Thursday, February 26, 2015

An Open Source Freebie for Anyone Interested in Electrolysis

It wouldn't surprise me if somebody has already looked into and rejected this suggestion, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway. You never know. Perhaps somebody has, forgotten about it, and now its time to ask again.

If it were possible to create holes in an electrically conductive material that were just a little smaller than a water molecule in its vapor state, and at very high temperature and pressure, such that the water molecule couldn't pass through, you could create a chamber that could do electrolysis in a quite novel new way.

The chamber in question would be subject to both a very strong magnetic field, as well as the electrical differential of perforated electrodes that would be hollow. The magnetic field polarity would match the electrode polarity so that not only would the water molecule be energized to the proper alignment, but hydrogen would go to its electrode, and oxygen to the other. One might even try to get the pressurized steam to maze as well.

This is not an idle question for me. Several decades ago I went to a University of Washington professor and paid him to do very down and dirty feasibility calculations on whether the magnetic field and maze resonance energizing would be sufficient to split water vapor at high temperature and pressure. I did this as part of considering the electrolysis options of my sea based variation of the Yen Tornado wind turbine.

His sense was that you would separate some of the water vapor but it would definitely be incomplete; even to the point of ending up with hydrogen peroxide, as well as a little left over H2O. If you could throw in the electrical differential, even without the resonance thing, and the only escape aperture was smaller than H2O, the results might be a great deal more conducive to a viable process.

The thing to remember with sea water is that you would want to boil it in the first place in order to get rid of the salt before you subjected it to the electrical differential. Skipping the step of having to let it condense back to its liquid state would be helpful indeed.

There are, of course, a lot of ifs here, and it would take some significant resources to work through them all. Holes that small in a material able to handle temperature, pressure and be conductive to boot, even in today's nano tech, materials rich, world may still not be possible, but its still an approach that everyone should keep in mind.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Still in doubt about how information and money are the same thing?

It's rapidly getting to the point where I literally can't keep up with flagging all of the documentation that information and money are the same thing. Which is, of course, only one of the reasons that Capitalism is obsolete.

Big Pharma Is America’s New Mafia

Friday, February 20, 2015

The absurd value system of our current economic model

The following post was prompted by the Daily Beast article linked below.

That is a stupid question in the context of the advancement of human understanding. In the context of our current economic model is not a stupid question at all. There it is an inherent requirement. Especially as it relates to the relative trade offs of competing investments. Why risk X dollars for an unknowable return sometime later when you can get a much higher probability of knowable return spreads now? The shorter turnaround of which offers the corresponding higher probability of more per dollar utility over equal amounts of time.

This is but one more reminder of the absurdity of our current economic model. I can only hope that this contrast of absurdity gets people to think a good deal deeper on the advisability of sticking with the current model.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The following post was prompted by the story linked below.

How can arbitrary borders apply to so much human desperation. And lets be clear here. This question goes beyond the border of the nation who happens to be nearest to a particular outflow of need.

Let us also be clear that we all have at least a little blood on our hands. The endless history of conquest, colonialism, economic exploitation, and super power ideological machinations, are a testament to the fact that a significant part of the developed world had a hand in stirring the pot of instability.

The real issue, however, beyond mere shared culpability is the fact of what ignoring the suffering of others does to what keeps a loving spirit alive in humanity. The violence to that spirit simply by turning our backs on fellow sentient beings. It is immoral and unacceptable. It is the sowing of the seeds of the destruction of our species.  

And the truly sad part here is that this is just the beginning. Our selfishness and willful ignorance in the exploitation of the planet as a whole will bring even more need to every border. As the sea levels rise, as the droughts in one place, and the floods in another make areas unlivable; areas that won't care one whit about where the lines on a map are; how much more unfeeling are going to become?

The first step to take here is to recognize that we are a community of humans. A community that will not survive if we let our loving spirit die. The next step is to come to terms with the fact that the economic model championed by the West is not longer viable. It is obsolete in practical terms, but it is also antithetical to the loving spirit that makes morality possible. As such, a new organizational model must be worked out and established. And the West must lead the way.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Global Village Construction Set

Consider this post a shout out, and a salute to the folks at What they've been doing for the last several years is just amazing. And this vision of a D.I.Y. community production nexus is remarkable to say the least.

If you have had any doubts that an alternative to Capitalism is possible, especially along the lines that I have been outlining, than this kind of creative thinking ought to g a long way to easy them.

What this establishes is that semi-self sufficient city states are indeed possible as long as people start thinking outside of the worn out, old factory, commodity model. I urge you to take some time and check these folks out.

Global Village Construction Set

This model doesn't work any more. Just deal with it.

This post was prompted by the Salon article linked below.

The real problem with Reich, as well as with Paul Krugman, is that they don't have the cojones to admit that the operating model itself is no longer viable. Just as the original version of Windows would be not be viable in today's billions of transactions a second, networked environment.

Information is money and human skill no longer works as a commodity. Democracy has become a euphemism for something completely different than what was intended by majority rule. One can only hope that everybody involved in taking it in the rear will eventually grow a pair.


"We're facing a vicious cycle": Robert Reich unloads on inequality, TPP & the real economic story

The first priority is coming to terms with how we prioritize in the first place.

The following post was prompted by the Daily Beast article linked below.

 This is all part and parcel of not being able to engage in a reasonable process of determining what our priorities are, and then going about the most practical approach to address those priorities.

And the main reason for that inability is that every established process group wants to keep their part of the gravy train going precisely because of the money and prestige an established channel represents. A wide range of competing priorities get bounced around within the arena of collective discourse, but the rest of us hardly know where to begin to sort it out as so much of what passes as informed debate is really just various combinations of embellishment, misdirection, lack of complete context, or outright fabrication. The truly interested few, you see, are, at the very least, sorely tempted to make their solution to a priority as sacrosanct as the priority itself; which puts nominal competitors joining forces on at least the common ground of one or another priority, and to hell with what that does to the other priorities.

As may or may not be obvious here, the ability to forge consensus on what is, in a truly big picture context, the best trade off between what we are able to do, and the things most immediate, and requiring of action, does not fare well when a few have not only so much need to say what they will, but the ability to say it with more overall control of content. But this very thing is a fundamental aspect of a commercial, specialized production, commodity form of social organization. Especially now that money and information are the same thing, and human skill is no longer a viable commodity.

The fact of the matter now is that we face a very wide range of threats. These cross historical boundaries of what we have established as institutions to address them with. And the real kicker is that each of them have impacts on the other. We can no longer consider them in isolation. Everything has to be an integrated solution with what ought to have already been fully integrated processes. Unfortunately, our current economic model has prevented the latter even as it thwarts the former.

This chaotic squandering of intent and ability will continue as long as we continue to fail to accept that a new operating model is required. It is really that simple.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Who will pay for ongoing severity

One of the things you can always count on when a significant sequence of  bad weather hits is one or another idiot on the right saying that the "cold" part, of whatever severity you might want to talk about, is proof that global warming doesn't exists.

I don't want to get into too much of the usual back and forth that surrounds that debate, but I do want to emphasize the unfortunate consequences of how labeling the "green house" effect as just "Global Warming" has had.

Energy input and dissipation have always occurred, and varied over time as well. Because this huge transfer system we live in doesn't dissipate to space to the degree it did before the industrial revolution, the system as a whole has a great deal more to do transfers with internally. And that is the most important thing to remember.

The second most important thing to remember is what is meant by "transfer." And in that do we get into some of the basics of physics. Namely evaporation, which turns water temperature into moisture in the air; condensation, which turns the change of air temperature, and/or pressure, back into water falling; convection, which causes a fluid (which includes both water and gas) to move from the hottest part of its distribution to the coolest, and the related aspects of pressure to temperature in a gas.

All of these things, as well as sold object radiance, and the change of wavelength in what is radiated, join in the grand dance that is energy transfer. And the thing is, the more energy that does not escape this really big dance hall, the more immense, and/or frequent, the various transfers will be.

Which means more ocean circulation because of convection. More air movement for the same reason. The more water that can be brought up into the air and then dropped. And with more of these comes ever broader, and more significant changes in air pressure and/or temperature (as well as water temperature), which means even more movement of the air, and consequently extra movement of water as the air flows over it. On and on, back and forth; making the dancers alternatively cold and hot, and hot and cold. And the dance lines bigger, or smaller, and wildly gyrating from established dance patterns. The bar of what is extreme will keep rising, as will the frequency of occurrence, as well as the change in type.

All of this is to say that a new normal is coming. A normal where moderate weather is the new extreme. And carrying on with what we think of as business as usual will be a cost factor that nobody is ready for. Not government, local or federal; not the commercial sector or the public either.

Even limiting the consideration to workers getting to and from work, and production getting to consumers, we would be swamped with cost considerations that can hardly even begun to be imagined in their full depth and breadth.

So, even if we didn't have all of the contradictions made manifest now by government gridlock, or the power inequalities made plain by the unequal distribution of responsibility or consequences, we would still be faced with nearly insurmountable questions of who will carry the extra burden of keeping it all going; with all sectors still cooperating with each other.

The prospect of this should scare you. It sure as hell scares the urine out of me. And the main part of why this should scare you is that Capitalism isn't equipped to handle it even if it was capable of operating equitably; which of course it isn't.
Not when human skill is no longer viable as a commodity, or hyper consumption viable as a mode for sustainable social organization.

If you've been shoveling snow these last few weeks, or running from mud that used to be solid ground, or wondering whether you'll have to migrate with the fall of rain, you really need to start paying attention here. This is just a taste of what's beginning. A whole range of fundamental assumptions have to be put on the table and renegotiated. If they aren't really bad is going to morph into a brand new dimension of sting. Stop counting on the money you have, or don't have, and count on that.


Snow storm buries eastern Massachusetts, economic impact $500 million to $1 billion

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The rear view mirror view of our future

The following post was prompted by the article in Nautilus linked below.

I think that a big part of the problem here is that we are still being pulled in divergent directions between the mind sets that Marshall McLuhan described; the first being the typographic and the second being the new age of oral via electrified experience retrieval. The first emphasizes segmented linearity while the latter simultaneous flow throughout multi-spacial, complex, node matrix's.

In this do we also see the tension between what works for the former as a social organizing model, and the disruption of that model by what the latter requires of social organization. In this are what becomes of the notions of "work," "production," "skill," "commodity" and "ownership." This is so precisely because the dictates of what is information in the former, and how it must move about, as opposed to how it can move about, becomes quite different in the latter.

The bottom line here is that everything concerning information becomes doubly conflicted when information is money, and human skill is no longer viable as a commodity. Electrified systems, as well as equitable societies, require the free flow of information, but this remains impossible when social organization still insists on money being real, and that the flow of "money" be bounded by ownership and net gain.

Money as a "Universal Experience Translator" may have made sense when skill was difficult to come by, and it's output bounded by distance. Now that we have applied information  via electrified systems of experience retrieval, such notions are rendered quite absurd. The idea of distributed processing came about for reasons very specific to a new mind set. That view point is thwarted by the obsolescent structure of a bygone mind set. And there are a multitude of social systems now that suffer deeply for it. Something that only a complete rethink of what have been fundamental assumptions will fix.


Friday, February 13, 2015

What is really being delivered in this insane push for the lowest cost

This post was prompted by the Alternet article linked from Salon below.

 The Postal Service may well be an anachronism mired in contradictions, as well as bureaucratic bloat, but that does not change the fact that Amazon is an evil company. They are so because they are not only a great poster child for "Robber Baronism;" either buying up or out bullying the competition; they have also turned the dehumanization of their employees into an art form. All on the alter of "Lower Cost." 

I live in the Puget Sound region and have a very clear grasp of the economic footprint they displace. And despite the fact that their employment represents a significant chunk of overall economic health, I stopped buying anything from them some time ago. Just as I do not purchase from Wall Mart.

And let me just add that this has not been easy as I now live on SSI. 

I do this because I would rather pay more for an item so that the people involved in making that item available to me are more likely to garner a living wage for their efforts. This is just simple morality to me. I only wish it were so for a great many more.

Amazon is killing your mailman: Why its Sunday service is a labor travesty

It is good to laugh, and the Emperor should be made fun of, but there is a time and place for everything.

The following post was prompted by the Daily Beast article linked below.

Yes, we did need Stewart, Colbert, Oliver and the Onion. And there is no denying that they have had a tremendous affect, as just the immediacy of Oliver's affect on the "Seizure" issue aptly testifies to. There are, however, a few more details to keep in mind other than the "isolation-echo chamber" potential addressed above.

You can start with the idea of "the news needing comedy." The fact of the matter is that news needs whatever it takes to be entertaining because its real purpose has very little to do with actually informing. The point is as it has always been, to get eyes, ears and minds on the receiving end of marketing message. Which, lest you forget, is the only reason the four previously mentioned avengers of truth are there to be heard at all. And the fact that comedy plays so well here speaks, in my opinion, a great deal more to what a horrible joke the larger aspects of our daily circus of government and commerce has become.

First is the potential for allowing one to become too comforted in the belief that a commodity-marketing machine can, and will, give us what we need; as in the kinds of things to make informed choices as to what is important for our collective effort to be attentive to, as well as how we go about achieving it. And secondly that satire, in and of itself, has no down side we need to worry about. 

The problem with the success of presentations like the four we've listed is that, just because they make money now for a certain set of owners doesn't mean that truth will always hold forth; especially if the consequences of whatever truth revealed becomes too costly for other process owners. And let us also not forget that there can be value for those who might wish to have a solid hand in how truth gets defined to throw a few nuggets out from time to time, just to keep the rubes interested.

That last part in the paragraph above also plays into the second aspect of why satire can survive, despite making fun of those in power. And that is precisely because keeping us laughing, and sort of in on the joke, is pure gold when it comes to distracting and deflecting the cognitive dissidence that rises to an emotional imperative to action. Which is now, of course, the quite important secondary purpose of entertainment, and whatever other quick fix a commodity can provide. 

What we're talking about here is the potential for the long con. The big picture ruse that gives the rubes a taste of actually having a say in things so that nothing of a fundamental sort ever changes; even as whatever little changes might be granted from time to time get brought back to their proper place, while something else is provided to distract and entertain.

And the most fundamental issue you are not likely to hear ridiculed is the assumption that we can only be organized by a factory, production, and consumptive mode of living. That it is only natural that a few can accumulate inordinate translative power simply because we have agreed that money is real. But just as human skill can no longer compete as a commodity, we also do not require money as a universal skill translator anymore. This is so precisely because applied information, and the electrified networks that store and move it about, has changed everything. And unless we can find a way to stop being distracted in so many ways, so as to see that fundamental change, and then to take the very specific, and quite difficult, actions required to address it, we will not survive as a species. And I can assure you that is something that you really don't want to be making fun of.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

“Celebrity as Usual.” The currently most popular children's game going

Up until now I have been quite reluctant to wade into the whole Brian Williams teapot tempest. Given the comparative weight of that issue to, say, our inability to prioritize what is important, let alone the fact that too many people in the world suffer intolerable deprivations, as well as unrelenting war, this issue hardly even rises to the point of being small potatoes.

My friend and companion Kathleen, though, being the compassionate person she is, not to mention all around under dog supporter, challenged me on the point of why I couldn't at least say something of the issue. It seems quite unfair to her and for understandable reasons. So, given the soft spot that I have for her in my heart am obliged to sally forth.

To start let us understand that one can only approach this from the frame of reference of contrast; something Jon Stewart has already done to excellent effect; wondering as he did the other day why such unbelievable scrutiny wasn't applied to the lies spewed forth in the path we were led down to be in the Iraq war in the first place. From there we can begin to have some counter weight to deluge of hypocrisy that has sprung forth about Mr. Williams.

The first important thing to understand is that, as far as I have been able to read, we still don't know the full degree of self serving culpability that Mr. Williams should be taking responsibility for. If it was simply a mistake of memory, or whether it was a deliberate attempt to puff his background up more than is deserved. Both of these types of behavior are human, but the latter is certainly one that should be discouraged more purposefully, even as we attempt to understand it. In a better world credibility, integrity, and honesty ought to be important to those who would serve the laudable goal of an informed public. That being said, however, doesn't change the fact that the info-sphere we all swim in now has its own set of desirable traits.

What is galling to an observer such as myself is not only the hypocrisy of those who spew forth from various higher planes of dispersal in this info environment, but our own hypocrisy as well; for we are all, unfortunately, participants in this process. And for the sake of argument I would like to call that process “Celebrity as Usual” (as opposed to “Business as Usual” which is related but a bit different).

You are no doubt familiar with this process whether you've ever considered labeling as I have or not. It is the situation where we build personalities up to the point of near deification only to then take great relish in the process of tearing them down; enjoying their humiliation as a means to use humbling as an ultimate escape tonic from the everyday, little inner humiliations we suffer as a part of struggling to stay afloat. And I have to say that it can become quite disgusting how that tonic is pandered to by not only the usual FOX network clowns, but a host of others as well.

Once the blood of some faux pas hits the water the feeding frenzy would make actual sharks blanch. And this from people where it is a wonder the words they utter don't turn to ash even before they finish uttering them. The fact of the matter is, however, that the only reason that these idiots can continue with this absurdity is that we empower them. We watch FOX like propaganda whether we love to hate it, or hate to love it. Even worse, we vote for people who's lies, or self serving spin, embellishment and misleading euphemisms take us anywhere but to the truth. The whole process is meant to put cotton candy in and between our eyes and ears; leaving our minds with nothing but the rush to judgment that makes a bum out of reason, or thoughtful compassion.

Is Brian Williams the bad guy here? More than, say, the simpering network that has hung him out to dry? More than the ecosystem itself that could hardly care less about credibility, integrity, or honesty? The contrast reminds me of dichotomy expressed in Paul Goodman's book “Growing Up Absurd.” In that work he outlined the contradiction of a society worrying about better integrating our youth into being responsible, working members, when we haven't even begun to consider, or question, just how useful such a working environment was in making use of, let alone nurture, fully self actualized, and mature individuals. An environment evolved to the point now where we have the “Absurdity of Growing up,” for it is exactly children that the consumptive system desires now. Easily manipulated, impassioned, frightened, and distracted children. Immature bundles of want who self justify overly authoritarian leadership. A leadership that, using both the whip and the carrot in good measure, can get them to do pretty much anything. Which only then begs the question of whether or not it is children who have become the authoritarians, or if anybody at all is truly wielding any kind of consistent authority in the first place.

Brian Williams? You are truly worrying about Brian Williams? If that is the case than the hand basket is aflame and we are about to come very abruptly upon some hellishly rude awakenings.

Brian Williams Suspended Six Months in Wake of Review

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Warning Will Robinson. Warning. You will very soon not even be able to act the part of being in charge.

Robots doing more physical tasks in the workplace will undoubtedly continue. Just as software has already made the number of people required to do a whole range of processes fall precipitously; whether mechanical arms and sensory apparatus are involved or not.

This is not news. It is, in fact, practically a cliche now. Just as the standard response that any workers replaced will have new technical opportunities they can retrain for; to supposedly design or maintain these systems. Leaving aside the question of how ever increasing iterations of retraining are going to be paid for, let alone endured, or whether software will capture these as well, one is left to ask the question: Why are these stories presented as news?

Or maybe that's not quite the right way to put it. Maybe the question is why are these presented in the same kinds of serious tones as would more bad weather, more crime, or more political unrest. In other words as a part of the daily dirge of what you should be worried about, and/or afraid of.

Are they warning us, however unconsciously, of the ever more problematic nature of human skill as a commodity? Is the fear instilled meant to provide counter weight to any nascent desire of labor to reorganize so as to better protect its dwindling stake in any say of how the fruits of production are divided? Surely there must be some bottom line motivation here. If it is not a call to do something to counter this situation than mustn't it be for ulterior motives? Self serving from some frame of reference?

The question then becomes which frame of reference? And by implication, what criteria do we use to determine who would be likely to have such a frame of reference? And lest you are now ready to come to what might seem the obvious conclusion let me provide a caution.

Greedy Capitalists might certainly seem likely targets here, but there is an even more terrifying scenario that may be at play. The problem is, as humans compete with electrified skill retrieval systems, and they are thus left with less income as a result, who is going to buy the ever increasing largess of this new found robotic productivity? Are they going to create virtual people to live virtual lives tied to the robotic production? Are they going to keep the rest of us around to serve as a kind of retro accoutrement of entitlement? The more of such servitors being the final arbiter of status? Hoping therein that, between the entitled and the rest of us, enough consumption can continue?

Distasteful as those might be, what is even more frightening is the prospect that they simply don't have a clue as to what they are heading towards as they work this inherent contradiction to its ultimate point of collapse. Perhaps having some notion of the motives listed above in the back of their minds, but not really knowing how it would be done, or maintained, and being otherwise too preoccupied with spending, and/or making more to spend.

In the meantime these milestones of so called progress get reported, for the most part, simply because they are there and ought to mean something; the serious tone more front than anything else so as to suggest the reporters are doing more than just filling air time. Or perhaps they are the truly frightened and they are seriously hoping somebody will figure this out in time.

I will leave you with one last question. Who is left to figure it out? Who is left to do anything about it?Who is reading this report?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Impenetrable Layers of Abstraction by Information as Money.

The book being reviewed in this New Republic article may not be breaking much new ground, but it is still worth a read. It does, at the very least, serve to remind us why morality is irrelevant to the jealously guarded accumulations of information. The fact that the algorithms that make use of this information are also jealously guarded, informed means of parsing this data, should come as no surprise either.

The fact of the matter remains that what ever comes out of these dark holes does so only because it provides for the means to attain net gain, and further accumulations. Morality will be a factor only in as much as it can be made to service the cannons of commodity, and the god of net gain.

This is why Big Money will always know more about us than we are ever allowed to know about them. This is also why ever more important aspects of daily life will become impenetrable and unknowable. As such, the decisions we make will be ever more subject to forces that might as well be wildly arbitrary deities that we build shrines (as has already started) to, and at which we give tribute in the hopes of buying favor. And that tribute will be about as effect as it was centuries before.

The truly sad part is that it does not have to be this way. Applied information could work for the benefit of all of us if it wasn't a commodity. But to change that is to necessarily understand the need to start over with how we organize ourselves as a society. The current model is no longer relevant; especially if our criteria is a sustainable society that balances individual liberty with collective responsibility.


The Moral Hazard of Big Data

The Bird Brained Idea of Making Portrayal a Competitive Commodity

Having now watched the movie Birdman, it sure has got me thinking about some, perhaps, not so obvious connections.

There is a two sided consideration that sticks out for me in this story. Something beyond the usual aspects of an actor who, even though is suggest as being something more than nominally human, is struggling with the relative values of what he has, and has not achieved, throughout his career; juxtaposed, of course, with a personal life that is a shambles. That is not only the consideration of what makes for excellence in the craft of acting itself, but what gives this endeavor value in the first place.

This idea takes prominence not only because the main character (played by Michael Keaton) wants to be taken seriously, after having gained financial success for portraying a super hero, but also because of the tension that arises between him and another actor brought in as a last minute replacement for someone Keaton's character found lacking.

The new player (played by Edward Norton), is a fairly established Broadway name with some serious street cred. An actor who quickly demonstrates that he can act. The problem, however, quickly becomes clear that this guy is a “Method” actor at the essence of extreme. He makes becoming the person portrayed the only real aspect of his otherwise pathetic life. And, as the rest of the cast that Keaton's character has employed to make this play happen, recoils at the Norton's characters behavior, both on and off the stage, you start to wonder about what this says concerning the craft of acting.

What has happened to such a time honored, creative endeavor, over the centuries, to have brought it to the point where the story, and the themes of that story, pale in importance to the fidelity of how it is presented. And more to the point, that it is, as much as anything else, a competition to see who is best at being someone else. A competition that evolved the competitors to the point of no longer seeing themselves as people working a craft as professionals, but as just rewritable wetware waiting for the next persona to assume completely.

The answer to that question is, it seems to me, quite obvious. This is so because portrayal is a commodity now pure and simple. Story may still have a place to one degree or another, but the simple fact of the matter is that fidelity, and the quick fix impact that multi sensory fidelity can bring to the table of commodity, and the inherent competition that surrounds all aspects of commodity, makes this absolutely mandatory. A fact that the movie “The Congress” made only too depressingly clear.

What resonates for me now, however, in this context is how this example of commodity and competition demonstrates another facet of what those two elements do the human condition. Not only do we all now behave in everyday interaction as actors on a state of a sort (secretly wishing we had real-time monitors to keep track of how we were coming across—which I'm sure that Google and their ilk will provide us with shortly), but we consume ourselves with the competition of who is the most admired; a thing quite apart from the relative notion of what is the best.

In this context views are the primary thing that matters as far as admiration is concerned. Big view numbers can may times automatically equate to admiration whether the reaction to the content is good or bad on the whole. Being the best in one fashion or another still carries weight of course, but total numbers, and the all important demographic, are what most concern the purveyors of commodity.

The problem, though, is that having a “most admired,” as well as the “the best” in a more general sense of demonstrable skill, plays so well into branding. Attaching by association an implied aspect of one to the other. And because this has become an all encompassing, immersive aspect of everyday life, we hardly notice anymore how much of an effect it can have on the choices we make. That being the case, those being so crowned, however briefly, give us our main sense of what truly being valued is; of what is the bottom line for being relevant. The rest of us, toiling away in whatever small part of the machine that constitutes production, commodity, and consumption, are left to try and convince ourselves that, whatever goals those singular tasks allow us to achieve, it has to be enough to continue treading along; working, screwing, consuming, defecating, and just showing up so as to keep it all going.

Is it any wonder that people have resorted to doing the dumbest, or cruelest, or most destructive things simply to be noticed? Is it any wonder that, even if you get paid enormous sums for doing whatever, you can still feel completely irrelevant? Not really appreciated because, in the sense that it now has become understood as all that matters, you are not at all real. That this sense can be, supposedly, satiated only by having a place to stage really big view numbers.

And thus do we see the advantages of becoming a brand that everyone recognizes. With that kind of labeling you can be anywhere without having to act at all. You can assume the validation of whatever audience you might find yourself in front of because the persona has been established. You can relax. Just go through the motions and the lines already scripted and bask in the new real.

The bottom line for me is this: A day will have to come when we recognize the relativity of being marginally better at any given point in time, at what ever ability you might care to consider. Testing ourselves against each other can be a very useful, and healthy thing, certainly as it helps to encourage aspiring to be better. Saying that, however, does not in any way preclude the acceptance that there can always be too much of any good thing. In this context it has always seemed to me that the most courageous of us are exactly the “also rans.” For never let us never forget that without them there can be no winner in the first place; a fact that we lose sight of at our collective peril.

A society, or a culture for that matter, doesn't live or die by its “winners.” It survives and prospers by the quality of grit in its foundation. The kind of grain of its granules in other words. We get a good grain in that sense when we work the best balance of giving each individual a chance to achieve not only personal goals, but locally recognized goals important to the community. And it seems to me that the best way to do that is to set things up so that absolutely clear that everyone is needed to keep the community going. Once you have that as a basis to work from you can then add on layers of additional recognition for useful areas of ability competition (as in local, regional and above). Recognition that has nothing to do with branding or the market mentality that goes with it. The kind of friendly competition that would emphasize the creation of items, or methods, to help the home community, as well as others, live more effective and enjoyable lives. A real “win-win” for everyone.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

All of this killing and we still don't agree on what is truly important, any more than how to achieve it.

This post was prompted by the Daily Beast article linked below.

It is telling when an article indicates the following:

"...The Pentagon has said airstrikes cannot defeat an ideology and that the war cannot be measured in numbers. But in an opaque war like this, many are leaning on such statistics to assess the air campaign..."

And when you then add the additional factor of having what ever ideology is in question being held by the "true believer," you enter a whole new realm of fixation and intransigence. 

So, as we then contemplate the trade offs of bad guys killed, in relation to the various forms of collateral damage, one is forced to ask: what are we to do about the growth of an extremist group hoping for nationhood? 

And let us not forget that the air campaign is not the only killing effort we have in place here. The Joint Special Operations Command has not only active military forces in play, but a wide ranging contingent of private contractors involved as well. Temporary boots on the ground doing more (hopefully) surgical strikes. But of course many of the recipients for these are added to the action lists by the very imperfect drone and satellite reconnaissance that cannot accurately tell us who is being killed, and the degree to which they are being replaced. Any more than it can give us any sense of efficacy.

The nominal view is that, if we do nothing, these people will grow in strength and then become far more capable of striking directly at us. They will also, of course, further destabilize the region so as to further enable the spread of their virulent ideology; eventually surrounding us even as they pound at will at various soft targets within our own borders.

That this kind of simplistic thinking has at least some small kernel of logic to it shouldn't blind us to what we would face even if this particular threat didn't exist. The fact of the matter is that we face a significant number of threats to life and limb and, as such, have to recognize what is always the primary reality. 

As a collective of individuals doing our best to cooperate socially we will always have a finite ability to both identify and then address those difficulties. The questions we need to ask ourselves in this process is what is most important in the host of requirements that revolve around protecting, preserving and providing what we need, as well as what we want. In that determination does there then come the corresponding array of trade offs as to what we choose to affect, or not affect, and the consequences that must then be accepted.

The problem as I see it is that we have evolved a social organizational model that does not allow us to properly engage in threat prioritization. This is so precisely because we are splintered by that organizational model into very narrow areas of task related interest. This model also compounds the problem because it makes having a level playing field in the arena of public discussion quite problematic. This is so because information has become simultaneously currency, commodity and arbiter of perception. The flow, therefore, of this vital element becomes subject to the needs and desires of task groups hardly ever on the same page.

Religious fanatics around the globe wanting to kill us is not the only problem we face. In fact, on a purely statistical mode of consideration, we are doing far more harm to ourselves on a day to day basis. The interesting thing in this regard, though, is that we seem to accept the trade offs of our own being put down for the material benefits we suppose we receive. We seldom have time, of course, to ask if we really are getting the best cost benefit ratios in these trade offs, and even if we had the time, the already mentioned tilted playing field would make such a debate at least as problematic.

We go on, killing ourselves, killing vast swaths of others around the globe, deservedly or not, and all the while not much changes, other than the faces and the labels that characterize and justify the killing. One can only hope that a point will come when we will make the time to stop and seriously begin to rethink the whole process of how priorities are determined and prosecuted. And that this point will occur before it all falls apart.