Friday, October 30, 2015

"Only a Theory" deals with assault on evolution

You may have thought that evolution was an accepted concept at least with the educated part of society. The author, Kenneth R Miller has battled in court rooms where evolution has been contested and fears the battles will be ongoing.  He subtitled the book  "Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul"

It is really a fight between natural and super natural.  Scientists are searching for natural explanations for phenomena while intelligent design advocates prefer a super natural explanation.  Creationist felt that evolution was a political concept for the benefit of elitists.

The author had a long history of debating Biblical fundamentalists on questions of evolution.  He found it easy and satisfying when his opponents relied on Biblical words as for example that the earth was created in six days or that scholars had calculated that the world was only about 6,000 years old.  However he found it different to deal with Intelligent Design.  Many of its advocates accept that the world is billions of years old.  Irreducible complexities are the modern weapon.  One example used is of blood clotting--we do not know every detail, but author investigated and proved that evolution is still the better explanation for blood clotting.

The first part of the book takes apart the contentions of the Intelligent Design movement which seem to boil down to an old argument that some things are far too complex to have evolved.  Over time scientists have discovered the likely evolutionary route of some complex body parts as the eye.  Two recent examples were blood clotting and flagellum.  In both cases it was realized that a number of different elements had to fall in place each of which was contingent on other elements.  This was considered impossible, but scientists working from different angles found that indeed not only was it possible, but was also logical.

Like most people I have been urged to get more Vitamin C and was surprised to learn its role in evolution.  Apparently we have a gene that is supposed to function so we don't require Vitamin C to improve collagen formation in our bodies.  But our gene is defective and the author traces this defect to our primate ancestors, most of whom also share this defect, but some don't.

What is the harm in not believing evolution?   It is also a criticism of science and slows down its acceptance.  Science requires free expression, should be open to all debate.  In practical terms it needs popular support.  Another concern is that creationists reject the notion of a common ancestry and the importance of biodiversity.

Miller appreciates that one of the blocks to acceptance of evolution is that it seems to take away the purpose of life.  Rick Santorum, former senator and Republican presidential candidate  once said if evolution is right then we are all mistakes.  Many evangelicals see a Biblical purpose in life and are suspicious of natural explanations for scripture.

Miller takes a longer view and uses "Desiderata" by Max Ehlmann as a model.  "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."   For some these words give a feeling of belonging.

An area of compatability  between the Bible and science is that in Genesis man was formed from dust.

Personally I believe we humans cannot really digest two fundamental things--eternity and infinity and perhaps we don't want to.  Inside those two incomprehensible concepts lies much else we do not know.  We all want to believe there is some sense of purpose underneath it all.  I take some comfort in the Desiderata as noted by Kenneth R. Miller

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

JEFF RUBIN AND THE CHANGING ROLE OF FOSSIL FUELS

In a previous book Jeff was noted for his contention that the price of oil would rise and amongst many other effects would restore local manufacturing as transportation costs would force investors to bring factories closer to consumers.  In this book during the year it took to write he found himself editing from the future tense to present tense.  So far it seems his predictions are close to reality.


The price at the pump is significantly lower while at the same time the cost of extracting oil is going up.  Renewables are playing only a small role, but technology has found new ways to extract energy and demand has slowed.  The Saudi Arabians have decided to keep flooding the market to drive out high cost producers.  The technology while improving production is more costly and also aggravating environmental.  A lot of ground is covered and it is well argued.     .

Canada is in a very vulnerable position and it could have been predicted (not by me) that when the price comes down there will be unhappy consequences.  Or perhaps they knew, but hoped that they could reap some short term benefits.  When the price was up Canadian tourists enjoyed an advantage, but manufacturers lost business.  Now as the exchange rate favours manufacturers some ground may be recovered.  Lack of refineries especially those that can handle bitumen. adds to the problem.

Pipelines  are necessary to get oil to where it is wanted cheaply.  Unfortunately for Stephen Harper natives and environmentalists have succeeded in blocking his efforts within Canada.  British Columbia feels there is too much risk and not enough revenue to justify any pipelines.  Provinces to the east are also resistant.  In the meantime the railroad is benefitting with greatly increased oil traffic.  Warren Buffet who lives in Nebraska where the Keystone Pipeline would cross and a Obama supporter has literally invested billions in rail lines and oil tankers.

China has become a focal point, but investors have become too dependent on it without understanding all the underlying dynamics.  Major cities are suffering severe pollution and the bureaucrats and political powers recognize they have to do something.  A lot of consequences.  They are now willing to talk about climate change and offer to make concessions.  One of the biggest concessions is to use less coal which in turn affects countries like Australia and Canada that supplied coal.  Indirectly it is causing the economy to slow down and that in turn means less imports.  With pollution concerns driving policies oil consumption will decline aggravated by a slower economy.

Jeff is essentially an investment advisor and where there are problems there are also opportunities.  Growing season will move northward.  Prairies are already increasingly growing corn.  Wine is developing in Okanagan, Niagara and Prince Edward counties amongst others while traditional wine areas will be negatively affected by climate change.

Water will be as valuable as oil.  It will be in demand especially amongst Americans, but there will be environmental as well as political concerns.  As an investment Rubin suggests farmland in Canada has a great future.  One way is just to buy the land and lease it out, but there are other methods suggested by the author going through institutions.

I am not sure what to expect from the next Jeff Rubin book, but I plan to read it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My attitude on profanity over the years

How does one talk about this topic without actually swearing?  Swearing has been an integral part of my life seemingly forever, but part of me wants to protect what little image I have left.  My assumption is that most of my readers have used curse words at one time or another, but a few of you might not want that too widely known.  For me I do not wish to offend anyone, but swearing is a cultural practice whose role has changed over my lifetime.

When I was very young I was unconscious of it, probably because my elders were politically correct enough not to get carried away in front of an infant.  I can only guess when I first heard anyone swear and it was probably a young peer trying to act tough like an adult.  The word "hell" was considered a forbidden word, but it was probably the first swear word I ever heard.  The word has long passed into everyday usage, but it was a bit daring and subject to parental correction in my youth.

That gets to the essence of swearing.  It is theoretically forbidden, but lets people express either anger or sophistication.  It can be provocative, an insult and often humorous.  The elements of culture that serve the purpose of swearing come from sex, excrement, and religion.

Telling on siblings or classmates was a pleasure on its own, but had a double pleasure of getting away with swearing if you could say you were just quoting.

In my early teens I joined Sea Cadets and found myself in a culture that revered swearing.   It came from the top, (officers) bearing in mind that at the time they were all male.  At the bottom (where I was) swearing was a sort of art form where the different cadets tried to out do one another in their inventiveness.

My father was a truck driver, but until I was more in my middle teens I never heard him swear and for the most part I never heard him swear in front of my mother or my sisters although he often used strong words.  It was sort of a rite of passage when he felt free to swear in front of me and my younger brother, Marshall.

Amongst friends it was almost like a contest to see how inventive we could be and how boisterous.  I took some pride in doing well in this regard.  If we felt safe we would yell it and this could sometimes get unwelcome attention.  My father informed me that I once upset my mother when I got together with my friends.

In high school (Oshawa Central for grades 9 to 11) I had a lot of Polish friends who delighted in teaching me Polish swear words.  A few years later I learned some Italian words and was surprised that my grandmother in law would occasionally use a famous Italian gesture.  Sometimes I admit we thought it was cute to swear in their native tongues as a way of insulting some people.

Moving to university expanded my awareness of the role of swearing.  In my residence was a Chinese student who at first was reluctant to swear, but after awhile he really got carried away and seemed to have a greater feeling of acceptance.  Ironically he wouldn't tell us the Chinese equivalent as it was "too terrible," but in English he had no problem.

Also in my residence was a Royal Military College transferee to Guelph to be with his girl friend.  Both seemed very prim and proper.  I only remember one time being in a group with him without his girl friend.  He came close to setting records for swearing making an effort to bond with our group.

A lot of swearing was used in connection with sex.  As young boys become aware of sex they are amused to use swear words and in a very real sense objectifying females.  I had a mother, grandmothers, sisters and classmates and I realized part of my relationships were compartmentalized. When it really dawned on me that I might want to be friends I needed to not only curb my language, but realize there is, for lack of a better word, humanity.  Gradually I realized that many young women (and older) also used swearing partly as a bonding tool, but also I suspect to talk about us males behind our back.  It used to be a mark of gentility not to swear but now it has gone through the era of projecting sophistication to just being normal.

I remember listening to George Carlin in mixed company about the seven forbidden words.  It was not only entertaining, but enlightening.  Swear words have power, but only if you care.

In the last decades I have enjoyed watching foreign movies, but relying on subtitles to follow the plot and characters.  I think at one point the written word having more power (because it is more permanent) some translators were reluctant to use the literal translation.  In Bollywood, English is very common and while there were some English swear words they sometimes seem to have been mellowed in the subtitles.  This is not the case so much anymore and I supposed I could learn to swear in even more languages, but I am content to get the idea.

When I was out of university and looking for a job I visited some friends and ironically they celebrated my appearance by drinking to excess, although I did not indulge.  A parent got upset about my influence and when my closest friend Bob Stone told me my first reaction was to swear.  I have never forgotten his reaction, "with a university education is that the best you can say?"  Swearing does type you and that made me think I would rather be typed in some other category.

Those who seldom swear are taken more seriously when they do.  They must either be very angry or trying to fit in.  I would hope that most of the times under stress I could resist swearing, but admit that I am not always that cool.  If you are frustrated reading about swearing without any actual swearing take a quick trip to any schoolyard at recess and you will get your fill.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

the election of October 19, 2015

As a deputy returning officer I agreed to be neutral in political expressions in the lead up to October 22nd.  Elections involve decisions by millions of people and although we sometimes act like a herd of sheep there certainly are millions of thought processes involved.

Working at a poll station is only one perspective, but as a starting point for this election I noticed more people telling me it was their first time voting.  This included some young people.  One young man said his girl friend talked him into it.  A few others were immigrants who seemed very pleased to be able to do this.  I noted that Hamilton had attracted a good share of Vietnamese refugees and they and their offspring valued voting in Canada.  The results bucked the national trend a little, but exhibited some commonalities.  The incumbent NDP won fairly easily, but the Liberals came closer than previously.  I noted that the Green Party did worse than previously as did the Conservatives.

My underlying theory is this was more a vote against Stephen Harper than an endorsement of any particular party.  Furthermore more than in previous elections more people voted strategically.  This was to the detriment of the Green Party and the NDP.  This was complicated, but for many voters it was a question of what is the most effective way to get rid of Harper.  There were organizations devoted to strategic voting in ridings where it could make a difference.

At the beginning of the election campaign it appeared likely that the NDP would benefit the most from the anti-Harper sentiment, but in the end they suffered crucially.  Undoubtedly there were many factors involved, but two got my attention.  One was Thomas Mulcair's policy that even on a question of separation 50% +1 is enough.  This helped the other parties stir up fears.  Another emotional issue was the niqab controversy where Thomas championed the right of women to wear it at citizenship ceremonies.  Only two women challenged the government courts and their cases were not presented fairly.  But this stirred up enough racist feelings that it probably switched a lot of votes by itself, but it also made many fence sitters re-think the best way to get rid of Harper.  Many people saw this as Harper trying to create a wedge item that really had very little importancet on the real priorities.

Harper's party used a lot of negative ads.  I had been offended by his attack ads against Michael Ignatieff, but he was persistent in their campaign that Justin Trudeau is "just not ready."  I think a lot of people agreed, but in the end voter's expectations were greatly surpassed by Trudeau's debate performance and his campaign.  After awhile the Conservative insistence on the "not ready" campaign (which intruded on the Blue Jay playoffs) made people resent it and wonder why there was not more emphasis on their own messages.

For me there are a lot of reasons to oust Harper.  Like conservatives around the globe his real agenda was economic and his campaign was financed by big money interests intent on increasing their share of the profits.  This was most evident perhaps with the oil industry.  It could be argued that at the time looking at Canadian resources, the tar sands was the best bet to boost the Canadian economy.  As time went on more people realized the many problems.  The tar sands were in an awkward location, they were relatively expensive to work and of course they were environmentally one of the worst offenders.

The anti-science stance taken by the government kept people uninformed not only about climate change, but other scientific concerns.  Libraries closed while scientists were discouraged from publicly presenting their findings.  Scientists should be providing counsel so we and the politicians can make better decisions.  Canada fell behind even other reluctant nations in the battle against climate change.

At the same time the economies of the oil business hurt other businesses by inflating our currency.  Manufacturers found it much more difficult to compete with other nations.  Farmers found it difficult to get freight transportation against a tremendous increase in oil train freight.

Conservatives in the United States found the best way to attain power was to align themselves with social conservatives.  Take advantage of fears.  The Niqab issue was only one example. Stephen Harper stood against an investigation into the deaths of aboriginal women.  They resisted the national urge to help the Syrian refugees again using fear of Muslim terrorists as their excuse.  Near the end they set up a telephone line to report barbarian cultural practices

To satisfy their base voters the Conservative government threw out the long form census despite complaints from many business and social agencies.  They were against marijuana and drug injection clinics in an almost puritanical stubbornness.  Trudeau undoubtedly increased the youth vote with his policies in these regards.

Canada for decades had been accepted as a peacemaker, but Harper wanted a more military image.  In the Middle East we used to be considered neutral, but Harper became a stedfast supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu no matter what injustices were suffered by the Palestinians.  Other experts feel that the solution to Mid East problems was a two state solution, but Harper stood by those who worked against that idea.

The Conservatives understood our political system far better than most voters.  With only 39% of the votes they gained over 50% of the seats and the power to impose their views on the rest of us.  They had gotten very sophisticated and knew they could have success by ignoring the masses and pleasing their base instead.  Only a few years ago Conservatives actually had two variations--a softer kind like Joe Clark and the harsher kind like Stephen Harper.  Obviously they had much in common and were tired of losing because of splitting the vote.  Our first past the post system gave a union of the two factions a big step up.

One promised policy would be to get serious about proportional voting.  It is very hard to get the winners to radically change the system that helped them attain power.  As it turns out only 39.5% of votes cast were for the Liberals.  Fair Vote Canada reported that 51.8% of votes went to candidates that lost.  Harper had been promising legislation to make it more difficult to get proportional voting.

In the end there is a pendulum of opinions.  We are happy as long as our private plans unfold as expected, but get upset if things do not.  Too much freedom can be as bad as too little.  I don't know how the Liberal majority will work out, but I am sure there will be some improvements that will benefit more people.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Johannes Vermeer: Eye of the Beholder


Sight is something most of us take for granted, not realizing perception is in the eye of the beholder.  My curiosity was piqued with a movie trailer for "Tim's Vermeer"  A technological innovater, Tim Jennison had discovered that an artist back in the mid 1600's had a understanding of optics that he found difficult to duplicate and that resulted in pleasing paintings.


Before I saw the actual movie I started reading "Eye of the Beholder" that studied the overlapping of a great artist, Johannes Vermeer with a great scientist, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek both might be considered pioneers in the long road to modern technology.  There is no proof they met, but they lived very close to one another in the Dutch city of Delft and one became the executor of the other's will.  They both had an interest in optics.  Although the author could only speculate about their acquaintance she went a little further wondering who introduced the camera obscurata to the other.

While in Havana a few years ago we were directed to a room called a camera obsucrata.  What I remember is a rotating view of the outside while staring down some sort of apparatus that I didn't really understand.  It did an interesting perspective of what was visible outdoors.

Artists were like modern photographers--expected to reproduce significant images for the appreciation of a greater audience.  Each saw below the surface.  Vermeer was more of a perfectionist than churning out paintings. Often took 3 months for one painting and in his life is only known to have done 45.  Would sometimes stop for several days to allow certain types of paint to dry in order to create a special effect.

Perspective is something that artists came to understand and is essentially mathematical.   Perspective was used to make paintings seem more realistic (reflect what the eye actually sees).   Camera obscura reflected a three dimensional scene in two dimensions.  Vermeer was not the first or only artist to discover it, but he took more effort.

One personal adventure I had with perspective was when I was asked to seek an illustration for a short story I once wrote.  I went to an artist friend Lorne Miller and asked him as a favour.  He asked a few questions that I didn't really understand.  I took his illustration to the publisher who seemed puzzled at first and didn't think my friend even deserved a free copy of the short story collection.  However after it was printed he appreciated that that art looked very good and relented to make sure my friend got a free copy.

Leeuwenhoeck was as a young man, a cloth salesman concerned about fibre density/thread count which reflected quality  A more detailed look gave him an advantage.  He didn't invent the microscope, but advanced it and developed techniques to viewing that were never disclosed.  He saw and described things never before seen.  The key thing was he became aware that living things were common at the microscopic level.  He went to incredible lengths to study specimens including rotting food, bodily fluids such as his own sperm.   He became aware of blood circulation in tiny microscopic living creatures.

"Tim's Vermeer," produced by famous magicians Penn and Teller tried to duplicate what Vermeer had done.  They used mirrors and and a variety of lens.  In the end after a great deal of time and money they came very close.  Vermeer was also a master at paint ingredients and techniques.  Drying over a period of time created a different view.

In the "Girl with the Golden Earring" they showed a camera obscura and briefly talked about what it could do.  The model, really a modest maid created jealousy with Vermeer's wife and daughter.   From the book I realized that his mother in law played an important role in Vermeer's career.  At first she did not approve of Vermeer, but eventually supported and encouraged him.  She was played by Judith Parfait who I recognized from "Call the Midwife" although the two roles are quite different.  Nobody really knows exactly how Vermeer and his mother in law behaved towards one another, but while perhaps a bit dramatized the movie portrayals had an element of realism.

While trying to fine-tune this post I came across a video on Al Jazeera about the anniversary of The Book of Optics written by Ibn al-Haytham who explained the camera obscura phenomena mathematically that had been discovered, but not understood by ancient Greeks.  He also challenged a Greek concept of vision, giving an explanation that is now universally accepted.

In conclusion I am only slightly more aware of optics, but appreciate that artists had quite a challenge trying to present reality.  Vermeer deserves more respect.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Philosophy from observing cats

What are the big philosophical questions?  We struggle to get through the day and put food on the table, but given some reflection we all ponder what is it all about.  Then we try to forget and move on.  If you live long enough you get to see the full life cycle, not only for yourself, but also observing other people.  Cats have a shorter life span and are considered independent.

As an adult all my cats have been house cats, not allowed outside so really just caged pets or it must seem imprisoned.  They don't have to fend off predators, kill their food or seek shelter from the elements.  As they have been neutered they have lost that natural instinct.  Their sole purpose seems to be to amuse and comfort their owners.  Evolution scientists tell us there are only two purposes--to survive and to procreate.  We all die and wonder and worry what it is all about.

How do the cats see their purpose?  Without the need to kill or seek shelter and no mating urges what can they do to give meaning to their lives.  The first might be to seek amusement.  Some of the amusement I have observed seems like preparation for hunting.  They play fight constantly and I have seen them "stalk" little toys to pounce on them.  When they are in the mood they rub up against people, purr and will often lick bare skin.  That is, of course only when they are in the mood.  They have the ability to sleep easily and we can only wonder what they are dreaming.

As owners we are often amused to watch our pets and very often comforted to have them cuddle up with us.  Seems well worth the effort to feed and shelter them.  We also get carried up in the need for amusement which is often more satisfying than pondering our purpose.

Cats are territorial like most other creatures including humans.   It is common for strange cats to be sighted outside our windows.  Our two cats get very concerned over this intrusion and will go from window to window to express their displeasure.  They feel a sense of ownership or one might say a feeling of belonging.

Elsewhere I have written about grief.  For some youngsters the death of their beloved pet is their first real encounter with mortality.  As an adult I have been shocked at how I felt when my cats have died and have tried to rationalize it.  In reality it makes us aware of our own mortality and how things can be taken away from us.  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2013/12/maggie.html

Curiosity is supposed to be a weakness of cats, but it has been a driver for human growth.  If we weren't curious about a lot of things we would never understand them and be able to either take advantage of the way things are or to improve upon them.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Mistakes are necessary to grow.  Seeking knowledge and understanding seems like a purpose in itself.

Are we deluding ourselves thinking we are very superior to cats, or other animals?  We live and die just like them.  We have a more sophisticated system to survive and procreate, but the basics are similar--others provide food, even killing.  We are or think we are smarter and can amuse ourselves more intelligently, maybe productively.  We control their lives, but are we aware of what controls our lives?

At one time as a non owner it seemed ownership should be avoided.  A cat is a responsibility.  As a salesman who used to call on pet stores I came across a store owner in  New Brunswick who would not sell one particular small rodent, degas in less than a group of six.  I had felt guilty to leave a single cat by itself while my wife and I worked all day and our kids were at school.  Our first attempt to provide a second cat as a companion did not work out like we hoped, but our second attempt worked out better.  Mary Ditta pointed out that not only did we enjoy the cats, but we saved them from a much worse life.  Ultimately the main purpose is to serve others.

In many ways I am a loner, partly because I like doing things that are not shared by my immediate crowd of people, but like anyone not a psychopath I value human contact.  Cat contact in some ways is even better.  Although they share even less of what I like to do, they are constant--except when they have one of their moods.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

REGULATIONS: HOW WE PROTECT OURSELVES AGAINST OURSELVES

We like to think that we are not selfish or at least we are fair.  Ha ha, are you sure?  It is easy to point to other people who are selfish and unfair, but if we look deep inside ourselves are we that much different?  The key factor often seems to be opportunity and I would concede part of that is our upbringing.  Most of us are taught the importance of fairness and we can agree with the Golden Rule that we should do on to others as we would have others do on to us.  But almost everyone of us knows someone who cheated and got away with it.

People are wonderful.  We can be creative, generous, and wise.  As a survival tool we are also self interested and protective or we wouldn't have made it this far.  A common refrain is that freedom is one of the most, if not the most desirable of aspirations.  The problem with our freedom is all too often it infringes on other people's freedom.  Our freedom to do selfish or bad things can hurt other people.

Evolution has been portrayed as a struggle for survival of the fittest.  We now realize that survival often hinged on co-operation inside a group.  Human nature being what it is there was probably always an element of exploitation, but in the early days it was soon recognized that it is easier to survive (and thrive) as a member of a group than as an individual.  We learned that there is survival value in restraining our greed for the common good.

A key to human progression was producing more food than was needed for one person or even just one family.  Agriculture unleashed civilization as we know it.  Cities could develop, businesses could innovate and serve a variety of needs, and banding together people could protect themselves against outside forces.  Now many did not have to work as hard as others and could still prosper if they were smart.  The masses could organize against some abuses.  We came to rely on leaders.

And surely there were abuses.  We read about adulterating the value of coins, of tampering with weigh scales, of misleading promises and of the fact that often might is right.  While the masses were always interested in getting their fair share of resources, others were more clever or cold hearted to get more than their fair share.

We certainly hear the laments about how abusive regulations are.  Tamping down innovations and ambitions.  Yes there is a lot of truth in that, but it only tells part of the story.

Human nature has proved itself continuously that anyone can exploit their resources over others to gain an edge.  Often times this is admired and rewarded with gratitude and concrete advantages.  Other times the perpetrator is thrown in jail.  Mostly it is not noticed and the perpetrator has gained some advantage, small or big.

Regulations attempt to keep a level playing field.  If you are an honest, hard working, but rational person you are concerned that your co-workers and your competitors might be cheating.  If they are thought to be unfairly exploiting opportunities you will be tempted to do so as well. The consumer would like to think that when they buy something or trust someone they are getting what they have been led to believe.

On the other hand regulation can create barriers for outsiders.  Those who have established themselves can make the rules.  In fact the most important edge someone achieved might be the ability to help set the rules.  Often the rules make it difficult for outsiders to make any inroad

Chrystia Freeland in her book, "Plutocrats" recounts the story of the rise and fall of the Venetian Empire.  It was founded with legal mechanism to encourage daring entrepreneurs out on long distance trade. You might remember Marco Polo and his father and uncle participated in this.  Everyone benefited from the profits of of the successful risk takers.  By 1500 Venice had lost much of its power.  Chrystia attributes it to the rise of oligarchs, many of whom were self made.  They wanted to entrench their power and wealth and closed opportunities for newcomers.

In ancient times we can read about adulterating coins and altering scales amongst many other tricks to persuade gullible consumers.  Today we are perhaps a little more sophisticated.

Newspaper headlines keep reminding us that those in power (and those who want to take a short cut to power) are always looking for an edge.  Volkswagen engineers found a way to pass pollution tests without actually having the expensive adjustments.  Back in 2008 after lobbying for de-regulation in the financial industry we had a major financial event that was negative for most people.

We tend to feel most comfortable with the status quo or the default position.  Disruptive innovations are by definition things that upset the apple cart and force the rest of us to adjust.  An example might be some green energy breakthroughs may hurt those who are deeply invested in fossil fuels.  You can read about the delicacy of the innovators dilemma at http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2013/03/the-innovators-dilemma.html

Regulations have been touted as job killers.  Maybe, but can have positive effects.  A company can only sell defective or harmful goods for so long before consumers stop buying or suffer other consequences.  The regulators are employed and in most cases paying taxes and protecting the public good and encouraging honest endeavours.

It is actually the presence of safety nets that allow some entrepreneurs to take a risk.  Take away the safety net and some innovations may seem too risky.  Safety net tools include unemployment insurance, food stamps, welfare.

After all is said and done regulation is a delicate balancing act.  Who do you trust?