Saturday, December 31, 2011

Self Interest

Self interest is occulted by ideology.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Facts

If one is not entitled to one's own facts, then are we really free?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Buy Nothing

Is a campaign to buy nothing a form of advertising?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Propaganda Studies: Addled Minds

Today, FM has a good post concerning the effects of propaganda, the technical skills behind it (propaganda is not nearly as encompassing without technique), the isolation required to maximize its impact, and some examples, including some very illuminating quotes.  One does not need to buy it all, just enough for the propagandists to be successful in their broader goals.

On Progress

Absent traction, spinning wheels do nothing but burn rubber and consume fuel.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bloated

A bloated parasite is a rich parasite.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yes, It's True...

The rich are different from you and I, they're heartless scum.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Learning

Although some may possess the ability to simply absorb abstract information, for most (excluding those with a learning disability), one must want to learn something for it to stick.  The necessity of desire is obvious to those whom it applies, for many of the minority that can do otherwise it is an alien concept.  Erroneously, it therefore becomes an issue of just not trying hard enough.  The question of why should someone expend effort on something non-applicable to their daily existence is never considered.  Like most talents, It seems natural learners do not necessary develop insight into its process.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Objectionable People

Rather than be identified with objectionable people, self interest is often discarded.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Assholocracy

The assholocracy pretty well defines the elite worldwide.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Better Course

A crisis may be mitigated, but it rarely can be entirely avoided.  Many believe otherwise and will often negate, or at least blunt, measures taken to defuse the situation.  False beliefs are a matter of degree, but can combine with even greater impact than would otherwise be the case where each to be considered in isolation. Bipolar errors are simplistic, but gradational misconceptions are potentially far more destructive.  A heretic is more threatening than an infidel.  A partial believer causes more damage than one who simply refuses to acknowledge party lines.  The former finds an opening whereas the other only encounters a wall.  Commonality is a better foundation for devastating critiques.  Weakness may be exploited by a subtle examination.  Brute force combats inertia; something more subtle deflects.  In the end, a new angle may be the better course.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sudden Death

Sudden death is a real shocker when it is self inflicted.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Motivation

Motivation only has meaning in court; otherwise actions count.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Propaganda Lesson

From How Republicans are being taught to talk about Occupy Wall Street:
"I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death," said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation's foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."
Luntz offered tips on how Republicans could discuss the grievances of the Occupiers, and help the governors better handle all these new questions from constituents about "income inequality" and "paying your fair share."
Yahoo News sat in on the session, and counted 10 do's and don'ts from Luntz covering how Republicans should fight back by changing the way they discuss the movement.
1. Don't say 'capitalism.'
2. Don't say that the government 'taxes the rich.' Instead, tell them that the government 'takes from the rich.'
3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the 'middle class.' Call them 'hardworking taxpayers.'
4. Don't talk about 'jobs.' Talk about 'careers.'
5. Don't say 'government spending.' Call it 'waste.'
6. Don't ever say you're willing to 'compromise.'
7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: 'I get it.' 
8. Out: 'Entrepreneur.' In: 'Job creator.'
9. Don't ever ask anyone to 'sacrifice.'
10. Always blame Washington.
BONUS:
Don't say 'bonus!'
Luntz advised that if they give their employees an income boost during the holiday season, they should never refer to it as a "bonus."
"If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you're going to make people angry. It's 'pay for performance.'"
As well they should be scared.  I doubt it is enough.  If this sort is sweating, it shows OWS strategies are working.

The above illustrates the importance of staying away from the political process.  Politicians are combated by denying them legitimacy, and refusing to engage them in any way shape or form is the best expression.  Nonentities should be ignored.  It's not about Washington, because the real power is obviously not there.  Issuing no demands just keep the issues hanging around, and focuses people's attention on this rotten system.  It does not matter if some disprove of OWS tactics.  There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Only 7 US Senators Are Not Scum

There are
  • Coburn
  • Harkin
  • Lee
  • Merkley
  • Paul
  • Sanders
  • Wyden
Link.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

New Song

A new song, titled You Deserve It! from my Drunk And Armed music project has been released.

Negative Meanings

Negative meanings are ineffectual.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hollow

No gravitational force is exerted within a hollow sphere: the gravitational field from the matter of the shell cancels itself out.  Everything floats!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: "On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt

"On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt is a short book less than 70 pages long.  It is a small book (4x6).  You can carry it in your pocket.  It can be read in about an hour at a leisurely rate.  The format is thus appropriate for its content.  I got it from the public library.  Bullshit does not deserve a long treatment.  It's not like it is lying.  The person bullshitting obviously has something to gain.  Although the author generally discusses more interesting cases of bullshit, it does not really touch on how much bullshit is just being driven by insecurities.  Truth is irrelevant to bullshitting.  A liar obscures the truth, but at least recognizes its existence.  Politicians and the media are full of bullshit.  Lies are relatively easy to catch.  Bullshit must be put through a sieve if one is to separate truth from lies.  In a sense, if not an actual lie, propaganda may or may not be bullshit.  The effort required to sort it all out is exhausting.  So it can be accepted or ignored.  (Of course, ignoring bullshit is a type of acceptance.)  Absent a positive response, you can call it out for only so long before ceasing to care.  Insincerity is sincerity to those not knowing better.

Read this book.

One thing I learned from the book: Wittgenstein did not apparently understand hyperbole.  (Too much logic perhaps?)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Leaders Are Poison

Thomas L. Day, a 31 years old Iraq War Veteran, laments in Penn State, my final loss of faith, the fact that no real leaders exist anymore.  I will have to disagree.  There is nothing lamentable about it.  Leaders are poison.  At best, they represent an unnecessary weakness as they allow the mass of humanity to escape their own culpability.  Leaders enable passivity.  In cases of mass movements, leaders may be eliminated and/or co-opted. At worst, a leader is nothing but the scum that floats to the top of a cesspool.  (Penn State is certainly a most disgusting example.)

For any real change to occur, people need to take responsibility for their own lives.  I have recently come across the term "Leader-Full," where everyone is a leader (See Here.)  I admit that I kind of like the term and the theory behind it as it fits nicely with Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) Theory, which involves a decentralization in human affairs as people shift toward primary loyalties as the nation-state decays.  It is also compatible with open source theory as well.  As the nation-state withers, people do not need to swear fealty to little dictators like tribal chieftains, warlords, organized crime bosses etc.  Hierarchies are not necessary.  People can do things for themselves and not for the benefit of a parasitic elite--that is real freedom.  It's hard work, but it seems at least some of the younger generation gets it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trading

Trading one addiction for another leads nowhere.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Objectivity is a Lie

Anyone who believes in objective journalism is a Chump.   This sort believes facts are not important.  In this flawed fantasy verbal world, only assertions have meaning. A journalist is part of the world, and therefore has inherent biases based on a number of factors.  Who pays the bill is always a factor.  Thus only toadying authoritarian bootlickers will ever become media stars.  Objectivity is another mindless faith.  Like any religion, the media is not a defender of truth, any more than the Catholic Church is a defender of molested children.

From Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul and journalistic “objectivity”:
Along those lines, Radley Balko has argued [link fixed], with ample documentation of the media’s almost unanimous opposition to any form of liberalization of drug laws, that the real media bias is authoritarianism: loyalty to those who wield power. That's unsurprising: after all, when you watch a media star on TV, what you are seeing in almost every case is an extremely well-paid, high-ranking employee of a major corporate conglomerate. They are the consummate insiders in every single sense. Except in the rarest cases, it would be irrational to expect them to be adversarial to the establishment which is responsible for their status and which lavishes them with so many rewards. Those admitted to the royal court don't make a habit out of agitating against the King; quite the opposite: they become his most loyal and devoted subjects, the ones most eager to protect and defend the monarchy which guarantees them their wealth and status. That's all the Bob Schieffers of the world are doing. Again, there's nothing wrong with it per se, or at least not unusual. It's just the very opposite of “objectivity.”
Contrary to popular wisdom, there aren’t two types of journalists: those who express opinions and those who are objective. The two types are those who honestly acknowledge their opinions and those who deceitfully pretend such opinions do not influence their journalism. One reason modern establishment journalism has become so corrupted and worthless is because of the conceit that they engage in some sort of objective reporting that is free of bias and opinion, even as they are the stalwart defenders of a clear set of political opinions and interests (those wielded by the same power factions which they pretend to hold accountable). Any time someone is tempted to believe these fairy tales of objectivity, they should just re-watch this Schieffer interview. 
Say what you want about Gonzo Journalism, but at least it does not make this fundamental error.  The reporter is always part of the story.  Objectivity is a lie.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Burn 'Em Out

The comments by so-called survivalists on the post They Know Social Unrest is a Foregone Conclusion made me chuckle. Some of these people seem to think they can hide out in areas that are away from cities in the event of a societal collapse. When it was pointed out that these areas would be flooded with people fleeing a hypothetical collapse, their typical response was that they would shoot anyone who came near. This sort seems to think they can just hold out forever. They never seem to consider that nobody need go near them.  They could just be burned out.

So what you gonna do then, nutball?  I think someone has been watching too many movies...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkeys

Some turkeys are not worth eating.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Big Lie

I'm not a big fan of the Federal Government, but some stuff spewed by right wing idiots is just to much to take.  Those Chumps believe just about anything.  For the rest of us, propaganda can be countered.  In this example, the Big Lie that the financial crisis was caused as a result of poor, helpless banks being forced to make loans to people who could not afford them is skewered.

From Examining the big lie: How the facts of the economic crisis stack up:
•The boom and bust was global. Proponents of the Big Lie ignore the worldwide nature of the housing boom and bust.
A McKinsey Global Institute report noted “from 2000 through 2007, a remarkable run-up in global home prices occurred.” It is highly unlikely that a simultaneous boom and bust everywhere else in the world was caused by one set of factors (ultra-low rates, securitized AAA-rated subprime, derivatives) but had a different set of causes in the United States. Indeed, this might be the biggest obstacle to pushing the false narrative. How did U.S. regulations against redlining in inner cities also cause a boom in Spain, Ireland and Australia? How can we explain the boom occurring in countries that do not have a tax deduction for mortgage interest or government-sponsored enterprises? And why, after nearly a century of mortgage interest deduction in the United States, did it suddenly cause a crisis?
The housing bubble was (and is) a global problem.   The U.S. economy does not exist in a vacuum.   Also, I would like to see morons who believe this particular Big Lie to explain how the U.S. government forced them to package and sell financial junk like derivatives.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Failure

Failure is success for failures.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Never Runs

Only a fool never runs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rebel

A rebel is a deluded slave.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leaders

Leaders are an unnecessary nuisance.

On Bullshit

I just came across the book On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt.   I have not read it, but it looks interesting.  One of the points from the book's description is a good one:
...He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all. 
Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
If you've ever been plagued by someone who engages in this behavior excessively, I think you'll agree that he hits the nail on the head.  At least someone who lies knows the truth; the bullshitter does not know the difference.  (Meaning, they have a bright future as a propagandist, a politician, or at least a P.R. hack.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Undertow

In economic matters, an undertow sucks everyone down.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self Interest

Enlightened self interest is not rational self interest.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Impulses

New responses are often old impulses.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Priorities

1. Sometimes apathy is a matter of priorities;
2. One cannot care about everything;
3. One who tires to fix everything will fail at everything.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism is a rationale for the existence of those whom would otherwise quickly perish.

Unemployed Vets

From Unemployment for Young Vets: 30%, and Rising:
Dig deeper into the pages of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data and it becomes apparent that while the job market is slowly improving for most Americans, it’s moving in the opposite direction for Gulf War II vets (defined by the BLS as those on active duty since 2001). The youngest of veterans, aged 18 to 24, had a 30.4 percent jobless rate in October, way up from 18.4 percent a year earlier. Non-veterans of the same age improved, to 15.3 percent from 16.9 percent. For some groups, the numbers can look a good deal worse: for black veterans aged 18-24, the unemployment rate is a striking 48 percent.
Via Global Guerrillas:
IF we keep going in this direction, and there's no reason to think we won't, these young men find new groups to care for them and they shift their loyalties to new gangs/mafias/cartels/militias etc. at a pretty amazing clip. Given the danger this shift in primary loyalties represents for the future, going it alone isn't an option. You need a community at your back.
And since community has ceased to exist for many, this situation will not be pretty. Unlike the mid-1990s, post OKC bombing, the government is not quietly employee those with combat skills (as was related to me, when I had business at the Federal Building), but others will be more than happy to do so.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Deserving of Nothing

As George Monbiot describes in The Self-Attribution Fallacy, the 1% are simply where they are due to luck and the willingness to screw everyone else:
If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves – that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive – are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. This means crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren't responsible. Many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.
The findings of the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel economics prize, are devastating to the beliefs that financial high-fliers entertain about themselves(1). He discovered that their apparent success is a cognitive illusion. For example, he studied the results achieved by 25 wealth advisers, across eight years. He found that the consistency of their performance was zero. “The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.” Those who received the biggest bonuses had simply got lucky.
In other words, they deserve nothing.  In fact, if not for the circumstances of their birth, they would probably be in prison:
In their book Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare point out that as the old corporate bureaucracies have been replaced by flexible, ever-changing structures, and as team players are deemed less valuable than competitive risk-takers, psychopathic traits are more likely to be selected and rewarded(4). Reading their work, it seems to me that if you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a poor family you're likely to go to prison. If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a rich family you're likely to go to business school.
One other thing, not touched upon, is that psychopathic tendencies, on so wide a scale, considering the 1% is not drawn randomly from the population at large (as in more the case for prisons) but rather from the very rich, is sign that these people are horribly inbred.  In the poor, inbreeding is derided; in the rich is is celebrated. The only thing they are deserving of is to be aborted.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Situationists

Despite not being very interested in reading about the 1960s, perhaps because it did not originate in the US, I've always felt the Situationists to be worth the time to consider their ideas.  Ken Knabb's Bureau of Public Secretes is among the best sources for translations and analysis of their intellectual "products."  I've always favored the lack of leaders in that particular movement.

Anyway, a piece by Ken Knabb featured on Counterpunch offers a good synopsis of what the Situationists were all about, and the parallels with the Occupy Movement (including the use of the General Strike).  It also contains a rebuttal of the god-awful Salon article by Gary Kamiya, The Original Mad Men: What Can OWS Learn from a Defunct French Avant-Garde Group?  Frankly, it was such a piece of crap that I couldn't finish it, but Ken did:
I have examined Mr. Kamiya’s article here not because what he says about the situationists has any particular significance, but simply because it happens to be among the first examples of the sort of thing we can expect to see in the coming months as media commentators attempt to get their tiny minds around this strange phenomenon in order to reassure their readers and viewers: “Don’t worry, we’ve got this covered, we’ve already read this stuff so you don’t have to and we can assure you that these situationists are of no significance, they’re just some sort of zany cultural pranksters, or ivory-tower theorists, or grim radical dogmatists, or stuffy academic propagandists, or loony utopian dreamers, or irresponsible vandals, or something . . . . Anyway, whatever they are, there’s nothing to see here. Move on.”
God save OWS from the liberals--always the vanguard of the counter-revolution--and their authoritarian ass-licking.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Attack It

If you fail to understand something attack it.

(Note that this can be taken several ways.)

General Strike in Dallas?

Dallas General Strike?  Yep.  Well Maybe.  It is Texas after all, but one thing I learned, when I lived in the part of the country for a few years, is that people there can sometimes surprise you.  I would have figured on it being Austin first...

Monday, November 07, 2011

Only in America

Only in America could someone as obviously incompetent as, the former administrator of the US-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer still get a hearing.  It illustrates why the political elite is not as threatening as would otherwise be possible.  They can do damage, but they can create nothing.

Science of Consciousness

As I've noted over the years on this blog, I find it amusing that some scientists claim that we pretty much know everything there is to know, when the science of consciousness is still in its infancy.  From Consciousness: The Black Hole of Neuroscience:
"The questions [we ask] have become a little bit more sophisticated and we’ve become more sophisticated in how we ask the question," she adds - but we're still far from being able to explain how the regions of the brain interact to produce thought, dreams, and self-awareness. “In terms of understanding, the awareness that comes from binding remote activities of the brain together, still remains what philosophers call, ‘The hard problem.'"
I have long maintained that it may turn out that it is fundamentally impossible to describe consciousness quantitatively.  The mind may be above and beyond scientific observation.  In other words, the mind cannot know itself entirely.

For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend the works of Roger Penrose.  I also absolutely do not recommend reading anything by Stephen W. Hawking that even remotely touches on this topic as it is a pedantic waste of time.  Positivist reductionism is a dead end.  (I do respect his other work, especially A Brief History of Time, which is an excellent book for non-scientists.)

3rd Alternative

As an alternative to defaulting on credit cards, "replacing" a big bank issued credit card and transferring the balance to a credit union (which is usually lower interest) is also possible (or a zero interest transfer to another big bank).  Why pay them all that interest?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Don't Pay

Taking it a step further and refusing to pay off credit cards is easy.  Just stop paying! See Here and Here.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Divest

I moved my bank accounts from what was Washington Mutual once Chase took it over to a small bank, but I had also been using a credit union for about 10 years.  It's nice to see people are starting to do this en mass.  What took so long?  Hopefully the trend continues with more awareness concerning what one's money supports.  Small is better, and it is not just financial institutions.  Also, when will the stop paying your bills to corrupt corporations movement begin?  Puritan morality needs to finally die. Paying back a person who loaned you money or provided a service is one thing, but only a tool believes the same applies to corporations.  The ballot is basically meaningless, but one can still vote with their feet.  In the end, only economic democracy has any meaning.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Hilarity

Hilarity is the last refuge of a kook.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Systemic Failure

Systemic failure is the face of entropy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Commodified

Only when it loses its soul may spirit be commodified.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Learned Somthing New About Lumber

Although my trade has enabled me to develop an expertise with respect to construction economics, until reading today's Financial Armageddon post, I was unaware that there was a correlation noted between lumber prices and the "prevailing economic winds."  (Of course, other pricing ACZA stub piling, timber marine decking and form/false work, most of my experience with heavy civil highway and marine work does not concern lumber.  I did know lumber was declining in price.)  It does make sense as less housing is likely to be constructed during a poor economy.  It will give me something new to track.

The only thing really going on is energy related construction (power and electrical), but I did know that already from reading ENR. (See also Calculated Risk.)

I Hate Art

I freely (albeit grudgingly) admit that I am an artist, but obviously not a professional one.  I have absolutely no interest in selling my art, and I don't respect those who do any more or less than I respect someone for getting paid to clean a toilet. (Although the janitor is doing something that is far more in my basic interests, namely sanitation, than any artist could possibly do.)  It's a job and that's it.  Unlike the janitor, what I really dislike about professional artists--by which I mean someone making a tidy profit off their so-called "art" (not just breaking even)--is their attitude that they do something more worthwhile than the rest of us.  Frankly, I don't buy it (pun intended).  Pandering to a lowest common denominator is not something worthy of respect.  The product is not great, nor even good, but rather dull.  A century from now, if it even exists, their art may shed some light on the mediocre time for which it was made, but otherwise nothing lasting beyond the paycheck to the artist.  The culture industry is not praiseworthy.  It's not even culture. It's just crap. I hate art.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Veteran Support Occupy

Since many veterans are getting as screwed, if not worse, than the rest of the 99%, it's not surprising to see them stepping up.   From Occupy Veterans Movement Growing Across U.S.:
"For veterans especially, health care is paramount, yet is always on the table to be cut," Jenkins said in an interview with ABC News. "Vets in this movement don't want to fight anymore. We want to make peace and live peaceably. We shouldn't have to fight for our benefits, and if vets are fighting for their benefits then it can't be any better for nonvets.
"What do you think is going to happen in 2012 after everyone gets home from Iraq? No jobs, no benefits. This will not be a good scene," Jenkins continued. "I imagine the suicide rate will climb, and sadly, I think that some people in this country don't feel any responsibility for that."
It seems being used, abused and discarded, like the Vietnam (not to mention WWI) veterans, does not sound so appealing.  It is also a good sign that they are willing to stand up to pigs.  (Of course, all police are not pigs, some even support Occupy, but the human garbage that shot Scott Olsen in Oakland certainly qualifies.) Although I don't think the Constitution, upon which they swore, has any remaining functional use, I respect their willingness to stand up for its ideals.  In this spirit, I have placed the little banner in the upper right corner of this blog.

This development will prove worrisome to reactionaries.  Perhaps, whilst in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military industrial complex should have pushed more dope to break them?

Fetishism

Only in America could fetishism become an ideology.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dehumanization

Dehumanization is facilitated by arrogance.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Laws

Laws are undermined by the stupidity of the makers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Computer Models are Always Wrong

The territory is not the map, so it should not be surprising that computer models are always wrong.  It's pretty intuitive (at least to those of us who don't live in a virtual world.)  But for those that do, someone has taken the time to prove it as described in Why Economic Models Are Always Wrong.

So economic models are always wrong.  Big shock there.  It also means that other sophisticated computer models are always wrong as well.  So the next time you hear that computer models predict something, as they say, "don't believe the hype."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Too Many Males

I've been saying for years that the one child policy of China and male-centric societies like India, combined with selective abortions of females, would result in severe social consequences in the 21st century.  I grew up in a rural town with a lopsided male/female ratio and I've seen the results.  It isn't pretty, but at least I could move a hundred miles to the nearest city.

From The unstable future of a world full of men:
As the global population hits seven billion, experts are warning that skewed gender ratios could fuel the emergence of volatile “bachelor nations” driven by an aggressive competition for brides.
The precise consequences of what French population expert Christophe Guilmoto calls the “alarming demographic masculinisation” of countries such as India and China as the result of sex-selective abortion remain unclear.
But many demographers believe the resulting shortage of adult women over the next 50 years will have as deep and pervasive an impact as climate change.
Ugly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Unpopular

In a mass media capitalist society, as often noted, the unpopular is unprofitable.  Niche markets exist, but the real money comes from mass appeal.  Unsurprisingly, mass appeal is not as important as mass tolerance.  Accepted backdrops, which develop into verbal worlds, are exploitable for Maximum Advantage in all Things.  As the same response is promoted on all occasions, by nature (or anti-nature if you prefer) all responses are reactive and mediocre.  Even fear may be stretched and strangled.  The latest terror alert ceases to have meaning.  One would think a failing propaganda campaign would cease in favor of a different tact.  It often does not.  Those caught in their own verbal world have abandoned reality.  Who is to say what is reality?  A kick in the teeth!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Planet?

Only 23% trust U.S. financial system: poll.  So what the hell is wrong with the other 23%?!?  On what planet do they reside?

Monday, October 24, 2011

No Credibility

It appears that the announcement that the US is leaving Iraq has no credibility.  When you lie so often, after a time, nothing is believed.  Maybe Bush and Obama should have read (or in the case of the former had read to him) the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cratering

Cratering can be managed.   Plan the work, then work the plan.  What we get: plan the work, then do nothing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is fun!

Keep it up, Geezers!

The stupid geezers behind what is left of the "Tea Party" movement that has since become co-opted by the slimy Republican Party are showing their desperation. They obviously know they do not represent the future, but instead of trying to do something about it they piss and moan. Rather than find some commonality with people whom they would generally agree on the larger symptoms of systemic disease, they would rather distance and isolate themselves further in a self-imposed ghetto. The hilarious thing is the contradictions in their criticism of OWS. They will claim that it is more interested in anarchy, but at the same time believe in "big government." It's kind of hard to see how these two extremes can coexist.  From Wall St. Protest Isn’t Like Ours, Tea Party Says:
“They seem to be more in favor of anarchy than they are in favor of working out problems through the Constitution,” Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said about the Occupy forces.
 “We have worked very hard to be respectful of the laws,” she said in an interview. “We protest and complain, but we’re also trying to work within the system. It’s frustrating to watch people who have an utter lack of respect for our form of government.”
Tea Party Patriots issued a statement last week titled, “Occupy Wall Street? They’re No Tea Partiers.” Tea Party supporters, it argued, were the ones who “have stood firmly on principle.”
 “They believe freedom from government allows entrepreneurs to try new things, see what works and discard what doesn’t,” it continued. “They don’t believe corporations are inherently evil, or that bankers should be beheaded.”
By contrast, it portrayed Occupy protesters as freeloaders, or would-be freeloaders: “Those occupying Wall Street and other cities, when they are intelligible, want less of what made America great and more of what is damaging to America: a bigger more powerful government to come in and take care of them so they don’t have to work like the rest of us who pay our bills.”
So which is it?  Granted a truly leaderless movement (which truly scares authoritarians) will have such contradictions, but this propaganda isn't even interesting.  (The Constitution is a dead document, so why would it be respected is besides the point.)  It shows why their generation has done such a great job of destroying America: they believe what they are saying even if it makes no sense compared with what they just said.  Keep it up, geezers!  Your doing a heck of a job...

(It's also amusing to note that capitalists, whose feet they lick, don't feel an obligation to pay their bills either--and for real as well.)

(Another Maximum Advantage Discussed moment.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Going Well

When a politician tells you things are going well, they most certainly are not.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Song

Drunk And Armed, my music project, has released the 4th track to the politician E.P. called Cranial Rectal Embedment.




The song title was suggested by the Author Morris Berman, author of Dark Ages America (see Also) and other titles.  His latest book is Why America Failed.

See Here for Downloads.

More Drunk and Armed songs may be found Here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Demands

From Occupy Wall Street’s demand? No demands:
“You can make demands, but I’ve seen coalition after coalition marching and marching and making demands, yelling mostly, and then going home,” said Janet Kobren, an experienced activist who left Occupy Wall Street’s San Francisco outlet to join the New York hub.
“Who are they talking to?” Kobren, 68, asked of protestors who habitually stand outside barricaded government offices asking for something specific. “I see them as kind of teenagers saying, ‘I want, I want,’ to their parents.”
Kobren reflected the purist Occupy Wall Street philosophy: that there’s no point demanding change from the government or the financial industry when those institutions are rotten. “We need to do it (bring change),” she said.
Nicely said.  (Obviously some of the older generations get it.)  Other than "drop dead" what else can one say?  The government and large corporations that back it have no legitimacy whatsoever.  The federal government does nothing for (but a lot to), and corporations, especially the financial sector, are nothing but parasites to the average citizen.  Demanding something from them is like asking a tapeworm to stop feeding.  It isn't going to happen--so why bother?  The best response is to turn away and make something that excludes their sort altogether by its definition.

I believe the success of OWS (so far) and the miserable failure of the Tea Party (by which I mean the original concerned citizens who comprised it before it was co-opted by the Republican Party) is due to this fundamental difference in premise. The Tea Party went on and on about the Constitution, but for many it is a document that has no real meaning--especially those to whom it was entrusted. Legitimacy dies when values are only paid lip service.  Who gives a crap about something over 200 years old that has no real relevance to modern issues?  Only naive "geezers" apparently (as evidenced by the lack of support from youth or even middle aged).  By definition, there is no future there.  They are "past it."  The Twentieth Century is over.  Get on with it.

OWS is what it is.  Perhaps its appeal represents a foundation for resilient communities?  (I will concede some of the original members of the Tea Party, and conservatives in general, may already by well on their way as well--as a reaction.  The way is forward.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Public Megaproject Overruns: Error or Lie?

As I've disclosed previously, in my real life, part of my job as an (un-)civil engineer revolves around estimating construction costs for heavy civil/transportation/marine projects.  These projects include small projects that I design, and sometimes work on the construction side, and $100M+ projects of which I am a team member.  One of the professional requirements for such work is the identification and mitigation of risks.

Risk based estimating, as opposed to traditional estimating approaches, attempts to proactively recognize threats and opportunities to a project's scope, schedule and/or budget. In this process, known and unknown risks are assigned relative weights as some will impact the project to a greater extent than others. Identifying risks (and opportunities) will also keep management and executives from being surprised as the project progresses. Certain risks are ongoing, whereas others pass with time. Although unlikely, a major earthquake could occur at any time, whereas a high bid cannot occur at the end of construction.

Risk assessment and management is something we constantly do everyday. Nobody would cross a street without looking for traffic, and managing projects should be no different. Regardless of the size of the project, risk may be both quantitative and qualitative. Market conditions pose a risk to the cost of a project. The loss of key personal is more difficult to assess numerically. Risk is something that should be assessed continuously (or at least daily). Once a risk is identified, it should be documented. Likewise, if a risk is retired, it should be removed and the reason(s) for doing so noted. Therefore, to be effective, a risk registry is a living document that must be utilized throughout the life of a project. In order for it to be proactive, it must be acted upon. A risk is an issue that has not yet occurred; an issue is a risk with a 100% probability of occurrence; and an action item is the implementation of the mitigation plan. A transportation analogy is defensive driving.

One advantage of risk based estimating, as contrasted to traditional estimating approaches, is the estimate is given as a range of values rather than a singular number. As the design progresses, the range is narrowed. As with traditional estimating, it is important that risk based estimates are not skewed due to pressure to advance a project. Unfortunately, when it comes to public megaprojects, which I'll define as projects with over $100M in costs, there is a tremendous amount of political pressure to downplay the impacts of risk.  There is a great deal of research on under-reporting projects costs by Professor Bent Flyvberg.  For more background his seminal paper Underestimating Costs in Public Works Projects Error or Lie? is essential.

In my experience and as shown with extensive analysis by Professor Flyvberg, the riskiest projects, no matter the size, are those where something that was previously unknowable becomes exposed through the work process.  Examples are building remodels and underground work.   For example, during a building remodel, asbestos or mold may be discovered when a wall is removed, therefore leading to costly abatement work.  In the case of underground work, the geotechnical boring test pattern may have missed a large rock that is only removable by expensive means, or contaminated soil may be discovered.  (Change orders are always more expensive than work as it was originally bid.)  There are several means of mitigating these unknowns.  More preliminary work, during design, may help to identifying potential risks, such as performing more borings.  Another means is for the owner to take the risk from the contractor by a contracting tool such as force account, where the owner's representative directs the work methods.

There are also more general methods to mitigate risk, such as contract cost escalation clauses, which ensure that the contractor is protected from material and/or fuel cost hikes, therefore eliminating the need for hedging bids to account for future price shocks.

Another method for estimating the cost of risks is to create a risk model that uses a Monte Carlo simulation to develop a range of costs.  The probability of occurrence and the cost range of possible risks (and opportunities) are fed into the model and a random number generator computes the range of costs from best to worst case.  This is considered a cost-risk model.  For example, hypothetically, if the project was constructed 100 times, and the 60th percentile is chosen as a baseline this means the amount of funds budgeted for a certain project will correspond to the 60th highest cost per the model.  However, for public projects, this strategy is subject to manipulation as the percentile chosen will dramatically alter the cost estimate as it is released to the public.  A case in point is as follows.

In Seattle, as the residents of Washington State are aware, the earthquake damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct is being replaced, not with an elevated structure in-kind, but with a highly expensive deep bore tunnel.  The project has already started.  A cost-risk model, using the base estimate, has been developed.  The cost of the project, as reported to the public, is based on the results of the 60th percentile, which is the current policy used agency wide.  Although the 60th percentile might be a conservative estimate for rebuilding an interchange, it is rather low for an underground project with many known unknowns and unknown unknowns.  As Professor Flyvberg has convincingly demonstrated, tunnel projects worldwide are the projects that most susceptible to underestimating costs.  One reason, other than the nature of the projects, are these types of projects often allow politicians and others an opportunity to make their mark in a big way.  At the same time, the policy makers responsible are usually long gone by the time the final cost come due, so their ego is appeased and they do not have to deal with the fallout from trying to pay for it.  The deep bore tunnel is another such case.  Since tax receipts are falling, this project is taking funds that could be used to repair roads and other less glamorous, but necessary, transportation work.

It isn't only economists that use statistics to lie.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lying with Statistics

There's nothing so easy as Lying with Statistics (which should be required high school reading).  Government statistics have been so skewed that it is difficult to see if any of them have any resemblance to economic reality.  Financial Armageddon features a good example regarding the supposed gains in September consumer spending. From Alternative Universe, which concludes:
The truth? The entire gain was "seasonal adjustment." All of it. In other words, in actual dollars there was not only no increase there was a net decrease in sales of approximately five percent - not annualized either, month-over-month!
Put that in your economic pipe and smoke it.  
Indeed. It's best not to believe the hype.  For more examples, the Shadow Government Statistics site is an excellent source.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lessons From Barcelona

Barcelona, the city which was at the epicenter of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT-FAI before and during the Spanish Civil War, has a few lessons worth listening to with respect to organizing movements without (the hindrance of) leaders. I've long maintained that the only true political difference is not Right and Left, but rather authoritarians and anti-authoritarians.  In most cases, the former boils down to the presence of politicians and centralization, whereas the latter does not. Unfortunately, during the blood-drenched Twentieth Century, only the Iberians seemed to understand this fundamental difference and even then they fell into the trap of aligning themselves with so-called "progressives" like Stalinists, who quickly set about the undermine the revolution of 1936.  (It ended, during May 1937 in Barcelona.)  Since the 1930s, Barcelona has seen a number of other movements with an anti-authoritarian bent, so the older generations there indeed have something worthwhile to pass on (as opposed here with geezers droning on and on about boring stories of peace, love and acid).  Since May 15th, the citizens of Barcelona have organized along neighborhood lines, and appear to have developed means of keeping any political leaders from emerging.  Here an excerpt from Reflections for the US Occupy Movement that anyone involved in OWS should reflect upon:
All of these movements constitute lessons learned that can be passed down to aid future struggles. So often, the mistakes that defeat a revolutionary movement are repeated. The neighborhood assemblies in Barcelona serve as spaces where people from different generations can share their perspectives, where those with experience in past struggles can collectivize that experience and turn it into communal property. In the beginning, the organizers of the 15M movement presented their protest model as something ultra-modern, with more references to Twitter than to the country’s rich history of social movements. This model was rejected by many in Barcelona, especially older people or those who had already participated in a previous movement. People preferred to build off their own tradition of struggle, while taking advantage of the new situation and adapting certain features of the 15M model to their use.
The historical memory of past instances of bureaucratization, co-optation by grassroots politicians, and pacification have already served to help the ongoing movement avoid a number of pitfalls. Despite attempts to centralize them, the neighborhood assemblies remain independent and decentralized, allowing for a broader, freer participation, and meaning that politicians who attempt to take advantage of these spaces are at a disadvantage because they cannot operate openly without being kicked out of the assemblies.
As groups like MoveOn.org and former civil rights activists turned politicians attempt to co-opt OWS for the Democratic Party, the lessons of Spain offer much needed wisdom to keep vile, disgusting politicians at bay.  (Certainly the original founders of the Tea Party and many of those suckered into voting for Obama might have also benefited from such advice, but that ignores the reality that far too many are authoritarians and therefore crave being told what to do.)

The piece goes on to identify further problems with the 99% concept that is worth reading:
The United States is also a country with inspiring histories of popular struggle. But it is a country with a case of social amnesia like no other. It seems that to a certain extent, the Occupy Wall Street actions exist more as a trend than anything else. The slight extent to which they draw on, or even make reference to, earlier struggles, even struggles from the past twenty years, is worrying. The fact that a present awareness of US history would shatter certain cornerstones of the new movement’s identity, for example this idea of the 99% that includes everyone but the bankers in one big, happy family, is not a sufficient excuse to avoid this task. The historical amnesia of American society must be overcome for a struggle to gain the perspective it needs.
There will always be reactionaries, not to mention authoritarians, and ignoring this certainty is done at one's peril.  However, this comment is telling in that most Europeans simply do not understand the cultural and social realities of US society and its cities in particular.   In Barcelona, neighborhood represent a force.  In the US, due it nature as a country of transients, most neighborhoods are just a collection of buildings.  It's a little hard to organize along such local lines when most do not even bother to know most of their neighbors.  Since much of what OWS is about is establishing tribes, as discussed in prior posts, the 99% tactic is a means of drawing people with common concerns and interests into a centralized focus.  It's about connections.  Technological means, like social media, are a poor substitute for face to face contact, but there are few other means for establishing relationships.

Anyway, ignore the past at your peril, but also do not try to make it fit your current circumstances.   The way is forward.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Nation State is Irrelevant

When something ceases to have meaning, it becomes irrelevant.  The decline of the nation state is no exception.  (See my earlier posts regarding fourth generation warfare, or 4GW, for more details.)  It has made the national government irrelevant.  Hence, the reason for the Occupy Wall Street movement having no focus on Washington D.C.  (The "other" Washington as it is called here in Washington State.)  The youth understand, even if it is not articulated, that appeals to the government are meaningless.  Leaders are no better than pimps. The lack of a leadership and hence a cohesive message from Occupy Wall is partly due to this reality.  It's hard to know where you're going when the only view is the wreckage from behind.  They know what doesn't work, but yet have not figured out what does.  It all boils down to the final realization that Voting is Worthless.  Obama's betrayal of his youthful followers, who are feeling like Chumps about now, was the final straw.

Regardless of their political slant, including those who do support OWS, most of the older generations just don't seem to get it.  Examples are Here and Here.  (Of course, there are some like John Robb who truly get it.  See also Here.)  They chastise and cajole the OWS participants for not putting pressure on their elected representatives and to vote.  (As if those crooks had anything to offer.  Indeed, even being in the same room is enough to make one feel tainted.)  Some even want OWS participants to run for public office, which is the equivalent of suggesting one become a whore.  All of these things are "so twentieth century,"  and the youth know it.  An entirely new social order is needed, and it is not government socialism or libertarian quackery.  People have to take responsibility for their lives at the local level.  The nation state will do nothing.  OWS, if it has to have meaning, is about forming new primary loyalties.

Also, in case you are interested, my site dedicated to propaganda art is featuring OWS-related art at this time.  Some of it is quite good.  See Here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fiat Money

Among hoarders of gold and silver, there is an inherent distrust in fiat money, which is backed by nothing but faith in the economic system.  A lack of faith essentially makes money worth less.  We are obviously seeing that problem as central banks in Europe and the US create more money to prop up their rotten banks.  These actions leads to a lack of faith.  But wait, some may say, why is inflation so low?  Sure the official inflation rate is low, but that only has meaning if you want to purchase a flat screen T.V. or some such nonessential item.  Food and gas, as anyone who has to feed a family or put gas in the car knows, has shot through the roof in recent years (with the exception of the demand destruction that occurred in late 2008, of course).  The official inflation rate is only so low because it excludes anything you actually need to survive and because wages have not increased but actually dropped.  There is no hyperinflation as many fear because wages would need to increase dramatically and that is not happening.  (Although it has in China with the predictable results.) So we appear to get the worst: deflation of earnings and inflation of what we need to survive.  The breaking point has not quite arrived, but the next great shock will make 2008 look minor.

Once money is no longer trusted, what can take its place?  Well, the obvious answer is gold etc., but since very few people have much of it, alternative means of exchange will be necessary.  I suspect bartering, exchange and communal arrangements will become more common.  Now is the time to start thinking of those things.  What can you offer?  What do you need (as opposed to want)?  What can you scrounge?  These questions may become a very important considerations, and I would strongly suggest thinking about it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Needs Leaders?

My opinion has not really changed.  OWS will probably do very little to effect systemic change, but who gives a crap about that anyway?  What's exiting about it is the potential for a large number of people to reject the concept of leaders and do things for themselves.  It sets a good example for everyone not interested in licking the anus of authority figures.  (The rest, no matter their political leanings, are cattle.) Therefore,  a program is not needed, as political revolution is not really an objective anyway.  The halls of power can be negated instead.  Social revolution can be organic.  Why change something that fundamentally stinks, when you can create your own tribe instead?  Consumerism is a lie, but what lies beyond?  Maybe the anarcho-primitivists had the right idea after all.  (They make good street fighters, anyway.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OWS: Will It Be Co-Opted?

Well, I admit that I am somewhat pleasantly surprised that OWS appears to be gaining some traction.  The question is whether or not it be co-opted by a desperate Democratic Party?  Doubtful, but if it stays leaderless, then it may have a chance of becoming something.  (If only to make the point that leaders are unnecessary.)  Stay tuned...

Read more Here.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Economics: Not A Real Science

I've long maintained that economics is not a real science, rather it is merely ideology (or maybe a really, really lame religion, if you prefer) masking as science. There are several reasons for this observation.  For example, competing economic systems, like Marxism and Capitalism, are consistent within their own scheme, yet contradictory with each other.  In a real science, like chemistry, this would be analogous to having a different reaction when combining bleach and ammonia, depending upon whom mixed it.  Also, in no real science, could a practitioner get their predictions so completely wrong and not be completely discredited.  But not economics!  Compare and contrast the recent announcement of neutrinos being measured to travel the faster than light and the reluctance of some physicists to even be associated with the results, compared to the likes of Greenspan, who is incredibly still taken seriously by some.  This is more reminiscent of an ideology, where if the figurehead is proven wrong, just changes the "facts" to match.  This reminds me of the the Soviet Union banning quantum research, as it contradicted the dialectic, until the development of the atomic bombed showed that it was undeniably real.  Other than data collection, which is horribly skewed in certain areas such as unemployment data, economics has very little to offer that could be compared to a real science.

However, I am willing to cut a little slack toward some economists that are keenly aware of deficiencies in economics.   John Kay's reminder to fellow economists that the territory is not the map, regarding the innate flaws of computer modeling of complex systems, is one such example.  (Indeed, it's a reminder that real scientists could use from time to time as well.)  I also follow construction economics, and find that most of the economists involved are worth taking seriously.  (Probably because the construction industry that bankrolls their research would not stand for anything that hurt their business--unlike banks which are guaranteed a government bailout when they fail.  I can't image the likes of Kiewit putting up with the kind of mediocre crap put forth by the federal reserve and academic economists of similar ilk.)  Combined with BLS data, I even use their research in my work of estimating the costs of small to $100M+ heavy civil/structural/marine construction projects, and I have made a name for myself by doing so.  For the most part, though, I have very little use for this so-called "science."

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Ideological Crisis

John Robb is absolutely correct that capitalism is facing an ideological crisis similar to that which resulted in the collapse of communism 20 years ago.  Although culturally speaking, capitalism as a means of economic exchange is probably not going anywhere (just as authoritarianism in Russia), it's ideological basis is under assault as confidence in its resultant system erodes.  In addition, governments (to varying degree) have been "hollowed out" by globalism, so there is really nothing left to step up to fill its place.  The only recourse is to switch one's orientation to "primary loyalties" as described by William S. Lind in his past writings.  In the West, much like other parts of the world, the result will be division into smaller entities than the current nation-state arrangement.  The question is how small will it go?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Tired of Being Dominated

Slovakia Loses Zeal for Euro, Putting Bailout Plan at Risk.   Maybe they're tired of being dominated?

Bloomberg tells ‘Occupy Wall Street’ to lay off banks.  If Bloomberg dislikes you, then you have at least one thing going for you.

Dumping the American Dream.  Into the sewer where it belongs.

Missing The Point

In Confronting the Malefactors, Paul Krugman misses the point: politicians are scum.  Democratic support, as the other party of crooks and liars, will only destroy any potential effectiveness of OWS (which is of course, the whole point--and will likely succeed).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, 2 Views

RE: Occupy Wall Street, 2 Views:
Occupy Wall Street, another futile peasants’ protest.
OCCUPY WALL STREET (the theory).
In a sense both views are correct as we still do not know where it may lead, but I believe the former is more realistic.  Only widespread insurrection and/or economic collapse will break this oligarchical system.  For the latter, one need do nothing.

Still protesting is far better than voting.  At least it does not validate the status quo.

I will give the open source theory credit: it can certainly work as such, but not likely here.  The US is not Egypt.  People here are not willing to get shot.  Hence, the long slow Fall will most likely be the means to end the power of kleptocrats.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bigness

Size creates complexity.  Economic collapse can therefore been seen as a consequence of "bigness."  Fifty years ago Leopold Kohr warned of the perils of large states and advocated smaller political entities.  See Disunion Now: A Plea for a Society based upon Small Autonomous Units.

Think

Those who think, don't do; those who do, don't think.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Financial Crisis II Electric Boogaloo (Part 4)

Home-buying season the worst in at least 50 years. Total bust.

Market nerves hit Morgan Stanley. Will it fail?

Is Capitalism Preparing to Bury Itself?   More like eating itself, just like communism.

Markets suffer large quarterly falls.  How low will they go?

Cracked China?  What nobody wants to consider.

Wall Street protesters gain traction — but now what?  Incoherent as usual, the opposition is as intellectually bankrupt as the establishment.   Granted, their protest is vastly superior to voting.  At least they are trying, but they need more. Revolution requires a program and this bunch has none.  (It does not require a leadership.)  Also, if the most they can get to show up is 2000 people (in a city of millions and a country of 300 million) then it most certainly does not look like Egypt.   (Not to mention that the largest turn out was really a side-demo against police brutality.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Who Is Next?

U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen. US citizen killed (without trial) in drone attack. Who is next?

So no more hilarious Inspire magazines?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Financial Crisis II Electric Boogaloo (Part 3)

(Click to enlarge)

Regarding the above cartoon, it's difficult to sympathize with parasitic corporations who lose their own game, but banks are in a league unto themselves.

General:

Share Traders More Reckless Than Psychopaths, Study Shows.  What a shock!

Feel Better?  Not really.

The economic situation in Europe is just plain bad:

Eurozone Bailout Numbers Go Stratospheric From €440 billion to €4 Trillion.

Split opens over Greek bail-out terms.

Merkel Prepares Market for Bigger Haircuts; Split opens Over Greek Bail-Out Terms; Needs vs. Fantasies.

This time, unlike 2008, it's the US that will follow.

Voting is Worthless

From As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe:
“Our parents are grateful because they're voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We're the first generation to say that voting is worthless.”
Why anyone would think otherwise never ceases to amaze.  The belief that an elected authority figure is going to do anything positive for anyone but the rich is outright delusional.  One thing the economic crisis is revealing is that people need to take matters into their own hands.  Although it is my opinion that non-violent protest is pretty useless (unless backed by the threat of a massive uprising), it is still superior to voting--at least the participants are taking matters into their own hands.  (If voting is worthless, why would a peaceful appeal to corrupt scum be any better?  One reason the Tea Party is so utterly pathetic is their stupid belief that voting matters.)

Quite simply, the real enemy is not corruption, it's leaders, elected or not.  They deserve to be replaced by nothing, which means the establishment of a citizenry that does not feel the need to be lead anywhere.  Once the politicians are dispatched, then the economy can be destroyed (as befits its parasitic nature).  I believe this can only happen when everything has fallen so far, that there is no alternative to starting from scratch.

In the 21st century, everyone will be an anarchist whether they like it or not.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No Confidence

Public’s opinion of government: ‘You stink!’:
Americans may be sharply divided on many fronts but they can agree when it comes those who run the government.

Congress stinks and anyone who seeks or holds public office ain’t that hot either.
From Obama Has an Everyone Problem:
Beyond every individual group’s specific concerns, what the bulk of the American people first and foremost elect a president to do is govern their country well. Obama’s problem is that basically every group across the spectrum feels the country is being governed poorly.
In an economic system, based on faith (much like communism) but reliant on the state, widespread dissatisfaction is a sign of impending alienation.  Hence, vested interests and opponents will attempt to either "ride the wave" or "stem the tide."  Those straddling the line will be stranded, which may be for the better: reality isn't a metaphor.

Drinking the Kool-Aide?

Stock Rally Continues on Wall Street. Drinking the Kool-Aide?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Financial Crisis II Electric Boogaloo (Part 2)

Punked World. Punked out for the banks. Well, for a change, at least it's not just the US that is FUBAR. As far as the Author's question concerning the lack of a progressive tea party, here are two response questions and answers:
Q: What the hell is a "progressive" anyway? 
A: A Chump who voted for Obama (and not because they thought he was the lesser of two evils).  Why would anyone follow such a useless lead?
Q: Who cares about preserving this stinking mess other than a bunch of honky geezers? 
A: (See #1.)
Neither the Tea Party or "Progressives" speak for most Americans.  Only the MSM and/or alternative media would espouse otherwise. See also Barack Obama VS Those Craaaazy Republicans: Is He the Lesser Evil, or the More Effective Evil (via Naked Capitalism).

Chris Hedges seems to think wasting time with occupying Wall Street means something.  (He obviously spends too much time in NYC.)  It's too far gone for that.  (Where were these people in 2008?  Probably, hoping the biggest looser since Millard Filmore would come riding to their rescue.)

Europe Stews on Greece, and Markets Sweat Out the Wait. Riding to the rescue with funny money. Why anyone would take a "rescue" seriously is amazing.

Saving the Rich, Losing the Economy.  Policy makers care about their class and nothing more.

World's economic crisis 'worse than bank crash'.  Some have a clue, but too little, too late.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Financial Crisis II Electric Boogaloo

It's almost October, time of market crashes, and maybe the start of Financial Crisis II Electric Boogaloo.  This time it looks like Europe is the catalyst, but maybe the US as well.  Starting the next couple days, as in 2008, this blog will start to follow the developments (as opposed to my current events blog which is really more about insulting anyone and everyone).

For now see also:

Why Stocks and Gold Crashed for a little current background reading.  Demand destruction is always a sign.

And:

Naked Capitalism and Calculated Risk as a good source of daily analysis.

Laughter

Laughter implies sadness.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Down is Up

In economics and politics, down is the new up.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Numbers

Numbers may be correct, but not necessarily valid.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Head in the Sand

Having one's head in the sand is preferable to having it shoved someplace worse.

OR

Ignorance is preferable to delusion.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Short Term Memory

Massive head trauma destroys short term memory.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Interconnectivity

Regarding contagion, interconnectivity is a weakness.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ciphers

Regarding Ciphers:
In the parlance of communications intelligence, a cipher is a secret message deliberately encoded to mislead unintended recipients.

[...]

Ciphers are often used to disguise messages encoded to mislead virtually everyone, whether they be citizens, consumers, stockholders, employees, voters, viewers, readers, Internet junkies, students, patients, or parishioners. They are a sophisticated form of lying and deceit—one of the most important instruments of mass manipulation and social control in our culture. A person, such as a political leader, who transmits misleading messages is also a cipher.

[...]

To some ciphers are world-class bloodsuckers who exploit our vulnerability and our inability to cope with the human condition. Ciphers tell us what to believe, how to live, how to raise our kids, how to work, how to play, how to make love, and how to die. From them we also learn what to buy, how much to pay for it, and when to replace it, as well as where we will work, how much we will be paid, and what working conditions will be like. We call this “freedom.

Cipher is also a synonym for zero, indicating a value of naught, symbolizing nothingness and a hint of nihilism. It can refer to a person or a thing of no importance, a nonentity. Ciphers stand for nothing. Thus a person, a place, a thing, an idea, or a message may be a cipher. But in our culture, some of the most important ciphers are politicians, TV advertisers, the Internet, text messages and money.
True freedom is not believing zero.  How many of us are really free?

Majority

Q: Why do so many believe their cause represents a majority?

A: Their cause is delusional.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Anticipation

Anticipation is a negative.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Bogus Aphorisms

I agree with On Bogus Aphorisms.  If a so-called aphorism makes you feel good, then either you have something very wrong with you, or (most likely) it's not an aphorism.  Clichés are not aphorisms.

See Also.

Education

One cannot educate the unwilling.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chains

The chains that bind are made of bits and bytes of meaningless data.

Link.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taboos

Taboos are broken by the bored.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slime

Until the false populist dries, its slime is always slippery.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Past It

Q: When something edible is "past it," it is rightfully discarded.  Why is this not true of systems?

A: Vested interests want you to eat shit.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Elite Support

1. Excepting Maoists*, contingent on their preservation, revolutions cannot succeed without elite** support.

2. After the celebration settles, fundamentally very little has changed. (As if.)

3. Thus the purge follows.***

4. The old way actually looks better.

5. Repeat.

* And who wants that?  (Peasants.)
** But not necessarily the same elite.
*** And who wants that? (Fanatics.)
**** And who wants that? (non-Fanatics.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Stating the Obvious

Stating the obvious is often a destabilizing force greater than any actual event.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Hard Landings

Hard landings usually occur when someone is not paying attention and/or doing their job.  Sound familiar?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Knock Down

If you are going to knock something down, be sure to get out of the way.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flattery

Flattery is a vehicle for laziness.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Neoclassical Dogma

On Neoclassical (Economics) Dogma:
Modern economics purports to be scientific. It is this that lends its practitioners ears all over the world; from the media, from policymakers and from the general public. Yet, at its very heart we find concepts that, having been carried over almost directly from the Christian tradition, are inherently theological. And these concepts have, in a sense, become congealed into an unquestionable dogma.
Yet another example demonstrating that "modern" economics is not a science.  (Just like Marxism.)

Link.

Grandstanding

Amongst the decadent, grandstanding passes for wisdom.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Plans

Plans are only as good as the effort expended in their preparation.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Efficiency

Efficiency does not pay by the hour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Naiveté

In Naiveté one may find focus.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sometimes

Sometimes the trash takes you out (but that does not mean it's not garbage).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Crass

Crass is not brash.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vulnerability

Vulnerability is an asset to the invulnerable.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On Faith

From a work in progress:

Technology is an upstart cult. Like many cults, its foundation lies in hitherto established religious doctrine. Long before it was a scientific belief, determinism was a religious idea. The concept of a deterministic deity is among the main reasons progress was accepted as liege in the first place. Some myths are better than others. Herd animals crave the false security of the familiar. Some masks look too much alike. For a believer, only faith is relevant. For a machine, faith does not exist.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Medium

The medium is the message.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not Profound

Suffering is not profound.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Humor

Humor is more funny when it's a lie.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Only Two Types

With respect to the environment, I've noticed in a decade of working as an (un-)civil  engineer, there mainly tends to be only two of types people I run across: those who trash everything and the fanatics.  The former group wants to shit their own bed; the latter wants to do nothing.  Neither seems capable of much thought. The idiots who don't seem to consider the environment as something worth saving are just abortions, and don't merit any consideration.  The fanatics, on the other hand, can't seem to see the forest for the trees (or around here, the Puget Sound for the water).  A case in point concerns incidental harassment of marine mammals.  The fanatics will do everything they can to put restrictions of pile driving so as not to bother the sea lions.  As a native fisherman once hotly explained, what's killing the marine mammals is their diminishing food supplies, not noise from a pile driver.  Therefore, old creosote treated timber piling is not being replaced by steel pipe piles as quickly as would otherwise be the case.  Creosote is fatal to fish spawn, but they can actually live on steel piles.  Therefore more fish die, more sea lions starve, but at least it isn't too noisy.  What a world...

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Work

Work is a four letter word.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Comparisons

Comparisons are only valid when connected.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fairness

Fairness is undermined by exclusion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Problem

The problem isn't lying politicians.  Politicians have always lied.  It's the truths people believe.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wake Up

You can't wake up if you don't go to sleep.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Lies

Lies are trumpeted; retractions are buried.

For a good discussion of the propaganda techniques employed regarding Osama bin Laden's killing see Here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fear

Fear can always be replaced.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Falling Down

Falling down does not necessarily mean one can climb back up: sometimes the grade is too steep.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strife

For the decadent, strife is a spectator sport.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ugliness

Ugliness is defined by bad taste.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Evil

Evil spits in the eye of the beholder.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vapidity

Vapidity is a right.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Just Stare

Just stare and the screen; everything will be O.K.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Stand Alone

The stand alone falls alone.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

On the Stimulus

During the 1930s, a less complicated version of capitalism was salvaged by employing socialistic approaches to keep idle men busy. It worked because the people in charge had some understanding of how the world works. The point was to keep people busy. In 2009, the same approach, called an “Economic Stimulus,” was tried again. Its impact was not as great. Why? In part, the fact that construction techniques have grown less labor intensive meant less people were employed for shorter amounts of time. A paving project in the 1930s was accomplished by trucking asphalt and dumping it on the road. It was then shoveled and raked by gangs of men. The only heavy equipment on-site was the compactor (steam roller). Now, this work is done by machines. There may be a few workers on the ground, but (not counting the truck drivers) the labor has been reduced from scores to about five or six. In addition, the requirement was the project to be “shovel ready.” Such projects, unless due to timing, are generally smaller in scope and duration than those undertaken in the 1930s. The laws impacting projects are much more stringent. Permits take years to obtain. Environmental Impact Statements take years to prepare. The days of filling in wetlands are long over. As someone who professionally worked on stimulus construction projects, I can attest that the politicians responsible for crafting the policy knew next to nothing about large scale construction projects. Their mediocrity is appalling.

-Excerpt from a work in progress.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Instincts

Instincts are supplanted by rationale.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Obtuse

The obtuse rule the stupid.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prisons

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
— Attributed to Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881); it’s often falsely cited as from House of the Dead.

Link.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Revolution

Without action, revolution means nothing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chained

When one is chained to a machine, does one not become a machine's tool?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hype

Most of the time, hype is better unbelieved.  However, especially in disaster situations, there are times when the hype may not go far enough.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

EM Radiation Guns

In case your looking for a hobby project:
This EMP Cannon Stops Cars Almost Instantly
MICROWAVE GUN.
(If so, you have way to much free time.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tragedy

1. Compared to human induced disasters, nature's tragedies are more readily excepted.
2. No one loses their self respect because nature destroyed one's home.
3. Hence, those made homeless by economic conditions will fare worse than those made homeless by earthquakes and tsunamis.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Anger

 When directed at nothing, anger is exhausting.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Waking to the Truth

Per Morris Berman:
We are now, I believe, in a position to answer the question of what all of this frenetic activity is designed to hide; what Americans are running away from. Toward the end of his life Williams wrote: "America is the kind of culture that wakes you in the night, the kind of nightmare that may [yet] possibly lead us closer to the truth." This is a haunting, if enigmatic, sentence. What truth, after all? Possibly, an example of what not to do. For the truth here is an emptiness at the center, to which is added a desire to never grow up. It should be obvious by now that the American definition of "progress" is little more than a joke, and that running away from the responsibilities of adulthood–including the construction of a society not based on endless consumption, competition, and expansion–could be the single greatest thread in American history. That there is a possible alternative history, and a very different type of progress, characterized (for example) by marginal figures such as Lewis Mumford or the late Jane Jacobs, is something Americans don't wish to contemplate, for alternatives to the life of running faster to get nowhere scare them. No, the expansion game, and the life of limbo, as Williams puts it, will continue until we hit a wall, and the game cannot be played any longer (although I suspect we shall be able to limp along with "crisis management" for two or three more decades). This game, of self-destruction and the destruction of others, will continue until there is no place for America to go except to the graveyard of failed empires. And as Williams suggested, violence is very likely part of the equation.
I do disagree with the assertion that things will limp along for "two or three more decades."  The desperation of political elites is too palpable for anything lasting that long.  Their spectacles have become too frantic.

Link.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

If

If technology is a savior, why does it keep digging a deeper whole instead?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Power

Power breeds arrogance by justifying itself through inflation. However, a tipping point is reached when power believes itself infallible and therefore invincible: thus do dictators fall. At that level only a true paranoid survives.