In a recent post we talked about Dr. Stephen Hawking’s concerns that we may encounter unfriendly aliens, and the idea that we don’t even want no stinking alien contact around our earth.     I disagreed and to my surprise cannot  find nearly enough support for what I think is an obvious notion – superintelligences are very likely to be friends not foes, or at least will just ignore us because we are, well, pretty unimpressive by the likely standards of the probably millions of intelligent species likely to be all over the place in our spectacularly large known universe.

Horatiox suggested I may be biased by what he suggests is  a “cute alien” Hollywood standard to come to my conclusion so I thought it would be fun to look at the top 20 Sci Fi movies from IMDB and see what kinds of Aliens appear in those.

1. 8.8 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back(1980) 265,556
2. 8.8 Star Wars (1977) 309,465
3. 8.6 The Matrix (1999) 362,975
4. 8.6 Iron Man 2 (2010) 1,781
5. 8.5 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 225,768
6. 8.5 Alien (1979) 172,229
7. 8.5 WALL·E (2008) 168,690
8. 8.5 A Clockwork Orange (1971) 184,963
9. 8.5 Aliens (1986) 163,247
10. 8.4 Metropolis (1927) 37,463
11. 8.4 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 153,902
12. 8.4 Back to the Future (1985) 191,070
13. 8.3 Avatar (2009) 226,753
14. 8.3 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) 202,527
15. 8.3 Blade Runner (1982) 178,350
16. 8.2 District 9 (2009) 134,452
17. 8.2 The War Game (1965) 1,480
18. 8.2 Donnie Darko (2001) 200,859
19. 8.1 Ivan Vasilevich menyaet professiyu (1973) 2,905
20. 8.1 The Thing (1982) 74,264

Well, I’d hoped to make a stronger case that Hollywood aliens are mean, but it’s looking like you could make either case from these films.    Star Wars bad guys vs Star Wars cute nice guys,   Terminator bad vs Wall E good, etc.     I think Hollywood is all over the place on this though I guess Horatiox could point to AVATAR and note how cute they are and how mean the humans are.

Key of C Coffee Shop in Ashland Oregon

Just thought i’d throw out a post from the Key of C Coffee shop in Ashland Oregon where I was visiting with pal Keith who always has great travel insights – in fact he has a great website for Tuvalu: Nanumea in Tuvalu and another for Italy:

Ashland is home to an amazing number of coffee shops and Bed and Breakfasts, though in my opinion now that the Whistle Stop is closing : ( ,  the nicest coffee house in Southern Oregon is Downtowne Coffee Shop in Talent.

Dear Aliens, please ignore Dr. Stephen Hawking. You are very welcome here anytime.

Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist who brings so much insight to physics, cosmology, and the study of the universe in general, seems to have been spent a bit too much time watching “Independence Day” or ABC’s new TV show “V”  before filming a recent segment on his new Discover Channel series.

In one of his most widely quoted statements in years Hawking noted (very correctly and obviously) that the math of the universe suggests there is almost certainly other life out there and probably other intelligent life, but then bizarrely adds this:

“Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach,” Hawking said. “If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?”

He goes on to speculate that contacting aliens may well be a big mistake as the collision of our culture and theirs could be similar to when Columbus came to the Americas, with an outcome unfavorable to the indiginous populations.


I think I’ll give Hawking the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s been dipping into a legal marijuana prescription for some ailment (or more likely just hyping the alien connection for the show)  but this kind of dumb statement from smart people reminds me of the singularity folks who fret far too much that superintelligences will be malevolent.

There is very little reason to assume this and a lot of reasons to assume the opposite for the reasons I go into below.

Also important is the fact that aliens with the technological capability to visit our lonely little planet at the edge of the galaxy are very likely to have technology so powerful that we’d pose essentially zero threat to them, so friendship is a much better survival strategy than fighting and hoping for the preposterously stupid scenario of  the film  “Indendence Day” where a computer glitch, exploited via an Apple laptop Computer (!) , destroys a massive fleet of massive alien ships.

For example go back to the battle of Trafalgar where the British defeated France in a battle that would cement England’s global hedgemony well into the next century.    Then consider how a *single* WWII aircraft carrier  (representing only a +140 year military technological improvements vs the 1000s of years likely from the Aliens) could have crushed and destroyed both fleets in minutes without sustaining damage or casualties.    Whoever possessed that single ship could likely have dominated the globe for a century.

But.. I digress because I don’t think Aliens are likely to be mean, let alone threaten our existence.    In fact my greatest fear about Aliens is that we’ll be so profoundly uninteresting to them – still in our very early stages of intellectual development – that they will  …. just …. leave.

Why nice Aliens?  First, if we view human intellectual development  from an evolutionary, individual, or societal standpoint we see that progress generally means *better treatment* of others, not worse.     Note for example how the  common practices of child labor and  slavery are out of vogue, not increasing in popularity.     Although slavery is still practiced by dispicable folks it is an aberration, illegal, and generally fought by the powers that be rather than embraced as it was centuries ago.

In terms of evolutionary development I think most of us would rather find ourselves confronted by even the most vicious and uncaring Wall Street CEO than a hungry tiger shark or lion.    Evolution has “softened” our approach to hunting and gathering in ways that are less violent.    Even if the Aliens Hawking fears come with the intention of exploiting our resources, this is likely to happen much more as a peaceful economic transaction than a violent act of piracy.   For example they might trade something of huge value to us like cold fusion propulsion technology for something they can’t synthesize themselves.    However it also seems unlikely that they’d have any need of the resources we hold dear because they will probably be able to synthesize all their needs from basic raw materials available in uninhabited planets and stars in a galaxy nearer them.    Given even a hundred years of nanotechnology progress leads to innovations that are hard for us to imagine, and these Alien dudes are likely to be thousands of years beyond out technology, again making my case that they are likely to simply ignore us as uninteresting simple life rather than threaten us.     We don’t pay much attention to the worms, ants, spiders, and beetles in our yard even though they do have some very interesting capabilities.

….. more later …..

[ Singularity before Aliens / Edge of the galaxy problem / age = wisdom / more logic = less violence]

Dear President Obama. Don’t forget … the debt.

You can feel the budget bucks blowing as unprecedented government spending continues to  1. Fix the immediate problems in the economy  and 2. threatens major future disruptions of the economy and standards of living.

Unfortunately the polarization in politics has the most vocal folks in the camp either keeping quiet about the looming time bomb of massive debt or unfairly lambasting the president for the bailout and spending sprees that are more a function of the democratic process (where voters reward foolish spending by legislators if it’s in their own district) than a function of Obama’s ideas.

The solutions are not clear but they clearly involve a shift in spending priorities that must begin very, very soon.    I’m not very optimistic, thinking that neither party can possibly make the cuts needed.    There’s a lot of Republican and Tea Party talk about fiscal restraint, but until the massive military budget sits squarely on the budget table those fake conservatives are just flapping their gums.    Real spending reform will require *massive cuts* across the board, a move that is so politically impossible it’s not going to happen.

A point I’m struggling to study is the notion that the entire recovery has simply been purchased at the expense of our kids, by pushing the debt sky high with borrowed dollars that we are unlikely to be able to repay.    The reason China and other countries keep loaning the US money can be understood in very simple terms – they don’t really have more desirable alternatives since our economy is what keeps their economy growing so robustly.

I think many in the Obama administration sincerely (though very foolishly) believe that there will be a “green revolution” that will bring unprecedented levels of prosperity and allow us to repay the debt.     Possible but in my view very unlikely, especially as we watch how quickly “green” has been co-opted by marketeers and others for whom this is simply another profit vehicle.  Nothing wrong with profit, but it’s tricky to mix  profit motives with  “good will” because there are often conflicts between the two.

Cuba Votes. But they can’t Choose, Challenge, or Change.

I’m reading about how Cubans are heading to the polls to vote in municipal assembly elections.    Sounds OK at first until you realize that the candidates are … effectively pre screened :

Candidates in municipalities across the country are selected by a show of hands by local monitoring groups called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, who are also responsible for reporting suspicious neighborhood activity.

Now THAT’s socialism, Mr and Ms. Tea Partiers.      Even though I’m very strongly for an end to the stupid Cuban trade embargo (which mostly just rationalizes Castro’s anti -US rhetorical ranting), I realize what a lousy system Cubans have been saddled with thanks to the shortsighted socialist policies that have plagued that nation since the Castro revolution and Soviet policy direction some 50 years ago.

While here we constantly hear whining from the right about how socialistic the nation is becoming and from the left about how fascistic we are, clear thinkers *around the world* understand that our US system is a robust system.    The first thing at any Tea Party rally should be to thank their lucky stars to live in a system that *lets them* treat the president with such contempt and disrespect.   I find it shameful, unsettling, and strategically stupid as I did with the anti Bush crowd, but it’s good that we allow the level of free speech required for this.

Our US democracy is flawed in many ways of course – as all systems are – but only if you focus too narrowly on those flaws (as critics do) will you come to the conclusion that America is a bad place.   In fact America is a great place filled with great people representing hundreds of countries and different cultures who are able to choose, challenge, and change their government.    No better example of this was the election of 2008  where Americans chose an entirely new course for the country.     Ironically and problematically we failed to let the winners know that most folks did NOT want the huge government spending and heavy hand that has been invoked by the new congress and to a lesser extent President Obama.     But the course of American policy changed – in my opinion for the better except in terms of post-bailout government spending plans which are too big for our britches, especially our military budget which combines a lot of misguided policies with massive extra spending.   One wonders at what point those who call themselves “conservatives” started advocating for the massive global military spend, much of which could have been eliminated with more creative foreign policies as the US rose to power as the key global player after WWII.


Are You an Information Addict?

Incredibly, “Information Addiction” is a recognized psychological disorder.    I suppose I can see how somebody could be obsessive in collecting information and how that could interfere with their life, but I’m a little worried that overzealous pseudopsychologists are going overboard with this type of silly diagnosis.   People we formerly would have called  “bright” will soon be lumped in with the methamphetamine pushers.

Dr. Kimberly S. Young, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, commented, “The Internet only feeds America’s ‘fast food’ mentality towards information. People are craving immediate access to the most up-to-date, current information and then find themselves trapped in enormous information gluts.”

Trapped in enormous information gluts ?      Maybe Dr. Young’s happy to live in blissful ignorance but in my book “enormous information glut” people are better called ….          ‘well informed’..

309 South First, Talent 045

309 South First, Talent 045

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Soon selling a 1BR Talent, Oregon house in great location with full lot for $137,500. Owner financing with a reasonable down payment.     I live across from the house in one of the nicest parts of sunny Southern Oregon – the friendly town of Talent.

Although the house is small, it’s in good shape.    A slap patio could probably be converted to double the living space which is currently about 500 square feet.      Zoning in this area would also allow a second house on the lot.

Airport Blog

There’s some tweaking and LOTS of changes needed for old pages, but I’m getting happy with the new look of the Airports Blog and Airport and Airlines Directory I’m trying to resurrect after many years of neglect and abuse. was initially the web’s largest collection of airport records – about 28,000 database records in an early online version of a failed dedicated system developed to help navigate several airports around the country.

I bought it years ago and despite early successes I managed to offend Google with the link structure and low quality.  The irony of the experience was that I actually did NOT deploy a lot of the clever ideas I had for fear Google would lower my good ranking for many Airport related terms.      Eventually Google downranked the site but now seems to be happy with QuickAid as a prominent Airport Directory, so it’s time to make it … much better.

This process will take some time, but, like I keep explaining to mom about my real estate projects ….  it’s going to be … great when I’m done!

Airline Phones and Websites

WordPress fix for: Post Title is overlapping the category list

Just wanted to post a WordPress style workaround I’ve found for a WordPress problem I’ve struggled with for some time here and at the Airport Directory

I’m using INOVE so maybe it’s particular to that theme.

The Problem:   Post Title is overlapping the category list when you have more than a few categories listed above the post.

The Solution lies in changing the file style.css  (which you access from your control panel / appearance / themes)

Look for this:
#postpath {
background:url(img/icons.gif) 0 -208px no-repeat;
margin:16px 0;

CHANGE this         margin:16px o; to this:           margin:32px o;

It worked for me and gave the needed extra spacing for all the categories.    This is a problem that seems to be from having a lot of WordPress post categories.

Thanks to the Ben the Wonder Boy for helping figure this out.