This article by David Webb is insightful and brief. You may have no interest in Bitcoin, however, his observations are relevant to banking and the financial system. For me, one conclusion is that it is immoral to support (buy) bitcoin, on the level of gambling, and, if you understand it as a pyramid scheme, morally worse than gambling because the scheme is destabilising and fraudulent (in that people don’t know what they are getting in to).
Summary: So long as we have governments with the power to tax and spend in their own currencies, digital pseudo-currencies will never gain traction. Bitcoin and its imitators are a zero-sum game in which the sum of all fiat currency paid for it is the sum of all fiat currency received for it, excluding mining costs. The earlier participants are now cashing out the billions that newcomers are putting into this distributed Ponzi scheme. Play it for entertainment value if you want, but remember that you are purely betting on the greater stupidity of others.
When people started referring to the internet as the cloud, it was more confusing than helpful. Well, it helped some tech companies market themselves by creating a kind of insiders’ cachet of people who knew what the cloud was, but it created the delusion that the cloud was something different than the world wide web, the internet.
The term “the cloud” is a gimmicky and confusing way of describing the idea of having access to resources elsewhere on the internet via your device (PC, phone, tablet etc). A decade ago it was already common for people to download files from websites – that was using the cloud. People working in companies with internal networks could login to their office server from home in order to access their files – that was using the cloud.
As the “cloud” terminology started to be hyped by tech companies services like file sharing and storage began to be marketed with clever names and fancy adverts. There was no new special cloudish technology but new packaging and marketing of certain capabilities of the web. Well that’s OK if it helps people use the internet more easily.
Paul Hawken has edited Drawdown, a comprehensive review and analysis of tangible actions that can mitigate the destruction of the natural environment which is now being precipitated by anthropogenic pollution and is most visible in global warming. Drawdown is the work of many professionals collaborating to synthesise practical mitigation actions.
Yesterday was an unusual day filled with seemingly inane chores that had to be done. I was arriving back home in the afternoon with groceries for guests and planned to turn the hay. I drove past a field adjacent to our where a tractor was spraying and turned in to the drive to be greeted by a distasteful, though recognisable, toxic smell.
Usually I’d just accept that that landowner had to spray to make a living, but I didn’t like the idea that our hay was being contaminated while it was looking so good. Unusually, I decided to take another angle, dropped the bags on the kitchen floor, said “Hi!” to guests and spun the car around back up to the field.
After working out which row the tractor was in I walked up to the driver, who kindly stopped and helped me get n touch with the landowner.
The driver said the spray was only to stop “disease”.
The landowner said it was only to stop “disease”.
They both said it was “OK”.
The contractor couldn’t come back on a still day because he had to empty the tanks since the pesticide had been paid for. The wind might die down so he could wait a bit. I knew the spray would still be sprayed, and would drift. Hopefully little would drift, though you could see a 20 metre tail behind the tractor and smell it quarter of a kilometre away.
I asked what it was. “I dunno. Let’s have a look.”
So we did. It was Imtrex.
“Wow. Look at the labels on it! Dead fish. Dead tree. Heart attack. C’mon! This can’t be good.”
It’s weird though. It’s being sprayed right on the ears of ripening barley, and we’re going to eat it. There’s poison on it , and we’re going to eat it. We’re killing ourselves and enjoying it.
We don’t make the connection between our demand for cheap, convenient food and lifestyles and the consequential impairment of diet and lifestyle. Our monolithic food chain, standardised automated production, controlled by capitalists is withering our soul and costing our health. Apart from the increased incidence of cancer which only affects a third or so of us, almost everyone is affected by the lower quality of food – processed, refined, packaged with a fraction of the dietary health benefits of real food, but extra poison.
Yet we all buy in to it. We all live the lie. The farmer can’t make ends meet if he doesn’t. (Ironically, I found out since that this “T3” third treatment for “disease” was being applied too late, as the ears were grown, and so wouldn’t improve yield, although the farmer could prove he sprayed the “treatment”.) We can’t make ends meet f we don’t play the pyramid consumption game. So we all turn a blind eye to our gradual suicide. It’s fairly painless anyway.
But it could be different. It would be different if we all chose differently. It doesn’t have to be much at first, but even little thoughtful choices make a difference. And they lead to bigger thoughtful choice. And when everyone starts choosing differently, the world changes fast. So whether you’re in the tractor, in the shop, regulating the chemical, making the chemical, or financing the chemical, don’t turn a blind eye. Think, and choose to change a little.
Because dying can be easy or hard, and withering from poison is not easy.
If you are an expert in your field you have a good idea of what is going on in that area. That’s how you make a living. Most of us express views about news and events that are outside our area of expertise especially if we think that they might effect us in some way, like politics and economics. The Presidency of the United States of America is one of those things.
Everyone will be talking about the new US administration in America today. Some will be earnest, some dismissive, some joyful, some sad or angry. Irrespective of your emotions or political leanings, its impact will affect you. Continue reading Where the world is going, today.→
The title and the book’s intention, to offer a global perspective, were intriguing to me. Though not a history fan, it is increasingly clear that it is no help to see history from your own perspective because it is blinkered, full of self-serving interpretation and fails to expose the reality of the past. This book offers a big picture perspective.
The people who run the world, you know people like you and me who live in the “First World”, have a particular view of the world. Even if we can see the scale of inequality in society and the collapse of nature, we do not connect ourselves, our behaviour or our community to those uncomfortable facts. We’d rather blame some one else – a politician perhaps. We’re “good” people, doing the best we can and the problems are a result of the system about which we can do nothing.
It’s past due time to wake from that comfy dream. The system at the top of which we sit is perpetuated by ourselves and it doesn’t have to be that way. Each of us makes a difference and the small changes in what we say and do can make the system better, quickly.
Reeling from the long predicted “surprise”, many are emotional but uncertain. The victor is magnanimous, the process continues. The winners are joyous, but realising next steps have not been planned or prioritised. The losers are distraught and fearful that regression will be prioritised over progress.
In this breathing period some signals are clear.
People voted. A lot of people. People who rarely vote, voted. They voted for change. They voted against a system that seems to keep them down and voted for a symbol of change, a voice of change. The result came about because of many people voting, not just one man. On the world stage this is the second time this year. The emotional voice of Brexit has been amplified in the vote for President of the United States of America. This is a popular cry for change.
In 20 years we’ll be facing Big Stuff. Climate change, weather volatility, species loss, clean air, clean water, … that whole environment thing will be getting much more serious and everyone will be dealing with it in some way or another. I’m hoping it’ll make Ireland a bit more like the south of France, and it might, but whatever else, it’s going to make the simple things in life more difficult. For most of humanity that will include feeding themselves and getting clean water.
So that will make food and land more important.
In 20 years we may well have passed “The Singularity“. That’s a term coined by futurists, often with a trans-humanist bent, which denotes the inevitable point at which technology development starts happening “by itself”. This occurs as humanity’s understanding of physics and biology enable the creation of thinking machines (computers) that emulate the brain, and then androids and cyborgs begin to be used in place of people.
Certainly in 20 years technology will have changed our world even more than in the past 20. Do not imagine The Singularity to be fantasy. We are close already. The mobile phone/computer in your pocket is old technology compared with neuro-computers being tested in laboratories. Robots are already becoming remarkably similar to C-3PO in looks and mobility at least. Today the consequences are being felt in most professions as AI (artificial intelligence) takes jobs away from humans. This is what we all wanted – automatic checkout, automatic cashier, automatic accountant, automatic lawyer, automatic vehicle … The challenge now being solved is automatic creativity.