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    Daily Digest 10/5 – Good News Friday: In Praise Of Mediocrity, Using Renewable Energy To Live Independently

    by DailyDigest

    Friday, October 5, 2018, 2:06 PM

This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header "Good News Friday." We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!


U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops To 3.7 Percent, Lowest In Nearly 50 Years (Thomas R.)

The economy has now added jobs for nearly eight straight years.

Private economists had forecast that the economy would pick up 180,000 jobs in September. The net jobs created in July and August were revised sharply upward by a combined 87,000 — offsetting September’s weaker showing.

In Praise of Mediocrity (tmn)

Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. The population of our country now seems divided between the semipro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.

The Good News for People Worried About Saving for Retirement (Thomas R.)

While that might sound like bad news for those who are not yet retired, there's good news, too. The researchers not only polled people who were years away from retirement but also interviewed retirees to see what their financial situations looked like. In 2002, only 56% of those 55 to 64 said they thought they would have enough savings to live comfortably during retirement. But in 2018, 77% of those 65 to 80 said they actually did have enough to be comfortable.

Uber will offer free rides to the polls on Election Day (Thomas R.)

Uber is also working with nonprofit organizations to help get both riders and drivers registered to vote before state deadlines. Between today and Election Day, Uber will also host voter registration drives at its 125+ driver hubs throughout the country.

How I Paid Off $10,000 in Debt While Teaching English in South Korea (jdargis)

I missed my six-month debt-repayment goal by a few months but in the end, I had managed to pay off all my credit card debt and save money in a little under four years. Being free of all that credit card debt gave me such relief. I was able to think more clearly about big decisions — and my fiancé and I decided to get married shortly after my contract ended.

The Case for Making Cities Out of Wood (tmn)

The idea of future wood cities has been hanging around for at least a few years. In 2014, for example, the Boston Globe wondered, “Will cities of the future be built of wood?” The rise of both human population and global temperature prompted much of the interest in the sustainability of city-scale timber construction. By 2050, we will number almost 10 billion; and since two-thirds of us will be city dwelling—up from just over half in 2014—cities will have to grow. It’d be ideal to do that without curtailing efforts to combat climate change; it wouldn’t be helpful, for instance, to keep extracting and transporting the raw materials needed to build steel and concrete structures, which are more expensive and have large carbon footprints. Wood, on the other hand, is “a plentiful resource that grows back relatively quickly, and even pulls carbon out of the atmosphere as it does,” the Globe noted. Yugon Kim, an architect passionate about timber construction, said, “We all are hard-wired to see the city as being steel, glass, and concrete. Our proposal is that we need timber to save us.”

Fish-Oil Heart Medicine Is Rarest of Drug Breakthroughs (Thomas R.)

It’s been easy to doubt Amarin, which has been working on this trial for the better part of a decade. The scientific rationale is there: Omega-3 fatty acids like the one Amarin is testing can reduce high triglycerides, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But many previous fish-oil trials have failed. Vascepa’s purity enables a higher dose without raising cholesterol, as other fish oils can. Amarin bet that focusing on high-risk patients with persistently high triglycerides would reveal the benefit of that higher dose, and was proven correct.

Small planet, big impact: How 'The Goblin' could reshape our ideas about the solar system (Thomas R.)

Unlike Earth and the other planets, whose orbits around the sun are almost circular, The Goblin moves around the sun in an exaggerated ellipse. At its nearest point, the dwarf planet comes about 65 times the distance from Earth to the sun (a distance astronomers call one astronomical unit, or AU). At the farthest point in its orbit, The Goblin is about 2,300 AU from the sun — about 214,000,000,000 miles. Pluto is about 34 AU from the sun.

I-294 could soon include ‘smart-powered lanes’ to charge electric cars (Thomas R.)

Michael Sturino, president of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, said the charging infrastructure could help encourage the use of electric vehicles, as many drivers fear running out of power before getting to the next charging station.

In Montana, a Tough Negotiator Proved Employers Don’t Have to Pay So Much for Health Care (jdargis)

And so Bartlett pitched a bold strategy. Step one: Tell the state’s hospitals what the plan would pay. Take it or leave it. Step two: Demand a full accounting from the company managing drug costs. If it wouldn’t reveal any side deals it had with drugmakers, replace it.

Gender equity making strides worldwide, if not in America (Paul D.)

There really is a culture war, raging simultaneously across all the continents. It is rarely fought with as much tribal ferocity as it is in the United States, but important issues are at stake everywhere. If Judge Kavanaugh joins the U.S. Supreme Court, for example, abortion could once again become illegal in the United States.

A rock that was used as a doorstop for the past 30 years turns out to be a meteorite valued at $100K (Thomas R.)

After testing, she determined it was a meteorite, made of of 88.5% iron and 11.5% nickel. This isn’t just any space rock, though. Weighing 22 pounds, it’s the sixth-largest recorded find in Michigan — and potentially worth $100,000, according to CMU.

Commercial fishing banned across much of the Arctic (Paul D.)

Nine nations – the US, Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, South Korea and China – plus the EU signed the Central Arctic Ocean agreement at a ceremony in Greenland, following several years of talks. The countries will also begin a joint programme for scientific monitoring of the 2.8m sq km, and the moratorium can be extended in five-year increments dependent on the results.

Will America run short of seafood? This ocean farm could save us (Thomas R.)

The project was a brainchild of Phil Cruver, a serial entrepreneur who has been involved in various ventures, with wind farms being among his most successful. He came to the idea seven years ago after being involved in an oyster bed restoration endeavor. Along the way, he made a couple of discoveries. One was that mussels, a staple at high-end French restaurants and Belgian bistros, are relatively easy to grow. They are more resistant to disease and reach maturity in about a year, half the time of more popular shellfish like oysters, clams or scallops. "Weeds of the sea," Cruver calls them.

Offgrid communities: using renewable energy to live independently (Paul D.)

These smaller, decentralised systems operate independently of the main grid and offer greater stability and independence than traditional offsite power stations, giving consumers agency over their own energy needs in the process.

Gold & Silver

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Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

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  • Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - 7:15am



    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 13 2011

    Posts: 1849

    Bret Weinstein: Hard to Transition to a new Evolutionary Niche

    Skpr linked to a DamnTheMatrix web page that contained a 10 minute talk by evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein.

    I’ll mention a couple of his main points as they are very compatable with the PP message.
    Thinking people catch on that the trajectory of civilization is not sustainable and will be disrupted.
    The current human niche is fragile (due to complexity and intense energy dependency).
    There are countless examples from evolution of animals moving from one niche to another quickly.  However the reports / analysis of these events focus on the survivors of the transition.  Thus they are “survivor biased” and don’t capture the magnitude of the general stress to the population (largely born by non-survivors).
    We have some structures that make a transition more difficult:  He cites nuclear reactors which require constant tending to maintain their safely.  A collapse that disrupted their tending would endanger surrounding areas for millennia.  (I would add concentrated food production and the complex (fragile) distribution system for both food and water.)
    Us first-worlders are unbelievably comfortable in our current niche.  The signals that would have spurred a more primitive people to explore niche change are just not there.  We are well fed and sheltered, and don’t even know when harvest time is or where our heating oil comes from.  Should our harvests fail, food will be shipped in from somewhere else.  Hunger and exposure to elements–intense stimuli to critical review of the stability of one’s current niche–just don’t happen to us first-worlders.  The stimulus to change doesn’t penetrate our comfortable lives.   (I would add that we are able to wage continuous wars without ever fearing a bomb will fall in our own neighborhood.  The reasons for avoiding war do not hit home.)  Once hunger and exposure to the elements is happening, we will be very late in the evolutionary bottleneck.
    Reluctance to change is the result.
    Moving ahead towards a simpler and lower energy niche *now* is a marker of intelligence and flexibility.  Most will not move through the bottleneck.  (And most will not understand that they are in an evolutionary bottleneck.)


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  • Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - 7:21am



    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 30 2009

    Posts: 2936

    US Government Interest Payments Just Exceeded Belgium's Output

    US Government Interest Payments Just Exceeded Belgium’s Output

    BloombergQuint-17 hours ago
    The government shelled out $523 billion on interest in fiscal year 2018, the highest … after the deficit expanded to $898 billion in the 11 months through August.

    Treasury to Sell $230 Billion of Debt

    Wall Street Journal-19 hours ago

    The U.S. will auction $230 billion in securities next week, comprising $104 billion in new debt and $126 billion in previously sold debt. Details (all with minimum ..

    Construction companies turn to robots as they face worker shortage

    WXYZ-4 minutes ago
    Robot technology has been used in recent years across all kinds of industries. Now, construction companies are giving it a go. Blueprint Robotics—based in …


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  • Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - 7:52am



    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 30 2009

    Posts: 2936

    Check out video on exoskeleton for paraplegic

    ‘It’s going to be an awesome day,’: First paraplegic to walk Portland … hours ago
    Gorlitsky never thought he’d race again until a doctor’s appointment two years ago and new technology that changed everything– the robotic exoskeleton.


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  • Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - 6:40pm



    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    The Dynamics of Decadence

    Really good piece from CHS (again):
    In the present era of decadence, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the modern equivalent of Bread and Circuses.
    The dynamics of decadence are easy to understand: as affluence becomes the norm that is widely assumed to be permanent, shared purpose and sacrifice for the common good is replaced by self-absorbed decadence and an ethos of maximizing personal gain.
    In his seminal essay The Fate of Empires, Sir John Glubb listed these core dynamics of imperial decline:
    (a) A growing love of money as an end in itself.
    (b) A lengthy period of wealth and ease, which makes people complacent. They lose their edge; they forget the traits (confidence, energy, hard work) that built their civilization.
    (c) Selfishness and self-absorption.
    (d) Loss of any sense of duty to the common good.
    Glubb included the following in his list of the characteristics of decadence:
    — An increase in frivolity, hedonism, materialism and the worship of unproductive celebrity.
    — A loss of social cohesion.
    — The willingness of an increasing number to live at the expense of a bloated bureaucratic state.
    Glubb’s list may at first glance be largely psychological–self-aggrandizement and a focus on hedonistic pursuits–but the dynamics of decadence have economic, political and social ramifications.
    First and foremost, the aristocratic financial and political elites secured their position at the expense of social mobility by erecting barriers that protect them from competition and accountability. In effect, they eliminated the risk posed by change by rigging the system to their benefit.
    To fund their extravagant lifestyles, they took more of the earnings of those below them, widening the inequality between the aristocracy and commoners to extremes. Historian Peter Turchin reports that where the patricians of the Roman Republic had 10 or 20 times the wealth of an average Roman citizen, by the late Empire the elites possessed up to 200,000 times the wealth of the average commoner.
    The heavier burdens on the productive class and the decay of social mobility divested commoners of a financial stake in the system, and the concentration of political power in an oligarchy disenfranchised them of political influence.
    When social mobility and shared purpose are lost, there is little motivation to contribute to a system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. People respond by reducing their productive participation and becoming dependents of the state, a phase captured by the phrase Bread and Circuses in the late Roman era, when a significant percentage of the Rome’s populace received free bread and access to costly entertainments in exchange for their political compliance.
    Disenfranchised commoners with few prospects for advancement form a volatile political class; a small event can trigger a non-linear explosion that threatens the stability of a status quo that benefits the few at the expense of the many. To counter this threat, the elites bought the compliance and complicity of the masses with Bread and Circuses. As Glubb noted, the willingness to live off the state is a reflection of general decadence; if there is no other hedonistic pursuit within financial reach, then Bread and Circuses will do.
    As the eventual collapse of decadent empires attests, Bread and Circuses are no substitute for social mobility, low barriers to accumulating capital and a political stake in the system. In the present era of decadence, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the modern equivalent of Bread and Circuses. But buying off the disenfranchised doesn’t transform an unstable system into a stable system; it merely masks the instability for a time.
    The core belief of decadent eras is that the status quo is so powerful and permanent that it can withstand the predations of the few and the Bread and Circuses lavished on the many.
    This is of course a false confidence. Every status quo is a social construct that is inherently non-linear. The decline of productive sectors, the divestiture of commoners from ownership of productive assets and the political disenfranchisement of commoners hollow out the economy and the society.
    These dynamics of decadence weaken the social and economic order, creating conditions that favor a loss of faith in the status quo and the failure of key institutions.

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  • Sat, Oct 06, 2018 - 4:32am



    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 29 2009

    Posts: 21

    What we really know about nuclear energy?.

    The galen winsor video 

       (the 2 hour full leng video is in youtube) this revelation will blow your mind , and our understanding of the problem of energy !
    Then we have just one problem:  egoystic human behavior ! and the solution is a new educative model.  with a new economic model, we are talking about a new society.  htp://

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  • Sat, Oct 06, 2018 - 8:16am

    Reply to #4


    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 838

    Circus back then is not circus today.

    Circus back then involved blood, including of innocents who were in the way of patricians. Point being, it was a continual reminder that if you don’t keep in line, you and your family are going to die horribly.
    So in Mexico, there’s plenty of circus; in Brazil, in Iran, and so on; it hasn’t quite reached here in full yet.

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