Enlightenment and Insanity

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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby greentara » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:31 am

Shel, You say "it's kinda silly to blame advertising and retail for perpetuating excessive desires" I don't find it silly, as we are swamped by advertising from the cradle onwards
Obviously its going to make a huge impact on the mind, how we think, what we want and how much.
Insight is whats needed to see though this pernicious industry....to see why we have this itch, this irritation that we always want more.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby kirtu » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:40 am

shel wrote:I have to say it's kinda silly to blame advertising and retail for perpetuating excessive desires. Advertisers and retailers don't make the products. Does it make sense to blame the free market society or capitalism? Sure, why not, but what's a better alternative?


The obvious alternative to ruthless American (perhaps Anglo-American) capitalism is social democracy. However seductive advertising is still a prominent feature of the capitalism practiced in all social democracies. And they very much intend to create desire (Austrian advertising is a prototypical example).

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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:46 am

If someone you knew tried to convince you to buy something that he knew that you didn't need just because it would make him some money, how would you feel about that?
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:51 am

greentara wrote:Shel, You say "it's kinda silly to blame advertising and retail for perpetuating excessive desires" I don't find it silly, as we are swamped by advertising from the cradle onwards
Obviously its going to make a huge impact on the mind, how we think, what we want and how much.
Insight is whats needed to see though this pernicious industry....to see why we have this itch, this irritation that we always want more.


Isn't it a culture wide situation? Advertising may be an easy target, but it's only one cog in the wheel, so to say. Again advertising doesn't produce the products, it only helps to sell them. Wouldn't it make more sense to blame the people who invent new products, for instance? Why don't they make more beneficial products?

Also, advertising is often used to promote beneficial things. As you say, it can have an impact. That impact can be for good.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:29 am

shel wrote:I have to say it's kinda silly to blame advertising and retail for perpetuating excessive desires. Advertisers and retailers don't make the products. Does it make sense to blame the free market society or capitalism? Sure, why not, but what's a better alternative?


Advertisers, especially after WWII, developed sophisticated ways of selling industrial surplus to people who initially did not have the desire to buy such things. Brand name products became powerful symbols that many sought to acquire and display.

Free market capitalism in any case commodifies everything, including the environment and nature. It is a lovely system for producing garbage and smoke from natural resources.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:35 am

shel wrote:Again advertising doesn't produce the products, it only helps to sell them. Wouldn't it make more sense to blame the people who invent new products, for instance? Why don't they make more beneficial products?


Gucci didn't invent leather bags, but they've become quite adept at marketing them so that they become status symbols.

There are of course new items that have functionality and status, like smart phones, but a lot of what we feel inclined to buy is simply because of advertising.

Patents in any case have been on the decline for many decades when measured in terms of patents issued per X number of scientists. The truth of the matter is that innovation is in decline. We have a lot of new shiny trinkets and so on, but in reality the stuff that really counts like power production, infrastructure and even healthcare isn't really being developed without excessive expenditures.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:38 am

Indrajala wrote:Free market capitalism in any case commodifies everything, including the environment and nature. It is a lovely system for producing garbage and smoke from natural resources.


Agreed, so what might work better? And indeed, for whatever might work better, branding and advertising could help promote it...
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:45 am

Indrajala wrote:
shel wrote:Again advertising doesn't produce the products, it only helps to sell them. Wouldn't it make more sense to blame the people who invent new products, for instance? Why don't they make more beneficial products?


Gucci didn't invent leather bags, but they've become quite adept at marketing them so that they become status symbols.

There are of course new items that have functionality and status, like smart phones, but a lot of what we feel inclined to buy is simply because of advertising.

Gucci bags would sell without the advertising budget, just not as many, and for not nearly as much money. Style is not without value. :tongue:

The truth of the matter is that innovation is in decline. We have a lot of new shiny trinkets and so on, but in reality the stuff that really counts like power production, infrastructure and even healthcare isn't really being developed without excessive expenditures.

I would venture to say that innovation in these area may even be deliberately hampered by those holding the reins, because they want to continue holding the reins.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:51 am

shel wrote:Agreed, so what might work better? And indeed, for whatever might work better, branding and advertising could help promote it...


Well, at this point unless freedom of speech was significantly curtailed, nothing can be done, though I think as economic contraction occurs a lot of such services will be rendered unaffordable and unnecessary.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:57 am

shel wrote:I would venture to say that innovation in these area may even be deliberately hampered by those holding the reins, because they want to continue holding the reins.


No, it is simply because of the law of diminishing returns. At this point innovation costs a lot more than it did in past times because there are limits to what we can do, produce and discover. Look at how many billions were spent on discovering a particle, which may not have any practical application. This is quite different from the discovery of radiation or electricity.

Despite all the strong efforts in renewables, coal and oil still beat them all in terms of energy production, both in terms of reliability and ease of production. Building a coal fired plant is relatively simple, even using tools and textbooks from a century ago, whereas solar panels are extremely complex instruments which depend on rather expensive infrastructure to produce and maintain. Also the solar panels give you less energy returned on energy invested than oil or coal, despite the former being a lot more high tech and recently developed.

There are limits to growth and innovation ... even science is subject to the law of diminishing returns.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:18 am

The law of diminishing returns applied to innovation is a curious proposition. No guts, no glory, I guess.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:20 am

shel wrote:The law of diminishing returns applied to innovation is a curious proposition. No guts, no glory, I guess.


It also means we don't get Star Trek given limits to innovation and the energy supplies needed to produce new innovation.

What's perhaps really discomforting is the prospect that energy contraction might mean our present levels of complexity will prove unsustainable.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:45 am

Indrajala wrote:
shel wrote:The law of diminishing returns applied to innovation is a curious proposition. No guts, no glory, I guess.


It also means we don't get Star Trek given limits to innovation and the energy supplies needed to produce new innovation.

What's perhaps really discomforting is the prospect that energy contraction might mean our present levels of complexity will prove unsustainable.


:tongue: I think it's eminently safe to say that our way of life is unsustainable.

Putting resources into innovation is by nature risky. It's not possible to know the potential benefits, or what the optimal amount of resources to invest might be.

Having said that, I've always liked the saying that we might 'live simply so that other may simply live'. Unfortunately this doesn't jive well with capitalism.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby kirtu » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:51 am

Indrajala wrote:It also means we don't get Star Trek given limits to innovation and the energy supplies needed to produce new innovation.

What's perhaps really discomforting is the prospect that energy contraction might mean our present levels of complexity will prove unsustainable.


No - nuclear power is the intermediate stepping stone to massive space based power collection (this can be done without nuclear power - what I mean is that nuclear power will by necessity have to be reinvigorated over the 40 year buildup of orbiting and moon based massive solar collection).

And Germany is still on target for hitting their extremely ambitious renewable power goals. As of 2012, Germany produces 25% of it's electricity from renewable sources.

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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:04 am

kirtu wrote:No - nuclear power is the intermediate stepping stone to massive space based power collection (this can be done without nuclear power - what I mean is that nuclear power will by necessity have to be reinvigorated over the 40 year buildup of orbiting and moon based massive solar collection).


So when is this massive space based solar collection supposed to happen? In the meanwhile, resource limitations down on earth could easily render such projects infeasible and unaffordable.

There's plenty of people likewise saying fusion will allow us to continue living our gluttonous lifestyles.

No, the reality is that we are living beyond our means and in due time our industrial lifestyles will be severely downsized.



And Germany is still on target for hitting their extremely ambitious renewable power goals. As of 2012, Germany produces 25% of it's electricity from renewable sources.


Their power grid ain't working as well as it is supposed to.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 10816.html

Even if they manage to keep the lights on with renewables, how many of their consumer products are manufactured in China using coal and thereafter shipped using petroleum?

Not everything has a technological fix. The sooner people realize that, the sooner we can move on to less damaging ways of living, but even then the process is going to be extremely painful.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby kirtu » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:30 pm

Indrajala wrote:
kirtu wrote:No - nuclear power is the intermediate stepping stone to massive space based power collection (this can be done without nuclear power - what I mean is that nuclear power will by necessity have to be reinvigorated over the 40 year buildup of orbiting and moon based massive solar collection).


So when is this massive space based solar collection supposed to happen?


It was first raised by Professor Gerard K. O'Neill and possibly Tsiolkovsky or Oberth before him (although not in the form of beaming energy to Earth). With O'Neil, these were supposed to have been begun in the early 80's, with demo projects in the late 70's.

It is being revisited with a timeline beginning in about 20 years.

In the meanwhile, resource limitations down on earth could easily render such projects infeasible and unaffordable.


No, we have resources sufficient to continue doing what we are doing in the same old bad, inefficient way for several hundred years (with oil being a potential serious problem). Of course we shouldn't continue ding what we have been doing they same old, bad way and we should strive for Clarke's/Roddenberry's resurgent human project but this isn't being focused on.

There's plenty of people likewise saying fusion will allow us to continue living our gluttonous lifestyles.


If we can generate real fusion power then the very word gluttonous will be placed in the dustbin of history. However fusion energy is still a ways off.

No, the reality is that we are living beyond our means and in due time our industrial lifestyles will be severely downsized.


We do, but changes that have to be made are not as severe as you have outlined in the past. The facts are that humanity could in fact transform this planet into a material utopia with all poverty and want completely banished and humanity unleashed to peacefully explore the universe in all it's diversity. But humanity in not on board with that idea,

And Germany is still on target for hitting their extremely ambitious renewable power goals. As of 2012, Germany produces 25% of it's electricity from renewable sources.


Their power grid ain't working as well as it is supposed to.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 10816.html


That is correct. However they will work it out. They look at the actual constraints dictated by physics and are not about to become the people of "can''t do" like native English-speakers have in fact become (thinking about this more, this manifestation of "can't do" is understandable in the US as a result of the rampant anti-intellectualism that forms a major cultural current, and in the UK as a result of undereducation and classisim [classism on this point also has to play a role in the US] - I suppose that the social mechanism in Canada is between the two - but it took Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan to get universal health care started in English speaking countries showing that a person with an idea can effect change)

Even if they manage to keep the lights on with renewables, how many of their consumer products are manufactured in China using coal and thereafter shipped using petroleum?


It will take a while for humanity to ween itself off petroleum but of course we can also use synthetic petrol.

Not everything has a technological fix. The sooner people realize that, the sooner we can move on to less damaging ways of living, but even then the process is going to be extremely painful.


The real problem is a lack of vision coupled with general undereducation and Ludditism as well as elites oppressing those not in power and keeping people, in effect, from improving their lives. The social systems of the world present serious obstacles to people unleashing their creative technological potential and applying solutions very much in reach.

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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:47 pm

We've wandered from the topic, but on renewables, there is something I would like to share. I live in Australia, and my last quarterly power bill was $967.00. I don't expect them to get any smaller - Australia has major issues with the cost of building infrastructure, and most of its power generation is coal-based. So as soon as I get back home (I'm typing this on a hotel verandah on O'ahu) I'm signing up with Sungevity. They provide a solar solution for home users with basically no upfront cost. And this kind of solution is growing enormously, at least in Australia.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:33 pm

In the states there's currently no real financial incentives to go solar for electricity.
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Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby kirtu » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:42 pm

shel wrote:In the states there's currently no real financial incentives to go solar for electricity.


If you are upper middle class and own your own home or business building there are. Many states defray the costs of installing a photoelectric or even passive solar heating system by ~50-75% and have done so for many years now. The problem is that most people do not know this even in the states where this is seen as being "pushed".

I tried to get my condo building in DC interested in this but short term considerations ditched it. If I had remained living in that building and remained rich then I could have helped convert it myself.

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