Science fiction author "Gennady Stolyarov" isn't listed in Internet Speculative Fiction Database either, and the book's publisher, "Rational Argumentator Press" has a grand total of *one* publication, and its web presence is a section of Mr. Stolyarov's personal site. So what we're dealing with here is the self-published work by an unpublished crank sci-fi author -- not that there's any dishonor in being an unpublished crank sci-fi author. There's lots of us around.
I peeked inside the book, and what strikes me is that if you squint, this *looks* like a religious tract pitched toward children, right down to the colorful but stiff illustrations. Take a look at the cover, with it's child dressed in a blue oxford shirt, red tie and khaki chinos banishing death. This is peculiar, in a way that I applaud; an image pitched at children by someone so far out of the mainstream that she has no idea what a culturally "normal" child looks like. That's a good thing for the world, although it may not do much for the author's message. It's more important for people with an oddball streak to write books than people who think like everyone else.
This book appears to come out of the same impetus that underlies a lot of religious impulse: rage at the fact we're are going to die. It's a fact we *should* be uncomfortable with. Religion does the most damage when it makes us too comfortable with the prospect of death. The afterlife becomes a make-up session where we can do the things we put off line life like reconciling with estranged loved ones.
Anyone who regards speculation about technological singularity enabling indefinite human life extension as a "promise" is taking far too much comfort in what is, at best, an intriguing idea. But the universe itself has a finite lifespan; any being who could last to the heat death of the universe, or even a single 2 million century "galactic year" would be so far from human that calling it "transhuman" would be like calling ourselves "transprotozoans".
Whether we just disappear after a mere century or so, or survive as something unrecognizable as human, our opportunity to experience the universe as ourselves, as humans, is brief. We should make the most of it, no matter what we plan to leave behind when our human existence is done.
This is here
Because this isn'tStack Overflow.
Oil subsidies are the largest welfare payout granted by the Federal government, dwarfing the amount paid out to ALL human recipients.
Given that you use the term welfare in two different senses. If we consider welfare to be generic entitlement spending as it is with corporate welfare, then Social Security would be the obvious counterexample to your assertion. It uses roughly 20% of the budget.
The problem is we don't actually know what is and isn't a waste.
The problem is you don't know what will or won't be useful ex-ante.
But we aren't operating from a position of complete ignorance. We have a fairly good idea what things have near future value. I'm tired of the people who push this myth that science has incredible future value conveniently off the horizon which we can't even begin to determine.
If that were true, then there would be no distinction between funding thousands of US colleges and funding me the same amount of money. It's all Science and my parties (I'd bring a whole new meaning to the term "state-wide party") would be better. So why fund all those people when you can just fund one source?
The argument is just a shifty dodge of responsibility and accountability.
However, perhaps some microbiologist who just wanted to see what he could grow if he tried culturing a geyser will discover something revolutionary.
It actually was a hot spring, Mushroom Spring in Yellowstone National Park, not a geyser - though it is close to a large geyser.
The idea is that *people* are more powerful and altruistic than individuals or institutions.
Even if "people" actually were more powerful and altruistic, which I disagree with, then there's still the matter that actual public funding doesn't have much to do with the "people" or their desires. There's millennia of history indicating that even in democracies a substantial deviation between the workings of a government and the people it supposedly represents.
If a government is contrary to its people's values, then they should fix the government, not discard it altogether in favor of private enterprise.
Discarding government for tasks for which private enterprise is superior is a fix. Instead, you're proposing the following destructive cycle:
1) Implement a costly, poorly thought out, terrible government intervention in some area.
2) It fails hard.
3) Blame "the people" for screwing up.
4) Go to step 1).
I think a simpler approach is to simply don't do that. It's worth noting that there are now more effective ways to collectively and privately fund "people" research, such as Kickstarter or starting a non profit.
Fungi might not though. If it is a radiation-induced impairment of soil organisms, I'd look first at the organisms that have the longest reproduction times.
But having said that, it still remains that the same factors which concentrate radioactive contaminants may also sufficiently often inhibit decay processes.
What I think is more likely here is that there is a common environmental condition that both inhibits decay and doesn't move radiation away as readily. For example, if the soil is dry, then that will inhibit decay and it might also result in less movement of radioactive chemicals out of the area.
But having said that, such things could be indirectly a product of radioactivity, if say, trees died off in high radiation areas and that in turn creates a more open, drier environment.
Trucks and trains don't run on sunlight.
They don't currently, but they can. This whole story fails because it ignores that we are bathed in plentiful energy. As petroleum grows more expensive, it becomes economical to use solar energy either directly or in production of petroleum substitutes, to keep things moving along.
Now we're in the start of the era of Moderate Oil, just past the era of Cheap Oil. It's not an opinion, dude... IT'S MATH.
With no real economic distinction between cheap and moderately cheap oil.
It wasn't anything to do with freedom that gave the Nazis their power. It was the economic devastation (and huge damage to the national pride) caused by the outcome of the first world war that gave Hitler his foothold.
So instead of banning unpopular speech we should just not screw up economically? That sound right?
"Collapse" means suddenly crumble, cease to exist.
Well, it means the former not the latter. A collapsed building is still a building.
Can you really imagine the ecological / economical limits described here to eliminate every sort of organized production on Earth?
It doesn't have to eliminate every bit of production. We had a pretty substantial mess just from a recent real estate crisis.
And if you look at the historical examples given in the story, they didn't actually collapse suddenly. The scenario given is that things got progressively worse with the people in charge not doing enough or often making things worse.
For example, the Roman empire was in deep trouble in the third century. One of its effects was to severely damage various bits of infrastructure both physical and legal. For example, the trade network that the Romans had set up never became as safe as it had been. Also, the mess had created considerable inflation and the previously mentioned shift to concentration of wealth to large land owners.
They also overlook the adaptability of demand when the supply shortens, and the number of disruptive technologies appearing every day, rendering moot any such "if the trend continues" analysis.
The problem here is that the markets and other infrastructure which enables transactions between demand and supply is what can fail.
For example, I've heard it predicted that once Obamacare gets fully implemented it'll stop future drug development over our lifetimes. I guess the idea is that somehow all drug development throughout the world only happens in the US due to companies or something. Obviously, the prediction is a bit overwrought, but that sort of thing is what leads to long term disruptions between supply and demand.
Well, "set a thief to catch a thief."
One of the reasons for the dysfunction we have in Washington is that all the rules that are supposed to protect the public interest have become so complicated that they actually promote crony capitalism. You need someone who knows how to hack the system to catch people hacking the system.
Even in the most catastrophic scenarios like a nuclear war or a dinosaur-scale meteor hit, enough people should survive to gradually rebuild it to the current level.
That's pretty much what they're talking about. Some hit that breaks down society and then requires a rebuild.
Not if they raise other tax rates to make up for lost revenue... One might think that some how paying tax is kind of like a multi-way prisoner's dilemma between other tax payers, but in reality, the government will get their money some other way, and on that other game (a different tax revenue source), you may be the loser...
"May be the loser" is a lot better than "will be the loser".