Sunday, December 25, 2011

Greetings Of The Season!

Thursday was the darkest day of the year. From now on, it only gets brighter. What a time for a holiday full of light! And the right time to put the seam between old year and new. A friend wished me happy holidays the other day, and I'll tell you what I told him: "Merry goddam Christmas!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More About Wisconsin


I hadn't considered what the flying saucers would do. But, I am expending considerable energy to trying to figure out what WE can do.  I think the answer must be in getting 3 Republicans to agree that the goals right now are addition to being necessary to move forward. Rewrite what collective bargaining means if ABSOLUTELY necessary but DON'T take away the VOICE. I keep trusting that people smarter than I who are also at the core of what's happening, are doing everything possible to resolve.  (The problem of course if that's what everybody is doing...waiting for someone else to find an answer (albeit, temporary)). may want to either remove Denny or change her address.  You probably know that she switched jobs.  Her email is now:  I wonder whether taking her off for at least a while would be the wiser choice.  Her job is a definite possible hit.  If Walker is spying and his layoffs strategic, she is vulnerable.  (God, are we back in the era of McCarthyism in Wisconsin?!)

Keep up the good fight.


Good tip about Denny. Spies. People like Walker and his benefactors have more in common with the Soviets than with the 19th century libertarians like our great grandfather that they pretend to be.

What I was getting at with the flying saucers was the notion that we need to cultivate a comprehensive, compassionate, and strategic point of view. I don't believe in flying saucers -- or the second coming for that matter. I do believe that somebody who's trying to eliminate collective bargaining has a larger agenda than saving money for his state.

But... I also believe that the ground troops among the tea party are correct, if only in believing that the American economy is screwed. If you're going to agitate for your right to collective bargaining, it's incumbent upon you to articulate a larger plan. Otherwise you're just the flip side of the idiots that elected Walker, and my state's legislative majority.

Those people who are supposed to be smarter than you and me seem to be playing their cards pretty close to their chests. I caught a PowerPoint presentation on energy a couple of weeks ago, and I facetiously asked the presenter whether or not our leaders know "all this stuff." Of course they do, but a) they don't want to scare us, b) our economy is so complex and interrelated that they don't know how to correct problems in one sector without throwing the whole thing into turmoil, and c) the inertia of interest and massive ignorance limits what a well intentioned politician or CEO can do -- maybe more than it does you and me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

An Exchange With My Sister


I think this site is very helpful (and somewhat addictive). There is so much going on here in Wisconsin, that it is hard to keep up.  I keep it open and find myself refreshing it regularly.
I suppose there's a parallel site here, but I haven't gone looking yet. Nice find, Bridgid!

The thing that impresses me about current Badger State (and Ohio) union busting is that the things that our side is trying to protect are just patches that sort of compensate for systemic inequity, while the other side is using Naomi Klein's shock-and-awe capitalism, selling a genuine crisis as justification for yanking the patches without mending the tears.

Feudal motherfuckers.

Speaking of which

The sound is a little muddy, so 

Nice way to summarize Tom (i.e., "selling a genuine crisis as justification for yanking the patches without mending the tears")!
Pretty amazing stuff going on in the Badger State right now.  This morning I felt the smallest of glimmers of concession in Walker's hard ball game.  (I'll have to talk to Denny and Colleen to see if they are feeling it. (Both are my "feet on the street" BEST sources because they both are experiencing the movement professionally and personally every day)).
I'm trying to figure out what the flying saucers would do -- you know, compassionate, all-knowing outsiders with incredible computers who can take in the entire system, and prescribe the shortest course toward every living human's having the means to survive and work meaningfully. We don't have that now, but cheap oil has made us complacent: about the starvation of remote people and the absurdity of our own well fed existences. Leaders like Walker -- but not necessarily every freshman Republican guv or cong -- are corrupt. The prank phone call should have sent any honest tea partier scrambling for the exit, but the tea partiers themselves only intuit the crisis, and don't understand it. They know trouble's brewing, but they're scared and, like the rest of us, can't help but think of it as a mere -- though dramatic -- disturbance within the context of "everything's okay, if only liberals/hippies/reds/blacks/foreigners/bleeding hearts/etc. would stop trying to manage the market and take more than their share."

These are the people at work who loan you a copy of Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese, and their own cheese is inexorably disappearing. The party's over, and they don't want to hear it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Growing The Global Economy

You know those big steel cargo containers that cross the sea on ships, and go inland on railroad flat cars? The started out going in the opposite direction, carrying ordnance and materiel for Americans fighting in Vietnam. The containers had to come back deadhead, so the owners searched for cargoes to bring east across the Pacific.

Meanwhile, the Cold War had created electronic technology that allowed immediate communication between Asia and America. Electronics also allowed automation. It became possible to manufacture tools toys and clothing anywhere in the world for consumption at home.

Labor was cheaper outside the industrially developed world.

Americans were looking for bargains as consumers and return on investment as investors (investment was how we planned on a graceful old age).

Consider this: Consumers insisted on bargains; sellers satisfied this desire by exporting manufacturing; consumers lost buying power, and needed bargains; sellers cut costs further, exporting more manufacturing, and demanding wage concessions; buyers needing more and greater bargains took their business away from smaller retailers, putting them out of business; sellers...

Positive feedback.

Positive Feedback: Don't Push This Button!

Hold the microphone up to the speaker. It will shriek. The mic has picked up the speakers hissing and crackling, and fed it back, picked that sound up and fed it back. It does this again and again, at nearly the speed of light, until the sound is unbearably loud and high-pitched.

You could make a thermostat that raised its setting every time the temperature reached the prior setting. Eventually your house would be a sauna.

Both of these are examples of positive feedback.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dodging The Carrying Capacity Bullet

In the early fifteenth century, the Chinese had larger, stronger boats than the Europeans did, propelled by oar and sail. They got out of the sea-going business as a cost-cutting measure about seventy years before Columbus' famous voyage. Since then -- and for the moment -- it's been a European planet.

Before the Renaissance (Columbus' time), plague had wiped out a large fraction of Europe's population. This deprived Europe of hands and minds, but also spared it mouths to feed. Colonization, beginning during the Renaissance,  enriched Europe more by giving it new new continents for excess population than as a source for gold. Europe dodged the carrying capacity bullet.

By the eighteenth century, timber was reduced enough in Europe to force a fuel conversion from charcoal to coal. In 1856, the world's first oil well began pumping near Titusville, Pennsylvania. Henry Ford began mass producing Model T automobiles in 1909, but World War II showed us what oil could really do.

The New World is settled and full. We've pumped half the oil, and it will keep getting harder and more expensive to pump what's left.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is Carrying Capacity

What is carrying capacity?

Carrying capacity is the environment's ability to provide for a population. Foxes need a certain population of rodents, whales need plankton.

Humans need...

It's interesting that primitive farmers could stay in the same place longer than hunter-gatherers, but degraded their territory more thoroughly. The farmers needed the materials and fuels for the technology they needed to farm, and because of the higher yields, there could be more of them, and all those hands were useful for farm chores.

21st century humans need...