What can we Learn From the Bone Wars

The Bone War was also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush.  It was a period of intense and ruthlessly competitive fossil hunting and discovery during the late 1800’s.

Evidently it was driven by a heated rivalry between Edward Cope (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia) and Othniel Marsh (Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale). From 1877 to 1892, both paleontologists used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and dinosaur bones from fossil hunters.

Each of these two paleontologists used underhanded methods to try to outdo the other in the field, resorting to bribery, theft, and the destruction of bones. Each scientist also sought to ruin his rival’s reputation and cut off his funding, using attacks in scientific publications. By the end of the Bone Wars, both men had exhausted their funds in the pursuit of paleontological supremacy.

Can you see the parallels to the scientific communities of today that dominate the news media?  We should all be “following the money” to see why what they are saying is getting the headlines.

Does homework cause cancer?  Watch the evening news … and of course, you have to wait to the end to find out.  Spoiler alert: No, homework doesn’t cause cancer.

Is the climate changing?  Of course it is … it always has been. Is the sea level changing?  Yes.  The question is, what role man plays in it.

To put climate and sea-level change in perspective, consider the history of the US shoreline.  At one point it was offshore to the edge of the continental shelf … about 400 feet lower than the current shoreline.  At another point, Macon Georgia was a coastal city.  Fossil seashells tell the story at Macon.  Might it one day be discovered we are back in a Bone War where there are no winners.



What in the world just happened without hardly any notice?  We now have a new concept for camping.  Check it out for yourself at www.glamping.com website, glamping is where stunning nature meets modern luxury. It’s a way to experience the untamed and completely unique parts of the world without having to sacrifice creature comforts.

“The way we travel has changed. We no longer want a generic, one-size-fits-all vacation. We want to explore on our terms and immerse ourselves in the local culture, and we no longer just want to simply witness nature we want to live in it. A fusion of glamour and camping, glamping is a way to authentically experience the most awe-inspiring locales around the world.”

This caught me by surprise, but apparently it is a hot trend in travel.  Check it out yourself.  And, by the way, notice this is not an inexpensive choice.  Prices will shock you.

Frankly, I am a bit terrified of tenting in some of these areas because critters can easily penetrate these dwellings.  But, then again, I wondered how Airbnb ever succeeded, yet it has.

Perhaps this is a sign that everyone can be in business offering something if they really want to.

I just was so astounded I wanted to share it with you all.

Monetize This

Credit: Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Well, we now have the first illustration of why we may need to keep things the old way even if economics indicates we should automate a process. This is a landmark decision that will certainly ripple and roar through the industry very quickly.

Read the Utility Dive article. 

Automation now faces real criticism and critical thinking about answering the key question: “just because we can digitize controls and automate change because it is cost-effective … should we do it?”

We have all known this question was coming.  It is one of the key ethical and strategic questions of artificial intelligence, deep learning, business analytics, etc.

Automation is simply a microcosm of the robotics question that captivates our imagination and the media.  We are afraid of robots at a point … now we have proven the fears of digitization are real.


Distracted by Silly Science

Maybe I am just getting cynical in my old age.  Maybe I am also getting tired of science moving beyond critical thinking and trying to justify more research into the absurd.  Plus, maybe we shouldn’t go where no man has gone before (in the Star Trek paradigm) because just perhaps we might get noticed by less than well-intentioned others in the universe.

I do care how we live on this planet and the legacy of what we leave for our children and their children.  We certainly do need to think about the next 100 years even though I will only see a small fraction of it.  And, I do believe technology will provide some unbelievable advances that lift all of humanity and provide sustainable answers to the long run.

But, the time scale of the universe makes all this seem pretty lame.  The nearest star is just over 4 light-years away.  Think about what that means.  We will not know if it goes away for four years.  It might not be there anymore.  Then, how about this feature article about a radio signal several billion light-years away. Read the story in USA Today.

Are we really talking about something that happened around the time the earth was formed and is just now getting here?  I can’t wait to see tonight’s news where someone is sure to claim the aliens are coming.

It just doesn’t matter. Let’s focus on what does.

My Daddy can Beat your Daddy

That was one of the taunts I heard as a child growing up in New York City.  Physical strength was revered over any other “manly” quality and certainly over grace, charm, and integrity.  It was all about who could win in a fist to fist competition.  Doesn’t that sound a bit childish to everyone?

Well, so does tit for tat threats rather than diplomacy and a sense of community on this blue marble we all live on together.  One of the latest that reminds me of the nuclear escalation games we played decades ago is now cyber warfare.  Take a look for yourself. Read this New York Times article.

So, rather than discussing our differences and agreeing that the well being of our world depends upon a sense of community and caring, we now see digital warfare escalation.  Can’t everyone see that this bravado does little to dissuade anyone from doing the wrong thing and actually invites would be small players to strike the first blow?

I don’t know how many of you remember the movie War Games, but the premise was that human compassion would threaten our nuclear readiness so the decision about missile launch would be left to a computer system called WOPR (War Operation Plan Response.)  A kid hacking into the network accidentally triggers it into a world war countdown which gets aborted at the last minute when this kid is taken to the command center and teaches the computer system to consider the outcome.  When he succeeds, the computer says something we should all consider.

“Strange game”  “The only winning move appears to be not to play the game at all.”