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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Wiki Force



Consider the Internet.

Consider the World.

The Wikipedia is a phenomenal source of data. It contains data that is
(1) free to all, and
(2) time-accessible to all,
(3) it's primary function - collecting, processing, and editing information - is open to all.
Points 1 and 2 combine to assure continuity in that even users with older hardware and operating systems may still access the Wikipedia.

Point 3 is massively interesting, for at present Wikipedia has formed itself into a hierarchy of editors with so many rules that newcomers are rare to the ranks of contributors. There are some problems to be worked out.

This Wiki is an incredibly interesting simulation of politics: equality versus hierarchy, democracy versus oligarchy, anarchy versus control.
"The usefulness of Wiki is in the freedom, simplicity, and power it offers."
Anything which does not require freedom, nor simplicity, nor power (in the sense of individual power) does not need Wiki.

----

Over Christmas, my goddaughter was speaking of how many people she knew were forming theor own groups to meet together, eat, drink, and discuss religion. This was a reaction against the stifling hierarchical control of the mainstream churches and the constraints of old dogmas.

How fascinating, I thought, as the present mirrors the past, and we see Agape feasts again in Christianity. Only this time these are not self-conscious agape feasts that are based on scriptural references and a desire to resurrect the old get-togethers; these are real get-togethers of interested people who probably refer to their meetings as Bible and Brew... no agape nor any other New Testament Greek to be found anywhere.

Is this not a Wiki of the Spirit?

Look at the history of any religion and note the progress from the state of Wiki to the state of more and more central control and immoveable dogma. It seems to be a natural human cycling.

Some human enterprises seem designed for authoritarian controls, such as the arts of warfare. Sometimes mankind shifts their understanding of the authoritarian into a Wiki and create elitism and hierarchies.
Most big religions are very concerned about control. It is the nature of things. We wish to control our surroundings, have a home, keep our kids from harm, have a good education system, etc., and these desire for control seem to naturally move into areas that are the realm of the individual soul, a Wiki area if ever there was one.

By observing how Wikipedia handles itself we may get a clue how to solve the problem of the group mind, that is, how a number of individuals who are loving and caring can come together and create a much larger group which then exhibits all the cruelty and bestiality of raging carnivores.

How does the Wiki enshrine what is good and virtuous in its members, and how does it withstand the types of control which lead to it becoming moribund and static?

(note: An interesting response to this may be the Islamic radical response, which sees warfare and violence as a means to regain its ideal. In this case, it is not clear whether the ideal is Wiki or not.)

--

As far as I can determine, the word "wiki" comes from Ward Cunningham's "WikiWikiWeb"  (http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?WelcomeVisitors), and was a short way of saying "quick" - pronounced "kwik". So "quick,quick" became "wiki, wiki"

Larry Sanger
The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir
http://features.slashdot.org/story/05/04/18/164213/the-early-history-of-nupedia-and-wikipedia-a-memoir
So Ben explained the idea of Ward Cunningham's WikiWikiWeb to me. Instantly I was considering whether wiki would work as a more open and simple editorial system for a free, collaborative encyclopedia, and it seemed exactly right.
I still dream that it also comes from "wikiup", which is defined as " wikiup: a lodge consisting of a frame covered with matting or brush; used by nomadic American Indians in the southwestern United States".
The definition suggests a temporary structure that may or may not follow definite plans depending upon the terrain and locale one finds oneself in.
There is a certain freedom from the School of Architecture here.

I think also of the wikiup at the end of the film Melancholia.

It was a Naked Wikiup in the form of a pyramid,  having no brush or matting to enclose it. It was the gateway of eternity for those who sought refuge within.



--


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Downton Abbey 2014



I no longer watch Downton Abbey.

I have seen She-who-must-be-obeyed, who used to poo-poo my criticisms of it, start to wonder what is wrong with that Fellowes fellow?

The Guardian reviewed the premiere episode this year by saying that the USA has scads of crappy TV shows, so why can't the UK?

The NY Times waffled, and tried to damn with faint praise, while praising with faint damns.


Six Feet Under




I had wanted to write about the series Six Feet Under about two weeks ago, and the press of business stopped me from doing so.

I had never seen the series before, and I liked it.
Since it is winter, we watch episodic entertainments like Six Feet Under in an immersion form of viewing: we do not watch one episode a week, nor even merely two or three a week; we watch two or three consecutively on the same day, and we find comfort in them as the winds howl outside.

I watched Six Feet during the polar vortex, which started here January 6.
(Now we are watching Jewel In The Crown and will soon start Brideshead Revisited.)

There is a lot about the series I did not like; there were some things I found tedious and boring, but the cumulative effect was overwhelming and positive.

It dawned on me that this immersion method of at least 3 hours of viewing at a sitting is probably a lot like the ancient Greeks used to listen to the poetry of Homer as the bards recited the exploits of Achilles and the Achaeans and Odysseus and his crew: a long session, interrupted by food and drink, long enough to fall under the spell of the words of enchantment, and be taken into the realm of the characters that populate those tales.

The most effective forms of propaganda would be long hours spent in the realms and rituals of fantasy, are they not?
It makes me think of Leni Reifenstahl and the Nurnberg rallies she documented in The Triumph Of The Will.
The will has nothing to do with it, other than consciously entering the sacred lands, lands taboo and haram, because of the power therein.

We are transformed for good or for ill, depending as we choose our enchantments.
--

My Mother's Way



I had my wife call the mater this morning.

I could not take any more chatting her up. I had called Michigan Blue Cross/Blue Shield and gotten straight on her billing: it was not that her payments were messed up, but it was the matter of her getting the concept "due date" and the concept "when I write out the check" mixed up.

For on the passing of my father, we had to establish her in her own account, which was done sometime before June 2013. Her new account had the same due date early in the month, which requires one write out the check towards the end of the month to get it to Blue Cross by the early due date.

By December, 2013, Michigan BC/BS wanted to get everyone on a different schedule with a new due date moved from the beginning of the month to the end of the month.
My mother thus received an invoice with a due date of 12/09 for coverage from 12/15/2013 through 01/15/2014, say, according to the old way. Then under the new way BC/BC wanted to establish, she got an invoice with a due date for 12/25/2013 (instead of 01/09/2014 as it would have been under the old invoice plan) for the coverage period 01/16/2014 through 02/15/2014.

She did not glance at the coverage periods involved, only at the fact that she got two invoices with due dates in December. She was being double  billed!

So we called BC/BS and got the due date switched back to early in the month, around the 9th.

What mixed her up was the corrected invoice BC/BS had to issue to get the due date back from the 25th to the 9th of the month. When this correction came through, she saw it as a double billing again.
And this time she was certain of it, because it said that the due date was the 9th (as I was certain we had asked for back before Christmas), and she had always paid Blue Cross at the end of the month... forever!
And here it is again the beginning of the month!

She had gotten mixed up: under her old system of invoices,  one prepares the check at the end of the month to get it to Blue Cross by the 9th at the beginning of the month next. In a loose sense, one pays at the end of the month (even though the money's due at the beginning of the following month).
So I was mightily mixed up, too.
But Blue Cross had done what we asked: the due date was early in the month, meaning that you mail your payment in at the end of the month before (if you are very cautious about it).

Finally, it was settled... for a while. I don't even know if this is clear to anyone else.
You are lucky if is not!

However, this morning I could not talk to her anymore.
I had come home Tuesday. She had called Wednesday to see how I had made out with Blue Cross, and I had not gotten a chance to talk to them yet. I had spent about 150 minutes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday waiting to speak to someone; there were many questions relating to the new health care coverage as it turns out, and the volume of calls was unusually high.

During her Wednesday call, she told me how she remember that her nephew's first wife had died alone in her condo, and finally her daughter, step-daughter, or niece had decided that after a week of no phone calls, she had best investigate.
She discovered her dear mother, sainted step-mother, or doting aunt dead for a week.
I told her I was glad she was thinking happy thoughts.
She said that she wanted to save her children from the shock of such an event. (She had spoken to the girl who had been involved, and had been told how ghastly it all was.)

So she was going to call me every day from now on, so that I would know she was yet alive and would not have to worry that she was not.

I reminded her she had just two weeks ago left the phone off the hook for 36 hours just 2 hours after I had taken her to the heart doctor to get her pacemaker set. (She had been feeling very tired. She was going to wait until her March appointment, but she let it slip to my wife that she was short of breath at times.)
I attempted to call her the next day, Saturday, and mention that since she felt better, she best not overdo it and tire herself out.  Busy signal!  Busy signal for the next 6 hours.
Sunday my niece called with her news about the busy signal.
And so on.
(This had happened before, but not so perfectly scripted to occur 2 hours after the heart doctor visit.
Since it was 60 miles to drive there and since this has occurred before, I did not drop all and fly to her aid.
I knew my niece was probably going there Sunday.)

My mother rightly pointed out that a busy signal is better than no answer.
This would be perfectly true as long as one
(1) did not pick up the phone to call 911, and collapse on the floor before dialing, or
(2) one could count on sitting right next to the phone, since their hearing is so bad that they can not hear the phone ring otherwise.

It is not a perfect world... not by a long chalk.

--

The Great Beauty In Detroit

La Grande Bellezza


We saw this film Sunday past at The Detroit Film Theater (DFT) located at the Detroit Institute Of Arts (DIA).
It was a cold day, with a wind just enough to chill you, but not enough to freeze the slush on the streets. Part of John R street had collapsed behind the DIA; crews were there working. The men were heavily layered and moved like Morlocks with safety vests on. The flaps of the head warmers they wore beneath their hard hats blew back and forth in the wind, slapping their faces, as if the wind itself and the ninja-star-snowflakes it threw at everyone were not enough.
The Scarab Club stood silent and dark, not at all unlike the ironic and dystopic face of the idol that was mounted above the temple where Rod Taylor's time chariot was stored in the film The Time Machine, being an icon so inscrutable and shadowed that one could not foresee whether it be benign or malign... or both, a Kali-like deity of the winter landscape.

The DFT had been re-done. My friend said that they re-gilt the interior golds, which are everywhere according to the roccoco style of the period when the great limestone pile was put up, and I said - in my usual way - that that was the billion that broke the exchequer of the City of Detroit.
(I don't suppose any city money was used in the work; it probably came from DIA endowment funds, or at least funds augmented by the suburbs taxes.)

Once the film began, I immediately thought of Fellini and La Dolce Vita. It was pretty obvious that was the intended effect. It was a phenomenon referred to these days as an homage.
And I concur in this practice of homage. In fact, I have found myself indulging in extensive homages when I write. It used to be called plagiarism, and was troublesome. Now it is a French word, and va bien.


If I take to a life of white-collar crime and counterfeit currency , then when apprehended by the police and questioned, I shall say it is a bagatelle, a mere case of faux-monnayage and I was only indulging in an extended homage to le roman d'André Gide.)

I do not sit well for long periods of time, especially in theater seats that were made for folks that were not so vast athwart the beam, as it were; for beings of lesser girth than we; Procrustean seats into which we are thrust and twisted into unnatural poses... I usually come out of movie theaters looking like some metal work by Max Ernst:

I was in agony for the first 30 minutes or so. I was thinking "Fellini rip-off!", the word homage having fallen out of my vocabulary as my distress mounted.

Then everything changed. I became enchanted.
The montage of Fellini images pointed to the fact that not much had changed in our society in the years since La Dolce Vita; we were still a group of shallow blokes looking for a one-night stand and booze, drugs, and the latest dance craze.
The Fellini homages were a flashback, and a very effective one, I should say.

The color was stunning. I had gotten used to film color that was dull, insipid, and dark; rather as if every film were Underworld: Extinction and dealt with the brutish ways of vampires and their natural-born enemies, the werewolves.
This film has amazing color.
And its use is well controlled. The only vast space of neon is a large Martini sign on the skyline as seen from the digs of the main character. What a relief that is from the Conceits Of Tokyo: the Bladerunner-ish forests of neon who fill the night by emptying it.

A character named Sister Maria is the focus of the end of the film, and she sums up everything when asked for an interview.
I took a vow of poverty.
You do not talk about poverty; you live it.
And this Sister Maria is even more, for as we watch the corybantic and frenzied activity of the upper classes of Rome, we probably feel we are not really part of that shallow existence. But, when we see Sister Maria, we see her to resemble Mother Theresa closely.
This draws us in, for we all have an opinion about Mother Theresa. We have become one with the story now; we did not feel as one with the revellers who party each and every night, but we do have beliefs and judgements about people in the news, and Mother Theresa is the bait which draws us into the trap of enchantment.

And drawn in we most certainly are, for when at last Sister Maria speaks, we are anticipating her to mouth nonsensical platitudes about supernatural beings at best, and to droll inanely at worst.

We anticipate this, because we - although we do not dance all night and sleep all day - we are prisoners of our unexplored, unexamined, and unstudied lives.
We have the illusions of belief which cause us to see Sister Maria as a mimic of Mother Theresa, and we are lead by those illusions to expect her to say that which we have already heard and already accepted or dismissed.

Surprise!

The film was 2 1/2 hours long, and I anticipated at the beginning that I would be leaving on a stretcher. However, the pain was eclipsed by The Great Beauty!

--


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Punctuated Progress Of Free Markets




In the Domestic Encyclopedia, or a Dictionary of Facts, and Useful Knowledge, Volume III, Murray and Highle, published in 1882 and available as a Google ebook, we see the following entry under the title LEAD:

[...]

Lead, when taken or inhaled into the human body, is productive of various fatal disorders, to which miners, potters, and all other persons concerned in its manufacture are peculiarly subject. Hence culinary vessels, or other domestic utensils made of this metal, are highly objectionable, especially if they are intended to contain cyder or other acid liquor. 

In whatever form lead may be introduced into the human body, it is equally deleterious and fatal, whether its vapours be inhaled through the lungs, absorbed through the pores of the skin, or particles of the metal betaken into the stomach. The only effectual antidotes to this Insidious poison are, antimonial emetics; and, after them, die internal use of liver of sulphur, together with vegetable oils, both externally and internally, should be liberally continued...

 The article was published in 1882, yet we still have paints recently used that have contained lead. Recently it has been a gasoline additive , ethyl, that was combusted into the air.

Compare this history to that of asbestos.... or tobacco.

History is repealed when there is profit to be made. The science of the past is forgotten, and what are we but rich and wealthy troglodytes? We think we are progressing, but we are enriching ourselves in one step, while taking four steps backwards in the other important areas of life.,

I hope Climate Science does not eventuate in a similar idiocy.

--

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Isle Of Pines


There is a certain irony in going on vacation to the Isle of Pines, then finding there is barely enough room to turn around in.

Won't even mention these are deciduous trees here, unless they are stone pines.

--

Friday, January 24, 2014

Net Neutrality

What gives the US Supreme Court the right to undermine Net Neutrality?

The Internet was developed originally by taxpayer money under DARPA, and  in  its entire existence there has been adherence to the Priniciple of Net Neutrality.

In other words, there is ample precedent that the Net be neutral and remain so.

The Conservative Majority on this Court once again has given a free ride to corporate interests, allowing them to transform something that is not theirs to change.

--

Techno-Freckles And Feather-Bedding Advertisements




I am making progress with my new computer.

I have discovered some new things about my Synaptic TouchPad V7.5, and it is working a great deal better. These things are "discovered" because they were not covered in the instructions. It seems to me that one of the major flaws with technology is a strange inability to communicate with precision.

The mathematics, the electrical engineering, the computer science are done extremely well, but the communication with the user seems to be full of gaps and lack of clarity, not to mention that sometimes the technology companies do not seem to have a proper understanding of their products; that is, their products operate within a range of variability, yet they seem to write to me as if everything was exactly that point estimate of exactitude that they set themselves to attain.

Case in point: enlarging or diminishing the display.
The instructions say that you spread your two fingers to enlarge and pinch them to diminish, just as if you were working an iPhone.
However, on my computer, this spreading of the fingers has the effect of letting a lonely bull out into the fields filled with Holsteins; it cannot be easily controlled. Same way for the finger pinch; it rapidly decreases in a Costanza-ish manner that is disconcerting.

However, I have found that using a series of small strokes, either spreading or pinching, controls the movement very well. I estimate that I move the fingers maybe just less than an inch apart or together and things are under control.
And it is not the tip of the finger one uses, rather a portion of the finger tip upon which the fingerprint is.
And for highlighting text, the double tap is nowhere as slow as the instructions indicate; rather, it is a fast double tap - about 3 to 4 times faster -  and then highlight.
There is no mention of any of this in the instructions. In the instructions, it is the best of all possible worlds, sort of like the Speech Recognition tutorial that gets you all enthusiastic about using your voice to control things. There are only so many times one can say "Scroll down" and get an inquiry whether one said "Blow down" or "Flow down", and please say the number of the correct item without becoming despondent.

I bought an HP optical mouse which works well.
We usually sit in a chair to read the news, and we have the laptop recumbent on our laps upon a write/erase board which I drafted for the job of supporting the laptop while allowing air to move freely into the cooling system.
The mouse works very well by just using the arm of the chair as a mouse pad. This surprised me, and I was very happy to see how that worked out. The mouse cost about $15.

My Optical Mouse


I still have a lot of worthless apps cluttering up the start screen.
Reading is getting harder, for the more proficient I become, the faster I go, and I am always ready to jump into an article, but there are so many ads that need to be closed and small Flash videos running somewhere that I have to be patient.
It seems to me that faster processors are needed not just for gaming, but also for mundane tasks, such as reading a news site, because before I can navigate the page, I have to wait for all the techno-skin-tags and techno-freckles to finish loading on the face of the front page.

I mean, I should have bought something that ran close to the speed of IBM's Watson just to read the morning news. I usually go to the first page of an article I wish to read, read the first couple lines, or the first paragraph, then a page down or two-finger scroll to continue, and the thing just sits still as it waits for the feather-bedding advertisements to get their 8 hours in.



I can just hear them:

Registration Advertisement: "Hey! You! Two-Finger Righty! Slow down! Ya wanna ruin this cushy job for the rest of us?!"

Flash Video Ad:  "If you don't slow down, I'll make you crawl! "

--


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Musing About Possession

After my post on "The Gods Of Bubbles", I am "musing" on our times.
We inhabited not a time of emotion, but a time of possession: we are inspired by the powers about us, but we have neglected to take the important precaution of learning how to be virtuous.

Lacking virtue, we are playthings in the hands of the dark gods of fear and hatred.

Virtue actually is its own reward.

--

The Gods Of Bubbles





Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/23/us-caterpillar-china-special-report-idUSBREA0M03720140123

(Reuters) - Asia's top mergers and acquisitions bankers gathered two years ago at the swanky Island Shangri La in Hong Kong to celebrate the top deals of 2012. As the transactions were being toasted, one was unraveling.
Advisers on Caterpillar Inc's $677 million purchase of ERA Mining Machinery Ltd picked up an award for cross-border deal of the year. The purchase was billed as a coup for Caterpillar, the world's top maker of tractors and excavators. ERA was the holding company for Zhengzhou Siwei Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Manufacturing Co Ltd, one of China's biggest makers of hydraulic coal-mine roof supports. Siwei would help Caterpillar gain traction in the world's largest coal industry. 
"Siwei was going to be our Chinese business card," said a person with direct knowledge of Caterpillar's strategy. 
The night of the awards on November 16 three Caterpillar lawyers were wrapping up an eight-hour grilling of Wang Fu, Siwei's chairman. Major accounting problems had been unearthed at Siwei headquarters in the gritty Chinese city of Zhengzhou. Two months later, on January 18, 2013, Caterpillar said it had discovered "deliberate, multi-year, coordinated accounting misconduct" at Siwei...
 There were a lot of alarms and warnings that were ignored by Caterpillar.

There were in a "bubble" mentality; they were in a rush for the China gold mine of investment; there was "irrational exuberance".

I tend to look at everything as One; I mix everything together, just like the universe is.
To me, Caterpillar in China and Plato's dialogue Io have a lot in common.

I am presently reading Io in Greek. You have to do this because the translations can be so ghastly.
Io is a Homeric rhapsode, that is Io recites the works of Homer - and no one else but Homer - to audiences who gather in whatever cities of Greece he happens to be visiting.

Now if you have any familiarity with Plato, you know that he banned poets from his ideal city-state in his dialogue The Republic.

We should get an idea of why he did that as we read how he roughly handles poor old Io, whom I think he unfairly makes to look buffoonish and loopy, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.
Plato talks of knowledge and art. Art for Plato is not "ART" as we know of it with its own cult. In Plato, blacksmiths, potters, painters, and sculptors are are pliers of their respective arts.

A person who has knowledge of an art - such as an expert in painting - is able to make true statements about the art of all paintings and painters, and is able to say why some painting is good and other is Thomas Kinkade-ish, or even redolent of Red Skelton's "Sad Clown Period".

A poet is a different matter, for the poet plies no art. Rather, the poet is inspired and possessed by a god, the Muse. Just like Pythia at Delphi, the poet cannot control his tongue, and his speech pours forth in fine metrical fashion by the divine force.

Plato uses a great metaphor of a magnet and a series of iron rings.
The magnet attracts an iron ring, then imparts to this ring the ability to magnetize, and a second ring is attached hanging down from the first, then a third is attached, and so on. This creates a chain of rings hanging down from the magnet.
(This is an area where the translation may be so faulty. I have read writings on this which refers to "a magnet and iron filings" which is not at all the metaphor nor point Plato wished to make. We all are familiar with magnets and iron filings, particularly that toy in which we put iron filing hair, eyebrows, and beard on a bald cartoon figure with a bulbous nose... in fact, that guy looks like the first cousin of the poor schlub in the game Operation.)

Plato's point seems to be that the god inspires the poet, and the divine inspiration works through the poet to posses the hearer, who then may repeat the epic poetry to  another hearer, who in turn is possessed of the inspiration, and so on.
I interpret it as the god inspires the poet, who is compelled to create the poetry. That poetry than inspires the rhapsode, Io, and he feels a similar urge to recite the poetry to various people, who themselves are then inspired by sacred Homer.
(What these hearers of Io do in their turn is of no consequence. They probably get up the next morning and look out the window and say something like "O, rosy-fingered dawn!")

The point for me is that Plato has knowledge, or rational behavior. We know from the Symposium he is familiar with emotional behavior.
And here we have inspirational behavior, which is quite different from the other two. And he does not particularly approve.

When he adduces examples of inspired behavior, he uses the Bacchae and the Corybantes, who in a wild frenzy at night draw milk and honey from a babbling brook, which, in the sober light of day, they see as a dribble of a stream that a flock of sheep just urinated in. (This is one of his "iron-fisted insults within a velvet glove" attacks on poor Io, who smiles at it all.)

Plato does not trust Inspiration.

In a rush to invest, Caterpillar used rational approaches and probably emotional ones, too. But they failed as they plunged into a state of "possession" by the Mammon of China Investment.

Rational behavior and Emotional behavior do not explain how sane people connect themselves into a delusory chain of activity, a prison from which there is no escape other than the bursting of the bubble.

We live in a time of Possession.

Who are the gods who posses us?

In the National Geographic, Volume 193, No. 6, June 1998, there is an article on the Raji people of Nepal who inhabit the tarai subtropical forest lands between Nepal and India. They make their livings primarily as hunter-gatherers of honey, for which they scale tall trees, brave the stings of outraged bees, and process the honey to sell it to neighboring villages.



In 1998, times were changing. The lands the Raji inhabited were being opened to farmers and large tracts were being claimed as national park lands.
'Pagou Ram, an elder, describes the fate of 3,000 Raji: "Before we knew where the gods were. They were in the trees. Now there are no trees." '
The gods are the wellsprings of power within life, the things that create and transform, that make life and death and transcend them even then.

I was talking to a friend Tuesday, and she briefly touched on how working by the river affects us. She said it changes your psychology. Or it moves you, affects your soul. Here we see the river as a power, and in old times it would be a god with its own naiads and nymphs.

There are all these things of power within our lives, and they are the gods described by the Raji as well as Plato.
We can chose to live with these powers and be well, or we can - like Caterpillar - allow ourselves to be possessed by these powers for the wrong reasons.

For if Caterpillar had wished more than anything to have a business in China that would benefit the Chinese people and themselves, if they had sought good growth and reasonable investment, rather than idolizing the notion of being in China first and maybe excluding others, they probably would not have stumbled.

So too we all : rational in the ways of the world, using good emotions to give life to the sensitive universe, and being inspired by the powers from which all that is good in life flows.

We receive from the power of God, we love and nurture with what has been given to us, and we are wise and rational husbandmen.

--


How Congress Makes Bills




The Daily Yonder:
 http://www.dailyyonder.com/counties-federal-lands-lose-big/2014/01/21/7138

By now, most people have heard about the various winners and losers in the $1.1 trillion budget passed last week. But what missed the attention of most national media is screaming-mad, front-page news all across the West.

Congress did not fund payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILT. PILT payments for this year – which began in October – were to be $400 million divided among 1,850 counties containing federal land...

Example after example fills state and local media as counties try to scramble to figure out how to keep operating without these crucial funds...

Yes, small Western towns, but in reality close to half the land area of the U.S. just got a funding cut. Money used for emergency services, search and rescue, roads, law enforcement, education and other essential programs have not been funded.

PILT has been funded since 1976 as a way to compensate counties and local governments for the federal public lands they contain, because those lands are exempt from paying taxes. PILT payments and non-payments affect counties across most of the U.S. but especially the West and Alaska...


Yep. Congress forgot close to half the land area of the USA.

--

Antibiotic Resistant Denialists


Pig Farm With Manure Ponds


The FDA wants to force companies that use triclosan in hand soaps to prove their case that their products safely kill germs and do not cause the proliferation of anti-biotic resistant bacteria.

Meanwhile, Big Agriculture forces antibiotics down the throats of pigs and chickens on a massive scale, keeps the animals sequestered together until it is slaughtering time, and spreads their manure as fertilizer over neighboring farmlands.

Well, do you get more problems from a bunch of individuals washing their hands a couple times a day, or do you get more trouble from a immense hot house breeding ground of antibiotic use?

Let's appoint a commission, then argue about the science, possibly getting up an "Antibiotic Resistance Denial" faction in the "conservative" minds of the country.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/01/mrsa-col-cafo/

--

Fracking



Apparently, tap water does indeed ignite, but it may not be due to fracking, but instead the excess amounts of phlogiston within the aquifers from which the locals draw their water.

http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2014/01/marcellus-shale-documentary-project/

--

Sunday, January 19, 2014

An American Tragedy


Thumbs Up For Acceptable Kill Rates



In the past week, some children have been shot.

In most of the world, you have to look for places where there are wars and rebellions and particularly child soldiers fighting to find comparable statistics.

Here, however, these statistics of mortality are acceptable under the Anarchy of Weaponized Society.
There is a vast difference between bearing arms and properly bearing arms.

How does one properly bear arms?

I believe the Second Amendment states it:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Therefore, one properly bears arms if the intention of the weapon's owner is to be part of a well regulated militia.
A well regulated militia is one which is properly regulated.
Thus, the proper use of arms should be part of the regulation exercised by the well regulated militia.
(The militia may be regulated from above by governmental authorities, but it may also regulate to those below under its militia authority; regulation runs both ways.)

A well regulated militia does not carry arms into neighborhood art fairs, nor do they hide loaded weapons under a bed when the grandkids come over to visit.

--

Perfectly Said





Remember the film Privilege?
Was it not a fascist dream-forecast?
Heroes and heroines are created from their  arduous efforts and their relationship with other people. Anything that seeks to create heroic-celebrity for some commercial purpose creates mock heroes and heroines.

Any Narrative that emulates a long-term epic story must have a foundation and goal greater than greed and acquisitiveness.
Otherwise, it does a Lindsey Lohan, a Brittany, a Michael Richards...
Money is not the proper pedestal for culture heroic figures.

Mother Jones
http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/01/joseph-gordon-levitt-interview-hitrecord-tv-pivot-fascist-cult-celebrity
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Dream Project: Toppling the "Fascist Cult of Celebrity"
"With this show, I'm not gonna look down on people and declare them the audience and say that I'm the performer."

... The show also serves as Gordon-Levitt's respite from the Hollywood hype machine. He's been stalked and hounded about homosexuality rumors, and has called celeb-tabloid culture "evil and poisonous." He's slammed various news channels as being infected with the strain of show biz, equating them to "some bullshit entertainment show." Now he's hoping to leverage what he once called the "fascist cult of celebrity" to his advantage...

--

Climate Change Business

Businessmen Making Decisions About The North Wind


Climate Change is a proposition that we may assign a certain probability to.

With Climate Change, there are risks and uncertainties. How do we make decisions with risk and uncertainty?
We do it all the time in business.

Climate Change should be handled as a business situation - an approach I think many insurers have already taken.
By turning it into a political situation, we have turned it into the usual political buffoonery, and obliterated all discussion of risk, uncertainty, and planning.

One of the first steps is to realize that very few propositions attain 100% certainty. Only death and taxes, so we make a decision to do our taxes and we make our wills based on 100% certainty.
In all other fields, we deal with varying amounts of uncertainty.
We should be able to quantify it and deal with Climate Change in the same way: intelligently.

Apply the probabilities to the risks and see what the future holds; a risk of a loss of $1,000 trillion dollars with a certainty of 50% means we should reasonably expect a 0.50 x $1,000 trillion = $ 500 trillion dollar loss sometime in the future.
The present value of that loss is pretty big, given the low interest rates and depending on how far into the future we are projecting.

Let's make a business decision for our future!

--

The Decline And Fall Of Blogger 2

Recent Blogs of Note More »

i suwannee
Skipjack's Nautical Living


I have had this display on my dashboard for the past 5 years.

I think I've proved my point.

And I do not like Skipjack anymore. He has become arrogant.
I feel like Squidward does when Sponge Bob Squarepants is Employee Of The Month again for 52 months running.

--

Windows 8 Laptography

Getting Along In Windows 8



I am actually getting along with Windows 8. That's why The Beagle Boys have taken over from Goofy in the photo. Our plans of world domination are getting back on track.

By learning key stroke controls and using speech recognition and the quirky touchpad on my HP machine, I am getting in control.
I may spring for an optical mouse for less than $20.

My HomeGroup is established, and I am working on a plan for archiving past, present, and future which will probably include a Terabyte external HD for backups and long-term storage.

At this moment, I am working on my old machine. When I am done writing this, I will bring the new one in an try an take a photo with it web cam. Then I will transfer it via the HomeGroup Network to this machine, and you can see the Rube Goldberg set-up I've had since Christmas:
Old Reliable - a Lenovo - whose display hinges gave out, so I used small C-clamps to apply enough pressure for them to hold the screen up again. My wife over-tightened one of these, causing the screen to crack , and I had to connect it to an old HPw2007 monitor witha VGA cable just to see things.
The laptop battery is totally toast and only works with a direct supply of electricity, and the monitor has an iffy power connection which, once you have the power cord jiggled around into the right position, you try not to touch it again.

I shall add the photo to this post later today, so check back later for the steampunk laptop show.

I did not opt for TouchScreen, and I am glad I did not do so.
I have enough issues stemming from my posture while doing my Laptography (Plato's and Aristotle's expression for "writing while using a laptop or tablet"... pronounced lap-TO-graph-y... the final "p" in "laptop" is elided).

I really doubt that I could put up with even more slouching forward even the few millimeters needed to interact with the screen. I think I would be better off to learn touch typing. There are a host of ergonomic issues in all this.
That's why when the concept of Google glasses was floated about 7 years ago, I thought it was sometimes a great notion.

--

Snapshot of old Lenovo





The glare on the large monitor is reflection.
The white on the laptop monitor is parts of a messed up screen.
Notice the C-clamp 0n the right.

--

What I Like To Read: Kommersant



The Russian website Kommersant is very good, and provides different viewpoints and insights into the affairs of the world.
It is a good read.

A long time ago, 2002 to be exact, I caught on to how things went in the US media, when we patriotically stood up and sang alongside our British kin:



Propaganda! May it rule thee airwaves!
We wish to be blind, obedyent slaves!

--




Gates Tells All !



There is a similarity between Robert M. Gates, rushing to the publisher, and Edward Snowden, is there not?

Both were operating under an assumed level of secrecy and discretion, and both contravened that secrecy for what they both perceived as important reasons.

--

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Proof Of The Phoney Beggar




I had a post 'Tis The Season To Be Marley in which the following occurs:


"She filled out some detail for me of the whole affair of her trip to Chicago two years ago in even more ghastly detail:
"I mean, Montag, you could look through the windows and see white people with their little girls all dressed up for Christmas tea, and right next to you outside there was a young black mother with three kids sitting on the sidewalk, holding a sign saying 'Help me feed my family.' "
She did not think I could take the Real Dickensian, the horrible irony of Wealth against Grinding Poverty. She thought I would start dreaming of the arrogance of the masters of the world who built the Tower of Babel. I might act up rough, and go all prophet, denouncing Dives taking tea while Lazarus starves."


Someone tells me the story of the beggar lady who, as 6 o'clock comes, straightens up, puts her cane over her shoulder and struts home to her place in the suburbs: a case where an able-bodied person is shamming disability and poverty and making a good living at it.

I sort of stared at them when they finished.
I mean, what does one say?

What does one say when confronted by someone who argues from one specific case to a general normative law?
There are beggars;
There is at least one phoney beggar;
Therefore, all beggars are phoney.

I mean, the overpowering smell of the illogical nature of it all.
Dr. McCoy - Bones, if you will - often disagreed with Mr. Spock about his emphasis on logic, but I think even Bones would say that it is most definitely "Illogical!"

--

Brace Yourselves

Robert Gates



Karl von Clausewitz


Joachim Murat


Paul von Hindenburg


Auguste de Marmont


Erich Ludendorff


--

Robert Gates




I really need a neck brace, such as the one Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense, wore as he was being interviewed and denigrating the Obama administration's foreign policy. When I sleep the wrong way, I get a kink in le col which is a great pain in le cul  (as the man in the Bay of Biscay said when asked whether he listens to cable TV.)

Mr. Gates was critical of Mr. Obama on Syria.

It is a tough position to be in.
Remember that when all this started, most of the best and brightest wanted the USA to oppose Assad and back the rebels with might and main. Unfortunately, this ignored the fact that Al Qa'ida was an ally in the rebel opposition.
The best and  brightest believed that we could control the outcomes and sideline Al Qa'ida. They have been easy to control. I believe they are in control of Falluja right now, almost eleven years after the War in Iraq started.

They wanted a clear mandate to bomb Assad's chemical weapons where they stood, ignoring any potential effect of the Syrian population.
Since these weapons are now being dismantled in the middle of the ocean, it seems likely that bombing while they remained on the ground in Syria could have been disastrous. Otherwise we should have brought them to New York and worked on them, just as we tried to put various militants on trial (and failed).

It is a difficult task to create a new foreign policy. You have the great bulk of people brain-washed into the old ways and means of thinking; their first reaction is to bluster and bomb.
Bluster and Bomb have worked in the past, by Gadfrey! Should work just fine now, too! Neville Chamberlain should have sent bombers into the Sudetenland and given a black eye to Herr Hitler!

Worked well on Dresden, too. Burnt the bloody city to the ground. Hiroshima was another gold star. Vietnam worked well.
Cambodia.
Laos.
Iraq.

Ooops! Somewhere in that litany of the gods of war, things began to go wrong.
Somewhere we missed a beat and the triumphal parade took a wrong turn, sort of like a cute Santa Day parade on Thanksgiving taking a left instead of a right and taking the route into a very, very tough neighborhood...
... things still look rosy for a while; Santa's on his sleigh and all's right with the world... then shots ring out!
Christmas Carol maces a group of roustabouts, and Santa is mugged and forced to hand over his surveillance list of Naughty-and-Nice!

When the best and brightest have a motto that we must win Hearts and Minds of some targeted populace, and they go about it with guns and bombs and drones, it is no wonder the President hesitates to pay attention to the best and brightest.
How would you respond to an overture of friendship that involved bombing a relative's wedding party?

Although we seem to not be able to see it, there is a vast difference between being "tough minded" and being "bloody minded".

--

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Frenzied

 A Follower Of Bacchus


I think that what today we are viewing in our society and calling wealth inequity is actually an income bubble.
There is a "bubble" mentality everywhere:  everything is fast and furious and new jack.

It is Alan Greenspan's "irrational exuberance".

The overly energetic ( new jack ) way of life leads to irrational exuberance.
I mean, it's like the Bacchantes  (or Bacchae)  of Euripides, is it not?
...The family is destroyed, with Agave and her sisters sent into exile. Cadmus and his wife Harmonia were actually honored by Dionysus when he turns them into snakes. Tiresias, the old, blind Theban prophet, is the only one not to suffer.
Wikipedia

Sort of sums it up nicely.

--

How To Dodge A Java Update


I would like to start up my computer some day without seeing that another Java the Hutt update is available.
It is almost as annoying as Adobe Air updates.
Java is particularly good, because once it has installed, it immediately informs me again that there is an update available, and let's spend some more time on verifying the version, OK?

Or Firefox updates.
I save a large number of references as complete web pages. Suddenly, sometime since Christmas, I updated yet another Firefox update after putting them off for days, only to have them pester me more and more. Lo and behold! I can no longer save complete web pages.

There is a fix with SavePageURL or some such thing which is an add on used with web pages saved as HTML files. It seems to work well.

It only took an hour to research and search... that's how you do it when you're a tech consumer schlub on the "techie" end of the stick: you research and search.

On my new computer, I am actually staying with Internet Explorer.
Whatever Firefox has to offer just is not worth it.

--

Climate Today

 Rum Runner from Canada Approaches Detroit in the 1920s



While the polar vortex had us within its icy grip, I wrote a post entitled The Day After Tomorrow about things climate change. As I continued my study, it appears that I pulled a Trump, which is, I spouted off about things about which I knew little... and that little might be poorly stated in my mind anyway.

Weather researchers pointed out that such polar vortices were once more common than they are now. These intensely cold masses of air were not a sign of Weather Gone Wild, but were actually an indicator of warming, for in the recent past, winters were colder.

That was food for thought.

So when I made my weekly trek to Mothersville to take out her garbage and perform other homely tasks, we fell to talking about climate change.
Now my mother is a FOX-News-Totaller. She evens quaintly believes that they are not a propaganda machine, but are actually "Fair and Balanced" like they claim to be.
(They claim it, but they are not. What is most baneful about FOX is that its propaganda is exactly the views of Roger Ailes. If his views agree with intelligent conservative thought, everything is in agreement.
However, if his views do not agree with intelligent conservative thought, Mr. Ailes views will carry the day on the on-air propaganda. That is probably not a good thing.)

Thus, we have never agreed much on climate change.
However, when I told her that a researcher had said that the polar vortex was actually a sign that winters were warmer because we used to have many more such polar air masses, and that they used to stay longer, she agreed.

I was stunned!

However, she said that in her opinion it was a true statement, for during the time in January that the very cold air held sway, the St. Clair River in front of her condo was ice covered.
If there is one thing people who live on rivers talk about, it is the river and its ways.
My parents frequently used to reminisce about their childhoods, and in the winter of those days, the river - St. Clair River and the Detroit River - were often frozen solidly over.

People used to drive cars across from Algonac, Michigan to Harsens Island. The Purple Gang used to drive trucks filled with crates of booze from Canada to places up and down the rivers. Most of the fishing was done through the ice. There are ice fishermen nowadays, but they are not expert on the moods of ice anymore. The ice only forms in Anchor Bay, and every year the Coast Guard has to rescue a few who misjudged the ice, and then drifted off on a floe.


 Tug in an Ice Floe


I can honestly say that the last time I saw the St. Clair River South Channel frozen solid was sometime in the 1950's.
This river can frequently become jammed by floe ice in the bottle neck between Algonac and Harsens Island, but that is not a solid piece of ice; one would not drive a car on it, say. Certain bays will freeze solid, too, but the rivers through which the current flows do not. The St Clair River leaves Lake Huron at a pace of 15 knots, and the water flows to Lake St. Clair and on to the Detroit River.

My mother said that they had always wondered why the rivers no longer froze. Sometimes they thought it may be heated industrial waste water or chemicals from Sarnia, Ontario, but no one had ever proven anything.

She said she believed that the winters were definitely warmer.
She did not say she believed in some Climate Change theory, but... well, the rivers don't freeze.
Make the most of it!

--

The Decline And Fall Of Blogger

Every time I post, there are numerous small errors reported. They do not seem to stop things, but they really should not be there is a properly run system.

I get the distinct impression Google does not care too much about Blogger anymore.
I was talking to Baysage ( http://whatpowderfingersaid.blogspot.com/ )   about it, and he noticed the glitches too. They have been going on over a year now, I think.

I guess it is time to get a copy of your blog as backup and be ready for the shut down that will occur with the speed and rapidity of the assassination of Google Reader.

--

Lost Decades



CNN has a story about a mother who wishes to treat her son's leukemia with medical marijuana. She believes the cancer went into remission by the treatment using a combination of chemo and marijuana, and she wants to continue maintenance now with only the pot.
The medical establishment is aghast, and threatens some sort of official action.

3-year-old is focus of medical marijuana battle
By Saundra Young, CNN
updated 9:49 AM EST, Wed January 15, 2014
(CNN) -- He's only 3 years old, but Landon Riddle is already the focus of a medical marijuana fight in Colorado.

Landon has acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It's the most common cancer in children.

His mother says his condition has improved so much following treatment with medical marijuana that chemotherapy isn't needed. But the Children's Hospital of Colorado, she says, disagreed.

[...]

...their research led them to the Stanley brothers in Colorado. The six brothers are one of that state's biggest cannabis growers and dispensary owners...

...But the Stanleys were also growing something quite revolutionary: a plant cross-bred to reduce the THC and increase another compound found in cannabis called cannabidiol, or CBD. Many researchers believe CBD is one of the compounds in marijuana that has medicinal benefits. According to the National Cancer Institute, it's thought to have significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activity without the psychoactive effect.

[...]

Six months later, encouraged by Landon's progress, she stopped his chemotherapy treatments completely.

"Once I took the chemo out, I see these amazing results. And no more need for blood transfusion and platelet transfusions," Riddle says. "I think that the chemo in combination with the cannabis did put him into remission and now the cannabis will keep him there."
I underlined what I thought was most important, the fact that a plant has medicinal properties - just like birch bark was the source of aspirin - and modern day medicine is not comfortable with it. But how could they be comfortable with it? For had not 99% of any possible research been obstructed by the wall erected by the United States Controlled Substances Act?

I repeat, the human body manufactures its own cannabinoids, chemicals related to the chemicals of Marijuana. If you want to research these alongside the THC of Cannabis, get ready for a nightmare of DEA bureaucratic paperwork and questioning.



We mentioned a little while ago another case:
Pot For Tots
http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/2013/07/pot-for-tots.html
...While New Jersey is one of at least 18 states to authorize medical marijuana use, its rules make it almost impossible for Vivian's mother, Meghan Wilson, 34, of Scotch Plains, to get the type of cannabis medicine that may help her daughter's epilepsy.
"It's beyond frustrating," Wilson, a consultant who runs clinical trials for drugmakers, said by telephone. Vivian gets seizures from a form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, she said. In Colorado and California, where it's easier to treat youngsters with pot, afflicted children have improved after receiving cannabis, and some are almost symptom-free, she said...

We have lost a half century of research because we put up incredible obstacles to legitimate research when we  placed Marijuana on Schedule I as a Hallucinogenic or Psychedelic Substance with the Administrative Controlled Substances Code Number of  7360.

The idiocy is manifest. There was no meaningful research done to justify the placement on Schedule I. Everything was based on scraps of science, imagination, stereotypes, fears, and propaganda.

Was this an evil thing to do? Was this another view into the Banality of Evil? The accounting for and classifying all the drugs, putting everything into a nice, neat order in order to run our wasteful and ill-considered war on drugs?

From the viewpoint of the sick who could have been helped by such research, it was an unmitigated catastrophe.

A society which patterns its Morality after the dictates of Propaganda is doomed to see all its idols smashed in an awful twilight.

--

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eternal Truths




... Establishing legumes works best when the grasses have been knocked back by heavy grazing, burning, or dry weather. The timing is right this year.
You can frost-seed legumes with a late winter broadcast, letting the freeze-thaw cycle work the seed into the soil for germination. Kallenbach prefers a no-till drill for seeding legumes.
“It costs more, but the germination success rate can be about 67% with the drill vs. 32% by broadcast,” he says. Be meticulous in setting the drill, because the small legume seeds should be placed only ¼ to ½ inch deep...
http://www.agriculture.com/livestock/cattle/grazing/4-tips-to-rejuvenate-pastures-from_279-ar40810

No matter how scientific farming and agriculture become, they never lose sight of the world, the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the seasons, the cycles of man, animals, and plants.

--

At This Moment...

Chest Cold Wiseguy



It is time to go running.
I have recovered from my little chest cold, and it is time to move along.

It has been so long since I have had a chest cold that I have forgotten how they progress. I started off last Tuesday with a scratchy throat, and each day brought a sharpening of the horns of the dilemma: one horn went into the sublimity of my head, the other descended into the Avernus of my lungs.
And each day thereafter, there was a slight tightening, more coughing, and more tidal wave sinus action.

Friday past I told She-who-must-be-obeyed that I was perplexed; I felt as if I were getting better when I went to bed, but when I awoke, the virus seemed to be moving deeper and higher and I was not cured after all!

She said that that's how cold work. They get worse, then they get better. Week, ten days, whatever.

I pondered that for a while.

I mean, I thought that just because I jumped on top of this thing, made up a cauldron of onion soup with chicken broth as well as beef broth, and sacrificed many cloves of garlic as well, I should be - like - bright-eyed and bushy tailed, should I not?
No, the soup averts secondary infections, and does not attack the primary one.

I felt impatience, either that of a young ram or a querulous oldbuck.

But now I want to talk about Epic Poetry and the series Six Feet Under.
She-who-must-be obeyed had viewed Six Feet reruns and highly recommended it, so I bought it for Xmas.
She is a choice augur of good outcomes for such things, and she was most certainly in the case of Six Feet Under. (She had an off-day with Rising Lark To Candleford, but everyone has off-days.)

But this will have to wait. I must run.

--

Critique Of Beliefs




I have been thinking about beliefs a long time.

One thing about beliefs is the fact that a belief may be proven to be incorrect.
This is pretty much how we use the language: beliefs may turn out to be false.

Plato made the distinction between opinion and knowledge and that is pretty much the same as hypothesis and fact.

Since I do not conceive of God as an hypothesis, God is not subject to belief in my way of looking at things. God cannot be proven to be false. Hence, I do not believe in God, as I say, but I expect God. I live with the anticipation of divine immediacy... on the edge...
I am not "one with God", but I am on the "verge of falling" into eternity.

We are all on the edge of eternity, in one sense or another. We shall all die, yet that reality does not make us live in terror, just as the immediacy of God need not cause us to act like desert anchorites or medieval mystics.

If you do not believe in God and, thus, cannot use the concept of God to cobble together a "belief system" and philosophy and morality, how does one cope?

I think step 1 is to learn virtue.
This resembles the way our society held that sports were important for children to inculcate loyalty to the team, selfless altruism in playing for the common benefit of the team, perseverance in the face of adversity, etc.
Of course, over the past 40 years (funny how everything seems to go back to about the time Reagan was President...) we have seriously attenuated this learning by subjecting children to the spectacle of parental squabbling and even violence at Little League games, as well as a trampling upon most of the old-timey virtues which has led us up to the present Wolf Of Wall Street type of society we have.

Step 2 is to choose.
At some point we must choose what path we shall follow.
Shall we follow the ways of religious geniuses? Shall we serve Mammon or God? Shall we ignore the visionary world (I am trying to use "visionary" as a replacement for "supernatural", a term I do not cotton to.), or shall we give it one day out of seven, or just throw it into the dustbin?

Shall we follow the spirit of the Sermon On The Mount, or shall we follow the casuistry of the Pharisees, who gave their goods over to a common treasury (no doubt still maintaining some claim upon them) so that they could tell their parents they had no funds to support them?

Once we chose our path, we set out using the orienteering skills of virtue.
We shall continue to learn, and we shall continue to choose.

However, none of this process requires a wordy and verbose philosophy of jibber-jabber about the nature of religion.

Those who talk and write of religion with a serious belief that their words mean something in the ultimate play of Creation are like those who think their fantasies are a replacement for hard work.
They end up legends in their own minds and frustrated in their highest desires.

--

The Last Trump



I unfortunately read things in NewsMax now, just to maintain my hunter's and tracker's acumen at spotting total nonsense at 1,000 yards or more.
Of course, when the spouter of nonsense is Mr. Trump, it is not really fair, because so much of what he says in a political-economic vein is very close to nonsense.

Tags: Massive | wealth | destruction | economy
Economist Caution: Prepare For 'Massive Wealth Destruction'

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 01:07 PM

Take immediate steps to protect your wealth . . . NOW!

That’s exactly what many well-respected economists, billionaires, and noted authors are telling you to do — experts such as Marc Faber, Peter Schiff, Donald Trump, and Robert Wiedemer. According to them, we are on the verge of another recession, and this one will be far worse than what we experienced during the last financial crisis.
[...]
Equally critical of the current government and our nation’s economy is real estate mogul and entrepreneur Donald Trump, who is warning that the United States could soon become a large-scale Spain or Greece, teetering on the edge of financial ruin.

Trump doesn’t hesitate to point out America’s unhealthy dependence on China. “When you’re not rich, you have to go out and borrow money. We’re borrowing from the Chinese and others.”

It is this massive debt that worries Trump the most.

“We are going up to $16 trillion [in debt] very soon, and it’s going to be a lot higher than that before he gets finished,” Trump says, referring to President Barack Obama. “When you have [debt] in the $21-$22 trillion [range], you are talking about a [credit] downgrade no matter how you cut it.”

In a recent appearance, Trump went to so far as to say the dollar is “going to hell.”
It is not a good idea to treat an important topic with this type of idiocy.

(1) People and Corporations go out and borrow money when they do not have enough cash for their projects and investments at the present time, but expect enough good revenue flows to be able to pay off the debt in the future.


They do not really do this when they are "not rich". Mr. Trump is obviously getting his stories mixed, and this is his reasoning for why the housing bubble burst: people who were "not rich" forced the banks to give them mortgages.

(2) A certain level of deficit might be necessary, implying that even a rich country needs to borrow at some level. If there were no US Treasury Bills, there would be no zero-risk haven for investors.

(3) A credit downgrade measures risk, not the absolute value of a debt.

(4) The dollar, by most indications, is doing quite well against other currencies, and has been for a while.

Again, there may be troubles ahead, but Mr. Trump cannot seem to tutor anyone in their complexities.

I left the line headed "Tags" on, because NewsMax oddly seems to have a precious enjoyment of destruction themes and memes.
I have always said that forecasting doom and catastrophe is filled with dangers, for I have known a number of people who predicted terrible things for the world or the country, but ended up ironically in having predicted their own troubles and problems.

My own view is that when many predict rain, there will be a silver lining soon. Conversely, when everyone is happy as a lark, troubles lurk around the corner. It is the inherent irony of our situation in the world.

--

Illusions Of Free Markets




Read an excellent article on the fact that even though we talk continually of free markets, we have in place thousands and thousands of schemes and pranks and wheezes by which we subsidize and transfer money to the rich.
Things like baseball stadiums come to mind; how often sports owners ask for (and get) outlays from the entire local population, not just those who are baseball fans. In the old days, sports teams relied upon the paying public, and they were forced to cater to those ticket-buying folks.
Now it is a bit different, for there are numerous others ways to generate revenues, one of which is getting the municipalities to cough up subsidies, either by outlays or tax reductions or bonds.

Is there a Free Market in the Entertainment Industry when one of the members, say the local hockey team, receives public money?

Read the article and think about the numerous ways we do the types of activities described.

"Free Lunch": David Cay Johnston on hidden government subsidies for the very, very rich
http://prairieweather.typepad.com/the_scribe/2008/01/free-lunch-davi.html

... What I’ve done is examine a number of cases to show that government has rewritten the rules to favor the already rich, the politically connected, and the powerful at the expense of everyone else. In effect it’s set up mechanisms that the government itself reaches into your pocket and gives money to rich people; the government allows businesses to reach into your pocket in ways it never did; the government has all sorts of subtle and hidden policies now that funnel from the poor and middle class and upper middle class into the hands of the super-rich.  And that is at the core of what’s happening in our society...


-- 

ps.

I remembered a post on the old days when milk was in bottles and they were returned to be washed and re-used.

The cardboard and plastic cartons were introduced because they saved money for the milk distributing company, as they no longer had to wash and re-cycle glass.
However, the new cartons were trash and had to be placed in land-fills, which the public pays for. If there were no land-fills possible, the milk companies would have to go back to glass (as some already have for ecological reasons).
By my tax money being used for land-fills, I am in essence providing tax support for milk... and Huggies, too!

Es War Ein Alter Bauer...



Considering that "baumgartner" means "tree gardener" or someone who had worked in an orchard, there is a sense of irony here.

..

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Belief Systems

 
A Sailboat Will Sail Whether It
Believes In The Ocean Or Not


The sailboat follows the ways of the Ocean.
It's keel is a foundation deep within the Ocean.
It may deny the Ocean, but it cannot sail without it.

The belief yes and the belief no are superfluous luxuries of thought and logic that have nothing to do with the price of fish at the dock.

--

My New Computer

 Welcome to Windows 8 !



I have a new HP laptop.
It runs on Windows 8.

I was going to stay with Windows 7, but I found that Windows 7 units cost more for what you were getting than new Windows 8 units.
That should have tipped me off.

I have devoted a good deal of time to both the hardware and software, and I'll talk about software.

Windows 8: I do not get it.
I fail to see how radically changing the way things are done enhances my computer experience.

I see almost no utility in the Start screen, other than pointing to the Desktop mode I am used to. I have tried to find some benefit in the Start screen, but I do not see how it would increase the utility of the computer for me.

The "charms" on the right are not charming. It is just a different place to stick a logo and click it.

And as with every new version, Microsoft finds a way to hide things you have grown used to using.

As is usual, some sort of Security crap came with it. I was busy after I bought it, and did not even open it until a week after purchase. By that time, the trial period of the Security stuff was nearing an end.
When it expired yesterday, I had to locate Windows Defender, only to discover I could not start it.
So I had to search on-line as to why this was the case, finding that certain Security packages disable Defender... which was not mentioned anywhere in my materials.

Uninstall the security stuff, and start up Defender. Defender needed an update and to do a scan, which took 5 hours for a full scan. I wonder how long it will take when I actually have put data on the computer?

I will briefly summarize my experience by saying (1) no more HP computers, and (2) next computer -hopefully - will be a Mac.
Therefore, I shall have a Mac in 3 years. Three years is the time an HP computer lasts, like many other brands. Three years almost exactly.

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Goofy Climate

I have been reading comments on weather stories, and I guess it is pretty sad commentary on not enough basic education in science, lack of trust in leadership (much of it well deserved), and credulousness.

I know the following:

1) the changes to our way of life caused by climate change (by whatever cause, whether normal or man-made) will be staggering,

2) we shall not be ready for it,

3) to cope with it will damage our democracy even further than it has been damaged by our War on Terror.


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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

An Adventure In Art (50)

Preparing Tea


Carol Marine
Carol Marine's Painting A Day (or almost)

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