Silent Archimedes

Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

The need for greed. And they all fall. What Arod, recession and global warming have in common.

Posted by silentarchimedes on February 7, 2009

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

What is going on with the world today? Many of the institutions and systems we grew up with and believed in have crumbled faster than a crumb cake in front of Santa Claus. This morning sports fans were shockingly (or not) met with news that one of the few remaining baseball superstars to not be tainted by the steroids scandal, Alex Rodriguez, failed an MLB steroids test in 2003. Considering that this news was corroborated by four independent sources, and based on past evidence of such news, this story likely has meat behind it. As the Barry Bonds’, baseball’s all-time home run king, steroids perjury trial heads to court, we wonder if there is anything sacred anymore in sportsmanship and fair play. The list now includes Bonds, Arod, Marc McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Raphael Palmeiro. All were heroes and idols to millions and millions of kids and sports fans.

Bear Stearns

Bear Stearns

Sports is nothing, however, compared to the deepening economic crisis affecting the country. But, then again we need to ask ourselves how did this country fall into such a dire situation in the first place? With news of unemployment reaching 7.6%, worst since 1982, most Americans are sensing a pessimism in the country and its leadership they have never felt before. Corporations that have long been stalwarts have wilted after years of trustworthy service. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG, just to name a few. Even General Electric has fallen on tough times due to untrustworthy leadership expectations and financial exposure. Then there are the frauds of individuals, such Bernie Madoff, and corporations, such as Enron and Global Crossing.

Polar bear cub

Polar bear cub

Then there is the global warming and energy crises. Due to the  irresponsible and rampant use of oil and other natural resources, and the irresponsible output of chemicals into the air, river and ground, the natural balance of Earth has come under question. Dire predictions of sea levels, global temperatures, forestation, glacial coverage, droughts and diseases have left us wondering is there any hope left? Will there exist a viable Earth in 100 to 200 years?

It is truly amazing that all three of these problems have one major thing in common. Greed. Greed. Greed. What is most disturbing is that the situations did not become problems until the ultimate greed kicked in. Arod was already a once in a generation baseball player back in high school. It is fair to say that he did not do steroids as a teenager as his body structure was simply too small. Bonds was a skinny player with the Pirates but was already a five tool player on the path to the Hall of Fame. McGwire  was an amazingly talented rookie with the Oakland Athletics. Why did they feel the need to use steroids and become even better than they already were? Why risk already amazing career trajectories with such greed?

Similarly, the financial companies that have gone bankrupt or bought up were very viable and successful companies (some for over a hundred years) before the ARMs and hedge funds became en vogue. Why the greed to do such risky investments in order to raise the bottom line and stock price?  Was it all due to increasing stock compensation packages of executives? Was it all worth it? To dupe millions of unknowing citizens just for more personal money? What about Madoff? An already well-respected and wealthy investor; what caused him to risk everyone’s money (including hundreds of other wealthy individuals and companies), just to make more money for his firm?

Finally, the earth has remained relatively stable ever since the existence of man. However, since the Industrial Revolution and especially since the widespread use of combustible engines, there has been this disregard for the side effects of using such resources. Coupled with research in biochemistry and synthetic compounds, the effects of pesticides, mercury, lead and carbons have led to a precarious global balance. Millions of animal species extinct or on the brink of survival.

Progress?

Progress?

Are humans, the supposedly most “intelligent” species with opposable thumbs, in fact, the dumbest species ever? Just imagine outsiders writing about the history of man and what they would write about, especially the past 150 years. Just imagine what they would write about western civilization. Just imagine what they would say about the population numbers. Or about technology and medical research? Is this the final goal of evolution? We have reached the ultimate in special survival… our only enemy is ourselves? The whole purpose of natural selection is the survival of the strong. However, part of natural selection is natural balance. A species never wants to become too powerful because then their food sources and natural enemies would disappear. Humans have, in essence, overcome both these natural laws. Through natural selection (our brains and opposable thumbs) we are far and beyond the most powerful species. In a relatively short time, our population and power increased beyond control. Humans have no more natural enemies. The machines we have created are unmatched and only destructible amongst ourselves. So what does this all mean?

The human world does not have a checks and balance system. Nature and other species have always acted as the equalizers. The closest thing that comes to that is the United Nations, and everyone knows how ineffective it is. Additionally, idealistic political systems such as communism and socialism have proven futile. Even checks and balance systems, such as the one in the United States, has a limited efficacy, as witnessed by the politics, lobbyism and other issues. Nature is having a difficult time balancing the effects of human greed and power. Diseases and natural disasters are becoming minimal in damage due to medical research and better disaster predictions. Without any natural enemies, we are left to govern ourselves and our future. As exciting of a possibility that is, the track record of that has been phenomenally pathetic.

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Top 10 Favorite Futuristic Society Films

Posted by silentarchimedes on June 13, 2008

My favorite movies about futuristic society. This includes big brother movies, apocalyptic movies, alien invasions, and science fiction movies with relevance to future society on earth.

Thanks to Netflix for the little movie frames, and the movie summaries!

Honorable Mention 4. Day After Tomorrow (2004) – After years of unabated global warming, the greenhouse effect is wreaking havoc all over the globe in the form of catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, tidal waves, floods and, most ominously, the beginning of the next Ice Age. Paleoclimatologist Adrian Hall (Dennis Quaid) tries to save the world while also shepherding to safety his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), who was in New York when the city was overwhelmed by the beginnings of the new big freeze.

Honorable Mention 3. Sixth Day (2000) -“Ah-nuld” is back and brawnier than ever! This time, Schwarzenegger is a helicopter pilot who finds himself on the “To Do” list of a murderous tycoon (Tony Goldwyn). The good news is that the hit gets botched. The bad news is that Goldwyn has cloned Arnold, who must fight to get his life back. An action-packed spin on the ethical quandary of cloning, The 6th Day is future-perfect.

Honorable Mention 2. The Island (2005) – Michael Bay’s stylish sci-fi thriller stars Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as members of a strictly regulated indoor futuristic colony who hope to win the lottery, a contest in which the grand prize is a trip to a utopian island, reportedly the last uncontaminated place on Earth. But a startling discovery about the true nature of “the Island” — and their very existence — leads the two to stage a desperate escape to the outside world.

Honorable Mention 1. Mad Max (1979) – In the postapocalyptic future, motorcycle cop Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) has had enough. The Australian outback’s empty stretches of highway have become bloodstained battlegrounds, and Max has seen too many killings at the hands of marauding bikers who feed on violence. He tries to retire, but his world is shattered when a malicious gang murders his family as an act of retaliation. Devastated, Max hits the open road seeking vengeance.

10. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) – Ray Bradbury’s cautionary near-future parable of a society where books are banned and firemen start fires was the only English-language film from French auteur François Truffaut. Oscar Werner is the conflicted fireman Montag, and Julie Christie has a dual role. The score is by Truffaut favorite Bernard Hermann, of Psycho fame. For an extra level of subtle satire, look closely at the carefully chosen book titles.

9. Armageddon (1998) – As an asteroid tumbles toward Earth, NASA director Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) hatches a plan to split the fireball in two before it can annihilate the entire planet. To do so, he calls on the world’s finest oil driller, Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), who assembles a team he feels can handle the task. With only two days to save humanity, the guys head to space to destroy the rock, while the folks back home pray for their success.

8. Total Recall (1990) – Life is mind-bending and chaotic in director Paul Verhoeven’s violent, Oscar-winning sci-fi adventure based on a Philip K. Dick story. When construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) discovers a memory chip in his brain during a virtual-reality trip, he also discovers that his past has been invented to conceal a plot of planetary domination. Soon, he’s off to Mars to find out who he is and who planted the chip…

7. Gattaca (1997) – With one eye on his dream of working in outer space, a genetically flawed “In-Valid” (Ethan Hawke) hires a DNA broker (Tony Shalhoub) to help him obtain more desirable genetic material from a paralyzed man (Jude Law). In the process, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful “Valid” (Uma Thurman) with a heart defect. Screenwriter Andrew Niccol also directs this futuristic thriller, which marks his debut in the feature-length realm.

6. War of the Worlds (2005) – You know the story: Invading Martians equipped with ships that shoot unstoppable disintegration rays attempt to overwhelm the Earth. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells (and adapted into a famous 1953 movie starring Gene Barry), this version stars Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning as a father and daughter trying to keep one step ahead of the destroying Martians while humanity tries to muster a defense … any defense! Steven Spielberg directs.

5. I, Robot (2004) – Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s work, this techno-thriller stars Will Smith as Del Spooner, a mid-21st century Chicago cop investigating the murder of a scientist. Wary of technology, Spooner’s not the perfect man for the job, but he takes it on anyway, aided by expert Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan). When Spooner discovers that an android (Alan Tudyk) may be the culprit, he realizes the entire human race could be at the mercy of machines.

4. Minority Report (2002) – Thrills, spills and kills — well, not the last, if Tom Cruise can help it. Cruise plays John Anderton, a top Pre-Crime cop in the late-21st century, when technology can predict crimes before they’re committed. But Anderton becomes the quarry when another investigator (Colin Farrell) targets him for a murder charge. Can Anderton find a glitch in the system and prove his innocence before it’s too late?

3. Planet of the Apes (1968] – Charlton Heston stars in one of the ’60s’ most beloved camp classics. Bewildered astronaut George Taylor (Heston) crash-lands on a strange planet ruled by intelligent apes who use primitive humans for experimentation and sport. Taylor quickly finds himself among the hunted as he struggles to escape the apes’ power — and uncover their darkest secret.

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – In this sequel to his first Terminator hit, director James Cameron delivers scene after scene of action-packed thrills. A bigger, better Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is gunning for a shape-shifting T-1000 who’s out to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong, in his film debut), the son of Sarah (Linda Hamilton), the original Terminator’s nemesis.

1. The Matrix (1999) – In this complex story that aspires to mythology, a computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) searches for the truth behind the mysterious force known as the Matrix. He finds his answer with a group of strangers led by the charismatic Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). What they encounter in confronting that truth makes for a lightning-paced, eye-popping thrill ride of a movie that cleverly combines sociopolitical commentary with cutting-edge special effects.

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