Friday, March 31, 2017

How An Old Lobbying Film From 1954 Can Tell Us So Much...

...About not only the limited ways we viewed things in the past (not even beginning to imagine the hidden costs of sprawl, exhaust pollution, road runoff pollution, or what the increasing demand for a particular fuel would do to our foreign policy, and security costs), but also provide us with a metaphor for what we face now.

The deficiencies that this film is trying to make us aware of, whatever the ultimate motivation might have been to provide them, illustrates how you could ask very similar questions about the delivery, and maintenance, of any key piece of infrastructure in today's America. Our roads and highways. Our means to coordinate the production, and distribution of electrical, or gas fired power. Our systems of clean water production and distribution. Our systems to properly collect, and treat human, as well as industrial, sewage. Our system to provide commercial aviation ports and safe flight routing. Etc. And these are just the big, physical flow systems. Don't forget that most critical human services are merely delivery systems of one form or another as well; as in, say, healthcare, or overall information pathways, not to mention affordable housing, and food.

What this film is talking about has been repeated many times over, and will likely be repeated again and again, assuming things hold together long enough. And the basic problem is also as it has always been: who pays, and who benefits the most.

Obviously, a manufacturer of cars might have other reasons for making this pitch than simple civic altruism, but it serves to beg the point: If the way we go about making these decisions has come to a very complicated impasse, perhaps it's time to start asking basic question on how we operate as a whole system. Maybe that system, as a whole, is broken, just like the old roads shown in the film, beyond the point of continually trying to put a patch here, or there. Perhaps its time, in fact, to start over and figure out an entirely new approach.

Maybe the green light here is to give yourself permission to ask about what might have seemed to be a very radical notion, even only a year ago. Radical only because we've kept our vision too narrowly focused for too long. Radical only because what we once thought was way beyond crazy last year is quite common place now (Republicans sucking up to Russians? Russians sucking up to Fascists? A White House one can now only describe as some kind of suicidal clown car that doesn't seem to have breaks, steering wheel, or anybody who could use them even if they were there. Are you kidding me?)

More things to think about. More things to be better informed about. More reason to ask deeper questions. More reason for you, and your friends, to take peaceful action.

Better Roads: "Give Yourself the Green Light" 1954 GM; Lobbying for Interstate Highway System

This Speaks For Itself


A new report highlights victims of human trafficking in the food industry, from farm workers to restaurant cooks and wait staff. Some victims are exploited for both sex and labor.

Within The Absolute Ascendancy of Capitalism...

...Do we question ourselves on whether democracy will survive or not.

It wasn't all that long ago that Communism was the biggest, baddest, boogie man around. And it was in protection from Communism that we celebrated our love of Democracy. Communism lost, but was it Democracy that proved to be the winner? Or was it the supremacy of money and markets?

Now that markets, pan national corporations, and the uninterrupted flow of capital, are the dominate forces (one hesitates to continue referring to this troika as a singular ism anymore; mostly because it has become so mutated beyond the original conception of this form of social organization) on the planet, we in the West wonder at how we will save the principle pivot point that made the West possible in the first place: rule by collective consensus of what is important, what should be law, and how those laws should be created and administered.

In the beginning, scarcity still had to be managed, of course, so, without much technology yet, commercialized specialization, with the abstraction of money working as a specialization translator, we left the rest of the practical necessities of life to be administered by individual enterprise, and competition. And that worked, more or less, within a particular technological context where skill was still quite difficult to duplicate, and moving things around one hell of a lot harder.

Be that as it may, what is especially interesting as I write this is that the answer to the question that the article linked below refers to, is unintentionally presented to us by the very form of the web page image, and the exchange that makes that web page possible in the first place.

Notice that the main fact of this article at the start is that it is brought to us by Morgan Stanley. An especially interesting contrast when one considers the recent checkered past of that particular institution, and abuses of power. Much more important, though, than the mere fact that an article had a sponsor is that information that might be important to us got to our eyes and minds only because profit made having this channel of possible enlightenment possible in the first place. And because of that, as we are now being made only too painfully aware of, the question of who is profiting, why, and how that profit actually manifests itself (I can profit just as much, if not more, if I can change your perceptions, and thus your beliefs, by seemingly giving away carefully designed message, as I can by only getting more money back than spent originally).

Democracy's vulnerability to this sort of thing shouldn't be surprising at all of course. It is automatically implied when one makes a descriptive statement like (from the third paragraph above, from the top): "...rule by collective consensus of what is important, what should be law, and how those laws should be created and administered."

Kinda hard to keep a reliable "collective consensus" when so many competing, and often diametrically opposed, interests keep trying to influence it. And with ever greater sums of abstract counters involved, with continued control of same at stake, it's no wonder that doing that influence has little incentive for restraint.

So here we are. Living the effects of what turning the critical flow of information into an inducement to receive the real intended message: Consume, and or buy into, what interests us. And don't worry. We'll continue to put significant sums into making your little, inducing, tidbit as entertaining, and distracting as modern science can provide, because that is also in our interest.

In my view Democracy has only one chance of surviving as it was meant to survive. And that is to recognize that our current economic operating system is utterly, and unchangeably, toxic to what makes Democracy possible at all: our ability to interact directly not only with each other, but with all of the collected knowledge that society has created so far, and will create. Channels that mediate message of one form or another cannot owe their existence to the interests of a limited few. They must be there precisely at the service of preserving the maintenance of that "collective consensus." Which is simply another reason why the rights of the individual, and the rights of the community as a whole, must be kept in balance. Both are equally important, and so both must be addressed.

It is in the tension between these two that we must set our creative efforts on. That we must keep vigilance to, as well as respect of. It won't be easy to say the least, but it will yield the best results. To do this we must grow up and start engaging each other as adults. Which is just another way of saying that nobody can have everything they want. We can, individually, get a good deal of what we want, and need, if we understand at the outset that compromise is the only way this can work. Which itself is only another, very important, aspect of how Democracy has to operate in order to have any chance of success in the first place.

Think long and hard about this I implore you. Whether you realize it or not this is an absolutely critical pivot point in history. In my view our species won't survive if we get this wrong. And we've hardly begun to imagine the suffering that will ensue along the way in the demise. Talk to your friends. Get them thinking on it too, and involving their friends. If this choice doesn't go viral we are in for serious shit you've only begun to get an inkling of.

The Uncertain Future of Democracy

  • By Douglas Heaven
30 March 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Hate's a commodity too. In some quarters, in fact, hate sells quite well.

Just another facet in saying Capitalism is what it is. I find it interesting, thought, that practitioners may now find reason to want to reform it because they don't want their commodity associated with some body else's commodity. Which means the algorithms will have to be changed to filter for one aspect of human meaning in an ever changing stream of metaphor.

Yeah. That shouldn't be too hard. I'm sure they'll get a solution out on that one right away. One that won't make things too much more complicated either. After all, why not. The Dems think they can can produce a populism that will reform it too. Maybe they'll find common cause in futility. Who knows.

For advertisers, algorithms can lead to unexpected exposure on sites spewing hate

More Well Intentioned Attempts At Populism That Won't Work

The desire of the Democratic Party to try and put people first as a matter of policy now is certainly a move in the right direction, but it is as doomed to failure as was running under the old idea of "The Third Way."

The problem is as it has always been. Trying to put people first inside an economic operating system that puts only profits first, and is already teetering on a combination of its own internal contradictions, as well as the further complications of decades of reform effort that have left it a much more complicated form of itself, is an exercise in "doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." Sure, the reforms have provided people with some relief, but it has mainly served to make the system itself less manageable overall, and a very great deal more difficult to try to reform any further.

When are people on the left, whether still close to the middle or not, going to accept the fact that Capitalism is what it is. And as such, you can only screw with it to a certain degree before you start to make things even more difficult than they already were.

The problem isn't how to reform it to be humanly acceptable, it is to realize that it has had its day and that it is way past time time to start over. And it is time to do that precisely because new technology has made it an absurdity. An absurdity that goes beyond the fact of its almost guaranteed proclivity for inequality of outcomes, and a structural inability to handle holistic thinking (which is a big part of why prices hardly ever reflect true costs).

This is the one and only challenge for the left now and the sooner they realize it the better. It doesn't matter if it is Bernie Sanders, or someone a little more towards the center than Bernie. Even if you could pass true Socialist reforms on it, you would only make it weaker than it already is; most especially now that global competition is only getting worse. That's just the way it is.

Tom Perriello Is Not Bernie Sanders

See Also:


The Fourth Industrial Revolution could bring mass global unemployment.

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