Curmudgeon: noun

  1. (archaic) A miser.
  2. An ill-tempered, frequently old, stubborn person. A strong adherence to fixed ideas. A stubborn person or thing.

(an excerpt)

Ford scrubs his chin. “I’m ‘fraid to say its human nature kid. Just the way we’re built. It isn’t that people don’t want solutions. Just there are always people that don’t like the solution, even when there ain’t no other solution to be had. It’s how we’re made. The machines figured it out. Somethin’ they called, ah, P. A. R. D. What was it? Uh, Pattern Alteration Resistance Disorder, somethin’ like that. I heard people callin’ it ‘The Curmudgeon Effect.’

“Ya see our brains are wired to learn things. Once we learn something, we hang on to it. It isn’t only memory, like rememberin’ a song. We learn what sort’a clothes we like and expect to see other folk wearin’ the same things. We learn how songs should sound, or how groups should be governed or how people should pair bond, and get this idea it should always be that way. We get all freaked out when some young’ins create a crazy new word or do their hair funny, or shack up in ways we never expected, simply because we didn’t do it that way.

“Older folk are set on the way things were. They can’t easily accept change.”

Joshua sits in thought. Now the silence is more welcome, a chance to mull over the information overload. Summer is over, but for the southern districts, the cool of autumn has not yet arrived. The evening is warm. The sun has fully set, dark trying to sneak in. With the onset of night, the park gradually lights up in a transition so smooth one hardly notices.

A leaf lets go its grasp, drifting lightly toward the lawn in front of the bench. An unfelt breeze carries it off the immaculate lawn, over the clean walkway, to a small well-arranged pile at the underbrush’s edge. There it will stay as natural forces convert its structure into nutrients for the growing vegetation and nibbles for the real animals. Joshua asks, “Why didn’t someone come up with a cure, you know, for the Curmudgeon Effect? Why not cure it?”

“Can’t. First of all, it’s just the way the human brain works. Can’t cure something that ain’t sick. Oh, some folk don’t suffer from it. They keep their minds open. You can teach an old dog a new trick. It’s just the natural way the human mind works. We don’t like things that don’t fit in our experiences. It’s a bit evolutionary. Young folk find ways of getting through. When they’re older, the suggestion is those ways work and that is how things should be. Along come some new young’ins who try somethin’ new. The older folk know the way they did it works – it did for them – and so they believe the new way can’t. It’s an evolutionary consequence of aging.”

Ford raises an index finger for emphasis. “But more than that. Imagine you don’t like someone or somethin’ and that someone comes along and says, ‘I’ve got this pill that will make you like me.’ Would you take the pill? I doubt it. You don’t trust what you don’t like.”

Available NOW in Paperback and eBook.

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The Curmudgeon Code is Out!

It Is Out!

The Curmudgeon Code

Our future draws on our past

Terrorism, climate change, corporate marketing, and social media lying – technology holds great promise, and great risk. Where are we going? To answer that, we need to ask where we came from. The data collection we do today may be the force that controls our tomorrow.

The Curmudgeon Code is a compelling philosophical and speculative glimpse at the other side of the Technological Singularity. It is a science fiction story, a love story, and a look into our inner selves…

Joshua has grown up in what many would call utopia. There is no war, no hunger, and no disease. There can even be no death, all due to amazing technology. Is it really the Promised Land?

Evolution never rests.

Available in paperback and eBook.

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Bow Shock

Bow Shock(Note: I had been writing the article below when a parallel article appeared in “I.F.L. Science” (the image is linked to it), so I figured it was time to stop editing and just publish.)

The Bow Shock of The Great Filter is buffeting us.

Robin Hanson coined ‘The Great Filter’ in part to explain the discrepancies with the Drake Equation and the Fermi Paradox. It sounds like so much longhaired physics, and some of it is, but it is understandable. We just need to break it down.

The Drake Equation is an attempt to predict or define the potential for extraterrestrial intelligent life. In a way, it can help determine the potential survivability of the human species.

The Drake Equation has its shortcomings, like any speculative construction. It gives rise to a primary criticism, the Fermi Paradox, which suggests given the lowest estimates one might use in the Drake Equation there should be a great many intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, much less the universe as a whole. So, where are they?

This is where The Great Filter steps in. Robin Hanson suggests there is some unknown hurtle that prevents or restricts “dead matter” from becoming “everlasting, expanding life”. This barrier – The Great Filter – is some final step a civilization must surmount in order to survive long enough for their galactic presence to be known.

We exist. We might argue, incorrectly or otherwise, we are a reasonably intelligent civilization. As such, the early portions of the Drake Equation can lead to lifeforms such as ourselves. Therefore, we must assume The Great Filter is buried inside the later parts of the Drake Equation – those variables after the rise of an intelligent civilization.

The colloquial assumption is the Great Filter is some potential for civilizations to succumb to or prevent something like global thermonuclear war. However, I think we need to expand this view. Looking at the later variables in the Drake equation – planets with lifeforms capable of producing broadcast communication systems – we can draw some logical inferences.

1. Independent thought and discovery must exist inside of socially cooperative structures.
2. Some form of industrialization exists, along with all its associated pollutants.
3. Some form of rudimentary automation exists, and will continue to expand.
4. The development of weapons of mass destruction is achievable.

Item 1 is indicated through the discovery of basic scientific principles, along with the talents to exploit them. Hive minds would have difficulty thinking outside of the box – discovery and exploitation of natural phenomena would be difficult. Likewise, building such scientific advancements would require cooperative efforts, indicating social structures. Where there is independent thought and social structures, there is the potential for unrest – warring.

Item 2 has the potential to lead to climate or environmental changes on an extinction level.

Item 3, while seemingly benign, will ultimately lead to some form of radical social unrest. Technological civilizations would ultimately face a rapid social paradigm shift, something akin to what is termed “The Singularity”. We are all familiar with the dystopian “Terminator” view of this type of technological development.

It is not necessary for the technological leap to be self-supporting. It does not need to be the development of computer like Artificial Intelligent technologies. Simple automation capable of eliminating a means of support for the majority of the global population will force social change. Instead of “Terminator” think “Forbidden Planet”. At that point, the social structure, whatever it is, has to change and it has to change quickly. Can a civilization survive such an upheaval?

All of these outcomes indicated by the ability to develop communication broadcast systems carry the potential of destroying an entire global civilization – conditions that would not exist if the civilization were not capable of developing that technology.

We currently face all of these threats. Unfortunately, these threats come with feedback mechanisms built into them.

As we attempt to avoid nuclear war, we develop new warring capabilities that are not nuclear but may be just as destructive, perhaps uncontrollable, such as chemical and viral attacks. Climate Change and Social structures rub against each other, either delaying the ability to address the issues, or causing rapid solutions that further aggravate them.

The world seems crazy these days. All of the “old ways” are ending. Social structures, capitalism, communism, ownership, belief structures, et al. cannot survive in a world where every task can be performed by a machine, leaving people with little to do and no viable means to support themselves. We have the means of destroying the globe with the press of a few buttons, or the means of polluting it into extinction by doing what humans do best – procrastinate. We also possess an adherence to beliefs and social structures that make necessary change almost impossible.

Within 100 years, technology will press the issue. The pressure is already on. The Singularity may arise, uncontrollable technology either eliminating or saving the human species. Regardless of the Singularity, elimination or salvation may be delivered by global social unrest. Likewise, climate and environmental changes already in motion may make attempts to persevere moot, or may force radical social and technological change.

We are currently living in the bow shock of the Great Filter.

IFL Science related article.

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Early Prep for August

Sun Test 2017-02-26 4-51pmThis is our star as seen from my porch at 4:51pm on this day. The dark patches are because I waited until the afternoon to start my testing – pure laziness. They are a few tree branches that began to occult the star at the time I started the camera tests.

The camera worked well enough, though I need to tinker with it. It does not allow a full range of focus. Buy cheap – get cheap. It also does not allow a full scope view, which will be a bit of a disappointment in August, but may allow for some good Luna edge images. The biggest difficulty with this cheap O-Cam is getting it on, which requires removing the eyepiece and then putting the O-Cam in place. During the event, seconds will be precious. I may opt for an external smartphone mount.

The solar filter is wonderful. Direct viewing was crisp and clean, without any noticeable distortion with low and high power eyepieces.

Targeting required developing new techniques. Initially I avoided the targeting scope as it does not have a solar filter and a burned retina would be certain. Sighting down the barrel of the scope proved difficult. It had a similar problem – staring at the sun. I have gotten good using this technique to get general aim prior to using the targeting scope to pinpoint planets and stars, yet I could not get good enough aim on Sol with this method alone. I eventually opted for the same star targeting method – a barrel sight for general aim, and using an indirect view of the target scope – looking at the solar image on the surface of the target scope’s eyepiece, rather than looking into the eyepiece.

More tests to come as I wait for August.

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Love Trumps All

Love Trumps AllOn Valentine’s Day, honor your significant other, but do not leave out the many other aspects of love.

Here are my thoughts – Love Trumps All, as posted on my other site.

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