Monday, June 27, 2016

Information is Not Only Gold, But it is the Means to Define The Reality of Choice

And certainly, if a particular set of data might threaten your reality of choice, you might feel the need to suppress it. And nowhere does one find more temptation to suppress, so as to keep a cherished reality going, than in the world of extremist religion.

The profiteers among you shouldn't let that fact go to your head though. Capitalism is almost as bad, if not equally so (just getting the proper information, and organizing it correctly can be worrisome enough).

On Eve of SCOTUS Abortion Decision, Texas Accused of Suppressing Key Data

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How do We Stop the Growing Sense of Inevitability of War with China

I have remarked on this before, but the drum beat of inevitability seems to be growing steadily, and certainly China itself isn't helping to change the situation.

Especially in the South China Sea do we see this situation getting worse. The island construction where there were no islands before appears to be an attempt at making "facts on the ground" out of creative engineering, as well as quite questionable claims of historic rights to territory, under water or not. And with the belligerency that Chinese political, and military, leadership is throwing into the mix, you really have to wonder what is going on here.

On the one hand, an objective view of things would certainly allow for China having legitimate concerns for access to oil and food coming from, or across the sea. But to suggest that they could lay claim to the entire sea as sovereign territory just challenges all credulity. So much so that one can't help but ask how, with going against the rest of the world's right to free passage in any open ocean, not to mention the reasonable claims of other nations in the region to fair access of the resources there, can it be in their realistic long term interests to pursue this kind of action? How does anybody there, or in the rest of the world, win if hostilities do in fact break out?

One has to wonder if this might be actions of a leadership far more desperate to maintain legitimacy, in the face of truly troubling economic developments, than anyone has heretofore considered possible. If that were the case, then the question becomes one of how do we engage their leadership, within a face saving context, so as to aid both the economic difficulties, but also to address their concerns for resource access; finding a way to work a long term compromise that gives all players in the region meaningful assurances that such access will remain in place.

Are there cooler heads at work at all here? Are we to give up so easily on diplomacy to solve mutual concerns? Or does this play far to easily into our own confused priorities when it comes to justifying ongoing arms budgets? On can only hope that this is not so.

Beijing Is Setting the Stage for War in the South China Sea

See Also:
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang looks at a map of the port of Piraeus, where Chinese shipping giant Cosco controls two of the three container terminals, on Friday June 20, 2014.

How China Is Building the Biggest Commercial-Military Empire in History

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Are We Really Connected in a Wealth of Consumer Interactions?

The Nautilus article linked below talks about how important it is to pay attention to, and do something about, loneliness.

Well, duh!

To my mind a far more important question revolves around whether working and spending amongst significant numbers of people is really the best way to ensure that we keep loneliness to a minimum; especially when you consider how much time we spend doing each of these, as well as how much we earn, or don't earn, can be both a positive, and/or, a negative, in the socializing quality of the time spent. And isn't also interesting that we express such time as a thing one spends just like money.

In some places, of course, there can be a great deal of socially satisfying interaction, just as there can be the same when we purchase items or services. But can one really say that this would apply in regards to the majority of these kinds of "socializing?" Given the nature of ever increasing competition, and the employer wanting the most results per dollar of time; or that spending money can have so many variables connected to not only the amount spent, but also the many factors involved in what prompted the spending in the first place, as well as all of the many expectations of those involved, one can see just how problematic it is for there to be a good outcome as regards quality social interactions.

I ask these questions, of course, because of my particular axe to grind here. It seems to me that, lf our daily lives were involved around working together to keep our community going, shifting tasks on a regular basis so that we'd have the chance to get to know a significant portion of our neighbors in the community, we'd have a much better chance of not only interacting more in a more natural, and organic context, but also to get a real sense that we matter to the community as a whole.

Contrast that with the factory mentality, or market focused, organization of a cost based social operating system. where everything is subject to the questions of status, intent, and what you can afford in time or money.

Just some more things to think about as we all march along, absorbed in our own special, and quite separated, interests.

Loneliness Is a Warning Sign to Be Social

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Prediction for AI From This Guy

Yes, if you believe that Intelligence is a cold, blunt force, take no prisoners, reasoning engine, that couldn't innovate it's way out of wet paper bag most of the time, then maybe that AI is nearly here.


"The dream is finally arriving," Gates said, speaking with wife Melinda Gates on Wednesday at the Code Conference. "This is what it was all leading up to."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Situation at Our Border with Mexico

I read the piece on what people at our border with Mexico think about having a wall to solve the immigrant problem in Esquire by John H. Richardson. I did that yesterday actually, but I needed to take a day to sit back and consider it all again.

If there is nothing else any of us can agree on here, it at least ought to be this: There are a number of personal realities involved here that certainly speak to a great deal of pain, and collateral damage, that either building, or not building, a wall would not address. It speaks volumes about how we usually go about things when neither side of having a wall, or not, do not necessarily outline their solutions with anything more than one or two big concept, and/or big ticket, specifics.

First off, of course, is that it has to be recognized that the people who live near the border on our side have to put up with a lot of shit. How could it be otherwise when you have so many people, already so desperate, and made even more so with the final trek to reach and cross, finally get there. If you were at extremes of thirst, and/or hunger, and poor to boot, you would do desperate things too. And however you view the humanitarian aspects of that desperation, those who have to deal with it first hand, on our side, are truly between a rock and a hard place. I know that if I lived there for any length of time I would probably see a wall as pretty good idea too. I would do that, obviously, because it would serve to make what I have been suffering through stop.

That it wouldn't make the problem itself stop is another matter altogether. And that of course is where things start to get complicated.

The thing is here, that to a very large extent, we were the ones who set things in motion, starting many decades ago, that created the conditions that forced so many of these people, from the south of our border, to be so desperate in the first place. And we did that with a combination of first, economic colonialism and resource rape; second: destabilizing political manipulations in the name of Anti Communism; and third: the further destabilization of our War on Drugs.

The fact is that the desperation that is festering in so many countries to the south of us is simply not going to go away by building a wall. Even if it stopped all further foot born immigration, it would only serve to create growing concentrations of those very same desperate people; either in Mexico, or other countries down there. And what is the one thing that we have learned when it comes to such situations? That they, and the failed states that created them, or are made to be failed states because of them, are then ripe ground for the kinds of hateful radicalization that makes for hoards of new enemies; enemies who might then be financed by opportunistic drug lords, or foreign despots there and elsewhere. The point being that stopping the unwanted immigration would still not alleviate our need to deal with desperate people; the only difference being that it would likely be far worse if we only moved to delay a final reckoning. And this is just the cold, realpolitik way of looking at things.

There is also, of course, a matter of significant morality here. People are suffering under unbelievable aspects of crushing poverty, and despotic abuse. Even if we weren't directly responsible for creating the conditions that brought these situations into being, we would still need to respond to the need because that's what a moral nation of conscience does; something we did before when so much of Europe went through several rounds of economic and political turmoil. We didn't have to consider building a wall then because we had vast oceans on both sides to limit the exodus.  Then too, of course, we had Ellis Island to filter the huge influx, but even that didn't stop undesirables from coming in; the point being that whoever they are, whether Italian, Irish, or Jew etc, a few of them will always cause real problems. But we accepted that, not only because it was the moral thing to do, but because the more forward thinking of us knew that taking in that diversity would only serve to make us stronger in the long run, which it certainly did.

So. Where does this leave us?

What we have to realize here is that no one measure will be enough. That a coordinated group of measures needs to be implemented, and for my part, building a wall would be the least effective long term, not only because of the cost, and how that would limit the other things we could do to go with it, but because such a thing would be too tempting to become a simplified, one off stroke to take the problem out of sight; where out of sight out of mind takes over.

In my mind we have to 1: Stop the war on drugs to pull the money out from under the drug lords. 2: Provide more direct aid to our people living on the border to protect their property, and compensate them when there is loss. 3: Work with the Mexicans to set up a series of refugee accommodation facilities all along their side of the border to provide not only immediate aid, but housing so that they can either be processed for permanent work visas, or temporary work visas; perhaps even creating permanent worker communities for commuting workers (maybe giving them the raw materials to build their own homes and thus a vested interest in keeping them livable). 4: Stop the political manipulations in countries that don't support capitalism, and focus instead on targeted humanitarian and economic aide where requested, as well economic isolation for those guilty of humanitarian crimes.

The one thing we absolutely do not want to do, however, is to start listening to simplistic politicians pandering to emotions of the moment just to get votes. Especially rich ones who couldn't care less about the interests of either the working people on our side of the border, or the desperate people on the other side going through hell trying to reach it.

At the Border, You Either Want 'The Wall' or Know Why It'll Never Happen

In which a card-carrying member of the East Coast cultural elite travels the length of the border in search of Donald Trump's America—and learns to stop worrying and love the Wall.

See Also:

How a Heroin Crisis Sparked a Police Revolution