[Humanist] 24.615 dreams fulfilled & stories told

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Dec 24 10:49:09 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 615.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    amsler at cs.utexas.edu                                      (38)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.613 our dreams fulfilled?

  [2]   From:    Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>                       (146)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.613 our dreams fulfilled?

  [3]   From:    lachance at chass.utoronto.ca                                (14)
        Subject: Re: happy Christmas!

        Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:40:16 -0600
        From: amsler at cs.utexas.edu
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.613 our dreams fulfilled?
        In-Reply-To: <20101223064808.2C2AEC4309 at woodward.joyent.us>

I could state the Jay Leno sarcastic joke that "this is exactly what  
China needs... a way to employ fewer people"

There are two global trends that are leading us into the future...
Globalization and Technology. Globalization moves jobs to where labor  
is least expensive. Technology eliminates the need for human labor.  
Combined together they highlight that we had better solve the problems  
of the cost and sustainability of energy supplies and food  
availability else people will become a liability rather than an asset.  
A few breakthroughs could do it.

What breakthroughts?... Energy costs so low that they aren't worth  
billing for, for one. This sounds impossible to imagine, but I would  
point out that this is exactly what happened to computation with the  
creation of personal computers.

In the beginning computation cost money per CPU cycle. Computers were  
big boxes run by big organizations that charged money to pay for  
access.  Somewhere along the way it was discovered that the very means  
of generating computation could be made so cheaply that one didn't  
need to build up computation centers the way we built up power  
stations. If the microprocessor and fiber optics and a few other  
technologies hadn't been discovered we'd all be accessing  
computational power over telephone lines connected through our TV sets  
and paying for it by the computational cycle and byte delivered  
(Hummm. Sounds like cable-TV today)

Today we generate electricity at big facilities that charge for its  
access and delivery. If we discovered how to generate sufficient power  
in small devices at home, we could dismantle the whole electrical  
grid. Your energy costs would be based on buying your own generating  
equipment and paying for whatever it needed as inputs--and if those  
inputs were sustinable natural sources--then energy itself would be  
free. "Sufficient power" is the key. If you can't increase the energy  
produced, reduce the energy consumed. E.g., enter the solar-powered  
hand-held calculator.

Anyway. It sounds like a suitably happy future to contemplate at this  
time of the year, and frankly the only one that seems to break us out  
of the globalization and technology trends continuously reported in  
the news that seem to be driving us toward a much less desirable  

Happy holidays.

        Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 11:55:22 -0800
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.613 our dreams fulfilled?
        In-Reply-To: <20101223064808.2C2AEC4309 at woodward.joyent.us>

Willard McCarthy is far too full of the milk of human kindness, goodwill for
this Season and genial optimism. I wish him and all of us well.  Still ...
or nevertheless ... An unpleasant or perhaps pleasant thought for tomorrow,
depending on one's moral, and/or Existential perspective/imperative?

A hotpot waiter is one thing.  Benign, if not too conversable, like many
wouldbe filmstars  waiting on table in LA are rather a bore and pain
Another thing that stands in the wings, however, is ... THE GOLEM.  [Movies
are boring full of them crashing and smashing.  It wont be kiddy fun for
 all those many today who relay on bodyguards.  Take Mexico as a fine
example of need.  And then Mexico features 14 year old assassins, as our
friends from Monterrey recently told us on their flight out to Hong
Kong...their upscale streets are not please in the morning, since bodies lie
bleeding everywhere, and at night, those laddies with Kalashnikovs stroll
about spraying at lighted windows in large homes.
Jascha K

Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648

        Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 12:57:26 -0500 (EST)
        From: lachance at chass.utoronto.ca
        Subject: Re: happy Christmas!
        In-Reply-To: <4D10BF98.4040102 at mccarty.org.uk>


All the best to you for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And here's a little gem should you be looking for some authority on
narrative drive (to bolster an argument that Humanist and its ilk are
sites for the exchange of stories)...

There is an Hassidic parable which tells us that God created man so that
man might tell stories. This telling of stories is, according to
Lévi-Strauss, the very condition of our being. The alternative would be
total inertia or the eclipse of reason.

This is from the Massey Lectures delivered by George Steiner under the
title _Nostalgia for the Absolute_. I like it all the more because Steiner
situates Marx, Freud and Lévi-Strauss in a narrative of his own.

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