22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Civilization is About Capturing Energy

Civilisation, like life itself, has always been about capturing energy. That is to say, just as a successful species is one that converts the sun’s energy into offspring more rapidly than another species, so the same is true of a nation. Progressively, as the aeons passed, life as a whole has grown gradually more and more efficient at doing this, at locally cheating the second law of thermodynamics. The plants and animals that dominate the earth today channel more of the sun’s energy thro...
Folksonomies: energy
Folksonomies: energy
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Trade and Large Populations are Needed to Sustain Innovation

The most striking case of technological regress is Tasmania. Isolated on an island at the end of the world, a population of less than 5,000 hunter-gatherers divided into nine tribes did not just stagnate, or fail to progress. They fell steadily and gradually back into a simpler toolkit and lifestyle, purely because they lacked the numbers to sustain their existing technology. Human beings reached Tasmania at least 35,000 years ago while it was still connected to Australia. It remained connect...
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Declaration of Interdependence

As I write this, it is nine o’clock in the morning. In the two hours since I got out of bed I have showered in water heated by North Sea gas, shaved using an American razor running on electricity made from British coal, eaten a slice of bread made from French wheat, spread with New Zealand butter and Spanish marmalade, then brewed a cup of tea using leaves grown in Sri Lanka, dressed myself in clothes of Indian cotton and Australian wool, with shoes of Chinese leather and Malaysian rubber, ...
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Borrowing Against Our Futures is Required

By the age of 15 chimpanzees have produced about 40 per cent and consumed about 40 per cent of the calories they will need during their entire lives. By the same age, human hunter-gatherers have consumed about 20 per cent of their lifetime calories, but produced just 4 per cent. More than any other animal, human beings borrow against their future capabilities by depending on others in their early years. A big reason for this is that hunter-gatherers have always specialised in foods that need ...
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Prosperity as a Measure of Time Saved

This is what prosperity is: the increase in the amount of goods or services you can earn with the same amount of work. As late as the mid-1800s, a stagecoach journey from Paris to Bordeaux cost the equivalent of a clerk’s monthly wages; today the journey costs a day or so and is fifty times as fast. A half-gallon of milk cost the average American ten minutes of work in 1970, but only seven minutes in 1997. A three-minute phone call from New York to Los Angeles cost ninety hours of work at t...
Folksonomies: quantification prosperity
Folksonomies: quantification prosperity
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 The Myth of the Idealic Past

Imagine that it is 1800, somewhere in Western Europe or eastern North America. The family is gathering around the hearth in the simple timber-framed house. Father reads aloud from the Bible while mother prepares to dish out a stew of beef and onions. The baby boy is being comforted by one of his sisters and the eldest lad is pouring water from a pitcher into the earthenware mugs on the table. His elder sister is feeding the horse in the stable. Outside there is no noise of traffic, there are ...
Folksonomies: nostalgia golden age
Folksonomies: nostalgia golden age
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Exchange is to cultural evolution as sex is to biological...

If culture consisted simply of learning habits from others, it would soon stagnate. For culture to turn cumulative, ideas needed to meet and mate. The ‘cross-fertilisation of ideas’ is a cliché, but one with unintentional fecundity. ‘To create is to recombine’ said the molecular biologist François Jacob. Imagine if the man who invented the railway and the man who invented the locomotive could never meet or speak to each other, even through third parties. Paper and the printing press...
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 The Luxury of the Shower

He steps under the shower, a forceful cascade pumped down from the third floor. When this civilisation falls, when the Romans, whoever they are this time round, have finally left and the new dark ages begin, this will be one of the first luxuries to go. The old folk crouching by their peat fires will tell their disbelieving grandchildren of standing naked mid-winter under jet streams of hot clean water, of lozenges of scented soaps and of viscous amber and vermilion liquids they rubbed into t...
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 Premium Mediocre

Premium mediocre is the finest bottle of wine at Olive Garden. Premium mediocre is cupcakes and froyo. Premium mediocre is “truffle” oil on anything (no actual truffles are harmed in the making of “truffle” oil), and extra-leg-room seats in Economy. Premium mediocre is cruise ships, artisan pizza, Game of Thrones, and The Bellagio. Premium mediocre is food that Instagrams better than it tastes. Premium mediocre is Starbucks’ Italian names for drink sizes, and its original pumpkin ...
Folksonomies: culture
Folksonomies: culture
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22 SEP 2017 by ideonexus

 The Role of the Educator In Regards to the Future

The world is changing -- it is getting both smaller and bigger at the same time. Our world shrinks as technologies now allow us to communicate both synchronously and asynchronously with peers around the world. Conversely, the explosion of information now available to us expands our view of the world. As a result of the ability to communicate globally and the information explosion, education must change. Most educators might not want to change, but the change is coming -- it is a matter of whe...
Folksonomies: education futurism
Folksonomies: education futurism
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