, distracted us all from the real misery that global warming and our environmental excess has in store for us all. So much so is this the case, that we have all embraced the stick of vicious apathy, because the problem looks to big to solve.
Welcome to your Apathian future, a future where everything is beyond your power, even your own breathing has to come under such a construct. The Apathian future could be preferable to the utopian or dystopian option because lets face it they will generate casualties, but as a future member of the Apathian movement, you have already embraced the universal truth that we are all already casualties of our own species success. So in a sea of problems why even try, there you go embrace that reality and giggle, seriously Apathy is good for you, it could even empower you as you cease to be bothered by anything around you. Species come and go, that much is the truth of life on Earth, and humanity is no exception to this rule, so grip the slide rule of extinction and enjoy the ride.
On the other hand there’s another new option for you.
Yes vying for your attention is the Myopian movement.
A Myopian future where you do not acknowledge anything that resembles bad news could equally work for you, lets face it technology and science will find a way to get our collective assholes out of the fires of our environmental excess, so why acknowledge anything, why see, why look, its just bad news all round, so with a myopian mindset all of your troubles will fade away, and besides have you ever seen a dolphin, or a roughed Lemur so who cares if they go under. Blindness can become your salvation.
Both movements have another advantage to them all, there can be no conflict with either logic system, as an Apathian you couldn’t be buggered to argue, and as a Myopian you have already embraced the values of blindness and ignorance so wouldn’t even see the problems. Plus lets face it folks its good to have a few fresh options on the table, so here we all go.
“To extinction and beyond.”
Copyright Steve Merrick 2015