Extrapolation

I love ongoing debates which may never be resolved, such as Team Evolution versus the Intelligent Design crew.  I am hesitant to even post this since it tends to provoke apoplexy in people.  This quote from Jerry Coyne is quite clever which I got from this article.

When, after a Christmas visit, we watch grandma leave on the train to Miami, we assume that the rest of her journey will be an extrapolation of that first quarter-mile. A creationist unwilling to extrapolate from micro- to macroevolution is as irrational as an observer who assumes that, after grandma’s train disappears around the bend, it is seized by divine forces and instantly transported to Florida. (Nature 412:587, 19 August 2001.)

Of course, there are big risks to extrapolation which any one who has ever traded in the markets has learned.  As legendary trader Ed Seykota put it, “The trend is your friend except at the end when it bends.”

Then there is Mark Twain’s masterpiece from Life on the Mississippi.

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

I suppose the debate could end when a single observation is made which no longer requires extrapolation.  Let’s say it does I doubt that will change the minds of many.  Conversely, if it is shown at some point that it’s completely impossible to go from micro –> macro I doubt that will change many minds on the other side either.  Beliefs persist.

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Please Head for the Cliff

Salon has an article When Google Lost Its Cool.  Once you get really big, and powerful it is inevitable that you become controlling, that you spend less time innovating and more time trying to suppress competition.  If you took all the large corporations absent help from big government most of them would disappear in two generations.  It wouldn’t bother me the least if Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook all disappeared over the next 25 years.  They would be replaced with other innovative businesses who would become like them.  Human nature is immutable.

Less Liking than Before

I follow over 100 blogs on various topics (my current unread list > 1k, e.g., 249 on politics and economics, 271 in technology).  I have experimented with WordPress’ Reader and Blog Lovin’s.  In the end they are really lame compared with the most minimal stand alone RSS reader.  Moving my follow list into NetNewsWire has brought about fewer Likes on the blogs I follow simply because I don’t stay signed in all the time.  But if I follow someone, I read them even if it’s weeks in arrears.

Game Changer?

Interesting study from NASA.  Does this flip the script? This study concerns itself with the thermosphere.  What happens down here on the surface could be different.  The Russian climatologists have always believed solar flares were the cause of the warming effect.  Right now temperature appears to be in an overall slight downward trend.  Who knows what is really going on, the system is way too complex.  I know this much, the elite who tell me I should care sure spend a lot of time on private jets flying to conferences and riding around in big SUV’s.  When they act like C02 is a problem I will.

Update:  The thermosphere aspect is much bigger than I understood as explained here.

 

 

Incurvatus in se

Being down with the flu, the real kind,  for over a week reminds you of your own mortality.  We tend to live as if we will live forever.  We all know we are going to die, we grow up witnessing it but at the same time death is what happens to the other guy.  We make our big plans, do our quotidian tasks, and chase after the superficial.  We are the center and all things turn back to us.  We cannot escape it.  We want to do well so people recognize our contribution.  We want our children to do well because if they don’t it reflects poorly on us.  A failed project is not horrible because of failure per se, but because it embarrasses our superiors.  The best among us cannot escape the me focus.  It is our nature.  Most are familiar with the expression, “One foot in the grave” for the person who is near death.  I think we have that exactly backwards.  Turn on the news, look at every car accident, robbery, murder, fall at home, or “wrong place at the wrong time” event.  We have one foot in life the rest of us is standing in a hole just waiting for the dirt to hit us in the face.  For all the getting in this life we devote ourselves to, we should get gratitude for the time we have and those that we are able to love and love us.