Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The New Minimum

This visualization shows the extent of Arctic sea ice on Aug. 26, 2012, the day the sea ice dipped to its smallest extent ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements, according to scientists from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The data is from the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Special Sensor Microwave/Imager. The line on the image shows the average minimum extent from the period covering 1979-2010, as measured by satellites. Every summer the Arctic ice cap melts down to what scientists call its “minimum” before colder weather builds the ice cover back up. The size of this minimum remains in a long-term decline. The extent on Aug. 26. 2012 broke the previous record set on Sept. 18, 2007. But the 2012 melt season could still continue for several weeks. Image credit: Scientific Visualization Studio, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

Any questions?

Face Off & Then Some

Within the next few years, we, the people, will have our faces scanned and put into a database courtesy of a universal face recognition software program the FBI will be giving to local police. 

While reading this claim of artificial limits being placed on the code, the end around this limitation will begin with the police stating they need to be able to put local criminals into the system the FBI does NOT have in their database, thus allowing, in effect, the app to be expanded to include anyone who's face falls under the gaze of the ubiquitous cameras that are going up in towns and cities throughout the US. 

But there's more.

When this tech is combined with the NSA's construction of the largest spy center in the world in Utah, the notion of our right to privacy, though not explicitly written in the Constitution, becomes but a dream forever relegated to the dustbin of history.

The surveillance state looms.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Domino Theory :)

This is V writ large :)

When More is Less

In the US, Less is More is not certainly the case when dealing with healthcare according to the
NY Times:

When it comes to medical care, many patients and doctors believe more is better.

A closer look at big issues facing the country in the 2012 Election.
Economy, Planet, Security, World and Health.

But an epidemic of overtreatment — too many scans, too many blood tests, too many procedures — is costing the nation’s health care system at least $210 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine, and taking a human toll in pain, emotional suffering, severe complications and even death.

The primary reason for the 210 billion overcharge is the fact the US system is profit oriented, whereby more tests, drugs and treatments mean more money for doctors, big pharma, hospitals and insurance companies while costing the insured and the government billions in cost over runs and needless patient suffering.

As you’ve doubtless heard, this country spends far more money per person on medical care than other countries and still seems to get worse results. We devote 16 percent of our gross domestic product to health care, while Canada and France, where people live longer, spend about 10 percent.

“We spend between one fifth and one third of our health care dollars,” writes Ms. Brownlee, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and former writer for U.S. News & World Report, “on care that does nothing to improve our health.”

Worst of all, overtreatment often causes harm, because even the safest procedures bring some risk. One study found that a group of Medicare patients admitted to high-spending hospitals were 2 to 6 percent more likely to die than a group admitted to more conservative hospitals. (doctor notes/prescriptions) billing (claims) to hospitals/lab/mri/Xray (medical data)

When looking at this, one sees complexification at work because medical systems also do not talk to one another with any degree of fluidity, thus raising healthcare costs even higher in spite of the rise of the web and the standardization of file formats the net has fostered. This metastasizing of healthcare complexity is similar to the complefication of the tax system whereby the US spends an estimated $250 to $300 billion each year to do taxes, a reasonable figure due to the 20 volume IRS created  Title 26 tax tome consisting of approximately 13,348 pages, thus guaranteeing lucrative employment to the highly paid tax accountants and attorneys able to game the system in order for the 1/10th of one percentrs to pay the minimum tax possible.

The Law of Diminishing Returns - When increasing amounts of one factor of production are employed in production along with a fixed amount of some other production factor, after some point, the resulting increases in output of product become smaller and smaller.

Sound about right, doesn't it?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Convergence: The merger of previously distinct technologies into a new form; requiring new theories, new products, and new practices.

Residing on top of a never ending stream of bits, the cost/benefit impact of convergence entities driven by tech and science on nearly every aspect of civilization, looms ever larger with no end in sight as seen by this short & incomplete list of convergence tidbits courtesy of BRT.

  • Voicemail
    Benefits: Only to organizations who use it. computer companies, government, big business. 
    Costs: To everyone who has to endure it. Your call is important to us
  • Fracking
    Benefits: Quick increase in energy production.
    Costs: Environmental degradation to the extreme.
  • Banking - The WS kind
    Benefits: Convenient way for depositors to handle money.
    Costs: With no risk the norm, thanks to tech, bailouts and government collusion, corrupt investing instruments have bankrupted the world. derivatives, credit default swaps
  • The Net
    Benefits: The knowledge engine of the world and... the last bastion of freedom in the world.
    Costs: Loss of privacy.
  • Education
    Benefits: Without it, society cannot advance, period.
    Costs: Education, as it stands now, is under siege because of 1. Enormous costs and
    2. The disruptive power of the net.
  • Food Production
    Benefits: Without it, man dies and... once you have your first truly organic tomato, you will never want to eat any other kind. :)
    Costs: Frankenfoods, thanks to agribusiness, government compliance and tech, is becoming the new normal.
  • The Body Politic
    Benefits: Needed as a means to govern a group of people.
    Costs: Getting elected is the only prerequisite for any politician to govern.
  • The Press
    Benefits: Without a viable press, there is no democracy.
    Costs: News is Network writ large.
    I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! - Howard Beale
  • The Body Politic II
    Benefits: To the power elites.
    Costs: It's all about the money no matter the cost.
  • Religion
    Benefits: A convenient way to explain the unknowable.
    Costs: Prejudice, intolerance & ignorance.
  • Tech
    Benefits: Leverages science, business & education in innumerable ways.
    Costs: Tech has no morality. It's a tool able to be wielded with skill or stupidity depending on who's doing the wielding.
  • Science
    Benefits: Designed to be disproved, it's the best way to learn how reality actually works.
    Costs: Like tech, how scientific research is used determines the kind of impact it will have
    on civilization.
  • Medicine
    Benefits: The next 10 years, thanks to biotech, AI and robotics, will change medicine in ways unable to be imagined.
    Costs: The profit motive could kill medicine. See the US Healthcare system to see why.
  • Fossil Fuels - Oil & Coal
    Benefits: Oil is an amazing energy resource without question due to it's energy density, portability and ease of handling while coal is plentiful in countries like the US and China.
    Costs: Peak Oil has arrived. There are no cheap sources of fossil fuel energy left. That plus pollution and CO2 greenhouse gases indicate the end of the road for fossil fuels is nigh.
  • Alternative Energy Production - Wind, Solar & Wave
    Benefits: The tech is getting better, especially solar.
    Costs: Generating enough of this resource to meet the world's needs will be difficult at best.
  • Finance
    Benefits: Without the mechanism of finance in some way, shape or form, civilization cannot conduct business in any way, shape or form.
    Costs: Fiat money, created from nothing and backed by nothing, is not sustainable. See Europe and the US to see why.
  • The Status Quo
    Benefits: Happy motoring had it's day with cheap fuel and bountiful resources.
    Costs: Happy motoring, with it's creation of suburbia and destruction of the environment, has created an unsustainable modality of living that doesn't auger well as society moves further into the 21st century.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ebb & Flow

As I sit here listening to Playing in the Band, the extended jam the Dead played at RFK in June of '73, (a show yours truly truly regretted missing, especially with the Allman Brothers as part of the concert.) the ebb and flow of jamming, something I did a lot of at Berklee, shows how music resembles fractal geometry in it's feedback-driven seques from rest to intensity with interludes of pure improv at it's very best, something one sees with early Bob Marley or vintage Miles Davis, among significant others, who touched the sublime when the Gods permitted it as creativity just shows up on it's own accord, never to be commanded, a reality every artist accepts as one of the givens when dealing with the vagaries of the creative process. Enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012


As readers of BRT already know, George Orwell is a hero of yours truly. Brilliant, perceptive and above all else, a writer of the highest order, Orwell has been a profound influence relating to all things political and to the written word for this writer for over 40 years. In this day of disinformation, Orwell's concise and in-depth analysis of the machinations of government ring true, something a terrific piece from Alt-Market expands upon titled Disinformation: How It Works.

Ministry of Truth anyone?

Addendum: Check out Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, something Orwell would have related to without question.  

Saul Alinsky

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Just downloaded a cool app for iPad. IBM's Think App. What's cool about this is 1, it's free and two, it also runs on Android. Get it and learn about tech, innovation and history in interactive fashion.
Works for me. :)


This picture from the NYTimes looks like a war zone but isn't. Rather, it's the start point for resurrecting a river by blowing up dams, a tech that destroys rivers as seen in a 2008 BRT post titled 
The Last Flight of The Scarlet Macaw, a piece showing how dams negatively impact the environment, something Bruce Barcott's book of the same name eloquently explains without reservation. 

The Elwha River drains out from Olympic National Park, a pristine place in the world. And as recently as a year ago, the river looked the part: it babbled its final miles in water clear enough to see the bottom. Now it runs thick with grainy sediment the color of chocolate milk.

But believe it or not, that is a good thing, or at least the roundabout result of one.

But even as the river has turned cloudy going down, at least a few fish have found a way back up.

The first dozen or so wild steelhead — their spawning run blocked for a century by the now-demolished Elwha Dam — were spotted last month upriver from the dam site, four months after its final concrete pieces were hauled away.

“With the dams down, fish are going to move, and these fish proved it,” said Brian D. Winter, the Elwha project manager for Olympic National Park.

When looking at this, the cautionary tale of creating powerful tech and the possibility of blowback using said tech on any given endeavor always comes to mind whether it be damming up rivers, creating GMO products or fracking for oil as everything comes at a cost. The question to ask is, do the benefits outweigh the costs? In the case of damns, we already know. In the case of GMO products and fracking, the answer's becoming increasingly clear.

It's evident the impact technology's having on the world is increasing at exponential rates. In every part of the planet, man is modifying nature with results beginning to become catastrophic regarding environment degradation, global warming and resource depletion, conditions yours truly believes every pre Type 1 civilization, we're pre Type 1, goes through when trying to advance to Type 1, let alone Type 2. From this perspective, it's logical to assume not all civilizations make it, something to consider when looking at what we are doing to earth using technologies whose eventual costs greatly outweigh short term gains as we move further into the 21st century.