Category Archives: Technology

You’re Being Manipulated – You May Not Know it.

“The message is the medium.”  Is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan.
He proposed a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself. McLuhan describes the “content” of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.

The combination of visual and audio, create a powerful message, which can and is often used to solicit an emotion or change in public attitude. A well-known cinematic use is the Kuleshov Effect. Its use is of montage [editing] and the effect that film editing has on evoking emotions from a viewer.

Modern news media goes beyond these basic concepts of connecting one item with another. Compression, correlation, sequence, continuity, prefacing, withholding, and staging, impose the ideas of the editor and presenter. Writing may also use these techniques, but it’s seldom as influential until it’s a repeated story line, especially when it comes from other sources.

The challenge isn’t in knowing media coordinates the message, it’s our ability to see through the manipulation, and come up with the facts in spite of many fictitious narratives.

Erector set ferris wheel

Get off the merry-go-round think critically

The “Big 6” are six media conglomerates who own most of the major media outlets in the United States. The Big 6 in media are National Amusements, Disney, Time Warner, Comcast, News Corp, and Sony.

National Amusements began as a movie theater company founded in Dedham, Massachusetts (current headquarters are in Norwood, Massachusetts) in 1936. The company is privately held, it legally doesn’t have to publish earnings or executive-level salaries.

NA has a financial interest (1%-50% of public traded stock) in several entertainment companies, a controlling financial interest (51%+ of public traded stock) in several other companies, and complete ownership of several key media companies. The most well-known subsidiaries of NA are Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon) and CBS.

Media is the lens whereby we perceive the world. “News is supposed to keep watch over the powerful, so the powerful don’t become corrupt. But what happens when the powerful own the news? ~ Ron Burgundy from the comedy film Anchorman

A Letter From the Past

The study of history, and learning from the consequences of decisions, all help in determining the future of a nation. No nation is immune to social upheaval or degradation in spite of past success.

A Time Capsule from 1938 includes a message from the physicist, Albert Einstein

einstein_picture_1921_profileOur time is rich in inventive minds, the inventions of which could facilitate our lives considerably. We are crossing the seas by power and utilize power also in order to relieve humanity from all tiring muscular work. We have learned to fly and we are able to send messages and news without any difficulty over the entire world through electric waves. However, the production and distribution of commodities is entirely unorganized so that everybody must live in fear of being eliminated from the economic cycle, in this way suffering for the want of everything. Further more, people living in different countries kill each other at irregular time intervals, so that also for this reason any one who thinks about the future must live in fear and terror. This is due to the fact that the intelligence and character of the masses are incomparably lower than the intelligence and character of the few who produce some thing valuable for the community. I trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of proud and justified superiority.”

What’s so sad to me is that people once again swallow the Marxist theories of economic production and wealth creation. Robbing one group of people to benefit another group, is a sure path to crippling both.

I grew up in a dysfunctional impoverished family. I lived with the hope and dream that through education (much of it self-taught) and disciplined work, I would not have to endure a lifetime of poverty. That was the dominant view of the society then, and it shows through because we stand upon the shoulders of those who organized, invented, shared, and distributed those ideas to all those willing to learn and move those ideas forward. Elon Musk named a car company Tesla, based on his respect for his inventive genius.

Today, there’s a different populist message. A message of despair, distrust, and selfishness. It goes something like this…
There are some who are privileged and lucky. We who believe we are not, see your success and believe you cheated others out of their rightful inheritance. We demand our fair share and will use that ballot box, legislation, riots, and personal violence if you don’t comply with our demands for social and economic justice.

I think I liked my youthful hopes better.

Education ~
During the 1920s, high school enrollment increased as a result of higher economic prosperity across the country and higher educational standards for industry jobs. It was seen as an avenue for career success and more young Americans entered high school and continued their education through college to gain an edge on others competing for new jobs.

ve1_vespucci_amerigoThere’s a significant push by some to suggest college is an expensive and un-rewarding choice, or that many would benefit by forgoing that education and taking up a trade. As in every “big idea”, there’s a grain of truth. Undoubtedly many people find themselves with burdensome student loans after they finish college. There are several things to consider when paying for higher education, no matter what choice is made, the end result must be examined before the journey begins. Some people would benefit by looking ahead and seeing what their education will do for them in terms of a career. Obviously some career paths provide greater compensation than others. That should be taken into consideration before considerable time and money are invested.

Economies of Scale ~
Mass production improved the economic output of the USA through the manufacture of many identical products by the division of labor into many small repetitive tasks. In the 1920s Henry Ford revolutionized the mode of production to produce inexpensive automobiles that could be purchased by many Americans.

The cost of bringing beneficial and useful appliances, tools, and entertainment, is expensive and risky in the initial phase, with no guarantee the item will be fully functional or desirable to a large group of people. There are a number of economic levers that must be pulled in order to create and launch a new product. Investors risk their reputations as well as the money from others when they support a new idea. Should the ‘product’ be in demand, everyone has a potential for a large economic reward. There are many instances where we see that success happening, but many which are no more successful than the Titanic.

The Constant Obsession ~
There are patterns and habits among many, which humanity clings, the need to compare. We constantly compare our lives in a never-ending chase of dissatisfaction. We feel the need in one form or another to “keep up with the Joneses“. This insatiable pull doesn’t take into account the myriad of differences and abilities each of us possess. The emotional draw ignores facts or discrepancies in order to satisfy the urge.

It’s Official: Wall Street Topped $100 Billion in Profit

This article focuses on the profits made by people on Wall Street. It’s ironic that the company on which this Masthead is posted was founded by Michael Bloomberg. In 1981, with the help of Thomas Secunda, Duncan MacMillan, Charles Zegar, and a 30% ownership investment by Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg launched his successful self-named business. Bloomberg installed his ‘market terminals’ in investment firms, as well as many publicly traded companies. His net worth is now over $58 billion.

In its strongest forms – greed, avarice, jealousy, are a perverse way of keeping score. It’s been said he (or she) with the most toys wins. What do any of us win with that type of focus? We all end up with the same amount of material possessions with which we came into this world. This obsession over what others have instead of ourselves must be tempered by some reality.

There are differences between people, their abilities, their strengths, weaknesses, discipline, goals and consistency. Obviously preparatory education helps, but execution and a willingness to take risks and failure are hallmarks of most successful people. If the game is rigged, either play the game or learn ways in which you will be satisfied without the need to constantly compare and fret over things beyond your control.

The pursuit of happiness (or the movie title misspelling – Pursuit of Happyness) isn’t necessarily about pursuing wealth but there needs to be freedom in which that’s possible. The economic system must allow room for that to occur, even though it’s not always achievable, there’s a need for those who pursue it, the possibility of upward improvement. Economies must not be rigged in such a way that fortune follows only the well-connected and powerful. Many understand it to be that way, based on the considerable pandering and inside deals made between business and politics. This “crony capitalism”, is a cancer on a country’s economy, and perhaps a start point for revolutionaries launch.

What we mustn’t forget are the false promises made through the disenfranchisement and disenchantment by some, to another grand scheme of lofty promises of a group or leader who claims if we only give them the authority, a utopian society will emerge. Such were the promises of Lenin based on Marxism. A society of fairness and higher order doesn’t evolve through more centralized control of production and distribution.

• Marx stated that the revolution of the working class was inevitable; this is why he even state that all history is a history of class struggle.

• Lenin pointed out that along with imperialism a condition for revolution does not emerge. Although heavily influenced by Marx  he diverted from the original ideas of Marx.

•  The communist revolution of Lenin took place in Russia which was economically stagnant.

• The nazi revolution of Hitler took place in Germany, economically ravaged by the outcome of World War I.

• The fascist revolution of Mussolini took place in Italy, because of its economic position after World War I, even though it had sided with the allies.

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” G. K. Chesterton

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The End of Another Year & What Have We learned?

Head_Platon_Glyptothek_Munich.jpg2018 is almost at an end. Maybe it’s time to review where we are, and what we think we must do.

There are a number of issues routinely discussed in the USA, and not necessarily a lot of agreement.

Lets take a look at a few.

How about one that seems to be ignored, but is indicative of how inept we can be at solving a known problem. No, I’m not talking about the national debt, although that’s certainly a priority issue. Here’s a localized problem that should be an embarrassment considering how much we send to other countries, let alone waste through poor governance.

Flint Michigan Toxic Water:  Flint Michigan lies along the Flint River, 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Detroit. Flint was a busy manufacturing town up until the 1980’s. General Motors was a leading employer in that area. When the fortunes of GM changed, area manufacturing closed down and a lot of ancillary business connected to automotive production also ceased to exist. The financial impact made its way to the city water decisions on saving money. By 2014, Flint wasn’t able to pay the cost of obtaining water from Detroit, a city that also was struggling. They were getting the water from Lake Huron. The city made a decision to route the municipal water from the nearby Flint River. They said it would only be temporary and like dopamine fools, people believed the city officials. (This is how toxic Flint’s Water is) It’s 2018 and the water is still being supplied from the lead and toxins contaminated Flint River. Read this CNN article for a timeline of the crisis.

In March 2016, Flint began to rip out and replace some of the hazardous pipes under a “FAST Start program.” That program continues.
Kristin Moore, a Flint city government spokeswoman, said that 6,264 pipes have been replaced as of April 18, 2018. However, an estimated 12,000 Flint residences still have lead and galvanized service lines that need to be replaced, she said.
“The pipe replacement work is expected to be completed by 2020,” Moore said. “However, the mayor is hopeful that the project can be completed even sooner.”

Climate Change: We might as well go from a local problem to a global one. It lays before us like a rotting pumpkin. Some suggest we should leave it alone, while others say it needs to be cleaned up. There’s probably more discussion on this topic than any of the others I’ll mention. Rightly or wrongly, when it comes to climate change, there’s going to be lively debate on social media any time this topic is discussed.

Some groups claim humanity is plunging headlong towards catastrophe and possibly even a future in which a tiny band of survivors cluster around the last remaining habitable territory near the poles.

Other groups claim that climate change will not be too bad so there is no need to stop using fossil fuels. They point to beneficial effects such as ‘global greening’ in which plant growth is boosted by the extra carbon in the air.

The answers may lay somewhere in between.

The United Nations IPCC publishes a research review in the form of a voluminous,  report on the subject of climate change, which the United Nations asserts is “authored” by approximately 600 scientists. These “authors” are not, however – as is ordinarily the custom in science – permitted power of approval of the published review of which they are supposedly authors. They are permitted to comment on the draft text, but the final text neither conforms to nor includes many of their comments. The final text conforms instead to the United Nations objective of building support for world taxation and rationing of industrially useful energy.

Does this make climate change data or predictions, incorrect or a hoax? That’s not as easy to answer as one can presuppose.

150 years ago Irish physicist John Tyndall discovered ‘carbonic acid’, known today as carbon dioxide. It was one of a number of “perfectly colorless and invisible gases and vapors” to absorb radiant heat. About 40 years later, the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first suggested, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause the global temperature to go up, particularly in the Arctic. Therefore, according to these ideas and the last 150 years of a rise in global temperature measurement, in combination with a rise in CO2, the science of climate change has become the “hot topic” of discussion.

The Climate-gate scandal proved that key data involving man-made climate change was manipulated. In 2009, the public discovered emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit exposing how scientists who have been enormously influential in promoting the concept of man-made climate change actually attempted to cook the books to obtain results that served their narrative that the planet was heating at a dangerous trend due to higher levels of carbon dioxide.

One of these scientists included Dr. James Hansen, a former NASA climatologist who is known by some as the “father” or “grandfather” of the climate change myth, as it was his “Model Zero” that first introduced the concept of global warming. Hansen, Philip Jones, Michael Mann, et al. were all involved in trying “to lower past temperatures and to ‘adjust’ recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming.” The leaked emails bore that out. The emails also revealed how this cabal of scientists would discuss various ways to stonewall the public from seeing the “background data on which their findings and temperature records were based,” even going as far as deleting significant amounts of data. They would engage in efforts to smear “any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics’ work.”

Michael Mann has used Canada’s courts to sue one of his major critics of anthropogenic global warming. Dr. Tim Ball has on several occasions caused people to pause and review the underlying facts and purposes of a government proposition they can tax the environmental reprobates and credit the appropriate parties. It’s a perfect “crisis” for any government to use more authority and gain added revenues. All the while, taking credit when it isn’t due, and shifting blame whenever things aren’t favorable.
The use of ‘science’ as a tool for social manipulation is thoroughly confusing to most people until they understand the motive behind the deception.

It has been 28 years since Channel 4 in the UK produced >The Greenhouse Conspiracy.  It covered all the things that were wrong with the AGW theory. They are still valid, but now time-tested. Unfortunately, most people still don’t understand how it disproves the theory, despite all the efforts to educate people about the misuse of science. The bureaucratic technocrats, including those funded by them, who created and promote the deception, rarely respond to scientific challenges. Why bother when the public doesn’t understand?

Health Care: The debate over U.S. health care reform and the future of the Affordable Care Act dominated headlines in 2017, and has slowly diminished attention. The problems with healthcare in the US has continued. It’s a mixed message to the public by government politicos. On one hand, they say we need universal, “government managed” health care, but this type of care has been available since the inception of medicare.  The evidence for government managed health care has proven to be an empty promise. The Veterans Health (a very small percentage of the US population) has gone through numerous exposes on its mis-management. Medicare is definitely limited coverage, and about the only people who seem to have the right amount of health care coverage are those with a lot of money or high up government officials.

There’s no doubt that health care costs in the U.S. needs to be controlled. It’s not going to be corrected by elimination of private insurance, and corporate medical health organizations. The government has for decades, along with insurance, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and the legal industry, have been manipulating the health care industry. There’s a lot of shifting of responsibility, making it more complex for the care giver as well as the patients.

Government Spending: This is the 800 gorilla in the living room, and he’s growing into a 1 ton monster.

Federal, State, Local, and Total US government spending

Amounts in Trillion$ FY 2018 FY 2019
Federal Spending     4.11  4.41
Intergov. Transfers  -0.72 -0.7
State Spending       1.81  1.87
Local Spending       1.93  1.99
Total Spending       7.12  7.56

Where’s the money being spent?

“World stock markets staggered Monday towards the end of their worst year since the global financial crisis a decade ago, rocked by rising interest rates, the global trade war and Brexit, dealers said.”

“London and Paris wobbled in holiday-shortened trade on New Year’s Eve — but nursed dizzying double-digit annual falls after an exceptionally volatile 2018.”

All that is what may concern some investors, but what should concern everyone, is the rapid year upon year increase of government debt. This is a crisis that can be averted, but the distress in shrinking the exorbitant spending habit of the federal government is more painful than the withdrawal symptoms of a heroin addict. Massive protests would ensue if someone’s favored group or program either was shrunk or defunded. As evidenced by the growing outspoken demands by a younger generation, they want to see universal health care, free college tuition, and basic income for all. Where this all will be created from, isn’t their problem. They just believe the “wealthy will pay”.

“They’ve got to keep the government-funded,” and where or how we obtain that funding isn’t important. That kind of thinking is a train wreck waiting to happen.

“Every dollar the government spends, even if borrowed, has to come out of some existing person’s pocket and therefore pre-empts the use of that dollar somewhere else in the economy—not in the future, but here and now.”

“The government can obtain its borrowed money by selling Treasury bonds to either American citizens or foreigners. If it borrows from domestic sources, it is getting money that Americans would have either invested somewhere in the economy or spent on goods and services. Government borrowing simply diverts the cash from other uses, just as if its spending were financed by taxation.” Economists call this the “crowding out effect.”

What’s necessary to understand, there will be a point where there’s not enough money to pay the interest and the required expenditures. This usually results in runaway inflation in order to “devalue” the debt.


Growing Government Encroachment

“As we look into the future, contemplating artificial intelligence, automation, driverless cars and robots in our homes, big data — our data — is providing the foundation for this new world. Smart technology is just another part of the food chain, foraging personal data from our lives, without our permission or full comprehension of the implications.”

“The scale of hacking at numerous corporations around the world and the data exchange between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, gives us an idea of how fierce this battle has become. Big data are today’s gold. Our personal and national sovereignties are at stake.”

Whistle Blowers are most often hailed as heroes, but not when it comes to blowing the whistle on a major government, most particularly, the United States. The U.S. will hunt you down, in almost any country in the world. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have been identified as either traitors, or a high security risk. Most problematic for those advocating their arrest and need for a trial, are the things they’ve revealed. Snowden disclosed the unrestrained eavesdropping by the NSA, and Assange opened the curtain of secrecy on how third-party military contractors conduct themselves in some situations with non-combatants.

Even more problematic for the “pure democracy” the politicos have tried to portray, were the devious conduct of the National Democrat party co-opting their support of  Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton. This caused enough backlash from the Clinton campaign, they began a series of intrigue and rumors to the point where we are still investigating the 2016 election results, blaming the Russians and the Trump campaign in concert of subverting the election. All of the facts disclosing this “palace intrigue,” came through Wiki Leaks led by Julian Assange. Mills_Snowden_holidays_2018

This national anxiety over either the Russians, Trump, Assange, or Snowden, are misplaced. It’s one huge disinformation campaign. Private & government ambition and technology have raced ahead of law, policy and norms.

This is not just a national problem. It’s a global problem seeking global solutions. Stricter data protection regulations and the breaking up of monopolies may be excellent starting points. Of course the clever government sponsored ideas on making the Internet Fair, are nothing more than a way of twisting the debate to furthering federal control of a public resource. The Chinese have that control within their borders, the U.S. government will continue to posit arguments through surrogates to wrest this control from private entities. What’s most amazing is the naive public view that government is inherently more trustworthy than a corporate entity.  Amazon and Google have gone to great lengths to be willing to share any data on a proactive basis. Forget privacy, it’s an illusion.

Indeed one of many arguments I’ve seen on the topic of privacy and the need for controls, are similar to asking the wolf to guard the chicken coop.

Privacy commissioners need the tools and the authority and we all need a transparent process focused on marrying moral and ethical considerations with technological progress.” Oh sure, the people who have repeatedly demonstrated their self-serving ineptitude, should be in charge of the technology they’ve already exploited.

There are other concerns and challenges facing us in 2019. The U.S. routine military interventions around the world should be a cause for concern for all of us. If the situation was flipped around, let’s say China or Russia were inside U.S. borders and using military force to impose their will, what would be the reaction? Might we become a terrorist, or support that type of activity in their homeland? I believe we need a clear written public policy statement which identifies the reasons for our military to engage into a foreign country. It needs healthy debate. We’ve skirted this debate, by having a contemporary President make a televised impassioned speech, then impromptu short international meetings and choreographed public pronouncements. USA_military_interventions_map

What are your concerns going forward? What changes, if any do you think need to at least begin in 2019?