Links 12/8/09

Can we end aging by 2029? h+ (hat tip reader David C). I don’t think I can wait that long…I most certainly do not want to live forever (competition for resources will get nasty before you factor in possible developments like this), but physical decay sucks.

Ancient site reveals signs of mass cannibalism BBC. Speaking of competition for resources….

No Escape From TARP for U.S. Banks Choking on Real Estate Loans Bloomberg

Kashkari’s move to Pimco is fuel for critics Financial Times Duh! and Where else could Kashkari have gone? Felix Salmon

City in uproar at plan for bonus ‘supertax’ Independent

Why Do So Many People Hate Health Care Reform? Megan McArdle

When It Comes to the Economy, NPR Doesn’t Know Which Way Is Up Dean Baker

Bolstering My Negative Outlook Michael Panzner

Shock: American Bankers Association Comes Out Against Bank Reform Huffington Post

Exchange Rate Policies Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser

False dawn for Christmas spending spree hopes Times Online

The Next Bubble: The Looming Crisis in Books About the Financial Crisis Paul Kedrosky

Buying and selling castles in the sand John Dizard, Financial Times

We Didn’t Start the Fire Epicurean Dealmaker

Markets Completely Ignored Brazil’s Sudden Iron Export Slow-Down Clusterstock

Bailout Refund Is All About Pay, Pay, Pay Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times. This is why we will have pay reform in the end…but only after the next financial crisis. Chris Whalen said it is premature for BofA to be paying the TARP back, but no responsible adults seem to care. The governor of the Bank of England, who is not an elected official, has been talking up the need to fix pay aggressively, and all we get here is some hyperventilating about bonuses, but no serious ideas.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Max):

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  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Speaking of competing for resources, if for me to making a buck, someone else will make two bucks, then I would rather see the whole thing not occur, as my relative claim on the overall total available resources just declines a little bit.

    But, surely someone will step into and make the buck you could have earned, right?

    Well, here is where the Reverse Paradox of Saving comes in. The Paradox of Saving is where what is good for one individual to do is bad if the whole group does it. The Reverse Paradox of Saving is where what is bad for one individual to do is good if the whole group does.

    So, if everyone refuses to make one buck if that will enable another person to make two bucks, then it doesn’t happen, and no one makes anything at all, i.e. everyone makes zero. Relatively speaking, your claim on the resrouces of the planet does not diminish.

  2. attempter

    Re BofA and exec looting:

    (I was mildly impressed that Sorkin didn’t directly say it’s all Feinberg’s fault, that he’s “forcing” BofA into doing this.)

    We can sum up the situation as:

    1. America is in an economic crisis (and at war).

    2. These finance criminals caused the crisis.

    3. We bailed them out because this was allegedly necessary for the benefit of all.

    4. Therefore, we now OWN them. They have an absolute obligation to work ONLY for the good of America, which has been alleged to mean the balance sheet health of their banks. They have ZERO right to worry about their own pay until the economic problems have been completely solved.

    5. Yet they’re still acting as psychopaths and extortionists. Everywhere, 100% of their focus is on their own “bonuses”, even at the direct expense of their companies and therefore of America itself.

    BofA taking a crowbar to its own balance sheet in order to facilitate further personal looting is just the latest example.

    The government has no problem with this. It is utterly corrupt, beyond redemption.

    6. By now we know for a fact that these bank cadres are nothing but simple gangsters, taking that crowbar to all of us, our own heads. We’ll never be free of them until we deal with them in the same way we’d deal with a thug who physically attacked us.

    Collectively, they are nothing but that thug.

    1. DownSouth

      But doesn’t this passage from Sorkin’s article really say it all?

      Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency that didn’t exactly cover itself with glory with its prognostications, recently wrote a remarkably candid research note that suggested the $45 billion repayment didn’t really matter, because if the bank got in trouble again, taxpayers would be there with another bailout.

  3. wunsacon

    I strongly suspect both AI and immortality are not more than 50 years away. The ramifications are incredible. Obviously and not so obviously.

    Cheney’s “deficits don’t matter” statement may turn out to be correct, albeit for reasons different than he anticipated. For instance, what will it mean to the Social Security and Medicare deficits when “health care” no longer requires medical staff?

    And who gets “first access” to immortality? Billionaires riding atop the generous float from NYC/DC? Or is it something given to all? The technology leading up to this moment was contributed by generations and generations of scientists, funded by hundreds of civilizations — those are “giants” upon whose shoulders today’s researchers and capitalists make new discoveries. Who will lay exclusive claim to the awesome-yet-incremental contributions?

    Will the Pope and other myth-loving peoples finally start recommending birth control? Or will we become the people seen in Star Trek:TOS episode “Mark of Gideon”? (

    Also, I do fear we’ll have the capability to destroy ourselves in yet another way. Sure, people are afraid to use nukes. But, drones? What reluctance is there against them? How many extra wars might we fight simply because the costs (to us) in money and blood drop?

    Will the ultimate “Wii” be a Matrix-pod, wherein we can play WoW or anything else endlessly? Will that technology someday become so ubiquitous that — combined with a lack of energy resources — it becomes a “luxury” to live outside of one?

    Yves, don’t you wish to live forever? Don’t you wish to explore other worlds? Meet alien life?

  4. Careful Whatuwish IV

    perhaps those who wish to live forever
    have simply not yet lived long enough

    maybe the best way for some to live
    Would be to never have been born

    But that’s not possible for them anymore.
    A tragedy, such existence?

    (to be read while laughing)

  5. EmilianoZ

    RE eternal life and competition for resources

    That’s when we’ll really need “death panels” to determine who should be allowed to go on living based on merit and usefulness to society. You can look forward to seeing Goldman Sachs folks (doing God’s work) live forever.

  6. Hrm

    Competition for resources? People living forever will mean reproduction is totally unnecessary. We can have a fixed population and know exactly how many resources are needed in advance.

  7. aet

    Competition for resources?
    Science & tech has obviated the scarcity of some resources completely.
    Over-production is a problem….

  8. eric anderson

    We can end aging today. Ever see the movie Logan’s Run?

    As a practical matter, people will eventually die of accidents, unless they live in bunkers and experience all their lives through some sort of virtual reality. If you actually want to do something exciting IRL, you will reduce your longevity.

    And, when it’s all over, what difference does it matter whether you lived 70 or 700 years? In a universe without God (We killed him. Didn’t you read?), it just means another piece of animated dirt becomes a piece of inanimate dirt. It is of no more significance, ultimately, than an exploding supernova, or the death of an insect. Why?

    If you escape accident (or being murdered, or bombed into vapor), what will you do when the accelerating expansion of the universe causes all the suns to burn out, and space is an empty dark cold expanse with an occasional burned out stellar core or dead planet to break the monotony?

    Don’t you just love scientific rationalism? It really warms the cockles.

    1. Keenan

      Tulane University mathematical physicist Frank Tipler has given considerable thought to those sorts of questions.

  9. EmilianoZ

    RE eternal life and competition for resources

    Solving this problem is actually pretty easy. If we can live forever what’s the point of procreating? Just sterilize everybody.

    If that’s still not enough we can freeze part of the population and take turn living. You’d be frozen for 100 years, then live for 100 years, then frozen for another 100 and so on.

    1. Keenan

      “If we can live forever what’s the point of procreating?”

      You might as well ask why we, along with everything else in the universe, came into being. For the sake of novelty, of course. The Cosmological Singularity’s imperative is the proliferation of novelty as well as complexity.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Chinese think the number 8 is a lucky number because its pronounciation is very similar to that of the expression for getting rich.

    But I think they have a better number for luck – 1,000,000,000. You see, if you have the number in your bank account, you can be sure you’re truly a lucky person.

    This gets to my main point and a useful one for wannabee science fiction/horror writers. What if the price for immortality is $1 billion a year? Well, if you think the dwarnian competition on Wall Street is tough today, try again. I am sure a good writer can make very good use of this and set up all kinds of interesting, gripping drama…perhaps even riots or wars.

    Well, that’s my idea. If you can profit from it, don’t forget to include me in your royalty agreement.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    What if you are already too old even you can stop aging?

    We need reverse aging…like the wise Oriental doctor in the, to show there is nothing new in movieland, 1982 movie called ‘Three Crowns of A Sailor.’

  12. aet

    ERic: What is and how it works (the domain of science) does not matter as to how one should live one’s own life (the domain of ethics).
    Scientific rationalism is only (and has ever only been) a tool with which to grapple with the universe and all that’s in it. It does not posit that universe to be “rational”(hello, quantum mechanics!), only that rationality is the best tool available with which to understand and perhaps manipulate the universe. Other belief systems do beg to differ.
    What that universe may be “worth” is a different question altogether. As is how one should behave.
    Science really has nothing to say about those topics, I’m afraid….

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