Sunday, November 29, 2015
Even as We Threaten Each Other's Information Infrastructure, More Information Flows In Both Directions
This article from NYTimes.com 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.
The sad thing for me about this reminder of our lack of a truly integrated cyber defense organization is this: Serious as this threat undoubtedly is, it is still only one more layer of information manipulation faced by ordinary working, people regardless of nationality.
The fact is, whether it be at the behest of "Big Money," or power structures of whatever form, we are seldom in posession of the information we need to avoid harm, or our own financial disasters. Power players about the globe go after each other, even as other such players work more home grown machinations against their own people. And in either case we are the ones who ultimately foot the bill.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
This BBC.com article is a good read and I recommend it to everyone. Whatever Ayn Rand may have wanted you to believe, "Paying it Forward" can be beneficial to the giver, as well as the receiver.
The question asked at the beginning of the piece, though, seems to miss what I think should be obvious. As the sub header states:
"Generous people are happier and healthier, yet acts of kindness are often met with suspicion and scorn. Why? David Robson talks to a psychologist who set out to find the answer."
My reply here would be thus: In the age of the "Hard Sell," where everything is commodity, and most of all developed societies operate on the idea of "Net Gain," why wouldn't every act of those you do not know be taken as a pitch to sell you on a questionable bill of goods. The very essence of the new "Amplification" of Capitalism on electric steroids is engineered facade and calculated message. And in this, the usual "Glowing Terms" and "Resonant Imagery" of ordinary propaganda, are taken to ever evolving new extremes of scientifically advanced seduction; with every aspect of your emotional, and physical being utilized to manipulate as required.
How could it be other wise for the great global, munching, fecal machine, that is Capitalism, as it gets better and better at producing ever more bits from the butt of our intellect, for the god of consumption, and profit. "Pay it Forward" is a human reaction from those desperate to remain human in the face of this obscene, and destructive, self perpetuating mode of operation. The only real question remaining that should concern us is when will we all come to terms with this fact and act to stop it once and for all.
As a long time proponent of a sea based, Tornado Turbine, approach to the production of hydrogen as a fuel mainstay, I can only hope Mr. Gates, and the leaders who make commitments with him, will consider it, along with the idea of a new, World Public Power utility.
In my opinion the two must go hand in hand, with liberal application of means based pricing, in order to get all nations across the globe plugged into a completely clean burning fuel. And as this is a considerably more integrated approach than virtually any other, it would offer a host of side benefits. Just consider:
1. The modular platform design would use a hemp composite, thus providing demand for an easy to grow cash crop for areas of the world not amenable to most other forms of agriculture.
2. The modular design would also facilitate in making more practical the building of floating cities, which we will need in very large quantities for populations displaced by rising sea levels.
3. The support requirements for hydrogen production at sea would automatically provide the key stone industry to make such floating cities economically viable.
4. The transportation requirements for liquid hydrogen delivery globally would also provide the needed impetus for a further new world, Public Transportation utility, using the hybrid dirigible blimp design I have advocated, linked together as airborne trains.
And this is only scratching the surface. New kinds of sea based space launch systems might be possible, as well as new approaches to sea floor access.
For me, as always, the primary criteria that these power brokers ought to be considering is, first and foremost, to think outside the usual constraints of where Big Money is already well entrenched. Only then will we have truly new, and globally assessable, alternatives to doing fuel as usual.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
The question then becomes who pays for putting a tiny Fort Knox around every interface point, as well as every repository?
Ultimately, of course, it is us, with either higher prices, or taxes not spent on other needs that are already under funded. And, as this is both a "measures/counter measures" war, and a case of "whack a mole," we will never have the ultimate Fort Knox, or be able to put the forts where the thieves might counter measure next.
What we are really faced with here is another example of how the usual attempts to reform a broken system simply do not address the actual problem; which is the fact of information's equivalency to money in the first place.
Just as with any black market commodity benefiting from the very fact of having been made illegal, information in an electrified economic system never meant to be so energized becomes a bootlegger's wet dream;especially when you consider that we are talking about the numbers in various chips, platters, or the data pipes amassing around us faster than carbon into the atmosphere, and heating things up faster as well. Insubstantial in the first place, so easy to carry away, and just as easy to fence.
Cross purposes, contradictions, and whole super tanker loads of folks on a fool's errand of plugging holes that will always start leaking again, even if you could keep up with the increasing numbers of them. That, in a nut shell, is what electrified Capitalism is today. Make no mistake.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
As this NBCnews.com article points out, the pot has been stirred again in the arena of medical care costs, and who foots the bill. United Health Care, the nation's biggest provider in overall terms, is sending up a "we may not continue participating" balloon into the political atmosphere.
I couch this in such terms because you have to take such statements with more than a grain of salt; not only as it comes on the verge of the final leg of another campaign season (getting longer just as the number of black days for Christmas consumption expand out beyond Thanksgiving), but also because there are caveats to how much impact their pulling out may or may not have. They are big as insurers go but they don't have a huge stake in the exchange markets yet and, as the NBC piece points out, they were late in getting into the exchanges, and may not have done a very good job in preparing for their entry (other insurers, like Aetna, say that things are going as planned) .
What we need to keep in mind here, however, is this one simple fact. Health insurers are not really in the business of paying for health care. They are in the business of capital formation. They use the payment of health care bills as an incentive just as content providers use entertainment to get eyes, ears and brains in place for the reception of messages to consume. The whole point of their business model is to limit payouts, one way or another, so that capital can, in fact, be accumulated and invested in other areas. And, as these things usually play out in the world of Big Money, the more payouts they avoid the better they look to other players in the game.
As ridiculous as that may be, in terms of how best to provide a fundamental social need, it gets even worse when we also consider that the other side of the health care coin, the doctors, nurses, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, are also purveyors of a commodity. However well intended they may be (and most of those in the trenches really are), the fact remains that making money is still the primary enterprise here, with actually helping people in distress a bit of icing on the cake.
The primary difference here, however, is that, being a monolithic, and hardly ever a competitively exposed, market they can set prices pretty much as they please. A cost increase history one need only compare to general inflation over the past few decades to see how out of proportion they have been. Only higher education (understandable as it relates to the imparting of information, our real gold now) of late compares. As with other fundamental social needs that go begging now because we can't figure out how to equitably balance who should pay and who should benefit, this is no way for any society to not only grow, but to flourish. No way for us gain our destiny in stepping off this rock and begin reaching out to the stars.
The affordable care act was a well intended reform and, for the most part, it has done surprisingly well in getting more care to those who need it; however you may disagree on the complexity it may or may not have created, or whatever cost dislocations it may or may not have also created. That it probably does fall short in one way or another only illustrates the fact that it, as well as most Liberal efforts to reform, did not really get at the primary problem; which is precisely the fact that a cost based, commodity economy, no longer makes any sense in a comprehensively electrified, information environment. You need only consider that everything to do with health care, its quality, its efficacy, and whether it is applied cost effectively, relates to the movement of information. But if information itself is a commodity, and whose movement then depends of the assumption of net gain, how can it possibly move freely enough to attain the goals just mentioned.
Fundamental change, not piecemeal reform, is the only way we are going to get real solutions to most of the pressing problems we face now. The sooner the rest of you accept that the sooner we can get to actually doing something about them all.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Yes, I was there and well involved with trying to program applications. As such I can tell you that, though Microsoft made it possible to do so, they seldom made it easy. And little of what they did was from actual in house innovation. The majority of it came from buying into, or outright bullying, anything useful or potentially competitive. As such I have never been a big fan of Mr. Gates. I do give him credit for knowing how to make money, but little else. So many opportunities missed, and mistakes made and yet they still did manage to make a lot of money.
In any case, though, it is a much better company now that Gates is no longer so intimately involved. Still flawed of course but not nearly so much as in the early days. Older now, and at least a tiny bit wiser, I can only wish the people involved their now well and hope they find it in their hearts to do more for assisting young people in getting involved with tech.
This is what happens when ignorance, prejudice, and a lack of humanity, mix with making "the bottom line" a religion.
Make a habit of dehumanizing one group or another and you risk killing something very important on the inside, as well as on the outside.
A lot of things come to mind when a supposed candidate for high office makes such statements. That this person is also a doctor whom has sworn to the idea of "first do no harm," makes it even more bizarre.
At the end of the day, though, you have to wonder what has become of a nation when men, who are willing to make such statements so casually, are taken seriously by significant numbers of our neighbors as a potential leader in our highest office. I can only fall back on George Carlin's comment on politics "Garbage in Garbage out."
There are people in a lot of places now running for their lives from unimaginable horror. Husbands, wives and children. Undoubtedly those who create this horror feel no restraint in taking whatever advantage of it that they can, of which, of course, planting a few sleeper agents is but one aspect. There is risk then in taking the real refugees in, but there is also risk in not responding to human need when it presents itself. A risk to our sense of humanity and caring for the plight of others. Ignore that too often and you risk becoming the kind of person who would utter such things as Mr. Carson has said. A man who is also simply trying to take advantage of the suffering of others.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
This article from Politico is illustrative of how money and information are the same thing. It is also illustrative of how those who already have large accumulations get to know far more about everything else than we do; whether its the accumulation holders or everything else that we remain ignorant of.
Ignoring for the moment whatever difference their may be between mere information, and actual intelligence, one can I think make the observation that, with more information, one's ability to apply their message with greater strategic, as well as tactical, effectiveness, is significantly increased. Which, to my mind, further emphasizes what is behind the new "amplification" of electrified information retrieval. Add to that the ability to encompass broad swaths of media channels, as well as message saturation over time, and you have a potent argument for why an individuals freedom of speech is not equivalent to any form of incorporated speech, or where the counter accumulations involved in expressing that speech, are the result of the profits of such incorporation.
With another tragically successful attack by religious extremists in Paris we are again presented with how one type of threat can get emphasized to the near exclusion of others. In America alone, within a few days before and after, have there been deaths that, taken in total by event category, are equally as tragic. And by event categories we can include extreme weather. general traffic fatalities, gun violence of one form or another, preventable diseases (due to life style choices), as well as criminal negligence involved with the creation, and/or delivery, of essential items we work with, and around, in daily life (to name just a few).
What's interesting for me in all of this is how easily we can accept one type of threat as just a part of life, and yet become so worked up over another; irrespective of whether one or the other is either more likely, or kills more people overall, in a given time period. It illustrates how capricious our seeing something to be fearful of can be; as well as how easily manipulated that perception can be.
Objectively, for instance, one ought to be absolutely terrified of anything to do with automobiles of any type (talk about a terror weapon). Despite the fact that significant strides have been made in making autos safer, and people more aware of driving safely, we still kill thousands every year. We accept this, however, because we enjoy the freedom of mobility that our roads and autos provide us.
We also enjoy another freedom that isn't quite so tangible. This is the freedom to do, or say, as we please, within the limits of law and civil propriety. History has taught us that too much power in the state to monitor what its citizens do, or say, can have absolutely horrible consequences. Not only because it can create a passively fearful populace, but because change, whether it be prompted on the spur of outright injustice, or merely because of the arrogant indifference of the needs of the many by the power of the few, cannot occur without the governed feeling they can express and act in defiance of that power.
Conservatives often talk, in glowing terms and resonant imagery, no less, of how true patriots are willing to make ultimate sacrifices for the cause of freedom. This gets more than a little blurred, however, when they talk about the security of the state from outsiders, or the security of state secrets. To say that there is ample reason for these to have significant priority is not the same thing as saying that the governed should not always demand that their application be done with great care, and restraint. And most importantly, they should never circle the wagons reflexively when they are questioned on the how and why of these applications.
The bottom line here is that his will necessarily put us at risk. A free society, with the free flow of information so that the governed can make truly informed decisions, necessitates that those who govern keep as little as possible secret, and that they not lie directly to us other than for absolutely dire circumstances. Doing that, though, makes governing quite difficult, as should be obvious. And people may well die because of it. Not only that, but the leadership may well be blamed for it, whether deserved or not. But that too is part of the sacrifice that all of us ought to be prepared to accept if we truly want a free society.
And as far as our enemies are concerned we should be quite clear on one salient point. Reacting out of fear to what they do to us is to give them not only a victory, however small, but to cede to them the initiative in the greater struggle, which is in maintaining the better way of life. Fearfully surrender the freedoms which are essential to that and all you will accomplish is to make our society more like theirs.
Being safe is not only an illusion, it has become another product to be sold on now. As I have said before, living a full, and connected life, is anything but safe. You are going to die. Accept that. One way or another, at some time or another, you are going to die. The only real question is how well you will have lived until that moment. If we lived every moment as if it might be our last there wouldn't be anything anyone could do to us to take our collective freedoms away. Just being who we ought to be is, ultimately, our greatest weapon.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I have to agree with Phyllis Bennis when it comes to what to do about ISIS. This NBCnew.com piece has her view contrasted with 3 other international affairs experts; characterized as
1. The Slow squeeze: Michael Eisenstadt.
2. More Troops: Michael Leiter.
3. Arm the Kurds: David Phillips.
4. Stop Shooting: Phyllis Bennis.
Ms Bennis states:
"Phyllis Bennis, the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, just wrote a book about ISIS. It's called "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror." In it, Bennis presses for an approach that hasn't been given much consideration since Friday's attacks in Paris.
It begins with the Hippocratic oath that physicians take before they start treating people: Do no harm.
Bennis agrees with Obama that the United States should not send troops. But she said the military campaign — air strikes included — is a complete failure, and actually hurts diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.
"This is a war of vengeance. And wars of vengeance never work," Bennis said in an interview. "Our leaders are supposed to look beyond that. But nobody is even questioning the idea of the air strikes. The only debate is over ground strikes."
She would like to see Obama, French President Francoise Hollande and other coalition leaders embark immediately on negotiations for a cease-fire. From there, she'd like to see a complete military withdrawal, a blockade of arms into Syria, a huge new influx of humanitarian aid, and a redoubling of efforts to block ISIS' fundraising sources, notably the sale of oil.
After Paris, "There needs to be answers, and people are understandably insistent that there be a response," she said. "But it's never true that the only option is war."
I would only add that the problem of a vengeance fueled war is only compounded when so much of what we do, regardless of how many troops are employed, or which proxy is supported more robustly, is done via drone. As in Drone intelligence, as well as direct drone strike.
What this does is create a tremendous influx of surveillance data that, no matter how good the optics are, comes down to guilt by association. Some times this is quite appropriate. Some times it is not, and the probabilities between the two vary wildly. You then add in the inevitable collateral damage, whether your intel is accurate or not, and you have an ever increasing population of those who would be likely to desire revenge. And in the case of religious zealots such vengeance becomes jihad far too easily.
Then, of course, you must consider why the middle east is important to us in the first place, or why permanent war would have advocates with interests beyond those of basic national security. And in this do we come to the various profit centers involved. Oil. Arms. Shipping lanes. The list could no doubt be continued.
National security is important. Having the ability to protect ourselves is important. The problem we have now is that political leaders want to serve a variety of interests without incurring fallout at the pols so they engage in conflicts without declaring war. Declaring actual war would involve complete mobilization, and involvement of the entire country, and not the exhaustion of the few, incredibly selfless, volunteers who sacrifice for us now. Such total commitments are also quite expensive in terms of money and so also require comprehensive fiscal sacrifice, but this is exactly what those who benefit from the previously mentioned profit centers are loath to have to do.
The bottom line for me here is as it always has been. In a cost based society; one where value is placed almost entirely on the counters involved with net gain, and the power inherent in having more counters than the other guy, not only does the process of prioritizing critical needs for our society suffer, the way we address those needs suffers as well. How can it be otherwise when livelyhoods depend on one thing or another being continued, no matter how destructive, or at cross purposes, they might be. Throw in greed, and its idolization, for good measure, any you have a formula for self destruction like no other.
As I have said many times before, it is all interconnected. Without fundamental, fully integrated, social-economic change, we will continue down the path of contradictions, and disarray, that having disconnected interest groups working at cross purposes entails. The effort based organizational model that I have outlined is one approach to addressing this needed change. It may not be the right answer in its current form, but it is at least a place to start from on what that fundamental change ought to be.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
This article in Time ought to shame us all. Not only because the franchise in America most likely don't follow the humanitarian example demonstrated in Hong Kong, but because we do so little here, as well as for the rest of the world, about chronic homelessness. And make no mistake, as the oceans rise; as income gaps become more pronounced, and inclusive, the number of homeless will increase ever more rapidly.
Affordable housing, living wages, and other such initiatives are important responses in the near term, but long term they are unlikely to meet the need. The problem is business as usual itself, and the fact that a cost based economy values only the counters that net the holders of same at the bottom line. An effort based economy would value each and every participant because the number, and quality of participants, would be critical on how everything a city state needed would be built or maintained.
I can only hope that each and every one of you out there will begin to seriously consider the need for fundamental change in how we maintain civil society.
This Foreign Policy piece on a possible new, Russian nuclear weapon, ought to make any sane person quite worried. Such dirty weapons aren't new, of course, but the fact that a major power is back to considering their construction certainly is.
We haven't been openly considering anything like this, but we have been talking about a new round of atomic weapons development. A move that has put the nuclear disarmament on a back burner that may not even be lit anymore.
Not only should we be denouncing Putin for even thinking of considering a dirty weapon, we should also be revitalizing nuclear arms reduction talks. But that is made even more difficult when you have decided to adopt a permanent war economy on an ever escalating anti-terrorism crusade.
It's all connected, unfortunately, and made worse by the fact that so much money stands to be made by conducting our affairs as "business as usual."
Friday, November 13, 2015
One of the problems of "Pay for Privilege" is that the money involved attracts exactly the kind of business people you work to step over on your way to the top. You aren't very good at handling your children, even if you had the time, which, given the rising cost of privilege, you don't, so you hand them over to another climber and are surprised at how crazy things can get.
Interestingly enough, however, is that you still feel that this quite OK when it comes to for profit, privatization of prisons, schools for the rest of us, or any other government program, when a buck can be made by cutting as many corners as possible. The crazy that happens there, of course, doesn't have to concern you.
If you can ignore, for the moment, just how ridiculous Trump comes across in accusing Carson of being pathological (the pot calling the kettle something indicative of them both being a crock of shit), think instead upon the multiple pathologies of a system that makes money out of every kind of absurdity, and an absurdity our of every aspect of what should be seriously considered social interaction.
Everything we are and do gets turned inside out as it becomes, commodity, profit center, sales pitch, and the bill of goods those of us who don't have huge piles of counters end up having to pay for. And we pay for it not only with our few counters, but with the fact that most of what passes as a benefit in return is simply distraction; distruction that runs the gamut of painful, entertaining, destructive, addictive, and illusory. Anything but healthy, informative and connecting.
The bottom line business here, of course, is that, no matter how much everything else goes to shit, a few will increase their accumulation of counters because that is power in a system that values little else.
We are, perhaps, still voting for a few bones, of one type or another, that might get tossed to us. The occasional sop that makes the lip service seem credible. But as sure as those have become fewer and fewer in the light of so many critical issues that go a begging, you can be sure that, eventually, even those will be a thing of the past. Assuming, of course, that the planet allows us to live here any longer.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
This one is titled "Hot Water" and documents just how much of a problem radio actively contaminated water is. Another problem that won't go away simply because it costs too much to do anything about.
What ought to be scary here, beside the obvious health risks, is the fact that we're poised on the verge of another nuclear arms race.
This NBCnews.com article specifies just how much, in counters, treatment for Alzheimer's disease will cost. Below is a direct quote from that piece:
"...A devastating disease
To truly understand just how catastrophic an illness Alzheimer's is, consider that it is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the U.S. that can't yet be prevented, cured or even slowed. Someone diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or even HIV/AIDS has a better chance of surviving — and having a better quality of life while battling the disease — than a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are now 5.3 million Americans age 65 and older living with the disease. The total direct cost to the U.S. economy of caring for those with Alzheimer's: a staggering $226 billion, with half being borne by Medicare.
Delaying the onset of the disease by just five years, research studies show, could decrease Medicare spending by 50 percent. That's an important point to consider, because economists forecast that unless something is done to cure or even slow the symptoms, the number of people with Alzheimer's will rise to 16 million by 2050 and cost the U.S. economy $1.1 trillion. The portion covered by Medicare will balloon to $589 billion..."
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Take a look at the screen shot below of the NBCnews.com video link to the segment produced by Alex Stambaugh. Sandwiched in between a candy ad, and prompts for further glimpses into our insane world is an attempt to characterize current politics as the semi adult, semi adolescent, behavior of high school kids.
Lets forget for the moment that, when such young people do stupid things, it is, in large part, because they have a human, higher brain functionality, not fully realized yet; even as the lower brain pumps out hormones as a part of ages old survival strategies. Our political system as been going for quite a long time now (at least in human terms), as well as the social/economic framework within which it functions. The question you ought to be asking yourself is this: Which is the more ludicrous, a political system now described glibly as being no better than the product of semi adults, or the facile consumption of bad commentary within the plea for even worse consumption; all of it engineered to be brightly engaging and entertaining. None of it, however, even remotely resorting to asking the deeper question of why we would want to continue with this comprehensive farce, which, make no mistake, is both the presentation as well as the insanity presented.
In my opinion, what ought to be making you very angry, is that this segment does no more than a wink and a nudge, nudge, at the infantile behavior of political stage players as they prance about trying to portray the other guy as the fool, all the while crying about their inability to fully control the larger electronic staging.
They do get to control quite of bit of it of course, in these preliminary rounds of auditioning, and marketing research, so as to package the product with the best balance of demographic resonations. The problem is that the real advertising money doesn't kick in till you're down to the semi-finals, where the negative packaging can really start to get the voters all worked up over. We then get then get one side voting against the other side precisely because of the semi-truths, and the outright lies. At which point it doesn't really matter what any candidate says they may or may not do. One or the other will get elected and the realities of where we are now will be ignored, for the most part, as they have been, as each side tries to play to their base, while not pissing off Big Money too much.
On and on this goes, with much the same rhetoric, and about the only thing that changes, as we all buy into it again, is that things just seem to get crazier and more insane. It's all entertaining though by golly, and as distracting as hell.
Monday, November 9, 2015
As this NBCnews.com article reminds us, even recycling can be corrupted when you think you can simply pay some folks to re purpose used automobile tires and then not worry about it any more. Especially when you assume these folks will check thoroughly into whether such usage is safe or not. Or that the watch dog agency, strapped by less government, and less taxation zealots, will be able to keep up with even being aware of the new threat.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
The trouble with this article about a potential increase in the Fed rate, as it is with economic policy arguments in general, is that it nearly always lacks in not only a deeper context in which to judge what we are being told, but even significant indication that the so called experts cannot agree on how to properly gauge things in whatever context one might present.
We are told in the article that, in addition to the jobless rate going down, the aggregate hourly wage rate has increased slightly. And the gold standard nostrum of people having more to spend affecting inflation is reiterated; only here the consensus on one side is that a desirable rate of 2% is closer at hand so that now would be a good time to "tap the breaks" on the flood gates of dollar specific counters.
What we aren't told, of course, is a more comprehensive breakdown on a wide ranging number of metrics concerning such counters, and how their interaction affects inflation. Any more than on how complex the relationship of prices, and the actual count of counters are to each other, or why it is still mostly the wages of consumers that impact both.
The old idea was that you had to have a certain level of productive application within the cost of labor to justify that cost. Too much demand, and too much wage increase to support demand would always, ultimately, lead to rapid price increases, which, in turn would lead to self perpetuating demands for more wage increases. That we are now in a global wage and product market makes this relationship a great deal more problamatic, certainly, as counter balances can come in from all over.
But that introduces another factor; the amount of dollar specified counters others hold, and their perception of what they are worth. If a negative perception gains general acceptance the speclators jump in with bets for the continued value decline, and the central bank has to jump in to support the counters; a stop gap that can continue for only so long. Unless, of course, you are too big to fail, whereupon everyone one but the holders of large counter aggregates has to take a big bite of a shit sandwhich.
The holders of large aggregates, hiding behind the paper of institutions they hold sway over, have been getting absolutely obscene increases in the wages of their paper instruments. How could it be otherwise when they have been able to speculate with the knowledge that, whatever the machinations of the institutions they hold sway over, they can fall back on the zero rate of the Fed to ease any sudden bumps in the road. Mean while the infrastructure of most of the rest of civil interaction goes a begging for counters to keep any of it working at all, much less improved to handle the challenges that will occur more than a financial quarter or two down the road. And wage erners continue to barely make ends meet as global wage competition, as well as automation, makes sure that ever more of us will be living paycheck to paycheck
In this larger context I always start wondering why there isn't greater talk about the actual productivity of any given debt instrument. What is the economy in general getting in return for the profit made on a given speculation? No doubt there are some instances where this might be quite obvious. In others, though, I suspect it is far more aggregious than any recent wage hike, or perhaps even for those going back a good ways into the past.
The answer to why we don't get more comprehensive discussions about such issues is obvious of course. It simply isn't in the interest of any of those who control the discussions, or those with most of the counters. And those of you out there now occupied with the real work of distraction don't want to hear it either. It is, after all, complicated. It requires thought, further inquirey, as well as study of things that just aren't all that entertaining. Even as I write this I know those mostly interested aren't worried at all.
Would Fed Rate Hike End U.S. Economic Honeymoon?
This is what happens when those in power can represent themselves without the fully free flow of information. And as a recent NPR story on the lack of transparancy in how police officers are investigated for sexual assault (where, even if an officer is caught and fired in one precint, he can get hired in another) has indicated, not only is the flow of needed metrics not in place, national standards for investigative procedures in police departments are also sorely lacking.
The sad part here is that not only does the public suffer, but the everyday heros in police departments across the country suffer as well. This is a virtually impossible job. Something I have maintained for some time now. We create a specialized group to take care of problem individuals for us; a group that has to form very strong bonds of intra group trust in order to depend on each other. And yet we become surprized when they tend to close ranks and protect their own. If any one of us were in these uniquely close knit groups we would tend towards the same protective behavior.
The problem here, as it is with quite a few other specialized occupations, is that we want to throw a particulary distasteful task at a few individuals and then go about our lives as if it didn't have to concern us any more; blissfully ignorant of the realities of the sacrifices involved. This is certainly why we have so far been able to continue with a permanent war economy as there have always been the few willing to man, and woman, the ramparts; something whos days are mostly likely numbered now, though, as the list of enemies grows without end.
There are others, however, who are forced to sacrifice quite arbitrarily, with their health, and/or, low income life style, simply because they have no political power (getting poison created, or stored where they live, or paying too much for needful things that might also end up harming them, etc.). Something that I see as an essential aspect of the game Big Money plays with "who pays and who benefits."
When you think about it though you come to realize that electrified facade is just another way of describing the environment of complete absurdity. In that type of system the catch phrase is definitely "The Absurdity of Growing up," and where the sane represent a failure to be properly medicated, and/or occupied with distraction.
Friday, November 6, 2015
When you bounce around the web as much as I do, following as randomly as possible, all sorts of minimally, as well as primarily, connected things (via tech sites, artistic sites, political commentary sites, as well as YouTube, Digg, and ordinary News sites), you bump into the damnedest linkage threads. What often happens, as a result of this, are connections, and/or juxtapositions, of common, as well as disparate, themes and ideas.
A case in point is the TedxMidwest talk (published on Aug, 30, 2012, on YouTube) given by Pablos Holman on utilizing the hacker mind set to solve perplexing new problems. It is a good presentation and I recommend you give it a view.
As most of you already know, similar talk of turning what has mostly been a private, and all too often, a self serving, mode of occupation, into something positive, has spread far and wide on the Net. Which, in and of itself, is most probably a good thing. My concern here, however, is to illustrate what might be one area of concern for such well intended social thrusts.
I should hasten to point out that this concern didn't surface in my mind right away, after listening to Mr. Holman. My first impression was that, on the whole, it seemed like a good mesh. After all, who wouldn't be attracted to the idea of getting people who see beyond ordinary limits and boundaries; who relish taking the things we take for granted, pulling them apart and seeing what better ways to do things might become apparent. And whether one believes zapping mosquitoes with lasers is truly practical or not, the notion that the hacker mind set, as the ultimate boundary breaker, can be used for positive social change is an attractive idea.
Weeks later, however, I happened to bump into another Ted Talk and, surprisingly enough, it too was on a laser based, mosquitoe zapping system; only this talk took place on Feb 2010, and was presented by Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft technology officer and now CEO of Intellectual Ventures. And in case you haven't been keeping up on the controversial role of “Patent Trolls” in the last few years, I.V. is the current poster child for heavy handed tactics in the world of patent control, and enforcement. You need only read the first few pages of the Stanford Technical Law Review article “The Giants Among us” to see just how prominent I.V. has become as a source of worry in the patents world.
I point all of this out because I want to re-emphasize just how insidious, and pervasive, is the process of how Big Money works to co-opt everything that starts out as a means to thwart their over-arching interests of control. Even though this is certainly a complex issue, and that those who create ought to get something in return for what they create, we need to be very careful on how far we take the ownership, and control of ideas, and processes, not to mention the myriad flow of metrics that all of our endeavors propagate. As the S.T.L review article points out, the secrecy that Intellectual Ventures employs (using over a thousand shell companies to acquire patents, and never divulging, or allowing others to divulge, who has invested what) is astonishing. And despite the few high profile patent fights that have taken place so far, we are only beginning to understand the balance of positive to negative effects of so few controlling so many patents.
The bottom line for me here is that you have to wonder just how benevolent a company like Intellectual Ventures is, touting loudly as they do their creative fertilization of the ground for needful social development, and yet being so unwilling to actually document the precise numbers of what their investment income nets; both for the few investors, the inventors, as well as for the rest of us. After all, it's been nearly six years since the first Ted Talk on the mosquito zapper. Have they seen to the low cost introduction of this innovation yet? Has much more than reasonably priced mosquito netting been provided? I do seem to recall mention of a possible malaria vaccine, but how much is, or will be, spent on providing it? At what profit margin? And who will actually end up paying for it?
Just a few more things to think about in the new world of absolute absurdity.