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Paul Krugman and the Issac Asimov "Foundation" novels - a story of youth and inspiration

Paul Krugman talks about how the Issac Asimoc Foundation novels influenced him in his youth, and why that led him to economics.


Yet if the Foundation books are a tale of prophecy fulfilled, it's a very bourgeois version of prophecy. This is no tale of the secret heir coming into his heritage, of the invincible swordsman winning the day with his prowess. Asimov clearly despises both aristocracy and militarism; his heroes, such as they are, are unpretentious and a bit uncouth, with nothing martial about them. "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent," declares Mayor Salvor Hardin.


But wait: Foundation isn't about the triumph of the middle class, either. We never get to see the promised Second Empire, which may be just as well, because it probably wouldn't be very likeable. Clearly, it's not going to be a democracy – it's going to be a mathematicized version of Plato's Republic, in which the Guardians derive their virtue from the axioms of psychohistory. What this means for the books is that while a relatively bourgeois society may be the winner in each of the duels, Asimov is neither endorsing that society nor giving it a special long-run destiny. What this means for the storytelling is that the struggles don't have to be and aren't structured as a conventional tale of good guys versus villains, and the novels have that unexpected cynicism. The Foundation may start out a lot nicer than its barbarous neighbours, but it evolves over time into a corrupt oligarchy – and that's all part of the plan. And because the story arc is about the fulfilment of the Seldon Plan, not the triumph of the men in white hats, Asimov is also free to make some of his villains not especially villainous. Read more »

LOL secret tape recording (found by Bob Woodward) proves "Fair and Balanced" FOX news really is a front for the Republican Party


The Tape recording was initially revealed by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post on Dec 3...

"At one point, McFarland and Petraeus spoke about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, would “bankroll” the campaign.

“Rupert’s after me as well,” Petraeus told McFarland.

McFarland said she had spoken “directly” to the Fox News chairman and the “advice to you from Roger Ailes is. . . . He says that if you’re offered [JCS] chairman, take it. If you’re offered anything else, don’t take it; resign in six months and run for president.”

Petraeus demurred, saying he would consider the CIA directorship if Obama offered it, as the president did several weeks later. Petraeus was confirmed and sworn in as director on Sept. 6, 2011. He resigned a year later, on Nov. 9, after the disclosure of an extramarital affair with his biographer. Read more »

Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County - Annual Holiday Show and Sale

Annual Holiday Show and Sale
Opens Friday, November 30!
First Sunday Reception: Sunday, December 2, 1:00-4:30

Cloud Atlas really is the masterpiece they said it was

The wife and I finally got the time to go see Cloud Atlas.


Yes, long, and confusing - but a masterwork of filmmaking. 

If you are a straighty-straight, you won't like it.

Two local Toastmasters place in humorous speech contest

Two members of local Toastmasters clubs took first and second place in a field of eight contestants at the Toastmasters District 13 humorous speech contest held on November 3, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Spielberg’s “Lincoln” Movie Has Special Local Meaning

(Boalsburg, PA) - Steven Spielberg’s new film “Lincoln” will have special meaning to a local man whose ancestor will be portrayed in the blockbuster film opening locally on Friday. Read more »

PSU Prof Doug Kennett's new study shows Maya thrived and declined because of climate change

The Maya civilization grew quickly because of the effects of a long period of greater than average rainfall - and then died when the local climate became drier, and the complex systems of the civilzation were not able to adapt to the rapid changes.

There's a lesson here I think.

Complex systems can be surprisingly stable - but they can also be surprisingly fragile. When our own civilization is hit with the triple hammer of global warming, fossil carbon EROI (energy return on investment) decline, and exponential population increase, it is not going to be easy for us to adapt quickly enough to keep our own complex systems going.

An ancient civilization's wet ascent, dry demise
Newly documented climate shifts helped shape Classic Maya destiny

A 2,000-year climate record, gleaned from a stalagmite inside a Belize cave, highlights a central role for climate shifts in the ancient civilization’s fortunes, say anthropologist Douglas Kennett of Penn State University and his colleagues.

Pastel artist Jennifer Shuey adds some color to Black Friday at the Bellefonte Art Museum


Add some color to Black Friday at the Bellefonte Art Museum. From 1 – 4:30 pm on Friday, November 23 stop by the Bellefonte Art Museum at 133 North Allegheny Street. Pastel artist Jennifer Shuey will be at the Museum demonstrating pastel painting techniques and the use of bold vibrant color. Stop by and enjoy some holiday cookies and drinks while visiting Jennifer in the Community Gallery and checking out all that the Bellefonte Art Museum has to offer. The Museum is open from 1 – 4:30 pm every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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Dr. Radut