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  • Scarcity vs Plenty
    we need scarcity in order to make a living Never mind that it already fails miserably for the 90 of the population who are kept in poverty by it We fear that if we don t force people to pay us a price kept artificially high by restricting the source then we won t be able to earn a living We fear that someone will steal our product and income if we don t lock it up But there are now increasing numbers of examples where people paradoxically make money by giving their wares away The Open Source movement has pointed the way here It is based upon people giving it away and being paid by donation or employed by companies whose business depends upon that software or information Probably the most publicised example is Linux an open source operating system which is free to download and you are encouraged to give it to friends There has been an explosion of companies who make an income from the sale of CD sets of various flavours of Linux manuals and consulting Fedora Mandriva Caldera Debian Gentoo and even other companies like Corel and IBM all make a good income out of this free product Some people have successfully extended this model into other arenas like Live Journal a very popular web log blog site It gives accounts away but also sells accounts The added advantages of a paid account are trivial and most people who buy an account on Live Journal do so because they like to contribute This has made Live Journal a successful thriving business It is no accident that Live Journal applies the open source philosophy in this way its creator has always made the source code to Live Journal freely available The big challenge of this new century is to make plenty work for us We have a real opportunity to make the potential wealth of humanity multiply almost without limit or else go down the same old well worn dark path of restricting that wealth to just a small lucky segment of society leaving the bulk of humanity out in the cold We could get away with this in the past but the future of the planet depends upon us finding equitable solutions for society If we cause deep poverty we decrease security everywhere When people are born into a life with no future then they have nothing to lose by striking out against those who restrict their opportunities The only way to put the brakes on the population explosion is by raising people s standard of living Most of the developed world now has a negative population growth while the population of the insecure 3rd world continues to grow alarmingly So how can we make this horn of plenty work for writers artists and musicians We are the people at the edge of this new world We are the ones who are most under threat from the changes and we have always got the worst

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/scarcity_vs_plenty.html (2016-04-25)
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  • Why there is no god
    creator it must by the same requirements have to have been created which leads to another creator and another and another This leads naturally back to an infinite regression We are back to infinities The universe becomes infinitely simpler to have just always been No creator The soul is surprisingly easy to dispose of too This feeling of I in this skull this consciousness is easily shown to be the action of your physical brain As such it can t survive your body s death How do you show that it is the action of your brain Simple A whole range of chemicals alcohol LSD amphetamines lithium etc alters the way the brain s chemistry works and thus your consciousness Your consciousness ceases to exist for short periods many times each night as you pass in and out of that distorted consciousness of dreaming sleep Any time you go in for an operation in a hospital your consciousness is stopped for a time Each time your brain s machinery moves into action afterward producing your consciousness again Brain injuries can radically alter your consciousness Split brain surgery done decades ago to stop crippling seizures of epilepsy create two consciousnesses in the one skull If there was a soul how could that possibly be explained Of course some people appear to avoid the issue by saying that the soul and consciousness are two different things but that doesn t make much sense as their original reason for believing in a soul is the consciousness the I feeling The meaning of life is a point that gets people really wound up It depends upon what people understand by meaning or purpose and this is what trips people up so badly Religion offers a way out that is really a cop out it

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/Why_there_is_no_god.html (2016-04-25)
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  • The end of money
    or some other nanotechnology to do the trick When this happens I think they will begin to be called replicators They will make things quite literally out of thin air Of course there will still be for a long time many things that can t be replicated by these machines for instance the chips that power our computers items that depend upon special materials for their capabilities and hand crafted wares But I think ways around these will be found Massive parallelism can allow large slow elements like the neurons in our brains to be incredibly powerful computers New work on nanoparticles is finding that their chemistry and physical properties can differ remarkably from what you d expect of their parent materials Scarcity will no longer assign much monetary value to most hardware Similar changes will occur with energy human services transport food and land energy Due to better design equipment is becoming more energy efficient My little PalmVx computer can run for the best part of a month on the trickle of power from its rechargeable battery if I hardly use it If I use it lots then it will still last a few days before it needs recharging This cute little machine has capabilities far greater than those of computers that used to occupy entire floors of buildings and required kilowatts of power There is a lot that can be done to bring us more energy efficient housing just look at the Rocky Mountain Institute where they can grow banana trees and tropical iguanas above the Colorado snowline using simply sensible house design As equipment becomes more efficient the sun and ambient energy will become more attractive There is low level energy all around us we just have to work out how to tap into it We have had self winding watches powered by casual arm movement for decades and now have watches that use the body heat of the wearer as their power source Recently a researcher built a nanotech machine that was powered by brownian motion We are bathed in sound especially during the day If that was to be rectified in the electronic sense of a diode rectifying alternating current into direct current then that would produce a constant trickle of usable energy similar to how a crystal radio is powered by feeble radio waves There are even some physicists trying to work out how to tap the tiny fluctuations in zero point energy I ll believe that when it happens but you never know One of the biggest problems with energy has always been storage If we capitalise on plants and microbes trick of converting light or other ambient energy into chemical energy then that may allow us to stockpile it in concentrated form On the other hand if we become very good at tapping ambient energy then storing it won t be so important This will reduce the requirement for money to just human services transport food and land human services Two things

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/endofmoney.html (2016-04-25)
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  • flying elephantism
    They flap their ears And only certain elephants can fly I ve seen them Betty Waaaiit You re talking about Dumbo The Walt Disney cartoon Alice Yes blissful look It is our holy story Betty Oh for crying out loud It is just a story a fiction a parable Alice Please keep a civil tongue in your head If you insult our holy book again I shall be forced to take action against you Betty This is insane You can t take action for any nutty belief Alice I m entitled to my beliefs and in fact our organisation is working to ensure that the truth about flying elephants is taught in school alongside so called standard biology Betty I never heard anything more ridiculous in my life It isn t science Alice Oh yes it is Betty OK Show me your scientific proof Alice Here Hands Betty a solemn black leather bound book with gold lettering on its cover The science of Flying Elephantism Betty takes it with a skeptical look Wait a minute This is Just the original Dumbo story in a fancy cover Alice Exactly pleased look It has been handed down without a word changed Betty

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/flyingElephantism.html (2016-04-25)
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  • Alien Intelligence
    out of touch with our world and would quickly die without our technology Yet most people still consider dolphins inferior Anybody who lives with dogs will have many stories of their intelligence morality and even their sense of humor yet many people don t even accept that they have feelings What chance is there for accepting truly alien intelligences To be honest there are some who have spent their lives studying the aliens we share this planet with but their work is not widely known Irene Pepperberg has spent decades studying the mind of birds specifically African Grey Parrots mostly through her associate Alex who is an African Grey Parrot Alex has shown that he can understand abstract concepts like color shape and number In fact Alex is better at counting objects at a glance than any human Birds are really more alien than you might imagine We use the wrinkled grey cortex of our brains for thinking Birds have developed an entirely different part of their brains to do that job And they are more efficient at it than we are The constraints of flight mean they need to pack more into a smaller volume so they test as much smarter than mammals with equivalent brain sizes Parrots and crows are the intelligent envoys of the bird world Then there are even more alien creatures like squid do you eat kalimari They are smart and social They have a way of communicating that stretches our understanding to the limit Instead of making noises they ripple colors and patterns along their skin They are very adept at this and a squid can be displaying one set of colors and patterns to a squid on one side while simultaneously displaying a very different set of colors and patterns to another squid

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/alienIntelligence.html (2016-04-25)
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  • the invaders
    to their demands and submit to doing things their way If they left the surface of the Earth littered with radioactive spent weapons that would cause sickness and death for centuries to come would you believe them when they call themselves the good guys If you found out that the corrupt leaders of the invasion lied to and misled the people of their own planet would you expect them not

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/invaders.html (2016-04-25)
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  • Gravity
    of a rubber membrane being curved by the weight of objects as a way to visualise the effect of gravity on things rolling across the membrane in the vicinity of the weights It is often cited as a way to understand gravity itself and the curving of space But it does neither of those things It is only useful as a way to understand the effect of gravity on motion It can t help to understand gravity itself because the rubber membrane analogy uses gravity in its explanation The membrane is deformed by the weight of objects under gravity and the projectiles crossing the membrane take curved courses because gravity affects them You can t use something to describe itself the description becomes circular and worthless Describing gravity as curved space doesn t even fit the facts If gravity curves space or curved space is what gravity is then a straight line that gets bent by gravity would be the path followed by fast and slow objects alike but in fact the high speed paths are curved less than low speed ones It isn t space that gravity is affecting it is the objects that have mass In any case

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/gravity.html (2016-04-25)
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  • Easy dismissal of all religions
    write and although he could remember what he had just written he was unable to make sense of what was on the page During the night a blood clot had jammed in a blood vessel feeding the part of his brain that understood writing and starved of oxygen and food it had died The construction worker who was a pleasant guy happily married and liked by all others One day at the worksite he was standing over a crowbar in a hole packed with explosive The explosive went off and fired the crowbar through his head under one cheekbone and out the top of his head Amazingly he survived but it radically altered his personality He was not the congenial person of before and was now given to fits of rage Split brain surgery done many years ago in an attempt to control awful attacks of epilepsy worked by cutting the corpus callosum which lets the two halves of the brain communicate with each other It resulted in two separate individuals inside the one skull Every time you go to sleep at night your brain goes through cycles roughly every 20 minutes or so where consciousness actually disappears then enters the weird internally stimulated state of dreaming A bad blow to the head stuns the nerves which make up the brain causing consciousness to stop till they recover I wish movies wouldn t show this as a common way to put someone out of action in actual fact a blow that causes such a blackout has almost certainly caused brain damage and is extremely dangerous Anaesthetic chemicals administered during surgery alter a patient s brain function causing their consciousness to cease for a while Clearly your consciousness is really an action that your brain performs It can no more survive

    Original URL path: http://miriam-english.org/articles/soulless.html (2016-04-25)
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