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Stewart Brand
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Attended Stanford University
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Dalai Lama, in Japan, supports nuclear power

After visiting Fukushima.
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derek visser's profile photoJane Jones's profile photoArthur Gillard's profile photoClark Richardson's profile photo
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Well of course, he is a known expert on nuclear power.
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Government as radical, patient VC (Mariana Mazzucato SALT talk)

So much for dull economists.  This one is highly articulate, glamorous, and bearing an important message that can correct a common, harmful illusion about government.  She spoke this week at Long Now’s Seminar About Long-term Thinking (SALT) in San Francisco.  My summary...

The iPhone, Mazzucato pointed out, is held up as a classic example of world-changing innovation coming from business.  

Yet every feature of the iPhone was created, originally, by multi-decade government-funded research.  From DARPA came the microchip, the Internet, the micro hard drive, the DRAM cache, and Siri.  From the Department of Defense came GPS, cellular technology, signal compression, and parts of the liquid crystal display and multi-touch screen (joining funding from the CIA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy, which, by the way, developed the lithium-ion battery.)  CERN in Europe created the Web.  Steve Jobs’ contribution was to integrate all of them beautifully.

Venture Capitalists (VCs) in business expect a return in 3 to 5 years, and they count on no more than one in ten companies to succeed.  The time frame for government research and investment embraces a whole innovation cycle of 15 to 20 years, supporting the full chain from basic research through to viable companies. That means they can develop entire new fields such as space technology, aviation technology, nanotechnology, and, hopefully, Green technology.  

But compare the reward structure.  Government takes the greater risk with no prospect of great reward, while VCs and businesses take less risk and can reap enormous rewards.  “We socialize the risks and privatize the rewards.”  Mazzucato proposes mechanisms for the eventual rewards of deep innovation to cycle back into a government “innovation fund”---perhaps by owning equity in the advantaged companies, or retaining a controlling “golden share” of intellectual property rights, or through income-contingent loans (such as are made to students).  “After Google made billions in profits, shouldn’t a small percentage have gone back to fund the public agency (National Science Foundation) that funded its algorithm?”  In Brazil, China, and Germany, state development banks get direct returns from their investments.

The standard narrative about government in the US is that it stifles innovation, whereas the truth is that it enables innovation at a depth that business cannot reach, and the entire society, including business, gains as a result.  “We have to change the way we think about the state,” Mazzucato concludes.
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What books would you want in a collection called the “Manual for Civilization”?

I’ve made my initial selections for Long Now’s “Manual for Civilization.”  Many think of the Manual as something to restart a collapsed civilization.  That’s worth keeping in mind, but my sense of the value of the Manual is that it can help civilization keep improving indefinitely.

For me  the point is continuity, not discontinuity.
 
Our second list of books for the "Manual for Civilization" library comes from Long Now co-founder +Stewart Brand. He selects more than 70 books ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh to recent science fiction and a 15,000 year survey of climate's relationship with humanity. It makes for great reading. You'd better get started.
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Don't forget a copy of Marks Handbook for Mechanical Engineers. Get an edition that's at least 60 years old tho..
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Unlooting the Iraq Museum

This week US Marines Col. Matthew Bogdanos gave a Long Now talk on his experience in Iraq leading the efforts to recover the priceless artifacts looted from the Iraq National Museum in April 2003.  Here’s my summary of the talk:

Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad had been closed to the public by Saddam Hussein for over two decades when his regime fell in April 02003. Iraqis felt no connection to the world renowned cultural treasures inside. Like every other government building, it was trashed and looted.

Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos, then in Basra leading a counter-terrorism group, volunteered part of his team to attempt recovery of the lost artifacts. He arrived at the museum with 14 people to protect its dozen buildings and 11 acres in a still-active battle zone. Invited by the museum director, they took up residence and analyzed the place as a crime scene.

Missing were some of civilization’s most historic archeological treasures. From 3200 BC, the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world’s oldest carved stone ritual vessel. From 2600 BC, the solid gold bull’s head from the Golden Harp of Ur. From 2250 BC, the copper Akkadian Bassetki Statue, the earliest known example of lost-wax casting. From 3100 BC, the limestone Mask of Warka, the first naturalistic depiction of a human face. From 800 BC, the Treasure of Nimrud— a fabulous hoard of hundreds of pieces of exquisite Assyrian gold jewelry and gems. Plus thousands of other artifacts and antiquities, including Uruk inscribed cylinder seals from 2500 BC.

Bidding on the international antiquities black market went to $25,000 for Uruk cylinder seals, $40 million for the Vase of Warka.

Since the goal was recovery, not prosecution, Bogdanos instituted a total amnesty for return of stolen artifacts—no questions asked, and also no payment, just a cordial cup of tea for thanks. Having learned from duty in Afghanistan to listen closely to the locals, Bogdanos and his team walked the streets, visited the mosques, played backgammon in the neighborhoods, and followed up on friendly tips (every one of which turned out to be genuine). 3,000 items had been taken from the museum by random looters. Local Iraqis returned 95% of them.

The prime pieces stolen by professional thieves took longer to track down. Raids on smuggler’s trucks and hiding places turned up more items. The Bassetki Statue was found hidden in a cesspool; the Mask of Warka had been buried in the ground. Some pieces began turning up all over the world and were seized when identified. (Bogdanos noted that Geneva, Switzerland, is where that kind of contraband often rests in warehouses that law enforcement is not allowed to search.)

It turned out Saddam himself had looted the museum of the Treasure of Nimrud and the gold bull’s head back in 01990. Tips led to a flooded underground vault in the bombed-out Central Bank of Iraq, and the priceless items were discovered.

Everything found was returned to the Iraq National Museum, where the great antiquities are gradually being restored to public display. Iraq, and the world, is retaking possession of its most ancient heritage.

Bogdanos quoted Sophocles: “Whoever neglects the arts… has lost the past and is dead to the future.”

----

(This talk was neither recorded nor filmed, because material presented in it is part of a still on-going investigation. You can get the full story from Bogdanos’ excellent book, Thieves of Baghdad.)
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Thanks for posting this here, the website is just about totally unusable on mobile.
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Nuclear Power is good for the environment. Especially if there is an accident.  The eco-system is thriving in the Chernobyll Exclusion zone and will probably blossum around Fukushima as well. The reason.  Human activity ceases in these areas. Modern human civilization is more toxic to the environment than high level nuclear contamination.
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Extinct heath hen MIGHT return to Martha’s Vineyard

It’s up to the current human residents.  Islanders invited Revive & Restore to spell out the feasibility, and the storied Vineyard Gazette wrote it up.
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Stewart,

A couple of startling things came up in Irish radio broadcasts, that I listened to during the week.

Hedgehogs in UK went down in population from over forty million I think, in the 1950s, to between one and two million today only. 

The other thing that did come up, was that bats, each account for the consumption of up to three thousand insects per night. Here in Ireland where we get very long nights in summer time, around the rivers and lakes, the bats really do work very hard. I can verify that, by the amount of them that I see at work, out on nights fishing. 

We don't realize quite often, how hard that various species work, in order to maintain certain balances in our environment. And the indiscriminate use of certain techniques in agriculture etc, has not helped to maintain an overall balance since the mid 20th century (after which mechanisation etc really kicked in). 

And one other thing about endangered species. Apparently there are more people in the United States now playing 'World of Warcraft' than there are people involved in farming. 

There are just more people now who attend to things like fantasy online gaming, than do attend to things such as the greater natural environment. 
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Is Comcast blocking Huffington Post?

I get my Web via Comcast in Marin County, California.  For two days I can’t get the Huffington Post link to work, though all other links work fine, and with other services Huffington Post is clearly up.

Could this be revenge by Comcast for recent posts on HuffPo that are critical of Comcast’s current activities?

Smells like censorship, if so.
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+Edgar Santiago , yes I've had the times where I've literally given up after 30 minutes of talking to one of these people and just not being able to communicate with them.
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Soon to be San Francisco’s coolest bar

Long Now’s soon-to-open bar, cafe, museum, venue, and archive at Fort Mason now has a name: The Interval.  Sound and visual works by Brian Eno, deep-time drinks, a multi-thousand-volume Manual of Civilization, and chalkboard robot will some of the features.
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Obrigada Senhor!
 ·  Translate
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New York Times headlines de-extinction

Revive & Restore is honored to be the subject of a long and thorough cover story, titled “The Mammoth Cometh,” in next Sunday’s (March 2) New York Times Sunday Magazine.  The author is novelist Nathaniel Rich (son of the long-time New York Times columnist Frank Rich.)  The piece is online now at the link below.

Rich does a good job covering the new technologies that enable de-extinction and he has a balanced discussion of the debates the subject raises.  It’s gratifying to see beautiful photographs including the great auk and heath hen along with the usual mammoth and passenger pigeon images.  Even in a long-form article there is much that is necessarily left out, but that’s a measure of how rich the subject has become in just a few years.
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my guess is that's what Detroit is all about:) 
seriously. great artists know whats best as fiction only, check out the monuments men film to see what happens when a failed artist gets to many benefactors;0 
some things are best as history lessons only.
and the universe isnt always fair, its us who have the gift/curse of that delusion.
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Vandana Shiva keeps on lying

And multitudes of credulous opinion-swayers keep on believing her narrative that GMOs cause farmer suicides in India.  The lie---she knows better---has been transparent for years (I wrote about it my 2009 book, Whole Earth Discipline), but believers in the evil-GMO metanarrative keep on believing her. 

Discovery magazine has yet another discrediting report, this one by Keith Kloor, discussed in Steve Darden’s good blog at the link.
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David Röll's profile photoMalthus John's profile photoRob Carlson's profile photoNicholas Rumas's profile photo
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+Malthus John >The rest of the info you posted is fairly well known, and not contested.  There's no direct way to connect suicides with the GE cotton.

Unless you ask Vandana Shiva and the anti-GMO-crowd. Which is the point of the original post, right.
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Have him in circles
81,181 people
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  • Global Business Network
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writer futurist environmentalist
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  • Stanford University
    Biology, 1956 - 1960