My Take On It 

Live to be 1000 years old? May soon be possible

BBC Article: We will be able to live to 1,000

This article from BBC reports on a Cambridge University geneticist who thinks it's likely that we'll be able to cure aging in about 20 years. Basically, medical science would treat aging and the natural damage that occurs from it as if it were a disease. This doesn't mean we wouldn't die. We would still be at risk from being killed in accidents.

Just think if this can be made a reality. Its impact to society would be incredible. So many things in society would have to change to handle this.

First, people would have to ask if it would be moral for people to receive treatment to stop aging. It's so unnatural from our current day perspectives. Also, is it selfish? If we decide not to age, does that reduce the opportunities for all those generations that come after me.

Second, people will have to decide how long they want to live. Will they get bored after several hundred years? But they shouldn't have to worry about living hundreds of years with reduced physical or mental capabilities. The anti-aging treatment should prevent this so people will be able to live full lives.

Third, there would be huge impact to governments and to economies. Could you imagine the population explosion that would result if the life span increased bys uch an amount. Then there's the issue of elders who would concentrate wealth and power. This could create stagnation through out the economy. Also, it would create havoc in our legal systems. The Supreme Court justices might serve for centuries. Copyrights could last 1000 years. People drawing pensions for centuries would bankrupt institutions.

Then there are the impacts to families. Could you imagine having a great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather who is still alive? Would people still marry for life of 1000 years? Would 500 year-olds still have children?

In the last 200 years, the human race has been through dramatic changes and has adapted. If this becomes a reality, I think we'll do the same. Hopefully, I'll still be young enough when this treatment is ready. I guess I better not plan to live off my savings after I turn 65 or else I might have to go back to work at 120....

You're lucky if you haven't won the lotto?

Unlucky in riches

If you have not won the lotto, you may want to consider yourself lucky. Well, at least according to this article. It describes the plight of many multi-million-dollar lottery winners who lost it all. I can't understand these people. I know there will be lots of temptations and lots of hard-luck stories. But you are adults, not children.

One person mentioned in the article "won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and this person lives in a trailer."

One problem is that a million isn't as much as you might think. If you're thinking about buying a mansion after you win the lottery, you need to do the math first. The first problem is the lottery itself. It says you won X amount. But that's not the amount that can be paid by a check today. It's the total amount paid over 20 or more years. If you choose the lump sum payout, it'll be around half of what's advertised. Then there are the taxes which could cut the amount by another half.

After the reduced lump-sum amount and the taxes, then you need to look at all the other expenses that it takes when you buy a large house. This includes insurance, property taxes, and furniture. If you're a millionaire, you can't settle for average furniture. You want the high end stuff. Nicely furnishing each room could run you tens of thousands of dollars.

The same issue goes with cars, vacations, jewelry, etc. Going with the higher end stuff will cost you much more than you originally expected.

And this doesn't even consider the family, friends, and strangers who will keep asking for financial help or for investment in their business ideas.

So I can see how these lottery winners squandered their money. But I don't have any sympathy for them. They should have created a budget and stuck to it. There are some things in life that I can understand about fearing like cancer and crime. Winning the lottery is not one of them.

Is Learning a Second Language Worthwhile?

While watching TV, I came across an all Spanish GM commercial while watching Fox. Even though I have no interest in buying a car, I was a little offended.

It seems similar to having signs with both English and Spanish. I'm sure I would appreciate this if I were traveling in a Spanish country, but it does clutter up the signs. Then you have to ask, how many other languages do you add. Product manuals now seem to have 4 or more languages in one book. It's making the manuals hard to follow.

I suppose you could say instead of complaining, I should learn Spanish or another second language. I did take 2 years of Spanish in high school. I never became close to be fluent. I do remember a few words.

I figure it would take me 1000's of hours of studying to read and speak Spanish or a foreign language. Time doing this would certainly be better spent than watching reality TV or football. But is it better spent than studying medical science to help cure cancer or studying physics to solve our energy problems? And how many languages do you learn?

What we need is a universal language. People would then just have to learn 2 languages, the universal language and their local language. Since Esperanto failed as the universal language, I propose English (just my unbias opinion ;-).

Send a message to Microsoft and switch to Firefox

Firefox 1.0 is released! Send a message to Microsoft and make the switch!

Surfing the web should be as safe as watching TV.

That's my dream, where I don't have to worry about downloading the latest Microsoft patch, or anti-spyware program, or anti-virus program, or firewall. I just want to turn on the PC and surf, just like when I turn on the TV and watch. It should be that simple and safe!

Even with newly released Firefox, we're still a long way to my dream. However, Firefox is safer than IE, and that's the main reason I downloaded it. There is no chance that some Active-X security hole will allow spy-ware to infect my PC. IE's security holes have been pathetic. Microsoft needs to do much better.

I heard Gates say several years ago about making security the number one priority at Microsoft. Well, they still don't seem to have gotten the message. Maybe if Firefox takes the browser market away from IE, Microsoft will finally make security a top priority.

Now that Bush has won, who will run in 2008?

On the Republican side:

Usually the VP of a 2-term president runs for president. But with Cheney, this is unlikely. A lot of folks would love to see McCain run again. But there are some problems with this. First, he's not that young. In 2008, he'll be 72. Also, there's a question if he would appeal to the religious right.

Then there's the possibility of Jeb Bush who could extend the "Bush dynasty" far into the future. Rudy Giuliani may also decide to run. He was in the spot-light speaking out for Bush in this election. However, many felt he was too aggresive in this campaign and threw out too many distortions just to help Bush. Another possibility, is Arnold but only if the Constitution can be changed over the next 4 years. If his success in California continues, he'll likely want to run.

On the Democratic side:

Hillary Clinton sure seems like a front runner. She's positioned just like John Kennedy was for the 1960 election (if she can win re-election to the Senate in 2006). Although many Democrats love her, many Republicans hate her. Plus the country may not be ready for a woman president, especially one who many just don't like.

Some other likely candidates include Edwards and Dean. Dean could grow in popularity if the Iraq War keeps getting worse. The peace movement will likely grow and will look for a Democrat who has been against the War from the start.

Strange outcomes: Bush-Edwards or just Edwards?

New York Times Article: President Edwards?

This New York Times article describes one weird scenario where Edwards could actually become President.

It first would require a 269-269 tie in the electoral college. The Senate would decide on the VP. If the Dems take control, Edwards could then be elected VP. The House would vote by state for the President. This would likely result in a Bush win which would create a very bizarre outcome of a Bush-Edwards administration.

But it could get even more bizarre. If some state delegations in the House become deadlock and Bush can't get a majority of the states, the VP-elect may have to become president if there still is deadlock by the start of the term. The VP-elect could then act as president until the deadlock is over.

Could you image Bush and Kerry and their parties fighting it out as Edwards carries on as the president? Talk about chaos...

Ingenious way to vote for both Kerry and Nader

Well, it's not really double voting. But in a sense it allows swing state voters to have their cake and eat it too.

If you really like Nader better than Kerry but fear a Bush re-election, then there is now a solution thanks to the internet. Swing state voters can make sure their third party candidates receive their vote while not hurting the chances of their preferred major party candidate.

This Wired News article describes how websites like VotePair match up voters from swing states like Florida with voters from non-swing (safe) states like Texas which is considered "Bush safe". The safe state voter pledges to vote for the third party candidate of the swing state voter. The swing state voter then pledges to vote for the major party candidate of the safe state voter.

This is a brilliant and totally legal way to use the web to get around the archaic Electoral College. If you live in a safe state, your vote for president isn't going to matter much. But if you live in a swing state, voting for a third party candidate can affect the nation (just like Florida in 2000).

This is a great way to let more people vote for third party candidates without fear that their vote will cause a highly disliked major party candidate to win.

As the Wired News article mentions, there haven't been enough voters in swing states signing up to swap their votes. It may not help change this election, but hopefully, it'll gain popularity in the future and allow third parties to get more votes.

Also as you would expect, these websites seem to be hoping vote swaps will help Kerry rather than Bush. Wonder it there are any Libertarians or Constitutional party followers who might want avoid a Kerry win...

Why To Vote For Nader

Democrats are warning that a vote for Nader is throwing away a vote. They claim that it only will help Bush get re-elected.

We blame politicians for playing politics. We want them to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people they represent, not based on favors. Voters should do the same. You should vote for the person who you feel would be best for the country regardless of what the polls say. You shouldn't play politics with your vote.

So if you really believe that Iraq's invasion was a mistake and will be a quagmire, you should vote for Nader. Kerry's plan is really no different than Bush's plan. Both are determined to do whatever it takes to win in Iraq. They both will lead us deeper into this quagmire just as LBJ and Nixon did during the Vietnam War.

Only Nader will take a different path on Iraq. He has the best plan for Iraq and for our country. If you believe the same, than vote for Nader and forget about the politics.

Blogs may do more to help democracy than US actions

BBC News Article: Protest against Iran blog arrests

This BBC news article describes an Iranian protest movement against the arrest of bloggers and journalist.

Iran, China, and others will learn it's going to be impossible to restrict freedom of speech and still allow access to the internet. They'll try to put in place methods to block it with technology and police actions, but that's just going to infuriate more people who will figure out ways to overcome the restrictions.

If people have access to political dissent, will it result in real changes to their governments? It's one thing to read about problems in your government, it's another to actually change the system. This is especially true when government has programs to squelch opposition groups. But there can't be change until the political discussions occur.

The US may be a good test of this point. There is probably 5x the blogging against the president than for the president. But will this change the election results? Will it get more people to actually vote? We shall see?

UN report: robots booming. Still no Jetsons

Wired Article: When Robots Rule the World

This is still a far cry from theJetsons or the Bicentennial Man.

The best we have today is the roomba or a robot lawnmower (for practical purposes) or pet robotic dogs (for entertainment).

Yes, with some big bucks, you could have little more sophisticated robots. But even these are nothing compared to what the Jetson creators came up with in the 1960's.

I think people were a little too naive regarding the complexities of movement and senses. To be able to move and navigate as animals do is incredibly complex. It's so easy for us, we just take it for granted.

I would say we're several hundred years away before we have robots that can match what fiction presents. It's one of those things in life that's much harder than it looks.

What's your opinion?

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