Sunday, August 28, 2005

More misc clearing decks...

gotta keep doing this, in between more well-formed posts...

-More from my Great Big Stack of Miscellaneous Stuff...

From the Strategic News Service (a widely respected high tech business consultation newsline) the following disturbing item about the closing down of Enlightenment Openness, all over the world:

“Microsoft is already self-censoring its search engine in China, so that you cannot look for words like "freedom." They are no doubt taking a lesson from Rupert Murdoch, who once boasted that the free flow of information would bring down dictators around the world. After the Chinese banned his satellite dishes on the ground, he quickly caved in to government pressure and took the BBC off Chinese airwaves. (Ted Turner, founder of CNN, calls Rupert the "most dangerous man in the world.") In Russia, Putin has eliminated virtually every TV and newspaper not directly controlled by the government. Interestingly, they made some noise last week about letting Rupert come in, perhaps as a minority owner; clearly, they like owners who respect the boot.

“The U.S. media is now controlled by a handful of owners, most of whom seem to share the same agenda, and first on that agenda is "don't rock the boat."

(Pause: let me reiterate, this is from a major tech-business strategic consultation service that groups like Goldmann Sachs spend thousands to subscribe to. Clear evidence of the divide that I spoke of BETWEEN types of conservatives. The satiables and the fratboys.)

“The current administration has taken news and information control to heights (or depths) not seen since WWII. No one has accurately depicted the extent of Karl Rove's information control machine, but when they do, I assure you it will make Goebbels look amateurish. Putting fake-ID'd male prostitutes into the white house press corps to ask fawning questions, or restricting the president to speaking to military audiences, or to crowds who have individually signed party loyalty oaths, are ideas that never would have occurred in a free America. “

“But a funny thing happened on the way to global media consolidation and control: the Net showed up. At first, it was kind of cute and geeky and no threat to anyone. But now, the monopolists have lost control, in the U.S. and elsewhere, and things are getting interesting. The rollout of broadband is accelerating worldwide, the monopolists in the U.S. are scrambling to pressure the FCC (or anyone) to give them back total
(Net) media control in return for their investment, and ad money is moving online.

“Now for the economists' attention. Productivity is the key measure of economic performance. It literally drives everything else (GDP, unemployment, inflation - which is why Fireman Greenspan is so worried about the divergence in current productivity measurements). If information distribution can be efficient, and if this is the key to productivity, then IDE (information distribution efficiency) REALLY matters to those of us who place our faith in democracy and free markets.

“Rumsfeld doesn't care about efficiency when he blocks information about war results, because he has pre-selected the outcome he wants (blind public support), and achievement of that goal is all that matters - even if the process, and information flow, are completely inefficient. The same is true for Hu Jintao and Mr. Putin. They know what the political goals are, and don't care about efficiency.”

another item... a quiz...

Do the following statistics apply to members of the NBA or NFL? Or gangsta rappers?

36 have been accused of spousal abuse

7 have been arrested for fraud

19 have been accused of writing bad checks

117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

3 have done time for assault

71, repeat 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

14 have been arrested on drug-related charges

8 have been arrested for shoplifting

21 currently are defendants in lawsuits.

and 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year .

Can you guess which organization this is? Give up yet? It's the 535 members of the United States Congress. (And here’s another cool item. Quite a few of the worst of those listed were sanctimonious “House Prosecutors during the Clinton Impeachment!)

Oh, lest you think this an urban legend, I live in the district of Duke Cunnigham, who is retiring after blatantly taking bribes. The GOP congressman in the NEXT district was a well known CAR THIEF before winning the REpublican primary and thus getting set on a gravy train for life.

-another item...

I wish Stefan would post these things himself. This one he sent to me is simply incredible. Makes you laugh and cry. “Take a look at the picture accompanying this article. To be fair, I would like to know i) how many grizzled old vets were wearing these, and ii) whether they have left-ear models as well.:

- ... and taking a pause from politics in order to peer at a (vastly) more optimistic horizon...

On September 22, 2005, distinguished scientist and bestselling author Ray Kurzweil will publish The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. In his new book, Kurzweil opens a window into our [not too distant] future where we overcome aging, sickness, hunger and even death.

This follow-up to the bestselling The Age of Spiritual Machines is Kurzweil’s in-depth analysis of emerging technologies and the transformation we will undertake as humans and machines become one. With a 20 year track record for accurate predictions, Kurzweil unfolds his theory and ponders the social and philosophical consequences of these changes.

Of course any believer in CITOKATE will then go get Bill Joy’s The Future Doesn’t Need Us and Francis Fukayama’s Our Posthuman Future... which take the dismal antimodernist view. Do these other authors inadvertently illustrate Brin’s Irony? That the very criticism they manifest will help bring about Kurzweil’s optimistic tomorrow? (Via CITOKATE.)

Indeed, their critiques may be far more useful than Kurzweil’s ebullience, at helping bring about the very same transcendence that he wants... and that they fearfully despise!

==finally -- another political item...==

Borrow-and-Spend, Big-Government Republicans Dept.:

Fiscal year 2005 is just about over (it ends 9/30/05). Discretionary spending for FY2005 is now estimated at $962 billion. In 2001 it was $649 billion, for an average annual rate of growth of 10.3 percent during Bush's first four years. By comparison, during Clinton's eight years discretionary spending grew at an average annual growth rate of 2.4% (less than the growth rate of the economy -- hence, a decline in spending as a percentage of GDP every year).

My Republican friends warned me that if I voted for Al Gore in 2000, federal spending and pork and outright theft would go through the roof. They were right. I did... and it did.


I’ll stop here. Don’t get me started on the whole Sheehan thing. With hundreds of other grieving War Moms to have focused on, is it any wonder that Karl Rove got his media pals to zero cameras on the one from Planet Zeeenon? Yes, she has helped to mobilize those vehemently and unalloyedly opposed to the Iraq War. She has also motivated the other side. The chief losers have been us. Those who see nuance and want a pragmatically successful and effective Pax Americana. One that does not go charging off, squandering might and influence that we may need on another, rainy day.


Tony Fisk said...

Geez, you got cracking again this weekend! Oh well, my tailender to the last post can be found here.

The SNS don't mince their words, do they? Especially on Rove and his machinations. I hope the 'August Republicans' you've been appealing to of late get to read it.

Make sure they do. At least you *can* lead a horse to water...

On that chinese meme-blocker, I might add that Google has also applied a similar filter 'on request'. (Meanwhile, as we type, it flows up all around...). If anyone wants to be subversive, check out adopt a blogger

@Stefan, I would suggest that the device you refer us to could be applied to either ear if the wonders of double sided printing were invoked.
(PS: you need to get yourself a blog before you get hauled in for e-vagrancy! .. hmm, in light of what DB pointed out, that's not as funny as it might be)

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Dave didn't take a moment to note another bit of Brinnish prognostication (in Earth) close to coming horribly true.

It looks like there is an excellent chance that New Orleans will, by this time tomorrow, be a rather filthy lake.

By interesting coincidence, "Republican War on Science" author Chris Mooney described the scenario in an American Prospect article a few months back:

Anonymous said...


I might have the time to blog if my black beast of a dog learned to use the toilet.

Of course, the four miles a day I walk her keeps me trim and limber, so that on the day the Singularity comes I'll be able to run and catch a ride on the X-Ist Pleasure Saucers that take the chosen to paradise while everyone else is consumed by nanodisassemblers.


Tony Fisk said...

One further thing, did you manage to follow up my reference to corporate psychopaths? Definite match with those hard working boys and girls in the US congress!

@Stefan: personally, I'd just keep walking the dog!

Anonymous said...

"In Russia, Putin has eliminated virtually every TV and newspaper not directly controlled by the government."

He'll be out of office in 2008. That is, hopefully. Some people are thinking about amending the constitution to enable Putin to stay another term.

"It's the 535 members of the United States Congress."

LOL. And they *represent* the American People?

Anonymous said...

your information should be better checked. Snopes is a good place to look before passing urban legends around as fact.

Anonymous said...

Instant CITOKATE. Just add water.

Anonymous said...

Of course any believer in CITOKATE will then go get Bill Joy’s The Future Doesn’t Need Us and Francis Fukayama’s Our Posthuman Future... which take the dismal antimodernist view.

But the Fukuyama book is sooooo boring and dumb. It's just bad, sloppily done ethics.

It would be nice if someone smart would actually give a cogent argument against transhumanism. (Kass has come closest, but his stuff depends on all these assumptions about what nature/God intended humans to be like.)

I just hate having to look to idiots for my criticism.

Chris Arndt said...

Karl Rove runs "True Majority", "Code Pink" and "MoveOn.Org"?

too easy...

Rob Perkins said...

I fear y'all are giving Karl Rove far too much credit.

A Random thought on the Singularity: on the day the Singularity comes I'll be able to run and catch a ride on the X-Ist Pleasure Saucers that take the chosen to paradise while everyone else is consumed by nanodisassemblers.

Sounds like the Rapture to me....

Anonymous said...

It's near impossible to criticize transhumanism (really just another word for progress) without going into the metaphysical. But it should be easy enough to criticize transhumanism-without-modernism.

Anonymous said...

I'm just throwing an idea out here, since I have nowhere else to throw it out, and I have no idea what to do with it. If anybody can use it, or get it to somebody who could use it, or can blow gargantuan holes in the idea, I’m all for it.

There are, as I understand it, two main issues preventing the assembly of an orbiting solar array. They are repairing the thing, and getting it up there in the first place. Most of what I have read discusses sending up a very large single array, and all the problems that creates.

My idea: (which probably sixteen zillion other people have had before me, but I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere before)

Build mini-arrays, with a central collector. One solar panel, connected by a tether to a microwave emitter. I don’t know how feasible Brin’s “Tank Farm Dynamo” story was, but if there’s any truth to it, you could drop this puppy in low earth orbit, and it could maintain its own altitude with the electricity generated by the solar panel. Make ‘em cheap, make ‘em small. Drop TONS of them in LEO, if one fails, it just deorbits on its own, keeping space free of clutter. The panel collects solar energy, the emitter beams it back to a centralized collector, which then forwards all the juice to earth-bound collection stations. Every so often, you send up a cheap disposable rocket with a ton of these things on it to replace the ones that have deorbited, and voila - relatively cheap electricity from orbit.

Anonymous said...

I like the concept. I lack the science/math education to know if it would work, but the idea (fast, cheap, and easy) appeals to me. It reminds me of how the U.S. built the military for WW2: come up with a design that is 'good enough', then make them faster than the enemy can make the things needed to destroy them.
HawkerHurricane, SM1 USN (ret)