Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Of Image Macros and Naive Progressives

The internet is often heralded as the dawn of a true age of freedom and the promises of this age are shouted from the hilltops as the best gospel heard since Buddha. We are told that this age shall be called the information age and that it will result in Enlightenment 2.0. The widespread propagation of information will allow us to reach previously unknown levels of understanding and will allow us to all hold hands, solve the world's problems and do it while all singing Kumbaya!

Of course, none of this fruit from the internet has come to be harvested yet but we're told smart phones or some other smart shit will be the final ingredient needed for a hard take off towards the information rapture.

The irrelevance of the above image macro highlights the irrelevance of most image macros that support naive progressives in their sharing of statistics to further the progressive agenda. Alarming statistics about a progressive's favourite republican (or conservative or evangelical) combined with an alarming photo motivates progressives to share these image macros in an attempt to try to enlighten people. Validity of the statistics and the risk of spreading misinformation is never considered. 

"Oh look! A statistic saying that Stephen Harper will destroy all the forests by 2015 if he isn't stopped! I best  share this to enlighten others about this potential threat! Sharing this picture makes me more aware and it also makes me a good person! Of course I have no idea about the validity of these statistics but they support my world-view so I best share anyway!"

That's the thing. They have no idea if this is true or not. They didn't think that perhaps they should investigate the statistics to learn about the assumptions, controls and studies the statistics were stripped from. They simply accept the statistics as gospel because it fits their world-view  All matters to these progressives is that we are progressing morally towards a vaguely undefined goal and all those who oppose their vague goals are enemies of progress.

We are not becoming more aware. The internet is a vast landscape of information so complex that it is impossible for you to verify it all. Without training in the related areas you must take what you read as gospel and just accept it as true. You don't question what you can't understand and not only that the information establishment deems you a heretic if you question what you can't understand. Ask questions about evolution... you must be a creationist! Ask questions about global warming... you must be a denier! Ask questions about the holocaust... anti-semitist! Criticism of a paper on the above topics? Burn them at the stake!

The establishment ensures you that not only are you left in the dark but that you now feel proud about being left in the dark. You are a proud progressive... bashing bible thumping hicks who have little influence... ranting about rights for all animals without considering what those rights would entail and raving about the magic of multiculturalism while cities are divided into ethnic ghettos. The information age allows you to re-affirm those beliefs with the click of a button whilst a stream of reinforcing images marches down your screen.

The information floods in and short circuits the receivers. We can't know what it all means... but we best accept it. The clicking of the masses drowns out all discourse as the web site traffic counters rev their engines. Share the news the information age has come... make sure you blog, tweet or text it. Information is enlightenment. Questioning this truth is heresy. I best log into Facebook.

Disclaimer: Anything political in the above section has nothing to do with my political or scientific views. The examples are to prove a point. If you have a knee jerk reaction to this reread what I said and consider that you may be proving my point.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Statistical Analysis as the End of the West

I've been reading about Spengler's Civilization Model and feel that a deterministic worldview is the logical outcome of the progression of the west as a civilization. I also feel that with greater and greater employment of statistical analysis we will find that the west is likely in decline as a civilization (Which should seem obvious). The two central narratives of the western ascent as a civilization (in my opinion) is the role of the individual and analysis of the deterministic behavior of the universe. All our great thinkers culminated in the creation of physics and the creation of democracy. These two ideas matured into socialism (which I will not discuss) and quantum physics which we are finding are not capable of solving society's problems.

Why do these outcomes signal the end of the west? The first outcome is that our progress in physics has slowed greatly over the last few years. Our search for a theory of everything has been an ultimate failure and our methods of unifying the remnants of physics keep failing. I feel that the culture of the west will not allow us to discover anything else in physics anytime soon and that deeper theories will escape us for the time-being. Our cultural worldview will have us grasping for a unifying theory in the face of the fact that such things likely will never exist.

As statistical analysis increase in frequency it signals that we are becoming increasingly unable to predict the behavior of the universe as the teleology of the west demanded. Gone are the days of Newton, Laplace and Euler... we now awaken to a world wrought with complexity and, even if simple laws govern its behavior, chaos. This peaks with the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. We have discovered the limits to what we can know.

The West enters it's own age of limits... and it likely would have entered that age of limits sooner were it no for the advent of the computer. The computer is the final breath of western civilization. The computer reminds us of a world that we feel can be distilled down to algorithms and controlled with ease. The world we find in its place is one of far greater complexity then we ever imagined and one terrifying in the breath of its complexity. We assure ourselves that new techniques (or even old techniques) will find a way to decipher the code of the universe. We look to computing power as a pixie dust that will ease our woes. Too bad we have no idea what to do with it.

Although the west may find itself in the age of limits I argue that there are limits the west are far from reaching. Later civilizations may find ways of deciphering more of the universe but we will likely find increasing difficulty as the years go on. The culture needed for the advent of knowledge is not a culture founded on skepticism. We need a new teleology to move on but our hearts are too empty and too shaken to think of one. Our narrative is ending... western history will end in time but, unlike Fukuyama imagined, history will march on.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Post-Tragedy Rationalization

I'm gearing up for another spout of posting blog posts and in the coming weeks I plan to write a few posts on the internet, the limits of knowledge and things such as that. These posts will likely be from a different vantage point then what has been posted lately and is probably more on course with what the intent of this blog was at the beginning. The first of these posts will be a lead into what I call the limits of knowledge and the effects of complex systems on the stability of human society.

When we hear of a teenage suicide (as many of us has in recent news) we often launch into discussions of the tragedy of the situation. After the suicide information bubbles to the surface and we eventually create what we perceive to be a fairly complete picture of the causes of the individual's suicide, how we could prevent these causes and what to do in the future. We walk away from the tragedy thinking that we are now better equipped to deal with the reality of teenage suicides and that we can see the bigger picture clearer.

The reality of the situation is that we can't. The suicide of an individual is an unpredictable event that although warning signs tend to manifest before the suicide these warning signs are insufficient to produce the realization that the individual will actually commit suicide. Even if a plethora of warning signs is produced prior to the individual's suicide the warning signs will be dispersed across a medium of people who alone may not realize the significance of the individual events but the sum of these events is significant to trigger suicide. Even then it is likely that there exists unknown unknowns that are lost with the person's death that will never illuminate the situation and will prevent us from recognizing that these unknown unknowns may have been the factor that pushed the individual over the edge.

In the end we are left with an incomplete picture but tend to rationalize the event after the fact and come to believe that we understand the situation. We believe that we understand what causes suicide and swear to move forward in attempts to prevent it. In reality we are likely just as equipped as we were before the suicide in preventing suicides but walk away with a rationalization that we can prevent such things in the future (or at least reduce the likelihood of such an outcome). We overestimate how much we know about the situation since the alternative is a far more terrifying realization. Our prediction capabilities are far from robust and this lack of robustness is a severe limitation of human knowledge.

The reality is that we have far less control over the outcome of unpredictable situations but we are very capable of making the outcome look predictable in the end. We rationalize the outcome of an event by correlating what seems to be correlating factors with an outcome. We look at these correlations, claim these correlations are what we need to address in the future and then move on with our lives. In the future the event is repeated with the sum of the correlations spread across a medium of individuals related to the tragic event and we are not even capable then of preventing a similar outcome.

Ignoring the problems of dispersed evidence for unlikely events we also encounter another problem with predicting such events in the future. A large part of the evidence for predicting such events is lost in the annals of time with the transpiration of the event and we will never be able to access that information again. In the case of a teenage suicide we also lose the primary witness of these events as the primary witness is also the victim of cruel circumstance.

The captain goes down with their ship and with it the most accurate narrative of why the ship sunk.

Even if we could communicate with the captain through say... a magical psych-scope that allows us to communicate with the dead we would encounter yet another problem. The person who committed suicide likely has holes in the reasoning about why they did what they did. They may never realize historic events that were significant in influencing the events that led up to their suicide and that these holes are crucial to our understanding of the event.

Events such as suicides are part of a class of events I would identify as black swan events. Unpredictable events that appear predictable when viewed in the rear view mirror but still remain as unpredictable as they were before we saw them. With further increasing layers of complexity in a system unpredictable events increase in frequency and despite our best attempts to control these unpredictable events we still fail to deal with them.

Dealing with black swan events is like dealing with an oncoming hurricane. We can't stop an oncoming hurricane no matter how we try but we can recognize that such events happen and learn to adapt our understanding of the world to accommodate for the unpredictable. In the end it'll be a long time before we become apt at preventing teenage suicide despite policy attempts to reduce such things. Instead we should focus on building robust teenagers who are better equipped at dealing with the challenges of junior high and high school.

Until one realizes that the limits of one's knowledge, one is forced to make the same mistake in trying to prevent. You can't stop a hurricane... but you can mitigate its impact. As globalization increases and communication technologies spread through society like wildfire we must learn that we will find ourselves staring into the maw of hurricane lane... and that no matter how hard we try there will be hurricanes.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Of Women and Narratives

I'm not a feminist... I'm also somewhat opposed to certain things that Radical Feminism stands for and I am opposed to the bigotry that comes from Radical Feminism at times. I call myself an egalitarian or something like that... actually I just call myself a person and stop giving a shit after that. Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

I occasionally read Radical Feminist blogs (and a few of them are well written and actually bigotry free!) and there is one notion that I agree with completely. Women, in society, are stuck with the role of being involved in the male's narrative (Or at least most of them) and that itself is problematic. Women accompany men to the dance, women are asked by the man to marry them, women are married to the man and so on so forth. Even today in modern society I think that women are stuck with this shitty notion of being acted upon (as opposed to being actors themselves)

"All the world's a stage, and all the men are merely players. The others are extras."
This is the fundamental flaw that exists in the gender roles in society today. Men wearing suits, women wearing dresses, women being maternal and all that are completely irrelevant to this strange action dichotomy that underlies most social interactions. Men are actors, women and children are extras. They are there for the men to save, for the men to marry and for the men to grow old together with. It's a pity society perceives things this way since there is no foreseeable reason that things should be this way.

When women demanded the ability to act. Men nodded in accordance and told them they'd find a way for women to act. They invented a judicial system, largely run by men, that would make sure women had the ability to act. Women insisted that they assist in the creation of the judicial system and in time men nodded in accordance with that. Fine said the man, you may now appoint female judges to deal with these cases. The narrative has changed yet the actors remain the same.

One of the most vocal groups that oppose the "female-biased" judicial system are Men's Rights Activists (Or MRAs). They recognize that there is a problem with the judicial system and attribute it to a woman's innate desire for security or that all women are gold-digging sluts. In my opinion, the problem with the judicial system that is female biased is that it is female biased because of the role women are given in our actor-dominated society today.

Since women cannot act on their own accord, since women cannot make decisions and since women are subservient to the actors that are men, women are forced to go through a bureaucracy to attain a semblance of equal status. The role of the actor and the extras is continued in this narrative. Instead of the woman going to court to fight for their rights as a women, the women goes to court to fight for her additional rights as a woman. Special treatment is given once again and the motto of "Women and children first" lives on.

Isn't it about time we had come actresses in society's narrative?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

And then Atlas Shrugged

Randites often talk about the book Atlas Shrugged being their rude awakening into the realities of free market economics. Randites often cite this influence to explain why neo-liberal policies are better for everyone and that the policies of the 30s until the 60s were horribly horrible misguided. The government is a powerful form of oppression they scream... it robs from the productive and gives to the unproductive. Those unproductive scum they mumble... those who seek free healthcare, welfare cheques and the Wal-Mart jobs. They are the problem they cry... they are the massive parasites that are destroying our economy.

If they want to make more money, they should go become productive. Anybody can be a businessman they say. Just take your idea, go to the bank, get funding and set up a shop. With hard work the world will fall to your feet. You too can be rich... if you just work hard like the next guy. Wealth is a direct correlation to work they claim. The harder you work... the more you get paid. Tell that to the janitor at Wal-mart or the Cashier at the grocery store.

If you can't make it in the world of business then you must join the working class. Funny word, the working class... it implies that there is a non-working class. They point your attention to those on welfare, those who collect food stamps and those who can't get a job. They tell you that they are the parasites on society... they take your money (And their money, that's the important part) and then blow it on things such as food, shelter and clothes. Look at the unproductive they scream... such useless things they buy. When asked what they'd do with the money, they answer that they'd create jobs. That a rising tide floats all boats and that the wealth would trickle down from the top.

When asked how the water would trickle down they assure you through a massive pipe system. I asked the architect about this distribution system... he assured me such a top-heavy structure would work fine. He said it's practically gravity that the bottom would reap the benefits of the top. It's also practically gravity that, in time, the top would fall and crush the bottom. But that's just details he said, the free market would work that out. He called it economics. I looked at him, a bit puzzled, but would not challenge his credentials. I could not challenge his credentials.

The water distribution system was built and it failed at doing it's job. When it didn't do it's job, we were informed that we just needed more of them. Sure, I said. I was a water system builder and whatever my boss told me I should get about doing. If I didn't, he told me that he'd just hire another water system builder. In time he said he figured out a way to offshore the water system process to a place where they manufactured fine plates and cutlery... China I think was the name.

He told me that the system had too high resistance in the pipes...we needed better materials... something that had a smaller coefficient of kinetic friction. He wanted it frictionless he said... the less friction the freer the water can flow. I nodded. He nodded back. We all nodded together until no one knew what were nodding about. We built the system. Resistance was still too high... must need a new material.

In 2007 the water tower collapsed. When asked why the water tower collapsed, we said it was the rent seekers that had caused it collapse. I couldn't understand why the rent seekers were mucking with the tower... it barely gave them enough water to drink... far from the amount of water required to live. I didn't argue, I might lose my job.

It is now present day. More and more people don't understand why we build water towers upside down and more and more people are starting to ask questions. They go onto websites and talk to others about these water towers. They talk about things called the free markets and how they don't seem to work. They hear that free markets don't really exist, that they've never existed and that the water towers were designed from the start to collapse. They are shocked... they are disgusted... they forget about it and go watch Survivor.

But more and more people are not forgetting about it. They heard about how a cartel of water towers managed to divert their channels such that the water always went to the top. A rising tide floats all boats... too bad the tide has been diverted. It now goes to propping up more and more water towers.

You can't ignore reality. The gravity of personal freedom always wins out in the long run. The day is coming when the builders revolt against the owners. The day is coming when the water towers come crumbling down. The builders are waiting... they are forming mobs. A giant is waking up. It is time for Atlas to shrug. But those who worship Atlas and the free market...they have made a grave mistake. They are not Atlas, they are both dangling on his back.

Friday, 6 July 2012

What Obama Really Represents

I've thought about this a lot lately and I think I've come to a conclusion about what Obama finally really represents to those who are not so dogmatically inclined. In saying this, I come not to these conclusions alone... influence from a wide array of economists, professors and bloggers have driven me to conclude this end. To the progressives Obama means hope, change and progress. Obama represents a monumental occasion in the world's history. The first African American President of the United States was elected and that means we are becoming more accepting of each other and that the world is becoming a more accepting and loving place.

What Obama really represents is the death of democracy and the perfection of commercial presidencies. Although it's argued that no president since Nixon has truly feared the electorate... I feel that Obama is the first president to really represent the death of the electorate. Obama was a businessman dealing in deception and he sold it all... hook, line and sinker. Obama represented a powerful commercial progressive image that was sold to the populace. The whole world stopped turning -for an instant- in awe of this image. Such hope, such change, such propaganda.

Obama represents a lot of things. He was sold as a people's person with issues himself, a hard worker who climbed the social ladder, a father with two daughters, a feminist, an environmentalist, a bleeding heart liberal, a man for the worker's unions, a man for the people, a man for Wall Street, the list goes on. He was sold on CNN during the reality TV show called the news. Sound clips of hope and change, a dash of pictures going onto a private air plane and pictures of tour buses. Obama was saving the world. That's what we were told, Obama was saving the world.

He was going to fly in on his private jet and put the evil bankers in their place. He was going to slay Global Warming and tame the beasts of Renewable Energy. Under his reign, the Gays, the Jews and the Muslims would all join hands and sing sweet prayers to the high heavens. He was going to solve the puzzle of World Peace, fix the United Nations and probably solve the Euro-zone's debt crisis. He was going to be such a bad-ass and that's all we cared about. He was going to fix EVERYTHING. Yeah, he was going to fix everything. I'm sure, if need be, he would have bombed China too for the conservatives too... just to make them happy. Then, of course, he would have dispatched a relief effort to help the Chinese out... he'd tell them it was a necessary evil for the greater good.

It's too bad Obama wasn't in it to save the world. It's too bad we thought he was. Of course, we've had countless people actually run who want to save the world. People who genuinely believe in democracy... who abandon the American Dream to pursue the American Dream for the 99%. We never elect those people, their stories seem so good... so fake. People who believe in hard work, sacrifice and actually trying to make a change. Those people are real heroes. Too bad we won't deserve them, we don't even deserve democracy.

Those people are the heroes we need. We'll get the heroes we deserve.

Monday, 2 July 2012

What happened to Worker's Rights?

In modern politics a lot of time is spent debating working rights for minorities and women. They demand equal opportunity as white men in all domains and this goal (even if it does not always work out) it is a noble pursuit that, if the disparities are drastic, should be pursued. However, in today's globalized economy and in today's neoliberal political sphere one issue important to all workers has fallen aside. The issue of worker's rights has been forgotten, buried and now lie dead with champions of worker's rights such as Martin Luther King Jr and Harvey Milk.

In a time of progressive movements, "radical" liberals and pro-choice debates we have forgotten about perhaps the most important rights of all. The right to fair pay and the right to work. These two rights have been forgotten by the 99% and torn asunder for the richest 0.1%. People talk constantly about education... and how a good education will get you a good job but even the value of an education has been declining over the last decade. Youth today face an alarming environment where they are forced to either work minimum wage with little chance of promotion, take on large student debts or receive the aid of their parents in financing their post-secondary crusade. The choices are slim and the prospects are slimmer.

You may graduate with a degree in one of the hot fields... but if you don't you will likely wind up flipping burgers, serving coffee or making sandwiches. You will be paid minimum wage for these tasks and you will be kept constantly on edge by the threat of losing your job or in the case of more advanced degrees, being outsourced. This pressure keeps wage prices low, keeps CEO profits high and in an environment with high unemployment the threat can be infinitely sustained. Someone will do the job you do since there are plenty of candidates to do it.

The effect of this pressure destroy all safety nets supporting workers, shift the power from the labourer to the rent-collector and result in the growth of corporatism. Since the rent-collector now has excess power and seeks to increase their ability to collect rent, the rent-collector uses its influence to increase rent-flow and this results in money being siphoned away from the healthier parts of the economy. As consumers become unable to consume due to the high rent costs imposed on them (Largely a result of the financial sector not government taxes) the healthier parts of the economy become even more stagnant.

As the economy stagnates the rent collectors become unable to collect more rent through conventional means and turn to government backed insurance obligations and the likes to continue increasing their rent collecting efforts. This involves taking on more risk with the taxes from income tax payers who are facing squeezes from high rent collection on their revenue. The income tax payers grow to depend on government services which depend on income taxes from the income tax payers. The banks proceed to cut into the income tax revenue and this results in shrinking of government services.

This income tax revenue must be further leveraged to allow the economics of rent-extraction to continue and in an economy with less consumer power greater risks must be taken by the rent-collectors to allow profit growth to continue. These risks must be backed by something and as a result government backs these risking loans to allow continued economic growth... or at least allow the illusion to go on. However, these government backed insurances are once again backed by the income tax payer who is facing more and more of a squeeze due to shrinking consumer power and now shrinking government power.

As the government shrinks government jobs are cut resulting in further loss of consumer power. This creates a powerful feedback loop where consumer power and government power both keep decreasing while financial institutes grow larger and larger. Unable to maintain growth margins, the financial institutes must take on more and more risk to compensate for poor consumer power. As the system collapses underneath the worker's feet, media shifts attention from the failing financial system to the remaining unions. The unions becomes a martyr for a massive financial sector that needs consumer support to survive.

However, due to the economic problem of rent capture, the financial sector can no longer feed off just the consumer and must also feed off the government. Worker's unions are broken up to provide additional stomping grounds for the financial sector to feed off of and subsequently the economy contracts further. Without strong unions it becomes easier and easier for corporations to exert predatory behaviour and they become capable of destroying the labour market and even stagnating healthier markets. This is why worker's rights have been forgotten. Their death began in the 1970s with the dawn of Neoliberal economics and they are but a long lost dream now.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Private Charity Myth

It is often argued by Libertarians and other free market advocates that private charities provide far better services then public charities do. When funded by the government, they argue, programs such as welfare and the likes result in a fair amount of the money being lost in the form of payments to members of government bureaucracies. Compared to government programs, private charities do the job so much better they claim. Without bureaucracies the costs of providing effective aid to the poor are diminished and the poor flourish from these charities. Meanwhile, government programs keep people on welfare while pocketing the taxpayer's dollar for government employees.

This is classic free market dogma and ignores information asymmetry and the role of regulation in business performance. In the case of a government bureaucracy, information is symmetrical since the data is made available to the public in yearly releases and these bureaucracies are required to adhere to certain rules and regulations. Private charities are not subject to the same regulations but also do not have the same degree of information symmetry that government programs do. Due to this lack of information symmetry private charities largely end up with far more corruption and accounts of charity theft.

Charity theft is actually one of the most common forms of theft and it is under-reported. Typically, charity owners and volunteers are assumed to be benevolent folk who just want to help out but in today's competitive society a lot of volunteers wind up in it for the resume... and could give less of a damn about those they are caring for. Although corruption exists in all areas, corruption is far more rampant in the private domain. Information asymmetry, a lack of regulations and a belief in the market to price goods at their actual worth is a pipe-dream at best and a debt-fueled bubble destroying more of the middle class at worse.

Leave the welfare programs alone... we wouldn't need them if we had actual worker unions, worker rights and a stronger work force as a whole. People need to wake up to the fact that private companies do not give a damn about worker's rights and that we need to fight for them as we did in the past. We need to get unemployment down to like 2 or 3%... and then we will barely need welfare!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Free Market Dogma

Free Markets are unicorns. They, like the invisible hand, can't be seen because they never have and never will exist. Adam Smith himself did not even believe in the invisible hand (It's only mentioned once in his seminal book The Wealth of Nations and not in the fashion that Randites and other Conservatives believe it is). Since there is no invisible hand and people are not rational beings seeking to maximize their own profit the entire notion that a free market is capable of curing all of societies ailments is pure fantasy.

Worshipping a fantasy is like praying to a god to solve all of your current problems. Sure, maybe it will work sometimes... but in the end taking some charge yourself and recognizing that free markets do indeed fail and that this deems that regulation is necessary. Of course, this does not mean corporate welfare should continue to exist. Since regulations exist and will always be necessary to prevent market failure we must make these regulations such that they benefit the many, not just the few.

This means doing away with corporate welfare, doing away with conservative deregulation dogma and restoring power to the worker's unions which once formed the backbone of a health society. This means letting banks fail when banks take on risks too big, this means socializing the losses and the profits and largely taking a stand against the free market dogma of the 1970s. This also means taking a stand against the notion of private versus public and embracing that, in the end, these two entities are largely one and the same.

Monday, 18 June 2012

This isn't Capitalism and it never will be

Capitalism is a buzz word... used to portray notions of freedom, liberty and competition. It is a convenient sound bite used by politicians world wide to promote the idea that we live in a capitalist society... which we largely do not. Capitalist elements exist in our society, as do socialist, as do democratic and as do republic. However, our society as a whole is largely not capitalistic but an economic system that is controlled in a bipartisanship between corporation and government.

Although tripartisanship was popular until the 1970s (Until new conservative policies took place and eradicated the worker's union) most of the economy that exists today is the result of interactions between corporations and governments to meet both entities needs. We, the people, are agents in this system that exist to serve the needs of both these entities. We are fed the line that we live in a capitalist society and that the american dream is still alive and well. It's not. As George Carlin said... it's called the American Dream because you need to be asleep to believe it.

In fact, I feel calling it a bipartisanship unfair. It's never even been bipartisan. It's simply the financial sector robbing the world of all it's money, We've legalized bank-robbers but now we call them bankers. Except in this case bank-robbers actually could perform noble tasks such as robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Bankers can do no such thing. Bankers rob from the poor, give to themselves and then blame the poor for being so damn poor. They marginalize all of humanity as incompetent fucks while creating massive unsustainable debt structures that will inevitably crash (And that will largely have their damage socialized).

When the banks fail they insist the problem wasn't the banks but the people. They made the loans but claim that we are the ones who shouldn't have taken them. They claim this while receiving cuts from income taxes, destroying social safety nets and turning basic commodities into assets. They claim that while they rob the 99%'s money such that the 99% turns to them for credit to maintain their standard of living that the 99% are the ones being irresponsible, not the banks themselves.

As Keynes said (And as late 19th Century economists realized) it is the rent seekers that are the most harmful to the economy in the long run. In today's society it is the rent seekers that rule and it is the rent seekers that will continue to loot the failing system and wait fervently for the coming collapse... so the next wave of looting can begin. This isn't capitalism... this is a modernized form of feudalism. We just have the notion of democracy and capitalism to help us ignore the harsh reality the 99% must face.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Shell Games

There isn't a single description of the current political landscape that describes the landscape as well as the notion of a shell game.Although portrayed as a game of chance, the shell game is actually a confidence trick used to perpetuate fraud. Bipartisanship, as a whole, is a classic example of a shell game. Supporters of either side watch as their respective party plays a shell game with social problems while, under the table, they create more and more economic and political issues. They distract the trusting majority with sound bite promises of  liberty, freedom, equality, justice, safety, protection, and hope. Of course they never tell the trusting majority how they'll achieve such goals... but none the less it will be through government intervention, of course.

The conservative shell game really isn't a shell game anymore. Conservatives have made it clear over the last few years that they only give a shit about the very wealthy and that they will do anything to serve their corporate masters. They extract the wealth of the vast majority, grant tax breaks to the richest minority and then use these taxes to fund the entrepreneurship of the rich. The average person takes a risk when they start a business... the wealthiest 0.1% take the collective risk of the 99.9% and then reap all the reward. Inventions driven by government funding such as computers, the internet and space exploration are funded by the 99.9% and in the end the greatest spoils of their profit goes to the wealthiest. We pay for their failures and their innovations on our own dime.

On the other hand, the liberal shell game is much more discrete. Liberals, as a whole, often live by a do as I say and not as I do ideology. They embrace conservation in public, why living vapid wasteful lifestyles in private. They talk about saving the environment while supporting programs that would generate massive amounts of waste. They argue for health care reforms while making sure the health care reforms largely benefit insurance companies and not the common person (At least in the United States). They talk about gay rights, multiculturalism and other buzz words while supporting legislation that, in the long run, hurts minorities... while putting more money into the pockets of courts. They talk about inconvenient truths... but never acknowledge one of the greatest inconvenient truths. They too are just as much of a problem as conservatives.

It's at this point in history that more are learning of the shell games we are all part of. The 99% is becoming aware of the cruel reality that the 1% has created and that their entire financial institution they've created is crumbling. When the truth behind the shell game is revealed... it is the 99% who must stop the 1% from letting this game continue. It is time for a return to partisanship, not bi-partisanship... at least in my opinion.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The DOOM Station 3

Imagine if every event that is happening in the world was reported to you ever second of every hour. Now imagine you can put a good and moderate filter on this incoming information. All of a sudden you have a flood of negative information with no end in sight and you would begin to feel that world was coming to an end. And of course, this is what the media wants you to believe. IF the world is coming to an end then you better keep on watching because only then will you be prepared for it.

Welcome to modern broadcasting 101. Get a constant stream of juicy negative information from all over the world, use a big ass strainer to get to the nittiest and the grittiest of the dirty information and then make a big mud pie of gloom and doom. Now, this mud pie isn't complete without you spitting all over it. This process, called "spinning the story", is rather important to making the mud pie digestible. The use of big numbers makes it soft, chewy and extra scary and graphs that look like this add some nice flavour.

Now plop time and amount of deaths on this baby and you've got yourself a succulent piece. Like the farmer's prized pig, the larger it is... the better it'll be.

All of a sudden everyone is gathered around watching news broadcast from the DOOM station 3. Those who miss the broadcast can catch it on all the other channels and those who miss the re-broadcasts can hear about it at work! I mean, why work when we can all talk about what we saw on the news last night. Did you see that video on the swan? So sad wasn't it? Yeah, it was very sad. Did you see the video on the man whose house burnt down? Some lot of houses burning down these days... must be global warming spitting an inert gas on the houses to set it afire. Did you hear about it? Did you?

At this point we should probably turn the doom station 3 off. But then we'd feel disconnected and out of the loop. How could you not hear the news? The news is important you know... you need to know all about that swan who died in Bermuda from the invading polar bears who surfed down on the ice sheets. I wish the news was more like that... at least then I'd have a reason to stop believing it as opposed to having to weed through all of it's bull.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Religion of Atheism

I've been meaning to do this for awhile... I read a lot online and I also talk about what I read a lot. The problem is that when I talk about what I read a lot of people eventually begin to realize I'm completely absorbed into too many different things and that I can go on about them for hours. Some could even argue it consumes my life... but that's not 100% true... it just consumes a lot of my waking hours.

"Perfect is the enemy of good"

It feels appropriate to start with this proverb as I feel that perfection is often at the route of dogma in some shape or form and that that pursuit of perfection in the real world is often counter-productive. I also feel that the highlighting of a solution's flaws solely to propose we not implement the solution is counter-productive. The search for the perfect solution puts all the good solutions on the chopping block and sometimes after a complete thrashing of all good solutions we choose inactivity as opposed to solving the problem at hand.

A perceived flaw in a system is often a good starting point for the opposition to begin attacking the solution as a whole. Instead of attempting to fix the flaw in said system, we resign to throwing the entire system out. Baby-with-the-bathwaterism as I call this is a key ingredient to constructing a convincing system of beliefs. Belief that as long as the bathwater exists we must throw out the baby halts progress and sometimes results in ceasing progress terminally.

This brings me to the first dogma I will discuss and the topic for the rest of this entry. What dogma will I be discussing? Do you really care? My starting point will be targetting a small sect of modern atheists who through their condamnation of religious beliefs end up creating a belief system of their own. In their opposition of religion they form a religion of their own. Abhorred by this fact, they proceed to claim their religion is in fact better and more rational.

These modern rationals as they call themselves end up adhering to a system of beliefs similar to what they oppose. However, their belief that they are immune to dogma (due to the fact that they saw through other dogma) is often what allows them to overlook the fact that they too have married themselves to a rigid doctrine of beliefs that are not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. In their divorce from religion, they married themselves to science.

Science is a rather confusing mistress. Science is a "systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe" (Thanks wikipedia, you (unlike science) will always be there for me when I need to pad the essays I'm writing). Science is never settled and like that date you pick up down town might not be there in the morning. This becomes problematic when science moves from being a means to explain the universe to a means to further a cause.

When using science to further a cause sometimes the evidence supporting your cause will eventually turn sour. Just like when that wonderful girl leaves you in the morning and you feel the onset of denial of reality, a lack of scientific evidence usually results to people turning to epidemiological studies in an attempt to try and prove that correlation provides causation. By that, I mean repeating the same damn correlation hundreds of times until everybody believes it. With the girl gone, you go get a hooker.

In that case though, you are no longer wedded to science (Since science, like a good seductress is fickle and moves on quickly to better things) but to pseudo-science. At this point you become as equally dogmatic as the religion you sought to differentiate yourself from. You have adhered to a new religion that masquerades under the guise of rationality.

A strong point that I often feels shows the dogmatic nature of a lot of athiests who seek to oppose religion is that they cease to mention the good that religion can do. They cease to mention any benefits that being religious might confer and instead attack the flaws in religion. They attempt to throw the baby out with that bathwater and make it their personal goal to do so.

Ironically, a lot of the flaws with religious practice today is strict adherence to the doctrine of beliefs that defines their religion and it is dogma that the athiests are attacking. If only the rationals could see that religion is not the problem but certain dogmas within religion itself then they would not be succumbing to the same fate as their perceived foe.

If only the rationals had attempted to solve the problem they perceived with religion, analyzed it's flaws and highlighted it's benefits and then attempted to fix the perceived flaws with religion they would have been better off. In this case they would have went on to attempt to solve the problems with some religions as opposed to attempting to solve religion.

Imagine that... atheists and theists sitting together discussing what they have in common and attempting to work towards a better future. That seems like a good framework for progress... science is a useful tool for problem solving when we have clearly identified for the problem. But when the problem hasn't been fairly examined science becomes dangerous and risks becoming pseudo-science as we attempt to fit a square into a circle.

Not that we can perfectly analyze any problem, nor should we try. Perfect is the enemy of the good but dogma is married to the perfect.