Thoughts on Fermi and Drake

I read an article a week or so ago which got me thinking, and I don’t recall where I read it and I’m too lazy to look it up, but the idea was that and developed, global society, certainly any society capable of space travel, would have to reach a point where we’re at now, where their industry was totally destroying their environment.
Now, the most pessimistic view is that technological civilizations automatically self-destruct, and that would resolve the Fermi Paradox (which is no more a real paradox than the Drake equation is an equation), but it’s all a bit too gloom and doomish for a glass half full type of guy like myself, so I prefer to look at it like this.
Assuming there are a billion billion stars in our galaxy (and it’s probably not less), that is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, and if one out of a thousand of those stars has a planet like ours, in the Goldilocks zone, with an oxygen atmosphere, plenty of water, and a bit of dry ground to walk around on, that would be 1,000,000,000,000,000 Earth like planets, and if life, sweet, single-celled autotrophic life, evolved on one out of a thousand of those planets, that’s still a trillion planets, (or 1,000,000,000,000) and if intelligent life evolved on one out of a thousand of those planets (because, admittedly, we got very lucky with the comet that killed all the dinosaurs), that would still mean a billion planets with civilizations like ours, and hundreds of billions of dinosaur worlds, which would make for super cool galactic colonialism.
Out of that billion, I cannot believe that ALL would self-destruct because, just as it is possible for a species to be stupider than ours, it is clearly obvious that it’s possible for a species to be smarter than ours (because we can be godawful stupid at times), and if even one out of a thousand of those planets survive their globally self-induced climate crisis and go on to colonize space, that’s still a million civilizations.
I think these can fairly be categorized as conservative estimates, but it still means a lot of alien civilizations out there we could communicate and do trade with (and maybe some we had damn well better not, too)
Will we be intelligent enough to survive long enough to meet them? We can be. If we want to.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath

Yeah, there’s a lot of talk about the January 6th hearings. But don’t expect anything to come of them.
For one thing, that’s January 6th, 2001. It’s an event that took place a year and a half ago. Most people have moved on. I saw a line in a newspaper article that said the hearings were being watched ‘live, by 19 million people!’ as if that were a big deal. That’s less than 1 out of 15 Americans.
For another thing, congress is not going to send an ex-president to jail. They never prosecuted Bush the younger despite his clear reveling in war crimes and torture, they never prosecuted his dad although he had plenty of war crimes of his own, and Reagan was never prosecuted for selling arms to the Iranians in order to give that money to an organization in Nicaragua that raped and murdered nuns.
Politicians are like rich people. Almost none of them go to jail despite the fact that almost all of them should.
Point three, this is just a hearing, not an actual trial. Congress can wrap it up with whatever recommendations they like, and then nothing will happen anyway.
I predict they’ll conclude the hearings and congratulate themselves for having ‘exposed’ Trump (who was very well exposed all along, exposure is his whole thing) and move on to the next thing that has nothing to do with saving the Earth or improving the lives of anybody who’s not filthy rich, and people will accept that.
I’m not happy about it, but that’s how it’s going to happen, because that’s how it always happens.

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Hustle

People talk a lot of smack about Netflix, because 90% of the stuff they have is garbage, they haven’t added a great, or even very good, TV series for a while and the sequels mostly lack the charisma of the originals, but, in their defense, they do keep adding comedy specials and films, and even though most of those are garbage, too, they occasionally come up with a gem.
Hustle, with Adam Sandler and Queen Latifa, is such a gem. I thought it was going to be like Sandy Wexler, and there were definitely similarities, but it was also a little bit like Rocky. The running up the hill montage was a bit over the top obvious homage, as was setting it in Philadelphia, but it all worked in the story, so you can’t say it was just Rocky with basketball, either.
It was a sweet, thoughtful story about men who loved their families, it was a rags to riches fantasy tale realistically told, it had some humor but it wasn’t your typical Adam Sandler cringe humor fest, it was simply fucking brilliant all around, including the music.
I like this version of Adam Sandler. Spanglish, Sandy Wexler, maybe Blended, and this. Oh, I kind of like it when he plays for the cheaper laughs, too. Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Anger Management and Fifty First Dates were all great films, but I like this new, non-childish, more sensitive Adam Sandler.
If you like sports movies, and appreciate watching Adam Sandler when he’s not pretending to be a big, middle-aged baby, you’ll like this.
And I hope Netflix keeps films like this coming.

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The Dumbest Solution

First, let me be clear. The problem is guns, and the sooner that problem is ended, by banning AR 15s and making any guns so difficult to purchase that a questionable person would never be able to get their hands on one, the better.
Right wing gun nuts have talked about a lot of other solutions, like arming teachers or giving all the kids bulletproof backpacks, but one of the stupidest solutions I’ve heard comes from one of the stupidest people in the world, Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas. He says that every school should only have one door. First of all, that’s a fire hazard. It would be ironic (Alanis Morrisette definition, which is the way we all use the word) and tragic to be so well defended against a possible lunatic gunman that all the children in the school die in a blazing inferno. Secondly, a gunman only needs one door. If there are guards at the door, which would mean waiting in a long line every day to get into school, thus increasing tardiness and truancy, then the guards would be the first to be shot, and after that you’re back to square one because you’ve got a gunman inside and the police sure as hell aren’t going to go in.
A far better solution would be LOTS of doors. New schools should be built in which all classrooms are on the ground floor, with their own door to the outside, so that as soon as a shot is fired in one classroom, the rest of the building could be evacuated in seconds.
Of course, that still means a skilled marksman could take down one classroom full of kids and a few more as they’re racing across the lawn but, hey, not every deranged psychopathic kid is a great marksman, so it would reduce the deaths at least.
Or, we could just ban guns.

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A Totally Irrational Position

Like far too many Americans, I have family members who are obsessed with guns, and I respect their intelligence and character – in all other things. But, I’m tired of arguing with them about guns as if they had a normal, rational position. They do not.
This is not about mental health and, if it were, that argument only bolsters the anti-gun side because if our society is so completely off the rails, it is definitely not a good idea for people to have easy access to guns.
They start in on arguments about types of guns and terminology, which is just to display that they know a lot about guns, and it’s like people arguing over the merits of their favorite superheroes – it can be fun if you’re in that group, but everybody else in the world is wondering what is wrong with you, what deep void in your life you are trying to fill.
They make completely daft comparisons like “Drugs are illegal but people still get drugs” as if it is futile to ever pass a law against anything, and they say “well, if you ban guns people can kill just as many other people with knives, or baseball bats” which is so far from true that you flat out can’t get there from here.

They are more than a few nut jobs giving the rest a bad name. They are a significant enough number of nut jobs that they can influence elections, and legislation. And, in the wake of yet another murderous rampage, I am tired of pretending that they have a rational, or even sane, position.

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