Thursday, December 31, 2015

And Push Comes to Shove for New Cascade Events

And in that context you have to ask the question: How do we prepare for second, third, or even fourth and beyond, follow on events that span continents?

Heart breaking as the immediate effects of hunger and homelessness will be, how do prioritize response planning for systematic collateral effects? How do we incentivize both the political and private sector elites to make the hard decisions now that will put in place substantive resources to act across very wide geographical boundaries, within contingencies that may well strain even the most imaginative among us?

You need only look at how California has responded to the recent methane gas disaster to see how officialdom becomes a tragic farce of who can run from responsibility the fastest; with everyone understanding the bottom line notion that, if you move to take charge in fixing it, you end up owning it. A situation that will be even more farcical (if that is even possible) within the sweeps weeks presentation of a Presidential election on our favorite reality TV show: National Government.

And perhaps most depressing of all will be the fact that what we do will be limited mostly by considerations of the counters it will require to make it happen, as well as from who those counters will be taken from. Billions of same will be spent eagerly on election advertising, along with the usual commodities of distraction, while any few millions attempted to be pulled from these grasping hands will be met with great howls of pain and cries of injustice.

If any of this still makes any sense to you then I, for one, can only conclude that you are well and truly a "Trump Chump." And I can only hope that you survive the rude awakening you have fast approaching off the starboard bow.

Sick of El NiƱo? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, Warns NASA

See Also:

The Storm That Will Unfreeze the North Pole

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Shelters for the Truly Needy

Isn't it comforting to know that, as thousands of ordinary folks go without a roof over their heads, or much to eat either, these poor dears will have a place to keep their counters safe for generations to come. Whether they work for it or not we need them to keep excess alive and well because Capitalism couldn't survive without it.

For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions

Smog Doesn't Stop Capitalism from Seeing Profit From Poison

The question you then have to ask yourself is this: Would a pro smog advocacy group emerge to keep it going? Unlikely you say?

Think about it. Cold practicality and profits could come together to work a partnership of pushing face masks, eye protectors, and the undeniable fact that a higher death rate might be more cost effective than getting off coal any time soon. Especially when one considers that the old would be the most vulnerable to lung related diseases. You couple that with a treatment policy of just giving them, say, morphine to keep them comfortable, as well as quiet, and you could have a real consensus builder among the elites; who of course could live elsewhere.

And lest you start getting too smug about something like this not happening hear just remember: the money being spent to keep coal, and fracking, and barely safe operations in a wide range of industries where poison can happen either directly, or indirectly, because of cutting corners.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Whether It Can or Not is Irrelevant

The simple fact of the matter is that we must try to save the planet with all of the passion we can muster. If for no other reason than that we love it, and all of the loving structure it represents. As well as to acknowledge that love right now is the most important act of faith we can collectively participate in.

Can the Planet Be Saved?

Two Items From Digg That I Can't Help But Feel are Related

One is an interesting look at why farting as comedy has been harmed by the internet. The other about how the internet help fuel the rise of the "Alt Right."

You needn't think about this very long to come up with why they are related. The outrageous. Hot air. Death, as well as the smell of decomposition, are all at play in both. The conclusion, then, that one has replaced the other is also quite easy to come to.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Super Conductivity at Room Temps Getting Closer

This post from Nautilus is very encouraging. Mikhail Eremets and Alex Drozdov are physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and they have made some impressive strides in getting super conductivity to work at human scale temperatures.

An Obscene Disaster

The question one has to ask about this huge methane gas leak is this: Which is more obscene, the fact that it happened in the first place, or the lack of urgency by all levels of government in doing something about it?

Surly significant amounts could be siphoned off into, say, the rubber bladders the military uses to store and transport fuel in. And at the same time, portable turbines might be brought in to start liquefying as much as possible, burning the methane itself to power the cryogenic process? Even if you just shuttled the bladders to another power plant, or to a desalination plant to offset the power cost of creating potable water, you would be doing some good.

The bottom line here is ought to be that anything diverted from going directly into the atmosphere is better than nothing,

Why Engineers Can’t Stop Los Angeles' Enormous Methane Leak

See Also:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another Open Source Idea -- A Blended Wing, Ducted Fan, Autogyro Transport

I have always been quite taken with the idea of autogyro aircraft. The advantages of shorter take off and landing distances; stall avoidance, and general ease of flying, have made them very attractive to me.

These days, of course, you see them only as light personal flyers, unlike days gone by when at least one mid sized transportt made good use of the technique. The question in my mind has been why some clever aerospace engineer hasn't done a more modern adaptation. So, in the spirit of open source inspiration, I wanted to put a suggestion out into the info-sphere as to how one might approach a new type of autogyro aircraft. Hence the picture you see below (crude though it is, and missing a rudder):

 The idea here is to put the lift blade into a blended wing, ducted fan enclosure, setting things up so that you could power, or free spin the lift fan as desired. If it was done right, it seems to me, you could get a great deal of near VTOL lift this way for a given amount of thrust capacity, while reducing cruise drag significantly. There might even be an advantage to putting an iris like closure system at the top and bottom of the ducted fan to decrease drag once you attained cruise speed, despite whatever added weight this might entail.

Just something interesting to ponder on a Sunday morning.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Will China Skip Having a Significant Middle Class?

This report on China's huge bet on robotics repeats a familiar nostrum: Wages start to go up so workers can afford a piece of the modernization pie resulting in capital moving to the next low rent country. Manufacturers have been largely unsuccessful in passing on higher wage costs so what's left to do? Replace the workers of course.

One can only wonder at the cost/benefit comparison of creating a middle class, and then pulling the rug out from under it; as opposed to simply not creating one in the first place. I suppose a good portion of what might favor the former option would be the amount of time said middle class was allowed to exist. We had one for several decades at least and it was generally a pretty good deal for the country (the collateral damage to the rest of the world not paid for being another matter altogether). The more time you give it, though, the more damaging to huge swaths of the populace when the all of the bills finally do come due.

The issue with the Chinese is more complex, however. With such a huge population, and with so much of it not given much of the benefits of "modernization," the government, and/or the financial elite (this distinction becomes moot with money and power mixing so narrowly among of few), the rest of the population is going to become infinitely more angry when they realize that all of disasters that rushing to modernize has caused will be unlikely to be offset by a promised better life. Property confiscation, pollution, industrial accidents of amazing proportions, along with a never ending litany of corruption and scandal among those at the top. How will they keep a lid on it? Can the army be made to be as harshly authoritarian as it will take to keep order? Or will the old fervor of true collectivism reassert itself in a new, and much more bloody, cultural revolution?

The thing is, we will do ourselves no good at all if we simply stand by and gloat over any misfortune they may suffer. Not only do we have our own sins to account for, the fact of the matter is that we need the Chinese. Just as we need the Japanese, the Europeans, Central and South America, India and the rest of South East Asia, and Africa. Each and every one of these regions offers their own unique mix of intellect, creativity, and drive for a better life; the kind of mix that we have already benefited from as a nation of immigrants.

We will not reach the stars as an act of imaginative exploration, and truly creative engineering, unless we join hands with the rest of the world in order to make it happen. Doing it only as temporary partnerships of money will ensure that all we will succeed in is bringing war, exploitation and deprivation to the regions beyond this planet; assuming we can even last long enough for that. In my mind it is hardly anything a caring human would ever aspire to.

'Workshop of the World' China Bets on a Robot Revolution

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Addictive Drug Development as a New Form of Secret Bio-Warfare?

This has to be a very scary thought. As if Cyber Warfare weren't scary enough. And, as with the latter in certain situations, this could be a two-pher for whichever antagonist that wanted to employ it. Not only does it serve to potentially bog down so many critical service delivery systems (as well as sow fear and desperation among the populace), it provides a new source of income to further advance the goals of said antagonist.

And because the entire globe seems hell bent in the race to find the absolute "Heart of Darkness" (that point of ultimate brutality that will crush all other enemies will to fight on), why wouldn't any, or even all, players in global conflict consider using it.

Such a horribly dark mentality won't be stopped by any political, or economic change alone, mine included. For that we have to look inside ourselves and decide on what we are willing to sacrifice to reestablish loving, moral principles as a way of life. In this the answer to the question of "How do you stop terror as a weapon," is to simply live the life of your ideals as much as possible. The main principle being that the only way to fight one concept of a way of life is to live a better concept of same; knowing that there will be a great deal of pain along the way.

We also need to remember that we don't need to love the ones who inflict this pain. To be angry at them, and their inhuman stupidity is perfectly human. What we do need to do, however, is to not give up on love itself along the way; even as we embrace our grief and mourn the ones we may lose in the process. Keeping faith with love, for the sake of loving life is what is at stake here; working through the needed grief and then boldly loving again, and again, and again.

The simple fact of the matter is that we will win nothing of value in trying to defeat them by becoming more brutal than they are. It might well leave one group still standing, but upon what, and for how long, is the real issue.

'Devil's Drug': Flakka Is Driving Florida Insane

See Also:

Drug Overdose Deaths Hit 'Alarming' New Record in U.S., CDC Saysby MAGGIE FOX

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Original Old Softy Concerns Web site

Because I cannot afford to keep it going any more I have taken down the web site that started my advocacy for change. Trust me when I tell you that this was not easy.

Despite the fact that I stopped adding much new to it several years ago, just having it remain was a comfort to me. I launched it, after all, sometime back around 2000-2001, so it had been out there for fourteen years, and change.

It contained not only my first attempts to describe the what and why of an alternative to Capitalism, but essays on books that helped to influence me in this regard, as well as video and audio recordings. I'd like to think that there are actually a few good reads in it, dated though they may be, and it does also serve as a view of how I go to where I am now with my advocacy.

In order to make it available to those who may be curious along those lines I want to provide a link here for anybody to retrieve it if they so desire.

And as we now head into the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, I wanted to also thank all of you who have given my scribbling a look in 2015 (just under 50K combined between the blogs and Google+). Views aren't the make or break for me that they are for most folks, but it still does allow a person to have hope that what you are communicating might be reaching some minds, and planting some seeds for thought.

The Old Softy Web site Folder (zipped)

This is the best they can do? Seriously?

The paucity of imagination in this Bloomberg sponsored view into what the economic and political elites think are the worst case scenarios for 2016 is just breathtaking. You need only consider the lack of domino effect, cascade events, suggested to fully appreciate this.

In Extreme weather alone is there more than enough potential to make anyone with any imagination at all have their hair turn completely white, and fear wrought apoplexy begin. Just consider absolute droughts in prime growing regions simultaneously, perhaps with final ground water collapse. Then the subsequent commodities markets chaos triggering further market dislocations. And suddenly you might also have food riots; price riots, and new waves of economic refugees moving in completely unexpected areas.

Extreme weather, in conjunction with whatever ongoing, or new (to combat the immediate weather effects), chemical inputs by man might also trigger completely unexpected biological mutations. New strains of crop diseases, let alone human diseases, could suddenly appear, and kick off their own disaster chain reactions.

Instead we have "Putan Sidelining the U.S." or that idiot with the dorky hair in the White House to scare us with. Mind you, that idiot there would certainly be bad, but nothing compared to global cascade events.

The fact of the matter, and what is missed so completely in this sort of future casting, is the inability to admit to the one key vulnerability involved here: the absolute weakness of the current economic operating model to either address known vulnerabilities, or to respond to them.

Let us knot forget that value lies entirely in the mind of the evaluator, and the economic mind is so prone to herd thinking, thus giving us the foundation for market instability in times of uncertainty. Let us also not forget that getting anything done in a cost based economy requires the use of various counters whose value also relies on perception.

If a chain is no stronger than its weakest link then we have ample reason to fear cascade events breaking even the strongest links because that first one is made out of smoke and mirrors; and when it fails the momentum begun may well be unstoppable.

A Pessimist's Guide to the World in 2016

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This is Seriously F_cked Up

This post from Gaby Dun in really speaks to the cruelty of web economics. It's certainly not fair, but then, when are most Capitalist market sectors fair?

Even though I'm not looking to make money off of my blogging, I still have to say at the outset here that I count myself quite lucky in this regard. I am retired and living on my Social Security income. It ain't much, to say the least, but it does get me by. I have share a house with my friend, and long time companion, Kathleen, and we don't have much of any kind of discretionary income, but we do manage. Reading what Ms. Dun, and others, have to go through, even with what seems like great success, is heart breaking.

Rather than go on another extended rant on the evils of Capitalism, however, I am just going limit myself to this: At some point, YouTube and InstaGram, and any other blogger provided content site you might want to mention, ought to kick in a great deal more to these folks for giving them the audience they enjoy. And, if nothing else, these folks ought to start considering forming a union of their own to leverage some clout against what is obvious exploitation.

Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame

Another Example of the Power of Money

This is also another "no comment needed" post. I'll just provide a direct quote:

"...Yet for all that, over four years of violation notices, inspections and hearings, efforts to hold someone accountable for the mess at 901 Strada Vecchia have repeatedly hit a legal wall. It is, as a judge said during an October session where once again nothing got done, “an extremely complicated case.”

That is because “themodernhouseofhadid” belongs not to Mr. Hadid but to an entity that keeps the actual owner at a legal remove — a shell company named 901 Strada L.L.C.

Fueled largely by the vast streams of wealth crossing the globe as never before, a new generation of hyper-luxury homes with stratospheric price tags is colonizing the most gilded hillsides and canyons of Los Angeles. In some areas, every third or fourth home has been torn down, leaving gashes of dirt and debris where new mansions will rise. And more often than not, the people behind the purchases are hidden by shell companies..."

It's Things Like this that Make Me Proud to Live in the Pacific Northwest

Seattle Becomes First U.S. City to Let Uber Drivers Unionize

Even Elon Musk is Worried

As this article indicates, Mr. Musk is worried that we won't take the steps now to get some of our eggs out of this one basket we call earth before a cataclysmic event makes it impossible. In this instance, though, he sees world war three as the event.

One has to admit at the get go that this is certainly a possibility. I would argue, however, that a new global war would likely be the result of the pressures on all societies because of a combination of resource competition (with so many dwindling away, as in potable water, fuel, and food producing land, to name just a few), as well as the economic dislocations of these shortages, and the ever increasing effects of extreme weather. Throw in environmental refugees in numbers to make the current refugee problem look tame and you really see why even the Pentagon has indicated that environmental factors are now a threat to national security.

The interesting thing here, at least for me, is that Mr. Musk's input on this topic clearly indicates that more than a few of the movers and shakers in the world of economics see the threat ahead, and yet they still cling to the notion the the economic model that created it will be the way to save us. Whereas simply recognizing the power of applied information, and organizing the will to use it, without the constraints of net gain, eludes them.

You also have to wonder at what they think a Mars colony would survive on in a purely economic sense; the kind of consideration any new community would have to consider in order to provide paying jobs and all. Science, and the creation of new technology would be worthwhile in their own right of course, but if you cling to the Capitalist credo you've got to provide a marketable product; something so valuable that it would warrant the logistics costs involved.

I know, people are talking about the possibility of metaphorical gold out in the asteroids, but to make that viably cost effective it may well have to be done either with little human labor, or labor exploited to the point of near slavery. Ether way you aren't going to be creating much in the way of jobs with a living wage. What you may well end up with, however, is simply bringing the same conditions that cause human strife here out into the vastly more unforgiving environs of endless vacuum.

If Mr. Musk is truly worried about global catastrophe I wish he would take a more integrated approach to addressing it, rather than simply showing concern for a pet project he fears won't get started. He's a smart guy. There's no end to what someone like him could do in solving a bunch of problems at the same time if he could just come to accept that the current operating system is no longer viable.

Elon Musk

World War III could ruin Mars mission: Musk

Monday, December 14, 2015

One Word that Might Suggest Obligation for the Wealthy Nations of the Developed World

In this account of the French hosted environmental treaty negotiations you can see how "Big Money" makes sure it has more than enough wiggle room to keep actual responsibility off any table where talks of real action might be agreed to.

If there weren't any other reason to have doubts about the agreement this would still be sufficient cause. As always, the elites want to have a benefit without actually having to pay much for it. Big surprise.

The one word that almost sank the climate talks

Crediting Another very Creative Person

I simply have to do a "hats off" gesture of praise to Matt Haughey for his brilliant series of GOP luminaries holding dildo pictures.

In one sense he's right in admitting that it's at least a little juvenile, but in another I think the metaphor is quite fitting (all puns intended). And I also don't think that it is pointless. Satire may not be better than taking real action to bring about change, but it does at least remind us of the absurdity of a great many cherished beliefs. You only have to think about Charlton Heston holding up a big, black, man toy and declaring "'ll have to take it from my cold dead hands..." to understand this.

In any case, though, I did have to indulge myself in applying a caption to one of Mr. Haughey's pictures. My only concern about this metaphor being the possibility of giving dildos a bad connotation. Perhaps Mr. Haughey's next step should be have these luminaries holding duoche bags, but then, the same thing would still apply.

Which one is the bigger dildo?

The one thing you would have to wonder about here is whether, if he were holding such an example of a man toy, that he'd be smiling like that because, in his mind, his own junk was at least as big.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Maybe We Could Also Charge Admission

Our political process is a comic, tragic, absurdist farce, after all. Shouldn't we also be charging the Europeans admission to all of our debates and candidate interviews? God knows the French love anything absurd. And who has known more tragedy than Europe as a whole (besides the Middle East anyway)? 

I’m getting rich off your vote

’m getting rich off your vote

A British political gambler predicts the entire 2016 election.

I’m getting rich off your vote

A British political gambler predicts the entire 2016 election.

I’m getting rich off your vote

A British political gambler predicts the entire 2016 election.

The Only Way

The only way, long term, to save the planet is to take money, and the economic model that it supports, out of the equation.

Livelihoods based on the consumption of mass production is simply not sustainable. Any more than greed, or the profit motive, can be relied on to work in the best interests of the planet, or the greater good of humanity.

This treaty may, or may not, be better than nothing, but it will certainly fall short no matter how diligently a majority of the participants attempt to adhere to its intent. This is so because far too little of the other global power has signed on to it, or would even think to sign on. That other power, of course, being "Big Money" world wide.

Climate Deal Analysis: The Good, the Bad, the Still Unknown

See also:

One target for limiting global warming — "1.5 DEGREES" — is projected on the Eiffel Tower on Friday as part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The historic agreement calls for "deep reductions in global emissions." But how deep will those reductions be — and how soon, and who's paying for it?

See Also:

Time to Review Class

Yes indeed. Let's review the situation we're rolling into as 2016 gets ready to step into the batter's box:

More disasters (by nature, war, or other forms of human stupidity) we don't know how to pay for. More sick, old, as well as the injured, that we don't know how to pay for. More children, young adults, and older citizens, who need education, training, or even constant retraining, we don't know how to pay for. Ever more of us who will find less money to be able to feed themselves;if for no other reason than the fact of increasing environmental stress on areas of production. Fewer and fewer of us having any steady work, much less employment at a living wage, because there will always be more workers in the world, and more technology to make them increasingly less relevant. And all the while more of us will be wandering around, looking for that place to sleep, or die, with some modicum of dignity.

Yes. Tis the season to be jolly as we continue to consume, and distract, ourselves into a final hell hole of chaos that a few, probably in some new, ultimate gated community out at sea, or in orbit, will call a needed correction.

The really sad thing about this is that there is something we can do about it, if we choose to. It will require a great deal of sacrifice now in order to prevent that "correction," but it can be done.


It's Not Just the Poor Who Can't Make Rent

Image: A "For Rent" sign stands in front of a house
A "For Rent" sign stands in front of a house on May 31, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images file

Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Forget the Trump Chump Meme and Help Shame Congress?

There are two stories of note in the last couple of days that I want to reemphasize to all of you out there. They share a common thread and it is one that repeats itself entirely too often with the absurdity that is now Congress; most especially as it is obstructed now by GOP airheads who are always quick to call for patriotic sacrifice from ordinary working folks, but who never seem able to do the same of their "Big Money" backers.

The first concerns Jon Stewart making an appearance on his old show to remind us of how Congress has not renewed funding for the medical treatment of first responders who were there at ground zero during 9/11.

The second comes from a Slate article about how the workers who guarded our nuclear weapons during the cold war are now dying of cancer, with the Government doing the same old song and avoidance dance of not helping them pay for treatment; even though these people were put into harms way without any thought of protection against the effects of radiation.

Sound familiar? It ought to. We do the same thing to our veterans, whether its in the denial of a "Gulf War Syndrome," or simply screwing them over at Veterans Hospitals. But then, what can you expect from an ideological collective that thinks of taxes as blasphemy. And even in that doing it with their own special kind of selective prioritization; as in a dollar from you and a penny from your betters.

Even as one wonders, however, how people who know little, if any, shame, can be made to feel it once again, one also has to ask another question. With permanent war becoming a fact of American life. With the list of who we've made enemies of growing. With unchecked extreme weather becoming a fact of American life. With all of these do we face the prospect of more calls to sacrifice of one form or another that will put folks into harm's way. And there will be a bill for that. Not to mention the bill for the physical damage to infrastructure that is already in need of repair and replacement. And as we are still stuck with a cost based form of economy someone will have to be made to pay those bills. If you think it's going to be the top 1, 5, or even ten, percent of wealth holders then I think you've already joined the Trump Chump brigade, and have had a super sized serving of their cool-aid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Collateral Damage just makes the List of Enemies ever Bgger

This post from ought to give pause for all of us to consider what we are allowing to be done in our name. Killing them all and letting whatever deity sort them out might make some of us feel good temporarily, but it seldom stops a war. And if we are going to continue thinking we're the good guys then we have to stop competing with the bad guys to find the ultimate "Heart of Darkness;" or the ultimate insanity of who can be more horrifying than the other.

This sort of thing goes hand in hand will all of the bombast coming from the Trump Chumps of the GOP, as well as the bozos that pander to them. It takes courage to be able to be willing to make sacrifices to maintain your sense of morality, and ideals. Courage like that presented here with these airmen as they come forward to denounce this immoral form of warfare.

Former Drone Pilots Denounce 'Morally Outrageous' Program

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Work, Like Strength, is Much More Than a Simple Extension of One Aspect of Our Being

This article from Aeon really struck a chord with me. You really ought to read this one; especially if you are a man, because how you find value now; how you go about finding a sense of your worth, and that you matter, can no longer be associated with how you make money to live on. Any more than how much you make, regardless of the toys, or distractions thus purchasable, will give you any sense of real meaning. Unless, of course, you are willing to cut out every part of yourself that is human, caring and capable of thoughtful, loving, not to mention honorable, endeavor.

"I work for a living," used to really mean something. It was an icon phrase that encapsulated the idea that you not only understood the value of "earned" rewards, but that you also honored the notion that actions speak louder than mere words alone. Something the other icon phrase, "walking the walk," was suppose to express after one first uttered the contrasting "talk the talk."

I grew up the son of a blue collar man who only knew how to work. I started working for him when I was 14; driving a forklift, loading and unloading his flatbed, and engaging in the endless task of trying to keep whatever warehouse space he had at the time as organized as possible; which usually meant wrestling every kind of hardware, low scale machinery, and aircraft parts you can think of, on and off pallets and steel shelving. It was dusty, dirty, and frustrating, work; both because he always had more junk than space, and because he could never afford to pay me what he promised he would. It was helping him, though, and in doing that he eased up a bit on the constant haranguing he would give us kids about how much every little thing provided cost (the main reason Christmas has never been my favorite time of year).

Working at being a father, though, wasn't what a man did. Any more than working at being a loving husband. Even if he had had the time, which he didn't because he had to run his ass off in order to sell enough of the Boeing, and damaged freight, surplus he dealt in to support four ordinary kids, and one severely disabled boy. And even if he had had the time, of course, he wouldn't have known how to be a father, or a loving husband, because his father, and his father's father, etc., hadn't known either. Or maybe they did. I hardly even knew my grandfather, who was thoroughly crushed by the Great Depression, and ended up turning into a drunk when my father was a kid.

In any case, though, in America, earned value has always been synonymous with earned respect. And in that, doing a job well was not only part of being a real tradesman, but someone who got it done, and got it done right. This was, of course, when we, as a nation, still made most of the things we used, and sold a good deal more to the rest of the world. And a good portion of corporate America used to believe in much of the same things.

But the pace of change got faster because the structure to create more change got better. The rest of the world rebuilt after WW 2 and began to see how making something better than we did, and selling cheaper, was the way to go, and so global competition began in earnest. We competed for a while in making things, but several things happened to change that. Unions didn't want to budge on paying living wages, whether productivity supported it or not, and corporate America began to realize that competitive markets were getting riskier by the quarter; especially where the commodity involved required labor to make, and there was so much of same exploitable in other countries, unstable though they might be precisely because of that exploitation; so why not move to markets of the more intangible. Whereupon everything financial, and every method of speculating in same became a mainstay.

So now the only thing that's still valued, at least by those who can afford to buy a grasp on the levers of power, is accumulated counters, and the portfolio of paper you have promising payment processing that nets you the assurance that your accumulations will be ongoing.

Capitalism has, in essence, always been about the abstraction of labor, production, and the medium of exchange; trying in that to find the most efficiently productive mix. It enjoyed for a while the carryover of craftsmanship that it inherited from a world of guilds and apprenticing, as well as the religious norms that revolved around honest work. But these were doomed to ever increasing erosion by the new gods of efficiency, and the new abstraction of time management. The fate of the value of work was sealed once the ultimate abstraction of automation came into being.

The crux of the problem here is that work, and production, and production management, has to be completely redefined. Just as our relationship to the things we need, and want, needs to be redefined. In this a balance needs to be struck between the collective, and individual, responsibilities for providing the productive foundation to give each of us not only a say in what happens, but direct involvement in maintaining the means to enrich our lives in the broader, and much more connected context that enrichment ought to mean. If it is done right having value and meaning will be an automatic part of being an involved citizen in your community.

Header essay nyc109396

Men at work

The age of austerity has transformed work, but what it means to be a man has not caught up

by Allison J Pugh

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Giving Women Comics more Attention

This piece from Vice about how hard it is for women comics to slog through the trenches of comedy club showbusiness is telling, and I recommend giving it a read. The situation is not right given how good women are in comedy. The question, however, then becomes what ought to be done about it.

On the one hand there is no doubt that their male counterparts ought to be more giving in mutual praise, and sharing of the mike. It is a tremendously competitive business, though, with the emphasis on the business part, and so money, as well as the who and how of promotion has to be a part of the picture. Which then begs the question of why the women who have made it big aren't doing more to help their sisters still fighting for a place in those same trenches? If there's a male comedian doing a special featuring his perspective on the best, why aren't there matching specials, at the club level, as well as in the major media venues, doing the same for the best women?

In the Land of the Hard Sell Bullshit is King

This piece from Vox on why people fall for bullshit is certainly interesting, and I recommend reading it, even if the researcher looking into the question might have narrowed his focus a bit much.

I say that that because there was so little indicated on how he might have looked into the larger aspects of what living inside an info-sphere who's main reason for existence is to sell us on one thing or another.

I would also question the degree to which his statement that "...The difference between bullshit and lying is that bullshit is constructed without any concern for the truth. It’s designed to impress rather than inform. And then lying, of course, is very concerned with the truth — but subverting it..."  might be true.

It seems to me that bullshit and propaganda have quite a bit in common, and, as anybody who's studied propaganda will tell you, the best propaganda always has some bit of truth in it. In this instance, however, it is only truth concerning something you care about, or are concerned about, and then how the puffery does a bait and switch on the solution to that care, or concern. And, of course, sometimes the selling is greater acceptance of the person as product, or merely a product in the more traditional sense.

And let us also not forget the degree to which the control of information flow has on how well we can discern propaganda from unvarnished truth. If your economic system necessarily has to limit the flow of information, precisely because it and money are the same thing, and the whole point of that system is net gain, just how free can that flow of a vital commodity be?

Why people fall for bullshit, according to a scientist

Friday, December 4, 2015

Look Down the Barrel of These Numbers

Another list of numbers that pretty much speak for themselves:


$13.5 billion

Annual revenue of gun and ammunition manufacturing industry, with a $1.5 billion profit. (IBIS World)

$3.1 billion

Annual revenue of gun and ammunition stores, with a $478.4 million profit. (IBIS World)


The number of pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and miscellaneous firearms manufactured in the U.S. in 2013, the latest full year available. That's 4,441,726 pistols, 725,282 revolvers, 3,979,570 rifles, 1,203,072 shotguns, and 495,142 miscellaneous firearms. (ATF)


Percentage of the above guns which were exported. Of those 10.84 million guns, 10,413,880 stay in America. (ATF)

270-310 million

Estimated number of guns in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)


Number of full-time jobs related to the firearm industry, up from 209,750 in 2012. (NSSF)

$42.9 billion

Estimated overall economic impact of the firearms and ammo industry in the U.S. (NSSF)"

And Now the Few are Fighting Amongst Themselves

What is more depressing here, that the GOP's own stupidity might put Bozo the Clown into our highest office, or that they are only now trying to mobilize resources to thwart the disaster?

These Numbers Say it All as Far as Too Much Power in the Hands of the Few

The segment on the wealth gap:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

We All have Shit for Brains now, the Only Difference is in What Constitutes the Mix we Each Have

As always, there is more than just a couple of things going on, out and about the info-sphere, now. It bends credulity, human comprehension, or any sense of sanity. And if you are a Warrior of the heart, with all feelings on line, and wanting to remain caring, and hopeful, it can be hard slog indeed.

It doesn't help when you are blessed, or cursed, (depending on whether your head is on an up, or down cycle), with always seeing things juxtaposed; a huge, 360 degree fishbowl of juxtaposed imagination, reality, cruelty, sacrifice, horror and beauty.

You grow up in this mesmatronic info-sphere there is no way now that you can avoid having, what is at least a significant portion of what you hold in your head as normal, being shit of one form or another.

Exhibit A:

Behold, if you will, the manner in which the mavens of message believe is the only way they can talk to us about actual shit:

And believe it or not, this is part of an actual video ad you can see when viewing YouTube videos. The product is called SquattyPotty, and the idea is to have a sort of foot stool thing to put you into a more squat like position to pass bowel more easily; which, in and of itself, is probably a good idea, however well the product might deliver such aid.

What you are seeing here is a magical unicorn pooping ice cream cones that a princely sort of fellow assures us clean and tasty. All so that we can be comfortable, I suppose, with talking about poop in the first place.

Now go to Exhibit B:

This is actually Trump doing an old refrain. Another version of "The Chicago Way," as Sean Connery describes to Kevin Costner in "Capone," or as an overweight Marlon Brando explains to Martin Sheen in "Apocalypse Now," via that description of a certain cadre of men; coldly rational men willing to do whatever it takes to find what is essentially the whole point of "The Heart of Darkness."

Exhibit C:

I present these headlines of the latest shooting only in as much as it represents how rage feeds on itself. I feel obliged, however, to also remind you that nothing that I am advocating will eliminate rage. The human capacity for it is something that is going to be with us, to one degree or another, for as long as we exist. What we do to lessen its occurrence is, of course, another matter altogether, and I hasten to add that this will necessarily involve the choices we make both as individuals, as well as the choices we make collectively.

And I leave you with this last bit of very creative imagination. It is a short bit of speculative fiction in video form that presents a quite chilling view of where connecting to the info-sphere may take us; especially if we hand the keys to our minds to those who use that link for their own purposes. This is a video that everyone should see and do some serious thinking about.

A Sci-Fi Short Film HD: "UNCANNY VALLEY" - by 3dar

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Even as We Threaten Each Other's Information Infrastructure, More Information Flows In Both Directions

This article from illustrates another contradictory aspect of Capitalism: Huge sums of Chinese cash is flooding into the real estate markets of Western nations now that their economy has tanked. One can only wonder how long the political leadership in China will allow the economic leadership to continue; or, indeed, whether the political leadership even still holds sway over the economic leadership.

The one thing that you can be sure of, however, is that the majority of the Chinese people will not benefit much whichever way the power struggles go.

Chinese Cash Floods U.S. Real Estate Market