It looks like they added the ability to tell the car to start charging at a certain time around march of this year, so it may not have been a separate plugin timer.
I've had great success nicking the plastic on the cord every couple of feet, it really lets the aroma get out.
Brilliant point about corporate and government secrecy and power. I've thought for a while (inspired by the book "Honest Business" by a founder of MasterCard) that an innovation in corporate law would be to insist corporations have no right to privacy or internal secrecy. Makes me think of the "Culture" series where AIs can keep their thoughts private, but all databanks and communications are public (although when an AI "Mind" runs a world-sized ship as a de-facto government, perhaps there are some issues there...)
You might like some related ideas which touch on cybernetic dynamics by Langdon Winner in his book "Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-control as a theme in political thought". He makes a similar point about people being replaceable components in organizations, and if they don't perform to standards, they will be replaced. This limits how humane or long-term-oriented a CEO in a typical US corporation can be, for example. Still, Winner suggests that there are moralities implicit in the things we choose to design -- so he suggests that for large systems, it is not so much that they can be used for good or evil as in that there are implications present in the idea about distribution of power and social implications...
And I'd add, there is the risk that the design will emphasize the "irony" in my sig, about great potential for abundance used in ignorance and fear of scarcity.
"Still, we must accept that there is nothing wrong with wanting some security. The issue is how we go about it in a non-ironic way that works for everyone."
Might well be true, from your homepage: "We are all the same Universe, each experiencing the one self from different perspectives..." If so, it can still be hard to work out the implications in a universe apparently built around Yin/Yang dualities like fire/ice, meshwork/hierarchy, competition/cooperation, etc. I mention that in my "rant" link included here:
Mentioning both A-LIfe simulation and corporations, you might find of interest this post I madein 2000 (it mentions simulation earlier):
"[unrev-II] Singularity in twenty to forty years?"
"Obviously, corporations are not all powerful. The world still has some
individuals who have wealth to equal major corporations. There are
several governments that are as powerful or more so than major
corporations. Individuals in corporations can make persuasive pitches
about their future directions, and individuals with controlling shares
may be able to influence what a corporation does (as far as the market
allows). In the long run, many corporations are trying to coexist with
people to the extent they need to. But it is not clear what corporations
(especially large ones) will do as we approach this singularity -- where
AIs and robots are cheaper to employ than people. Today's corporation,
like any intelligent machine, is more than the sum of its parts
(equipment, goodwill, IP, cash, credit, and people). It's "plug" is not
easy to pull, and it can't be easily controlled against its short term
What sort of laws and rules will be needed then? If the threat of
corporate charter revocation is still possible by governments and
collaborations of individuals, in what new directions will corporations
have to be prodded? What should a "smart" corporation do if it sees
this coming? (Hopefully adapt to be nicer more quickly.
individuals and governments do to ensure corporations "help meet
society's unmet needs"?
Evolution can be made to work in positive ways, by selective breeding,
the same way we got so many breeds of dogs and cats. How can we
intentionally breed "nice" corporations that are symbiotic with the
humans that inhabit them? To what extent is this happening already as
talented individuals leave various dysfunctional, misguided, or rouge
corporations (or act as "whistle blowers")? I don't say here the
individual directs the corporation against its short term interest. I
say that individuals affect the selective survival rates of
corporations with various goals (and thus corporate evolution) by where
they choose to work, what they do there, and how they interact with
groups that monitor corporations. To that extent, individuals have some
limited control over corporations even when they are not shareholders.
Someday, thousands of years from now, corporations may finally have been
bred to take the long term view and play an "infinite game". "
Still, as wealth becomes more widespread, and 3D printing and personal robotics and free information become common, maybe the value of limited-liability-corporations-as-we-know-them to produce goods, services, and information may diminish to the point where there is little value in having them around?
Governments may be a different story though... For a humorous takes on the limits of "open government", see:
Around 2002, I had an interest in making related simulations (based on Charodic ideas by Dee Hock, a founder of Visa), but life intervened (having a kid etc.):
"This mailing list is to discuss the project of developing simulations of chaordic organizations,
processes, and systems under the GPL license, with "chaordic" used as
defined by Dee Hock at http://www.chaordic.org/ and in his book "Birth of the
Chaordic Age". "
Good luck carrying on the flame of abundance and enlightenment in a world still full of darkness of want and ignorance!
'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.'
'Have they no refuge or resource.' cried Scrooge.
'Are there no prisons.' said the Spirit, turning on him
for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses.'"
One of the most insightful things I've read on Slashdot:
Ahh, predicting the future... (Score:4, Insightful)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09, 2013 @05:16PM (#45379181)
What we envisioned: Man overseeing the construction robots doing their elaborate dance.
What we got: robotic sensors collect every bit of observable data, so that the man can be put into good use with highest efficiency.
Don't worry, the NSA will find his kiddy porn even if they have to fake the encrypted 3.5" floppy disks with thousands of horrible pictures nobody can see, found in an abandoned shack next door to the judge's garder's dog walker.
and caused corporations to go out of business
That opens the door to the SCOTUS's other favorite "get out of hard decisions free" card: they can declare the point moot since their decision won't un-bankrupt the corporations.
Thanks for the link. By the way, eight of the authors there are from China, including the first author. Four are from Australia, one from the USA.
BTW, to be fair to lawyers, it's true that some US lawyers do good things for the general benefit -- civil rights, environmental defense, open access journal articles, open government, FOSS licensing, etc.. Examples:
I guess it comes down to who has the most money to pay the lawyers, and whether some lawyers are willing to make significantly less money to work in the public interest. I guess engineers can also face the same problem -- like working on some destruction-emphasizing defense projects or monopolistic systems like DRM vs. more productive ends or more sharing-oriented approaches.
Another aspect of that:
"Our One-Party Democracy"
"Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China's leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying "no." Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he's a centrist. [Actually, more of a corporatist?] But if he's forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.
The fact is, many public benefit things like FOSS or basic R&D should be funded collectively, and government should be spending money or redistributing it to account for positive and negative externalities. For example, renewables have been cheaper than fossil fuels or nuclear since the 1970s if you account for pollution, defense, and risks. But instead of paying more for gas at the pump, we pay a lot of taxes (or incur public debt) for "defense" spending in the middle east, and we have higher medical bills, and people live in fear of Fukushima-style meltdowns, etc..
Still, while I think the climate is changing, but it's not clear the best approach to that is CO2 limits. If I had to choose between CO2 limits versus a global basic income along with free mobility between nations (lawyer-y things), I'd take the latter, given that it is too late to stop lots of climate change and wealth and mobility is a way most people globally could at least deal with it.
And the US Republicans themselves are getting conflicted about things too:
Space settlement is another example of a future public good that an enlightened far-sighted government should be investing in. The USA has mostly turned it back on that. China and India seem to be forging ahead, as was the USSR earlier.
Still, a basic income would at least make it possible for the average citizen to contribute towards these public-minded projects (including better space navigation via pulsars) by having the free time to do so if so inclined.
It isn't. The people who think it is broke one too many tubes by playing with them like lightsabers as kids.
Obviously when he was a kid, he built up a resistance while playing Jedi with those florescent tubes that have been in kitchens and offices for decades.
Of course, the source article is paywalled as a form of "artificial scarcity" dreamed up by lawyers.
Good point on how we should invest our efforts in productive directions. More by me on that:
"There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all. "
The question is, how much is Google part of the problem vs. part of the solution? I discuss here in relation to Google's "Virgle" Mars settlement April Fools joke of 2008: http://www.pdfernhout.net/a-rant-on-financial-obesity-and-Project-Virgle.html
So what am I really saying?
That we as a society are not going to happily get to Mars or the Asteroids or other star systems, or even just fix up Space Ship Earth, until we come to see the love of money as the problem, not the solution.
Or as made clear by Iain M. Banks:
"Money is a sign of poverty, meaning that money only has a function in a scarcity economy, and therefore its existence betrays a pre-abundant (poor) society."
And so financial obesity is part of the problem, not the solution.
That $600 billion a year is spent essentially from fear of the human potential. From fear of "OpenVirgle". From *fear* the kids might actually figure out how to go to Mars instead of being profligate consumers and obedient cannon fodder soldiers.
Intelligent mobile robots are near to totally transforming our society. And the transition might be quicker than we might expect, as robots can go from worse than human to better than human at some task almost overnight when there is an R&D breakthrough in some area. Here is one such example for manipulation, tossing and catching a cell phone:
One thing most people do not yet understand about robotics (especially in the hands of some place like Google) is that if you have millions of networked robots, all learning independently, they can pool that learning over the network. And that network can then learn very quickly. And so "performance" can improve very quickly, with millions of trial-and-error experiments running in parallel with the results integrated with learning algorithms. That is perhaps the biggest upside and downside of a big data company like Google getting into robotics, especially if they keep the results proprietary (which they may or may not do).
Another aspect of this which I wrote on around 2001:
"Consider again the self-driving cars mentioned earlier which now cruise some streets in small numbers. The software "intelligence" doing the driving was primarily developed by public money given to universities, which generally own the copyrights and patents as the contractors. Obviously there are related scientific publications, but in practice these fail to do justice to the complexity of such systems. The truest physical representation of the knowledge learned by such work is the codebase plus email discussions of it (plus what developers carry in their heads).
We are about to see the emergence of companies licensing that publicly funded software and selling modified versions of such software as proprietary products. There will eventually be hundreds or thousands of paid automotive software engineers working on such software no matter how it is funded, because there will be great value in having such self-driving vehicles given the result of America's horrendous urban planning policies leaving the car as generally the most efficient means of transport in the suburb. The question is, will the results of the work be open for inspection and contribution by the public? Essentially, will those engineers and their employers be "owners" of the software, or will they instead be "stewards" of a larger free and open community development process?"
I respect Marc Raibert and want him to succeed; I met him hanging around the CMU RI in the 1980s, and his lab and staff were nice people doing good stuff even back then. Still, his work in practice seems to me to have been funded mostly by public dollars directly and indirectly, and now most of the fruits of those public dollars have been privatized... And now Google-ized... There just seems something wrong to me about that, even though it is a wrong thing that goes on across the USA (and the globe) every day in most research labs... Of course there are publications, but I doubt they cover the full essence of the innovations, and also resulting patents will probably lock emerging ideas away for a long time... Still, that is how the US system works, and it is hard (even fatally exhausting) to swim against the tide as opposed to with the tide, or at least across the tide...
We can't expect any trend towards humane or compassionate actions from amoral immortal giant corporations (especially when based in the USA, with an emphasis to short-term gains and ignoring all stakeholders but majority stockholders). We have not yet learned (or maybe re-learned) how to "breed" corporations that serve humane ends, as I mention here: http://www.dougengelbart.org/colloquium/forum/discussion/0126.html
Maybe the best we can hope is some few individuals who happen to find themselves enmeshed as a functional part of such huge amoral beasts will make some healthy life-affirming and community-affirming choices in a broad way.
That said, Google is doing a lot better job of not being "evil" than we probably have any right to deserve all things considered...
"The greatest threat to power is not violence but disengagement [from the grid network]."
Interesting point, AC. It relates to this, also by Howard Zinn:
"However, the unexpected victories-even temporary ones-of insurgents show the vulnerability of the supposedly powerful. In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, transport and communications workers, garbage men and firemen. These people-the employed, the somewhat privileged-are drawn into alliance with the elite. They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls.
That will happen, I think, only when all of us who are slightly privileged and slightly uneasy begin to see that we are like the guards in the prison uprising at Attic -- expendable; that the Establishment, whatever rewards it gives us, will also, if necessary to maintain its control, kill us."
Or this by Noam Chomsky:
"The Threat of a Good Example"
"No country is exempt from U.S. intervention, no matter how unimportant. In fact, it's the weakest, poorest countries that often arouse the greatest hysteria.
And by Bucky Fuller:
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
So yes, withdrawing support is a powerful way of change, as Gandhi used:
"The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant phase of the Indian struggle for freedom from British rule. It was led by Mahatma Gandhi and was supported by the Indian National Congress. After the Jallianwala Bagh incident, Gandhi started the Non Cooperation movement. It aimed to resist British occupation in India through non-violent means. Protestors would refuse to buy British goods, adopt the use of local handicrafts, picket liquor shops, and try to uphold the Indian values of honor and integrity. The ideals of Ahimsa or non-violence, and Gandhi's ability to rally hundreds of thousands of common citizens towards the cause of Indian independence, were first seen on a large scale in this movement through the summer 1920, they feared that the movement might lead to popular violence.
Among the significant causes of this movement were colonial oppression, exemplified by the Rowlatt Act and Jallianwala Bagh massacre, economic hardships to the common man due to a large chunk of Indian wealth being exported to Britain, ruin of Indian artisans due to British factory-made goods replacing handmade goods, and popular resentment with the British over Indian soldiers dying in World War I while fighting as part of the British Army, in battles that otherwise had nothing to do with India."
Or as a twist, would it really matter if most of India's wealth were exported to Britain or to a 1% of Indians who live in gated communities inside India?
Consider the US South of the 1950s:
"The Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the U.S. civil rights movement, was a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. The campaign lasted from December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person, to December 20, 1956, when a federal ruling, Browder v. Gayle, took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional. Many important figures in the civil rights movement took part in the boycott, including Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy."
What about the USA of today?
"A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%"
That said, I don't feel the future lies in everyone disconnecting from all grids (electrical, informational, material, political, etc.) to pure subsistence. The goal in India was not to go off-grid long-term but to regain political control of their grids. Grids can be sources of wealth for all by sharing various costs to create greater benefits. It's been said it takes a village to live well in the wilderness. Also, we saw what happened to the loosely connected Native Americans who got pushed off their land by the more tightly connected invading European network (granted, it was a European network also armed with guns, germs, steel, and more).
As I say on my site, I do feel the balance between five types of transactions -- subsistence, gift, exchange, planned/political, and theft -- can change as culture changes. The USA has become heavily exchange-based especially as women moved from the subsistence, gift, and planned/political parts of the economy into the exchange economy over the past few decades. I can hope we may see that balance shift back to something healthier mix. And we do see some of that like with the FOSS movement, Wikpiedia, Makers, Open Government, etc.
Recent developments in space -- India to Mars, China to the Moon, Mexico to a simulated Solar System via Kerbal Space Program, show symbolically that an age of extreme technological dominance by the USA is coming to an end and likely more and more falling behind in key areas (including since you ultimately can't innovate if you don't locally produce, since local production is a form of education for the next generation of designers). Of course, US politics may be so broken at this point the symbolic meaning may not even be noticed or acted upon in a healthy way... I'll be curious what the US political response is to this... If any...
In any case, a lot of Chinese engineers are no-doubt very happy right now, and earned some well-deserved congratulations on a peaceful effort that displays their emerging technological prowess and future possibilities...
Great example; the same is true of people living in harsh climates like snowy areas -- or even, like on slashdot of people giving each other technological advice yet probably working in competing companies. One might even see that in a marriage -- with spouses working together when a child is sick yet also squabbling over housework... Life is at the interface of fire and ice, meshwork and hierarchy, competition and cooperation...
Politics is a process of resource allocation by discussion (backed ultimately by violence and also gift-giving or its withdrawal), as opposed to, say, mainstream US capitalist/consumer economics which is about resource allocation by moving the digital equivalent of pieces of artificially-scarce green paper around (within a larger US political context, as above backed by violence and gift-giving or its withdrawal). Yet, there is no reasons those communications and currencies could not be emails and IRC chats and bug tracker pstings, like coordinates much of Debian GNU/Linux.
So, it is not unreasonable to say that wherever human go, they will take some aspects of all that along. My father travelled the world as a merchant marine sailor for about twenty years, and one of his favorite sayings was a variation on "wherever you go, you take yourself along".
Yet. I think there is a deeper issue like mentioned in my sig. China has demonstrated new technologies of abundance by putting a robot on the moon powered by solar and nuclear technologies. Those technologies could produce physical abundance for all by today's standards -- even for trillions of people via self-replicating space habitats. That is a new truth. It can be a new truth even if probably humans may always find things to squabble about, like two kids in a room filled with toys can fight over the same one for whatever reasons of the moment.
Yet, such new technologies in a way make the world a smaller place, like the how the US space program to put a man on the moon in the 1960s was seen in US government as only justified in getting lots of funding in order to show the USSR that the USA was capable of landing a nuclear missile on Red Square. So many technologies can make the world smaller and smaller relative to our capacity to use such technologies to cause harm, like I write about here:
"There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all."
We may always have competition between people for various reasons (the mating dance?), yet our society can still figure out ways to structure that competition in healthier ways.
"No contest: the case against competition"
"We need competition in order to survive."
"Life is boring without competition."
"It is competition that gives us meaning in life."
These words written by American college students capture a sentiment that runs through the heart of the USA and appears to be spreading throughout the world. To these students, competition is not simply something one does, it is the very essence of existence. When asked to imagine a world without competition, they can foresee only rising prices, declining productivity and a general collapse of the moral order. Some truly believe we would cease to exist were it not for competition.
Alfie Kohn, author of No contest: the case against competition, disagrees completely. He argues that competition is essentially detrimental to every important aspect of human experience; our relationships, self-esteem, enjoyment of leisure, and even productivity would all be improved if we were to break out of the pattern of relentless competition. Far from being idealistic speculation, his position is anchored in hundreds of research studies and careful analysis of the primary domains of competitive interaction. For those who see themselves assisting in a transition to a less competitive world, Kohn's book will be an invaluable resource.
James. P. Hogans 1982 sci-fi novel "Voyage from Yesteryear" provide a great example of a mythical society where the urge to compete for status turns into a quest for excellence and sharing...
Although the US and Canada managed to stamp a lot of that out in the 1800s:
"At potlatch gatherings, a family or hereditary leader hosts guests in their family's house and holds a feast for their guests. The main purpose of the potlatch is the redistribution and reciprocity of wealth.
We have seen a resurgence of that though with the movement towards free and open source software, towards free and open content like with Wikipedia and blogs, towards free and open 3D objects via the Maker movement, and so on... And now via efforts towards free and open space systems,,,
A great project by others specific to the Moon:
"The OpenLuna Foundation's mission is to extend humanityâ(TM)s reach into space. OpenLuna is embarking on a systematic program of robotic missions combined with extensive public relations, educational, and outreach campaigns. Following the robotic missions, a short series of crewed missions will take place, culminating in the construction of a six to ten person, self-sustaining outpost on the lunar surface. The outpost will be made available for public use.
So, I can only hope that people in China start to think more deeply about what all these technologies of abundance make possible... I can hope that for the USA, too...
On holding onto optimism about change: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1108-21.htm
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning.
To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible. What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. This confounds us, because we are talking about exactly the period when human beings became so ingenious technologically that they could plan and predict the exact time of someone landing on the moon, or walk down the street talking to someone halfway around the earth.
Let's go back a hundred years. A revolution to overthrow the tsar of Russia, in that most sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial powers, but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to Petrograd. Given the Russian Revolution, who could have predicted Stalin's deformation of it, or Khrushchev's astounding exposure of Stalin, or Gorbachev's succession of surprises? Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II-the Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov shaking hands), and the German army rolling through Russia, apparently invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin bunker, waiting to die?
And then the post-war world, taking a shape no one could have drawn in advance: The Chinese Communist revolution, which Stalin himself had given little chance. And then the break with the Soviet Union, the tumultuous and violent Cultural Revolution, and then another turnabout, with post-Mao China renouncing its most fervently held ideas and institutions, making overtures to the West, cuddling up to capitalist enterprise, perplexing everyone. No one foresaw the disintegration of the old Western empires happening so quickly after the war, or the odd array of societies that would be created in the newly independent nations, from the benign village socialism of Nyerere's Tanzania to the madness of Idi Amin's adjacent Uganda.
Spain became an astonishment. A million died in the civil war, which ended in victory for the Fascist Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini. I recall a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade telling me that he could not imagine Spanish Fascism being overthrown without another bloody war. But after Franco was gone, a parliamentary democracy came into being, open to Socialists, Communists, anarchists, everyone. In other places too, deeply entrenched dictatorships seemed suddenly to disintegrate -- in Portugal, Argentina, the Philippines, Iran.
. . .
Consider the remarkable transformation, in just a few decades, in people's consciousness of racism, in the bold presence of women demanding their rightful place, in a growing public awareness that gays are not curiosities but sensate human beings, in the long-term growing skepticism about military intervention despite brief surges of military madness. It is that long-term change that I think we must see if we are not to lose hope. Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act. Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.
We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places-and there are so many-where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
That was written by the late historian Howard Zinn. Trends play out, it is true. But there are often inflection points in curves where change is more possible. In a time of crisis, sometimes people are willing (from desperation) to try new things. Such sudden change often does not work out well for many (China's Cultural Revolution?) but sometimes things get better. As Margaret Mead talked about, small groups of concerned citizens can make change in some area many times (she put that more extremely). Technological innovations can make changes, People can make local improvements in their own communities, which can add up.
And, as I quoted elsewhere today, George Orwell wrote that people can spend a long time believing false things (trickle down economics?) and eventually they run into reality. Orwell said that often happens on a battlefield. But there are many contests where outcomes become clear. This Moon landing is one such example. India's going to Mars is another. Kerbal Space Program coming out of Mexico is a third. Each shows the spread of technological possibility into other places and other cultures and other political systems... And it is hard to predict where it will all go. As a long-time slashdotter, I can remain hopeful for the best (a basic income, medicare and organic food for all, self-replicating space habitats, hot and cold fusion and dirt-cheap solar power, and end to effectively perpetual copyright, a growing gift economy, 3D printers and household gardening robots for all, rethinking education to be more learner-centered, etc. as I could go on and on), even though I can readily imagine scenarios for the worst (e.g. bio-engineered plagues, military drones becoming Skynet, nuclear wars just by accident, etc. and I also could go on and on). As Bucky Fuller said, whether it will be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. Or, perhaps, is that a relay race we are always running that has no finish line? Kind of like the battle against mildew in a damp basement is never ending?
They are on to other stuff there now after finishing the live coverage (which was great to listen to)... They seem to be planning to have updates and further discussion during the day though...
One thing I found confusing in the coverage was distinguishing between what were live images and what were simulations... I did not know if some of the images were coming from perhaps other lunar satellites with cameras focused on the landing probe? Or if they were simulations or infographics tracking real positions?
Good points with the historical analogy to ocean-going explorations and later commerce. CCTV was talking about the implications of the China landing as I started to write this, and putting it into the context of past efforts by other countries like the USA and USSR. But they are making a big point about how nothing much has landed for 37 years that could do local experimented and take local high-definition images,,,
They are just ending their live coverage it seems...Nice to see a recap of the landing video as I was posting on slashdot while listening, and didn't realize how quick it was going to happen after the final deceleration burn, and missed seeing the actual video of the moment of landing at the time... The headline said the landing would happen about twenty minutes or so later than it did so I thought it would take longer...
The next CCTV show is up and talking more about the historical context right now... They are talking about how US President Carter gave China one gram of moon rock and they used half of it for research...