Engineered City

The concept of the engineered city was among my favorite topics that Scott Adams used to trot out on occasion and Whtllnew’s recent post got me thinking about the idea again. So let’s open up the idea here.
If we were to design a Hypothican city, ground up with ideas like sustainability, growth, efficiency, and sheer pleasantness in mind, what suggestions would you have? For fun, we’re tipping the scale away from individual choice, but feel free to discuss where you think the limits should be in city planning. (In reality, I’d probably never want to live in such a city, because it would be an HOA on steroids and it would only be a matter of time before ridiculous rules started being enacted)

If I were designing a city from scratch, these would be among my suggestions:
1. Bike paths. It would be pre-planned with bike lanes and an interconnected web of walking and biking trails that spanned the city in mind. Not only because they are useful, but also because they are an obnoxious pain to put in after the fact.
2. Strategically placed grocery stores to be within walking distance of basically every neighborhood.
3. Neighborhoods would also be built around a central park. Allow some to have have pools club houses, and associated fees, and others to not.

 

Those are just jumping off points. How would you engineer an “ideal” city?


Identity and Empirical Data

Below is a moderately humorous video where a guy tries to see how far he can push college students into accepting assertions about his identity and attributes. There are the obvious flaws with the video, and I’m sure beyond selective editing you also have to account for the subjects being savvy enough to think, “I don’t know who this guy is and I’d rather not become the next victim of internet mob justice”.


But the responses made me realize something very sad. The students in question are pained to articulate the distinction between tolerating an expressed opinion and empirically accepting the assertion. When the interviewer asks about claims that he is 6-5, the students quickly begin down a path of what it would take for them to accept that identity as reality. What the students are trying to articulate is “You are free to believe that, I don’t have any need to create tension with that belief, and I would accommodate your actions based on that belief as much as reasonably possible”.

But they seem unable and unwilling to clearly express the second half of the situation: “However, your belief would be objectively and measurably false”.

It becomes somehow incredibly difficult to say that an objective reality could exist that is empirically at odds with any personal assertion of identity and why that is so.

This particular social trend is frighteningly anti-science and kids are literally being taught to disregard objective empirical data. Yes, deep down all students would “know” that he’s not 6-5. But the language being pushed with the tolerance trend is doing its best to suppress such distinctions and choke out any ability to articulate a reality that isn’t servant to emotional whims.

These students are either oblivious of or scared to state the fact that certain attributes are measurable, and I’m not sure which is worse. The video shows that most eventually have a point of pushing back, but it’s murky and difficult for them to express how that line is drawn. Our society is losing the ability to tell the difference between accommodating speech and accepting the message as true.


Is Trump pulling a fast one on us?

Think about it.  Trump has spent his whole life rich.  No doubt hes exploited a lot of workers getting even richer.  No doubt he’s been On The Inside in the course of getting richer.

So how, exactly, has everyone identified him as an outsider and the working man’s hero?

Scott Adams, on his blog, claims it’s because Trump is a master persuader.  Replace ‘persuader’ with ‘salesman’ and I agree with that statement.

But am I the only one who thinks maybe there’s more to it than that?

That maybe it’s not JUST Trump who is setting him up to be president?

That maybe the GOP establishment is in on it and has been all along?

That they’ve just been pretending to try to sabotoage Trump’s presidency bid?

That thought occurred to me when I read a headline somewhere about the GOP establishment starting to warm to Trump.

I have no evidence, of course, but it fits.  The GOP establishments ‘efforts’ to get rid of Trump have, at this point, made him stronger, more popular and seem like a real outsider.  And they’re coming around to him now, when the ‘victorious outsider’ meme is bound to stick even if they embrace him wholeheartedly.


Nature is doomed

I recently saw this story on the web:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/making-nature-better/

The tldr version:  it is now possible to grow food plants in almost factory-like conditions.  Soon city centers will become agricultural hubs.

So what do we need nature for?

Sounds harsh but we can all agree that, once this becomes widespread, that thought will occur to millions of people all over the world.

It’s hard enough to get people to put nature over money and their favorite toys today when we still need a functioning natural environment to survive.  But what happens in the future, when society can cope even if there isnt a single tree or wild animal left in the world?

My guess:  it may take a while but eventually the folks running society will brainwash everyone into saying ‘to hell with nature, just give me an iPhone, a VR headset and a car and I dont care if you torch the redwoods to do it’.

You may object that, even if we dont need it, nature is precious and we should preserve it.  I hear you.  But I don’t think that will be enough in the future.  I think people growing up with less and less nature and more and more instant technological gratification in their lives will value technology more and more.


Consent

At Hypothica University, there have been an increasing number of sexual assault and rape accusations among the students and all sorts of activism about raising awareness. Hypothica U. directs these situations to the police, being criminal accusations and all. This in turn, leads to a whole lot of media circus and political pressures to improve the situation. The local legislature decides to pass stronger legislation to protect victims of sexual assault. However, there exists an opposing viewpoint which disagrees with the premise of increased incidence of sexual assault.

Cutting through any political vitriol, it is obvious that the opposition isn’t pro-rape. Nor is the support pro-false accusations. Basically everyone agrees that assault is a serious crime that should be deterred and prosecuted accordingly. So what’s cause for divide?

The legislation revolves strongly around the word “consent”. The unresolved issue is that there is strong philosophical divide over what constitutes consent and what factors mitigate the ability to give it.

As the Prime Debate-Resolver, you are called in to deliver decisive rulings on such political disagreements. (Hypothica tends to panic under divisive issues and suspend democracy).
Your job here is to define what exactly constitutes consent. This will be legally binding on the country of Hypothica.


We’re only finding this out now?!?

I recently heard that they sent some mice in orbit for two weeks.  And they came back with damaged health.  And this has raised questions about the feasibility of space travel.

We’ve been sending animals and people up into space for…what?  Fifty years?  Sixty?  Am I to understand that, on no previous occasion, we studied the health effects of being in space for two weeks?

Anyone else think maybe they got this story wrong?

EDIT:  Sorry, it didn’t occur to me at first that this was a story folks wouldn’t have heard about.  Heres a link:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/mice-space-showed-liver-damage-two-weeks-192102137.html


Spouses

Suppose your son or daughter came to you and asked you for dating advice. What would you say is the top 2-3 most important factors or considerations in deciding on a spouse?


Anti-Religious sentiment (part 3)

People like to say that science is not the enemy of religion.  The effort for co-existence is a good one but the truth is there is a fundamental design element in science that will forever put it at odds with religion.

Why do people get sick?  Why were you born with your characteristics and not some other, better characteristics?  Where did we come from?  To a religious person ‘God’ is a perfectly acceptable answer to these questions, but not to a scientist.  Sometimes that is a good thing.  Modern medecine is possible because science didnt accept ‘God’ as the answer to the first question.  We havent made much use so far from answering the second question but were close enough that we can envision a future where we do.

But it also means science is geared towards taking God out of the equation.

If the second coming took place right now the scientists of the world would start trying to find an explanation for it.  And Im sure that, sooner or later, they would come up with one (assuming they had time).  Perhaps theyd say Jesus was an alien or extra-dimensional being or something.

That may sound silly but, really, thats the sort of thing science has been trying to do all along.  What evidence is there for Gods existence?  We have no way of knowing.  For centuries science has been trying to explain everything around us in ways that dont involve God, so it should come as no surprise to us that they’ve come close enough to success that a lot of people are nonbeleivers.  But how much of the evidence of Gods existence have they explained away?

Science has given us a lot.  That makes it hard to doubt or ignore.


Anti-Religious Sentiment (part 2)

Last post I blogged about one reason for anti-religious sentiment going around (LGBT opposition).  Today I will post about a different but related reason:  conservatism.

400 years ago the church branded Galileo a heretic and put him under house arrest for saying the Earth moves around the sun.  This is one of the more famous and ridiculous-sounding examples of religion standing in the way of progress, but it has company.  Ive heard of religion being put up as a barrier to abolition, abortion, evolution, desegregation, divorce, LGBT rights, environmentalism, wealth redistribution, (some) media and feminism and Im sure there are some Ive missed.  If you’re in favor of all or even most of those things you could very well think of religion as The Enemy.

One would think that religion learned its lesson in the Galileo debacle, that lesson being: dont pick fights you dont have to.  Before you pick a fight make sure you’re interpretting Gods word correctly.  But as some of the items on my list show it hasnt.  One can, for example, understand the hard line against divorce, but where in the Bible does it say you shouldnt protect the land?  And even in the case of divorce Im sure God doesnt really mean for battered wives to stay with their husbands.


Denial of Service

Background:

Recently in America, musicians Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen cancelled concerts in Mississippi and North Carolina respectively, each over a state law or bill that affects LGBT issues. Both singers’ reasoning was over conscientious objection to the law, (only Adams used the word “conscience” specifically). I’ve read some interesting comparisons to their attitude and the “same-sex wedding cake” controversies that constantly arise. Basically that both are appealing to their sense of right and wrong and denying service to individuals because they object to circumstances relevant to the event.

 

So let’s get to the hypothetical

Here in Hypothica there are all sorts of hot-button social issues that directly affect citizen’s engagement in commerce.

  • A musician don’t want to play in cities that have laws she don’t agree with
  • A Christian baker doesn’t want to make a cake for a wedding he doesn’t approve of
  • A liberal print shop owner doesn’t want to print banners for a pro-life rally
  • A Jewish hotel owner doesn’t want to rent his meeting space out to a meeting of Holocaust deniers
  • A group of nuns don’t want to pay for a healthcare plan that pays for abortion.
  • A black bar owner doesn’t want a known racist to host his birthday party here
  • A national men’s group doesn’t want to allow women to join their club
  • A comic shop owner hates Iron Man and doesn’t want to let the Iron Man fan club meet here, but will allow all other hero clubs.

 

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons people want to deny service, some religious, others personal preference.  Some events are directly associated with the objectionable attribute (Holocaust deniers meeting) others are discrete (the racist’s birthday party). In every circumstance the provider feels they are justified in not doing business and the consumer feels discriminated against. In none of these circumstances are there lives on the line.

What kind of laws should Hypothica adopt to determine how and when services must be provided? What freedoms are being taken into account and what is their priority?

 

I’m going to give my personal opinion:

Citing freedom of religion is too messy. I don’ think the government ought to be in the business of deciding who has a valid “conscientious objection” and who doesn’t and how far that objection can extend. I’d rather see a system that supported freedom of association. Anyone can do business with anyone else. Some people will discriminate and that’s unfortunate, but not an abuse of rights. There should be limits on human necessities (groceries, medical, housing, clothes) and anything provided by the government, even indirectly.