Monday, February 29, 2016

Sincere Optomism, Self Delusion, or Self Serving Propaganda?

Warren Buffett has clearly been a quite successful business man. And as such folks go, he's even been known to display a real sense of social conscience now and then. One has to wonder, however, at this most recent comment directed at the current presidential candidates.

On the one hand, if someone with his business acumen says our economy isn't nearly as bad as the candidates make it out to be, you would have ample reason to think he might be correct. If you then add the automatic assumption that candidates for our highest office will manipulate our fears to what ever strategic degree they deem necessary, you have even more good reason to think he is correct.

On the other hand, it doesn't take an economist, or a systems analyst for that matter, to see that there are very real reasons to be concerned for both the short term, and long term prospects for our economy. 

First are the physical realities that our economy must operate within. Resource shortages will establish themselves more prominently whatever the current supply situation might be for any given item. As such, even though oil is in oversupply now for a lot of different reasons, the trend line of where that situation will inevitably go is undeniable. Useable water is another example. Rare earth metals another as well, and one could no doubt continue. The problem with this sort of thing, however, is that it is not only that decreased availability increases costs directly in commodity markets, it adds strategic pressures on governments to protect not only what they already have, but to ensure their access to what little might be left. Which then puts them at odds with each other and more likely to seek negotiations by other means. The cost to be prepared for that has become ever more burdensome, and the cost of the failure of more ordinary negotiating tactics unthinkable.

Other physical realities to be considered are the true costs of development and production that have always been kept out of whatever the market cost has reflected. In this do we see the bill for burning fossil fuels now coming due. Perhaps not so obvious, though, are the delayed costs of taking resources from others who now have little to show for it, and of value commensurate with that which was taken. Call it Colonialism, resource rape, or out right conquest and annexation, the result is region after region where instability, corruption, greed, and hate are the main exports. The cost of addressing these has also become ever more burdensome.

Then you have our own internal physical realities to consider. Every aspect of social life, which makes economic life possible, needs to be maintained, upgraded, and/or replaced on an ongoing basis. And in an ever more competitive world, this becomes ever more important. And, as the pace of that competition is also increasing, the rate at which we conduct these upkeep processes must also increase. But this then begs the question of who will pay for it. How much of this cost can be put upon either side of the commercial, public, equation before there is inevitable overload?

And finally, there is the physical reality of just how competitive human wet ware can remain as a commodity. As we have already seen, cost increases are all about the landscape of economic life. But there is also the threat of other producers making things, as good or better than we can make them, but for which they can sell at a market significantly cheaper price. How far can this dynamic continue and still not significantly undermine the supply of purchasers able to purchase anything other than food and shelter? And how do you contain the growing dissatisfaction, or insanity, of those forced to work harder for ever less of any meaningful return?

Apart from these physical givens are the unexpected events that life in a complex swirl of astrophysics, geophysics, meterology, and biology can throw at us. These become even more significant in an already complex social/economic context, where a breakdown in one maintenance system can lead to inexorable breakdown in others. This is why the term "cascade events" has become so fasionable these days. In this context you have to see things in terms of carrying capacity.

An anology here is to think of it in terms of the shields on a "Federation" starship. Take a "Galaxy" class ship for instance. The Federation's best can get into some pretty tough situations, take a beating from both natural, and sentient driven, causes and still keep on warping it's way into new adventures. But even for a Galaxy class ship there are limits. Too many hits from Borg energy weapons, or a solar event beyond its ordinary out put of radiation, can cause the shields to fail.

Our social/economic system is no different. Put it under repeated stress, with ever smaller recovery times, and it will fail. And this will occur no matter what new technology you might apply. A fact for which, even if fundamental change occurred, would still be in effect. My contention, however, is that a cost based form of economy is much less resilient than an effort based one would be, and for reasons that I believe should be obvious now.

When you consider all of this, as well as Mr. Buffet's statement, you really have to wonder where he's actually coming from. He's certainly not an idiot. One could reasonably expect that he's just as aware of these physical realities as we are. Is it just the fall back reasoning that the right technology will save the day? It has certainly allowed for some effective short term fixes in the past, but have any of them truly changed the underlying physical givens? I don't think so but that is just my take on this. Perhaps there are other factors, or application of existing factors, short of fundamental change, that I am not aware of. Certainly a possibility, however low the probability might be. Are any of you willing to bet on the survival of our species on that marginal probability? I sincerely hope not.

Warren Buffett Says Negative View of U.S. Economy is 'Dead Wrong'

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Instead of Nuking One Aspect of a Bad Situation...

Why not try doing something about the disease that cause that bad aspect, as well as a host of others, in the first place.

Just a thought.

Stopping Trump: The Nuclear Option

Here's what Republicans would need to do to stop their own front-runner—and what they'd destroy if they failed.

Gift Economics, Rather than Barter, Was the Early Alternative to Money

This is an historical eye opener. In the "The Myth of the Barter Economy" piece done for the Atlantic, Ilana E. Straus makes the argument that money never followed barter as means of economic life; showing, in fact, that barter was seldom employed at all before money, being used primarily as an adjunct to already existing currency driven systems. What existed before was probably something more akin to a Gift economy, where things were provided without regard to any kind of value equivelancy. It was, it seems to me, to be more of a case of enlightened self interest to provide when able so as to be able to count on reciprocation in the future if circumstances put you in need of help.

One also has to take into account the fact that such early pre industrial agrarian, or hunter gatherer, cultures were generaly a good deal more steeped in the idea of collaberation to begin with. Whether you were grouped around a tribe and its village(s), or an interrealted group of nomads, you necessarily had to rely on cooperation to a large degree in order to survive at all. Virtually everything around you was a part of nature that was competing against you for its own survival. And there was so little of it you understood to any degree. Cooperation, if nothing else, offered the group the chance to aquire and store hard earned lessons on how to interact with the environment they found themselves in. Being able to hold that, and then pass it on to your descendants, allowed them to start from a continuouisly improving base of experience; no small thing if you stop to consider having to reinvent the wheel, or the finely edged piece of stone over and over again.

The lesson for now, though, is to realize that a medium of exachange works best when each member of a society has a reliable set of skills from which to choose to be specialized in; where reliable in this instance means one that can be counted on to be marketable as a currency generating commodity (not to mention that the currency itself maintains its perception of translative value, which is a whole other can of worms) in the first place. Change the means by which experience can be captured, and then retrieved, however, (so that it can be done anywhere and anytime it is desired, without the weak link of human wetware) and you have a completely new ball game as far as what that single activity can provide anyone who would utilize it, let alone to the human who can no longer compete applying it as a skill commodity.

The challenge for an alternative, it seems to me, is to blend the best mix of cooperation, enlightened self interest, and technology so that we can make best use of all of them. I firmly believe there is a way to do that; whether or not it is anything related to the outline I have suggesged as a starting point for the discussion. It can be done and it must be done. If we can at least agree on that we are already halfway there.

The Myth of the Barter Economy

Capitalisms Biggest Corruption?

More than a decade or so ago I was so angered by a news item that I had to write an essay about it. It was, in fact, one of the things that motivated me to put up the original Old Softy Concerns web site. The article dealt with the amount of money that one of the manufacturers of shaving blades spent to come up with a new shaving product (an obscene number). And the earth shattering result of this effort was to simply put more blades into a single razor. Can I have a hallelujah for creativity!

I thought of that article when I saw this latest coverage of an industry show off event. What resonated around that article also comes to mind when one considers the even more obscene amounts spent to sell us on one or another political candidate. And that idea is simply this: Is Capitalism's greatest corruption done within the way it guides human endeavor and effort?

In my view you are not really paying attention unless you are forced to ponder just how out of whack our priorities are when we spend so much on ever more overly featured mobile devices. All of which is done primarily to make one example of such a device more desirable than everyone else's.

I have a special sensitivity to this area of "innovation" as I also had the opportunity to see how it"works" from the inside with one of the players in the game. My last gig as a developer was the year and three months I spent with a big name in the creation of such things. This big name had a mobile group busily engaged in spending huge sums of money to try and get their own version of the hot new device. They were setting up a significant testing lab for the iterations of their design ideas and needed not only a test data base, but the automation software to collect that data, and further software to distribute the dynamic reporting of same. I was given a blank server box, shown the testing equipment, and a reporting template, and instructed to make it happen; which I did. The process along the way, however, clearly indicated to me why they were "innovation" challenged in the first place. And on that lets just say there were, again in my opinion, management, and design coordination issues to make any investor just shit his or her pants.

The point, though, is that even after great sums were spent internally they ended up buying another company already established in such things. And even though they may be making more progress now on this front you still have to ask the question: Why are we wasting this much material capability, as well as human creativity, just to make a geegaw with more bells and whistles? So called smart devices that may well end up either leaving the planet in disgust at what we've done with it, or who will decide that putting us out of our misery is the more human solution for all concerned.

And this is but one industry where we waste the human mind, and so much of the wonder around us, just to gain market share in markets where fewer and fewer of us can afford to purchase in in any case. If that is not a pure demonstration of madness than I clearly do not know what madness is anymore.

There is nothing worth while to believe in any more precisely because we've become so enamoured of meaningless process; great rivers of human effort washing up on the rocks of banality, vanity, and empty promises. What a waste. What a heart rendering waste when so much else goes unanswered or unattended to. Shame on us. Shame on all of us.

Phone Makers Aim to Out-Innovate Each Other at Mobile World Congress

How Big Does Big Have to be Before It's Too Big?

Whether the Obama administration has time to do much more with yet another big merger proposal or not, one question that one can ask here is this: Has he shown all that much leadership in the opposition to the further concentration of market reach by major corporations? I think the answer is spotty at best; precisely what you'd expect from a liberal who would want to keep his base at least partially placated. And even though Clinton has indicated her oppostion to past big drug mergers, can we expect her to be all that much different than Obama when the rubber finally meets the road? You are a good deal more of an optomist than I am if you think so.

Isolationism and the Threat of Every Nation Circling the Wagons

Great Briton may pull out of the European Union. This resonates with the "head up his ass" foreign policy of Donald Trump. It is also starting to resonate among quite a few other countries of the developed world. And however understandable that might be from a view point of short term self interest, it in no way offers any kind of real solution to the causitive issues that will remain regardless of the types of barriers we erect around us.

Whatever the wall is made of, and no matter how high you build it, the chaos that is fermenting about the world will not be kept out. The "contagion" in this case is not simply the bad choices of others, and their own economic failures, though those certainly are in the mix. The real problem here is both a history of colonialism, an economic model brought to full fruition by the West, and the fact that it cannot continue within a limited planetary ecosystem, any more than it still makes sense now that electrified experience retrieval has made a mockery out of the idea of human skill as a commodity. There's also what it has done to the free flow of information now that information must follow the same path of net gain that money does, but I don't want to get too far off my primary point here.

The fact of the matter is that the tensions that are building up around us, and of which a lot of desperate people seeking safe haven is but one, threaten the planet itself, with a laundry list of cascade event scenarios that would end quite badly for everyone on the planet. Any walls built as a last ditch attempt to protect ourselves from the suffering outside them will only serve as one last monument to our stupidity.

The only way humanity is going to survive as a species is if it can find a way to tollerate the many aspecs of its diversity to work cooperatively. Everybody has ample reason to either be distasteful of, hateful of, or susicious of, one or more of the "others" that populate the planet. And whether it be from blasphemy, evil, immorality, greed or various other forms of stupidity is irrelavent. Clawing at each others throats, even as the beautiful structure nature took billions of years to create crumbles around us, won't change a damn thing. In the end it will serve only to certify that we couldn't even keep the hell on earth we created going.

'Brexit' Vote: Why Britain Could Quit E.U. and Why America Cares

Saturday, February 27, 2016

And How Much are We Spending Against Terrorism?

The spread of an infectious disease is one of those really terrifying cascade events. And yet, how do we prioritize it? Especially as compared to other kinds of terrifying attacks?

End of the World Simulator

What is Really Fracturing the GOP?

The old guard (where old in this case is no more than 20 to 30 years ago), of the GOP used to sell themselves on strongly held, hot button cultural issues; most of which were religious in nature, but also included a fanatical obsession with a simplistic view of American power; based almost entirely around the idea that more of everything for the military is a good idea (regardless of what the military leadership itself might think). What you would then get in this framework was rock solid adherence to same sex marriage, anti pro choice, and a general desire for a more Theocratic America, as well as ever increasing arms spending. Everything else after that as far as policy was concerned was extreme Conservatism; less government and less taxes. And for the most part they could sell this to significant parts of the population precisely because they believed in it.

A funny thing happened on the collective way to the video store, however. The DVD player, and the Networked controlled TV was sliced and diced away into the web: that vastly more pervasive infosphere, having everything of and about the world in a pervasive, immerso-matrix brain blender. In that transformation, among a lot of other things, has extremism of any form become unfashionable in so many ways. What is fashionable now, however, is marketing sophistication. More and more now, the sales pitch needs to be seamlessly incorporated into the content, or the content has to be integrated from the ground up as automatically selling as much as is possible.

In this a couple of things are paramount: Misdirection, Distraction, and Brand as identity. The only things left to believe in here are the brands you identity with, and are occupied by, however small the time frame, and how entertaining the distractions of your brands can be. Of how that brand can make you feel good about yourself, wrapped protectively in the comforting fashion of the moment.

Mr. Trump believes only in his brand, and that his brand can sell anything. Even if it's just more of his brand keeping us temporarily entertained, and him in the public eye for more self perpetuating fame. In none of this, however, is there any room for what we need to know, or what we ought to have for meaningful leadership. Marketing, as a whole, runs itself after all, as there is an invisible hand in the minds of all of its beneficiaries; requiring only loosely based, and always shifting, cabals of the major holders of information. Unfettered markets. Increasing net gain. And always increasing efforts to find new brands with which to occupy the masses with.

Our supposed leaders are naked of convictions, or substance, or honor now precisely because branding requires these only as makeup, or props, or interesting sub plots in the narratives of consumptive fiction. It is its own farce, selling us on more farce as a new growth commodity. The bottom line here, however, is that naked really doesn't apply to them anymore as they put us on over and over again; seeing them only with the comforted eyes of the thoroughly identified.

GOP Reactions to Christie's Endorsement of Trump Shows GOP Divisions

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Greed and Corruption

They can cross any border, and reside in any supposed ideology. The one essential ingredient, however, is a cost based form of economic organization. Not to mention as much restriction on the free flow of information as can be managed by the managers of both money and markets, as well as by those who create and adjudicate the laws that money and markets are meant to operate in.

In this, at least, are we brothers and sisters of a shared, political/economic, predicament.

Russia: The End of the Illusion?

Not so Stealthy Attacks Within the Economic Theatre of Operations -- Additional

One of the other things that such economic warfare does to our society is pit one community against another. This is so because one of the more important bits of ammunition in these battles are jobs. That this then makes who wins and who loses, in the context of communities, a zero sum game, at least in large part, is simply collateral damage. It can be limited because, even if one contractor wins the big prize, in this case a new bomber, the losing contractors often pick up consolation prizes in the form of the odd sub-contracted component here and there, but those hardly involve the long term concentration of jobs that the big prize yields.

The fact that this is not really that much of a big revelation shouldn't take away from the importance of the actual misdirection that takes place when companies start campaigns against each other in this fashion. But what, then, are we being misdirected away from? The process that determined that a rather expensive new manned bomber was a major priority in the hierarchy of priorities which we face as a nation.

The fact of the matter is that we might get a great deal more security by spending that kind of material resource on something that would reduce tensions between potential adversaries, rather than in just one more weapon to make it clear we can fight when the tensions come to a self fulfilling conclusion. And what better alternative to reduce, rather than encourage, tensions than starting a program to alleviate a primary source of such tensions; say... an energy source other than fossil fuels?
A program where we say we're going to spend this major lump of money, taken away from a weapons program, and everybody's welcome to join us. Contribute materially as you can but rest assured that you will get an equal share of the output; or at least a share commensurate with your need on some equitable formula; as in, perhaps, a per capita number in relation to your economy. That part is not nearly as important as taking the initiative in the first place.

Doing this probably won't alleviate those tensions right away. But it will be that first, and most important, step down a better path to cooperate rather than compete in both what creates the tensions in the first place, or in what makes it clear that we are only concerned with who will win the final confrontation.

In that last part, however, do we see where the biggest aspect of illusion is at play in this game of misdirection. The illusion that there will be a winner at all in such final confrontations. We teeter on the brink of destruction already within this web of life we call a planet. What could the military mind possibly consider as a "win" when we trigger a final cascade event? No matter how relatively "defeated" a potential enemy might have been as a result

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Apple Iphone Encryption Issue

I have been avoiding digging into his one for several reasons.

Truth be told I have to say up front that our over all social/economic organization, and what it does to virtually every other issue, tends to make it my highest priority. Then you have all of the many very bad choices our government makes, in large part because of the deficiencies  of the afore mentioned organizational framework, not only domestically, but internationally as well. Tensions are already mounting between too many nations as it is, and in no small measure precisely because they share many of the same deficiency aspects with their organizational frameworks. And if that weren't enough, the planet itself is beginning to reconsider just how successful the current animal experiment in sentience has been. Even when I was younger this would be a lot to keep up with.

Another, shameful, admission, however, is that I have never liked dealing with encryption, or network technicalities in the first place, much less the security of same for that matter, back in my coding days. The moment you started talking about packets, and routers, and firewalls etc, my attention would be wandering in direct proportion to my eyes glazing over. Shameful, as I said.

This particular issue is made even more difficult, even if you don't share any my reasons for wanting to avoid it, because it involves a very big corporation, never a big favorite of mine, government too zealously pursuing things for us to be afraid of, and the tension between reasonable public safety and the right of the citizenry to do right or wrong in privacy.

First off, of course, you have to appreciate the irony of a big company caught between the rock and a hard place of its own making. On the one hand they want the corporation to have the rights of a citizen, but on the other they'd like to avoid any of the downside aspects of what that right might ask of it in the context of responsibility. Are they protecting privacy here because they really believe in it? Who knows. And in point of fact the question is virtually irrelevant. The bottom line, whatever else might be in play, is that they will loose market share if people can't depend on their product being secure.

What is the government actually asking for? Is it simply something that only affects this one phone, and no other? If you look at the court order involved here that notion is questionable to say the least. True, the specific encryption key is not in play, but the ability to work around that encryption is. And by that I mean the means to brute force their way past the password by having the "too many tries," cutout be disabled; which is not only avoiding the "you have to wait to try again" road block, but any sort of the "everything gets erased after too many tries" eventuality as well. In other words, getting to the goodies will be slower, but it will still occur.

Then there is the aspect of this from the point of view of those who have suffered at the hands of those who wish to express their discontent in the most violent way possible. This is the truly heart breaking part. These people have a gut wrenching stake in making sure other don't suffer the pain that they have been made to suffer. Something I can identify with as I lost my younger brother to a killer; not a terrorist mind you, but from a very severe case of Cerebral Palsy, which he finally succumbed to when he was 6 years old (and not without a great deal of suffering in the interim).

This is where the age old conundrum of the state protecting a collective right comes grinding up against the rights of any one citizen. We all want freedom of this or that, but none of us wants to die, or be harmed for that matter, or any of same to happen to our loved ones. And in that friction do we have to contend with not only the limits of the state to do anything effectively, especially as we think we can get by with "pay and forget," but the inherent limits that must be dictated by material practicalities. This is why nations prioritize pressing problems in the first place; at the end of the day there is only so much people power, and physical resource to deploy. And if we also wish to keep social cohesion going, to keep whatever people power we do have, we have to accept a certain level of downside, individually, to allow those expected collective rights as much sway as possible.

One of the posts I did a while back was on an argument that sought toexplain the advisability of allowing folks to do at least some wrong, as opposed to an ever increasing police authority allowing less of same. The thrust of this was that a great deal of needed social change would not have taken place had people not been able to contemplate breaking what they thought was an unjust law. And I have to say that it was a persuasive argument. That's one example of balancing rights.

Onother posts I have wondered at our propensity to accept death in oneregard, say in auto accidents, or disease, for that matter, because we enjoy the freedom of virtually unfettered movement, or "fun" lifestyle choices. We have some laws in place addressing harmful choices here, but not really all that many.

I mention these now because there simply aren't any easy answers here. There are trade offs a plenty, but absolutely no simple nostrums to have anything of substance for change. All "simple" offers is, perhaps, momentary distraction from hard choices.

For my part, I loath what we have allowed the government to do in the name of anti terrorism. I refuse to fly commercially any more precisely because of what I see as a cowardly submission to fear. All of that invasive searching before boarding is an admission that they can influence how we will live our lives. And lets be clear; searching that has a quite checkered history of catching hostiles in the process of acting. It is also questionable how effective very invasive scrutiny of our private lives has been in catching hostiles in process. This is not to say that reasonable police vigilance shouldn't be practiced, only to say that there can be a thing called "too much."

We are all going to die. Somehow as a nation we need to come to better terms with this simple fact. Just as we need to come to terms with the idea that a well lived life is hardly ever "safe." And because we haven't come to very good terms with either of these facts we have left ourselves vulnerable to being manipulated by actors at home and abroad. Back before we lost touch with what "frontier" really meant we used to under stand death, and how relative "safe" was. We took great relish, and passion, then pushing up against every boundary we came up against, accepting the hardship as well as the gains.

Why Are Apple and the FBI Battling Over an iPhone?by MATTHEW DELUCA

Will We Make Every Consequence of Our Actions Illegal?

How has come to be that we would fall to not only so little compassion for the  plight of others, but that we would also use laws to try to make the outcomes of our mistakes go away? Will we also pass a law to make those who remind us, via criticism, of same, illegal? Will any information that reminds us of same be made illegal as well?

This is not to say, of course, that all immigrants are necessarily so because of our mistakes; but do we really want to be setting up more bureaucracy to try and sift through that morass? It is certainly a complicated world, and a great deal happens because of the stupid, and/or destructive, choices of other national groups, but to try to sit in judgement of where our responsibility ends, and that of others begins, when people are suffering at our door step, is immorality of more than just a significant degree.

The real problem here, as it is with so many issues we face, is that our thinking, and imagination, is crippled by the blinders of "what will cost, and who is going to pay for it." Blinders that make it so easy for those individuals, who have become so adept at avoiding paying for much of anything that doesn't benefit them at great net gain, to convince the rest of us that, not only is this suffering not our problem, but that those who would have the gall to sit outside our doors to remind us of their need, are no more than shiftless freeloaders, wanting nothing more than unlimited access to our wallets.

The Icon of Scrooge was created for a reason you know. One wonders how long it will be before even that bit of culture will be made illegal as well.

We are connected to each other as a species whether we like it or not, just as the rest of life on this planet is interconnected. The very real energy of that web of interconnections, and all of the vital processes that flow from it, so many of which we still don't fully understand, is fucked with at our peril. At our peril at so many levels of not only the practical sorts of consideration, but of the equally important sorts of spirit, and soul and our ability to love in the first place. Ignore that and it won't be long before love will be seen as a completely impractical endeavor on a cost benefit analysis, if it already hasn't. And make no mistake. Ignoring love at our scale of existance will affect the elemental embrace at every other scale.

Ted Cruz: I Would Send Agents to 'Look For People' in U.S. Illegally

Monday, February 22, 2016

Social Media as New Compeition Clearing House for Popularity as Commodity

And if that doesn't scare you haven't bothered to read any articles like the one linked to here. Elevating popularity as a new form of commodity is bad enough, but then being surprised that our children might then whole heartedly embrace "sex sells" to achieve market success? Seriously?

In the electrified world of the commercial info sphere, everywhere is market, and everything is commodity. This is but just one more aspect of how electrified Capitalism is making us insane.

Please read Ms Sales article, and if you can, her book as well.

American Girls. How Social Media is Disrupting the Lives of Teenagers -- By Nancy Jo Sales

An Unintended Bit of Philosophical Commentary?

You just have to love a story header like this. The play on words for a thoughtful double entendre.

And who better to rail against the light. Whether it be the light of reason, The light that might surround a questioning, curious soul? The type of soul who would balance reason and the mind, with compassion and emotional understanding?

The question this sort of consideration might then beg of the rest of us would be: Why aren't we railing against the lack of light?

With No Bush as Foil, Trump Rails Against the Light

It Must Be Nice to Already Know Everything

Unless, of course, what you know revolves mainly around the one cue card they give you. The same one everytime, in fact, which simply states "Vote the Ideology that Put You Here." That being the case, why would a question be needed in the first place.

I know, maybe he's just the quiet type who just likes listen. Which would be quite OK in most other situations. Here, however, putting a question out there allows a littigant to at least indirectly challenge the general thrust, or assumptions, motivating that question. And more importantly, it gives the rest of us ordinary citizen types at least some reason to believe he might actually be weighing matters of substance behind the cases he gets to preside over. Just a thought.

Read About It Here

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trumping Absurdity is Absurdity's Trump Card

And you are a card carrying member when you buy into the bullshit machine in the first place.

The headline in this article says it all, but in this case it is the ignorance of commentators in general that is being spoken of.

Trump is beating off on his own transcendence of propriety having anything at all to do with some "objective" notion of a qualification for our leadership role. The process itself, at least for the last thirty or so years, has never been meant for anything other than entertaining distraction. If you think actual "leadership" ability has meant anything more than "toss them an occasional bone" every once and a while then you weren't paying any attention at all to three fourths of the last Bush administration, and two thirds of all of the Obama administration.

Sure, Obama at least had nominal leadership ability, and there were, at least, a few times when he actually tried to use it (as in the Affordable Care Act), but the remaining net affect? A lot of bankers never went to jail. Working Americans were still left holding the bag of shit called the "financial bailout;" Immigrants at home, and at our borders, are treated shamefully. Perpetual war has become even more enshrined, and, as a final kiss good by, we are on the verge of Cold War 2.0, as well as brand new nuclear arms race. I am just soo feeling the leadership.

From the point of view of big Money, however, things are going just fine. Even if the village idiot gets elected president, the people he appoints to get the real work done will be well steeped in what concerns them; who else is in the revolving door circuit for him to choose from in any case? And it's not like he won't feel any incentive in the matter. There will be deals to be made after this gig and, whether you are a shark or not, pissing in the same water they swim in isn't going to be very helpful.

The really funny part here is that, bleak as all of this may seem, I still have faith in the idea that we will eventually wake up. We will finally realize that the things that have come to occupy us serve us very poorly. We will then see that how we provide for ourselves, and how we manage that provision is ours to determine. That the knowledge humanity has collected to this point belongs to everyone. Using that knowledge, and our own will to do it equitably, will give us the power to set things up in any way we can come to agree on. All we need to do to start is to stop doing things the old way, and then begin negotiating what the new way will be. A lot of arguments, a lot of difficulty, and no shortage of sacrifice will be required between now, and the end of that process, but however bad it may be it will still be better than the path we are on now.

Start thinking about it. Be sceptical of everything (even web sods like me) as you start making an effort to be better informed than you are now. And most of all, turn off the fucking television set.

If Donald Trump Can't Stop Donald Trump, Who Can?

See Also:


Watch Hillary Clinton Literally Bark Like A Dog In Her Last Speech

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pushing Forward Just as We Would if the Roles were Reversed

The most amazing thing one has to confront when one reads stories like this is the implied assumption underneath it all. Why would they need to do that if not for purely military advantage? And why would they want that if they weren't seeking to overpower us in a conflict? After all, so this thinking goes, they have nothing to fear from us. We're not aggressive.

We like to think that we are not aggressive, and in more than a few areas perhaps we are not. When it comes to markets, and resource access, however, you can bet your ass we can be as aggressive as "Big Money" needs us to be. And lets be clear here: there is a new land grab competition coming upon us, fueled by the need for critical resources, that any nation who ignores it does so at its peril. That is, of course, unless what few adults who remain in the room realize that it is time to address that problem, and with at least as much priority as we address staying ready to confront others militarily, that keeps us in a worn out response mode.

One aspect of this land grab competition that may not be readily apparent yet, beyond the pumping of sand in various places to create new facts on newly created ground, is that space in our immediate solar system will be where most of that new ground will be found. And in that competition, as things stand now, as Spain and Portugal were in the very first go around, you will find yourself in a new world of hurt.

The biggest aspect of that hurt, however, will be if humanity continues with the old ways of handling such competition. And in this is it essential to come up with new ways to replace "first come first serve, with collaborative cooperation in both getting, and sharing. And the bottom line there is that space exploration should not be seen only as an opportunity for new real estate to conquer, but as a completely new mind space to use our ability to think, and feel, our way out of the usual cause and effect of conflict. There is just so much more out there to find than mere material gain. The first step is to earn the maturity it will take to fully grasp what that potential can entail.

China's Racing to Space. Is It a Military Ploy?

Drug Side Effects and the Politics of Social Pain Post Addendum

Talk about your unintended side affects. And I don't mean just the overdosing, as serious addiction sure seems to me to fit the bill.

This sort of thing begs the question in my mind about that ridiculous list of cautionary disclaimers that the drug ad fast talkers fire off. Are we soon to get things like: "your dick may fall off. You may cough up a lung;  Your luggies may contain significant clots of brain tissue. You may shit major portions of the lower bowel, and if you notice the tendency to either blow your brains out with a gun, or waste as many people as it takes to purchase your next dose, please let your doctor know ASAP. Be sure he will have another drug to prescribe that will address those symptoms as well. After all, isnt't that what you call modern living through chemistry.

Anxiety Drug Overdoses Have Quadrupled Over Last Two Decades, Study Finds

Just by Using the Wind at Sea, and a Little Imagination

One of the nice things about an integrated solution to one problem is that it can often provide a great deal of leverage for solutions to other problems. Let me describe a possible case in point.

I have been advocating a Tornado Wind Turbine approach to produce Liquid Hydrogen at sea since the mid 1980's. Initially it was to be a part of a comprehensive plan to aid our space program (as liquid hydrogen makes a pretty good rocket fuel). I tried to do several state initiatives back then that would petition Congress to create a national lottery that would offer rides in the Space Shuttle as a prize. Neither went very far of course, but the energy idea stuck with me. In fact, as a part of a get signatures set-up at the University District Street Fair, in Seattle, the idea was forever changed by a conversation I had with someone there.

This person looked at the models I always took with me (the wind turbine on a wedding cake scaffolding, and the dirigible, blimp hybrid, which you see pictures of on my posts here), and stood by through several conversations I had with various fair goers, before he finally spoke. And all he said was (paraphrasing): "Why would you ever want to give such a wasteful economy such an immense potential energy source?" A response that left me more than a bit taken aback.

Over the years that followed, as I fell, quite reluctantly, into doing custom PC work and software development, that question would stay with me. Not only because I;ve always had this feeling that a society based mostly on money, and the selling of everything, was wrong in so many ways, but that I wasn't really looking at the big picture of how so many problems we face are interconnected, and require more broadly focused solutions. And in this energy had to be intimately involved in a much more comprehensive program for change.

And so it wasn't enough that a person might create a clean burning fuel, that individual also had to have that fuel be a part of a complete rethink on how we conducted our affairs as a people. Rethink all of the aspecs of what we do that makes us more than just wasteful, but outright destructive to the place where we eat, sleep, and try to be thoughtful, loving people to our families, our neighbors, and the rest of the world.

When you look at the news story I've included with this post you have to temper your compassion for the immediate suffering with some pointed questions. Sure, we've responded in the past with food aid, and a great deal of guilty hand wringing, but no real solutions to either the cause of extreme weather events that our emissions haven't helped at all, or to the underlying poverty that has always plagued these people. That's because to really address all of these things is to also address all of the other things we do that make up the notion of "Business as Usual." And in this not only has the commercialized world sucked up most of the resources they might have that would be valuable, it has made it damn near impossible for them to even begin to think of growing the food they need to feed themselves.

But here's a thought. Suppose you had an approach to energy production that built into it the need for a new commodity crop; as in hemp. Suppose further that the energy of this approach created only water as a byproduct of being used. If you also had a new kind of organizational model for how you got things done, you could deliver this fuel to these people, as well as set up the means for them to use it, without having to worry about who was going to pay for it. And in doing that you could engage them in the process of creating more of the support platforms that would create more of the Tornado Turbines that would also create more liquid hydrogen.

It doesn't stop there, however. Since you are already creating a new energy industry at sea, with what will hopefully be an effort effective approach to floating support platforms, why not also use them to create the floating cities that might prove useful in supporting that new industry. Cities that might also become pretty handy in addressing where we're going to relocate the coming hoards of displaced by rising sea levels, or unusable land for a host of other reasons.

This isn't rocket science. This is simply looking at problem solving with the bigger picture in mind, and having an organizational model that makes applying all of the imagination that we are capable of in play. Picture it in your mind and then see that it is possible. If you can do that then your neighbors can too. And if enough of us, and our neighbors, can then work with that shared vision, there is truly nothing we cannot accomplish. Something you can take to the bank of the human heart, confident of a great deal of interest.

El Nino-Linked Drought Is Ethiopia's Worst in 50 Years

Friday, February 19, 2016

How do You Balance Cooperation in the Near Term, With Cooperation in the Long Term When You Consider it in the Context of any Competition for Natural Resources?

One of the biggest threats to national security every nation on the planet faces now is this: How are we, as a species, going to figure out an equitable plan of allocation for what will always be limited through any given time frame?

I say always limited because, at the very least, your ability to do throughput, no matter how much of a thing might be out there to be had, is going to be restrained by a number of interconnected factors, which, from start to finish, of course, involves not only immediate logistical considerations, but a lot of other factors as well. As in how much knowledge you have to apply in getting the thing in the first place. How much people power you can apply to all aspects of that getting. The physical constraints necessitated in observing what getting that thing does to other important things; both in terms of their ongoing availability, as well as to the sustainability issues of a host of other necessary processes, to name but a few

The whole point of holistic thinking now revolves around essentially the same kind of integrated thinking in ones approach to a good number of endeavors. It has become a great deal more critical now that we not only see quite directly what happens around us if this approach isn't used, but also because our ability to reach the low hanging fruit of essential natural resources is coming up against the growing probability of the end of the relatively easy stuff. And so tensions grow, as you would expect, in such situations, but that is only the beginning. Things are made far worse because of our reliance throughout history on first come first serve; the essence of which is simply: you stake the first claim, you own it. Which then also necessitates the force of arms to keep it because, as a species, we have hardly ever played fair in that competition, any more than we've played very fairly in other economic competitions.

This is where the interplay of money, greed and power comes into the equation, because all of these factors are dependant, in one form or another, on the resource base your system of discovery, and exploitation, sits on; And that, in turn, thrives or fails in direct proportion to reliable access to same.

That we are now also on the brink of stepping up to a much larger, though far more challenging, field of operations, might be the source of optimism as far as resources go, and certainly there is ample potential for such optimism, but it is by no means a certainty. This is so precisely because, as things stand now, we are likely to take this same "first come, first serve" mentality with us, and with it all of the same kinds of ugly competition that we've already seen throughout history.

Capitalism by no means started "first come first serve", but it has taken it up with a fervor, and ferocity, all its own. I think of Capitalism more in terms of its being a cost based form of economic organization, as opposed to an effort base model, because it turned all aspects of civil life into the segmented aspects of specialized labor, abstracted production, and the ultimate abstraction of money as a universal translator; the means to turn one person's singular set of repetitions in the factory into another person's. From, perhaps, our civil war on, however, it has not mattered what form of government you opted for, whether it be democracy, monarchy, theocracy or outright dictatorship; any more than what term you used to describe your economic model, be it free market, socialism, or East European Communism, you were still using a cost based form of organization. The only difference was in how you set up the management, and ownership of production, even as you also relied on the specialization of labor, and a currency of one sort or another, to facilitate exchange of each speciality's output.

In any case, though, the further competition that Capitalism engenders, on the output side of production to sell that output, only serves to amplify the supply side competition, while at the same time creating a whole new arena (markets) where we are  again ready to fight and die for. What we are left with then is this inevitable conclusion: Even if Capitalism had not been made obsolete by the new technology of electrified information retrieval (thus making human labor as a commodity an absurdity), we would still need to rid ourselves of it. This is so because humanity can no longer survive with so much competition at both the front, and back, ends of the production of necessities. We simply cannot form lasting forms of cooperation if such competitions are allowed to continue. And just to be clear, even though getting rid of it won't eliminate resource competition, it will go a very long way to make that competition manageable.

This is why we need to start thinking about a framework of cooperation without the hinderance of a cost based form of economy; either in terms of its unnecessary amplification of competition, or its modes of thought that constrict one's imagination of what can be done assuming that there is a will to do it at all. If you start considering things in terms of how do we organize ourselves so that we can apply all of what we know to do what we have the will to do, rather than limit our thinking to who's going to pay for the various aspects of all of that, there really isn't anything we can't do.

The first step, however, is to recognize that short term cooperation now will require sharing a great deal of effort; most of which must be centered to getting beyond the restrictions of a crowded planet. This means setting up not only universally accessible orbital capabilities, but near earth production facilities as well, so that every nation has the capability to take their rightful place in our journey to the stars. To do that will require, at the very least, unified action for a unified approach to energy on the planet (which I have always thought could be filled by sea based production of liquid hydrogen via Tornado Turbines). That in itself would relieve a temendous amount of competitive pressure, but we can't stop there.

We must also start thinking about how we will arrange an equitable approach to space exploration beyond the planet. After all, not all nations are ready yet to begin that journey. Some of them might not even want to, but that should not preclude their getting their share of the benefits; especially if they participate in the short term cooperation that will get us started. And in that must we see a kind of key stone.

There is so much hatred and mistrust swirling about this planet now one wonders how we don't all choke outright from it; not being able to breath either spiritually, or in any practical sense. We've got to form a new starting point that will enable us to lay the key stone to further cooperation. And in that I'm not talking about some idealized, utopian vision of brotherhood. I'm talking about a cooperation that accepts the fact that there will always be fundamental aspects to how we see things differently. Fundamental aspects where core beliefs will be at odds for many centuries to come, if not thousands of centuries.

No, what I am talking about is a way to put up with, and tolerate, each other long enough so that we all have the opportunity to go our separate ways into the stars, and in that vastness, live as we see fit within our own conceptions of what is right and wrong. And we can do that if, after first succeeding in the near term cooperation, we can set up a way to guarantee perpetual fair shares of our galaxy, starting from the Sol system. Perhaps something like creating degrees of arc, both horizontally, and vertically, from the sun, from which each cone then projected creates an equal reach of space to launch out from. Then using a lottery to allocate them. It certainly wouldn't be perfect, and there would just as certainly be disputes, but at least it gives us a common ground to start sharing from. Something for which those engaging in the initial cooperation could hold on to to make the risk worth taking.

Everybody's going to need to have a say in this, of course, and its going to take a lot of discussions, and even more arguing, to fill in the details, but at least its a place to start. A place to start where sacrifice will be demanded those who have most of the power now in direct proportion to that power, but where those with a lot less power are going to have start trusting at some point as well; a sacrifice in its own right.

Let us also be clear on the need to reiterate what we are talking about: whether we, as a species, will survive or not. In the end it will not matter at all whether the West is the Great Satin or not, Or whether those in the Middle east are all Terrorists or not. A dead planet will not care one way or the other. It will simply wait until life can come up with another experiment in Sentience that will earn the right to take the next real steps of maturity; leaving the sacred garden of origination and going forth to see what the entirety is really all about.

Ned Beatty's NETWORK speech-by Paddy Chayefsky

This next link is for some balance, and perspective, to the wonderful monologue delivered above by Ned Beatty. When I hear this song, however, I like to replace the words  "I, my, mine " with "We. our, ours."

I also like to remember that it was the Trek universe where we really popularized the notion of a society that grew out of the need for money.

Star Trek: Enterprise theme song

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The History of Failed States, the History of Oil, and the Status Quo that was Broken with the Downfall of Saddam Hussein

Failed states had already been on my mind when I listened to Richard Engel talk about his new book ("And then All Hell Broke Lose. Two Decades in the Middle East) with Bill Maher on Real Time. last week. There were really two parts of his appearance on that week's installment of the show, the initial interview, and then a brief minute or two during the "Overtime" segment, that had some interesting comments come out.

I should preface this, however, with a couple of interesting observations that Mr. Maher had already been repeating (memory escapes me when either started originally) concerning first, how the rest of the Middle East seems incapable of forming armies of opposition to extremist groups; especially as it concerns opposition with anything even near equal prowess, and second, that maybe we would have been a good deal better off in leaving Saddam in power. The foundation of the latter point, of course, stemming from the obvious stupidity that supposedly justified the war in the first place, not to mention the waste in lives on both sides, as well as the "you break it you own it" nostrum that still has us stuck in the region. I mention the second, with a reminder of the "you break it you own it" nostrum because, as Mr. Maher suggests it, its not just the bad justification for the war that would have made keeping hands off a good idea, but the "better the devil you know," and whatever stability he keeps an iron grip on, than the multitude of devils you don't know, and hardly any stability at all.

Mr Engle's points were that 1: Yes there was a form of stability which we broke, but it was still a festering stability, and 2: It is the instability of failed states that breeds extremist organizations like ISIS.

When you sit down and think about all of this, as well as the history of the region since the end of World War 1, it seems to me that you have to start being a good deal more careful in how you use the word "stability;" especially when what you really mean is "relative stability;"  where, even though things may still be functioning, more or less, and can certainly appear more appealing, compared to outright chaos, it is still a tremendous human, cultural/economic, fault line upon which pressure grows; which I realize gets us into mixed metaphors, but maybe that is indicative of the real problem. Maybe we haven't been using the right metaphors in the first place.

A hundred years its been since the end of WW 1. And all through that what has been the common threads of the ever changing "relative stability?" Great power meddling because of the need of a resource they can't do without (rinse and repeat for Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, etc). And when you look at that from the standpoint that these people were still intimately connected to the culture of the Ottoman Empire when WW 1 started, having not only their borders rewritten, but how they mixed with all of the other religions and cultures that have been part of that region since the beginning of culture and religion, you begin to see just how fractious the fault lines would have to become, and how an ever reoccurring cycle of build up and horrible release would then become inevitable.

Why can't they create armies of opposition to the extremists? Why would they even think of the alternative after 100 years of big powers doing all of the decision making, as well as the policing, to fit their interests? Why wouldn't so many of them have grown accustomed to letting such powers pay the price in lives and national treasure, while they could be amongst the elites enjoying whatever was left of "business as usual?" Wouldn't you?

What is especially damning, however, even after 100 years of of repeating the same mistakes, is that we are still dependant on that resource, and we still struggle to create new versions of "relative stability" that we ought to know won't last, and even if they did the immorality within them, as the pressures rebuilt, would serve mostly to make us ever colder and uncaring of the actual human suffering inherent in that repressurization. Ever more willing to settle for whatever devil, and the semi functional hell he rules with, rather than accept responsibility for our industrial addiction in the first place.

The real question ought to be "How do we go through addiction withdrawal, even as we physically withdraw, and still mediate the gradual reduction of power vacuums? Reductions that give all of the major factions a chance to restart actual sovereignty and self rule? Knowing that it will be bloody awful and contentious. Knowing as well that putting it off as we have been doing will only make the final release to equilibrium that much worse

Iraq profile - timeline

Just so We're Clear on the Possible Inaccuracies of Remote Control War

I have mentioned before in several posts how remote control war exacerbates the creation of new enemies precisely because imprecision increases collateral damage of a sort other than bombs with too much boom (beyond the nominal target). This piece from ArsTechicaUK reiterates that point with how one program in particular had problems; even though its point of existence was to make sifting through mountains of data simply a machine learning problem. Maybe the problem here is not that machines can't learn, but that we refuse to.

Guilt by assumed association is always going to be inherently inaccurate when you don't have actual human assets on the ground, and in the loop of those associations, to make the final call on whether its full fledge collaboration, of just calling because you know the person. And make no mistake. our list of enemies is growing rapidly enough via obvious mistakes in observing what is going on around us, let alone in what is inherently opaque.

The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people

And Rightfully So

The fact of the matter here is that we have "Willful Ignorance" of the highest order at work. This is so because so much of why this Hell exists at all can be laid at the feet of what has been done in our name as a part of national policy. And what we ignore here is what ought to be "Failed State" 101.

What creates "Failed States?" Other than imported, as well as indigenous, greed, or religious extremism? Instability is the usual buzz word associated with here, but what creates that?

A pretty good place to start is the upheaval generated when we find it necessary to intercede into the affairs of our neighbors. We fear that collectivist social policies, the desirability for which was brought on be previous decades of resource rape, and economic colonialism, might become too popular so we work to thwart any government that attempts it. We fear our own drug dependencies, and rather than treat the problem at the source as a disease needing medical intervention, we declare war on it at home, and abroad. You mix these two and not only do you create various cash crops of enormous potential, you also inflame the greed and corruption that goes along with a history of subversion, buying temporary loyalties, and the flow of arms that must be sustained to support any war in the first place. If that is not a recipe for instability its a damned good imitation of one.

That the immigrants this engenders are the collateral damage of our own making, and for which we fall to building walls to keep out (out of sight out of mind as it were), is damning enough on moral grounds alone, but that we continue to ignore what this suffering adds to work against our own best interests in regards to creating more enemies, is just insane, and most probably criminally so.

When I think on this all I can say to myself is "Shame on us. Shame on us for making them immigrants in the first place, and more shame for trying to turn a blind eye to their immediate needs now. It is unconscionable pure and simple. We are better than this if we truly aspire to the ideals I always thought we stood for.

At Mexico-U.S. Border, Pope Slams Hell Faced by Migrants

This Needed to be Done

The bottom line here is that armed response to supposed grievances is not only criminally stupid, it plays into the hands of whatever power elite you might think is the problem here.

The stupid part is that greedy men with guns wanting more land to make more money with, and whose primary issue seems to be that the Federal Government has no right to own land in the first place, make civil disobedience look like some kind of horrifying act of vigilantism when they move to seize it; and even more so when it is mostly out of a sense of injustice that those who could be making money off it should be allowed to. And by the way, that they should also be able to say fuck taxes of any kind as well.

Lets forget, for the moment, that it was the Federal Government, via outright purchases from other countries quite a ways back, that gave us legal claim to vast stretches of land in the first place. Or that it was Federal troops who took it out right from native Americans via force of arms (depending on your point of view). No, lets just focus on the idea that stewardship of the land has to be guided by criteria other than the commercial gain of a few. There is greater social value in that for so many obvious reasons (water shed protection, soil erosion protection, natural habitat protection, and wild fire prevention, to just name a few), that its a wonder we don't have a law against criminal stupidity in the avoidance of common sense. That other groups with a lot of money can often times skirt the common sense part, and bend Federal Stewardship to their own ends, is another matter entirely, and one that these idiots weren't trying to address at all.

As to the "playing into the hands," part mentioned in the first paragraph, it is also what ought to be common sense, but in this case in the context of what anyone with a legitimate grievance in regards of social justice needs to keep in mind when working for change. If you resort to armed violence you only serve to make it easy for those responsible for the injustice to label you not only just "outlaw," but the far more damning label of "terrorist," and with that amply deserving of whatever harsh counter measures the powerful can muster. Which is, of course, no more than to say what Martin Luther King learned early on from Gandhi; non violent civil disobedience, where you are prepared to take responsibility for breaking a law, until the injustice is rectified, gains you the moral high ground from which the powerful can seldom fight indefinitely from.

I make this post now because anyone who, like myself, is passionate about the need for change, needs to restate this unequivocally, and repeatedly. Don't let your justified passion turn to unjustified violence. We have quite enough of that already in the world and it doesn't help at all.

Cliven Bundy, Sons, Two Other Occupiers Indicted in 2014 Nevada Standoff

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

HBO's Vice Reporting on The Cold War 2.0

I recommend that you all give this episode a view. It is important. Not only because another round of cold war brinksmanship isn't any more advisable now than it was 30+ years ago, what we claim we are going to the brink for, or in defense of, has gotten a good deal more complex.

Let us start out, however, by being clear on one thing right away. Most, if not all, of those states that made up the so called Warsaw Pact have no desire to go back to the harsh collectivism at the point of a gun that the Soviets of the time occupied them with. No one in their right mind would want to go back to that. One wonders, however, if they are really all that clear on what our brand of commercialized democracy might leave them with. Everything has a downside after all.

Sure, the one thing that they've been denied for so long, the real material improvement that the west has enjoyed for decades, has obvious appeal. It would to anyone who had gone through the kinds of deprivation, as well as bureaucratic corruption, and repression that Soviet occupation left in its wake. In that context, even if you knew you weren't going to get an idealized Democracy, having to settle with a commercialized one, real material gain is still real material gain.

We must ask ourselves, however, now that someone like Donald Trump might become president; knowing that our brand of the governance by the rule of law has questionable application precisely because of the corruptive power of money; and knowing as well that it is also our cost based form of economy that makes addressing all of the pressing ecological issues for the planet as a whole so difficult; knowing all of this are we even sure what we're pushing back on the Russians for? Freedom is a good word if used in the right context, but are we certain of whose interests are making the most pressing demands for freedom of action in Eastern Europe? Certain enough to risk putting the bullet we dodged in Cold War version 1.0 back into the cylinder, giving the cylinder a good spin and then daring either side to blink or pull the trigger?

It certainly doesn't help that Putin is doing a pretty good imitation of the Soviet Strong Men of old. Many of the old repressive methods have been reinstated and, though they like to call themselves a Democracy, nobody would mistake it for even a bad version of our commercialized Democracy. The fact is, however, a lot of things might be going on there, of which "Putin is a power strutting idiot" might only be one. They are a proud people after all and the fall of the old Soviet Union didn't do that much good. Having the baltic states wanting to embrace Nato so openly cannot have been much aid for that either. And now they are also having their economy embarrassed as well. The thing we need to remember is that gloating over these facts while Nato grows stronger, and closer to their actual borders, is an easy formula for making bad leaders, desperately bad leaders, and a population that might not ordinarily support them, desperately thankful for a strong man. And lest you think we can ignore that at our ease just remember this: Germany was treated much differently after World War Two precisely because of the lessons learned of the harsh treatment dealt out at the treaty of Versailles, ending the first World War.

The bottom line here, it seems to me, is that, in asking these questions honestly, we ought to be able to come up with compromises that leave enough wiggle room for everybody to not only save face, but to be guaranteed enough freedom, as well as increased material well being, to make everybody at least a whole lot less desperate, no matter what you call the organizational methodologies that actually get set up. And after all, shouldn't that be the whole point in the first place? Along with the free flow of information so that nobody gets left out in the cold at all any more?

Cold War 2.0 (VICE on HBO: Season 3, Episode 14)