Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 10/27 - State Of The Species, Electric Bikes Take China By Storm

Saturday, October 27, 2012, 9:53 AM


State Of The Species (jdargis)

Why and how did humankind become “unusually successful”? And what, to an evolutionary biologist, does “success” mean, if self-destruction is part of the definition? Does that self-destruction include the rest of the biosphere? What are human beings in the grand scheme of things anyway, and where are we headed? What is human nature, if there is such a thing, and how did we acquire it? What does that nature portend for our interactions with the environment? With 7 billion of us crowding the planet, it’s hard to imagine more vital questions.

What's Halfway Between 1 and 9? Kids and Scientists Say 3 (Matthew T.)

It's likely that we love logarithmic shapes so much because logarithms are hardwired into our sensory pathways. Stevens' power law explains that we perceive logarithmic increases in light, sound and heat (among lots of other stimuli) as if they were linear increases. For example, as heat rises along a tightening logarithmic curve -- say, from 80º to 84º to 86º to 87º -- our sense of touch is growing correspondingly more sensitive to each increase, causing us to perceive smaller and smaller changes as if they were equal. In short, we might describe that logarithmic temperature change as a linear rise from 80º to 84º to 88º to 92º.

Central Banks’ Paper Gold vs Physical Gold: Is The Dust Settling? (Taki T.)

The “good news” from earlier this week was that Germany’s Court incited the Bundesbank to bring clarity with regard to their real gold holdings by providing access to their storage sites. Furthermore, a German Court of Auditors reported that the gold had “never been verified physically” up until now. It remains to be seen if and when light will be shed on this situation, but the pressure for clear answers keeps on increasing.

Consumers Push Economic Output to a Gain of 2% (jdargis)

While growing more confident that the housing market has stabilized, households have been buoyed by lower energy prices, until recently a rising stock market and a slight improvement in employment. After years of shedding debt, there are also signs that consumers are starting to borrow again.

“Consumers are feeling wealthier so they are still out there spending,” said Joshua Dennerlein, an economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.


Pennsylvania towns savor drilling impact-fee checks (Thomas C.)

There is no shortage of need in this rural township of 6,600 residents, where Marcellus producers have drilled 83 wells since the shale boom began in 2008. The hilly township bordered by the Monongahela River has only 20 municipal employees, half of them police officers. It maintains 68 miles of roads, and funds three volunteer fire companies.

Groves favors buying a tractor and a new pavilion for 30-acre Wana B Park, so named because the donor of the land said the property wanted to be a park.

On Our Radar: A Diminished Dead Sea (westcoastjan)

The Dead Sea has dropped a record 4.9 feet in depth over the last year because of industry use and evaporation, the Hydrological Service of Israel says. This is prompting calls for Israel and Jordan to prevent fertilizer makers from drawing on so much of the water. [Bloomberg News]

Electric Bikes Take China By Storm (westcoastjan)

Adam Shaw visits the country where an estimated 120 million electric bikes are already in use, providing a greener alternative to the country’s four wheeled obsession.


FRANKENSTORM WATCH: Get The Latest News Right Here (westcoastjan)

There are several tracks that Hurricane Sandy could take over the next few days. But the likelihood is that it will blend with a winter storm, transforming it into a menace, and hit somewhere from Virginia to New England on Monday or Tuesday AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Feerick tells USAToday.

Forecasters are now 90 percent certain the storm with strike the U.S.

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."


saxplayer00o1's picture
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Isolated spots could see the worst rains in 500 years

"Sandy has taken on a lopsided form and its heaviest winds should be in the northern and eastern sections of the storm as it nears land -- and be directed inbound toward the coastline.

The surge is likely to hit during a full moon, when tides are the highest, worsening coastal damage.

Computer models predict Delaware, Maryland and Virginia could see up to a foot of rain, according to the CNN Weather Unit. Isolated spots could see the worst rains in 500 years."

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State of The species

Thanks for a good read.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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State of the Species Reply.


I too enjoyed the read "State of the Species."

However I was affronted by the concluding statement

For all our speed and voraciousness, our changeable sparkle and flash, we would be, at last count, not an especially interesting species.

I speak for myself when I say that we are not “Just” another species, and that I, who am the arbiter of my own values, say that we are here for a purpose. I repudiate the notion of the nihilistic, valueless Universe of Dawkins. The value of the Universe is whatever I decide it will be.

And I have decided that the value of a valueless Universe is to be a playground for my descendants.

The answer to our problems is not nihilism or a retreat back into the swamp. There are various remedies that our plastic brains need to consider.

1.       We need to seize control of our genetic makeup.

Please spare me the moral panic. Females have been in the process of choosing the form of their offspring by careful selection of a mate, hence the hysteria associated with Rape. So it is given, we already condone genetic selection.

We must de-select those genes that drive teenagers into paroxysms of despair over finding their soul-mate. There are other modifications that we should consider. I have tried to address this issue in my story “The Breeding.”

2.       We need more Lebensraum.

It is an impossible task for me to persuade the present incarnation of human that we have to expand into the Void. All these scenarios that we are too familiar with are predicated on this one assumption. “We are a two dimensional creature who will be forever stuck on the face of this minute, beautiful but fragile orb.” To those who hold this view I reply, “Speak for yourselves.”

3.       We need much more sophisticated machines.

There are some who would persuade me that I need a job. I do not need a job. I need the fruits of my civilization. More sophisticated machines will free me from the drudgery of turning treasure into trash.

4.       We need an infinite energy source.

Puny 1eV chemical energy just does not cut the mustard. The energy source has to be nuclear. And not the kind that your Mother warned you about. It has to be Lattice Assisted Nuclear Energy.

These four requirements are essential for us to deliver the Universe to our (Modified) offspring. 

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Organic Raw Veggies
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Robeys the man


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