Jim Rogers interview on Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s Night Talk: interview with Jim Rogers, who predicts great trouble for US economy and for the US dollar. From Wikipedia:

James Beeland Rogers, Jr. (born October 191942) is an American investor and financial commentator. He is co-founder, along with George Soros, of the Quantum Fund, and is a college professor, author, world traveler, economic commentator, and creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index (RICI).

I found this part of the Wikipedia article most interesting (he talks about it a bit, but very late in the interview, at ~40:00):

In December 2007, Rogers sold his mansion in New York City for about 16 million USD and moved to Singapore. This is due mainly in his belief that this is a ground-breaking time for investment potential in Asian markets. Rogers’ first daughter is now being tutored in Mandarin to prepare her for the future, he says. “Moving to Asia now is like moving to New York City in 1907,” he said. Also, he is quoted to say: “If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia.” In an CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo broadcast on May 5, 2008, Rogers said that people in Asia are extremely motivated and driven, and he wants to be in that type of environment so his daughters are motivated and driven. He said during that interview that, this is how America and Europe used to be. He chose not to move to Hong Kong or Shanghai due to the high levels of pollution causing potential health problems for his family. His second daughter was born in 2008. [3]

Rogers is also an adventurer, went around the world both in a car and on a motorcycle, and published two books about it (along with investment books he’s known for). Check out his website – I think the car is waaaay too cool. 🙂

New episode of CrAP

Andromeda’s Wake posted a new episode of CrAP (Creation Astronomy Propaganda debunked):

I’ve also updated my original post where you can see them all.

Penn & Teller on creationism, and why the Bible is “Bullshit!”

Here’s a funny little excerpts from Penn & Teller‘s episode on creationism from Bullshit! series.

These episodes run 30 minutes each, and counting 69 through 6 seasons. A mixed-and-cut, 10 minute version of the episode on the Bible is available on YouTube:

I can’t say that I really loved the series. I found them a little bit boring – I rented two DVDs from Netflix and by the end of the first one I’d had enough. There’s too much comedy in it for me, and too little facts.

But there’s something about magicians (which is what Penn & Teller started as, at least partially) becoming debunkers. The one that stands out of them all is, of course, the great James Randi, the man who I passionately admire, who used to put up his own money against paranormal claims. Randi deserves a separate post (and not one!), but amongst other famous magician debunkers I can list Harri Houdini and Joe Nickell.

I think the reason is simple. Magicians deceive the public while the public is aware it’s being deceived, and that’s what makes the experience so astounding. Psychics, fortune tellers and other charlatans use pretty much the same tricks and techniques, but mislead the public into believing they’re genuine. That outrages fair magicians as they often do the job much better but yet never claim paranormal abilities.
(to be objective, I must add that not all psychics are charlatans – a good chunk are delusional, true believers in their own “powers”, even after it’s been demonstrated in controlled experiments they don’t possess any)

TED: Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man by Susan Savage-Rumbaugh

Apes are not really that much dumber than us, especially the great ones. 🙂 Susan Savage-Rumbaugh has been studying Bonobo that understand human language, can draw symbols, start fires and even play Pac-Man. Susan thinks that the level of intelligence is determined by culture (vs. biology) to a much greater extent than it is currently thought.

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).

TED: How creativity is being strangled by the law by Larry Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford law professor, and one the leading authorities on the issue of copyright. He is a founding board member of Creative Commons, an organization (and a license name) devoted to making creative works such as images or video available for others to build upon and share. This wonderful TED presentation, in “Lessig Method” style, is about how our culture has been changed (and is changing) by Internet, and why the existing copyright laws are inadequate any more.

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).

Lessig has been extremely politically active and is widely recognized by the Internet community as having greatly contributed to the freedom of expression. Here’s a “Tribute to Larry Lessig” from Brave New Films, the guys who brought you The Real McCain, FOX Attacks! and Meet the Bloggers:

Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) – documentary

Since I posted Zeitgeist, the Movie here and admitted I kinda liked it, I feel obligated to include the sequel. Zeitgeist: Addendum was released (also free of charge to all) in 2008, and this one, too, got the Best Feature Activist Spirit Award.

But I would rather disagree. In the first part of the movie, the process of money creation is described in detail. The second part is basically a long interview with John Perkins who wrote Confessions of an Economic Hit Man – a wildly controversial and criticized book. And it goes downhill from there. Then The Venus Project is described, as a possible solution to all humanity’s troubles.

The Venus Project is basically a utopia, a society where all energy problems are solved with geothermal energy, there’s no money since energy is abundant. They call it “resource based society”. I fail to see how it’s different from communist utopia, with no money or markets/buying/selling so avidly described by some Soviet science fiction writers. Supposedly, if it wasn’t for corrupt oil companies, financiers and politicians, we all could live in such heaven, since we already have the technology to build it.

I got interested in this Venus Project. I surfed their website in search of answers. How are they going to distribute resources however big they are? What about geothermal power disadvantages? Its net energy? They claim there’ll be no crime – what about latest findings of cognitive science on the nature of violence? Well, as I suspected: nothing. The whole website looks like a pretty glossy paper advertisement brochure. Looks like a fine futurology/design experiment, nothing serious. How can you put it in a documentary? And talk about it as a “solution”?

I’ve always been wary of conspirologists, and the more I live the “warier” I become. Here’s the video:

Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life (2008) – book

welcome

I’ve just finished reading this book, and would like to recommend it to anyone. This is a very fun and easy reading on everyday’s brain puzzles. Common myths and unknown truths, brain’s birth and development, emotions and rationality – the book if full of surprises and useful tips. Not very detailed in its scientific explanations, “Welcome to Your Brain” feels more like a manual going only through the very general principles that will help you use your own brain right. 

Top 6 myths about the brain (from Welcome to Your Brain Blog):

  1. You only use 10 percent of your brain
  2. Playing classical music to an infant can make the child smarter
  3. Drinking alcoholic beverages kills brain cells
  4. Games like Sudoku and Brain Age keep your brain young
  5. In a noisy place, you can hear better on your cell phone by covering your other ear
  6. Vaccines cause autism

The authors, Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt gave a talk about the book at Google, and this is actually how I found out about it. If you like the talk, you’ll most definitely like the book:

The book mentions some experiments that show how limited our scope of attention is. Here’s an example from YouTube: