The Singularity Summit

I couldn’t attend (it’s in New York City) but The New Atlantis is live blogging it.

[Update an hour or so later]

More reporting from Popular Science.

[Update Sunday evening]

Phil Bowermaster says that the folks at The New Atlantis don’t seem to understand for whom the bell tolls. Or the applause indicts.

And I should note that I have significant philosophical differences with the good people at the Ethics and Environmental Policy Center, which publishes the magazine. But I say good people, because they have differences with me as well, but still feel that my space policy pieces are important to publish. And in fact I’ve no reason to think that they disagree on that issue.

As I and others have noted before, space expansion and increased human longevity are inextricably intertwined. The latter requires the former, ultimately, and the former allows the latter. Both are fundamental to extropianism.

An Existential Question

This is a sign I saw on the road from Las Cruces to Tucson.

Dust Storm Sign

So. What does it mean?

Is it a description of what might be? That there is a possibility of dust storms? Here, and now, but not other wheres or whens? Or is it (as we were reprimanded by our mothers or English teachers) simply an expression of permission for dust storms to exist? By whom? Our betters in Santa Fe, or Phoenix? These are state-sanctioned dust storms? And they’re not permitted elsewhere?

Or is it more of a Heisenbergian deal? That dust storms simultaneously both exist and don’t exist, and which is the case is determined only when one collapses the wave function by driving down the road to Lordsburg?

I’ll never know for sure, of course, but I can say that I never saw a dust storm on the trip.

Next up (or perhaps other things in between) — a road sign that I liked a lot more, on the American autobahn. There are a few things that the Germans got right.

Deja Vu

I’m watching Michigan demonstrate why it’s the worst 4-0 team in the country against the Spartans. They seem to be reverting to the team that they were last year. Last week’s win against Indiana may have been their last this season.

[Post-game update — the above was posted in the third quarter]

Well, they almost pulled off another one, like Notre Dame and Indiana, but their luck ran out in overtime.

Life Imitates Art

The most recent clown to enter that circus known as the US Senate says that Chicago didn’t get the Olympics because of Bush. Just as predicted.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Here’s a non-nutty explanation for the Olympics decision. Don’t expect the administration to learn from the experience, though — as a commenter notes over there, the president is far too intrinsically, almost pathologically narcissistic to change.

And then, of course, there’s also this:

A sense of stunned bewilderment suffused Air Force One and the White House. Only after the defeat did many advisers ask questions about the byzantine politics of the Olympic committee. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser and a Chicago booster who persuaded him to make the trip while at the United Nations last week, had repeatedly compared the contest to the Iowa caucuses.

The country’s in the very best of hands.

Desperate Times

…call for desperate tax reforms? If California would do something like this, I’d feel a lot better about moving back, and maybe even start a business. I can’t see it happening, though, absent a massive voter revolt that throws out the gerrymandered morons in Sacramento. And the gerrymandering dictates against that, absent some kind of proposition to blow up the redistricting system.

But, But…

I thought that when Barack Obama was elected, it would mean (in addition to lowering the ocean and all of the other things) a restoration of international respect for the benighted nation that had suffered under the BusHitler regime, and that we’d get better cooperation from the world. So, imagine my shock when I hear that, after spending hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of your and my money on an Air Force One flight to Copenhagen to lobby for his corrupt home town to get the Olympics, he gets shut out.

I have to confess that I had badly misunderestimated these peoples’ political ineptitude. I had just sort of assumed that, like much of what the administration does, this was just a photo op to impress the booboisie, and that the Windy City Olympic bid was a done deal. I mean, what American president with an ounce of political sense would risk getting so publicly spurned on the international stage?

But then, the question sort of answers itself, doesn’t it? Anyway, if I were a Chicago resident, I’d be cheering. I wouldn’t wish an Olympics on anyone.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Yes, it does seem like a missed opportunity for synergy:

Here is why Chicago should win: The International Olympic Committee is one of the most disgusting, corrupt organizations in the world. Placing the games in Chicago is a match made in Heaven. If there were a competition for graft, Chicago would regularly win bronze, silver and gold. Bring on the synchronized corruption.

On the other hand, Rio’s no piker when it comes that sort of thing, either.

[Update a few minutes later]

Ramesh agrees with me:

Obviously I had way too much confidence in the Obama administration’s political skills. But I’m sure that Obama will be a lot more persuasive with the Iranians.

As Paul Dietz said in comments, dry humor is the best kind.

[Update a few minutes later]

I’m sure I’ll be neither the first or last to note it, but obviously, the IOC is racist.

[Update a few minutes later]

To elaborate on the serious, and concerning point:

Diplomacy 101 tells us that your head of state only shows up on the high-profile stage when a deal is complete. The lesson that most politicians learn well before they gain positions of power is that diplomacy is done by diplomats, professionals who work through all the negotiations and the hardball tactics and the carrot/stick combinations. The principals in the matter gather to discuss high-level topics and to smile for the cameras as the agreement is being signed. Heads of state do not conduct diplomacy, they ratify it, and surprises are entirely unwelcome at those summits and signing events (hence Reagan’s anger in Iceland.)

Why were you and Ramesh surprised? Because you thought that President Obama at least knew this very basic lesson. Today’s announcement suggests that he does not, and it just got advertised big-time to countries who already were pretty sure we had a rookie at the helm who didn’t know how to use international power. President Obama just got upstaged by an organization against whom no retaliation is acceptable, and he wants to meet with the Iranians next month? We are in deep, deep trouble.


I had already noted my underestimation of the political ineptitude, even after all the other blunders we’ve seen in the first eight months of this administration. I won’t make that mistake again. I suspect that a lot of people won’t. I’ll be interested to see his poll numbers next week.

[Late morning update]

Instapundit is disappointed:

That’s too bad. I was kinda looking forward to seeing President Palin speak at the opening ceremonies…

Yeah, it would have been a nice way to kick off her campaign for reelection.

Ah well, so much for “smart diplomacy.”

[Late morning update]

Tucker Carlson:

Why didn’t Obama see this coming? He spends all this time, gets all this press, uses all this political capital to promote Chicago, and then loses? What an amateur. Prosecutors don’t ask witnesses questions in court unless they’re sure of the answers. Presidents don’t stake their personal reputations on contests whose outcomes are uncertain. Very foolish move. No wonder he can’t get health care passed.

If I were a Democrat, my morale, and confidence in this president, would be at an all-time low today. But then, I’m not a Democrat, and it was never high to start with.

[Early afternoon update]

The top ten reasons Chicago didn’t get the Olympics:

10. Dead people can’t vote at IOC meetings.
9. Obama distracted by 25-minute meeting with Gen. McChrystal.
8. Who cares if Obama couldn’t talk the IOC into Chicago? He’ll be able to talk Iran out of nukes.
7. The impediment is Israel still building settlements.
6. Obviously no president would have been able to accomplish it.

Follow the link for the top five.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!