When Thoughts Can Fly Helicopters And Apes Throw Tantrums While Gambling

Ed Raymond

My father lived to be just six months short of 100 and my mother made it to 94, so I have a chance to see corporate researchers living on the moon making pharmaceutical companies very rich by manufacturing drugs that can only be produced in space. I would love to live to see NASA astronauts fly to a big asteroid and tug it away from an earth-striking orbit. I thought when John Kennedy said we would land a man on the moon within a decade he had been sneaking into Father Joe’s whiskey.

   Private firms such as Bigelow Aerospace are preparing orbiting habitats and profitable scientific moon missions. President Barack Obama has requested $105 million in NASA’s budget to prepare a mission to find a small asteroid and reposition in it around the moon by 2025, very close to my 103rd birthday. It’s possible!
  As our astronauts take off on a search and destroy-or-move  asteroid mission, it would be doubly fascinating to have them spot herds of woolly mammoths roaming the temperate and tundra plains of earth. This is also possible!  Russian scientists have discovered a well-preserved wooly mammoth carcass on an Arctic island above Siberia. Evidently caught in a sudden storm, the mammoth’s lower body was stuck in pure ice. As the scientists “defrosted” the body, blood poured from a hole made by a pick. The scientists agreed that the muscle tissue was in good condition, showing a natural red color.

  Mammoths died off about 10,000 years ago because of changing climates and the hunting of humans. Mammoths were normally 13 feet in height and weighed about ten tons. Some scientists believe that this mammoth can be cloned because they have already constructed the genetic code. The blood of the Russian mammoth is being preserved for just that purpose.

Piloting Helicopters By Thought And Flying Through Windshields Without Thinking

   A University of Minnesota research team has developed a technique called electroencephalography (EEG) that enables subjects equipped with a cap with 64 electrodes to fly a quadcopter, a very high tech flying robot. The small helicopter was accurately controlled for a sustained amount of time without moving a muscle. They flew it by imagining raising or lowering their right or left hands. If they thought-raised their left hand, the copter turned left, and so on. Bin He, the lead scientist, says: “Our study shows that for the first time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts, sensed from noninvasive brain waves. Our next goal is to control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals with the eventual goal of developing brain-computer interfaces that aid patients with disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders.”

   Scientists in England and China are studying the same techniques. The English are working with NASA on developing a similar system on board a spacecraft to use during very long fatiguing flights. Over half of the people killed in  Minnesota car crashes ended up being ejected from vehicles because they were not wearing seat belts. Evidently these people missed the classic science lesson of what happens to objects when they meet objects moving in opposite directions–or immovable objects such as bridges, trees, and approaches. As a lesson in classic inertia and moving matter, a crash near Ham Lake in Minnesota took the lives of four young parents. Only a nine-month old baby survived a head-on crash. He was the only one strapped in. None of the four went flying to their deaths buckled up. Now that is really stupid. One might think if we can fly robots without moving a muscle, we might have the brain power to determine flying through windshields and open car doors can be invasive. But science marches on anyway.

Old Inequality And New Discoveries

   The banksters took the middle class to the cleaners and emptied their pockets and took their clothes over the last decade. So the press says there is “slow” improvement in the economy now. The Wall Street Journal printed an interesting stat the other day. Three years ago 58.2 percent of Americans had jobs. Those were hard times, right?  Contrary to all the “good” economic news, we now have 58.6 percent of Americans out of a job. Remember–the population is increasing. Over 25 percent of the 2012 college graduating class is still without jobs. Many are flipping burgers in fast food joints, dreaming of engineering bridges or teaching Shakespeare.

   Harper’s magazine published a couple of facts in their Index page which indicate things might not be OK in River City. Over the past 25 years the Consumer Price Index has gone up 41 percent while the price of beer nearly matched that at 40 percent. The price of books went down one percent during those years. I guess e-books have replaced paper. In the last eight years, per-student spending at major colleges for classes has gone up 23 percent. But per-student spending on college athletics has gone up 61 percent. Priorities, priorities.

If Children’s Brains Develop More Between Ages Three And Five, Why Don’t We Provide For Them During This Critical Time?

  Since the Bush Debacle Decade middle class American families have recovered only 63 percent of what they lost during the last recession. Americans lost $15.6 trillion of wealth in that time. In the first quarter of 2013 U.S, household wealth went up $3 trillion–but it all went to the already rich.  In the meantime Senate Republicans blocked a United Nation’s attempt to dramatically improve the life of disabled children around the world. The UN had prepared a report “The State Of The World’s Children” to emphasize the fact that disabled children were less likely to receive health care or education and are more vulnerable to violence. The UN estimates there are 93 million children who live with a moderate to severe disability.

  Presidaent Obama has already signed the treaty along with 127 nations, including all within the European Union. The Republicans surrendered to the pressures of the wacko right wing who said such a treaty would “infringe on American sovereignty, usher in socialism (under that great socialist Barack Obama!), and allow U.N. bureaucrats to prohibit home schooling.” They also suggested that the disabled would be confiscated by the state and put in state institutions.
  The treaty was to ensure that the disabled would be accommodated in schools, workplaces, and be eligible for vocational training and rehab programs. Contrary to commonsense, medical, and scientific fact, the Republicans on the  House Agriculture Committee have cut the proposed food stamp program to the point where two million people, mostly small children, would be eliminated from food stamps. I don’t understand these people. While hedge fund managers make up to $3 million an hour and Wall Street banksters make hundreds of millions a year, we can’t seem to provide poor children a poor meal.

   New research indicates that apes, chimps, and bonobos, our very close evolutionary cousins and occasional brothers, have temper tantrums similar to Tea Party members when they don’t get their way or are disappointed in results. They pout, whimper, and bang on anything loose when they don’t get their way. By the way, chimps control their emotions better than apes, and bonobos use sex to let off steam. Any resemblance to politicians may not be coincidental.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

   Some months ago an agency’s “research” revealed that people who made $75,000  were just as happy as people making $750,000, or $7.5 million, or $750 million. Au contraire, says another group. It is more complicated than that. They say it depends on whether you spend money on other people. Happiness depends on whether our money helps  us stay close to other people. Gretchen Rubin in her book Happier At Home says, “Any money spent nurturing social ties is money probably well spent because humans are social creatures.”

   Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and the fifth richest man in the world at $43 billion, may not fit the description of a “social creature.” He probably is a combination of psychopath and asshole as defined by recent research. Larry, once a cohort of Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, didn’t necessarily like yachts at one time in his life, but he did buy the largest one in the world a few years ago just to be able to say he owned the largest yacht in the world. He did sell it after the entire world knew that he had the largest one.
   Larry loves to win. The America’s Cup sailing race has been a favorite target of Larry’s for years. He has spent billions designing and racing various sailboats. He won the last race, so he can dictate to other participants what kind of boat they must use and where the race will be held according to the rules of the race. Larry has decided that every racer will be based on a 72-foot catamaran that actually flies above the water in high or blustery winds. The sailing method is called “foiling.” It is a very dangerous sailing method. Chosen by Larry as the site, San Francisco Bay can be a dangerous place for any kind of sailboat.

   A Swedish crew member on that country’s entry was killed during a trial run. Usually about 15 countries compete in the race. Only four have tentatively agreed to sponsor boats designed under Larry’s specifications. Larry’s boat was also wrecked during a run—but I guess he has a couple of spares! Sweden may pull out of the race. New Zealand, Italy, and the Arab Emirates are still in the race–but are thinking....They are considering stronger helmets and improved body armor to wear at these dangerous speeds. The possibility exists that Larry will win the race by default if everyone else backs out. That would make Larry $43 billion happy.

Is Ellison A Psychopathic Asshole Or An Assaholic Psychopath?

   Aaron James’s recent book Assholes:A Theory is a legitimate study involving research in moral psychology according to experts. James defines an asshole as follows:(1) Allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically, (2) does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement, (3) is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people, (4) he cuts in line or takes the last two cookies and feels morally entitled to special advantages, (5) it’s not that he is inherently superior, he says, but rather that he has achieved something that others have not, and this entitles him to special privileges. James says: “Sanctimonious selfishness is the mark of the asshole.”

Larry Ellison And Patty Stonesifer Would Not Get Along

   Patty Stonesifer could have been another character like Larry Ellison. She’s loaded with dough after being the highest ranking woman working at Microsoft for Bill Gates. She helped Bill and Melinda Gates set up their philanthropic programs around the world in the very late 1990’s, and worked for his foundation for 11 years before going off on her own philanthropy.

   Most mornings now she can be found in a very dirty alley in Washington,D.C., greeting lines of poor black women, some using canes, some in wheelchairs, as they wait in line for boxes and bags of food filled with vegetables, fruit, cereal, and other nutritious foods. Once considered as a candidate for domestic adviser for President Obama, Patty now runs Martha’s Table, a community organization that provides food, clothes, day care, and educational programs for 99 percent black D.C.
   After achieving success few women gain, Patty decided to go in another direction: “When I sat down and really thought about what I wanted to do, I realized the only job I was interested in would be one that would put me very close to the front lines, to go beyond white papers and PowerPoint presentations and get my boots dirty. I wanted to learn what it takes to change one child’s experience from a child born of poverty to a child that’s president of something.” She and Larry might not make a couple.