Wednesday, December 30, 2020

No skin in the game/rev I

People with no skin in the game ... aka, entities given permission to do stupid shit.
  • Bankers, both commercial and investment: They get bailed out if things go south. 
  • Insurance Companies: As long as they get their premiums, particularly medical, it matters not how they screw patients and docs alike.  
  • Hospital execs: Using grossly overpriced and inefficient software to run their hospitals, it’s ok as long as expenses are passed on to patients.
  • Religious leaders: Paradise awaits but never arrives.
  • Defense contractors: Dealing in death while keeping hands clean.
  • Economists: The dismal science that’s not a science. 50/50 chance of being right.
  • Judges: Forever separate from the cases they decide on.
  • Government Bureaucrats: Hidden in the endless realm of governmental complexification, bad policy goes unpunished unless it’s so bad, somebody has to take the hit.
  • Politicians, including presidents: Remain forever separate from catastrophic economic and foreign policy initiatives as long as they get reelected. Nam, Iraq Libya and Afghanistan
  • The MIC/Military Industrial Complex: They own the politicians so endless war makes lots of money while people and countries die. Nam, Iraq Libya and Afghanistan ...
Professions requiring no skills outside of the ability to BS. Religious leaders and politicians.

Any questions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A modest proposal ...

The kleroterion was a stone thing that you stuck names in. Then you ran come colored balls through a tube, and the row/column the white ball landed on would be the ‘winners’. Animation via TedEd

Back in 2015, BRT posted a piece titled Sortition = Equality by Lot, whereby citizens of ancient Athens were randomly selected by lot to run the government for X amount of time, the only true way democracy can actually happen as the notion of "electing" specific individuals goes away, thus eliminating the creation of a defacto ruling oligarchy, a situation that has plagued the US for over 200 years.

To whit:

Sortition,  election by lot, a method of choosing public officials in some ancient Greek city-states. It was used especially in the Athenian democracy, from which most information about the practice is derived. With few exceptions, all magistrates were chosen by lot, beginning with the archons in 487–486 bc; likewise the Boule (council) of 500 and the juries of the law courts were chosen by lot. The practice of sortition obviated electoral races and provided for the regular turnover of officeholders. The operations of government were thus not in the hands of experts, but, through the system of sortition, the Athenian democracy provided at least some practical political education for its citizens.

The rationale of sortition was the equality of all citizens. 

Seems more people are starting to ask why sortition cannot be the law of the land in the US given just how corrupt, expensive and inept our government has come to be.

The Greeks called this system of random access democracy sortition. Think for a moment how sortition would look in the modern world. It would basically look like jury duty. You’d go to vote and instead of selecting the local lord or drug lord, you’d put your own name in, if you wanted. There’d be no campaigning, no advertising, just go home and watch the lottery results. Then you’d end up with a Parliament that literally represented the people.

You’d immediately get 50% women’s representation, no quotas required. You’d immediately get far more poor and middle-class people represented, and much fewer millionaires. You’d immediately get more minorities represented (still within the racist ways we define citizenship).

Sortition actually leads to a far more representative democracy than Representative Democracy. And representation matters. What we have now is a bunch of rich people maybe deciding to do something for the masses, whose lives they really cannot understand and who aren’t even in the room. Under sortition the poor, etc would simply be in the room, able to speak for themselves.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Monday, December 28, 2020

We are but ...

We are but temporary arrangements of the quantum foam whereby we experience entropy as every system goes to its highest level of disordered information without exception save for life as life temporarily steals energy from the environment in order to survive for at least a little while. Seems yours truly is not alone in believing this notion rings true as Over Time, Buddhism and Science Agree that everything's connected and that change is the only constant in an existence we will never fully understand.

All things, especially living ones, are marinating in the river of time. We see and understand that our bodies will wear out and we will die. At least that’s how it looks through the lens of Western science, where all things come to an end, winding down in a final surrender to entropy. But there’s another perspective, surprisingly in harmony with science, that helps us revisit that huge and ancient terror—fear of time itself—in a new and perhaps even reassuring way. And that is the perspective offered by Buddhism.

For Buddhists, the “center cannot hold,” as the poet W.B. Yeats pointed out, because it doesn’t exist as something rigidly separate from everything else. Nothing is permanent and unchanging, ourselves included. Attempting to cling to a solid, immutable core of a self is a fool’s errand because time not only creates anarchy, it provides the unavoidable matrix within which everything—animate and inanimate, sentient and insensate—ebbs and flows.

As Buddhists see it, all organisms are necessarily, unavoidably—even marvelously and gloriously—impermanent. In Sanskrit, the word for impermanence is anitya. To understand anitya is to achieve something remarkable: opening a door onto the accord between modern western science and ancient eastern wisdom.

 The Tao rules. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Meander: To follow a winding course ...

This wonderful illustration depicting 18th century astral environs depicts an age forever gone, where artistry, combined with movable type, created pieces both nuanced and detailed in a way computers can never match. In some ways, this is similar to what one can find on the net when no specific intent is part of the equation. For the past few hours, here are some of the tidbits yours truly has found 12/27/20 ...

How Climate Change Is Ushering in a New Pandemic Era kicks off the tour with Rolling Stone waxing poetic on how COVID-19 is just the beginning of the pandemic circus thanks to Climate Change.

The Archives of an Unfulfilled Genius tells the story of Edward Stringham, the obscure but brilliant The New Yorker collator, who collated the world in his off hours, unknown to all save for Vicki Desjardins, one of the very few who knew just how smart this man truly was.

Thirty-six Thousand Feet Under the Sea, a very long piece from The New Yorker, depicts a group of explorers determined to reach the deepest depths in every ocean in the world.

2050, the real start point for GW is writ large in Robinson's powerful novel titled The Ministry for the Future,  stating just how different the world will become just 30 years from now.  Just started reading Ministry but so far, it walks the walk without issue. 

Splinterlands,  written by John Feffer, talks about the political ramifications coming our way due to yet again, GW. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Spy ...

Yours truly discovered John Le Carre via the superb The Spy who Came in From the Cold film staring Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, a senior spy tasked with one more mission of sowing damaging disinformation about a powerful East German intelligence officer. Done in black and white with Claire Bloom and Oscar Werner as co stars, Le Carre's work depicts a world of ambiguity and betrayal played by both the east and west, a dark reality totally opposite of the faux world of James Bond, beautiful women and gadgets to kill for. In learning about this extraordinary writer, one finds his take on the world to be nuanced and realistic to a fault, something readily seen by a wonderful 2010 interview with Le Carre, conducted by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan of Democracy Now.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. We are on the road in London, just along the Thames, not far from Parliament, not far from MI5 and MI6, the international and domestic spy agencies here, so it is most relevant to bring you John le Carré, this hour we spend with the foremost spy writer of our time.

The cash nexus ...

Now, this isn’t fiction. That part of it isn’t fiction. Money laundering is simply everywhere. On the grand scale, it’s endemic to banking. You have to bear in mind that when Lehman Brothers wasn’t going to function anymore and the big banks weren’t lending to one another, back at that terrible time, $352 billion of illegal money were then tacitly released upon the market, and that was about the only money people were lending to one another. So, money laundering is not some distant fantasy. It’s actually how you handle the profits of extortion, tax evasion, criminal conspiracy and huge quantities of drug money, how you get that into the white sector. And what we are gradually learning from these little exposés that come to light is that there is almost no way of denying people, in the end, the profits of their crime, which is a tragedy. And it’s also a frightful annoyance, because we pay vast sums of money across the way here to agencies that are supposed to stop money laundering. Doesn’t happen.

The corruption of intel ...

And I suppose that if I could generalize about my work in intelligence in those days, for better or worse, we counted ourselves an elite with a very considerable responsibility: to speak truth to power, like good journalists, that whatever we came upon, however offensive it was to those in power, we told it straight. And what I fear I have seen in the run-up to the Iraq War in this country is the politicization of intelligence to fit the political intentions of our masters. And to my mind, that was a terrible moment in the history, the visible history, of intelligence work in this country, where the intelligence service itself became effectively co-author and signatory to the so-called dodgy dossier, which — on the strength of which Colin Powell was able to present a dire picture of the threat from Iraq, which turned out to be untrue.

On corporate power ...

JOHN LE CARRÉ: Absolutely, yeah, yeah. Well, it’s where I have seen globalization at work on the ground. It’s a pretty ugly sight. It’s a boardroom fantasy. What it actually means is the exploitation of very cheap labor, very often the ecological disaster that comes with it, the creation of mega-cities, the depletion of agrarian cultures and tribal cultures. It’s about — the effect of globalization, again, where I have seen it, has been negative, as far as the local population is concerned. It’s enriched the very few in the country where it takes place. And it has totally dismayed the inhabitants otherwise. So, ask me what corporate power means to me, it means the ability of the individual to sacrifice his own instincts, his own decent instincts, in the name of the corporation, that people will do things to — on behalf of the corporation, to a group of people, which they would never do to their next-door neighbor, so that all the decent humanity seems to be set aside the moment they walk through the corporate doors.

Read the Democracy Now piece in its entiriety. Long, detailed and totally spot on as BRT has talked about these issues for a long time. Glad to see I'm in good company without question.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

It's inevitable ...

It's inevitable. AI now learns on its own without human intervention, which means, in time, general intelligence AI becomes the start point to super intelligence AI, Timeframe, unknown but ... as Agent Smith said to Neo, Its Invitable. To whit ...

Chaos incarnate ...


Well, we all know that Biden won but we also know chaos incarnate in the guise of The Donald reigns supreme until January 20 whereupon the worst president in history finally goes, either voluntarily or not depending on how deep Trump's insanity happens to be at that point in time.

For starters ...

Trump’s final weeks in office are creating chaos for Congress, which will return next week for a possible government shutdown as it holds an unusual holiday session to vote to override the president’s veto of an annual defense bill.

Trump’s surprise opposition to a COVID-19 relief and omnibus spending package means the government could shut down on Tuesday, days before runoff elections in Georgia that will determine the Senate majority.

Trump’s flurry of moves have divided the Republican Party, as has his series of controversial pardons that Democrats are criticizing as a gross misuse of authority.

It gets better.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), referring to House Republicans, said on a Wednesday conference call that he felt “Trump threw us under the bus” given he was absent from negotiations only to undercut the relief bill after it had passed.

Trump abruptly upending the relief deal is just his latest break with Republicans in Congress.

The president on Wednesday followed through on his threat to veto the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after complaining it did not repeal an unrelated policy that offers protections for social media companies. Both chambers of Congress passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto.

Trump also made waves on Tuesday and Wednesday by announcing two batches of pardons for controversial allies, including Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Charles Kushner and former Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). Collins and Hunter were two of Trump's earliest supporters in Congress, and both pleaded guilty to various corruption charges.

“This is rotten to the core,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), one of the more outspoken Trump critics in the Senate GOP conference, said in response to the pardons of Manafort and Stone.

Endgame. The repugs let this crap happen. Over a hundred supported sedition regarding Trump's attempt to overturn the election and yet they still remain in office because the dems are gutless while the country remains at sea with an inept and corrupt governing body that no longer knows how to govern. BRT has talked about this travesty for YEARS and now this inability to do anything of consequence to save American democracy has arrived. Will our country survive? 

"No one knows, do one?" - Fats Waller.