Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Entertainment As Distraction And Why Being Entertained Came To Rule Us

The juxtaposition of the two items you see below came from a direct screenshot of Digg this morning. I did not really appreciate the extra dimension of this positioning until I read the article from David Rothkopf concerning his take on our mad Trump obsession (do read it, by the way, it is an enlightening viewpoint).

I have to say that I have a visceral connection to the other piece on the early TV show "Queen For A Day." My mother loved that show precisely because it was both entertaining, and a personal fantasy. To understand that you have to understand that, though the old man could have worked a pretty good paying job as the airframe and engine mechanic he actually had the training for, he could never stay with them (that's another long story I won't get into here). For some unexplainable reason, what he seemed to really like doing was selling things. And the things he liked to sell were used aircraft parts; something you certainly can make money at, if you have the capital at the get go to do it properly. He just as certainly didn't, and as a result money, or the lack of it, was almost always an issue at our house. Not a good thing when your mother was also totally captured by every glowing image of American materialism (you can begin to get a sense now as to why money isn't exactly one of my favorite things).

Getting back to the point here, though, what you have in these two articles is a sort of point to point arc of how we started cycling the "information can't be delivered unless it's paid for somehow" merry go round. A merry go round that goes way beyond the adverts in newspapers.

Radio started it, of course, but Television really put the peddle to the metal when it came to figuring out how to get brains engaged with what was preordained by post war, economic prowess; consume as humans have never collectively consumed before. And go ahead and feel good about it because it just keeps making better paying jobs available, so we can do even more of the buying. What a happily reinforcing circle of betterment.

What, among many things, we didn't realize at the time was the fact that not only were there unseen costs of the production, and consumption, especially downstream of it; costs we not only call pollution now, as well as political upheaval because the resources, and profits, weren't always a fair deal for a lot of countries, but also of what we were setting up as the only way to conduct national dialogue on things of importance. To get people to watch, or listen, at all, you had to have something to attract them with in the first place. And so programming, and ratings were born, and content became a secondary consideration (the nature of print changed too with the advent of the glossy magazines, and the photo ads that would have Marshall McLuhan climbing the creative walls with much broader metaphors as to what was going on here; which is why everyone should read "The Mechanical Bride"). 

So here we are now. On the one hand considering the idea of "poverty porn," and not realizing how hooked on chaos porn we are now, of which our de facto ex president is but a symptom; which itself is simply an offshoot of apocalyptic porn (see my recent post on the growing list of porn types). Questioning our fixation of the ultimate narcissist, our de facto ex president, and all of the things we are not paying attention to that any reasonable nation would if it were sane. But that, unfortunately, is the real, growing problem. We are not sane in ever greater proportions. Why should we be, or how can we be anything else when we now live the age of "The Absurdity Of Growing Up," as opposed to still thinking about the possibility of "Growing up Absurd."

This is what happens when you are every more completely saturated with message; message the primary purpose of being to directly stimulate whatever base instinct is the most cost effective. Sex certainly, but how much kinkier, or naughty, can that be made (do we even want to tempt fate to find out)? So you start mixing them together more, as in fear and sex: bringing "am I fuckable?" to whole new height of social concern. Or how about fear and prestige: am I displaying my importance properly? The right power clothes? The right power vehicles? Etc. 

I think you get the idea. 

So now everybody, including the ideologues, and the propagandists, know the value of entertaining BS. And with properly coordinated, entertaining BS, you can get people, who are made ever more infantile, to do pretty much anything you want, sort of; where what you want is actually more of a lucky form of collateral damage. And that is so because trying to control large numbers of ever more infantile, and insane, people is an undertaking that makes herding cats look trivial. Something our current state of national affairs demonstrates all too clearly.

If we truly value sanity. If we truly value not be kept as childlike in our minds, then we have to accept that having a society where everything is based on the commercial commoditization of everything, so that virtually all interactions are cost based in the abstract sense of counters, and the supposed value of those counters. In all of this if we truly value being whole, completed human beings, we have to accept the need for fundamental change on how we operate. And we must begin soon, if for no other reason than the fact of the lead times involved in getting set up to do it are so great, while our ability to work together is being so quickly undermined at the same time.

Think about these things. Become better informed. Ask deeper questions. Take peaceful action.

The Soul-Sucking, Attention-Eating Black Hole of the Trump Presidency

This 1950s game show profited from the poverty of a new woman every day

They were ‘Queen for a Day.’ NBC was king of the decade.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Forget About The Family Behind This Monstrosity Of A Building

Just focus on the money, and the system that has made money, so destructively prominent in our lives.

It is simply time to start considering another way to go about things. Plain and simple really.

We can figure out a better way to allocate work, and the product of work, fairly. We can do this if we resolve to be directly involved at all levels of the planning, the implementation, and the operation. We just have to acknowledge the need, and then accept the difficulty, and sacrifice, to get it done.

If you don't it won't matter if you do something about one family in power now. There will always be more families, or individuals, who will do whatever it takes to put the same kind of power into their hands. And as long as you have a money oriented form of economic operations, you will be much more vulnerable to the abuses of power these kinds of people will always gravitate to.

The choice is yours. And if ever there was a moment ripe for taking hold of fundamental change, this is it. There likely won't be another.

666 Fifth Avenue Is the Perfect Symbol for the Trump Era

See Also:


Kushner to helm White House Office of American Innovation, an ideas factory and clearinghouse for business executives.

How Do You Repay People For Forty Eight Years...

...Of sickness and lies?

One thing is clear. You don't do it by getting rid of the agency that finally uncovered the truth, even if it did take way longer than it should have to prove.

Another thing is also clear hear. When profit is your primary motivator you tend to love localities in direct proportion to their powerlessness. And even if you have to spend capital to control local government it is an investment for the long term operating environment you desire the most.

Government may be pretty shity in doing right by us most of the time, but it is still better than nothing. And if we are unhappy with how often that "shity" happens may be it's time to take full responsible for ourselves. Take out all of the extraneous factors (which usually revolve around money) and just run things for our own benefit.

It can be done. All it takes is the will to make it happen, and a willingness to compromise in order to forge a consensus shared vision. No easy thing to do at all, but compared to suffering through more decades of sickness and lies?

Think  about these things. Become better informed. Ask deeper questions. Take peaceful action.

For decades, people living next to the neoprene plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, have felt they suffered more than their share of illnesses. And sure enough, they had.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Thing About Not Getting The Important Things You Need...

...In a Commercialized Society is that it automatically creates a market where someone can dream up what they think will be an irresistible substitute. And with money being an amazing stimulator for creativity, unfortunately, you can also assume that many of these will quite certainly be at, or at least near, irresistibility.

Lots of clever effects blended into reality in real time are, I think everyone will agree, likely to be irresistible indeed. As to actually giving you what you need? To be honest, quite possible as well, at least occasionally.

As I've often said, experience is experience, so no one experience matrix is going to be either better than, or worse than, another; just different. The key thing to remember, however, is that, having said that still doesn't change the fact that each matrix may well have something that the other does not have. And by that I mean some aspect. Some component. Something that channels affect the other does not channel, or channels quite differently. From this one can have at least some confidence in concluding that utilizing one matrix, at the exclusion of the other, may prevent one from getting a channel effect one might not have even realized was important, until of course it is taken away.

And that is only the first part of what makes this complicated.

With people doing this as a matter of commoditization you are, in effect, allowing the profit motive to determine who has a major control over not only what you try to connect to, or with, in your life, but also to how you do the connecting. And the more high fidelity it gets, the more deeply into your very nervous system you are going to have to let them make direct link to.

You think you worry about cookies being left on your hard drive now? About malicious code getting into system boot files, so it resides is system ram at bootup? What about what might be left on the wet drive in the future?

So not only could we be entering a new realm of hacking (the image gets quite a bit more vivid when considered as an aspect of your own wetware, doesn't it), but we could also be entering a realm where we space out so much in one experience matrix (which might have only imaginary space in it), that we stop getting an important resonant vibe, of one form or another, for still being human.

Consider this. Let us suppose that we have an interface fused into us somehow that allows experience in a completely artificial, digitized, reality. Let us then consider a similar set of interactions that one might have in Artificio Land, as opposed to not being there. Say giving someone a hug. Having a dog or cat you love in your lap as you pet them. Touching the face of someone you love. Etc.

Even if they could figure out electrically stimulated equivalents to the right synaptic bundles to re stimulate the sensory effect any physical world situation might present us with, no engineered instrumentality is perfect. Some aspect of all of the information of actual physical experience will be left out. That's just the way it is. And because we're talking about complex systems all the way around here, you have to keep in mind that "small inputs can have very large effects."

This is where you are almost forced to resort to cliche terms of fantasy and fiction to keep talking about something that may well be there, but we just don't understand the particulars of yet. So yes, even when Obi Wan tells a certain young Jedi "Luke, use the force," something of substance may lay behind it. After all, we all understand now that magic, and "sufficiently advanced technology" can be used interchangeably, at least some of the time.

Life force of some sort? Something still tantalizingly beyond reach to actual measure perhaps, but still there nonetheless? Something that, just by being around, and in it (as well as of it), let alone holding it tenderly, or caressing it in some way, might impart a basic carrier wave inherent in the reality (which is just a particular vector of experience association)? Something that we might not be able to completely detach ourselves from, but for which a minimum of connection to is vital; and perhaps not only the actual connection itself, but our acknowledgement of that connection, and creative expression of appreciation for same, being just as vital.

I also don't like things like this being commercialize because it makes it too easy for the quick buck, biggest profit pirates among us to take short cuts, or cut corners in general. Which is a big reason why they use all of our base instincts now to sell us stuff. Lust. Envy. Gluttony. Rage. Fear. Does any of that sound familiar? You think the results are a bit more than problematic now? Just wait till they get the new playground of a greater and greater, direct link, to our minds.

Oh happy days.

Please think about these things carefully. This may well be where we're going. Do we really want to continue down that path, with the same amount of control we have on what goes on around us now? I personally don't think so. What do you think?

This 'Black Mirror'-Like Short Dreams Up A World Where Augmented Reality Pets Are Commonplace

Saturday, March 25, 2017

One Legacy Commodity Made So Complex...

...Over time that it's still undecided whether scheming was going on or not in the distribution of net gain. But if something can be hidden in terms of milking others out of their fair share, according to Murphy's Law the scheming will occur eventually. And this was supposed to be a cooperative.

This ought to be cause to ask yourself: Where else would a word like "cooperative" be turned into an oxymoron other than in Capitalism. And how could it be otherwise when the desire to try and provide protections from one group gouging another, in whatever market power play you might want to prevent exploitation of, ends up collecting a huge detritus of accumulated rules, even as the markets themselves have morphed many times over since the first of them were introduced.

And, of course, the markets are only morphing faster now.

In all of this, unfortunately, is the fact that, at every turn, do you encounter the reality that every group involved is simply protecting what is their livelihoods. And if part of that is the result of a little extra milking going on, would you have resisted the temptation to get a little extra cushion if you could? In these uncertain times?

Maybe you would have, at least for a while. Until somebody else's scheming, somewhere else in the economy costs you big time. And in that context wouldn't you be a fool not to take an advantage if it was presented?

Just some more things to think about as you ponder you life in this polly glot of crazy we call an economy.

America’s Farmers Say There’s a Conspiracy to Steal Their Milk Money

Because Knowledge Is A Commodity...

...Because Teaching is A Commodity. Because nearly every social interaction we're involved in is a commercial exchange of some kind; an exchange where the bottom line is always net gain.

And of course that's the seller's net gain, not the purchaser's. And even borrowing the information (money) to allow you to learn now, and provide the recompense for that gain over time, is a variable commodity. Which means, depending on overall economic circumstances, you could end up accumulating interest at increasing rates over time. So you can't even know for sure, at the outset, how much, in total, that learning will eventually cost you.

Which ought to really piss you off when you also realize that, thanks to the competitive need to continually "disrupt" the current way of doing things, you will likely have a limited window of opportunity with which to make use of that knowledge before the industry involved either moves to a cheaper labor country, or simply buys the right new robot; whereupon you will be required to retool again knowledge wise. Rinse and repeat the above description.

Oh happy days.

And through all of this, who are the one group of people who are always the most likely to benefit? The people who keep convincing you that information should stay as money, and it's only natural that folks like them have huge accumulations of it.

These are the essential facts of a cost based economic operating system. Nothing will truly change until we have defined, and implemented a replacement. I've outline a place to start talking about an alternative. Perhaps you might want to give it, and the idea of moving to an alternative, some thought.


As many as 95 percent of colleges are out of reach for low-income students even before they've taken the SAT.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another No Shit Sherlock Moment


The very act of doing worse than their parents’ generation is what's killing middle-aged white Americans without a college degree.

If Platform Companies Are So Great...

...Why don't we just create our own, singular platform and call it an alternative to Capitalism. Eliminate the money and the middle man.

Platform Companies Are Becoming More Powerful — but What Exactly Do They Want?

On Money

You Would Think That The Mere Fact Of a Job...

...Would not preclude one from weighing both its benefits, and its problems. This is not the case, of course, when leaders across the political spectrum tout jobs as an end in themselves justification wise; with any further consideration of trade off's not discussed much. But that's what happens we we allow ourselves to be sucked into a negative pressure environment where we're made so desperate to have any job at all, we don't want to make too many waves.

When you see an article like the one linked below from Digg about a big bunch of down side resulting from a new employment source it's so depressing. Depressing not only because of the human suffering involved, but also because you know that this side of things will never get the up front publicity that just having a new job source creates.

The most important thing to remember here, however, is that this is our fault. It is our fault because we allow it to continue. We have allowed the negative pressure environment where jobs are structurally set up now to go where the wages are the most cost effective. And, unfortunately, it's not just the wages themselves that get put into the cost effective equation. No, they also add things like the regulatory environment. The tax environment. And anything else that might make it possible for us to have a fighting chance to keep a job being more of a benefit than life crushing problem. Or of life in general to be more beneficial, and not so generally filled with life crushing problems.

So. Something else for you to think about. Something else for you to draw your own conclusions on. Hopefully, at some point, you will take peaceful action.

Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs
Crushed hands, acid burns, severe burns — the South’s manufacturing renaissance comes with a heavy price.

Another Capitalist Example Of People Working At Contradictory Purposes

Having a situation where great difficulty is structurally perpetuated in a system, when it doesn't have to be is repeated so often in Capitalist society that it's very ubiquitousness makes it almost impossible to see sometimes. And the thing is, it's quite understandable, from a human nature point of view.

What we're talking about here is where we continue to do things in a certain way not because it is beneficial to us necessarily, or, in fact, if it is actually beneficial at all, but because the of the fact that it represents the livelihoods of a significant group of others. Most usually others involved in a lucrative industry. And because it is a lucrative industry the folks whose capital is wrapped up in it can afford to engage in the process, both with government persuasion, and with what is most charitably described as obfuscation towards the rest of us, to keep things as they are.

The example here is with the tax prep industry, but it applies across the board with the rest of Capitalism. This is a big reason why not polluting is still a big problem. This is a big reason why Healthcare is still a big problem. This is a reason why setting national priorities is a very big problem.

You combine this with the fact that the rest of us, as wage slaves, are facing the prospect of ever less competitive wage rates, as a structural matter as far as cost effectiveness goes with either third world labor, or automation, and you end up with a major group not able to play the winning hand that those in the lucrative industries have learned how to do for decades now. And whether it's an aspect of human nature, or not, or whether it's understandable, or not, is it really in the interests of the rest of us to continue with it?

You think on that for a while. Draw your own conclusions.

TurboTax, H&R Block Spend Big Bucks Lobbying for Us to Keep Doing Our Own Taxes

Thursday, March 23, 2017

You Know The Old Saying, Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven...

...But nobody wants to die? Well, Capitalists have their own version: Everybody wants to buy from a competitive market, but no one wants to sell there.

This is just stating the problematic relationship they all have with competition another way. And nothing expresses it better than what might be shaping up for companies like Google, and Facebook, who build a ton of their own server hardware, and with Intel who has just announced a new memory technology.

The linked article below from wired gets into the specifics here on the mysterious Intel hardware, as well as what the other companies fear from it.

Intel’s Bold Plan to Reinvent Computer Memory (and Keep It a Secret)

 03.22.17, 7:00 AM

It's Bad Enough When A Company Can Own The Genetics...

...Of a cash crop, and you have to pay the license fee, even though your field was never planted with that seed (because you're downwind of someone who did use patented seeds). That's bad enough, but when your tractor, or other combine equipment, is now so filled with licensed software that you have to resort to black market hacks to do your own repairs. Whereupon you also risk losing your warranty because companies like John Deere require factory authorized maintenance now; that is really taking things too far. Throw in the fact that you have to use black hat hacks from the Ukraine, paying god knows how much more than it's really worth, and supporting god only knows who in the process (and just hoping that the hacks don't also have malicious backdoor code that could shut all infected hardware down for good?)

These are farming people we're talking about here. The very people who first created the notion of "Populism." Good, hardworking people, who bought into the notion that our de facto ex president was going to do right by them. To do that, though, would require going up against the very corporate power that hamstrings farmers at every turn now. And certainly, one way to go up against corporate power would be to "beef up" all of the watchdog agencies that act as a curb and check to corporate power (short of actually getting rid of the system that creates this mess in the first place).

Think on this for a while a then make your own conclusions.

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware


Mar 21 2017, 1:17pm

We Are Very Powerful...

Anyone proposing to "Beef Up Military Spending" needs to be a good deal more specific on where this fits in with the security priorities we have defined.

The linked New York Times article below, breaking out the full breadth, and depth of our current military capability will help you become better informed on just how powerful we are.

Is America’s Military Big Enough?

What Will The Democrats Do If They Don't Oppose Gorsuch...

...On the fundamental grounds of a Scotus pick made by a de facto ex president under criminal investigation. As well as the fundamental grounds that the Republicans may have irreversibly tarnished the independance of the court by blocking, for an entire year, the legitimate nominee of a former sitting president.

What will they do if this nominee, subsequently forced through acceptance by the Republican majority, is then a potentially deciding vote for a constitutional crisis engineered by that same de facto ex president? What will the American people be left to think when that decision favors that same de facto ex president?

Unfortunately, since they didn't have the cajones to boycott the entire process from the beginning, as completely illegitimate (see this argument described by Dahlia Lithwick talking with Rachel Maddow), they start with a good deal less moral authority on the matter, but that must not stop them from trying to block this appointment with whatever means they still have available. And they must do this precisely on the fundamental grounds just presented. At the very least they should be asking this court pick whether he would recuse himself from such a critical court vote, with the de facto ex president at the center of it.

Time will tell I guess.

Democrats Accuse Gorsuch of Skirting Major Legal Questions at SCOTUS Confirmation

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cameras In Every Surface, and Eyes In The Sky

I've already posted on the coming possibility that audio visual sensors could soon be a built in part of any objects outer surface, while being nominally undetectable.

Lest we forget, there is also the problem of eyes in the sky. And in this case we're talking military quality sensing platforms that can sense with very large pixel sizes, combined with synthetic aperture types of digital processing, to be able to continuously scan very large areas in real time.

It turns out that the rules governing the use of this high tech surveillance gear are not nailed down as with those governing signals intercepts, to an alarming degree. Which puts us into a not very good place to be, especially when a de facto ex President hasn't been made to realize that fact yet.

As the article linked below from Foreign Policy indicates, such aerial technology is red meat for authoritarian rulers precisely because of its ability to track the movements of people with great precision, and relative eaze. Which is, certainly, no more than an extension of the concerns we should have for what might happen if authoritarians could surreptitiously supplant certain building codes so that as many inside, as well as outside, walls as possible were pre infused with audio visual sensors.

Given enough processing power one could conceive of a software system that could create an entire digital representation of all interior, and exterior space in a given city. Using the realtime input from the synthetic aperture probes from above, combined with all of the surface area probes, everyone thus contained in that city would be no more than bugs under a microscope. Not something I like contemplating, I can tell you.

My first post on the probes in walls thing was focused primarily on what we might be able to do with continuous, contiguous coverage of our lives, if we were in control of things, and we could control, very carefully, how this data was collected, and protected. Done from the framework of each individual getting their own constant life recording, it could create a number beneficial options for us in not only keeping track of what we do; getting help from personal AI first perhaps, with an AI dedicated to our best interest; not to mention as a method, through proper legal safeguards, of determining specific points of fact (again first through impartial AI) in regards to criminal activities, all without revealing anything else of detail at all.

If you are sceptical of that you should be. Sometimes it's the stuff that offers the most tempting benefits that also presents the greatest dangers.  Just off the cuff you can see that what I outlined in the paragraph above would make breaking any law very much more difficult, and there's a body of argument that suggest a free society needs to make room for people to break the law if it truly values that freedom; the idea being, of course, that it is often the rule breakers that make us either aware of, or disallow us to ignore, a much greater breach of morality.

The main point here is to be aware of these new capabilities, and then to ask what might we do about it. You know where I stand on how fundamental change is required if we're ever to have any lasting say, but in the meantime, get in touch with your representatives in Washington and let them know what you think should be done to better nail down domestic drone surveillance. And keep asking those deeper questions.

The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of

Let Every American Remember...

...Every Republican Who Ignored the de facto ex President's repeated displays of instability, habitual lying, and incompetence (not only in actually trying to govern, but also in trying to carry out an act of Russian sponsored treason, thankfully). Ignored it because they figured they could sneak gutting healthcare, and give the rich a huge tax break besides, past a distracted public, and the rest of Congress.

None of them should be allowed any further reelection to any office ever again.

See Also:

Rex Tillerson to Skip Key NATO Summit in April, Plans to Travel to Russia

Friday, March 17, 2017

Leave It To This Guy...

...To come up with a solution that doesn't ask any basic questions at all for why human labor as a commodity is no longer viable. Or ask any other basic questions about why any one person should have the disproportionate amount of power that such large accumulations of capital create in the first place.

I know. At least he's trying to buy his soul back with good works, and I do hope he continues with that. But it does little to look into a problem and ask the deeper questions that really need to be asked these days; especially when it concerns fundamental effects of technological change.

Rather than pretend that what we have can be fixed (when decades of trying to fix it have just made things worse) isn't it time even a money stalworth like him started thinking outside the cash register?

Could Bill Gates's Plan To Tax Robots Really Work?

Here's A Thought...

...On what we might want to consider doing to punish Russia for all of the outright offensive actions it has been doing subversive wise to social media, and electoral processes all over the world.

Why don't we get with all of our NATO partners, as well as our biggest trading partners elsewhere, and hammer out an agreement to put tariffs on as many Russian products as possible (in addition to what's already been done). We then all agree to use that money (including the money from sanctions already in place, if possible) to aid resettlement of refugees around the world.

My favorite approach, of course, would be the program to create new living spaces as floating cities, with hydrogen production as a anchor industry to provide export capabilities for whomever ends up living in the provided cities. I mean seriously. Can you think of a better win win for the world, other than Russia of course?

And since the terrible Mr. T. has been so big on wanting to start slapping tariffs of folks, why not start with the guys who are probably the world's biggest provocateurs right now. I mean he has, if only grudgingly, admitted that they were screwing with our elections. How could he not get behind an action like this; even putting the money originally meant for building a wall in as well.

Just consider it. Why come to a place where you might not be welcome now when you could go to a new city, or at least to the place where the tariff participants agree the new city production facilities would be located, so as to help in the creation of your own resettlement.

And I would further propose that one of the metrics we use in seeing how well the new sanctions were having would be the price of a Russian bribe.

As you can see below in the linked article, bribe prices are climbing. I would like to think that it is because the usual means of Russian big shots to get money, siphoning money off of major industries like oil production, has been hurting the poor dears considerably of late. Especially now that the price of oil is under threat of falling again (which isn't going to be helped if we start consuming more than in the past, which is a big part in why we have recent production surpluses). Just think about how much a bribe might go up if everything else the Russians export has a tariff on it? And just as important, what better way to make clear to the Russian people just how unique their economy has become now that Putin has been in charge for so long. Perhaps the bribe metric could become the de facto Russian misery index. You never know without trying after all.

The bottom line here is this. If the Russians want to play the "make the rest of the world afraid of outsiders" game then let's put constructive consequences to the behavior. Consequences that will help the people the Russians are making pawns of. If that isn't just come-upance than I don't know what else could be.

Average Russian Bribe Jumps 75 Percent, Anti-Corruption Tsar Tells Newspaper

See Also:

The New Handbook For Cyberwar Is Being Written By Russia

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What Do We Really Burn...

...When we invest this much fuel, and effort, into moving things around so much before they reach an end user?

One has to admit, at the get go, that some of those end users might be people making further things added onto the back and forth, but even then; that's still a lot of activity spaced out over various locations, before some anticipated end user, simply because of cost factors that make a better profit one place, as opposed to another. And then you multiply this by suppliers covering the rest of the globe. And everybody trying to do it just in time now because that's also cost, and profit, effective; never mind that it also makes you oh so much more vulnerable to cascade events, where one interruption suddenly trickles down to an expanding pyramid of further interruptions.

I know. This is an odd way of starting a post that features the PM of Canada warning our terrible Mr. T. that tweaking is one thing, as a part of looking into trade agreements, but throwing them out is another thing altogether. Not that the terrible Mr. T. really wants to trash NAFTA, though.

Who the f*ck knows what he really wants, other than to pretty much f*ck with everyone, because he gets a kick out of it. One thing, however, that one might draw significant probability from is simply this: The extreme stance taken now is no more than lip service to the populist sentiment he has highjacked. And of course, you could throw in the possibility that this is also pre negotiating theatrics; as in start with something outrageously beyond what you really want to as to get the opposition pressured off their starting point at the get go. But again. Who knows.

The obvious point of the extreme position, as it relates to jobs, though, is the simple dictum "you defy markets as a policy only if you are planning on doing away with them; hopefully having some other approach you can then show might work better. A situation for which I have some familiarity with. To think that this is anything even close to what the terrible Mr. T. is going to do is ludicrous.

So back to the "moving things around so much" theme. I bring that up because of the quote you see in the article's screenshot below. I always love it when people say a great deal more than what they realize they are saying. Let's just look at this again:

Trudeau added: "We've got auto parts criss-crossing the border six times before they end up in a finished product. You've got over $2 billion a day going back and forth. So, making sure that the border is … secure but also smooth in its flow of goods and people is essential to good jobs on both sides of the border."
Wow. Six times. Back and forth. With all sorts of loading, and unloading (forklifts burn natural gas now a lot), driving, and waiting certainly, often with motors running simultaneously, at various points, in anticipation of getting, or pushing out, this back and forth flow.

One almost senses a certain joy the man has that billions are made simply by the back and forth. That this creates jobs is indisputable, but it does so at the cost of a fracturing of what is the essential point: why is one task, in an absolutely interrelated dance of production, worth less receipt of essential needs than any other? Certainly, some things might require further incentives to get enough hands on applied, but how can we allow arbitrary market evaluations of worth drive what is the bottom line as far what is humanly required to prosper; stuff that's quite beyond having another fancy phone, or car, or vacation spot you can go to more than once a year.

In this sort of consideration, you have to ask yourself: Even if I had a completely clean fuel, would an arrangement that did this sort of fracturing be anything you would want to stay with? I for one do not think so, but that is, as they say. me.

The other thing that is interesting for me here is that it also reminds me of an interaction I had way back when. I'm not sure about this, but I think it was during the 1984 attempt; an initiative I had dreamed up to create a lottery for a ride in the Space Shuttle. I wanted the lottery money to fund a new way to create hydrogen, of which more than a few of my posts have been done on. In promoting this I would take all of the models I had, a bunch of big posters and such, and I'd go to various events, set up a table, and I'd talk to people about the idea, while trying to get a signature.

On one of the events, which as I recall was the University District Street fair, in Seattle, I had been talking with people for some time, getting a very receptive response, I might add, when one longhaired dude, who I had noticed was listening for a while out of the corner of my eye, finally came over and said something. And it was amazingly direct and to the point: "how could you possibly consider adding such a big new fuel source to a system so wasteful as ours." Whereupon he just spun around and walked off.

I can tell you that it left me more than a little taken aback. The waste in the system was certainly obvious to me at the time, as well as the inherent inequality of outcomes the system seemed hard wired to produce. All things that have always left me not being much of a supporter of Capitalism, but always unsure on how to fix it.

The funny thing is the dude who laid it on me big time just seemed to already know that I was aware of the shortcomings, and there was little need to go into the matter any further. He just wanted to smack me in the face, figuratively speaking, with the reminder that "being an enabler" wasn't going to make things better in the long run. And just as funny, though I'd never met this man before. Had no idea who he was, or what he stood for, I just knew, instinctively, all of the these things that had been assumed between us, without a word more being needed, just as I then knew he was right. If I was going to use the hydrogen production approach via Tornado Turbines, it ought to be as part of a broader plan to change Capitalism; even though I also only had the vaguest notions of what that change ought to be specifically.

I tried pushing the hydrogen idea one more time after that, during the 5 or so years I was at Seattle City Light, doing computer, and software work, as a contractor. I did it then, outside of an alternative approach, because I was still struggling to figure out what an alternative would be. There was a new component here, though, because it had occurred to me that such an energy system ought to be part of a world public power utility, and what better way to introduce that idea than by suggesting the technological approach to a city public power utility.

They ended up saying the idea was too risky, but in that they never once tried to suggest it wasn't technically feasible; in effect saying that developing something unproven wasn't their greatest strength. So from that point on I just accepted the fact that, if it was ever going to be realized, it would have to be as part of a much bigger, comprehensive whole. In the latter part of 1999, early 2000, just before the full effect of the dot com bust would take hold, the outline for that more comprehensive plan finally came to me. I created by own web site to promote the plan, hosted on my own server, and called it Old Softy Concerns. I kept that web site going for well over ten years after that, closing it down only after I retired, and move my efforts over to Google Blogs, and Google+.

Justin Trudeau Warns Trump About NAFTA Plan, Says Deal Is Good for U.S. Jobs

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Problem Of The Problematic Nature of Competition...

...In Capitalism In The Modern Age.

The main "competition" problem Capitalism has is neither question of whether it doesn't, or does have competition. Or that it is either simply too much, or too little. The main problem is that any of these conditions can, and do, occur in various markets, at various points in time, and it arises from a chaotic mixture of, first, an old Capitalist logic (competition, with both the risk created, and the push for doing better, makes the whole stronger, and justifies flexible reward for taking said risk); secondly, human nature--especially as it relates coming from a legacy of deprivation from the tribal eras of scarcity; thirdly, the rise of the idea to create collective consensus, and then to allow that consensus to drive all aspects of human activity (wherein comes the rule of law, and democracy); and fourthly, the nature of technology to change not only the physical tools, and the techniques by which we use them, but to also change the tools of the mind; whereupon, of course, you then change how we view, and conceptualize our being, and everything we exist inside of.

Quite a mouthful there, but it's just things you already know stated a bit differently.

What we're talking about here is that the dogma of Capitalism has always sung the praises of competition, but the choir boys, being human, shy away from it because; A. It's hard to do. B. Now that everything moves so fast, and is so interconnected, a risk mistake can put you, either individually, or as a part of a bigger group, into a localized cascade event of value fluctuations; the result of which could easily wipe virtually anyone anymore. C. Controlling a market, whether by purchase, or collusion, creates stability, and that, ultimately, is good for everybody. D. Once you collect a pile of counters, and you have come to matter in that regard, going back to being a regular wage slave is impossible to contemplate.

Then we come to what has been called the "Great Experiment." A nation formed by that desire to have things run by collective consensus, and the rule of law. A nation that enshrined some pretty knoble aspirations in a constitution that started with a bill of rights, and went on from there to formalize "of the people, by the people, for the people" into the workings of an entire social group; setting up a governing structure that would seek to provide checks, and balances, to the formation of rules, the presiding over those rules, and the adjudication of disputes arising from those rules.

At the time we started our experiment, I would like to think that these two operating paradigms were seen, mutually, as at least near equals; two aspects of human necessity that simply had to work together, for either, or the society as a whole, to flourish. As time progressed, however, they became more and more adversarial, and not only because one could tax the hard earned profits of the other.

As we've already ascribed to human nature, it didn't take very long for some of the choir boys to see how certain new markets could be seized by the bold and made their own play thing. And it really doesn't matter whether it was in the new steam shipping, or the railroads, or that black, sticky stuff (or the black hard stuff), that comes out of the ground, or bananas, or sugar, or cotton, or whatever else, control could be obtained and junkie sized profits pumped into the veins of your enterprise; which is, of course, power made manifest. Something had to be a counterweight to that and the only thing available was government; inefficient, and over bureaucratic though it might be. Which automatically made things worse for government because now it had to become even more bureaucratic in order to oversee, and enforce limitations on the folks in that other operating system (and let us also not forget that one of the main reasons government is bureaucratic in the first place is that everybody wants assurance that it is doing its job, and not squandering our tax dollars; so of course it's going to be overzealous with procedures with which to track accountability, and who did what why)

With the telegraph, the electric light, and later radio, however, things really began to change; change itself, in fact, became the topic, and all of the bad outcomes that were quickly associated with being on the wrong end of it; as in being quite unpleasantly surprised by someone else's new thing you not only couldn't do, but may not have even been aware of yet. And so the great boogey man of Technological Surprise is born, and now not only can nations not afford to be thus rudely awakened, so neither can citizens either, because something there might represent control implemented before anybody could do anything about it; government or otherwise. And in that, most horribly of all, you might not now ever be given the chance to be "awakened" from.

Government now, certainly, as an operating system, has been encapsulated by its onetime equal.  It still goes through the motions of trying to provide counter balance to the larger system, but it becomes ever more impossible. Not only do all sides try to co-opt it for their own ends, so many of the rules former administrations have added, from the beginning on, remain, and new ones are thought up all the time.

Then you have the reality that the thing they are trying to be a counterbalance to has also grown infinitely more complex; so much so now that even most of it participants no longer understand how all of it works, at least to much of a practical degree. More regulation, or more layers of reform, only serve as new inputs for unintended consequences; all those ripples of effect that go out across all sort of unexpected boundaries, and cause further problems. So, not only do you not necessarily solve what you set out to solve, you create even more difficulty.

In the meantime, since the idea used to be to work off a collective consensus, and since it is information that is crucial to that formation, which also happens to be pure gold, in and of itself, everybody quickly realizes that manipulating it is now in their interest. And because there are a lot crazy people out there interested in a lot of crazy things, we get what we now have as a culture, and a government, and an economy. Oh happy days.

So now we often have too much competition, too little competition, no competition, and some competition, all going on at the same time; causing their own unique blends of turbulence at every interface point one might imagine. And people running around reacting to one, or the other, in their unique blends of approach, limits, and effectiveness; all of it adding further turbulent interaction to an already chaotic, total environment. And the really sad thing is that some of the people at some of the levers of power think that they are actually exercising control, when in fact it is only an effect temporarily in happy coincidence with their desires.

Competition can certainly be a good thing. Assuming it remain friendly. You ought to ask yourself, though, just how friendly can it remain if livelihoods depend on it. How can doing the right thing, exactly when doing the right thing involves lives, or our deepest desires to aspire to be better than just a very clever animal. How can we do that if it risks falling in a competition already framed in the notion of a zero sum game.

Scarcity put us into that game at the beginning precisely because we were so primitive at the beginning. But now we know things we didn't know before. And now we have tools of the mind to allow us to see how truly interconnected everything is; whether you start from quantum entanglement, turn at hidden feedback mechanisms in weather, or biological systems, and stop at the cosmic interactions of infinite branching realities (where copies of each and every one of us might be resonating across boundaries whose permeability we are only beginning to imagine), you begin to see why doing both "seeing past boundaries", and "keeping them in mind", is necessary. Everything truly does affect everything else, one way or another, in one time frame, or another, and will only get even more so now that meaning space (from the minds of all of us meaning processors) interacts more and more with physical space, and vise versa in follow on.

What we have now is destructive on so many levels it is sometimes mind bogglingly hard to know where to begin to in describing it. It is competition run amok, as well as no competition at all. It is responsibility demanded of all when nobody can agree on where any one responsibility either begins, or ends. It is lists of priorities that are themselves in competition, or no competition, when then they should, or shouldn't be. Who can say, as another song of mine indicated, "when you have to pay for voices." (Econo Blues)

This is simply untenable. Let me repeat that. This is simply untenable. It cannot hold. It has become inherently chaotic of its own internal workings, let alone of the chaos it has created around it, and so must also now deal with. We at risk of losing our ability to create collective consensus. Just as we confront general environmental collapse, the disappearance of critical resources, and a rising population. Never mind the big asteroid. Forget about the disease apocalypse. We are our own natural disaster, and you can see the storms of it playing out all across the infosphere now.

We have to start over with how we are to organize ourselves. We have to figure out a way now to get as many involved as possible in figuring out a better alternative. And we really need to hurry.

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See also:

Big Money, or Big Poultry If You Like, Wants Competition...

A note on our lawsuit against Otto and Uber