Amerika

Posts Tagged ‘Nerdcore’

Why The STEM Shortage Is A Myth

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

People react to threats with manias. They create a symbol to drive away the blood-god, and then they cling to that symbol in a pathological and obsessive manner.

It is such with the incoming economic collapse of the West. We are facing the results of centuries of bad policy all crashing down together, and our political establishment will do nothing to admit or counter this.

Our talisman against economic failure is “jobs,” and as a subset of that, the religion of STEM was born. Instead of noting that the liberal arts, when not infested with Leftism, are necessary for learning critical thinking, the herd has decided that we should all be computer programmers.

There is only one problem: they have not looked at how computer programming has changed since the 1990s.

During that time, the internet was a wild west. There were new demands, namely learning how to make many servers work together as one. People had to develop the big apps like search engines, blog software, email clients and application frameworks.

But now, all the semi-difficult thinking has been done, itself mostly derived from the work done to make the operating systems and networking protocols invented back in the 1950s and 1960s. We are at best flies feeding on the carrion of the past, converting something functional into another form of television or newsmagazine.

Applications have standardized in other fields as well. The other development from the early 1990s was the gradual stabilization of an industry standard operating system, Windows, and although it has a couple tag-alongs, it basically still rules the day thanks to its momentum caused by that standardization. (Windows itself was based on the theory behind another 1960s-era operating system.)

What won the day? Time. Time and many people working on iterations of existing technology, gradually improving it until functional versions were available. If we have a problem now, it is that people need to justify their jobs, and so keep “improving” applications in ways that make them less functional. In many ways, we are simply re-learning the past as we roll back these “improvements.”

However, all the big opportunities have gone. Over the past decade, we have seen a gradual decline of programming from a Wild West to a type of blue-collar clerkship:

U.S. tech talent shortage discussions tend to focus on getting more young people to go to college to become CS grads. Nothing wrong with that, writes Anil Dash, but let’s not forget about education which teaches mid-level programming as a skilled trade, suitable for apprenticeship and advancement in a way that parallels traditional trade skills like HVAC or welding. Dash encourages less of a focus on ‘the next Zuckerberg’ in favor of encouraging solid middle-class tech jobs that are primarily focused on creating and maintaining tech infrastructure in non-tech companies. Dash also suggests ‘changing the conversation about recruiting technologists from the existing narrow priesthood of highly-skilled experts constantly chasing new technologies to productive workers getting the most out of widely-deployed platforms and frameworks.

As with all things in the post-collapse West, the technology industry is trading on the image of the past. Maybe in the 1950s, and as late as the early 1990s, there was room for radical innovation that required a nerd priesthood to demystify the machine. Now, however, this technology has been integrated into everyday life, and has shown little actual utility beyond what we were doing with it in the early 1990s: office applications, email and online ordering.

This means that the market will collapse inward and be distributed outward at the same time. The new programmer does not work for a fancy technology company, but labors away at a regular business, in charge of multiple functions that involve more configuring existing software than developing new, groundbreaking work.

Programming itself has changed as well. The roll-your-own days are gone, replaced by extensive libraries that one ties together with little more than object oriented scripting in order to produce apps for mobile devices or the web. All but a few applications of this require skills that are now taught as rote by programming boot camps.

Consequently the big money is gone, too, although the market is still catching up to that fact. The radical technologies of one decade, returning high margins, are the expected parts of reality with low margins in the next decade. The best bubble comparison for the internet is long-distance calling. When the phone system was new, long distance was expensive and a lucrative market; as soon as the technology matured, however, the prices came down and the industry mostly went away.

The same is true of the internet. What will be left will be like the shopping malls of the 1980s: you go to Google and for any search, see a list of approved sites. You can then shop at any of those, including non-profits in which content has been denatured for your safety. The former Wild West will be a managed experience entirely driven by consumer demand.

Accordingly, programming will calm down as well. Most offices will have a guy who codes up the web site, maintains the network, and answers help calls from people having trouble with their computers. It will be well-paid, but not beyond what a good plumber makes. The gold rush is over, and the boom in needing engineers and programmers is also fading.

There never was a STEM gap, after all. We had enough people here to do the jobs, and the jobs were going away and losing their shine anyway. Even those who flocked to Silicon Valley to earn a quarter million a year soon found that expenses ate away most of that. Every time the herd stampedes, it destroys what it stampedes toward.

In the meantime, politicians are hyping free college and a STEM boom because it is easy. Industry wanted more workers so it could take the best and pay everyone else peanuts. Most people have ended up with jobs they dislike, doing rote tasks they have come to hate, in a predatory environment. This is what always happens when the herd fascinates itself with a gold rush.

This is the nature of markets, and if your politicians promise you a future based on STEM, they are lying. The real future lies elsewhere: in finding jobs that match capabilities of our co-ethnic citizens, and sending everyone else home, because the great wealth boom is not only over, but was always a scam.

Anatomy Of A Fragile Market Bubble

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Modern society possesses a fragile duality: people depend on its power and wealth, but simultaneously are existentially miserable.

Their existential misery comes from the fact that civilization is in decline, social order is failing, and so all meaning and purpose is removed from their lives because whatever they do is futile and will be destroyed once the raging herd gets ahold of it. At the same time, we all must survive, and so they are dependent on this abusive system for paychecks and enough stability for grocery stores.

What happens if the money runs out? All Western governments are heavily in debt, consumers are heavily leveraged, and our industries are massively interdependent.

On top of that, we have the makings of a brutal tech bubble:

Yesterday afternoon, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, and is up over $1.5 trillion since the start of 2017. “And the companies doing the most to drive that rally are all tech firms,” reports The Verge. “Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains.” From the report:

All of these companies saw their share prices touch record highs in recent months. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the U.S. economy, which grew at a rate of less than 1 percent during the first three months of this year. That divide is the culmination of a long-term trend, according to a recent report featured in The Wall Street Journal: “In digital industries — technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services — productivity grew 2.7% annually over the past 15 years…The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries — health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail — where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period.” There is no industry where these players aren’t competing. Music, movies, shipping, delivery, transportation, energy — the list goes on and on. As these companies continue to scale, the network effects bolstering their business are strengthening. Facebook and Google accounted for over three-quarters of the growth in the digital advertising industry in 2016, leaving the rest to be divided among small fry like Twitter, Snapchat, and the entire American media industry. Meanwhile Apple and Alphabet have achieved a virtual duopoly on mobile operating systems, with only a tiny sliver of consumers choosing an alternative for their smartphones and tablets.

As mentioned here before, the tech sector is primed for a crash because it is overvalued and yet is selling a product that is increasingly less relevant to middle America, the group that forms the base of the conventional consumer economy.

To counter this, the tech companies are trying to cultivate the conventional media audience, who lean Left and consume more media than others but may not actually be as relevant as consumers except for luxury goods.

In order to bolster that process, Western governments have created a capitalism-socialism hybrid which consists of heavily taxing citizens and corporations, and then dumping that money on the working classes so that they can purchase more consumer goods, creating a circular Ponzi scheme which will eventually run out of money.

On top of that, Western governments have accumulated enough debt that when their taxes fall short, they will be in a tough position where they will be unable to acquire new debt cheaply enough to justify it, and these governments will head toward default at the same time their economies cave in and the social consequences of Leftist policies culminate in crashes.

Technology Is Not What Defines Modernity

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Most of those who are active in politics at this time are single-issue voters. They want one thing to change, and the rest to remain the same. Only a few grasp how large our change needs to be, and see that all of these single issues radiate from a core dysfunction caused by the structure of our civilization being based on false assumptions.

Those who see the enormity of the problem and how deep the rot goes tend to go a little bit insane. They are trying to overturn an edifice with a toothpick, or at least it feels that way. For this reason, most adopt desperate solutions that are unrelated to the actual causes, because these at least symbolically feel correct.

One such outlook is primitivism, which believes that “technology did this to us” and therefore, the solution is to roll back technology. While in some areas this looks correct, it is important to distinguish between cause, effect and symptoms of that effect. A single act may cause a result that is invisible, but manifests in a number of evident disasters.

For example, the transition to demand-side economics from the Obama era had a very clear effect in making the basis of our monetary value a result of the speed of demand for that money. This in turn had visible symptoms like a decline in purchasing power, economic slowdown in hiring and other expenditures, and very remotely, an increase in apathy because money was more speculative than actualized in value.

So let us look to modernity. The term only came into use in the late 1800s as a designation of an era, but this does not tell us when it began, because the effects are noticed long after the cause. In theory, it was replaced by postmodernity in the 1960s, but many think that the postmodern is a pluralistic expression of the modern and nothing more.

If we look a hundred years before, we can see one plausible root, or the event that changed all events after it. With the French Revolution, equality became the official policy, ideology and goal of modern governments. And yet, even that event has a cause, which many trace to The Enlightenment,™ a cultural and artistic movement a century and change before.

Even though technology was present during that era, it was also present before that, and in ages before. If anything, it seems that technology develops with the rise of organized civilization, which means that the timeline of civilization death could have other causes, since technology will be present but not necessarily causal.

This reveals to us the illusion of blaming technology: it is easy to blame technology because it is not us. That means that instead of taking responsibility for embracing illusory thinking like The Enlightenment,™ we find something else to scapegoat. If not technology, The Rich,™ The Jew,™ and even other ethnic or religious groups.

In fact, we did it to ourselves. “We have discovered the enemy, and it is us.” More accurately: the enemy is any number of bad choices that take us off the path to what makes us great. There are many possible errors, and only a few ways to success, all correlated with the principles that guide us in a general direction toward qualitative improvement.

What this means is that, contrary to some of the “solutions” floating around out there, we cannot fix our problems by simply backing away from technology. Even if that were likely to happen in a world where someone else will simply adopt it and use it to conquer other groups, it would leave intact the illusory assumptions and bad leadership that propelled us into this condition in the first place.

That way, history would simply repeat. We would buy time, but not achieve victory, and by doing that, doom ourselves to repeat the same intractable problems time and again until we finally exhaust ourselves, either emotionally or genetically.

Instead it becomes clear that we must save ourselves from within. Our efforts have gone toward an illusion, and this illusion is based in the idea of the convenience of people instead of principles. To reverse this, we must first choose the goals that are best and move toward those, instead of choosing from among the possibilities that are convenient for others.

Our real problem is the collapse of social order. There are too many people competing for power, and they use all else including language, science, law, knowledge and religion as means toward that end. This corrupts those things; that is a symptom of the power struggle. Until we make a working social order, we remain in the cycle of failure.

The Leftist Idea Of Endless Progress

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

The ideas of both continuous progress, and the impediment of progress by the forces of “reaction” — on a level similar to that of the progressive Leftism from which it borrows its name — are motivated by excessive belief in scientific advancement and the ability to indefinitely regulate the behavior of the undifferentiated human biological mass.

At the core of the science of Leftism lies the idea that upon that which we find in the manifested World, one can continuously add more value, and hence forever retain the optimism about the prospects of the future even in face of all the apparent and alarming deficiencies, surfacing problems, deteriorations and degenerations. At its core, the idea of Leftist “scientism” is not the idea of perpetual perfection of the one and the same principle, but of the perpetual need for expansion and management.

The Left’s response, globally speaking, to the problems that “Humanity” (the abstractly conceptualized identity crafted through observations in biology) faces is not to study and address the root causes, but simply to export humanity to another universe via Science.™  In order to prove the root of the problem is not the failure to comprehend the immutable laws of all of the manifest World, but simply the failure to manage and expand, the Left then promotes and propagates the idea that the crisis will be solved if we could just make yet another breakthrough, or yet another regulation. We are thus always borrowing from the future to pay for today.

The fear that we will fail in our grand task of quantitative expansion is mirrored also by the Cuck-o-sphere, which laments those days when Man™ walked on the moon and his progeny strolled ‘round the endless expanses of featureless consumer neighborhoods. The greatest fear that a Progressive harbors is characteristically voiced by spokespersons of the Pop Science TV shows. They despair how “petty” disputes and lack of consideration and scientific awareness (or enlightenment) of mankind impedes the important task that lies in discovering new fuel sources and searching for ourselves a new homeland among the stars. Because, as is quite evident, on the subconscious level, even a Progressive acknowledges the fact that humanity, as is, faces only one direction, and hence, that the marvelous answer lies in the most absurd idea possible – that so called humanity shall save itself by running from itself – from the products of its own devices. This is apparently, the scientific-consumerist end game: devour and run, like a parasite moving between hosts.

The greatest fear of the Progressive in fact, lies not in the possibility that we will not  explore the stellar expanses. It lies in the fact that we will not find anything unique there. It is disturbed by the possibility that whatever we do find there will be of significance only in a purely quantitative sense. And hence, that the answer lies in the most dreadful place possible – in front of our own noses. In other words, the riddle of human survival can be solved through means available at every moment and at all places – through understanding.

This understanding is not conditioned upon geometric and taxonomical observations, but upon that quality which gifted individuals, those upon whom the keys of the Tradition and of the Regnum were once bestowed upon possess – the quality of insight. In the end, in fear of the consequences which necessarily must arise from it, the Left and its immanent science declared war on fundamental understanding itself, replacing it only with the most superficial type of knowledge, the one that is limited only to apparent expressions which can therefore be calculated and managed.

When The Music Stops, You Get Replaced

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

the_path_of_technology

Does anything noteworthy ever happen in Wyoming? One might not expect it, but that’s where the developed world’s central bank executives met a few days ago, to discuss how to address a problem they’re struggling to find a solution to: The lack of any response to all of their attempts to revive a dying economy.

Two different policies were proposed: Fiscal expansion and increased immigration, the latter particularly for Japan. These two policies are meant to get the economy to start growing again, now that it’s clear that quantitative easing and reducing interest rates are insufficient to achieve the desired effect.

One can be forgiven for questioning why the economy needs to grow in the first place. The answer to this question is that the developed economies have saddled themselves with a variety of obligations to fulfill. These nations have large debt loads, as well as a variety of entitlement programs that people expect to receive money from when they retire. The problem with debt is that it’s easier to pay a debt back when your income is growing. When your income declines, it becomes difficult to pay back your debt.

When it comes to the two policies proposed, a short explanation will suffice. Fiscal expansion is a word used to mean “spending a lot of money by increasing the national debt”. This of course, is just another way of passing the buck to people in the future. They’ll be faced with even higher debts, but we will reap the benefits in the form of an economy that’s more active because we decide to borrow from the future. And as debts in the future will be higher, they’ll be forced to figure out some way to keep the economy growing too.

If this wasn’t insidious enough, consider the suggestion of immigration as a measure of last resort. The idea here is that the main problem the economy faces is a lack of demand. When more people enter the nation, all those extra people will need to be provided for. Every new family needs its own house, couch, television, refrigerator, school to send the children to and all the other requirements part of the Western lifestyle. As a result, manufacturers can continue to peddle their wares and keep their workforce busy.

If you haven’t noticed yet, there are similarities here with pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes. Participants are paid money that wasn’t genuinely earned. To keep the system going, new participants have to be sought. There is also an underlying unrealistic belief in very high rates of return in the future, as our policymakers seem convinced that this era of low economic growth is temporary and will come to an end through their intervention.

What has happened here is something far more troubling than the idea of a conspiracy: The law of unintended consequences has struck. In the 19th century, upper class and middle class Britons figured out that the cost of raising a child and sending them to out to be educated was very high. It was similarly undignified for your daughters to work, so until they married they were a financial burden on your household. To preserve their economic position for the next generation, they decided to limit the size of the next generation. The working classes, with no social class to lose, didn’t bother restricting their fertility.

As progressives took power across Western Europe, working class citizens were emancipated and found themselves faced with a comfortable existence. Child labor was made illegal, children would now be sent to school. This turned children from a source of income into an economic burden. Because you would now receive a pension in old age, you no longer had a need to have a lot of children. The incentive to reduce your fertility had spread from the upper classes to all except for the underclasses and a handful of religious fundamentalists.

When it became too expensive for us to produce new humans to replace ourselves, we embarked on a radical new solution: Import people from other countries to replace us! For someone in Somalia or Morocco to raise children to the age of eighteen that spend their days herding goats requires a lot less investment than it does for people who have to send their children to daycare, speech therapy, school, a hockey club, a class trip to an amusement park and a child therapist. To “outsource” reproduction to the third world starts to make financial sense.

Those programs we set up for the elderly similarly proved quite difficult to deal with. Back when we introduced them, a fair share of people never even reached the age of 65. Medical interventions soon allowed us to extend most people’s lives to the point where their bodies and minds become frail. It might be possible to extend our life expectancies by ten years, but extending the period during which we can be a productive member of the workforce by the same amount of time has proved more difficult. As a result, an obligation emerged to keep the economy growing. The elderly became a Moloch.

Escaping this predicament has proved difficult. Western Europe and the United States have already succumbed. Japan managed to hold back the tide for a long time, but now their failure to grow is starting to threaten to take down the whole economic system. Attempts to address the underlying problem have been made. Japan has consistently sought to increase its fertility rate for decades, but nothing worked to stop the slump. Thus they now find themselves faced with no other option.

The resistance Japan and South Korea put up against mass immigration is stronger than that in Europe and the United States, but it seems inevitable that they too will import millions of people from third world countries to prop up their stagnating economies. Having learned from Europe’s experience, they will probably look for non-Muslim migrants, perhaps from the Philippines or India. Propaganda in the media and the education system will serve to normalize the experience of being replaced and to place a stigma on those who find it upsetting, just as it does in the West.

This is what I would refer to as the technological trap: You start out with steam engines and spinning jennies, you end up handing your country over to the third world. It’s easy to come up with a variety of scapegoats, but the reality remains the same: We failed to anticipate the long-term consequences of the societal changes we implemented, so now we pay the price.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

william_gibson-the_peripheral

As with all postmodern books, and Gibson finds his inspiration in Thomas Pynchon as much as in sci-fi, a title can possess multiple meanings. The Peripheral shows us a book with a dual symbolism to its title: ostensibly about the use of remote-controlled biological androids, or “peripherals,” for people to live through, it takes on another meaning as well.

The term “peripheral” after all refers to something we plug into our computers to interface with the world, normally mice, modems, printers and similar devices. In this book, which seems inspired by recent events, the peripherals (perhaps inspired by the 2009 movie Surrogates) compare to drones and other forms of remote presence which are increasingly popular. But these are merely a way to get us into a more interesting concept.

Plato says history is cyclic; Hegel says it is dialectic; Nietzsche with his “eternal recurrence” makes us think what it would be like to re-live our lives time and again. Gibson synthesizes these three into a vision of continua, or branches of reality created by historical events, and the possibility of communicating between them to avoid certain things become inevitable in one of them.

The Peripheral shows Gibson as a mature writer who has adopted a synthesis between the sides of him that are focused on sci-fi and the ones that wish to be more literary, i.e. critical of our time and its assumptions. He uses theories of technology in the future to critique our use of what we have now, and our choices in how we live as a species.

Rocketing to fame with Neuromancer, Gibson famously put a face on the networking revolution with his concept of “cyberspace,” loosely borrowed from W.S. Burroughs’ “Interzone”: a space of ideas. Following the success of that book, he explored social critique in books such as Idoru, about the cult of ego, and Pattern Recognition, which looks into the mass mind tendencies of the internet. These follow a series of critically acclaimed sci-fi books which never achieved the distinction that his first did, and precede Zero History and Spook Country, which explored the same future-present fusion that The Peripheral does.

Perhaps in reaction to the overly-familiar style inherited from blogging that requires writers to use tropes and cliches familiar to their audience as a means of establishing parity with them, Gibson writes in a stripped-down, distant way. Like a coder, he uses levels of abstraction and avoids giving us detail unless immediately necessary, but he decides that by impression on characters and not author. The details of brands and gadgets make it into the text, but often only the barest hints at layout and appearance of people do. This makes the book more like a detective novel than anything else, sticking to the facts that serve to solve a question a logical analysis.

Building was black from some angles, but really a very dark bronzy brown. If it had windows, the floors she was working didn’t, or else they were shuttered. There were big flat rectangles on the face, some vertical, some horizontal, no order to them.

The fairies had gone quiet as she passed twenty, according to the display’s floor indicator. Some level of stricter protocol? She wouldn’t have minded having them back. It wasn’t that interesting up here, swatting at dragonflies. On her own time she’d have been checking out views of the city but she wasn’t being paid to enjoy the scenery. (14)

This sparse style fits with what other science fiction writers did in their later books, like Robert Heinlein or Ray Bradbury. The book makes itself about ideas and experiences and abstracts away detail. Unfortunately, it gets lost in a different kind of detail, which is a depth of texture to the plot that is mostly unnecessary. It feels hasty, as if an author compiled a big stack of ideas and encoded them, then hit PRINT on the word processor and called it a day. Where Neuromancer fit tightly around its plot, here the plot expands to fill space, and most characters serve minor roles and thus have almost zero depth to them beyond the initial description of their appearance. This suggests a kind of exhaustion, much like Zero History had, where the author works on this like editing a handbook of insurance regulations, and loses the drive to make it an immersive experience for the reader. A good hard edit on this book could drop 100 pages, a lot of detail and make the resulting story pop out at the reader through its own internal contrasts.

However, once embarked upon, this book rewards with non-stop action of the type based on revelation more than linear collision. The convoluted plot seems contorted to force itself to include all of the logical hooks necessary to make sense of some of its more outlandish aspects, and the ending is not quite believable and somewhat directionless. The point of this book is the commentary on contemporary society and politics that Gibson encodes into the middle portion of the plot, probably pages 50-400 on this volume. That part can be strikingly interesting and show us the logical extension of many of our contemporary assumptions about the future.

This leads to the double entendre of the name. While peripherals are interface objects for a computer, the term “peripheral” also applies to objects outside the focus of the action. In this book, the real message is found in the peripheral. Using the device of the continua, Gibson shows us different worlds that can result from different choices made. The future world he reveals is both good and bad, but if we get outside that focus, it also is miserable. Characters keep asking each other if they like their own worlds, and the answer in the future is that disaster was averted, but the result is miserable. As is, characters in our time affirm, our own world. With this device, Gibson reviews his own book in a word: the action is peripheral, and the periphery is where the thinking takes place.

In this, we can see much of Gibson’s own lineage as a writer:

I had stumbled, in my ceaseless quest for more and/or better science fiction, on a writer name Burroughs — not Edgar Rice but William S., and with him had come his colleagues Kerouac and Ginsberg. I had read this stuff, or tried to, with no idea at all of what it might mean, and felt compelled – compelled to what, I didn’t know. The effect, over the next few years, was to make me, at least in terms of my Virginia home, Patient Zero of what would later be called the counterculture.

In Naked Lunch, much as in On the Road, the journey itself was nonsense but served as an excuse to introduce concepts. An increasingly technological world merges philosophy, technology and literature. Gibson attempted this in Neuromancer with his fusion of Zen mysticism and hacker lore, but never got this in-depth with it. Many of us continue reading his books not so much for the stories, which end up being a big idea and a string of dialogue within it strung together on a thin plot made intricate and tapering to dissipation, but for this commentary. He is like all good writers looking for a future direction and warning of trail hazards both behind and ahead, trying to find a path within the path that does not lead to apocalypse.

Chain Reaction

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

For thousands of years the world was big.  A man’s only concern was his family, his community, and his nation.  Even at the national level, news took days to arrive.  It took a full day for Pheidippides to run from Athens to Sparta in order to inform the Spartans that Persian forces were invading.  Even as recent as the Civil War era, one can imagine that news from across the country took days and only the most important stories were considered.

Today the world is small.  Every news story from every corner of the globe is right there in front of you, on your computer screen, within minutes.  Furthermore, the news is an odd combination of the lurid/sensational/ultra-violent but also the twee/inconsequential/feel-good.  The most horrific and the cutest – massacres, catastrophes and kittens rescued from trees.

Is man cut out to reconcile so much disparate information so quickly?  The world was large for thousands of years then in a mere 100 years, the world has rapidly become smaller and smaller.  Our social reality is out of sync with our biology.

Man was not meant to hear about and reconcile the news from all corners of the earth.  Understanding the dynamics of a county or state is hard enough, let alone an entire country, let alone the entire world.  It is no surprise we neglect our own backyard as we hear of more sensational stories from abroad.  Rather than prioritizing on the basis of proximity, we prioritize on the basis of what is most sensational.  But as we are distracted from our own problems, they grow and grow.

We are not only distracted, we are also desensitized.  When we are bombarded with news of natural disasters, riots, death, and violence, we slowly become numb to these things, in general.  As post-modern theorist Jean Baudrillard formulates:  information annihilates meaning.  When all we hear is murder, rape, arson, they begin to lose their impact.

Being “connected” to the world has its upside.  But perhaps our instant mass-communication system has connected us in ways which we never bargained for.  It not only distracts and desensitizes decent people, it also connects and empowers the indecent.  Perhaps we are a little too connected.  Mass hysteria is a well documented phenomenon.

This phenomenon of mass hysteria or chain reactions manifests itself in many different forms:

  1. Computer worms are essentially chain reactions.  The ILOVEYOU bug is especially funny because of its unassuming origins.  It was apparently an accident not even borne of maliciousness.  There is some speculation that it was all over a girl.  It is somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove.  The littlest mistake or accident is amplified a thousandfold.  That an empire can be taken down by a mere accident is a hard pill to swallow.
  2. Flash mobs can be silly or they can be violent (kind of like the stories in the news).  The key here, is that a flash mob is a chain reaction organized and set off by telecommunications, social media, or viral emails  And although much bigger than a “flash mob,” the London riots in the summer of 2011 reveal this same dynamic – discontent multiplied exponentially through social media and cell phones/mobile devices. To be defeated by a worthy adversary is one thing, but to be taken down by a bunch of yahoos is a humiliation.
  3. 2011 has seen large protests all over the world.  In fact, 2011, thus far, could almost be called the “year of the protest.”  The “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia but really became a big story when it hit Egypt in February 2011.  Curiously, big protests hit Wisconsin in February 2011 as well.  Currently, this wave of mass protest has culminated in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  What’s interesting is that not only is a single protest, in and of itself, a chain reaction, but that all of the protests, from all corners of the globe, in total, resemble a chain reaction.  It started in Tunisia, then spread across the entire Arab world, from the Arab world to Wisconsin, from Wisconsin to Wall Street.
  4. If any news story is justified in being spread instantly across the world, 9/11 was certainly it.  But to repeat those videos over and over and over, in chain reaction form, seems to go beyond the media’s duty to report the news.  The unintended effect is desensitization.  The long-term effects of 9/11 have still not been felt.  The children who watched that video over and over on the evening news are just becoming full-fledged adults right now in the year 2011.  In this sense, the video of 9/11, repeated over and over, will act as a mental time bomb.  In the next 5 to 10 years, the kids that watched that video over and over will become the leaders of our nation.  It is then that we will feel the real result of that mental virus, whether positive or negative.  Perhaps it will harden them, perhaps it will desensitize them.  But that isn’t the point, the point is that, in this case, the chain reaction didn’t just spread across space, it spread across time.

Honest show of hands:  who even remembers that the Interstate collapsed into the Mississippi river only four years ago!?  Miraculously, only 13 people died, but strictly as a visual, it rivals 9/11 in terms of resembling a Hollywood disaster movie.  Not only does this catastrophe symbolize America’s infrastructure literally collapsing, it also symbolizes our desensitization to catastrophe in general.  Call it an intuition or a hunch, but this event seems oddly forgotten about by the media and the American people.  Perhaps this is, already, the temporal chain reaction of 9/11 manifested as desensitization.

Our non-stop news cycle, which is not even a cycle, but a perpetual onslaught, distracts us with the most sensational and lurid, and desensitizes us to catastrophe in general.  No wonder the West is going to hell in a hand-basket and we are talking about Hank Williams Jr.

The vulnerability of being connected should be understood.  If something is stretched far and thin it becomes that much more vulnerable at any one point.  All it takes is a thug with a vendetta, or a news story sensational enough, even if it’s thousands of miles away, and the chain reaction is underway.

On the other hand, if something is consolidated it is much harder to puncture.  With this in mind, the value of being insulated gains its full power and takes on a positive connotation.  It is a survival technique to avoid being swept away in mass hysteria.  Turn off, tune out, and re-connect with reality.

Straight to Hell

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.– Arthur Schopenhauer

(Why) Everything is going to hell.

These days we have armies of “experts” investigating the causes of our misbelonging. Of our unexpected freight and intangible unease. The face of yet another famous sociologist, media-specialist or psychologist is pulled on television, just to tell us where everything went wrong.

Except, they’re all wrong. Everyone’s wrong, they just don’t get it – they don’t have a clue. These “old boys” aren’t our guides; they are forlorn travelers, blindly struggling around in an uncharted swamp. In the dark, blindfolded and with earphones on.

200 years ago, a peasant’s son was born. His father taught him to use the plough, to milk the cow, to clean the stables and to plant and harvest crops. At night, the son of the peasant looked up to the sky and he knew the motions of planets to be eternal, he knew that he would one day marry their neighbour’s daughter. He knew that his son would inherit the farm after he one day inherited it from his father. The world was older than he was, and the world would surely outlast him. He was finite and mortal, but the world around him was solid and imperishable. And, although he was poor, the peasant’s son found cause for relief and quietude in that.

Today, our biological existence is longer than it takes the world around us to change – to die. Everything around us is in constant fluctuation. For all we know the world might look entirely different in 20 years. Who’s to say? Technology is on the rise, we live longer too. Nobody has a clue where things are going really. Except the Chinese, and even they don’t.

The power of nation-states has evaporated and gone up in cyberspace. Decisions are being made at EU level, in the shareholder meetings of large corporations, and all of it has influence upon our lives. But we have lost our grip on it, and therefore we turn to smaller scale identities. Identities which give us the feeling of a solid ground beneath our feet, but our hands reach out to feebly scratch that which we cannot avert. We are stoked against one another as these identities draw us in -– like the Flemish versus the Walloons, the Islamists versus the Copts –- but meanwhile we’re still walking around blindfolded and with earphones on.

At school parents are told their children suffer from ADD, autism and borderline – disorders the peasant’s son had never ever heard of – but the bottom line is really this: In a system geared towards control and security, we’ve lost control over our lives and have no clue how to get it back. Heck, for all we know tomorrow the Chinese are taking back Taiwan, Wallstreet goes bankrupt as the IMF falls, or Turkey declares war on Israel. We really have no clue.

At night we bar our shopping malls with automated gates, we close off our neighbourhoods with iron fences, we are made to pay higher prices for increasingly scantly insurances – the whole world seems geared to take away from our precious sense of safety, by confronting us with our vulnerability. Meanwhile we gradually lose our freedoms and privacy too – anything from mandatory public transportation cards that register your steps, to anonymous people randomly blocking your facebook account – because you didn’t put up enough useful personal data for them to extract.

It all proves my point over and over again – we can’t trust the old boys. We really can’t; they made themselves rich by having the fresh generations pay for their pensions. They encouraged mass immigration in the name of universal tolerance – so that they could have a cheaply mowed lawn and a shawarma shop in every street, and then they still weren’t satisfied so they built McDonaldses right next to them. They are the ones upholding the fiction of the ‘open society’ – telling us that we’ll get there if only we work hard enough. But meanwhile they’re filling their pockets and preparing their exit. They’re the ones who rolled into interesting jobs although being underqualified – just because society and the public sector were expanding. Today me and you have to meet a quadrant of competences and to be “connected”. They’re the ones who collected staples of entitlements – but who will pay for our pensions?

The world is getting smaller as the scope of politics is getting bigger. What should we do? The answer, I know, is a return to community spirit, to a flourishing civil society with close communes which make us feel welcome, warm, and sheltered. Instead, today we feel left alone deep in our hearts, facing the world with abandonment in the back of our minds. But we’re geared towards sociability since we live in cities, so we approach one another in an amiable manner, hiding our deeper selves, to then be on our way again.

The solution lies in a return to community spirit and genuine mutual care. Call it ‘Brotherhood’ if you will. But that will never happen – why? The internet. I’ll give you an example (and as always my examples really happened):

Group of teenagers, aged 15-20 hangs out on skype after school and during the weekends. Parents think it’s fine because there’s nothing to do outside – streets and pavements make way for the holy car, the vessel of our economic salvation, and junkies litter around their used needles. So these teens are playing games like runescapeminecraft and whatever. One of the friends asks another to read a short story he has written. The boy promises to read it.

A week later he still hasn’t read it – but he says he will the week after that. The week after that, same story. The guy says: “Well if you don’t care to read my story, then I don’t care to hear your voice.” And he leaves the conversation. As a result the other guy blocks him.

Morale of this anecdote? He never bothered to read the story because he knew he could always block the guy if he kept on about it. Hours and days go into this interaction – time that could be used to build trust between people, to build connection, commitment, and civil society. But instead all of it wasted time. Wasted social capital. And that’s the way people treat each other nowadays; as products to satisfy short-term interests. Same with dating: You can have sex a few times but if you want to expand the relationship to something bigger the woman quickly puts an end to it. “It’s fun while it lasted,” they will say. This is why people are messed up nowadays and no psychology “expert” is going to help against it.

Because they don’t see the real targets they should aim for. They lack the vision, the clarity, to pinpoint the problem. Here at Amerika.org, we do see them. Because we are the Voice of the Future, not of the “old boys”.

What’s there left connecting us? To unify us? Our patriotism has dried up to drinking beer together in support of the national football team – to watch corny televisions shows depicting base clown behaviour and then to discuss it at work. We’re too busy for our friends, we’ve got our hands full with work – but what do people really spend time on? Watching youtube movies, chatting in MSN, uploading myspace photos of their latest holiday. It’s the Truth and you all know it!

We are the last bastion of sanity – offering you an honest oversight of the bigger picture. As I told Brett Stevens before I now say to you: I will not rest before an army of blimps blots out the sun, searing the sky with brightly beaming colours of amerika.org

Rise Amerika . . .

Rise !

The End of the World Anthem

Friday, July 29th, 2011

After a long, intensive, exhausting survey of history, politics and philosophy, I have finally figured out how civilization will end. I could have used a wide array of quotes to pump this article up, but I have decided not to, so that this message could be as simple, concise and accessible as possible.

Everywhere around us we see the rise of technology. Already our communication goes largely through text messages, emails and various forms of social media, rather than face to face. There is no reason to suppose this steady trend will not continue in the future – since we can order everything we require by means of the internet, from clothes to foods to entertainments.

It might not be long before we will be carrying around with us a small microchip implanted in our underarm. This is of course very convenient, because it triggers the lights when we step into our house, it acts as a credit card and as our public transportation permit. It might even record various medical data to tell us and our doctors when we are sick.

However, what if you do an action that goes against the government? Supposedly, Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been cleared of all charges but has been suspended to stay in his house. Isn’t this a strange idea, that someone is placed under house arrest, in a Western society? Previously, it were usually party-leaders or nuclear scientists that somehow fell out of the regime’s favour. And then not in Occidental countries but in China or Russia. In the future, this might very well mean that as soon as you do something that the government could interpret as a violation against itself, or as a violation of the rules, that the information in your microchip is suspended. This will effectually mean that you will be unable to use public transportation, log in to the internet (since your chip will send out a disturbing frequency) or purchase articles.

In the Netherlands, government officials had already played around with the idea of installing a black box in every car, that would monitor the data of that car’s travels. This black box would be linked to a satellite. With other words; anyone with access to that data could immediately see wherever you are at precisely which time. However this proposition received a lot of negative press, so the government called it off. But I suspect this was just for testing. And, I have grounds to think, if in a few more years consumerism will have completely infatuated society, the common man will have lost feeling with what it means to fight for ‘self-sovereignty’, and such microchips might steadily become part of our daily lives.

As soon as anyone violates the rules – bang – that’s it; you’re out. Effectually stateless and cut off from all forms of digital communication, or at least forced to camp inside your house. And, when the time comes, don’t object: “I violated this rule, but who is to say this rule was just to begin with? I question the justness of this rule.” Because this is no longer a matter of the morality, ethics or standards beneath a given rule, that you can call into question. It will simply be: “This is what the majority decided; this is democracy. This is law.”

These rules won’t have anything to do with a vision (like in the past, a Liberal governments wanted to bring their citizens to live in self-interest properly understood, Socialist governments aimed to educate their citizens into acting for the good of the whole, and Conservative governments expected their citizens to live devoutly) these will be the rules, simply because a majority said so.

If you try to speak out and raise questions about the moral foundations of the procedures, your questions will fall upon deaf ears. Because you are trying to express yourself in a language that no longer applies to the government of the future. The government of the future won’t have anything to do with morality, ethics or enlightened judgement. It will be one big bureaucratic machinery of official regulations – in which the individual citizen is reduced to a single atom – but he does not object to this because all he asks for is a little innocent pleasure and private vice, every now and then.

And you would be wise to remember that all of this will not be brought upon you in the name of Communism. It will not be brought upon you in the name of Fascism. It will be brought upon you in the name of Capitalist Democracy.

Perhaps you are right, and have I not described the end of the world properly, and will it instead continue to last. But it will do so for no higher reason than the simple fact it happens to exist.

The Economics of Metapolitics

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Since the middle of the nineteenth century, much of the history of the Western world has revolved around the clash of different economic theories. First you had David Ricardo and Adam Smith who laid the groundwork for the principles of the Capitalistic system, meaning free enterprise and private ownership under the market-mechanism of supply and demand. Then you had Marx and Engels who declared that the a specter was haunting Europe; their Socialism was said to be a mixture of German philosophy, British economic thought and French spiritedness for revolution. The idea was that the Capitalist system in its desire for profit would create a hoard of unruly and deprived workers that would tear down the Capitalist rule. And then of course everything would be equally divided.

These two economic theories soon drew in all sorts of intellectual notions and thus developed into full-blown ideologies. Throughout the twentieth century the two schools fought each other all the time, resulting into the Russian Revolution, the Red Scare, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Due to the rise of nuclear weapons both sides became so powerful that the whole world would be destroyed if they openly fought, thus began the era of the Cold War. Oh yes, there were also Hitler and Mussolini and their economic systems, which seemed to do really well for a while, but nobody knew what those were really about. Thus they were regarded with suspicion by both of the Big Schools, and quickly disposed of, so that the conflict that really mattered could continue.

However it what soon revealed that people always work harder and more readily when they work on that which is their own, since they learn to love the very soil which yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of the good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. And in the Socialist system everything belonging to everyone and thus to no-one. Hence the end of the Socialist regimes, weathered down by the economic inertia of the masses and the strangling government bureaucracy. Francis Fukuyama wrote in The End of History that Western man had left the primitive Germanic quests for honour and glory behind him, and that all he really wanted now was to drink cola and eat fast food. And watch “beer-drinking-buddies sitcom style soaps”, as Brett Stevens might say.

1-0   for Freedom.

Or so we thought.

Let’s look closely; what happens under Capitalism? Do men learn to love the very stock certificates which yield cold cash, in response to the labor of someone else’s hands? For the original Humanist economists like Ricardo and Smith, the justification of private property had always been tied, at least as an ideal, to ownership and labour going conjoined. I mentioned that Capitalism and Socialism started out as economic theories, but quickly drew on all sorts of intellectual notions. This is why the majority of Americans think that a victory for Big Business, since it is a victory for Capitalism, is also a victory for Patriotism and Christianity. What people usually don’t take account of is that:

  1. The original economic philosophers of Capitalism saw labour as a self-elevating, maybe even ‘sacred’ activity that helped to develop a man into a more complete person, by honing his talents, crafts and skills. They never worshiped Capitalism as what it is today; reverence for supposedly ‘smart’ individuals, who got rich through playing around with stock-shares and currency speculation, who have never done an honest day’s work that produced something actually useful for someone.
  2. The idea was that one should earn good money for good quality work, meaning by producing something beautiful or functional to others. The founders of Capitalism didn’t envision Capitalism for what it is today; call-games on television, tricking people with fishy contracts. I’ll always remember the story of cousin Ricky (not my cousin though): His job was to call people up to remind them to pay. However he wasn’t to call at the last two months of the year. Since the contract said they had to pay one month at the time, except the last two months, these had to be paid simultaneously in November. If they failed or forgot to do so, they had to pay another year extra. The contract simply ‘hoped’ that people would forget this. Today, Capitalism is a system that destroys common human courtesy. And so much for Patriotism, because those men in Big Business really don’t care whether they’re working in the U.S.A.,Mexico or Thailand. They move their factories to where production and shipping costs are lowers.
  3. Usury – has nothing to do with hard labour. Borrow 100 dollars from a bank, and pay 120 back. The bank vouches for your 100, where do you get the other 20 from? From another guy. Now ask yourself how the other guy got his money to pay you. Hopefully you get it. If you do, ask yourself the question why monetary theory isn’t taught at school. I’ll lift a tip of the veil for you; your currency is confidence. And the stronger the threat of confiscation and being thrown on the streets, read; the more debt, the better, because you’ll produce goods and services by working. It’s not the money that the economy depends on. It’s on you providing goods and services. Because that’s what keeps people alive. Now you may understand why that debt counting billboard thing in Los Angeles keeps going up despite Obama’s promises that it will go down.

Does all of this mean that I worship some sort of anti-Capitalist ideology? No. I only follow whatever combines Truth with Power. I’m simply putting the objective facts before you on the table.

Economic Productivity is this:

  1. People who produce the needs of basic living to keep themselves alive.
  2. Have a group that is sufficiently large to provide the needs to sustain themselves. And then a bit extra.
  3. This ‘extra’ can be used to allow people to exist who exercise professions that enrich the general quality of life.

Globalist Economy is this:

  1. Have banks that people have confidence in.
  2. Let people spend money in the name of these banks, regardless of whether this money exists or not.
  3. Have an economy of people who are paid to do the administration of using this ‘money’ to attract the goods of life necessities from elsewhere. Hence, our economy has been almost completely severed from the actual requirements for sustaining a human life. Our economy has become a self-serving bureaucracy. The fact that it produces pointless administrative labour that doesn’t feed or clothe anyone is irrelevant – people are paid in wages of bank money. They can use this to buy the actual products they need from elsewhere. People who produce goods and services believe in the banks, and owe money to the banks. Thus they work.
  4. You probably do administration somewhere and lost touch with the thing your line of work is producing. If you could see what you had made from beginning to end, that it was a good quality product that would make someone’s life better, then perhaps you could have been proud of that product and of your job. You are a gear in some administrative system somewhere. You do what you’re told and don’t overstep your strictly delineated eligibility / authorization. You’re effectually interchangeable with a Russian bureaucrat stuffed away behind the Iron Curtain.
  5. Work is essentially organized occupational therapy. This can go on as long as (a) money can be rented out without limit, and (b) people who create the goods of basic life necessity accept the money. However the monetary system itself is flawed since there’s an infinitely greater amount of rent that must be paid over money than there is total money in the money pool.

It’s really this simple: A country can never go bankrupt if the basic life necessities of people are provided for. YOU can’t go bankrupt as long as you are capable of providing your own basic life necessities. Therefore I suggest you buy a piece of land and start an orchard. I’m serious though; you just keep your eyes fixed on that board in Los Angeles. The only way America can be saved is if this post is printed, put in an envelop and sent to the White House, so that Obama can read it in front of the cameras as his speech to the nation. (Except then this last sentence shouldn’t be read out loud – so that we can see if he reads his speeches first before he speaks them openly.)

I suggest that the economically unproductive are summoned from time to time to do labour, by herding animals, growing fruits and weaving cloth at special sites. They won’t be paid in money but they will be paid in the products produced in other of these sites. In exchange for growing fruits they’ll receive meat and clothing, for example, or other products if they choose so. This has the benefit that their existence can be provided for independently of the monetary economy. Therefore there will be a disentangled economy, so that the second half of the economy, the monetary part, can fall back upon the first part. You see, the second layer of the economy, what we’re all focused on right now, is all play (stock-shares, administration, internet-marketeering). The economy that provides for our lives is what should be any sane government’s top priority. Ask yourself the question: ‘How come that can exist at this very moment?’

Some have argued that the best system is a mixture of societal Darwinism, tribalism and monarchy, leaving the individual to succeed . . . AND to fail on their own abilities. However I fear that most people are too whimsical, whishy-washy and/or irrational to be truly left to themselves without direction given to their lives by others. Leaving them on their own might destroy the worth of life since it would probably lead even more of an MTV-society, which is really what we have right now regardless of all the government economic intervention and welfare programs.

People have not been instructed in Freedom – they have been taught entitlement which is something quite different. And with an MTV-society I mean people being only interested in one another in so far as they have happy clappy feelgood stories to offer that make teenage girls giggle. They feel lonely and miserable, because others wont listen to their inconvenient stories of pain or suffering, won’t help them out of their emotional isolation – but when others have a comparable problem they’re suddenly not home.

And whose fault is that? Ignorance is to blame. Lack of principles, lack of discipline, lack of reason. This really comes back to it that we are living in a service-industry driven economy, not production – almost no-one makes stuff. We only service others; we’re employed by banks and stores.

People could be great if they are taught the right ideas. The idea that their labour is something they can take pride in, if they do it good. But instead people see their labour only as something they do to get their next quick fix; some sort of consumption thing which leads to an empty and unfulfilling life. This unfulfilling life gives rise to triviality to fill this emptiness. This leads a cheap infotainment industry which drowns out any form of cultural greatness. So that man has nothing left to live up to, and thus he sinks into fatalism.

Recommended Reading