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Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 12:19 pm
by MSimon
Speaking of corruption I just wrote a piece on what the Saudis are up to:

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/200 ... yroll.html

*

If any one is going to try to strangle BFRs, it is them.

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 12:56 pm
by MSimon
Duane,

I am rich in material well being beyond the dreams of kings in 1850. Which is all that matters to me. I understand the necessity of power and control. However, it is not one of my personal interests to be running the world. I am satisfied with project management.

True wealth is being satisfied with what you have. I have and have had a very interesting life. It is enough for me.

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 1:03 pm
by MSimon
djolds1 wrote:
MSimon wrote:I'm rich beyond the wildest imagination of Kings in 1850 and you are trying to tell me my standard of living is in decline? Are you nuts?
No, you're not. You have more tech-toys. You are NOT living the life of power and privilege that being in the top tier of elite brings. Having people truckle to you is the chief advantage of power. Access to the finest luxuries. Tech-toys are nice, but they are not the true rewards of power.

People don't compare themselves to the Kings of 1450. They compare themselves to the last generation. IIRC the median income of the lower half of the population has declined in PPP terms since 1980. The Gini has increased in the US since 1980. Greater relative difference between elite and commoner wealth. Higher Ginis are not good, they indicate a trend toward oligarchy, which is inimical to liberty in a mass democracy state.

1980s finance economics didn't spread the wealth so much as intensify it in house. The rich got richer, poor and middle class wealth and wages were stagnant or slightly declined in PPP terms. See wealth condensation. The entire import more than we export "service economy" game underway since 1980 is now starting to come to an end globally. This was inevitable, as the "everybody exports to the US" globalization model was unsustainable, and the question was when would the bubble burst.

Protectionism and regional trade blocs are coming back to the fore. Doesn't mean the world is coming to an end, doesn't mean the US economy and state will collapse and North America will enter a Mad Max justice by Thunderdome stage. But it does mean that long delayed economic pain and adjustment of the services and industrial balances are on the way. We're likely to see extensive reregulation of the financial sectors, and the return of industry to the US or near abroad (NAFTA Bloc).
I believe the BFR can derail that whole scenario.

In any case high tech civilization depends on access to all 92 elements which are unevenly distributed around the earth. A collapse to regionalism means a collapse of civilization. I'd rather that didn't happen.

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/200 ... -fall.html
Decline and Fall

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/200 ... n-row.html
Desolation Row

In any case you are entirely too pessimistic. Men are ingenious creatures. They will find a way or make one.

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 1:49 pm
by MSimon
A few other thoughts to ponder:

http://futurist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2 ... finan.html

http://futurist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2 ... rowth.html
In the modern age, we take for granted that the US will grow at 3.5% a year, and that the world economy grows at 4% to 4.5% a year. However, these are numbers that were unheard of in the 19th century, during which World GDP grew under 2% a year. Prior to the 19th century, annual World GDP growth was so little that changes from one generation to the next were virtually zero. Brad Delong has some data on World GDP from prehistoric times until 2000 AD.
This leads to estimates for per-capita GDP at PPP, in 2007 dollars, to be :

2007 : $10,000

2020 : $15,155

2030 : $22,400

2040 : $32,600 - $36,000

2050 : $53,200 - $64,500
Why the US Will Still be the Only Superpower in 2030.
http://futurist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2 ... _will.html

BTW Duane,

One has the choice in life of being realistic (a pessimist) or being happy. I choose happiness. For the last 200 years on average the pessimists are losing. Optimists start businesses, have children, and invent new technologies. The optimists have the upper hand these days. I have an engineers optimism "I can do it, but I must do it carefully."

You ought to read Bucky Fuller some time. He charted the curves. He was a little off on the rates but the trends are correct. The Futurists charts the curves. I think he is on to something.

I think you are mistaking a bump in the road for permanently being stuck in a pothole.

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 8:10 pm
by djolds1
MSimon wrote:Duane,

I am rich in material well being beyond the dreams of kings in 1850. Which is all that matters to me. I understand the necessity of power and control. However, it is not one of my personal interests to be running the world. I am satisfied with project management.

True wealth is being satisfied with what you have. I have and have had a very interesting life. It is enough for me.
You live in a home painted in gold leaf, walls studded with rare jewels and covered in paintings by the great masters? The thousands of square meters of halls filled with beautiful women obsessed with d├ęcolletage?

All that on 15000 USD a year? D*MN. I want your life!

Satisfaction with life is not wealth. It is contentment in the Dalai Lama sense. You have contentment, but not even what was material wealth in 1850.

You do not have the huge chateaus filigreed in gold leaf, walls covered in the priceless paintings of the great masters, grounds laid out as the gardens of Versailles filled with bronze statues cast to your tastes. You do not have novels written to your tastes on your commission. You have air conditioning, you have many fun tech-toys, just as do I. But that is not wealth per se, Simon. That is convenience. That is satisfaction. But that is not wealth. That is not power, of which wealth is merely a tool to that end.

Wealth is the ability to obtain the priceless and best of the beautiful, and wealth is the ability to obtain and demand the privileges. You and I have comforts, not wealth. Not even the wealth of 1850. Especially not the Sun King standard of wealth of 1750. The priceless of 1850 remains priceless today, and is the standard of wealth that neither of us has.

Duane

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 8:46 pm
by MSimon
I'm told David Mamet wrote "The Water Engine" with me in mind. He and I knew each other from the creation of the St. Nicholas Theater on Halsted St. In Chicago. I was at the premier production of American Buffalo at that theater. I knew Bill Macy back in the day.

So not only am I rich, I'm famous. :-)

And now I'm working on water engines. :-)

BTW the "Water Engine" guy was a radio engineer from the 30s. And now I have a chance to work on the biggest f**kn radio tube in the world (I was once Chief Engineer at WTAO - you don't get a higher honor than that).

Wealth and good fortune beyond my wildest dreams.

I have hung out with outlaw bikers and billionaires. Hunter S. Thompson once said he liked my writing.

And that is not 1/10th of it.

Palaces? Feh. Too high maintenance. And there are always guys in the background with designs on your life so they can snag the palaces.

As to big breasted women? I'll have to settle for my wife. Although back in the 60s, 70s and 80s I ran through far more than my fair share of women. My friends were always saying "how did he get Her?"

Art? My mate is an excellent artist. She did a bust of me once. Pretty good too.

And how can I leave out my #2 son who graduated with honors from the UChicago - my school. He did it to one up me. Made me proud.

As I said, I have had a very interesting life. And the interest is not over.

The wealth of Kings without all the danger.

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 9:00 pm
by djolds1
MSimon wrote:I believe the BFR can derail that whole scenario.

In any case high tech civilization depends on access to all 92 elements which are unevenly distributed around the earth. A collapse to regionalism means a collapse of civilization. I'd rather that didn't happen.

In any case you are entirely too pessimistic. Men are ingenious creatures. They will find a way or make one.
Economic Depressions, collapses of economic globalism and reregulations of finance and industry have happened before. They are hardly the stuff of civilizational collapse.

I partly agree about the Polywell. Cheap access to ever higher intensities of power is one of the best historical indicators of the advance of civilization.

The Polywell makes possible what I call the Mk1 faber. Think of the dream of the nanotech universal assembler, and then downgrade it by an order of magnitude. Consider the various 3D rapid prototyping schemes being looked at, such as the RepRap Project.

http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

Take a structure the size of an 18 wheeler trailer or standard international shipping container. Small polywell on one end. Fusion torch to break down any raw materials thrown in, magnetically sorted to raw materials bins.

The mechanism is able to form raw materials into any of a range of advanced structural materials. Bulk metallic glasses, carbon fibre composites, GaAs semiconductors, etc. Manufacturer segments can shape these into final modules.

A deployable cage with assembler arms, capable of assembling modules into a final product does so.

The Mk1 is capable of building almost anything up to say the size of a fighter plane, but not at maximum efficiency. Cloth, ammunition, drugs, whatever. It can build an item in a few days, or replicate itself in 1-2 weeks. It is the initial bootstrap module. It can also build dedicated mass production lines, also polywell powered, that build only a limited range of final products, possibly of more advanced materials than the Mk1. Gang 10-20 dedicated lines and you can build products much faster.

Dedicated heavy industry facilities would be capable of building things upto the size of An-124 cargo planes, or even larger, say something the size of a supercarrier 300 meters long. Tho the larger the items, the longer the fabrication period, even allowing for a hell of a lot of "dedicated" component lines.

Say one year to bootstrap up to a basic industrial economy, 2 years to a fully fleshed out industrial economy. Replication of basic Mk1 units is geometric, and you only need one to "reboot" an economy somewhere else.

The only remaining expenses are energy costs, costs of obtaining raw material feedstock, and whatever remuneration scheme you decide on for template designers.

Allowing for a few more refinements such as automated full service medical care

http://ebiquity.umbc.edu/project/html/id/63/Trauma-Pod

and the social welfare state is available on the cheap. Which makes QED powered expansion into the solar system or beyond (please, God, FTL?) that much easier.

Posted: Sat May 17, 2008 10:31 pm
by TallDave
You live in a home painted in gold leaf, walls studded with rare jewels and covered in paintings by the great masters?


You can view the great masters any time you want on the Internet, even print them out. Artificial gems are nearly as cheap as glass. There are numerous susbtitutes for gold leaf that are just as shiny.

I can eat foods from all over the world. I have access to medical care that can work wonders.

And the old kings never got to see Iron Man. Advantage: me.
You are NOT living the life of power and privilege that being in the top tier of elite brings.


Power is an absolute thing; status is relative. I can cross the world in a day or talk to anyone in the world instantly, but I can't have 1000 people carrying me as a king might.

We're programmed to want status, not to appreciate power on an absolute scale. So your average guy living on minimum wage doesn't necessarily count all his blessings -- but they're still there, even if they aren't provided by a bevy of bowing, scraping sycophants.

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 12:01 am
by geoffs
One quick thought on modern average life style vs kings of 1850. I'm betting a king would be pretty envious of anyone with air conditioning on a hot summer day.

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 12:25 am
by MSimon
Speaking of the great masters I had access to a couple of Rembrandts and a Titian every day after high school at the Jocelyn Art Museum in Omaha. Plus a number of other great works. There was rarely any one in the galleries from 3:30 when school let out until 5:00 when the museum closed. I had the place all to myself. Not only that they had a fabulous antiquities collection including a lot of ancient Egyptian and Babylonian Art.

I lived like a rich man without coming from a rich family. Is this a wonderful country or what?

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 3:40 am
by Solo
Very interesting discussion. I'm with geoffs on this one, though! lol

Hmm, distinction between power and status. Well, heck, you might even make a distinction between power over nature (computer, air condition, car) and power over people (fame, being president/dictator, beautiful but manipulative woman). Our technology obviously puts a king's power over nature to shame, but then and now, only a few people have huge amounts of power over others, and that's not going to change.

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:50 am
by djolds1
MSimon wrote:Why the US Will Still be the Only Superpower in 2030.
http://futurist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2 ... _will.html
One of several Great Powers probably.

China either continues to expand its economy & power, reclaiming its historic Middle Kingdom/Ruler of East Asia status, or undergoes demographic & financial implosion.

The EU either continues to expand its influence or goes insular for a time to deal with Eurabian civil strife.

Russia may rally parts of Central Asia and the East European Slavic Bloc back to its banner.

India stands good odds of becoming the hegemon of South Asia and East Africa.

Brazil either breaks out or remains the eternal "almost ran" its been for the last century.

Anyone's guess which state or states become the center of influence in the Muslim World.
MSimon wrote:BTW Duane,
Graph of income distributions since 1979.

Note that everyone below 100k USD is declining or stagnant.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Econom ... t1_l_1.gif
MSimon wrote:One has the choice in life of being realistic (a pessimist) or being happy. I choose happiness. For the last 200 years on average the pessimists are losing. Optimists start businesses, have children, and invent new technologies. The optimists have the upper hand these days. I have an engineers optimism "I can do it, but I must do it carefully."
Contentment is a good thing. But I prefer precision in statements of fact. If you can't say what you mean, you can never mean what you say.
MSimon wrote:You ought to read Bucky Fuller some time. He charted the curves. He was a little off on the rates but the trends are correct. The Futurists charts the curves. I think he is on to something.
The dual fubars of the "Limits of Growth" pessimist models and Francis Fukuyama's triumphalist "End of History" model have soured me on near term predictions of either the transcendental elevation or transcendental collapse of human society. My minimum trusted timescale for the big changes is 100 years/4 generations. Timescales for predicting technical innovation are much shorter - nothing beyond 15 years from now being reliable.
MSimon wrote:I think you are mistaking a bump in the road for permanently being stuck in a pothole.
Oh, the economic adjustment we're now apparently in the early stages of is not a long term collapse.

Duane

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:56 am
by djolds1
MSimon wrote:Palaces? Feh. Too high maintenance. And there are always guys in the background with designs on your life so they can snag the palaces.

As to big breasted women? I'll have to settle for my wife. Although back in the 60s, 70s and 80s I ran through far more than my fair share of women. My friends were always saying "how did he get Her?"
The envy of others is a downside of wealth.

But ultimately wealth is only a tool to the acquisition of status.

And when it comes to high maintenance, if I find it necessary I will pursue the female variety. :D
MSimon wrote:The wealth of Kings without all the danger.
True. I only assert my core point. The lives we lead are not those of wealth, even by the standards of the wealthy of 1850.

Duane

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 7:02 am
by djolds1
TallDave wrote:You can view the great masters any time you want on the Internet, even print them out. Artificial gems are nearly as cheap as glass. There are numerous susbtitutes for gold leaf that are just as shiny.
None of which are the genuine luxuries of wealth. A paste bead is not a pearl.
TallDave wrote:And the old kings never got to see Iron Man. Advantage: me.
True. I saw it three times within 40 hours. A record even for me. I've been an Iron Maniac since I was 12 (IM issue 200, Silver Centurion vs the Iron Monger). :)
TallDave wrote:Power is an absolute thing; status is relative. I can cross the world in a day or talk to anyone in the world instantly, but I can't have 1000 people carrying me as a king might.

We're programmed to want status, not to appreciate power on an absolute scale. So your average guy living on minimum wage doesn't necessarily count all his blessings -- but they're still there, even if they aren't provided by a bevy of bowing, scraping sycophants.
In political terms, power is the concrete exercise of the privilege that comes with status. It is forcing others to do your will, even in contradiction to their own. It is an ecstasy of status.

Duane

Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 7:03 am
by djolds1
MSimon wrote:I lived like a rich man without coming from a rich family. Is this a wonderful country or what?
Yes, it most definitely is.

Duane