Monday, December 24, 2012

Don't Believe the Tripe

From Here's Proof That Most Pundits Don't Know What They're Talking About:
Tetlock interviewed 284 people who made their living "commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends." He asked them to assess the probabilities that certain events would occur in the not too distant future, both in areas of the world in which they specialized and in regions about which they had less knowledge ... Respondents were asked to rate the probabilities of three alternative outcomes in every case: the persistence of the status quo, more of something such as political freedom or economic growth, or less of that thing.
The results were devastating. The experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned equal probabilities to each of the three potential outcomes. In other words, people who spend their time, and earn their living, studying a particular topic producer poorer predictions than dart-throwing monkeys who would have distributed their choices evenly over the options. Even in the region they knew best, experts were not significantly better than nonspecialists.
Don't believe the tripe.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wage Slavery

Wage slavery is not something over which to be thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Living

Living in a gated community is not a sign of freedom.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Master Race

The master race is human garbage.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Useless Liberals

From Useless Liberal Intellectuals:
I have my set of words and you have yours. When we mean the same things, we can reason together to a conclusion. But suppose there are other people with other meanings for those words. They talk to each other and reach a different outcome. How can the two groups work together? They do not share a common language, and each distrusts the meanings assigned to the words of the other. Worse yet, the deconstruction crowd raises issues about the stability of words used to describe facts, so that even facts are subject to debate.
[...]
Now suppose a group like Occupy wants to make decisions in this theoretical environment. If they fall prey to the academic process of the deconstructionist-poststructuralists, discussing every word, trying to strip out the repressive meanings, and searching for ways to examine every fact, nothing will happen but process. There is no way to make a decision. Even if they start with a good deal of agreement, the process is unwieldy and irritating. And when they get done, how can they use that result to impact the decisions of others? Do they have to repeat the process of masticating every word 50 times every time they add a new person, or attempt to persuade some random person? Thank the heavens they don’t. Confronted with a disaster, they act, as in Red Hook, New York, and Rockaway.
Deconstruction and poststructuralism have proved to be a disaster for participatory democracy. They are a disaster for the public sphere. This is the outcome of the life’s work of academic “liberals” trying to solve the problem of the hegemony of words.
Meanwhile the real hegemony, the hegemony of capitalists and oligarchs, dominates the world, wrecks the global economy, crushes the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and tramples democracy into the ground. Academic liberals wring their hands, but they have nothing to contribute to understanding or a method for change.
For the most part, I certainly agree with the author's assertion.  The author dies not go far enough in examining why such theories have been allowed to thrive.  Ultimately useless intellectuals are a by-product of an academic systems which promotes their stupidity as a means to ensure nothing ever changes.  Conservatives are often used as a bogey-man to explain counter-revolutionary impulses in society, but liberals are far more likely to stymie real change.  Liberals ensure that nobody does anything but sit around and talk.  Therefore nothing ever happens and nothing changes except through reaction (which is the home turf of conservative impulses).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No True Nobel Prize in Economics

Although few realize it, the so-called "Nobel Prize in Economics."  The creation of the Central Bank of Sweden, it is really the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.”  The Nobel family, not to mention real scientists, are appalled that it is given the same billing.  From There Is No Nobel Prize in Economics:
Members of the Nobel family are among the harshest, most persistent critics of the economics prize, and members of the family have repeatedly called for the prize to be abolished or renamed. In 2001, on the 100th anniversery of the Nobel Prizes, four family members published a letter in the Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet, arguing that the economics prize degrades and cheapens the real Nobel Prizes. They aren’t the only ones.
Scientists never had much respect for the new economic Nobel prize. In fact, a scientist who headed Nixon’s Science Advisory Committee in 1969, was shocked to learn that economists were even allowed on stage to accept their award with the real Nobel laureates. He was incredulous: “You mean they sat on the platform with you?”
That hatred continues to simmer below the surface, and periodically breaks through and makes itself known. Most recently, in 2004, three prominent Swedish scientists and members of the Nobel committee published an open letter in a Swedish newspaper savaging the fraudulent “scientific” credentials of the Swedish Central Bank Prize in Economics. “The economics prize diminishes the value of the other Nobel prizes. If the prize is to be kept, it must be broadened in scope and be disassociated with Nobel,” they wrote in the letter, arguing that achievements of most of the economists who win the prize are so abstract and disconnected from the real world as to utterly meaningless.
Why the animosity?  Because economics is not a real science.  It is an ideology that means nothing as to the fundamental structure of the universe.  As such, economics does not deserve accolades, only scorn.  So the next time you hear someone mentioned as a "Nobel Prize Winner in Economics" you'll know it is a lie, just like their so-call "science."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Real Tragedies

And the worst part about it is that you can't even feel that bad for me, because the Pity Jar of this nation is basically empty; its remaining crumbs reserved for families of five who lost it all when their mortgage imploded, hospital patients who can't pay to keep themselves breathing and the people who've been without power for weeks, or lost their house in a tornado, or are watching their entire livelihood wither under the sun. These are the types of poor souls that get worried about. Those of us lucky enough to have created our own misfortune by allowing our helicopter parents to get under our skin and pump us full of dreams, pursuing misguided MFAs and resisting minimum-wage labor – get out of the way and make room for the real tragedies.

-  "Job interviews are fun"
Unemployment Stories Vol 13

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Truth

For the deluded, truth is not reality.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Election Year Propaganda Links

Every four years I've noted this theme is taken up by some, probably because the constant election year drone of propaganda stimulates the discussion.

Why are Americans so easy to manipulate?  Ring the bell and they start to drool.

Manipulated America: One Theory of How They Control US.  Control is accepted by legitimacy. The author could benefit by learning about 4GW Theory.

Romney's Rise in Polls vs. Electoral College Map.  Not specifically about propaganda, but it shows how the expectations of entertainment influences votes. We elect the jesters.  The electoral college does mitigate this tendency a little bit.  For example the republicans can pick up 100K votes in Texas, but it does not change anything, because they were going to win Texas anyway.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Craving for Power

Craving for power is a sign of a damaged ego.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Ambition

Ambition is a sign of too much spare time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shrinking Horizon

A shrinking horizon is obscured by smog.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Don't Work For Free



I've been neglecting my blogs lately because I've been on a music writing/recording binge. My latest is Don't Work For Free.  (It's a little different than my usual.)  Check it out, and remember: Don't Work For Free!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

You Are An Ant!

Even if one pulls the strings in the center of the swarm, one is still just an ant.

Or

Pulling the strings
in the middle of the swarm
is still just an ant

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Deescalate the Fallout

Veteran Seattle cop accused of using excessive force.  By provoking an angry mob, especially in an age where everyone's phone is a video recorder, his brazen assaults made every cop on-site a potential target. The next time (and for police there is always a next time), rather than angry words, the crowd may have turned violent.  ("Hey, it's those pigs!")  By turning in their fellow officer, they are attempting to deescalate the fallout.  In a heavily armed society, the next confrontation may potentially involve gunfire. If these actions were in a closed setting, absent an angry mob, the officers would look the other way. Psychos are sometimes useful (few cops really want to be the first cop to kick in a door), so they are tolerated if they can maintain control in public situations.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Undertow

Prevailing currents may have an undertow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Something

Something is nothing when it has no meaning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ideas

If one's ideas are flawed, then it is time to develop something new.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Propaganda Links

Why Don’t Americans Take More Vacations? Blame It on Independence Day.  Interesting take on the long term impact of propaganda over the last century.

Selling destructive ideology.  Conservatives sell their wildly destructive ideology better than Democrats because the latter have nothing to sell.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Don't Take The Money

As I've stated before, I do not believe economics is a real science.  It appears at least one Political Scientists believes the same of his discipline.  From Political Scientists Are Lousy Forecasters:
It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of accurate political predictions (the field’s benchmark for what counts as science), my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money. The most obvious example may be political scientists’ insistence, during the cold war, that the Soviet Union would persist as a nuclear threat to the United States. In 1993, in the journal International Security, for example, the cold war historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote that the demise of the Soviet Union was “of such importance that no approach to the study of international relations claiming both foresight and competence should have failed to see it coming.” And yet, he noted, “None actually did so.” Careers were made, prizes awarded and millions of research dollars distributed to international relations experts, even though Nancy Reagan’s astrologer may have had superior forecasting skills.
When first reading the above paragraph, my initial reaction was such lousy forecasting is the result of a combination of telling politicians etc. what they want to hear, because they are paying the bills, and intellectual inbreeding.  The author appears to agree (although not in those words):
Alas, little has changed. Did any prominent N.S.F.-financed researchers predict that an organization like Al Qaeda would change global and domestic politics for at least a generation? Nope. Or that the Arab Spring would overthrow leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia? No, again. What about proposals for research into questions that might favor Democratic politics and that political scientists seeking N.S.F. financing do not ask — perhaps, one colleague suggests, because N.S.F. program officers discourage them? Why are my colleagues kowtowing to Congress for research money that comes with ideological strings attached?
This sounds much like what has occurred in the field of economics (although I would be shocked to hear a economist admit it).   The N.S.F. may stop giving grants to political scientists, and this is a good thing.  If a practitioner desires to develop a real science, then there is a price: to be intellectually free, do not take the money.  As pointed out later in the op-ed piece:
These results wouldn’t surprise the guru of the scientific method, Karl Popper, whose 1934 book “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” remains the cornerstone of the scientific method. Yet Mr. Popper himself scoffed at the pretensions of the social sciences: “Long-term prophecies can be derived from scientific conditional predictions only if they apply to systems which can be described as well-isolated, stationary, and recurrent. These systems are very rare in nature; and modern society is not one of them.”
Stop trying to be something you are not; maybe then political science (or economics) can become a real science.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

False Mastery

Technology facilitates the lowest common denominator mentality by dulling the intellect. It collectively isolates the human animal from the base physical world. As a consequence, by its allure of security and comfort, the anti-natural supersedes the natural. A technological society enables a false sense of mastery over reality. Hence, contempt is taken for shock and awe. The idiot never understands anything beyond machines.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Blowing Off Steam

From How to criticize the government on Chinese social media:
The blog Tea Leaf Nation has written about a fascinating Harvard study that shows what posts get censored in Chinese cyberspace and why. The blog post (and the study itself) are worth reading in full, but, briefly, the study postulates that while censorship attempts to obfuscate it also "exposes an extraordinarily rich source of information about the Chinese governmen's interests, intentions, and goals" (italics in the original), and that the government doesn't necessarily censor posts with "negative, even vitriolic criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies," but rather focuses on "comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content."
The second point especially seems to be a more nuanced understanding of Chinese censorship: someone blowing off steam is fine, even if it's "unambiguously against the state and its leaders," as long as it doesn't encourage destabilizing action.
The only difference is that in the US you are not censored; the police just plant evidence.  You can talk all the smack you want as long as it doesn't mean anything.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Ideological Brain

The Republican Brain is a recent book about the apparently scientifically researched backed assertion that conservatives are less likely to accept science.  I've found it to be true, but rather than a defect of conservatism in and of itself, I believe it is more likely to be a case of a defect of the (authoritarian) ideological mindset.  Currently, in the United States, the ideological mindset has adopted conservatism over all other (authoritarian) ideologies, because it is simply the only mass alternative available.  As a control, rather than using liberals (who are too wishy-washy to every really be considered adherents of a hard ideology), I would propose Marxists (who historically rejected science that was counter to their theories) or maybe Islamic fundamentalists.  Of course, this would be rather difficult in the U.S. since the former do not exist in any significant numbers and the latter would never identify themselves as typical Americans to provide a valid control.  One argument for my thesis is based on recent surge in the relative popularity of Ayn Rand.  Her books purposely used the same formula as Marxist literature.  Regardless of the actual rhetoric, it therefore shows that such a formula really appeals to an ideologue.  (That Atlas Shrugged is more about individualism is irrelevant.  It is still authoritarian in that the successful individual becomes a dictator--as opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat.)

It's all about telling others what to do...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Total War

Technology demands total war. Blood disputes need not be so harmful. Feuding is less nauseating. Physically killing someone is far more personal than collateral damage. One must have the courage to face, even embrace, the destructive drives within the shadows.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

College Debt Slavery

As I've noted before, I was lucky in that I did not need to borrow for college or graduate school. I couldn't find a job after I was finished in 1993, but it did not really matter. For young adults attending college now, the story is quite different. They have been screwed hard. College has become so unaffordable that over 90% of students had to take on some form of debt to graduate. Unlike most other forms of debt, they cannot default as the government has created a system of usury that makes those who attend college a debt slave. College is not worth attending anymore unless one can pay these debts in a reasonable amount of time after leaving school. See A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College via Colleges as Merchants of Debt, which points out:
I’ve never understood when (once in a while) someone (clearly young) shows up in comments and rails against Social Security and Medicare because of the burden it imposes on him. Now I get it. The student debt issue is deepening social fractures. If young people are asked to stand on their own, and given only unpalatable choices (forego a college degree, the entrance ticket to middle class life, or accept debt slavery at a tender age), no wonder they adopt a “devil take the hindmost” attitude. I hope some of these people who so cavalierly argue for loading up the next generation with debt realize that the young may not want to take care of them either, and they are far more at risk. The outcome of cutting social safety nets to the elderly ultimately means that old people will die faster.
Such is the price in shafting the young.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On Sanity

Sanity is defined according to herd norms which necessarily vary according to the age, culture and society. Indeed many modern human would likely be judged insane by pre-industrial standards. Our obsession with time is a case in point. Yet by present precepts, those older notions might appear counter to apparent survival instincts. A driver in heavy, fast traffic cannot always wait to act. Horses will refuse drunken commands, but an automobile has no more intelligence than a rock. Constant attention is required. The maladaptive appears to be relative. Even extremes may vary. Yesterday's mystic or berserker is today's lunatic. Balance depends upon circumstances. The civilizing process stunts certain traits while promoting others. However, paradoxically, certain atavistic characteristics are occasionally called upon for survival or even the supposed benefit of society. A certain level of agitation is necessary to ensure these traits are not submerged too deeply. Unfortunately, the conflicting stimuli may drive some over the edge, resulting in simmering resentment and pointless violence. For those who feel the urge to snap, a certain hope may sustain them through the dark night. In its present form, our civilization is doomed. The time for revenge must wait. The official power structure must do everything in its power to convince us otherwise...

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Failed Science

More on why economics is not a science:

Economics has failed us: but where are the fresh voices?  There aren't any.

Why Paul Krugman is Full of Shit.  And this joke (like all the rest) one a Nobel prize?  It is telling when the bar is so low.

New jobs decline for second straight month.  More on the fantasy of "recovery."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On Politics

1. Politics is a disease inflicted on the stupid by the opportunistic.

2. Politically, If you get something you'll probably find you don't want it.

3. Politics undermines the state by making it look like a corrupt circus.

4. A crooked used-care salesman is someone too honest to succeed as a politician.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fiction and Myth as Propaganda

i. Except for the faithful, outright lies are not well received.  Truth may be abused, but not shattered.  Under the strain, the world may break.  Ground must be prepared.  Ignorance must be nurtured.  The big lies are best told to the desperate.  Even as the old lies are recycled, new concepts are required.  Subtlety is longer lasting and more efficient than harassment.

ii. For the liar, fiction and myth are superior tools.  Fiction is grand.  Myths are sublime.  The successful opportunist believes propaganda, and thereby becomes honest.  History has always been re-written by the slanted premises of the ruling elite.  In a wired age, they must actually believe.  Hence, the elite are doomed to wade with everyone else.

iii. Fiction is beyond morality.  Beliefs are suspended.  How could it be any other way?

iv. For a decadent, confusing fact from fiction is an essential quality of leadership.  Those believing otherwise wrongly believe they do not live in such a world.  Their projections make their reality unreachable.

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Circular Arguments

Circular arguments are analogous to mathematical proof by example.  A counter-example will logically disprove such claims, but it may not receive a balanced hearing.  The dictates of logic are rarely followed by the human condition.  People want to believe that which makes them comfortable with their place in the world.  Very few intentionally agitate themselves by de-constructing society by mentally pulling it apart.  A damaged machine seems to be preferable to one that is known to be broken.  One can accommodate cultural fact, or pretend that logical appeals mean something to the majority.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Yet Another Example of Why Economics is Not a Science

From Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist:
The evening’s after-dinner keynote speech began, so we had to shelve the conversation. Reflecting on it, I kept thinking, “This should not have happened. A prominent economist should not have to walk back statements about the fundamental nature of growth when talking to a scientist with no formal economics training.” But as the evening progressed, the original space in which the economist roamed got painted smaller and smaller.
First, he had to acknowledge that energy may see physical limits. I don’t think that was part of his initial virtual mansion.
Next, the efficiency argument had to shift away from straight-up improvements to transformational technologies. Virtual reality played a prominent role in this line of argument.
Finally, even having accepted the limits to energy growth, he initially believed this would prove to be of little consequence to the greater economy. But he had to ultimately admit to a floor on energy price and therefore an end to traditional growth in GDP—against a backdrop fixed energy.
I got the sense that this economist’s view on growth met some serious challenges during the course of the meal. Maybe he was not putting forth the most coherent arguments that he could have made. But he was very sharp and by all measures seemed to be at the top of his game. I choose to interpret the episode as illuminating a blind spot in traditional economic thinking. There is too little acknowledgement of physical limits, and even the non-compliant nature of humans, who may make choices we might think to be irrational—just to remain independent and unencumbered.
A failure to consider, or even acknowledge fundamental physical laws demonstrates that what passes for "mainstream" economics is not a science, but an ideology, at best, and a joke, at worst.    (Neither is Marxist economics a science--predetermination was proven to be a fallacy long ago.)

Perhaps, economics could become a real science, as the author acknowledges later in the text, but it isn't there yet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On Intellectual Product

A creator need not be a producer, but may eventually become one. In the present social order the only apparent choices for dissemination are giving or selling. Although intellectual product may start out as a state of mind, once sold, it becomes a commodity. Merchandise is a thing. A product is owned. Anything past its originator reduces its brilliance. More importantly, it can be resold. Each transaction further reduces intellectual product to something solid. It may degrade but it never changes. By failing to grow, even if birthed by sublime genius, intellectual product stagnates. Anything building upon it is therefore erected on a rotten foundation. Since nothing is examined[1] by industrialization, mass production is even worse. The political spectrum is among the more glaring examples, but even subcultural works are susceptible. The mass mind has no insight.

Widespread dissemination necessitates a lower level of sophistication. Reflective contemplation is not necessary to get the point. The simplistic is understandable by the greatest number. Fleeting in nature, fashionable appeal is neither meaning nor significance. It will eventually return if someone can find a way to make money.

Some feed upon commodity. These vicarious sorts desire the mental stimulation but lack the ability to create their own works. Even bad art is better than sucking up.

Few even care to try creating their own vision. The greater society gives creativity beyond the economic sphere lip service, but no real support. If it cannot be sold, then imagination is viewed as a self-indulgent waste of time. The public education system certainly does nothing to oppose the commodification of intellectual life. Creativity for its own sake is either reserved for the elite, or the economic exploitation[2] of the naive.

A stupid population is easiest to pacify, if not control, through diversion. Questions mean nothing unless and until the appropriate question is asked. A critical, analytical eye sees much where others see little. No status quo could exist if the masses developed sight. Projected shadows would cease to appear so menacing. An opportunist depends upon blindness. General knowledge and the ability to apply it are not valued. Important bridges remain unappreciated. True intellectuals have started revolutions and felt their own strength. What passes for such these days are easily ignored mindless parrots. Occasionally, one will hear these idiots cry forth in despair that nobody is really listening or understands. It never occurs that perhaps no one should. Reason is unfathomable. Perhaps the fault lies with the communicator...

[1] Analysis is not necessarily examination.

[2] The tech industry has certainly proven this observation true.

Monday, April 09, 2012

On Culture and Commodification

i. Culture manifests and imprints itself across all segments of society. The past contains many shared perceptions which may be built upon for Maximum Advantage. A common example is evoking Hitler to justify foreign intervention, even when few parallels exist, to successfully quiet opposition.

ii. Intellectual and material achievements are often unearthed from a nostalgic past to rationalize reactionary policies and movements. Things were so much better in the past. The single largest mistake was probably leaving the trees, but only a few bring sentiment so far by espousing all civilization a lie. The herd needs a reason to believe getting up for work is worth it. Hopes should not be too specific. Sacrifice must seem worthwhile. War dead is probably one of the most powerful tools to this end. Horror has to mean something... Values need to be defined and require common acceptance. The system will grind to a halt if the herd was encouraged to mindlessly mill about. Nothing must appear to be something. Propaganda has its limits. The irrational is difficult to harness, but represents true power by those that manage to do so. Backlash sentiments are easiest to invoke and exploit among opponents.

iii. Commodification is a social weapon. Consumerism is a faith. Material objects bring fulfillment. The glittering new malaise is preferable to the old malaise. The opportunist should never underestimate public stupidity. Conformity can even become rebellion. Official positions are shown in the best light. Major media outlets know who butters their bread. Well paid journalists are players in the economic order. Anyone heavily invested will necessarily support the entire economic order. Their money is their only freedom (whatever that means). Economic clout represents the path of least resistance. Money does not mean everything. "Maximum" may always be redefined....

(From a work in progress...)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Re: Sociopaths

From Sociopaths, closed minds and a bit of Mayan cosmology:
Yes, and more. There was an article in the EU Observer this week (April 3, 2012) – EU ‘surprised’ by Portugal’s unemployment rate – which I had to re-read a few times to check that I was actually reading the words correctly. The dialogue presented was so shocking that it raises fundamental questions about how one is [to] interact with the economics debate. Then I read some more articles this week which investigated why mainstream economics retains its dominance in the face of its catastrophic failure to explain anything of importance to humanity. Closed minds are very resistant to change especially when socio-pathological dimensions are present. 
Sociopaths just don't make for good science (which is why economics is not a science), but they are good for business (assuming you don't actually follow their advice).  The inmates are running the asylum.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Philosophy and Social Knowledge

Read Philosophy and social knowledge:
The philosophy of social science is a group of research traditions that are intended to shed light on various aspects of the intellectual effort of understanding and explaining social phenomena. In brief, it is the study of the social sciences from the point of view of the quality of knowledge they offer, the types of explanations they advance, and the important conceptual problems that are raised in the course of social science research. Core questions include: What are the scope and limits of scientific knowledge of society? What is involved in arriving at a scientific understanding of society? What are the most appropriate standards for judging proposed social explanations? Is there such a thing as social causation? How are social theories and assertions to be empirically tested? How do social facts relate to facts about individuals?
Interesting.

On Unstable Equilibrium 3.2

A push can be gradual or excessive.  Hard landings are painful.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 3.1

Stability is a trough that can lead to stagnation.  Sometimes instability is the only thing that can push it beyond.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Baffler is back!

After several years, a new Baffler has finally found its way to my mail box. Thomas Frank is back to his old style with Too Smart to Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly:
But what rankles now is our failure, after each of these disasters, to come to terms with how we were played. Each separate catastrophe should have been followed by a wave of apologies and resignations; taken together— and given that a good percentage of the pundit corps signed on to two or even three of these idiotic storylines—themy mandated mass firings in the newsrooms and op-ed pages of the nation. Quicker than you could say “Ahmed Chalabi,” an entire generation of newsroom fools should have lost their jobs.

But that’s not what happened. Plenty of journalists have been pushed out of late, but the ones responsible for deluding the public are not among them. Neocon extraordinaire Bill Kristol won a berth at the New York Times (before losing it again), Charles Krauthammer is still the thinking conservative’s favorite, George Will drones crankily on, Thomas Friedman remains our leading dispenser of nonsense neologisms, and Niall Ferguson wipes his feet on a welcome mat that will never wear out. The day Larry Kudlow apologizes for slagging bubble-doubters as part of a sinister left-wing trick is the day the world will start spinning in reverse. Standard & Poor’s first leads the parade of folly (triple-A’s for everyone!), then decides to downgrade U.S. government debt, and is taken seriously in both endeavors. And the prospect of Fox News or CNBC apologizing for their role in puffing war bubbles and financial bubbles is no better than a punch line: what they do is the opposite, launching new movements that stamp their crumbled fables “true” by popular demand.

The real mistake was my own. I believed that our public intelligentsia had succumbed to an amazing series of cognitive failures; that time after time they had gotten the facts wrong, ignored the clanging bullshit detector, made the sort of mistakes that would disqualify them from publishing in The Baffler, let alone the Washington Post.
It's not too shocking that he can't publish something like this in a book, since that particular industry is responsible for these hacks.  The Age of Mediocrity is still chugging along just fine.

Anyway, as a reader since 1995, I highly recommend this journal.  Bashing business culture is lots of fun.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 2.1

A system may be in a state of unstable equilibrium, but this says nothing about the potential of its fall.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Democracy?

The West claims to be democratic, but the reality is far different as discussed Here. It's all about money, which is the definition of a Plutocracy.   A system with the trappings of democracy do not make it one. (Note that Pluto was the Greek god of death, which is very apropos considering the present state of Europe. Foreshadowing?)  Perhaps it is impossible to sustain a large scale democratic republic as it is destined to degenerate into a plutocracy.  Maybe it only works in small scale, where it is easier to hold those in power accountable.  In the US, this would generally imply that nothing larger than a county government could be democratic.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 1.2

Prediction is generally impossible for most complex situations, but patterns may be discerned.   Thus, at certain periods the path forward is all too clear.  In societal affairs, vested interests will throw a great deal of resources into maintaining the status quo.  The amount required is proportional to the level of systemic instability. Hence crisis provides the opportunity for discerning such.

Monday, March 05, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 1.1

Unstable equilibrium may exist in a perfectly balanced state.  It is ready to roll.  The question is direction.  If the situation is analyzed it may be possible to influence the ultimate path; then again, it might not.  If the latter, unless the potential for sufficient impulse exists, one should move out of the way.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 1.0

1.0 Unstable equilibrium is a precarious balance.  A small push can send the unstable object falling one way or another.  Like physical objects, social systems, cultures, economies, religions, governments and other human constructs may exist in such as state.  Unlike the boulder balanced upon a pebble, the critical point is difficult to identify until after the fact of its collapse.  Its boundaries are unknowable, yet graspable with insight, intuition and observation.  Absent such, false interfaces are much more likely to take hold.  Most cannot get high enough to see far; others all too easily.  Boosts do not leave an appreciation for the climb.  In the end, all problems seem too easy--yet still overwhelming.  The view is not much help.  Details matter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inflated Egos

Inflated egos beg to be popped.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Austerity

Austerity is only good for someone else.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Looking Over

Looking over ones shoulder whilst running increases the risk of tripping or running into something.  Why is abstract thought less likely to remember this caution?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's More Important?

Is college or an education more important?

(See Link.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Useless

The useless are empty.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Too much

Too much is made from too little.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Empty Philosophies

Empty philosophies are even lower than nonexistent philosophies.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Unproductive

An unproductive society tends to celebrate the unproductive whilst claiming otherwise.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Evil

Evil is something bad inflicted on those who do not deserve it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Culture Wars

Culture Wars are not just a distraction from economic issues, but also a big cash cow for both "sides."  If culture wars were to end, the groups who champion one side or another would have no reason to exist, and they would need to get real jobs.  Of course, they would be unemployable.  Who would want to hire a fear-mongering zealot otherwise?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Youth Are Getting Screwed

..and they know it.  The Twentieth Century is long over.  How long before the dinosaurs realize their stupid geezer hippie/conservative crap is not going to fly with this generation,and therefore has no future?

Theft

Theft is not stealing if the owner deserves it.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Destruction

Destruction requires witnesses for the follow-up exploitation.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Victors

Victors write history until they are defeated.

Gaming

Gaming risk models invalidates the premise behind its formulation.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Values

Values are not universal.

(Ask why this even needs to be stated?)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Talk

Talk builds nothing but more talk.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Committee

"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary."

--Fred Allen,
American comedian

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The State

The state, but its very nature, undermines and eliminates community.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Introspection

Too much introspection is self-defeating: do you really need to know?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spectacles

Spectacles are false cohesion.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Manipulation

Manipulation is the true national pastime.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Outrageous

Nothing is outrageous if it happens often.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unscripted Propaganda

Although most direct propaganda is carefully scripted, there are rare unscripted moments (or rather moments that went off script) that make even better propaganda.  (To whose benefit is another matter.)  Walk away...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dissension

Dissension is a healthy antidote to unity.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Logic

Logic is a tool, but not a means.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pointlessness

Pointlessness can be relaxing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Drugs

Not all drugs are substances.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Skyscrapers

From Skyscrapers 'linked with impending financial crashes':
"Often the world's tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction," Barclays Capital analysts said.
What goes up, must come down?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Class Suicide

A static elite will never realize, nor allow itself to realize, the level of animus directed toward it by the population as a whole.  Doing so would be the first step toward class suicide as its members broke ranks and bailed, and the remainder holed up.  Nobody likes being a prisoner, even if it is in a posh home.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Running Away

Running away is running forward.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Strength

Misrepresenting an enemy's weakness is not a sign of strength.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Leadership Is Dead

From Americans’ Confidence in Its Leaders Hits New Low:
The 2011 National Leadership Index indicates that Americans’ confidence in its leaders has hit new low points: the overall index has fallen from 101.4 in 2005 to 89.4 in this month’s survey, even below the 2008 level in the midst of the financial meltdown. (100 is the normative level of confidence.)
The index is highly reliable as it is based on interviews of 1,065 Americans and conducted by the Center for Public Leadership, headed by Professor David Gergen at Harvard Kennedy School. These results are very worrisome to me, as without trust and confidence in our leaders, America cannot recover the energy and optimism required to restore its domestic economy and global leadership.
The survey indicates that 77% of Americans believe the U.S. has a leadership crisis. Without better leaders, America will decline as a nation, according to 77% of those interviewed. Seventy-six percent disagree with the proposition that our country’s leaders are effective and do a good job.
Among leadership categories, military and medical leaders continue to top the list, scoring at 112 and 105, respectively. At the very bottom are Congressional and Wall Street leaders, with ratings of 73 and 71, both down sharply from the upper 90’s in 2005. Business leaders fare slightly better at 87, with the White House at 84.5 and media at 84.
Although the results are not unexpected (what the hell is wrong with the other 23%?!?), the editorializing about the results is the typical tripe one has grown accustomed to the last few years.  (It gets worse than the above quote.)  For one thing, the angst about the decline of America fails to take into account that supposed better "leaders" in the past, since World War II, ran the country into the ground by supporting the domination of the military-industrial complex, allowing infrastructure to decay, sent jobs overseas, debased public eduction, nurtured the financial system to become a blood-sucking parasite, etc.  The current crop of "leaders" is the end result, not the cause of these policies.  It also fails to ask the one question that cannot be answered: where are the supposed better "leaders" to be found?  The answer, of course, is that they do not exist.  The climate will not allow their development, and only a complete idiot would think otherwise.  Hence, anyone who is not a craven coward pining away for someone to come and tell them what to do, and has given it some thought, will conclude that people will need to do things for themselves.  This thought scares the weak and feeble minded.

One of the reasons the OWS movement is viewed with trepidation is its rejection of "leaders" and demands of "leaders".  This is an example of true cultural evolution, and should not be taken lightly as the inevitable backlash is authoritarianism.  Thankfully, there are no "leaders" who are in a position to take advantage of it, but, like any decadent instinct, it can still be destructive as it degenerates into nihilism.