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Are you alive? If so, can you define what that means?

Why Life Does Not Really Exist
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 7, 2013 - 85 comments

We're all waiting for the other kids' moms to throw theirs out first

"We talked about how it’s crazy that there is this generation of comics collectors that basically all have the same collection. Exactly the same. Like the one we just saw. And how it’s (basically) worthless. And how those collections were worth real money even ten years ago. Maybe more like 20 years ago. Remember G.I. Joe #2 from 1982? It used to be worth 40 bucks. Now, just a click away, there are 6 used from various sellers starting at 99 cents. Spahr joked that we should have all sold when the market was at its peak in the early ’90s." -- Bad news for those of us who wanted to fund our kids' college funds with our comics collection: even rare comics are worthless now.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 23, 2013 - 128 comments

We're Going To Have To Find Out How To Deal With Lots Of Idle Hands

The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like? (Youtube 56:43)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 27, 2013 - 18 comments

"In the future, everything will be terrifying."

Dougal Dixon is a scientist, author, and illustrator. While he is most famous for his work on dinosaurs, his books After Man: A Zoology of the Future and Man After Man: An Anthropology Of The Future attempt to explore what might happen in the far future. The Posthuman Art Of Dougal Dixon. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 30, 2013 - 26 comments

"The original shark, it turns out, rotted."

Gold, Golden, Gilded, Glittering - The Unexpected Double History Of Banking And The Art World
In fact, we have long entrusted the task of representing our ideas of value to members of two professions that might seem to have little in common: banking and art. And, in the last seven hundred years or so, it has happened more than once that visual and financial inventors have come up with strikingly similar representations. There is more than a shadow of resemblance between the purchase of the Hirst skull in 2007 and the mortgage-backed-securities debacle that made of Lehman Brothers in the following year one of the great public pictures of vanitas we’ve had. And, when you look further into these intersections, you often find that what is really at stake is a change in the way we feel and understand time.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 7, 2013 - 20 comments

Where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars. I don't see any flying cars!

Global Trends 2030 Alternate Worlds is the latest quadrennial report from The US National Intelligence Council (NIC). (Report: PDF / Talking Points: PDF.) Similar to its predecessors, '2030' attempts to predict 'alternate visions of the future.' An official blog discusses their speculations. The Atlantic Council has published a "companion publication": "Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 11, 2012 - 21 comments

what about the medium term

MetaFilter's Own™ Charlie Stross visits 2512.
posted by gerryblog on Nov 9, 2012 - 23 comments

A talk by writer Warren Ellis

How to See the Future.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 9, 2012 - 36 comments

Strange New Worlds

Let's take another look at Chris Wayan's PLANETOCOPIA (previously): A series of detailed conceptions and paintings of vastly different Earths based on differing climates and land mass position. A planet designed to speed up East-West cvilization development! A life-bearing super hot world! An Earth with most of the seas missing! Forever Ice Age Earth! [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Sep 9, 2012 - 11 comments

Looking for life in all the wrong places

Any Sufficiently Advanced Civilization is Indistinguishable from Nature.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 8, 2012 - 50 comments

Elegant Explanations

What Is Your Favorite Deep, Elegant, Or Beautiful Explanation? - Edge 2012 Annual Question (earlier)
posted by Gyan on Jan 15, 2012 - 33 comments

VIEW, DEDUCE AND IMAGINE. CREATE YOUR OWN TRUTH.

Wonderful Ambiguity. (some later images NSFW; or are they? [but seriously, some possibly even more nsfw than this]) "Sculptors" "today", what with their "plank piece I & II", "planking" back when it was "cool", before it was hip; there are at least 47 pages of wonderful, mercifully, none relating to "planking". [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 10, 2011 - 6 comments

Antibiotics

The US Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy runs a non-profit, Extending the Cure, which conducts policy research to extend antibiotic effectiveness, and ResistanceMap, which generates interactive analysis tools and maps regarding antibiotic use in Europe and the US. The most recent ResistanceMap visualizations indicate that the US Southeast overprescribes antibiotics at a high rate compared with the rest of the country. Science journalist / "Superbug" blogger Maryn McKenna speculates (while acknowledging that correlation ≠ causation,) that the map might also indicate a link between overuse of antibiotics, obesity, diabetes and stroke. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 25, 2011 - 30 comments

What Are These Mysterious Lines In China's Desert?

Some Google Earth enthusiasts have found a strange and unexplainable grid pattern in the middle of China's Gobi Desert.
posted by reenum on Nov 14, 2011 - 70 comments

On President Kennedy, the Space Race, legacies and politics

50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 25, 2011 - 79 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

Speculators Gonna Speculate

The World Development Movement (WDM) published a report six months ago on How Banking Speculation Causes Food Crises. It describes why the deregulation of commodity derivatives, specifically food commodity derivatives, has led to a state of global instability in the price of food. Political instability in the Middle East is not helping either. The European Commission is considering methods to introduce regulation in commodity derivative markets [Strategy Outline PDF]. In the meantime, speculators gonna speculate. [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Mar 5, 2011 - 26 comments

They Are All Failed States

The City As Dominant Agent... Parag Khanna of the New America Foundation on the probable fall of the nation-state and the rise of the City, the obstacles facing it, the futures it could embrace, and what examples are out there. [more inside]
posted by artof.mulata on Dec 6, 2010 - 21 comments

Betting on Hunger

From the Guardian PovertyMatters Blog : Will the meeting in Rome result in action against food speculation?.
At an emergency meeting in Rome The UN has warned of major new food crisis; environmental disasters and speculative investors are to blame for volatile food commodities markets.
The EU is to wage war against speculation in these markets.
Early in 2008 Eric Touissant, (President of CADTM) explained How the Food and Financial Crises Are Interconnected.
This July Harpers published The food bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it by Frederick Kaufman. (previously).
posted by adamvasco on Sep 24, 2010 - 12 comments

Anyone for seconds?

How Goldman Sachs gambled on starving the world's poor - and won This was hinted at last August and in 2008
Merrill Lynch's spokesman said: "Huh. I didn't know about that." He later emailed to say: "I am going to decline comment." Deutsche Bank also refused to comment. Goldman Sachs were a little more detailed in their response: they said "serious analyses... have concluded index funds did not cause a bubble in commodity futures prices", offering as evidence a single statement by the OECD.
World Hunger Facts 2010
posted by adamvasco on Jul 5, 2010 - 99 comments

If you wouldn't like living that way (in the lowest status slot in the pecking order), you're doing it wrong.

Metafilter's Own Charlie Stross asks the question; " You, and a quarter of a million other folks, have embarked on a 1000-year voyage aboard a hollowed-out asteroid. What sort of governance and society do you think would be most comfortable, not to mention likely to survive the trip without civil war, famine, and reigns of terror?" engrossing commentary follows. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Dec 11, 2009 - 156 comments

The Morae River

Brynn Metheny is a freelance illustrator based in Oakland, California who loves to draw imaginary creatures. Metheny has taken this fascination with made-up animals and extended it to the point of conjuring up an entire continent, Orcura, through which flows The Morae River. The river basin has a bestiary and a Classification of Species to describe the animals that inhabit it. (via) (speculative zoology previously)
posted by HumanComplex on Nov 9, 2009 - 9 comments

Tell me a secret.

Published speculation first appeared in 1911, although others point to 1945 for its first modern phrasing. It originally looked like a flashlight on Star Trek. In Star Wars, it walked, talked, and was fluent "in over six million forms of communication." Many narratives have just abandoned the idea entirely.
Previous iterations have been quite limited in scope, but now it appears that the first learning, dynamic universal translator has finally arrived. And its futuristic aesthetic has been relegated to fiction in favor of a much more familiar object. [more inside]
posted by hpliferaft on May 23, 2009 - 30 comments

Life on Another World

"Everything begins with complex cladograms I scribble down on large sheets of paper. Before any pictures, these family trees serve as the 'backbone' of the project; allowing me to develop the relationships among different animals and derive ideas from one another." Welcome to the beautiful nonexistent world of Snaiad. Inhabitants include Titanoformes, Cardiocetes, Sprogophidians, and Blumbomeniforms. There are also maps and a timeline. Fantastic speculative zoology from Nemo Ramjet.
posted by HumanComplex on Apr 16, 2009 - 22 comments

Phantom of the Rock Band, or Joseph the Amazing Technicolor Guitar Hero

Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Group is looking to create a range of games based on his range of musical stage shows. The one video game company mentioned in the article is Electronic Arts. (via, by way of) [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 14, 2009 - 32 comments

Randolph and Mortimer have moved on from FCOJ.

Was market speculation behind this year's rise in crude oil prices? Earlier this year, prices topped $100/bbl, the highest seen since the oil crisis of the late 70s/early 80s. By July 2008, the price of crude oil reached a record high of $144/bbl, costing US consumers between $4-$5 per gallon at the pump. [more inside]
posted by elizardbits on Jan 13, 2009 - 29 comments

Not Obama ?!?!

What Will Change Everything? - the 2009 Edge Annual Question [more inside]
posted by Gyan on Dec 31, 2008 - 25 comments

Cowboy Reeves: The Movie

Keanu Reeves is looking to create a live-action Cowboy Bebop movie with Erwin Stoff, and he wants the role of Spike Spiegel. (via io9) [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 19, 2008 - 224 comments

Buy Now, It'll Only Go Higher

Is speculation a prime cause of high oil prices? Yes, No, Maybe. (Very Wonkish)
posted by Xurando on Jun 27, 2008 - 94 comments

Hold all bets, please

How much of the Oil Shock of 2008 is peak oil, and how much just speculation? Will the cavalry ride to the rescue?
posted by ilovemytoaster on Jun 10, 2008 - 49 comments

"Crime. Boy, I dunno."

"Ok, my eyes must be deceiving me. That can't be someone aiming a gun at someone else on Google Maps Street View", says Michael Beck.
posted by nthdegx on May 28, 2008 - 99 comments

This thread will end well. Buy at 61.7; sell at 60.1.

The Promise of Prediction Markets (full text link; .pdf here). A group of distinguished economists and other scholars has published a call to exempt prediction markets (previously on MeFi: 1, 2) from American laws that restrict internet gambling. [more inside]
posted by googly on May 16, 2008 - 24 comments

Back to the Future

How experts think we'll live in the year 2000 [via Paleo-Future] [more inside]
posted by hadjiboy on Jan 31, 2008 - 43 comments

The Endor Holocaust

"The ewok population is effectively extinguished. Most were killed in a mass-extinction event affecting life on their homeworld, due to unavoidable fallout and debris from the destruction of the Death Star II. The Rebel Alliance is culpable but perhaps innocent. All ewoks would have been better off if the tribe which made contact with the rebels continued with their original plan of killing and eating the commando team's leaders." (Rebuttal [PDF]).
posted by interrobang on Sep 4, 2006 - 88 comments

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one

Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds, Charles McKay's 1841 classic work on mass hysteria and national crazes, still surprisingly readable and engaging. Among the classic examples in McKay's book are the South Sea Bubble, one of the earliest and largest financial bubbles, and the witch hunts of Europe (related: try the 1628 Witch Hunt simulation). Most people remember him best for his history of Tulipmania, the Dutch flower-speculation explosion of 1647 and 1648... except that it may not have been a delusion at all, but rather a rational response to changes in regulation.
posted by blahblahblah on Apr 23, 2006 - 22 comments

Annexing Khuzestan -

Battle plans for Iran... resonates with the sad ring of real possibility.
posted by Muirwylde on Feb 17, 2006 - 63 comments

Federally funded Sci-Fi

Federally Funded Science Fiction. The CIA announced today that next month's final report on Iraq's weapons program under Saddam Hussein will mostly encompass an analysis of what they believe Iraq would be like through 2008 had Bush not invaded the country. Because when you want accurate, detailed analysis of the future of Iraq's weapons, you turn to the group that got it completely wrong during the present.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Aug 20, 2004 - 27 comments

Willy-Nilly?

Coalition of the Willy. [via abuddha's memes]
Just as the eyes may be averted from full frontal public displays of male nudity, is it possible that the unconscious association to phallic symbols like "weapons of mass destruction" may effectively lead the eyes to be "averted", thus frustrating any search.
(NOTE: This essay isn't really 'logical,' but it's a fun ride anyway, pun intended)
posted by moonbird on Aug 7, 2004 - 8 comments

Tulip Mania!

Follow the pollen trail... The recent volatility on the stock market has nothing on the Tulip Mania that swept Holland in 1637. They went so gaga over over the colorful heralds of spring that one blossom obsessed fella, for example, sold a brewery to buy a single bulb. It's become an example of what happens when we become economically overconfident. Myself, I'd rather deal in flowers than money, anyway.
posted by moonbird on Apr 3, 2003 - 13 comments

U.S. troops on DEFCON 2 alert

U.S. troops on DEFCON 2 alert "The Canoe.qc.ca web site has learned that American Marines in the Persian Gulf have been placed on DEFCON 2 alert status, a possible precursor to war with Iraq." - the Canoe.ca site is often several hours ahead of more popular news sites (CNN, MSNBC, ect) with breaking news.
posted by stevengarrity on Sep 11, 2002 - 22 comments

Do you think there is a possible connection between the events (NYT headlines): Attack Possible in U.S. or Yemen, the F.B.I. Warns and Small Fire Becomes Inferno, Burning Homes in California ?
posted by semmi on Feb 12, 2002 - 28 comments

The War on Iraq Will Be Launched in September...

The War on Iraq Will Be Launched in September... or so a russian journalist says based on russian military intelligence. If any of this bears out it seems a lot like global domination vis-a-vis installing controllable pro-western leaders...what say the rest of you?
posted by bittennails on Feb 6, 2002 - 12 comments

What is the future of online news.

What is the future of online news. Will subscription eventually win through? Is there a viable business model that will allow independent publishers (such as Salon) to survive, or will we see further media consolidation? Where does blogging fit into this spectrum?
posted by RobertLoch on Dec 19, 2001 - 9 comments

Tonga's Court Jester Loses US$20M of King's Trust Fund in Viaticals Scandal

Tonga's Court Jester Loses US$20M of King's Trust Fund in Viaticals Scandal
Jesse Bogdonoff, the manager of Tonga's ever-shrinking trust fund and official court jester to the King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV (the reports of whose death have been exaggerated), has admitted to losing $20M in investing in viaticals, an often fraudulent form of speculation on life insurance policies of cash-strapped terminally-ill people. Court jesters? Viaticals? It's like a Ziggy cartoon run amok.
posted by rschram on Oct 23, 2001 - 9 comments

A word from the future.

A word from the future. "At the turn of the second millennium, humanity seemed set on a steady upward course. How did it all go wrong in just 200 years? This is a memo on the fall of homo sapiens, 2000-2200 CE, written for the crew of the third interstellar colonising mission, 2759 CE, by Anatol Lieven, as a record and a warning." Science-fiction? Dire warning? Anyway this is an enjoyable read.
posted by talos on Mar 9, 2001 - 4 comments

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