Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tax Returns as Transparent as Mud

And then you have to wonder at the Trump resistance to exposing himself financially. Is he only afraid of being seen as the multi millionaire that he is, or is it a bit more complicated than that? As this news spot makes clear his returns have been so "complicated" that he's been under virtually continuous IRS audit. And in this I have to wonder whether it's only trying to get away with more than a little rule bending. I have to wonder if these records would show, to one degree or another, just how bad, or at least how lackluster, his business dealings have been; a record not so much of IRS law breaking, but of a business man who still has money only because he started out with so much, and because he's played his losses well with the marginal gains he makes every so often (if you fire with the shotgun approach to business ideas that he has shown a tendency towards in the past you're bound to hit something every so often).

Donald Trump Releases Curious Letter on Tied-Up Tax Returns

He Wants to Build a Wall Around Your Womb?

One has to really wonder here. Is this just an idiot spouting more of what he thinks is tough talk towards an issue he doesn't really care about in the first place, or is this another example of an equal opportunity bully finally having the chance to be the biggest dick on the block that he's always thought himself to be. I'm tending to lean towards the latter now that the Republican fringe, and a far too docile media, have empowered an ego that, until now, was kept in partial check because he's been such a shitty business man; and that despite having inherited a pile of money to start with.

The really scary part of this interpretation, however, is that he wants to extend his sense of righteous bullying to America as a whole; hence his other "take no prisoners" view of immigrants, terrorists, and any other foreign leaders who don't play the fearfully humbled in either his presence, or the presence of what he thinks is our manifest supremacy. This is why his continued support of his campaign manager isn't so much a direct insult to women particularly as it is a pat on the back to an underling putting the bully bat to an upstart reporter who wasn't respecting her place in the order of things. Just as he implicitly supported his chump brigade bullying any protesters in his campaign rallies.

In this context you have to stop and consider what such a bully in power, going far beyond what Nixon ever contemplated with his "Plumber" and "Dirty Tricks" campaign ever conceived of, would be capable of. After all, all he has now are campaign staffers and a cadre of "chump" supporters to do his dirty work for him. Imagine the kind of secret cadre of empowered "Bully Boys" he could put together from the White House. And as you are imagining that remember one further thing: This is what our money corrupted, entertainment as distraction, system of governing, as well as doing business as usual, has come to. Isn't it time to start thinking about a great deal more than just "reform?" Don't you think that it's long past time for fundamental change across the board?

Republicans Increasingly Fret That Trump Escalates 'War on Women'

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ian M. Banks Culture, and the Avoidance of Uselessness

I had forgotten just how sad the first book in the Culture series was. What seems to start as an adventure of a nominal enemy of the Culture; a changer come to be assigned to recover a General Service Vessel ship mind for the Idirans (a huge, three legged warrior race), turns into a heart rendering waste of lives. The Culture agent involved to foil the theft prevails but only barely on the tragic stupidity of the changer, the pirate crew he latches on to by chance, and the extreme zealotry of the Idirans. A prelude, in fact, to the inevitability of warriors losing to what seem like hedonistic dilettantes as far as war fighting goes.

The result was inevitable because, even though the Culture was not directly threatened by the Idiran march of religious conquest, it could not stand by and do nothing. And the reason for that was because "doing good works" was all the society had left to give it purpose, with everything else being provided in abundance by super automation. As the Culture half of the ending  "appendices" in the book explains:

"...For all the Culture’s profoundly materialist and utilitarian outlook, the fact that Idir had no designs on any physical part of the Culture itself was irrelevant. Indirectly, but definitely and mortally, the Culture was threatened… not with conquest, or loss of life, craft, resource or territory, but with something more important: the loss of its purpose and that clarity of conscience; the destruction of its spirit; the surrender of its soul.                            

Despite all appearances to the contrary, the Culture, not the Idirans, had to fight, and in that necessity of desperation eventually gathered a strength which—even if any real doubt had been entertained
as to the eventual result—could brook no compromise..."

So a part of what we may have here is s cautionary tale about what the limits of automation ought to be. It is, I think, part and parcel of an axiom of mine: "Woe be to those who become too separated from that which sustains them." Which is both to say that A: lose connection to truly understanding, and participating, in what keeps you going places you at risk of either catastrophic failure, or equally bad manipulation by agencies that have no concern at all about what is in your best interest; and B: If you are not fully connected any longer in any aspect of what has always been our main challenge to growth, what are you really for at all; aside, of course, from merely taking up space and consuming various things and distractions"

There is something else, however, in this book that needs observation and consideration. You see the first outlines of it when Mr. Banks gives us a description of the processing power of a ship mind:

"...The Mind had an image to illustrate its information capacity. It liked to imagine the contents of its memory store written out on cards; little slips of paper with tiny writing on them, big enough for a human to read. If the characters were a couple of millimeters tall and the paper about ten centimeters square and written on both sides, then ten thousand characters could be squeezed onto each card. In a meter long drawer of such cards maybe one thousand of them—ten million pieces of information—could be stored. In a small room a few meters square, with a corridor in the middle just wide enough to pull a tray out into, you could keep perhaps a thousand trays arranged in close-packed cabinets: ten billion characters in all.  
 A square kilometer of these cramped cells might contain as many as one hundred thousand rooms; a thousand such floors would produce a building two thousand meters tall with a hundred million rooms. If you kept building those squat towers, squeezed hard up against each other until they entirely covered the surface of a largish standard-G world—maybe a billion square kilometers—you would have a planet with one trillion square kilometers of floor space, one hundred quadrillion paper-stuffed rooms, thirty light-years of corridors and a number of potential stored characters sufficiently large to boggle just about anybody’s mind.   
In base 10 that number would be a 1 followed by twenty-seven zeros, and even that vast figure was only a fraction of the capacity of the Mind. To match it you would need a thousand such worlds; systems of them, a clusterful of information-packed globes… and that vast capacity was physically contained within a space smaller than a single one of those tiny rooms, inside the Mind…"
This is interesting to me because it illustrates a particular bias towards what is involved with intelligence. In this bias it is always the greater capacity of not only items that can be stored, but the sheer speed with which the items can be compared, collated and given relational significance; all aspects of intelligence just as logic, and the reasoning of cause and effect are, but are they all that's involved? In this one also needs to consider the contemplation of meaning. Vast amounts of reasoning power, with equally vast arrays of facts, are not necessarily superior to the creative use of meaning, and the ideas that stem from it; especially when starts adding layer upon layer of abstraction to come up with great systems of interactive process. When you then add the aspect of choice, understanding metaphor and meaning become very important indeed.

I make this observation because it never ceases to amaze me how otherwise very smart people get so obsessed with the idea that machines will inevitably transcend human intelligence. How can this be when humans have yet to transcend the fearful, territorial, hording mentality of the savage? What will we create if but nothing more than faster, and more capable of coldly calculated survival, and the ever expanding material requirements to sustain that.

Perhaps, if we make the first transcendence of our own baser instincts, we can grow our own thinking capabilities far beyond what they our now; and do it in a way that still keeps us connected to life in general, as well as all of the positive aspects of what it is to be human. Remember, Phlebas was the Phoenician who drowned in T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," section IV: "Death by Water." If we give ourselves up to whatever all encompassing environment, is there really nothing more to say about it? Are we nothing more than the mere facts of our physical being? If you believe that then life must really be a cold, meaningless slog through pointless fear and deprivation. Even then, however, I still don't see how the machines would make it any better.

Just a thought.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Racial Bias of Roads, Transit Lines, and Red Lined Loan Districts

Harold Innis published "The Bias of Communication" back in 1951. In it he outlined how the various forms of communicating, as well as the channels such communication, or interaction if you want to see it a bit more broadly, flowed through, affected the very nature and composition of societies. A very influential work that had great impact on how Marshall McLuhan would come to formulate his own advancement of a media centric approach to history and social/psychological development,

McLuhan's introduction to "The Bias of Communication" is very informative here:

"Most writers are occupied in providing accounts of the content of philosophy, science, libraries, empires, and religions. Innis invites us instead to consider the formalities of power exerted by these structures in their mutual interaction. He approaches each of these forms of organized power as exercising a particular kind of force upon each of the other components in the complex."

I mention this now because I have been reading an article by Alec MacGillis that puts the effect of this kind of power into stark human terms. The article, "The Third Rail" relates the history of white flight from Baltimore as cautionary tale of how racism, and real estate greed, came to influence the demise of the very first, truly extensive, streetcar system; precisely because it allowed for unrestricted migration of upward scale blacks to where ever they had the will, and new economic means, to go; something the people of a borderline, North/South state would not tolerate.  And rather than run them out on rails, they would take the rails away, and build expressways for the burgeoning auto that would encircle the city and, along with restrictive county rent voucher rules, as well as red lined loan districts, make black isolation be both physical and economic. as well as nearly absolute.

As I have said before, everything is connected, even when you try to thwart the connections. The bottom line here is a simple equivalency: failed states, or failed cities, the difference is one of only size and geographic location. The resentments, and hatreds that build up from such disorder bring trouble your way no matter how much you try to barricade yourself in suburbs of denial. And perhaps much worse, the very act of this denial, the forgetting of the historical injustice perpetrated, turns you ever colder, and less human; ripe ground for even further excesses of greed and the trampling of the rights everyone deserves.

Please read this article. Remember the history recounted here. Consider it the next time you here or see the cliche response, either in movies, or news reports, that the ghettos of whatever city are simply the fault of those stuck in them, for whatever assumed failures of character. Environments of despair, so carefully engineered by those in power, present obstacles to overcome to challenge any character set. Just consider, if the racial roles had been reversed, how many of us whites would have fared any better.

The Third Rail

In Baltimore, public investment — and disinvestment — in transportation have figured greatly in the persistence of racial and economic inequality.
See Also:


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where Will Our Intelligence Take Us, or Take Us Over?

Aeon has another essay I would like to encourage everyone to read. Caleb Scharf, director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, has written a quite interesting review of what might be the cosmological history, and prospects of intelligence, both biological and artificial.

In it he explains that not only are the projections of artificial intelligence still quite problematic, but that the ultimate energy efficiency one can expect at the moment, going into the future, are still not the equal of the biological solution that evolution has already come up with. The upshot here, as far as the cosmos is concerned, is that even if some form of reasoning engine did subsume biological life, and then used its greater environmental adaptability to expand into its home galaxy, it might well have been forced, because of that ultimate energy inefficiency, to go back to a possibly more refined biological solution. The result of which might have then put environmental restrictions back into consideration; something for which further stellar expansion might have then become less desirable, even to the point of abandoning all former great feats of AI inspired creative engineering.

It is an interesting conjecture whether you agree or not with his more cautionary projections for the advances of AI. From my perspective it is our ongoing lack of understanding the full richness of what is biological sentience that makes our current attempts to duplicate it artificially not only so dangerous in the near term, as reasoning engines able to simulate it to various degrees come online, but also because we still really have very little idea of what we are capable of if we could grow in a fully nurturing environment; especially so if we could also take advantage of carefully considered augmentations to our own capacity to recall and consider in general; as through some forms of direct brain to machine interfaces.

I would also like to think that our capacity for creative engineering, once we could start becoming all we could be, and freed from the constraints of any one planetary ecosystem, might well surpass even the imaginations of people like Ian M. Banks, and the wonderful things his "Culture" society became capable of. With such creative engineering we may well be able to take what our biology needs anywhere we want to, even if it takes uncountable generations, and milenium, to do it.

Where do minds belong?

Intelligence could have been moving back and forth between biological beings and machine receptacles for aeons

by Caleb Scharf

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How Do We Change Now: The Fine Line Between Sentient Growth and Non Sentient Evolution

I am in the process now of re-reading the "Culture" series of books written by the late Ian M. Banks. I am doing this because, for some time now, I have been struggling with why the movie "Ex-Machina" left me feeling so angry at the character Nathan Bateman (played quite well by Oscar Isaac). As you might imagine this combination was chosen for a number of reasons.

First, of course, is that I have been wanting to do a tribute to what I have always felt was one exceptionally good author for some time now. And in that vein his culture series of books have always been one of my all time favorites. The interesting point in this, however, is that one of the main features in these books is the established ability of the Culture to create artificial minds; intellects so vastly powerful that they are able to control "Orbitals" or "General Service Vehicles:" engineering constructs to rival moons and small planets, and able to create whatever physical environment desired for very large populations to live in as the ships traveled about.

This has been interesting to me because these minds, as well as the smaller scale AI's that live amongst the human populations, are virtually all caring, positive influences on their human counterparts, despite the fact that they can think so much faster than them. They are made to seem, in fact, as almost angelic muses for humankind to lean on in times of need; giving the Culture great advantage as it spread its influence throughout the Galaxy. So much advantage, in fact, that many species encountered take great umbrage at a society so seeminly controlled by machines.

As you can no doubt see now the contrast with "Ex-Machina" becomes obvious. We aren't enlightened as to how the "ship minds" in the "Culture" series were able to be made so beneficial. In "Ex-Machina," however, we see some disquieting aspects of how the devil can be in the details.

My anger for Mr. Bateman stems in no small part from the archetype of brilliant scientist/developer he represents.  An archetype too often emphasized by an ego as big as the mind that supports it. An ego that makes keeping a sense of humility for the unknown quite unlikely.

You know this type. They seen things that have never been done before as simply stepping stones for the further enhancement of their reputations. A mind set that makes asking the question "just because I might be able to do a thing, does that automatically mean I should?" quite improbable.

You need only ponder what has gone on in Mr. Bateman's bunker of a research facility, and home, for a short time to wonder at what he was thinking he was doing. Forgetting for the moment the stretch assumed in this movie as to what he was able to engineer in not only fine motor control, but new neural circuitry, the very idea that you could cram ability, facts, and pseudo motivations, into that new circuitry, without the long correspondence of visceral associations that growing into maturity, with nominally caring caregivers, as well as with the give and take interplay of contemporaries, imbues, is the height of engineering arrogance.

To be sure, you might well be able to create a near perfect mimic of a human, but as to what would then be in that entities mind as to what it would want, or even that it might bother to consider what it should want, beyond the mimicry to ensure survival, would be nothing more than the throw of some monstrously large dice. And even with that, at the end of the movie, Mr. Bateman seems quite surprised that his creation would turn so violently on him.

I start with all of the, however, as merely preface to a much larger questions. Is some new machine intelligence only the inevitable next step in the evolution of intelligence? Is intelligence itself the only aspect of our being now worthy of further development? Too many of the luminaries in this field seem to think so, at least in my opinion.

Could it be that we're looking at this incorrectly? Given our bias towards all things evolutionary it should be no surprise that we might tend to extend it beyond what is truly useful now. And therein lies the reason for the title of this post.

We haven't, I think, given enough consideration to the need to change how we view further human development. And I believe this because we give so little weight to the human capacity to choose what it will do at each moment of new opportunity. That we can make our environment be the aid to positive growth, and not continue to allow the environment to change us as chance would have it; something that Teilhard de Chardin's vision of the "Noosphere" tried to get us started on.

The question then becomes: What does this mean in practical terms. And for that I would suggest that we start being very careful how we go about any further developments in AI (already echoed by others of course, but without much depth of understanding). In my view the emphasis should be in what it takes to raise better humans generally, and then what we can do about giving them enhanced faculties, as well as an other augmentations. Such faculties could well be of great benefit but we must approach them with patience and caution. After all, ever greater ability must also come to mean ever greater wisdom, and responsibility, in using them.

I'd like to think that a futuristic human would be one who, despite having better interfaces to greatly expanded stores of knowledge, even being able to manipulate that knowledge in virtual think spaces, would still have the deep connections to life in general, as well as to other sentient beings, as we might aspire to now. And perhaps that is the metaphor of the "Ship Mind" we should take away from Mr. Banks books. Perhaps such minds will be the new children of carefully augmented sentients still comfortable in nominally physical bodies. Parents who will see such children, and raise them accordingly, to become the timeless explorers of all of the other galaxies of our reality; taking with them the love of life, curiosity and wisdom to every corner of existence. That is what I choose to believe in any case.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Simple Miracles -- Additional

As they say here, "Amazing Transformations" from the simplest of things. It ought to make you wonder: Is there really anything we can't transform if we put our minds, and hearts, to it?

This guy needs to get with the two dudes doing the "Hang" drums in a previous "Simple Miracles" post.

This Guy Can Perform A Muse Melody On A Bunch Of Old Pipes

This proves that anything in your house can be transformed into a musical instrument.
Snubby J

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Another Hats Off for Some Creative Thinking on Homelessness

Micro housing is really starting to catch on now, and the example here is but one, so consider this an acknowledgement to all of the folks involved in this area.

'Kasita' is a High-Tech Tiny Home for the Minimalist Crowd

Absolutely Unacceptible

The world needs a place where the voice of every nation can be heard and it's concerns given fair consideration. It pains me deeply when I hear fellow Americans trash talk the current institution the world has in place for this necessity, but when you are made aware of internal disfunction of the magnitude described by Anthony Banbury you can certainly understand why so many people, and not just Americans, consider the UN either a waste of time, or an actual disservice to the needs of the nations it was formed to serve. This cannot be allowed to continue.

There are, certainly, a lot of reasons why this is so. On the one hand the lopsided way it was formed, with the developed nations of the world having such overbearing power within it, gave it only a modest credibility with the rest of the world's nations. And on the other hand, too many of the power elites of all nations see it only as either a gold mine of feather beading employment, or as propaganda tool, and far too often as combinations of the two.

The question then becomes: How do we go about reinventing it? And to be perfectly honest here I don't have many ideas on the matter, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people are in the same boat. Having said that, though, should not dissuade us from attempting to do a complete reinvention. And perhaps one way to go about it would be to think in terms of separation of mandates. Perhaps even to go so far as to suggest that there needs to be two separate institutions.

One would be a combination of the World Health organization, a World Refugee organization, a World public transportation organization, and a World public energy organization.

I would combine these because I believe they are interlinked. Simply put, how we generate power is a tremendous health issue. How well you can deliver aid where it is need is a tremendous issue. And displaced peoples of whatever nationality are not only a humanitarian crises, they are ripe ground for further political instability, as well as the incubation of diseases that should have been a non issue decades ago. I also believe that the energy aspect, as well as a truly universal transportation aspect, might provide the means to make the institution at least partially self supporting. And to be clear here, the management of this organization, however broadly based the recruitment might be, would have to be based on results; as in: you don't deliver you don't get to stay.

The other institution then would be reserved for the deliberation and restitution of grievances between nations. This body would also be involved in how priorities for the other body would be determined, but would not necessarily have any absolute control over it; something for which I have to admit that I don't know how you could do in practical terms, but also for which a bit of independance still needs to be seriously considered.

This is just an outline of possibilities of course. The input of a lot more, better informed, people than I need to weigh in on it as well. The main takeaway here, however, needs to be this: If the world doesn't take seriously the need to have these service institutions, as well as a global forum to air and resolve differences, than we are all headed for a very rude awakening.

Departing UN Official Calls Organization a 'Black Hole' of Bureaucracy

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Persona of Celebrity

Oh, I know
it's so attractive
to be as the front most,
but have a care
before you leap
into this most deep
of ends.

For sinking
is as one
with the swimming
for every stroke
is a transformation,
making your face
and the body
of your characterizations
just a staging
of fronts
and backdrops
and the facades
in between.
Where the reflection
considers the being
making the person
just an illusion.

Your brand then
bares the name
and wears the actions
of what churns
in the progression
of what becomes you,
and the meaning
of it all
feeding back
on itself,
is always more
than any message
that might be scripted.

Being the most
to be dug
by the biggest
group of diggers
simply leaves a hole
that others fill
in disconnected minds
of consideration
expanding only
as the ether
of adoration.

It's a buzz
thrill of feeling
in its course
of trajectory
but in that arc
is anything actually
as the span
of any real
thinking, loving person?
Just remember
wisdom is seldom
realized from its reflection

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What is Thoughtful, Loving Structure?

It's sometimes far too easy to come up with resonant catch phrases. If someone were serious about having a phrase actually mean something it would be their responsibility to look for every way possible to place a foundation under that phrase that would help to support it.

On the one hand, I try to do that by indicating the what and how of someone responding to the events going on everyday, given the dictates of "thoughtful, loving, structure." That is why I make the posts of events that you see in both of my Blogs.

On the other hand, though, it is useful to have a descriptive shorthand by which to express the idea. I'd like to take a stab at that now.

As I have often said it is the attempt to aspire to a balance where, on the one hand is the encouragement of curiosity, meaning, understanding, and a discipline of trying to seek for the deeper questions, always keeping a sense of humility towards that which we do not understand; and on the other hand do that while also keeping faith with empathy, nurturing, sharing and all of the other heartfelt bonds of connection that humans are capable of.

In this balance then do we seek to temper reason with intuition, giving with practical necessity, responsibility with wisdom, and selflessness with individualism as ready to ask for a hand up, as it would be to give it.

This is a balance that recognizes that there can be knowledge beyond what we can objectively measure or test, strength in so many other aspects of how we behave and hold true to ideals, but which never loses sight of what our best efforts to determine what is factual in any given moment. and what is the best course of action given those facts; knowing that there will always be tension between these different aspects of what make us human and that the choice of how much of either side of the balance is appropriate, moment to moment, will never be easy.

Understand, of course, that this is just my take on what this balance should be. Is is also an open source idea that you must apply to your life with your own mix, and your own adaptations. Hopefully, in the interplay of the many variations we can find a general consensus through which we can go on cooperating with each other with. In my mind that would be enough.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Wherever Migrants or Refugees are It is a Shared Responsibility of All Developed Nations

The only way so much human need is going to be addressed long term is for all of the developed world to work together. Only by coordinated effort can creative, integrated, new solutions be found and adopted.

The problem is two fold, of course. Not only are long term solutions required, the short term need must be addressed as well. In this must be considered the creation and maintenance of a global Migrant/Refugee support fund; perhaps by a trans national trade tax; at least for the near term. This fund could then make coordinated purchases of food and housing infrastructure in regional hubs to create a living environment for these people.

Long term, however, is going to take a great deal more imaginative thinking. This is why I have always felt that the creation of hydrogen production at sea could be a self funding creator of floating support cities. It may seem like a stretch now but where else but the oceans can we turn to for the creation of new habitable city states? And what better way than using the wind and sun in or near the equator to create a environmentally sound fuel?


Greece Vows to Clear Idomeni Migrant Camp Without Tear Gas

We Knew, We Cared, for Thee. C'est la Vie

A tragic loss to everyone who loved deeply thoughtful, as well as passionate, music.

Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer Dies at 71

Friday, March 11, 2016

Non Violent Resistance and the Practical Aspects of Disciplined Protest

Karuna Mantena has penned a wonderfully concise summary of both the history, and heartfelt rational of non violent resistance to state sanctioned injustice. It is a read that I wholeheartedly recommend. If you believe, as I do, that fundamental change must occur within all states that still adhere to our current economic model, than you must take time to consider what is at stake in how you would go about making that change.

The problem here, of course, is one of basic human nature, as well as how it applies to both sides of a fundamental disagreement. As Ms. Mantena points out beliefs and convictions are seldom held without some investment of a person's identity and ego. Conversely, when push comes to shove in the heat of confrontation that the annoyance of protest generates, resisting the temptation to respond in kind requires a great discipline in the manner one carries out each step of making an injustice known. As such, if you want to penetrate the heart of those in opposition, you must rise above their initial anger. And you do this because only by penetrating their hearts can you get them to listen to the rational justification of your cause.

This is why disciplined suffering has a chance to succeed where simply answering violence with violence does not. I would add only one thing to this already well articulated argument.

The decline in the efficacy of violence stems not only as described by Ms. Mantena. There is a further component that ought to be recognized as well: That a greater understanding of how holistic thinking compels us to see that everything is connected. That, in this many layered web of life that we are a part of, harm to one aspect translates, via so many channels that we've barely begun to understand, to various degrees to every other aspect. In this suffering is not necessarily linear, or sequential, at all, but emanates as waves of effect that cannot be seen in a narrow focus anymore. As such, to truly respect that interconnectedness we must act accordingly in all aspects of endeavor; even if ignorance, or egotistical selfishness, persists in lashing out in defiance of that basic, loving connection to life as a whole.

At the end of the day, what we're really talking about here is injustice at every scale of thoughtful, loving structure. The very survival of not only our species, but every other is at stake. And how we connect with each other will be just as important to how we connect to the rest of life around us.

The power of nonviolence

Nonviolent politics have unique power to change the world, but they require strategic suffering and ascetic self-mastery

by Karuna Mantena

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Another Dumb Question About the Cosmos

According to recent insights on cosmic background radiation the rate at which the universe has been expanding, is itself increasing. If that is the case, and I certainly don't know the math involved here, how can a universe as old as the one Hubble has now verified still be detectable; assuming, of course, that the rate increase in expansion as been ongoing from the start.

An outsider looking in would think that, after 13 billion years, a point would be reached where the light from that very young galaxy would not have been able to overcome the ever more rapidly increasing distance between it and us. Which would then lead one to suspect that, perhaps, this increase in expansion has not been ongoing. Which, of course, would then beg the next question of what mechanism was involved in starting the increase in expansion rate?

Hubble Spots Farthest Galaxy Yet, Smashes Cosmic Distance Record

Friday, March 4, 2016

How Can We Allow This To Continue

Everyone who reads this slavery report is probably asking themselves the same question. And I have to be honest in admitting that, even with the fundamental economic change I have been advocating in place, slavery of one form or another wouldn't necessarily be eliminated.

I still believe, however, that if we looked at all of our other problems in terms other than :"what will it cost," or "who is going to pay for it," we could go a long way towards not only lessening the incentive to exploit people as if they were cheap draft animals, we could lessen the production of throw away populations in the first place; people who have been left with little else as an option to get food into their bellies, or a roof over their heads. People whose talent and heart and courage could be the source of further answers to problems we've still to find the right questions for.

Without the abstract notions of cost, or money, we can go back to the "Gifting Economies" that preceded Capitalism and old school industrialization. The truly collaborative forms of interaction that our new information environments of deep involvement might be capable of.

We simply must try because it is not enough to just question the continuance of such horror.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Little Miracles -- Additional

Just two guys, two pieces of dimpled metal, and the soft touch of creative hands. And just listen to what can come of it.

A lot may seem impossible but when enough creative hands come together there is no end to the harmony that can be achieved.

Enjoy a short hang drum duo video filmed on an autumnal morning in the beautiful town of Bath Spa, UK

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Bottom Up Dynamic of Authoritarianism as a Social, Psychological Mind Set

This article in Vox on Authoritarianism is another must read. It is both as fascinating as it is chilling. What Amanda Taub presents here is a very compelling dissection of what fuels the popularity of Trump at the grass root level, and if it doesn't make you take pause on where we are heading as a nation, you are probably already a head up the ass Trump Chump.

I have always felt that, in order for our current economic model to have a chance of continuing on for a time longer than most of us critics would think possible, it would have to become authoritarian in the extreme. I have to admit now, though, that I haven't given nearly enough recognition to the psychological aspects of the masses towards a receptiveness to authoritarianism, relying instead on too much emphasis on the top down manipulation of power elites, for their own self interest, to carry it forward.

It has been a mistake on my part without doubt. I feel I can take some solace, though, from the fact that the one part I did get right was that fear is the common denominator. And when you talk about fear, it seems to me, you cannot avoid talking about how commercialism in general, along with marketing, and the hard sell in particular, have served to not only create it in abundance, but have come to rely on it with ever greater ingenuity, to further their goals of net gain and power. This is especially so now that decisions, and the rewards of those decisions, move about the planet at the speed of electrons.

The bottom line here is that, in this environment, there can be no hope of human control because we can't even understand the machine created control processes that channel ever more of it each day. You need only add ever less control with ever greater cycles of increasing competition to understand why instability and uncertainty are increasing. How could fear not be everywhere when whether you have the means to not only eat, or sleep with a roof over your head, are in question day after day, but whether you will ever have anything to hold on to that will validate that you matter, or have value at all. Is there any wonder then that newcomers would be looked upon with suspicion? Whatever their religion or nationality?

And then you lay an infosphere on top of that whose main purpose is precisely the hard sell. Where not only are most of your base instincts manipulated, every aspect of what you might fear from not having them satisfied, will be reiterated ad nauseam. The result is no less than a people who spend every day eating, working, playing and awash in fear of one sort or another.

Read the Vox article and then think upon it all for a while. If you don't see it all for the madness that it is we are all well and truly fucked.

The rise of American authoritarianism

A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what's driving Donald Trump's ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

At Least One Thing A Person Can Respect in this Complex, Flawed Man

Simply put, he's kept his promise to the woman he hasn't always treated with the upmost of respect. That and the fact that you have to believe that he was always a good father. The confident, loving daughter they both raised is testament to that.

It may well also be a complex set of motivations that have him supporting her so effectively, but I, for one, have no difficulty giving him the benefit of the doubt on at least a significant portion of them being his desire to do right by her, and let her have her day at center stage in history in the making.

So much has gone down in the past that I believe he has never taken anywhere near full responsibility for. That being said, however, doesn't take away any of the credit he's due now for supporting, and so effectively, a woman who's no doubt just as complex as he is.

It's lilely now that she will be the Democratic candidate. And it's hard, though not impossible, to see her losing to whatever final ass the other guys settle on. As such there is the bright side here that it will be a good thing for the nation to finally get around to putting a woman into our highest office. If for no other reason than to make it a given that a woman can win, and lead. As with people of color it is a given that has been long overdue.

That it will ultimately change very little else of what is fundamentally wrong with our current political/economic system is also, sadly, a given, but I will say no more of that here. Sometimes you just have to take the bright spots where you can find them and use them to sustain your hope. However pessimistic I may sound in these postings, and I know that I do, I remain hopeful. Little miracles still abound, as I hope I have pointed out here. You just have to keep your eye out for them.

Bill Clinton's Campaign Presence Felt On Stage and Off