Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fixing the Environment by Changing Ourselves

The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse
by David Owen

Riverhead Books (Penguin), NY
272 pages
ISBN-10: 1594485615
ISBN-13: 978-1594485619

A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma

Not every problem seems to have a solution. We really want it to be the case that there's an answer for every problem. In fact, we want a quick, simple, easy-to-understand, easy-on-the-budget, no-real-work-from-us solution to every problem we see around us. Maybe it's because we've spent too many years watching TV ads that tell us we'll get the girl if we use the right breath mint -- that's all it takes. Maybe it's because the depth of some of the problems (particularly when we talk about something as enormous as climate change) are so overwhelming that we can't stand the thought of sorting out all the details and coming up with solutions that work in the real world.    So we do what we can within our comfort zone.  But can we really make the kinds of changes that need to happen that way? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Timeless Quandary - many would like to have.

   Robert Heinlein wrote a number of books about a group of people who were bred to live longer lives than most people.  Eventually, the short-lifers warred against the long-lifers. Highlander was about immortals. Another novella, Petals of Rose, by Marc Stiegler explores those who live much longer and those who live much shorter lives than humans. Our love affair with the idea of living forever or living an extraordinarily long life has a long history, dating well before the Roman Empire.  But what about the problems associated with such a life?  If others around you don't know you can live forever barring an accident, don't you think they would hate you, as in the Heinlein story? And how hard would it be to watch those around you grow old and die as in Petals of Rose by Stiegler? How do you hide your endless youth? And if your life is so long, would a year or a decade seem to be a blink of an eye? Doesn't that mean you would hardly get to know someone and they would be gone? While today's story only touches on those ideas, it is a central part of the story in many subtle ways. In Timeless by Tiffany Key, we begin to see the difficulties of being part of a hidden society whose members live an exceeding long life among the unsuspecting "normals".