News Briefs 22-12-2008

A great variety of news — to help you escape those awkward moments in holiday dinner conversation.

Thanks, Greg.

Quote of the Day:

You’ve got to be physically pretty strong to be any good at it at all. You’ve got to have a hard-core mental attitude. You’ve got to have the right mantra. You’ve got to have dedication, a sense of security, safety and sensitivity with your partners, and a good sense of balance. It’s a combination of many, many things. You need to have the capability or desire to accept a certain amount of risk. A lot of it is maybe spiritual, not a religious type, but you have to have an affinity with the outdoors.

You’re putting yourself on the line. Man used to put himself on the line all the time. Nowadays we’re protected by the police, fire, everything. There’s not much adventure left. Unless you look for it.

Legendary mountaineer Fred Beckey, still climbing at age 85.

  1. Great list of news were it not for the…
    … “Warning: Includes language some readers may find offensive.” on the Cracked link. Is it really necessary to warn people of that?

    1. The warning is valid
      [quote=archdake]… “Warning: Includes language some readers may find offensive.” on the Cracked link. Is it really necessary to warn people of that?[/quote]

      Yes it is. Kat doesn’t get the complaint emails, Greg does.

      If you don’t like it, there are a zillion other news links to grab your attention.

    2. warning…
      Hi archdake,

      How’s Hairball?

      >> Great list of news were it not for the…”Warning: Includes language some readers may find offensive.” on the Cracked link. Is it really necessary to warn people of that?

      Maybe not ‘necessary’ — considering that Greg contributed the link. haha

      I was just trying to be thoughtful of those who don’t like such language — and of any parents out there who might not want their kids reading it.

      Kat

  2. Hidden Leonardo’s sketches
    [quote]This real-life mystery is set in the Louvre and the clues are hidden behind a 16th-century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. Remind you of anything? [/quote]

    Bachelor Party?

    Oh, wait! In that one it wasn’t a horse, it was a donkey 😉

    Anyway, it’s interesting that in this particular case, one curator’s pareidolia actually turned out to be correct.

    —–
    It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
    It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

    Red Pill Junkie

  3. Replacement for shuttle must serve as a bridge craft
    [quote]I vote for this bridge.[/quote]

    I click the link but all I get is a block and a reprimand 🙁

    —–
    It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
    It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

    Red Pill Junkie

      1. I vote for D
        The use of wood —one of the earliest building materials in human history— in the command bridge of a space vessel is particularly appealing to me. It conveys the praise and respect the people of the Star Trek Universe had for their past history.

        —–
        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

  4. Cleverness pill
    [quote]If you could pop a pill to raise your IQ, would you? [/quote]

    I dunno… it’s probably not the smartest thing to do.

    …But that’s the reason I needed the pill in the first place! To be smart enough NOT to do stupid things like that 😛

    —–
    It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
    It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

    Red Pill Junkie

    1. Ethics of artificial cleverness
      >> I dunno… it’s probably not the smartest thing to do. …But that’s the reason I needed the pill in the first place! To be smart enough NOT to do stupid things like that 😛

      I haven’t yet had time to read the 117 comments, but amazingly enough, all on my own, I’ve thought of at least one potential problem not mentioned in the article.

      Humanity is as ethically challenged as we are intellectually challenged. Suppose the pharmas did develop a cleverness pill that could reliably raise anyone’s IQ by, say, 30 points. Einstein opposed war, yet other ambitious, competitive scientists used his insights to create nuclear weapons. And ever since, our illustrious elite leaders have had a difficult time resisting the urge to blow the whole planet to smitherines. How well would humanity cope with a vast increase in the number of such scientific geniuses — not to mention all the dictators and terrorists who would suddenly be a lot smarter, but no more ethical?

      For some reason, this line of thought brought to mind a fictional mad scientist whose emotional maturity was particularly lacking, though any James Bond villian would serve as well — not to mention Star Trek The Next Generation’s cautionary tale about genetically enhanced humans. From Wikipedia’s entry on Lex Luthor:

      In the origin story printed in Adventure Comics #271 (1962), Lex Luthor is an aspiring scientist who resides in Smallville, the hometown of Superboy. During an attempt to create an artificial form of life, an accidental fire breaks out in Luthor’s lab. Superboy uses his super-breath to extinguish the flames, inadvertently spilling chemicals which cause Luthor to go bald; in the process, he also destroys Luthor’s priceless life form. Believing Superboy intentionally caused the accident, Luthor attributes his actions to jealousy and vows revenge. He first tries to show up Superboy with grandiose inventions which will improve the lives of Smallville’s residents, but each goes dangerously out of control and requires Superboy’s intervention. Unwilling to accept responsibility for these mishaps, Luthor rationalizes that Superboy is out to humiliate him. This revised origin makes Luthor’s fight with Superman a personal one, and suggests that if events had unfolded differently, Luthor might have been a more noble person.

      What would be the consequences of suddenly having several thousand (or several hundred thousand) pharmaceutically enhanced Lex Luthors in the world?

      Perhaps the pharmas should be required to develop a corresponding ‘ethics-enhancing emotional-intelligence pill’ before they start dishing out artificial genius to every Tom, Dick and Lex with a fat bank account.

      1. What about us?
        We’re here discussing the ethical conundrums of a potential IQ pill, while using an artificial cognitive potentiator commonly referred to as the Internet.

        If I want to illustrate a particular point in my comments, I simply type some words in the Google task bar, and Voilá: instant electronic feedback to enrich my text.

        Google is already a IQ pill, that gives me the illusion of being smarter. Unfortunately the Internet has sometimes the drawback of bringing out the worst of some individuals (i.e. Anonymous trolling)—BTW, Firefox has just annoyingly reminded me that ‘Anonymous’ must be typed with a ‘y‘.

        —–
        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

      2. no comics needed
        We don’t really have to go to fiction or comics.

        Mao, Lenin, Attila, Augustus, Alexander, Edward #1, Elizabeth #1, Genghis Khan, etc etc – all highly intelligent people.

        —-
        It is not how fast you go
        it is when you get there.

        1. no fiction or comics needed
          Exactly!

          Actually, it worries me that Lex Luthor was the first thing that popped into my head — bound to be a terrible indicator of something or other. 😉

          Kat

          1. again ?
            What scares me about this is not the possibility of medication.

            It is that this happens naturally.

            And it is not a question of if, it is just when.

            —-
            It is not how fast you go
            it is when you get there.

  5. Warnings and stuff.
    Hey Kat and Rick!

    Hairball’s doing fine [as fine as he can be,
    considering his moral took a serious blow when
    I told him that he wouldn’t be considered a sattelite
    even if he orbited earth, he he].

    Now to the point: This discussion has happened
    before [around 2001-2002 I think]. I don’t want
    Greg or any other Grailer to receive complaints
    because our society is too prude to accept references
    to parts of the human body. We can’t help it,
    P.C. is everywhere these days.

    Have a great holiday season guys, I’m just my grumpy
    self this holiday season…

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