Oh My Word! (2017Dec17)


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Sunday, December 17, 2017                                                       2:34 AM

Oh My Word!   (2017Dec17)

Okay, let’s just say there’s nothing left to add—our situation is obvious, even though the cable-news would have us think much is afoot—Mueller will make it impossible for the Republicans to leave Trump unimpeached, or he will fall short, and leave Trump in the White House the entire four years.

That’s the long and short of it—I’m tired and I don’t want to hear any more about it until it’s settled, one way or the other. Stupidity has become the towering mountain range of our mental landscapes, ever since Trump started questioning Obama’s citizenship. For years, every day just gets stupider and stupider—in keeping with our empty-head-of-state and the pack of skeezballs known as Republican legislators.

They’re supposed to be politicians, right? But what group of politicians gets together and decides, “Yeah, let’s back the child-molester”? They want to tax the poor to pay the rich—and they’re not even hiding it. They just took CHIP away, by letting it lapse—but they’re in a big hurry to throw all the DACAs out of the USA. How the hell is this politics? Aren’t you supposed to make people like and trust you?

To think that one of those assholes shouted “Liar!” from the back of the room, during Obama’s first SOTU Address—and no one has even whispered it, during all the times our blowhard-in-chief started spouting his bullshit! I would think at least one Democrat would do the right thing and give these bullies a taste of their own. Someone should be shouting “Liar!” at the top of his or her lungs—every single time Trump opens his fat trap.

And talk about politically-correct snowflakes—have you seen the thirty-word phrase that Trump wants to substitute for ‘science-based’? It goes like this: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” And that, roughly translated, is: “If your science goes against our religion, keep it.” Who’s the cuck now, tweet-fucker?

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The Blowing of the Wind (2017Dec13)


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017                                               3:16 PM

The Blowing of the Wind   (2017Dec13)

The cable news shows are about to air a presidential comment regarding the Republican Tax Bill. So I turned off the TV and went to find something useful, or at least enjoyable, to do. I know what he’ll say—he’ll tout the bill as a great Xmas present to the ‘middle class’ (he’ll lie, in other words) and I don’t need to hear it.

Graceless—that’s what Trump is—Trump and his kind. Moore is still insisting, for all I know, on a recount—and Trump (who doesn’t really care who won) said, after Jones won for Alabama Senate, that the deck was stacked against his protégé, Moore. These are the same guys that tell you to ‘sit down and shut up’, when they win—they’re not so cocky when they lose. It rather tarnishes their omnipotence act.

I find the whole situation shockingly distracting—this country argues about racial discrimination, while both blacks and whites—and everyone—are being pressed into the new, 21st-century slavery of unregulated capitalism. You may think me a liberal, but I am only one who has trouble ignoring math. Since the 1970’s American workers’ wages have stagnated. Without changing a thing, we all become a little poorer every decade—because the price of everything else goes up.

I have always been disgusted by the way we give ourselves to an employer—they decide the terms, the hours, the wages—even whether you get the job or not—and, as the owners, they get to keep all the profits from everyone’s work. That’s nothing new—early socialism was all about the rights of the workers—why do you think it became a federal crime to be Red? But, even with pressure, how can everyone bring themselves to just accept too little for their time and effort—while the owners get richer and fatter? Is the lesson of Capitalism that only Owners can afford to pretend to human dignity?

Unions became corrupted from within and without—there are still all kinds of laws limiting the power of workers to unionize. And I think this is how the rot gets in. First, socialist ideas were exciting—they started to catch on. The government reacted harshly and promoted Capitalism as the only Godly form of society. The Cold War enshrined Capitalism as a known Good in the minds of Americans.

We emerge from the nightmare of the Blacklist, but now Socialism is a quaint old notion, meant for Europeans and other odd people. Most Americans couldn’t even explain the difference between Socialism and Communism (except perhaps to say that Great Britain is Socialist and China is Communist). Capitalism is a trusted old friend to America—no one can deny its enormous success under past conditions—this is not an attack on commercial growth, per se.

However, as with the ending of the frontier—and the governmental response to the loss of that ‘escape valve’—we Americans today have to face facts: many nuances of ‘frontier’ have been lost in the advent of Cyber. Add to that the inevitable merging into a complex whole of all existing businesses—and the steadily declining number of people who own them—and what results is an ossified plutocracy, mouthing about freedom and equality.

Cyber has nearly wiped out paper, historically ‘overnight’. And for every surviving paper-use you can name, I can name a hundred extinct ones—I can even remember when an army of messengers carried envelopes from one office to another—Manhattan workdays saw sidewalks filled with them—all making a living wage, too.

Amazon has nearly wiped out malls—and all the many products and services that once enjoyed uniqueness—and all the travel and dining and movie-going that went with our late mall culture. It died so young—it seems only yesterday that my daughter was joining her school-friends in the latest thing—hanging out at the mall—and I felt bad because we didn’t have malls when I was growing up.

The list of professions and activities falling prey to the Cyber age, and disappearing from culture and commerce, grows every day. You can talk about the infinite possibilities of Cyber—but meanwhile, for the average joe, it looks like a lot of dwindling—you know? As the population grows, the delights of rural America become harder to come by—we closed the frontier over a century ago and even without immigration, we’ve had a pretty healthy population growth.

That’s another thing we have to face facts about. Throughout history, healthy population growth was a positive good—more manpower more than made up for more mouths to feed. But the world is full of people—in many ways, too many people (though I wouldn’t put it quite like that)—and civilization is quickly ending the concept of human labor. This changes the value of family size, regardless of your religious thoughts or feelings.

So large families become excessive, rather than practical. By the same token, the whole problem of low wages, of zero oversight on wages, is a sub-problem of the looming disaster—what will the Capitalists do with their labor pool when they don’t need the ‘middle class’ anymore?

It troubles me greatly that this subject seems glaringly untrodden—corporate America has been supplied with healthy, well-educated, capable employees since before the Revolution. Owners employ as many workers as they need and leave the rest to their own devices—if some employees are no longer needed, they, too, are then left their own devices. All over the country, almost every American is a vital part of some corporate business or industry.

Corporate America has always relied on the quality of American workers to compete and win against any other country’s businesses. Yet when an American worker is not employed, he or she is left to take care of themselves as best they can. This is a great convenience to business owners—all the benefits of America’s citizenry, without a single responsibility for their care and feeding, as a whole. Three guesses who decided it should work this way. What I can’t understand is why no one questions it?

Is it any different from the recent debates over whether business owners made their fortunes without anyone else, or if the modern infrastructure and civilized environment of American communities (and the capable labor pool) might not have been involved? See, I think ‘Owners’ get a little overzealous in their self-image—they’re much quicker to assume decision-making is their right, when many decisions are as much a matter of law or decency, as of business concerns.

I’m equally tired of the ‘budget trumps every other consideration’ argument—for things like, say, the enormous expense of ripping out and replacing all the plumbing in the town of Flint, MI with pipes that don’t poison the children. That argument is what created the Climate Crisis—money-grubbing owners pushing back on clear-cut science out of sheer greed—they should all have boils for a year—and now it’s fifty years later, these toads are still croaking while Cali burns and Florida sinks.

So, long story short—I think corporate America has strung along the American people as an on-call labor pool for long enough. Now that we can see the beginnings of automated commerce, it’s time for all us to agree that Americans will have to be subsidized in a laborless future—and that if we wait for that evolution to complete itself before securing peoples’ welfare, it will be a nightmare that any sci-fi writer would be proud of. Just think about.

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Heedlessness   (2017Nov26)


hunter-s-thompson-v3

Saturday, November 25, 2017                                          11:40 PM

Heedlessness   (2017Nov26)

On the recent PBS documentary, “Rolling Stone At 50”, Hunter S. Thompson says something to the affect that American voters crave a ‘used-car-salesman, lie-cheat-and-steal, win by any means and destroy all others’-type of autocrat. Thompson offered as proof: the reelection of Richard Nixon to his second presidential term—the one Nixon won by an historic landslide—the one he would be forced to resign from, a year-and-a-half later.

If the average for expelling unfit presidents, whose campaign committed felonies, is roughly one-and-a-half years then we should be getting close to ejecting the present Fool-in-chief. Remember, patience is a virtue. In the meantime, I think it important to drill down on our national schism between Red and Blue.

Firstly, it is important not to make this a purely political division. Blue prevails in urban areas and Red in rural—there is an element of culture (or at least environment) at work here, as well. The people in the Red states are not naturally ‘conservative’ any more than those in the Blue are ‘liberal’—there is a healthy mix of both in every state, Red or Blue.

Then again, words like Liberal and Conservative have become the dogs that spin-doctors wag. Yes, they have literal ‘dictionary’ meanings—but in common usage, they are merely flavoring to whatever group is being fed the BS.

Here’s another word whose meaning is oft overlooked:

heed·less         [ˈhēdləs ] -adjective

showing a reckless lack of care or attention.

““Elaine!” she shouted, heedless of attracting unwanted attention”

synonyms:  unmindful, taking no notice, paying no heed, unheeding, disregardful, neglectful, oblivious, inattentive, blind, deaf

Heedlessness is often used to demonstrate power, as in—“I don’t care about your excuses, just get it done.”—a sentence that no one but a blowhard would ever dream of saying to another person. These blowhards that ask for 110% effort and total loyalty—are the same people who never really make one’s acquaintance, or remember one after one’s immediate usefulness has past.

America courts heedlessness, almost as a virtue. Freedom of Speech means we can all say what we want—and no one can stop anyone else from saying anything. Implicit in that is the need to be able to ignore what some people say—if you disagree with or despise the words of another, the only way to avoid losing your temper is to ignore what someone else says.

Naturally, in a perfect world, we’d all just debate our differences into oblivion—but that will never happen. People will always have differences—the point of politics is to build a consensus towards a compromise, leaving all parties equally unsatisfied. But, even if politics succeeded in doing that, all those differences which people have would remain—we would simply have integrated our differences into a patchwork that was fair for everybody.

Additionally, we believe in Democracy—we believe it is very important for the majority to hold sway. It becomes easy to confuse majority opinion with actual fact—since both hold equal importance in America’s value system. Even requiring a unanimous jury verdict to condemn a man to death is a form of democracy—and that vote holds the power of life and death. Any scientist will tell you that stating an important (proven) scientific fact has no such power over our daily lives.

I have personally witnessed over fifty years of obfuscation by greedy business-people, pushing back against the plain facts as presented by Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader, and a cast of thousands of well-meaning researchers whose only miscalculation was the amount malfeasance, smearing, and even violence they would face from those greedy, cold-blooded, ransom-their-heirs’-planet assholes.

Being willing to indulge in journalism that merely legitimizes their flimsy tissue of pushbacks, we end up looking like we’re actually that stupid—that we can’t see through their greedy defense against plain truth. Yet, at the same time, we wait for each of the fighters to fall—like tobacco did, like coal did, like asbestos did—we wait for the full weight of history to crush their greedy pretense to ‘alternate facts’. We know it will happen—we just don’t know how many lawyers will retire off of each battle before ‘simple fact’ is permitted to turn to some new front.

Thus, media conglomerates stretch the principle of ‘hearing both sides’ to include the most self-serving, misleading, and hypocritical voices on the same screen as knowledgeable folks who are only there to speak the truth as they know it. It’s a very subtle judo, that’s not-so-subtly destroying our confidence in what we know—and thereby, the fabric of our democracy.

While the media faux-nobly upholds this ‘objectivity’ they’ve concocted, while con-men use false majesty to pretend that their egos have real worth, while Free Speech is fast becoming a ‘caveat emptor’-situation with regard to listening, and while autocrats stir up emotional frenzies to distract from the lack of plain justice and decency—I’m still waiting for everyone to remember.

Remember that information has a source—the only way fake news can fool you is if you don’t check your sources. Remember that the world is not your friend—some facts will be other than what you wish they were. Remember that democracy requires an informed electorate—we ignored the reality of our politics and half of us didn’t vote. Now we have the ‘president’ such lazy neglect deserves—a cross between a senile moron and an enemy agent, hell-bent on destroying the federal government from the inside—from the top, no less.

I get it. We thirst for distraction—we want videos and games and VR and concerts and sports events—we want beer and wine and booze and pot and speed and coke and opioids—we want talent contests, hot-dog-eating run-offs, star searches, dancing with stars, and bickering ‘real’ housewives. Nobody wants to face the dreary challenges of practical politics—the nuts and bolts of programs that will truly improve citizens’ lives, make us all safer, give us all more opportunity.

And the politicians certainly don’t want that! They want things as they are—where one’s public persona is all the fitness required to be given enormous authority and responsibility—where even squeaky-clean idealists can be smeared, one way or another—and where you can invent and stand by your own truth, reality be damned. They don’t want practical politics—that’s never been part of the equation—that’s never been what the game was about.

But a grassroots movement could create pressure to address practicality. We could start complaining that we don’t want any candidate who wastes time criticizing an opponent—or makes vague claims about very detailed, technical issues. We want candidates who brag about their support staff’s CVs, who release white-papers with detailed, in-depths plans to alleviate some unfairness, red-tape, or neglect in several issues—not just one (because the world is too big and fast these days).

We want candidates who will go after the big fish—and we shall know them by the amount of money the fat cats spend trying to destroy him or her. This world is on the express train to tomorrow—it’s changing faster than we can keep up with—it’s more complicated than any one person can even grasp—it’s coordinated to keep all the food and fuel and power distributed to all the people on a regular, non-stop basis. The world is a mighty machine that must be kept ticking smoothly—or we all die.

Now, if you’re a religious type, who hears ‘we all die’ and figures that’s ‘just the way (huh) God planned it’—you can pretty-please just go fuck yourself. The rest of us are going to live the hell out of our lives—and plan futures for our children and our grandchildren—and, should the fucking world come to an end, we will be too busy living to notice, until five full minutes after the Apocalypse. So, if you have faith in such bullshit—keep it to your god-damned self.

Getting back to the real world—it has a thin rind of fragile life all over its surface—and we have lain an even thinner, more fragile layer of technology over that—it is ironic that the machinery of humanity’s world is both titanic and flimsy, indestructible yet delicate.

Everyone knows that machines need order to function efficiently—but we avert our eyes from the obvious—that humanity needs organization, too, if it is to enhance society with machines. For one thing, this sovereignty thing, that hangs on—and stymies the intended role of the United Nations—that is a huge waste. And who do these boundary lines profit? Dictators, arms manufacturers, smugglers, and hate-mongers—that’s who. And don’t start whining about the UN—if you don’t like the UN, start another one—just don’t oppose global unity because “the UN’s broken”, you lazy ass.

I’m waiting for us all to get wise to these salesmen-politicians, selling us a story instead of governing (never mind governing well) and start paying heed, instead, to people with credentials, people without a dog in the fight—even when those people say stuff that threatens some fat monopoly’s bottom line. I’m waiting for us all to pay heed to the clock that’s still ticking—that one that the GOP tells you doesn’t exist—environmental impact.

I’ll tell you a little secret—some of the filthiest-richest people on Earth make their money by being the most toxic, the most destructive, and the most unethical. If you ever wondered why we’re still discussing environmental issues fifties years after the first warnings were made—that’s why. And that’s another thing we have to heed—Capitalism was great stuff (as far as it went) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—but it has metastasized into something dark, cruel and hungry in this new century—and we have to start punching back at what is now a tiny enclave of people, each with more money than is good for one’s mental health.

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My Sincerest Condolences (2017Oct23)


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Monday, October 23, 2017                                               2:13 PM

Condolences   (2017Oct23)

I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the United States of America. Losing so many of your treasured offspring, all at once, must cause unimaginable heartbreak.

Your Separation of Church and State—your eldest—the engine of your supremacy–finally succumbing to the vermin gnawing at her roots.

Your Democracy—between being sold out and being taken for granted—has unbarred the door to ignorance and division, becoming a front for autocracy.

Your Republican Party has devolved into a virtual cesspit—quite openly and publicly–and the fact that they still beat the Democrats proves that the Voters (though less than half of them have earned the right to describe themselves so—except as, perhaps, ‘abstentions’) have forgotten that ‘We the People’ implies some minimal amount of involvement.

Your Freedom of the Press has been imprisoned by media conglomerates—seeking only our attention, not our health—and the news has become a siren song, distracting us from the deadly rocks before us—to focus on an old man’s Twitter-feed.

And that same dirty old man has obliterated your most august Office of the Presidency—coating it with the slime of incompetence, disrespect, oafishness, and treason. His treason is multi-pronged—he attacks the Constitution because it won’t let him be a dictator—he attacks our ideals because he is a misogynist, racist, classist prig—he attacks our education because he doesn’t value knowledge as much as money—and he attacks our self-respect by telling blatant lies, right to our faces, daring us to do anything about it.

O America! You’ve heard bullshit before—it shouldn’t surprise you that the pig who claimed it wasn’t great, by saying he would make it great ‘again’, has leached out every drop of greatness garnered in your two-hundred-plus years of glory. I can’t tell you how sorry I am.

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The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge (2017Sep09)


GiaquintoWinter

Saturday, September 09, 2017                                          11:14 PM

The Ephemeral Nature of Knowledge   (2017Sep09)

In 1975, the two parts of the Apollo-Soyuz mission took off—Soyuz 19 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Apollo from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That’s how things were in my day—information was free, research was shared, all classes were open to audit. Oddly enough, science had to court interest back then.

Now that information has been commodified, the focus has turned to how the new data or discovery can be cashed in on for the highest price—even if it’s just a nuisance lawsuit against an actual inventor. If you want help with your computer, you have to pay for it. In the past, if something broke, you only payed for parts and labor—in our brave new world, we have to pay for explanations about products and services we bought in good faith. That may be the norm, but no way does that make it right and proper.

We see this info-hoarding effecting education, too, in scam seminar universities, scam online degrees, predatory school loans, and a general consensus among the business world that it is now okay for someone to be charged for information—and as always ‘caveat emptor’. Conversely, as Bill Maher addressed in his ‘New Rules’ last night, people can be charged for what they don’t know:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP13QTOI9z4&list=PLAF22812129BFCD50&index=1

 

There is another side of the information situation—YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Gutenberg.org, et. al—the Net-Neutrality crowd, so to speak—which allows anyone with computer access to self-educate, up to and including PhD-level science lectures from Ivy League professors on YouTube. The only catch is that it is all public-access, public-domain. For example, let’s look at http://www.gutenberg.org (The Gutenberg Project)—their mission was to make the text of every book available, online, for free.

When I first found this site, I was blown away. Previously, I had spent childhood in the library and adulthood in the bookstores—and neither could ever offer ‘every’ book, much less without leaving home. Gutenberg allows free text downloads of every classic in English literature—the only catch is, they can only offer what is in the public domain. Amazon started selling the for-profit books, the latest, the bestsellers, anything really—it was a bibliophile’s dream, even before they started in with e-books.

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Today, when you go to Gutenberg’s site, it has been hybridized, offering the same free downloads, but with a Kindle e-book-file download-option—so users can keep their reading material all on one device. The oddest part is that some of Gutenberg’s offerings have been re-issued as e-book classics by the publishers of the hard copy—making it possible to buy a book (say Jane Austen’s Emma) on Amazon, that is available free on Gutenberg. I know because I have done it—and keep both editions on my Kindle out of sheer cussedness.

But my point is that if you read every book they have (I’m joking—an impossible task, in one lifetime) you still would not be acknowledged academically in any way. The same is true for whatever you learn online—even the degree-issuing online institutions are condescended to by the analog schools—as if being on-site really impacts most of today’s workplaces.

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However, you can do things with knowledge—that is its ultimate purpose—so even if education can’t get you a job, it can still help you invent your own. Nevertheless, the sheepskin (as a ticket into a well-paid position) is a commodity now—and must be paid for. But all these conditions are just the extremes of greed brought out by the commodification of knowledge.

The real danger is the stagnation of research and development. Not only are the greed for profits skewing the directions of researching, but the findings themselves are kept confidential.

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The boom days of Thinking are over. In Einstein’s time, German universities were hubs of intercourse between academics and scientists, as were the great schools of Britain and the rest of Europe—and American institutions as well. Traveling to mingle with others in one’s field, holding conventions and seminars on the challenges of the day—it was as free as a bird. Nobody knew what an NDA was—hell, scientists at NASA were challenging the government’s Security strictures (mid-Cold War) because they claimed that science could only exist as a global effort, with shared information. Imagine.

And it is worth mentioning that the guy who ran IBM, who put up signs around the offices with the one word ‘THINK’—was not being cute. After two world wars, people didn’t waste time sitting around thinking—no one had had that kind of leisure in living memory. But it was exactly what IBM needed its employees to do. He had to actually encourage them to remember that thinking was their job now.

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The reason for the change was that academics had entered the everyday—it had started with autos and radios and such—but now people had electrified homes, TVs, rocket ships—and as the IBM staff thunk, it only got more complicated and scientific. Now, I’d have to write several paragraphs to summarize all the modern stuff in our modern lives.

But the dichotomy is still there—we still believe that achievement should make you sweat. We still believe that just sitting and figuring something out is a waste of time—‘things are okay as they are’. We are wrong to believe that.

We have accepted all the gifts of technology, but pretended that it was all for free. We are close to recognizing that technology has a cost on our environment—several decades have been spent on that inconvenient truth—and there are still those who refuse to acknowledge the bill coming due.

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We haven’t even begun to address the cost to our society of technology. If we are going to have our children growing up around wireless electronic devices, we need to start calculating the parameters of how much their development will be influenced, or even damaged, by certain gadgets, apps, and games. We also need to address the asocializing effect which smartphones have on both children and adults.

Beyond that, it would be nice to have a grown-up discussion about the fact that half of society has integrated itself with the Internet, to the point of total dependency on its reliability—while the other half is finding ways to disrupt online systems for political or profitable gain, assuring us that the Internet can never be secure in the way we need it.

Yesterday’s announcement about the Equifax hack, exposing private info on millions of Americans and their finances, leaves all those people vulnerable to ID-theft and bank fraud. And this is the same system that runs our banks, our government, our phones, and damn near everything else—while totally unsecure. I’d like to talk about that—wouldn’t you?

Still, the ‘big boss’ paradigm persists—the idea that a strongman like Trump is America’s best choice for a leader, here in the twenty-first century—should be a joke. A man who can’t even use Twitter without typos is the wrong guy to be in charge of an online, subatomic, robotic world, okay? Bluster is still very effective—a lot can be done with bluster. But like many American workers today, having an old skill-set leaves one obsolete for the challenges of today.

And while all the fat cats are getting rich off of each new boner pill or wireless ear-pod, real forward movement in science is relatively crippled by the secrecy and the patent lawsuits and the proprietary research that’s kept hidden.

It’s time for one of my ‘true stories from history’. In ancient China, the emperor’s court was very exclusive—successive layers of the grounds were off-limits to the public and to lesser officials. One of the innermost places was the workshop of the Emperor’s scientists and engineers. When one emperor’s reign ended, the new emperor would appoint new scientists and engineers. In this way, many inventions and discoveries came and went.

In eighth century China, an artificer created the first escapement clockwork—but the usurping Emperor caused all record of the clock’s design (and the clock) to be destroyed. Clocks would disappear, until they were reinvented in Europe, in the fourteenth century.

People tend to focus on firsts—who gets credit for inventing a new thing—who gets credit for noticing some physical constant for the first time? But this story struck me not as a story of invention, but a cautionary tale about the ephemeral nature of knowledge. If the machines break, if the books get burnt (or locked away), if the kids don’t get educated—all technology, all knowledge—just disappears. And information is a lot easier to keep than it is to find.

The way to preserve information is to disseminate it, print it, teach it, put it online, make a movie about it. The way to lose information is to hoard it, to dole it out for a price—as we have seen, when information becomes a commodity, a lot of cheap knock-offs get sold—fake news, scam universities, corporate climate-change denial. The truth is precious is its own right—putting a price-tag on knowledge only corrupts it.

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In Response   (2017Jul29)


Friday, July 28, 2017                                                8:06 PM

In Response   (2017Jul29)

A friend told me I play piano better now than I did eight years ago—which is gratifying (even if talking ‘two levels of bad’, it’s good to be on the right side of it). It’s funny—I’m in worse shape, but I’ve become better adapted to it.

I lost some core muscles in the ’04 transplant op. Even five years later, in 2009, I was still struggling to do a single sit-up—and failing. Now, I’m better adjusted—I can do sit-ups now—but it’s dangerous to ask so much work from so few muscles, so if I overdo, I get spasms. I remember an early gym class, sixth grade, or junior high, maybe—where I did more sit-ups than anyone else. Time sure flies.

What is a laser, you ask? The term “laser” originated as an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Invented in 1960, a laser sends a beam of light in a straight line (this is called coherent light)—unlike, say, lightbulbs, which send out light in all directions. This creates a very precise and powerful cutting tool, often replacing the scalpel in modern surgery. But lasers can be used for many other things besides burning—laser-calibrated ‘tape-measures’ allow contractors to measure a space’s dimensions without walking the length of the space—the list of uses is endless.

So—bacteria—lousy segue, I know—but today I’m thinking about bacteria—so, I did a quick Google-image search:

how_humans_use_bacteria_oversize20161121-1545-cvfkgm

As you can see from the chart, bacteria are useful because they operate on a molecular level—they can be tricked into modifying gene-sequences or fermenting India Pale Ale (IPA). Here are just three of the other fascinating things I found that deal with modern advances in bacteria-based technology:

 

Researchers generate clean energy using bacteria-powered solar panel

(Photosynthetic extracellular electron transfer processes using cyanobacteria—miniscule output compared to traditional solar panels, but still a step towards bio-solar energy cells.)

https://phys.org/news/2016-04-energy-bacteria-powered-solar-panel.html

 

Liquid-crystal and bacterial living materials self-organize and move in their own way

(Clothes that will breathe—for both of you.)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511165351.htm

 

From Antarctica: It’s Alive!

(Planet as Petri Dish.)

https://ultraphyte.com/2015/02/07/from-antarctica-its-alive/

 

So, my friend (and anyone else interested)–there’s a brief reply to your kind email. I hope I’ve answered your questions. Write again soon.

 

 

Fresh Start   (2017Jul15)


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Saturday, July 15, 2017                                            4:41 PM

Fresh Start   (2017Jul15)

It’s time we stepped back from this obsessive focus on ignorance, obstinacy, and dysfunction—yes, it’s a deadly danger, but if we can’t impeach it, at least let’s stop voting for it, next time. Let’s give our figurehead the pin-drop silence he deserves. My time (and yours) is too valuable to waste on hearing about how the president is incapable of shaking hands like a normal person. (Ironic, though, isn’t it, for a politician?) Our time is much better spent seeing to our own works, our own futures—what are we going to do?

It’s sad to lose a touchstone like the American Presidency—to see it tarnished and trampled under the feet of galoots—but we have business to take care of. Perhaps we could start a different kind of political party—one whose charter is to create a platform full of specifics, and whose candidates would run on the understanding that these specifics be implemented.

The Conservatives don’t really need a platform—they just need a perceived propensity towards the reactionary and the authoritarian—that’s their advantage—that they are more a personality profile than a political platform. And we see this now—with the triumph of the Tea Party revealed as a bunch of puppets who’ve given zero thought to the legislative mechanics of their last decade’s rhetoric—a party so focused on defeating the Democrats that, having done that, they see little reason to do anything other than play golf and tweet.

But we need a platform—nay, a presentation even—a ‘shovel-ready’ prescription by a panel of thoughtful people (who accept modern science). Gone are the days when we could just elect someone idealistic, like Obama, and let him do all the heavy lifting. Democrats need to do the thinking, before the nominating—we need to start thinking, not in terms of a who, but in terms of what, exactly, we want to see happen—and then find someone who’ll agree to enact it, as our candidate.

We need to take the narrative out of the hands of a mass media held hostage by uber-capitalists—and put it back in the hands of career statesmen and legislators who can look ahead and steer our country towards the future. But even more importantly, we need transparency up the wahoo. We need town halls that are about policy, not about personality—not complaining to the acting official, but planning what we want from our next one. Media can’t help but shift the focus to the personal—and that has to stop being our Pavlov’s bell.

With so many idealistic young people wanting to enter the political arena, it is imperative that we reach a consensus on what it means to be progressive and pragmatic in a fast-changing global environment. Planning, in the form of unconscious conspiracies, has been more evident in the GOP than in the Democrats of late—the Democrats seem hung up on beating Donald’s Q-rating, rather than presenting a blinding vision of tomorrow to the voters. Positive action must replace rancor and blame in our public discourse—otherwise, the terrorists win?

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