Archives for category: man as a measure for all things

I’ve been an avid reader all my life.

Libraries, book shops – new and second hand, used to be my home away from home.

Communism crumbling under it’s own weight in my home country, Romania, widened even more my already special relationship with the written word.
Books nobody would even had dared to dream about got translated into Romanian.
Or even got imported in original.

As borders became more and more open, I’ve also ‘imported’ some myself.

The honeymoon lasted for a while.
Only at some point I was no longer ‘comfortable’ in most bookshops. If anything, there was ‘too much of it’. Too much of the good stuff, to much ‘noise’… Not enough time to read everything I would have liked to… so I gave up.
I gave up compulsively visiting book shops, not reading…

Then, in 2007, something happened.
Anthony Frost English Bookshop” happened.

A real place hosting literature, arts, non-fiction and comic books from all around the world.

The really special thing about it?
There was no ‘noise’ in there!
None of the books I’d found on its shelves ever seemed ‘out of place’. Most of them, of course, were of little – if any at all, interest for me. Yet they seemed worthwhile, if you understand what I mean.

The good thing lasted for almost 10 years.

At some point I found a ‘closing soon’ placard hanging on the door.
I didn’t even enter that day. Too sad.

I can’t say I’d given up visiting book shops.
Only that I had stopped doing it with gusto.
And, certainly, that I had given up perusing book store shelves.

I’d started to rely of friends ‘telling’ me what to read.
Real life friends, Facebook friends… you name it.

And I continued to do it.
Only my scope had become nearer and nearer.
Without even realizing what was going on….

Until a good friend of mine – a real life friend, told me – on Facebook, that Anthony Frost was alive and kicking!

Hiding behind a different name, a few hundreds meters from the old place, but the very same thing.
A rather small location full to the brink with the good stuff!

Visiting it, and perusing its shelves, I realized – with a shudder, that my intellectual bubble had shrunk.
Became ‘deeper’ – debatable, but certainly narrower!

Go find your own books!

Anthony Frost, in Bucharest, is a good place to start!
Or to rekindle your love affair with the printed word.

“The Texas educational system inundates the children with the almost mythical stories of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and other Texan heroes. This perpetuates the feeling that Texans are superior to others. Social Identity Theory claims that in-group biases are a direct need to feel superior to another group. By reinforcing such ideals of Texas history at an early age, they are indirectly making Texans feel superior to other states.”

Don’t mess with Texas, Justin R.Erenkranz, retrieved on February 18, 2021

In fact, Texans are so proud of their state, and so confident in themselves, that their power grid, run by ERCOT – Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has no connections linking it to the outside world.
Yes, your eyes are OK. Texas – most of it, anyway, cannot import electric energy. No matter what!

For those who know anything about power management, this is insane.
For the rest of the people, this sounds like gibberish.

Who cares where the power comes from?!?

Until it stops coming… exactly when you need it most!

Texas produces and consumes more electricity than any other state, but it is the only state in the continental United States that runs a stand-alone electricity grid, which was designed to keep the state’s energy system independent and isolated from other markets.

‘OK. But surely, there are also other systems which are independent. And isolated. What about Hawai’i? It’s too far away to connect itself with anybody else and it’s doing just fine.’

True enough. And I can name a few more, easily. Only most of them are independent because they are isolated, not by design.
And, exactly because they are isolated, they are run with utmost care. More precautions are taken than in ‘normal’ situations.

‘Precaution’ meaning, in this case, spare capacity.
The responsible people running those systems make sure that, when push comes to shove, somebody is there to deliver the goods. The megawatts of power.

Since 2010, ERCOT’s reserve margin – the buffer between what it can produce vs. forecasted demand – has dropped to about 10% from about 20%. This has put pressure on generators during electricity demand spikes, making the grid less flexible, NERC said.

NERC stands for North American Electric Reliability Corporation. Which corporation, in December 2020, had released “a long term reliability study” maintaining that “ERCOT’s market and system operations have been successful over the last several years even as demand has continued to rise in Texas“. It was the same study which had mentioned that the grid was becoming “less flexible“….

SEC Rule 156 requires mutual funds to tell investors not to base their expectations of future results on past performance before they invest.

Oops…

Reality is an Acquired Taste.

Past performance is not… John Brown, Forbes, 2016

Maybe we need to reconsider our infatuation with ‘just in time management’.
While ‘just in time management’ maximizes profits by streamlining inventory, it works its magic only when everything goes according to plan. And the stricter the streamlining, the harsher the consequences of anything not going according to plan!

As people in Texas have just learned.

And there’s something else which bothers me ever since I’ve started writing this post.
How much sense does it make to be able to pipe oil all the way down from Canada to the refineries lining the Gulf of Texas when you end up freezing to death because you don’t have enough electricity to operate those refineries?!?

And no, I’m not making fun of the ordinary people who suffer the consequences!
This being the moment when I feel the need to remind you that the author of this blog – that’s me, tries to asses the consequences of our limited consciousness. Of the fact that none of us knows much. And, furthermore, that very few of us admit that!
Which consequences might be – as too often are, tragic.

Specially when those who are not aware that their knowledge is limited happen to be invested with critical decision power.

“The popularity of authors like Deutsch, Sandbrook and Foote – men of very different calibre in many different ways, but all wordsmiths who form history into desirably unchallenging packages for certain kinds of audience – is undeniable. It points to a conclusion that the wider historical profession, from schoolteachers to internationally renowned critical scholars, struggles to overcome. People, and specially people from priviledged groups, do not want historians to tell them bad things about their tresured identities. They will, indeed, forcefully react against such challenges, when given the political rallying-calls that allow them to do so. In that sense, it must be said, they do not want history. They want what they are increasingly getting: a cosy blanket of half remembering and convenient forgetting that is cushioning their slide down the slope to full-blown cultural dementia.”

Cultural Dementia, David Andress, 2018

If you have the stomach for the whole of it…

You have to give this to the guy.

You really have to give it to him.
He was absolutelly right about his supporters being loyal.
‘No matter what’ kinda loyal…

“”Most Americans want neither inaction nor retribution,” McCarthy said, despite surveys showing a majority of the country in favor of impeaching and removing Trump from office. Most Republicans do not, however.
“They want durable, bipartisan justice. That path is still available, but is not the path we are on today. That doesn’t mean the president is free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
“These facts require immediate action from President Trump — accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure that President-Elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. And the president’s immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent. Unfortunately, that is not where we are today.””

““Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.”

As for the fact finding mission… I wonder!
Given the amount of loyalty extended to Trump by Kevin McCarthy, how many years might pass before the facts will be ‘found’?

5?!? And who would be fingered for ‘starting the whole thing’?

Where there’s a will there’s a way

According to the internet, this proverb is way older than the American Constitution.

Now, will ‘they’ find a constitutional way to set a precedent?
That a guy who had so horribly – and tragically, misused the sacred notion of “freedom of expression” has no place in such a powerful position?
Or, by failing to do so – for whatever reasons, will ‘they’ leave open the ‘opportunity’ for an even more callous ‘political animal’ to climb into the Oval Office?

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Abraham Lincoln, 1838

Being an engineer, I’m gonna present you with a more straight-forward version than the philosophical one.

For something to be real, it has to have consequences.

‘But…?!?’

No buts!
The only thing which classifies something as being real or not is our consciousness.
Without it, without our consciousness, the something we’re talking about now – reality itself, would cease to be ‘real’.
Without us pondering about it, ‘reality’ would continue to exist, of course! Only it would no longer bear a name… Without us being concerned enough about it, it would ‘disappear’ from our ‘radar’.

‘Yes, but … you just said that something becomes real as soon as it has consequences!
We encounter ‘real’ things in each and every moment of our existence.
We need air to breathe, water to drink… food to eat. And a solid earth to walk on…’

True enough. Only for all these things to become ‘real’, we first need to notice them!

See how ironic things are?
In retrospect, electrons are real. Despite the fact that none of us can actually see them. Or otherwise ‘feel’ them. In any way, shape or form!
But until we had gathered enough evidence about their existence…

And now, that our discussion has reached this subject – evidence, I feel the need to mention the fact that Earth is not yet round ‘enough’. That there still are some people actually believing in the notion of the Flat Earth.

‘Are you implying that the Earth might be Flat?!?’

Excellent question, thank you very much!
(If I may say something like that myself. Please excuse my boastfulness!)

You see, we are dealing here with two things. Two very different things.

The roundness of the Earth. Which seems to be real.
The ‘Flat Earth’. Which is certainly real.

‘Now you’ve outdone yourself! For sure…’

I’m almost certain that you can hear me chuckle.

The roundness of the Earth belongs to the realm of science. Which is ‘wrong by definition‘. At least according to Popper… In the sense that the Earth will continue to remain round only till somebody will prove it to be different. Which had happened already… In ‘reality’, the Earth resembles a potato more than anything else!
On the famous ‘other side’, the ‘Flat Earth Theory’ belongs to the realm of belief. Which is also real. Not in the ‘direct’ sense – a concept which describes a real ‘reality’, only in the sense that it has certain consequences.

‘The Flat Earth has consequences?!? You admit that the concept – ‘the Flat Earth’, describes something which doesn’t exist yet you pretend that it has consequences?’

Yep!

Can you deny the reality of this whole thing? Six hundred and twenty million hits? In less than point 8 seconds?
Can you pretend these are not ‘real consequences’? Can you imagine, for instance, how much energy is spent only to preserve this amount of raw information in the ‘cloud’. How much ‘space’? How much bandwidth is used to transport this ‘fake-ness’ across the ‘globe’!

‘And where does this whole thing lead us?
What about the Flat Earth?
Is it still a fake?’

Yeah.
I’m actually tempted to say ‘obviously’!
On the other hand… it’s hard to deny how ‘real’ the whole thing is…

Imagine an ‘outside observer’. From, say, Sirius.
Who had just arrived. Didn’t have enough time to become familiar with what’s going on here.

Thailand.
Ballots had been cast in November. A party had lost. And pretends, without proof, that the elections had been rigged.

“In his first public comments after the coup, Gen Hlaing sought to justify the takeover, saying the military was on the side of the people and would form a “true and disciplined democracy”.” GETTY IMAGES

When the parliament was about to be convened, and the electoral results formally confirmed, the backers of the loosing party – which had happened to be the army, declared martial law and annulled the electoral results. The leading general announced in public that the measure had been adopted in pursuit of a ‘real and disciplined democracy’.

The US.
Ballots had been cast in November. The looser pretended, without proof, that the elections had been rigged.

When the parliament was convened to certify the results, a mob had stormed the House of the Parliament, at the bidding of the loosing President. Order was finally restored and the dully elected President installed into office.

What would the ‘outside observer’ think about our planet? About us…

What if their job is to asses whether we should be allowed to roam the Galaxy?
To be entrusted with some very powerful technological ‘secrets’. Which would help us solve some of our very stringent problems. Feel free to name a few…

Cultural Dementia by David Andress

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One of those books which function as a magnifying mirror.
The older you get – and the more mistakes you’ve made, the less you like of what you see when facing it.



View all my reviews

Well… Money doesn’t get spoiled as easily as bananas do…

On further consideration, money can be understood as a tool with many uses.
Hoarding, for instance. Bananas, among other things …

And, as with all other tools, the responsibility for its use falls squarely on the user, not on on the tool itself.
Tinkering with the tool won’t change that, ever.

My point being that monkeys would also hoard bananas if bananas were hoard-able.
There’s nothing wrong with that. For as long as the hoard is meant to feed the hoarder till the next crop, of course.

Hoarding is bad only when done for its own sake.

And this is something for philosophers to study, not for scientists.
The teachings of the Chicago School of Economics had been very scientific yet following them was what brought us where we are now. Into a very uncomfortable cul-de-sac…

Blindly following them… mislead precisely because of their scientific nature!

I challenge you to try an experiment.
Click the illustration bellow, copy the link and post it to your favorite social media.
Then observe the likes you’ll get. I wasn’t surprised to notice that many people on the right side of the political divide were quite fond of it’s spirit…

‘Yeah, only MLK hadn’t been “formally affiliated with either political party“…”

Well… how about this one?

‘OK, and your point is…?’

That there’s not much real difference between the radicals. Between the radical members of both parties.
Both are so convinced that they ‘know better’ that neither have any qualms trying to impose their vision upon everybody else.
Both are so convinced that they are right that they ‘hate’ all other authority but their own. And they hate each-other’s guts… only that comes with the territory…

Let me start with the beginning.

I grew up under a communist regime. Drowning in propaganda. The education system was finely tuned to raise us, children, as ‘the New Man’. All cultural effort – culture was ‘sponsored’ by the communist state and heavily censored, was meant to achieve the same goal. Immediately after the communist regime had grabbed the absolute political power, the legislation had been altered to reflect the ‘new reality’. And then used to convince the people to change their behavior according to the new rules.
According to whatever the new masters had in mind …
So that they could control everything. That nobody else could have exerted any authority. That nobody else could have had any real influence over anything.

And, as you might know, the communist regime – most of them, anyway, had eventually crumbled. Under its own weight.

Which teaches us two things.

That whenever a system is run in an authoritarian manner, mistakes keep piling. One on top of the previous one. Constituting the dead-weight which will eventually sink the ship.
That no artificial ‘New Man’ will ever survive for long. Yes, you may ‘legislate behavior’ – even against the true wishes of the general population, only the ‘new’ arrangement will not last for long. For a ‘legislation’ to be able to survive for any substantial amount of time it has to reflect the ‘true heart’ of those called to put it into practice. To ‘follow the rules’. That you ‘can restrain the heartless’ but for only as long as the ‘heartless’ remain a small minority.

Want to ‘change’ something? Then open people’s eyes first. Only that way they’ll eventually open up their hearts.

‘What about the spat between AOC and Ted Cruise? Where’s the link between what happened with GameStop and MLK’s attempt to regulate behavior?’

Both AOC and Ted Cruise hate the fact that there are independent agents. Besides them, of course. That there still are people who call their own shots. Private companies they cannot control, media venues, independent authorities… The ‘AOC’-s and the ‘Ted Cruise’-s of this world hate each-others guts but have more or less the same convictions.

That they are right – and everybody else is wrong.
And that there must be a way!
That there must be a way, a ‘rational’ way, in which their righteousness may be imposed upon the rest of the world.

That ‘rational’ way implying two things.
Control over the ‘material’ resources and control over people’s minds.

That’s why the communists had ‘abolished’ private property. That’s why the (no longer free market) contemporary capitalists are OK with extreme wealth polarization. As long as they on the right side of the ‘in-equation’, of course…
That’s why education has become such a hot subject.
That’s why control over the legislative process has become so important.
Why controlling the markets – controlling them, not preserving their freedom, is paramount…

The only bright thing in this whole mess being that the two sides still hate each-other’s guts.
Which gives us some more lee-way.

Time to understand that for progress to be possible we need to take care of our roots. To ‘conserve’ them!
Time to remember that ‘pruning’ needs to be done carefully.

That we have to ‘cut’ only what’s ‘wrong’, not everything we don’t like.

How to tell those two apart?
‘Humility’ comes very handy in these moments….
Freedom isn’t for free. Nobody is free by itself, only together.
Those who really want to be free must start by respecting each-other.
That’s how mistakes are avoided. By asking for a second-opinion. By listening to what others have to say on the matter.
That’s how normalcy is being defined. And preserved.
How we learn what’s ‘wrong’. How to tell what works from what needs to be pruned.

I cannot wrap this up before giving you a fine example of how ‘propaganda’ works.
It starts with cutting up the truth. By actually pruning it to fit the purpose. Then let’s our already primed brains to do the rest.

See what I mean?

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