Saturday, April 30, 2016

Even Roads Can be Printed Now

The brick feeding head hasn't been optimized yet (all those hands still lining bricks up), but that won't last long. Count on it.


This Road-Printing Machine Is One Of The Coolest Things We've Ever Watched

We can only imagine that in the future, all houses, cars and highways will be printed like this.

And Yet Our Major Priorities Still Seem to be...

...Selling more, consuming more, bigger profits, waging war more effectively and being entertained.

And in the midst of all of this our major social institutions are becoming more infantile, insane, absurd, marginalized, and/or desperate.

Even as the unemployment rate goes down (at least in this country) and more people are back on the treadmill to nowhere (consuming to keep distracted from the pointlessness of being on it in the first place only so that you can consume at all), but having to run faster to stay on it (not having a living wage and all for more and more of us), we have presidents fretting over their inability to properly message improvement nobody feels in their hearts, or souls. And still we move lemming like towards various possible precipices.

Aren't you glad you can still binge watch whatever? I mean, seriously... Who wants to actually consider doing anything about it. That would mean giving up our cold comfort for real change, and actually becoming responsible for our own future. That sort of thing requires some real sacrifice and hardship. Even cold comfort is better than that... That is, of course, until it all finally goes off one of those precipices.

Human Extinction Isn't That Unlikely

“A typical person is more than five times as likely to die in an extinction event as in a car crash,” says a new report.

And Bill Maher Thinks Voting Our Conscience is to Blame

A thin skinned super ego gets made fun of at a annual media/political event and now we have the prospect of this same guy becoming president.

It really makes you wonder which is worse: That this guy was so offended he went into big time, rich guy revenge mode, or that big time, rich guy revenge mode could actually work to allow someone to become a major party's candidate. Neither one is very flattering to him, or us.

One things for sure though. Voting according to how you view the merits of each candidate, and not as some effort to correct the supposed mistakes of others, is not, and will never be, why an idiot gets elected.

That Time When Barack Obama and Seth Meyers Roasted Donald Trump


Friday, April 29, 2016

Representational Government and the Disconnect of Mediated Message

Politico, and Michael Grunwald have put together an interesting review of the failure of communication by the Obama administration. In it one sees the now familiar aspects of how the process of letting the people know what is going on, as well as the how and why, is so saturated in the vocabulary of theatrics: staging, dialogue, and performance; but its not simply the theatrics of staging the portrayal of a dramatic story, it is the commercialized theatrics of product packaging, branding and the establishment of a perceived good automatically associated with that brand, with the "good" of course being problematic as far as the consumer is concerned.

But therein lies the problem with representational government now that communications are not only instant, but so completely wrapped up with selling one thing or another. In this environment the needs of the governed are but a small part of what information flow is about these days. And in no aspect of government is the resulting insanity made more prominent than in what has become of the notion of a "President."

You have here an office that started out as being manifestly difficult, and virtually impossible, given that one person would be put in the position of not only leading a diverse amalgam of interests, but of being responsible for the initiation of at least the guiding themes of the measures that would be put before the legislative branch; itself a fun house of interests clashing precisely because so much of it is at cross purposes. And what has made that infinitely worse, of course, is that it is the very nature of competitive, commercial enterprise, that makes so much of it a zero sum game.

How could it not be when market share, competitive edge, and resource access are so dependent on what the law says you are allowed to get away with. And if one competitor, or another industry group, gets its way, your interests in the way things should be often get stepped on. In that context how could you not be involved in what those who govern go about their business.

Then, of course, behind it all, is the power of money. That amazing abstraction of translation that allows the instant marshaling of need into effect, as long as you have sufficient accumulations with which to apply to your sense of need. Even when it doesn't intend to such a system almost automatically ensures that corruption, in one form or another, and to one degree or another, will occur.

In the old days this sort of worked because information itself, and the means to move it about, where not nearly so commoditized in, and of themselves. Pamphlets, the town gazette, and books were the order of the day, as well as well informed individuals who could speak clearly, and knowledgeably. In that context rhetoric and debate were appreciated on a completely different level than what passes for it today.

Now, however, information itself is gold and not to be bandied about carelessly. Not only that, though, because the very channels of information flow themselves are jealously coveted precisely because having eyeballs and minds connected to the maximum degree possible is essential for getting your information commodity out better than the other guy; and that, in turn, is mandated because it is the primary means by which you get the best net return for what you dispense with. And let us be clear here. At the end of the day that is the holly of hollies; that net return. And everything put into what is dispensed with is there only for that purpose.

So now we have virtually all aspects of the governing class ruled not only by the underlying dictates of money, but by the entire new mentality of carefully crafted information creation and release because the whole point now is the sell; selling to the get the eyeballs and brains connected in the first place, and selling for the brand and the manufactured need that goes with it. As such it necessarily revolves around entertaining distraction of one form or another because that has always been a good seller. And whether that revolves around sex, or perceived blasphemy, or betrayal, or whatever other human weakness that can be exploited hardly matters at all. The only thing that mattes is that the audience is made to buy into it and acquiesces to your needs for a net gain.

Lovely isn't it. Entertaining. Involving in the same way that empty calories are so tasty. That it only provides us with what we actually need, as the governed, from time to time, as either a bone tossed out to quell certain grumblings they can't completely gloss over, or purely out of chance, doesn't change the fact that there are certain interests that are getting exactly what they paid for. And because of that it is not likely to change.

This Politco article ought to make us all very angry, but a good portion of that anger needs to be directed at ourselves. After all, the politicians, the media people, and the business money behind it all, are only doing what the system has evolved them to do to survive. And we have stood by, numbed, distracted, and entertained, to let it happen. Only we can force it to change, but we have to understand that it must be change that starts at the very beginning of redefining what we need to govern ourselves, and the fundamentally different operating model that would be required to provide those needs.

The model we have now is simply not suited for what our technology has done to the world around us. It was created on the assumptions of technology that is hundreds of years old now. We've patched and upgraded so much in the decades that have past since its creation that any more efforts along those lines only makes things worse. It is long past time to start over.

Illustration by Peter Strain

The Selling of Obama

The inside story of how a great communicator lost the narrative.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

AI and the Free Flow of Information

It is refreshing to see that at least some of the core people now involved in AI research understand the importance of the free flow of information.

What I am talking about is the announcement of OpenAI, the new research institution that will work to develop AI tools without copyright concerns. It's a great idea, especially if they can come up with some good standards that will allow AI across the board to interact as efficiently as possible.

One can only hope that this growing insight into the importance of information systems developed outside the ordinary bounds of money and profit will coalesce into the realization that the system that supports a moneyed economy is itself not only counter productive to human endeavor and development, but is also destructive to nearly everything that humanity ought to stand for.


Inside OpenAI, Elon Musk’s Wild Plan to Set Artificial Intelligence Free

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

No Comment Needed Here

The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

Drugs and Money

Vox has put forth a very good overview article on the main options for decriminalizing drugs and I think all Americans need to read this.

If ever there were a more obviously disastrous social policy, save, say, slavery, or child labor, it would be difficult to find it. Tens of thousands incarcerated without much to show for it except a lot more hardened criminals as users. Tens of thousands still overdosing. And tens of thousands more dying at the hands of drug lords in countries that are in virtual states of war trying to regain the rule of law. It is, if nothing else, a testament to willful ignorance by those who wear the blinders of authoritarian moralism; so steeped in extreme religious and work ethic over simplification that one can only shake their head in disbelief.

The one aspect of this, however, that even the decriminalization advocates seem loath to even consider here is the very fact of how easy our current economic model makes anything, more than a few people might desire, a commodity. And in making it a commodity, with the fungibility of money, can it then be so easily provided. And the more difficult to produce and distribute the better for it only adds to the premium that can demanded from the user.

What is also interesting here are the contradictions that become all to glaringly apparent; contradictions inherent in the whole idea of profit, and caveat emptor, in the first place

Just consider what really differentiates the vast sums made from drugs, as opposed to, say selling defective products you know are defective, or various substances industry is hooked on that poison either as a part of extracting and refining it, and/or in its actual usage. So many of the same people who condemn the human weakness towards addiction hardly ever seem to question the money being made on industrial addictions, or the damage they cause.

Let us also not forget that it is money that makes the corruption required for these various addictions to flourish so easily possible as well. Power and money. Money and power. Corruption, in one guise or another, almost always seems to flow from their interaction. And at the end of they day, what addiction could be more a part of societies, since the dawn of their beginning, than money and power.

Protesters in front of the White House call for an end to the war on drugs.

America can end its war on drugs. Here's how.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Block Chain: Revolutionary As a Distributed, Self Sustaining, Transaction System...

...Is still simply another aspect of the greater revolution of electrified information storage, and retrieval.

What actually makes it note worthy, other than it's independently maintained security, is the fact that it further illustrates that information, and our ability to interact with it, is what creates and maintains value; a situation for which any further reliance on a commercial commodity form of social organization is not only quite unnecessary, but actually quite destructively counter productive.

How can this be otherwise when that very commercial/commodity form of organization exists solely to not only restrict the flow of information, but to allow a few to accumulate vast stores of it via net gain, doling it out only benefits them.

And rather than celebrate the idea that this form of information transaction will protect the movement of information as money, we ought to be looking deeper. We ought to be seeing this as just one more indication that the economic operating system that got us here has now been surpassed by its own ingenuity.

Just as event driven programming surpassed command line approaches, and then object based abstraction replaced repeatedly coded approaches to similar outcomes; as well to as how pure Dos was replaced by Windows and desk top visualizations, and further advances in chips, boards, and their architectures required completely new ways to create and organize interactive objects in an operating system, so to must this very old economic operating system change. Only in this case it will take a great deal more than simply adding a few upgrades, and/or fixes.

It is now time to start over. To go back and reanalyze what the requirements are, and then to see what might be the best way to meet those requirements. Anything less is either denial, and/or willful ignorance.

Header essay census  515298898 master

 In proof we trust

Blockchain technology will revolutionise far more than money: it will change your life. Here’s how it actually works

by Dominic Frisby

Cooperative, Self Propelled 3D Printer Bots...

...Able to work together to create whatever complex, ultimate hard copy output you might desire.

And this is just the start of what such interactive, additive material creation systems will be able to do.

This is what human skill as a commodity faces as it continues with the ridiculous notion that it can compete for its livelihood. And that ridiculous notion is what is suppose to allow Capitalism to remain viable?

Are any of you paying attention at all here? It sure doesn't seem like it.

The spider-like prototype robots have been named SiSpis, which simply stands for Siemens Spiders

Siemens previews additive manufacturing on the move with 3D-printing spider bots

Monday, April 25, 2016

If the Koch Brothers Aren't That Worried About the Democrat...

...Then what does that tell you about how much difference it makes, as far as "Big Money" goes, and what's really important to it, whether the so called "Liberal" wins or not?

And I realize that a lot of you really cynical machination theorists out there will claim that this is probably just clever disinformation as reverse psychology, but the probabilities either way are still open to serious doubt. Perhaps it just comes down to which cynicism feels more attractive.

I, for one, don't think those two guys would risk serious money on a "reverse psychology" gamble, but that's just me.

Either way, the fact remains that there is considerable probability that the Democratic party is indeed just "Republican Lite." And that most, if not all, of their claims to work for the common wage earner is just campaign packaging.

That would be bad enough, but the really sad thing here is that even if Mr. Sanders were to win the White House, how is a Socialist, who only Caucasus with the Democrats, going to get much of anything passed? And keep in mind here that the right still has all of that money, and plenty of outlet channels, to keep up its packaged narrative that what's good for the rich is good for everybody. When you can indeed sell refrigerators to folks left out in the cold, just how much faith can you have in an informed electorate at all, much less one that will vote for its best interests.

Charles Koch: 'Possible' That Clinton Would Be Better President Than GOP Rivals

If You Have Become Prone to Rashes...

...It usually means there is an irritant you are not paying sufficient attention to. That we now have our weather clergy using these kinds of euphemisms is an even worse sign.

It ought to raise alarm bells just as the euphemisms the economic clergy use should. And you see this in the article linked to here. Just as the economists start talking in terms of "dislocations," and "readjustment pain," the article here refers to "large hail, thunderstorms, and twisters" as a "bumpy week ahead."

So. Just remember that, if your car gets pounded by baseball sized hail, or you lose power for who knows how long in thunderstorms, or your entire neighborhood, or town gets ripped apart by a tornado, you are only having a bumpy week. And hopefully, any economic effects will be only minor dislocations, and/or brief periods of readjustment pain.

Rash of Severe Weather Promises Thunderstorms, Large Hail, Twisters

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Worth and Work

A Roman writer wrote a very long time ago: "Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it."

These days this truism has been bent a little: "Everything is worth what you can get away with forcing a purchaser to pay for it." Which is, of course, why market control, or dominance, is so prized. Free market competition is supposed to be the natural curb to this control and in some instances it does actually work. Sometimes competition can work far too well in fact; as in a world gone so mad with price competition, without any control on profits, or review of investment efficacies (as in abstracted paper instruments that sell only collected promises to pay in other contexts), that all aspects of costs, except as already mentioned, must be ruthlessly diminished. And as wages are one of those costs the search for where to get the lowest gets ever more desperate. The same can also be said for the costs of social and environmental equity.

We are then left with fewer and fewer people who can afford to buy anything, as well as a host of problems nobody seems able, or willing, to pay for.

Getting back to the valuation of things, however, is inevitably to ask how the aspect of need enters the equation. After all, you can't have much hope of forcing anybody to do anything unless you have first established a firm perception of need. And in this do we see the fundamental aspect of power; starting with the point of a spear, or the edge of a blade, and what these can deprive you of, and evolving to gun barrels or munitions from the air.

Having workers left over to work, let alone stability enough to lessen investor uncertainties, however, requires more subtle means of establishing need. And so now we have media, the control of public narrative, as well as the hard sell. And we have marketers, not to mention propagandists, who will stop at nothing in the use of all of your fears, and/or any other base instincts, to sell you on the current reality of convenience. With that kind of power "needs" become as fungible as money itself.

I am always reminded of these things with I read articles like the one linked below; articles that try to delve into the deficiencies of a market economy without ever coming to question its core viability in the first place. In these it is always only a matter of the right set of reforms that will save the day; not understanding that to reform it enough to do away with all of what makes it so undesirable would inevitably make it unworkable; especially if you were trying to do it without also transforming all other market economies at the same time.


Why Garbagemen Should Earn More Than Bankers

How more people are making money without contributing anything of value

Dear Mr. Sanders:

Perhaps their lack of faith in the vote is because, in the long run, and for the most part, they have reason to believe that, no matter who is in the White House, "...The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer..."

Which is no more than to say business as usual. And therein lies the real problem.

The bottom line of business has nothing to do with social equity and it never will.

Bernie Sanders: 'Poor People Don't Vote...That's Just a Fact'

More Delayed Costs

Old electronics, and especially old Cathode Ray tube televisions, are finally going to demand that the bill for what to do with them, post obsolescence, is now coming due. And as this article makes clear, its expensive. How could it not be when you're talking about poisons like lead, cadmium, beryllium, and mercury.

None of this is actually new, of course. We've know about the problem for a while now. What is interesting here, however, illustrates another example of why market economies can be so prone to not being able to handle such impending disasters.

Initially there was great hope placed in the idea that, because these elements were also commodity metals, their recycle would provide cost effective ways to put them back into production streams so as to pay for keeping them out of the environment. Forgetting for the moment that this is actually no more than punting a problem down the road time wise (while not confronting their continued use in the first place), you still have the problem of what the markets say they are worth, time frame to time frame. And markets being markets, this will always be quite problematic.

And so now they aren't worth nearly enough to offset the difficulty involved to deal with them safely. "Oops... Sorry about that... Guess we didn't see that one coming... Don't think we're going to take this out our profits though. Either tax yourselves to do it right, or go back to burying it in land fills your children, or their children, will have to pay for, one way or another."

Just so we're clear here this is no small problem:

"...There are millions of old CRT televisions tucked away in basements and spare bedrooms across America. In 2015, Americans had around 5 billion pounds worth of CRT TVs in their homes, according to a survey from the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC), a pro-recycling nonprofit organization..."

That's a lot of lead filled glass no one has much need for now. Which makes it not a problem of how we can resell it, but more a problem of how they will sell us on footing the bill, or just ignoring it all as a part of "business as usual."

Old TVs Create Toxic Problem for Recycling Programs Across America

See also:
New Study Predicts an Extra Week of Bad Ozone Every Year

Warmer Planet to Bring More Bad Ozone, Says Study

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Working America Needs to Understand

The strike going on now at Verizon is something that anybody steeped in labor history can appreciate. Big, profitable company continuing to marginalize skill groups not only because they can, but because it makes their bottom line look even better to investors, even as their price structure continues to stay more or less competitive. And that is the only set of criteria that really matters to big business and big money. Whether the working stiffs still required to provide a service, or hard copy product, have a viable living wage or not is simply quite beside the point.

And the really sad thing here is this: even if these folks could gain the temporary group clout necessary to force an industry sector, or individual company, to bargain with them as equals, it could not be allowed to continue for very long; especially if that inserted a cost factor that any other competitor in the world did not have to deal with. In that context the company, or sector, in question would either eliminate the requirement for that human skill, or cease to exist. That is simply the cold hard fact of capital, and the irreducible relationship that owners of capital have over those who simply try to survive by selling a skill.

The hard truth here is that workers trying to organize by industry, to have a seat at the table where who gets what is decided, is simply not going to work anymore; precisely because it is currently being done within the narrow context of preserving the system that gives capital its supremacy in the first place. Until we all face the fact that it is that system, and not simply one industry group, or another, that is the real problem, we will always be standing on ground that can be cut out from under us.

The fact of the matter is this: We must organize as all working people, and we must do this not to fight for living wages any more, but to take this fundamentally flawed economic operating system away from them, and put a new one in place. Until we start doing that working people will continue to lose ground in having any clout at all in how who pays and who benefits gets decided.

Verizon Strike A Fight For Future of Labor

Image: Verizon strike U.S. East Coast states

Monday, April 18, 2016

$607 million to 2,300 super PACs...

,,,And 41% of that comes from just 50 people. And that is just for the 2016 campaign cycle.

This is according to the Washington Post article linked to here.

That this is a ridiculously obscene number goes without question. The real question, however, is whether it is reasonable to expect that money can ever be kept out of politics simply by passing a law; assuming of course that even that hurdle could be accommodated.

That we've gotten to the point where spending as one deems appropriate has been made equivalent to free speech would seem to argue for pessimism on this point, however dubious one views this association (a view which I certainly share). And the pessimism would be well founded if an amendment to the constitution would have to be submitted, and passed, in order to make curbing such "speech" possible.

I can't help but look beyond that immediate impediment, however, and ask the more fundamental question about how money, and government, are now in so much of a symbiotic relationship. In that context, even if an amendment to the constitution weren't required, and ordinary federal legislation could be drafted to put real curbs on campaign spending, would that eliminate the influence of "Big Money?"

It certainly might slow it down for a while but I have to wonder, ultimately, if it would just force those who must have such influence, in some way, to simply be more creative in finding another way to insure their access to it. Certainly the history of how legislation of various sorts, enacted to curb abuses of the powerful, is rife with instances of it being subverted at every turn in its creation, implementation, and regulation; the idea being that, if you can't stop the law work to make either its language vague, and/or its enforcement problematic, and we all know there are many ways to do that. Just consider how long anti monopoly legislation has been in place and then look at how much concentration of market share has occurred in spite of that. Whatever the rules were meant to be at the start, they can be reinterpreted by the enforcement bodies, and the funding for same can be whittled away at over time so that the regulator is all but impotent. All of which is a time honored tradition in Washington.

And even if the usual suspects in corrupting a law weren't successful you still have to wonder at how possible it would be for "Big Money" to just roll over and go quietly into that good night. In an ever hyper competitive world where every cost can be a make or break, not to mention a world where ever increasing "uncertainty" makes having an accumulated cushion of wealth mandatory, do you really think they'd just take it on the chin? Might they even consider disinvestment in total, however slowly; taking their money elsewhere? They certainly haven't had any compunctions about doing that on the state level, and we've already seen how where you base your company, or companies, at can allow the avoidance of earnings taxation.

The fact of the matter is this: Not only the government in a symbiotic relationship here with "Big Money," working America is too, and in that do they wield a pretty big stick when they want to. And I doubt that a "Nuclear" option, as far as disinvestment goes in total, would be all that desirable, or palatable, to them, but if really pushed to the wall? If they were really made to be socially responsible across the board of issues that ultimately end up costing them money, and/or power? You really think they wouldn't do whatever they felt was necessary?

The bottom line here is that real change will never happen to any degree of effective certainty until we change the game itself. Only then can we take that stick away from them. And make no mistake. That change will require a great deal of effort, and sacrifice to effect, but never forget. We have a pretty big stick as well. No matter how much money and power they have it means nothing if we make up our minds to not play their game any more. After all, how much can any currency be worth if the majority of us simply refuse to abide by currencies at all?

Think about it. And I mean all of it. Think about what playing along with the game of currencies has cost us all. Is it really worth it to continue?

The new Gilded Age: Close to half of all super-PAC money comes from 50 donors

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Money Finds a Way

Here's another recommended read for everyone. has a piece on the history of lobbying that is quite interesting. It comes as a part of the book "Corruption In America" by Zephyr Teachout.

Lobbying, it turns out, was originally viewed as a great evil by governments across the board in this country, and was pointedly supported as such by the courts of the time. The idea back then was that selling your access to provide influence for someone else went way beyond any claim you might have to petition congress to redress issues of concern (as the constitution protects); especially when the mode of persuasion had more to do with exchanges of money and gifts to persuade, as opposed to factual documentation of supposed grievances. It was only later, as lobbying became a more contractual arrangement, and the courts started giving greater weight to such contracts (under the auspices of Tort law one supposes), that the tide began to turn.

What is interesting in this from my perspective, however, is that this initial view of access to lawmakers was in stark contrast to the fact that outright bribery still occurred fairly often. So what we are talking about here, it seems to me, is how influence became institutionalized as an accepted adjunct to governance; and in that I think do we see how influence itself was commoditized, and made legitimately marketable. This, in turn, made it ever so much more inevitable that the ultimate goal of holding office in the first place would be decreasingly about public service, and increasingly about getting your street creds in place so as to be able to market your own ability to lobby; where, of course, the serious money now lies (all puns intended).

In this fashion there is a lot less need to bribe outright. The feather bedding, in this context, is seen more as a part of a "Long Con," if you will. You play nice with the important players trying to influence you now so that later on you can cash in when you take your own job at one of the K street firms. All very neat, tidy and efficient.

In any case, though, do read the article, and miss Zephyr's book, if you get the chance. It is always helpful to know how things came to be the way they are.

When Lobbying was Illegal

Apr 15, 2016 · 17,782 views

See Also:

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Essence of Extreme Weather

I have said this before, but it bears repeating.

More heat into a system that has a great many ways to work convection with, but which radiates less each year to space, means that those internal mechanisms that transfer hot to cold, as well as cold to hot, have a great deal more energy with which to make those transfers with.

This means that greater amounts of water get evaporated and then condensed. Greater amounts of air flow from one place to another, which also, of course, affect pressure differentials. Greater amounts of seawater flow from one place to another. And all sorts of surface materials (rock, snow, dirt, buildings, vegetation, etc.) absorb, reflect, and/or re-radiate this back to the air or water. And especially with absorption or reflection, where, say, ice has to absorb more, and then has less to reflect back, seasonal cycle after cycle, do you get more absorption based heating, and with that more evaporation, as well as convectional flow in our oceans.

This is a big part of why storms of various kinds get not only bigger, but a combination of that and more oddly spread about, in time and space; which is also why so much can happen now out of the previous ordinary of what was "seasonal." Vast flows with the jet stream, and major ocean currents, face more changeable factors that can get things either pushed around faster, or even stuck temporarily in one place or another more often .

This, then, is why you get a kind of paradox of prediction. We can certainly know that more of "bigger" is coming, but where exactly, and how much bigger each time, not so much. And in this the one thing you can bet on is a great deal more uncertainty about where catastrophe will strike next; or even where it may not for a while. And in a sense, just that uncertainty alone will be an ever increasing stress factor to our social/economic system because there will be so much more difficulty in trying to plan and prepare for it, or to figure cost factors in various risk benefit scenarios. Which is no more than to say: "you think government budgeting, or commercial markets, are crazy volatile now? Just wait. New records will be made there as well as in how severe storms are.

Record Rains Could Hit Plains as Storm Stalls Over Region

Friday, April 15, 2016

Greed Pure and Simple

When you read this article about how drug prices keep rising you are struck by one simple fact: Brazen, shameless greed is alive and well in the United States; obviously because the drug industry doesn't have to take any of its own prescription medicines.

The taking over of older drugs. The price hikes on them, as well as for newer ones. The fact that we're spending over $300 billion a year on these drugs alone, within the medical care sector, and that this is likely to continue well beyond anything to do with ordinary inflation.

It is not only unconscionable, it is a prescription for the selfish to make socially viable health care impossible; especially as we continue to destroy a healthy middle class by other economic acts of self interest taken to the extremes of this kind; which is, of course, exactly why we can start referring to this sort of behavior as greed being a "Weapon of Mass Destruction."

And as long as you have an economic operating system that is not only based on such unlimited self interest, but actively encourages it, you will never be able to reform your way out of this kind of corruption; self perpetuating as it is with greed, and the obscene sums it can generate, always able to eventually buy its way out of any restraints.

In this context you either recognize that the operating system itself is fundamentally flawed, or you buy into, to one degree or another, the inevitability of a few being able to take advantage of the many.

Americans Spent More on Drugs Last Year: Report


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Keep the Poke You Hide the Pig in...

...Interesting enough who cares about the pig at all. That this has been an aspect of commercialized endeavor since the huckster was born ought to go without saying. It is certainly of the reasons why I have always maintained that the hard sell is immoral.

But now that we live in the age of reality spinning, as attested to in the move "Wag the Dog," we can see what a boon the immensely clever hard sell can be to politics and propaganda. And the fact that this sort of thing is being adopted with a vengeance by hard line authoritarians, like Putin in Russia, but also like Fox News here, we can see just how perverse, and ultimately corruptive to civic discourse, is the notion that "truth" is irrelevant to establishing your own desired narrative to any situation.

I have been reminded of this sad situation by the linked article here from Defense One: "How Russia Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare" by Peter Pomerantsev. This is a very good read and I do recommend it, even though it is thoroughly depressing; especially so when the question of the rise of right wing parties are concerned. As the article states:

“Is there more interest in conspiracy theories because far-right parties are growing, or are far-right parties growing because more conspiracy thinking is being pumped into the information space?” asks Gleb Pavlovsky, a little wickedly.

The bottom line here, of course, is that, with everybody pumping out their own, wonderfully entertaining narratives, and the more the better, however mutually contradictory they are, how are we to keep from numbing out to all of it. How are we to keep from eventually envying the willful ignorance of those whose choices are already making a bunch of stressed systems a great deal worse.

Pro-Russian fighters in Donetsk sit in a vehicle with a heavy machine gun attached, on September 7, 2014.

How Russia Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare

Putin's Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality. By Peter Pomerantsev

Their Crisis Plans are in Crisis

The five biggest banks, along with a couple of other pretty big ones, are currently without adequate crisis recovery plans according to the government. That's something like $5.6+ trillions in assets that don't have the means to fail gracefully.

Even as the government has given the banks more time to get their act together you still have to wonder; is even that bar of recovery capability really high enough for this much assumed value? And lets not forget what I've already been beating the drum about for some time now: Stress events are going to be coming in far more interacting ways than they ever have before. That's just the way it is with highly interactive systems that are already going through event occurrence streams that challenge their carrying capacities for this sort of thing.

And the bottom line problem here is the same as it always has been: Who's to pay for truly sufficient preparatory plans, let alone the cleanup when the feces finally hits the fan again big time. How much do you want to bet that, to have really adequate, its raining shit, insurance, the banks would have to cut their current profit margins by at least a third, if not more. And if a supposedly "Showing Leadership for the People" president like Obama can't hold their feet to the heat of actual responsibility here, who's going to? Clinton? Trump? Do I even need to ask in the first place?

If you still don't think greed should be seen as a "Weapon of Mass Destruction," just wait. You will be a believer soon enough.

Regulators: 5 Big Banks Get Failing Grades for Crisis Plans

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Surprise, Surprise...

...Yet another stress event on the horizon. This one, however, has leverage potential, in the way things are interconnected, way beyond any one bad new bug that comes along.

This is a reboot of bad for a host of bugs we've been comfortably, for the most part, ignoring for the last few decades. If you add this to another Zika like virus, or some other new germ, you have a perfect biological storm of multi layered, apocalyptic proportions.

Coming back from any singular pandemic is tough enough, but you compound that by multiple organisms you can't respond to? That's fighting flu's, hemorrhagic's, and ordinary plagues all at the same time. Do you seriously think our cost based mode of operating is going to be able to hand this? Either in preparing for it, or in responding to a full fledged incident of it?

Maybe If He Had Bothered To Learn...

...How the RNC delegate system works in caucus states, and the maneuvering that is possible there, if you have your shit together on the ground in those states, he might have been able to cut Cruz off at the knees.

But what we're really talking about here is Trump's ability to manage staff and marshal said resources into an effective task machine, and for that all you need realize is that he had his ass handed to him by the likes of Ted Cruz. I'd be crying too I suppose, but not because the big boys didn't give me what I wanted. No, this is an embarrassment writ large. This is getting sucker punched by a panty waist geek anybody worth their political salt should have seen coming from a mile away.

When you read the article, though, you end up asking yourself this question: What's worse, a whiner in the face of adversity, or a trickster complaining about the other guy's tricks out smarting him, and his own statement there makes this plain:

"The Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to kind of crap to happen. The rules are no good when they don't count your vote ... like in Colorado," he said on Tuesday at a rally in Rome, New York. "The rules are no good when you have to play dirty tricks to pick up delegates."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nearly Ten Years After the Fact...

...The Goldman Sachs firm is finally penalized for an act of greed that still tends to take one's breath away. Almost ten year for which they were able to profit from their ill gotten gains, and worse still, paying only a small part of the overall damage they caused over the years after "The Great Recession."

And this is supposed to be an example of the "Leadership" which marked the Obama administration? Nobody at that bank went to jail. They pay a modest percentage of the damage they caused and we are still to believe that this president demonstrated great leadership.

I, for one, fail to see how that could possibly be the case.

Goldman Sachs, U.S. Reach $5B Settlement Over Risky Mortgages

Yet Another Stress Event...

...That our various social and economic systems need to cope with. And, as if the Zika Virus wasn't scary enough already, doctors are now finding so many more things it is capable of adversely affecting.

Perhaps even more frightening than that, however, is the fact that the full impact of what this bug born bit of gene coding can do is only now being discovered, months after the virus itself became common knowledge; a fact that shouldn't surprise us at all. After all, just how much of a priority is proactive search and identify efforts between our CDC, and the World Health Organization.

One does need to be clear here, though. The fact is that these groups would probably like nothing more than to be more proactive in this regard but can't because they are already tasked with far more than they are adequately funded for; hence, as the article linked here indicates, the CDC coming forth to ask for an additional $1.9 billion in emergency aid to fight the thing. And one can only hope this will be enough to finally get the "barn door shut," in a manner of speaking.

What this illustrates quite clearly is that, as more of these events occur, we aren't ready for them and so have to act in catch up mode; a situation for which, thankfully, we've been fairly lucky with. But with so many other systems already being stressed to further degrees, especially in regards to the environment, we can only expect to have this sort of thing keep on occurring, and perhaps at an accelerating rate.

They'll no doubt find the money now to act on this as the CDC has requested, but what will the future hold out for on that regard? Will Congress ever get around to passing an environmental stress tax on those producers and consumers who's activities created, and now exacerbate the situation; providing an automatic allocation system to be ready for these emergencies? And even if they do summon that political will to act, will they then remain disciplined in restraining from dipping into it every time there's budgetary deficit?

If history is any indication at all we are left to conclude that the probabilities in this regard are not very encouraging at all.

Zika Virus Is Scary and We Need Money to Fight It, Officials Say


See Also:

Texas, Oklahoma Brace for More Hail; Tornado Hits Arkansas

The Only People Really Being Cheated Here...

...Are the rubes who fall for this idiot's ability to spin fabrication after fabrication out of his mouth with such shameful disregard for anything even remotely related to the truth. And the sad fact is you end up feeling more disappointed by them than for that pompous fool; even with all his antics to pull them into his egotistical fantasy world. We all know the old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice..."

It really does get to the point where, with so many people making choices from a position of willful ignorance, you feel like they should get exactly what they deserve: the reality that will come from this man making all the systems around us now, that are already in quite enough stress, worse. They are adults after all, and whether they realize that they are acting like children playing with matches, or not, is irrelevant. Perhaps it is even time to see this for what it may really be: allowing a catalyst for the rot already in place to take reactive action; letting everyone see, once and for all what we've always been heading for. Maybe this is the only thing that will finally penetrate the willful ignorance and denial.

At the end of the day you certainly want to hope that this is not the case. The way the probabilities are beginning to stack up, however, you can only wonder at what will finally happen.

Men Brawl at N.Y. Trump Rally as Candidate Complains of 'Crooked' Nominating Process

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