Aphorisms, 4/15/16: Plutocrats Go Interstellar, History Mangled, etc.

Interstellar Probes Now?

A number of billionaires who don’t pay enough tax have launched (they claim) a project to send tiny smart phones to the stars. Billionaire investor Yuri Milner announced Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million initiative.

The brains and guts of a smartphone weigh a gram or so. The idea is to attach a laser resistant sail to a smartphone brain, and fire a bank of lasers at it. The momentum of the light will quickly accelerate the device at a fifth of the speed of light. Send a whole bunch of them.

If Life Did Not Evolve In Europa, We Sure Can Correct That Oversight. What You See Is Water & (Organic?) Cracks

If Life Did Not Evolve In Europa, We Sure Can Correct That Oversight. What You See Is Water & (Organic?) Cracks

Barring any encounter with a dust grain, such tiny machines would reach the Centaurus system in 20 years, and take pictures (don’t ask me how it will send them back, it seems they did not think about that one beyond mumbling some nonsense about laser communications which zero mathematical content). So this is feasible, but silly, and pointless, because:

Want To See Inhabitable Planets? Tax Tech Titans & Build a Hundred Meter Telescope!

The preceding scheme is interesting in that it poses several scientifico-technical challenges. Building a 100 meter telescope faces only financial challenges. And it would provide with a better view of whatever is happening in the Centaurus system. The largest telescope in the world under construction is 40 meters across (European, in Chili). It’s financed by European taxes.

To build a 100 meters telescope, plutocrats would need to pay taxes, though… A one hundred meters across telescope on the ground, let alone in orbit, would bring breakthrough guaranteed, and only technical details have to be figured out.

***

Not Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due:

Newton did not discover the universal attraction law, nor did he discover “his” first and second law (I don’t know about the third law, that action equals reaction, but I am sure it was well known to artillery officers for a few centuries). The second law implies the first, and was clearly asserted by Buridan, more than three centuries earlier.

Newton used his OWN version of calculus, which is highly valuable, although mostly ignored. He proves Kepler’s second law with a basic geometry reasoning, extremely beautiful, fast, and limpid.

I consider very important to teach Newton’s version of calculus. It should be rediscovered, and taught.

Hooke, himself a great scientist, claimed Newton did not discover the inverse square law. That was right, retorted Isaac Newton, who added that Bullialdus, a French astronomer, member of the Royal Society before Newton’s birth, did it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isma%C3%ABl_Bullialdus

Indeed. Bullialdus’ reasoning about gravitation may sound primitive, but we don’t have any better (Einstein’s gravity uses Bullialdus as its first order, ladies and gentlemen!)

Bullialdus, not being Anglo-Saxon is, of course, not worth remembering… Some Anglo-Saxon supremacists insist, as their superior pocket the profits from the tax-less and therefore immensely wealthy plutocrats.

The same supremacists conveniently forget that Emilie du Chatelet discovered the concept of energy. Hey, not Anglo-Saxon, and, moreover, a woman!

This has important consequences in the history of science.

My point is that the mind is a physical construction from the culture. There is nothing special about modern science, except greater power. Guesses are the fundamental engine of fundamental scientific discovery.

***

“Exercise” consists in pushing the limits. Pushing the limits is the very definition of humanity. Rest afterwards is all the more rewarding.

Studies have shown heavy exercisers average as much couch potato time as normal people. So what counts is developing the capability for heavy exercise. It is not as if heavy exercisers had a different metabolism all together.

***

Mimic Switzerland Says New German Right AfD:

In Germany, all traditional parties mostly lost in the last partial vote, March 13. A new right wing party AfD, led by a woman, Frauke Petry, gained spectacularly, becoming the second party in Saxony-Anhalt. She wants to make Germany closer to Switzerland, by introducing “Direct Democracy”.

No doubt some will now accuse me to be a follower of the extreme German right… As I have long advocated this. Another of my theme is gaining traction

***

New York Times Deplores the Death of “Liberal Democracy”:

Liberal democracy was neither liberal nor democratic. It was started as the egalitarian republic of 1945. When fighting the Nazi Reich, ten million American troops were told they were fighting for freedom, democracy. Real progress was made. At the beach head in Anzio, 40 kilometers south of Rome, several british and American divisions were bottled down, under constant bombardment. Suddenly fighter planes appeared, with superbly trained pilots, who promptly shot down 12 Nazi planes.

Those pilots were all “blacks”. 100,000 white soldiers witness this in awe.

Later democracy was manipulated to serve only a few, hiding that degeneracy under lofty discourses. The result was global plutocracy while the wealthiest people in the world were invited to violate local laws. Any crook, if he invests enough money, can become a resident of Canada, Britain, the USA. The New York Times observed Chinese teenagers driving 400,000 dollar cars in Vancouver. The parents are billionaires wary of Xi’s crackdown on corruption and organized crime.

After slow, debasing torture, We The People are finally revolting. Yet, not enough!

Real democracy is direct democracy, as the Athenians had it, and the Swiss have it, ever more. In real democracy, We The People decide the laws which will rule us.

The European Union has just recognized it loses one trillion dollars from tax FRAUD, every year. And much more than that in tax “optimization”.

Oxfam has come up with a much more modest evaluation of losses of US taxpayers to tax havens. After observing that the 1% are richer than the 99%, Oxfam declares that “Corporate tax dodging costs the US an estimated $100 billion each year, a gap that the average American taxpayer would have to shell out an extra $760 to cover,” that plutocratic grand theft, the report said. Oxfam analyzed the largest 50 US companies over a period of six years, comparing their reported profits, offshore holdings, and paid taxes…

And remember: most financial transactions in the world, nowadays, cannot be tracked, and we have to thanks Mr. President for that; it happened under his watch, and he still did not notice the problem. (Maybe he will, after he reads this!)

There is nothing wrong with plutocrats who want to go to the stars. We should encourage them. Better: we could show them stars right away, by voting for We The People Sanders, instead of the not so hilarious Pluto Hillary.

Patrice Ayme’

5 Responses to “Aphorisms, 4/15/16: Plutocrats Go Interstellar, History Mangled, etc.”

  1. dominique deux Says:

    The starfaring smartphone project makes perfect sense.

    An individual plutocrat faces a very serious issue: he owns too much money for his needs. Way too much.

    He cannot simply hoard it. Maybe some have a swimming pool full of coins, and swim in it, like Uncle Scrooge (Disney’s lovable plutocrat, meant to teach the love of plutocrats in the hoi polloi). But that’s not typical. Hoarding money simply keeps it out of circulation, much like burning used banknotes: a tool against inflation. No good.

    He can invest some of it, but there are severe limitations to the amount of cash which any given industrial base can accept as investment. Those damnable poor keep consuming within their means, despite all their plastic.

    He could actually share it with the lesser well-off, thus also increasing the investment-absorption capacity of the economy. But that would be like asking a school of bluefish (the most bloodthirsty of all fish) to exercise restraint when they slaughter a school of small fry, managing to actually eat only a small part of them. That’s simply not in the bluefish’s or the plutocrat’s culture.

    So he’s left with one option to disgorge that surplus money; consume, buy things for himself and his brood. Unfortunately (and that’s an issue pluto-led science will address some day) they have only one mouth and digestive tract, they can be only in one mansion at a time, and their consumption cannot possibly exhaust their mammoth wealth.

    A partial solution is luxury goods: goods which are marginally better than your everyday goods, but with utterly outrageous pricing. $ 5,000 hamburgers, “designer” jeans or water, horrendously expensive time pieces which do not perform any better than a two-cent quartz piece, and of course the completely manufactured “art” market, really a money sink. Yes, the luxury industry is very useful to the plutocrats and the rest of us (which they must lament) as a means to capture back and reinject those hoarded megabucks.

    But that’s still a partial solution. Ultimately, the hapless plutocrat has only one choice left: to waste his pile.

    He HAS to SPEND in a completely USELESS way.

    Thus the above scheme makes perfect sense, it’s quite rational. You just assumed it had to have some common sense use, which is the reverse of its purpose. Would you tell a central banker his banknotes are useless, since one cannot write on them? He’d point out you missed the point of banknotes entirely.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Agreed. 100%. Actually, to be fair, it would push some tech further. (Calling back to Earth is not within feasible tech, BTW.)

      One thing you forget to mention is food covered with gold. That’s the diet of plutocrats. Diane de Poitier used to eat gold in vast quantities (this was scientifically demonstrated recently when analyzing her remnants). It tastes like nothing much, but it’s very pretty, even stunning.

    • Kevin Berger Says:

      Pretty interesting take. Dumb question, not meant as a poke into your idea : what do you make of (strictly IIRC & IIUC, I may well be overstating it) the US Gilded Age counterparts to today’s Plutos being in the habit of funding public libraries, operas and the like, stuff aimed at the masses? IE, of having at least a sense of noblesse oblige, when it came to spending their money?

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        The tradition of plutocrats funding knowledge started under the Merovingians…
        Under the Roman empire, cities funded intellectuals, mostly… (Although some Plutos, like the Ptolemys funded high intellect.)

        • dominique deux Says:

          Ah, but the Robber Barons and Ptolemys were proto-plutocrats, so to speak. They had it in themselves to behave non-plutocratically, like a tigress has it in herself to suckle a newborn deer. The modern breed has refined and distilled its nature, expelling such impurities.
          Cleopatra, the best-known Ptolemy, a multilingual scholar, carried out scientific experiments herself (as did her Egyptian-born predecessors). And her wealth (not that huge in fact) was not a purpose in itself, but a perk of her real job, maintaining her part of the Hellenistic world.
          But she did drink pearls dissolved in vinegar, the ultimate in high spending for its own sake, since the taste must have been awful…

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