Archives for category: The kind of world we are building for our children

We need to go forward.

Going back is not an option. If back were good enough, we wouldn’t have left it in the first place.

Many people believe we’re reliving the fall of Rome.
Contemporary with that fall was the advent of Christ’s teachings. The fact that, eventually, Christianity has altered his teachings to fit the needs of the christian hierarchy doesn’t demean any of what he taught us.

That people who treat each-other respectfully fare a lot better than those who allow the exploitation of the weak.

That people who live ‘together’ fare a lot better than those who keep forgetting that ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ are both relative and temporary.

That people who are convinced that ‘survival belongs to the fittest’ will eventually make place for those who understand that evolution is solely about the demise of the unfit.

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

How many times have these words been invoked? By people who use them to divide? To carve a follow-ship? A follow-ship for them to lead…

How many times have these words been invoked? By individuals cocky enough to pretend they are speaking for Christ? Cocky enough to pretend they are able to fill Christ’s shoes…

I sketched earlier a brief description of how we got here.

Now I’ll attempt to offer an ‘alternative’ understanding of inflation. Not what it is – we all know that, but what it does.
It will be a functionalist view of the matter. Evolutionary, even.
As in ‘why do we still have inflation’. Why inflation continues to ‘survive’.

For most of our history, economy had been about solving needs.
Regardless of the market being momentarily free or not, for things to go on a balance had to be struck.
Demand had to be balanced by supply. Hence ‘price’.

Demand was mostly driven by the number of people needing something while supply was driven by the available natural resources AND by our ability to transform those resources into actual commodities.
For example, the price of wheat was influenced by the number of people living in a certain area, by the amount of arable land AND by the agricultural technology used at any given time. OK, the weather also had an impact but it was mitigated by the technology.

‘But how about imports? After all, ‘international’ grain trade is three millennia old. Ancient Athenian ships had been distributing ‘Ukrainian’ wheat all around the Aegean sea since before the Trojan war…’

Yeah, and how about emigration… the Irish had gone to America to escape famine, didn’t they?
We’ll get there. ‘Baby steps’, otherwise we may trip!

When population increased, they tried to add more arable land. If they could. If not – and/or in parallel, they tried to increase yield.
But the process was not linear. They could not ‘fine tune’ the increase of yield – by either method, exactly to the population growth. Hence the variation of price. Hence the ‘secondary mitigation measures’ – import/export and emigration.

‘OK, I understand. But prices can go both ways. Up AND down! Inflation only goes up…’

You’re speaking about individual prices. Which, indeed, go both ways.
And, yes again, inflation goes – in medium to longer time frames, only up!

You see, we have ‘price adjustments’ and (compounded) inflation.

Price adjustment is the mechanism through which the market – free or otherwise, balances the market for individual ‘items’. Encourages the consumption of wheat when the price is low and encourages the farmers to plant more wheat when the prices are high. Same thing for, say, shoe-shinning!
Meanwhile, (compounded) inflation is the mechanism through which the market – again, free or otherwise, balances itself.

‘Huh?!?’
For example, if wheat becomes too expensive, consumers (and suppliers) might decide to replace it with something else. Rice. Or potatoes.
Or, when grain prices become prohibitively low, farmers might abandon their plows and buy, say, shoe-shining tools.

‘But if rice – or anything else – would yield a lot more than wheat per the available arable land, the over all prices for food – and everything else, should go down, right? Not up…’

Well… in a rational world… maybe. That’s another long discussion.
The short version being that we usually wait for too long before making the necessary changes. Which is not necessarily wrong but that’s yet another long discussion. Only hindsight is 20/20…

Let’s say it would be possible to grow wheat and rice on the same plot of land without making any technological adjustments. If the growers would know what kind of weather would come in the next season, they would be able to plant the right crop. But they don’t. And it takes time for people to grasp the weather patterns have changed – and adjust the pertinent technology. On top of that, adjusting technology requires money.
Investment. Fresh ‘inputs’.

And who would do such a thing – plowing money into the ground, literally – without expecting an increased return? Something ‘extra’ for their effort?

In economic terms, nobody invests their money in a deflationary environment.
Why would anybody do such a thing?
Buy now when waiting till ‘tomorrow’ would make it possible to buy more for the same money?!?

That’s why inflation goes up. Period.
Cause otherwise the whole economy would become obsolete. We’d all be waiting for ‘tomorrow’.

NB.
This was a gross ‘simplification’.
A bare sketch.
Even in a deflationary environment, some prices do go up. For years overall prices have gone down – because of our increased technological prowess – while housing, education, healthcare and insurance have become more and more expensive. ‘Tilting’ the whole market.
More about this in the next post on the subject.

2017

““How could you square that statement with legal abortion?” Durbin asked him. “Senator, as the book explains, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the book explains that,” Gorsuch replied.

“Do you accept that?” Durbin asked. “That’s the law of the land,” Gorsuch answered. “I accept the law of the land, senator, yes.””

2022

“In a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Sen. Collins expressed her dismay that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misrepresented their alleged respect for precedent and private conversations with her and in their confirmation hearings. “This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents,” she wrote.

Rolling Stone reported last month that Collins was deliberately manipulated by Trump officials into voting for Kavanaugh despite his judicial history indicating a liability to strike down Roe. The White House correctly predicted that as long as they “let the Susan Collins-es of the world think what they needed to think and hear what they needed to hear,” as one ex-official put it, the fence-sitters would fall in line and vote to confirm Trump’s nominee.”

2016

“My people are so smart — and you know what else they say about my people? The polls?” Trump asked a crowd at a Sioux Center, Iowa, rally Saturday. “I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that?”

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said, referring to the major street in New York City that cuts through Manhattan’s large commercial district. “It’s, like, incredible.”

2022

“In its first hearing, the Jan. 6 committee last week played a clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr testifying that he told former President Trump that claims the 2020 election was stolen were “bullshit.” In its second hearing, the committee on Monday played several additional minutes of Barr’s testimony, during which he described unsuccessful effort to convince Trump that the election was legitimate.”

“Barr met with Trump again on Dec. 14. “He went off on a monologue saying there was now definitive evidence of fraud through the Dominion machines,” Barr said of a Dec. 14 meeting with Trump, noting that he gave Barr a report he said proves that the election was stolen and that he would have a second term in office. Barr said the report looked “amateurish” with no real evidence to support its claims that voting machines were rigged. Barr said he was “demoralized” after looking at the report. “I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality,” Barr said.”

2022-06-24

“In voters, lack of expertise would be lamentable but perhaps not so worrisome if people had some sense of how imperfect their civic knowledge is. If they did, they could repair it. But the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests something different. It suggests that some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes. They fail to recognize those gaffes as missteps.”

“Again, the key to the Dunning-Kruger Effect is not that unknowledgeable voters are uninformed; it is that they are often misinformed—their heads filled with false data, facts and theories that can lead to misguided conclusions held with tenacious confidence and extreme partisanship, perhaps some that make them nod in agreement with Trump at his rallies.”

“….. himself also exemplifies this exact pattern, showing how the Dunning-Kruger Effect can lead to what seems an indomitable sense of certainty. All it takes is not knowing the point at which the proper application of a sensible idea turns into malpractice.”

These people no longer communicate.
As in no longer care to understand what the other has to say…
Mind you, not ‘agree with’, just understand. Just develop a ‘mere’ understanding of what the other feels/thinks/has to say about a subject.

The consequence?

Both sides have become so focused on contradicting each-other on no matter what subject that both of them have lost the ability/exercise to look for the real issue.

The Ukrainians have enough AK-47s. They don’t have any use for any AR-15s. What they need is howitzers. And HIMARSs!
As for the 2nd amendment…

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

Given the Ukrainian experience, should we read the 2nd Amendment in such a manner that ordinary people would be able to keep and bear howitzers? Or HIMARSs?

Or should we focus our attention on the notion of ‘a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State’…?
Meaning that without a well kept and well trained Army, the State, any state, would soon loose its sovereignty?

After all, the Ukrainians fight, together, against an invader. They cooperate in order to defend their State.
Meanwhile, many of those clamoring about the 2nd Amendment are more preoccupied about using their guns to defend their individual freedom against the State than about cooperating with their fellow citizens towards defending the State against any aggression.

Counter-protesters Kenya Stevens, left, of District Heights, Md., Steve Tidwell, of Arlington, Va., and a protester who asked not to be named, shout their support for gun rights across from a protest of gun control advocates next to Realco Gun Shop in District Heights, Md., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007. The protest of gun control advocates was part of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.’s National Day of Protest. The gun store, located very near the border with Washington, is a large source of guns used in crimes in the nation’s capital, according to District officials. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


In these circumstances, am I allowed to remind you that Putin – the guy who had initiated/ordered the invasion of Ukraine, is a “genius”?!? According to Trump…

Ever since Putin had ordered his army to invade Ukraine, I keep hearing about what drove Putin to do it.
About his dreams of rebuilding the old Russian Glory. About his drive to become the most important Russian personality. About NATO ‘pushing itself’ closer and closer to Russia’s borders. About…

The map above is the last argument I came by. And the last straw…
The person who posted the map doesn’t agree with Putin. Not at all.
But cannot ‘forget’ the fact that at one time Kiev did belong to Russia.

Well… I’ll be blunt about it!

This person, along with many others, tries to explain what is going on in a rational manner. They attempt to find an objective reason for a subjective decision.

Putin is flattening out Ukraine because he is afraid.

The Soviet Union had survived 1956 Hungary, 1968 Prague, and 1980 Solidarnosc. All of these ‘movements’ had been, somehow, quashed. Dealt with.

The Soviet Union had, finally, crumbled under its own weight after Afghanistan. After a people didn’t cave in. After a people, an entire people, found it in themselves how to resist. How to say no!

Putin had successfully quashed Yeltsin’s oligarchs, the Chechen rebellion, the first Orange revolution, dealt with Saakashvili, helped Lukashenko save his throne and put a lid upon the recent Kazahstani attempt at making a small step towards democracy.
And was contemplating the Western Europe planing to give up burning gas and oil.

‘His’ gas and oil…

He had to do something. Otherwise ‘his’ people were going to throw him out.

If Ukraine was allowed to continue on the self determination path, who was going to stop the Russians from following suit?

So yes, the circumstances described by that map are valid.
But it is Putin who bears the entire responsibility for what’s going on.
And for creating the circumstances in which ‘next’ is going to happen.

Can you imagine what’s going on in these children’s souls?

Chapter 1. Explaining prediction.

I’ve trained to be an engineer. And practiced being one.
Then I felt the need to understand. And studied sociology.
That’s how I learned, the hard way, the difference between ‘hard’ science and ‘soft’ science.
Between ‘bona fide’ science and ‘bogus’ science…

Those of us still convinced that soft science is bogus have yet to grasp the whole meaning of ‘science’.
A collection of ‘special’ data, a ‘special’ method of gathering data and a ‘special’ state of mind.

We all know what ‘scientific data’ and ‘scientific method’ mean.
But there is almost no talk about ‘scientific state of mind’.
Most people consider that ‘scientific thinking’ is solelly about applying the scientific method when dealing with the ‘reality’. With what happens ‘outside’ of us.
Outside of our individual consciences…

Historically, science – the concept of science, had sprung up in the minds of people concerned primarily with physics and chemistry.
Hence the subsidiary concept of ‘consistency’.
Data can be considered to be scientific only if it had been gathered in a ‘consistent’ manner.
If by applying the same method, in the same circumstances, the end results will be the same – regardless of who had happened to be at the helm of the experiment.
And a method can be considered to be scientific only if it produces the same data whenever it is applyed, in the same circumstances, by no matter whom.

I’m sure that, by now, at least some of you have figured out what I’m driving at.
The main difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science is, of course, related to the relative inconsistency of the data yielded by the ‘soft’ sciences. This being the reason for which some people cannot even accept the ‘scientific’ nature of the soft sciences…

Hence the need to discuss about the ‘scientific’ ‘state of mind’…
Let me start by pointing out the fact that we, people, are rationalizers.
We pretend to be rational, true, but in reality we are nothing but very astute rationalizers.
So astute that we are not even aware of the fact.
We are so convinced of our rational nature that we are fooling ourselves.

Please read about this subject by hitting the link below if you are not familiar with the concept of rationalization before proceeding.
https://cushmanlab.fas.harvard.edu/docs/rationalization_is_rational.pdf

Accepting that we are deep enough into rationalization that we need to pay special attention when trying to be objective is the first step towards attaining a scientific state of mind.
The second, and just as important, step being the respect we need to extend towards our peers. Towards our fellow experimenters.

Changing tack – and approaching ‘scientific state of mind’ from another angle, I might try to describe it as a ‘work in progress’.
A never ending attempt at self improvement made by someone fully aware of the fact that they’ll never get there. Yet still striving towards that goal.
A never ending attempt made by somebody who knows they’ll never get ‘there’ yet they continue to encourage others to go further and further up that road.
A never ending attempt made by people who know they’ll never get there yet they respectfully help each-other towards their common goal.

And now, that I’ve done my best to explain what I mean by ‘scientific state of mind’ let me delve in the main subject.
The real difference between soft and hard science.

By their very nature, hard sciences are defined by the fact that an explanation constitutes a very good prediction.
If you are capable of explaining the Earth rotation around the Sun you are also able to compute where the Earth will be 10 seconds from now. As well as ten centuries from now…
If you are capable of explaining radio-activity you are also able to build an atomic bomb.
By understanding how DNA works we have been able to come up with a mRNA vaccine against the SarsCOV-2 virus.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

The problem with soft sciences being that in their case, explanations – no matter how precise, cannot predict much.
We know why a maniac behaves like one – because …, but we don’t know what a maniac will actually do. Nor when…
We know that a free market works better than a monopoly but we cannot agree upon how free a market should be. Nor can we agree upon what a ‘free market’ really looks like…
We know what will eventually happen to an empire – it will fall, because of ‘negative selection’, but we never know exactly when and how that will happen… nor what will occur between the establishment of the empire and its eventual demise.

Savvy?

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898, London); Cassandra in front of the burning city of Troy

“Oh God, please make it so that my prophecies won’t come to life!”
“I’m sorry Cassandra, that’s what I made Man for. Now, it’s Their job to heed to your warnings!”

“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”


He’s right, right?
A freshly minted golden coin feels differently between your fingers – teeth? – than a ‘note’, no matter how ‘crisp’.

Yes, but…

No buts. He’s right!

Yeah?!?
Then how about this guy?
Is he right too?

Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature – nature is always value-less – but has been given value at some time, as a present – and it was we who gave and bestowed it.

Well, from the rational point of view, yes!
But they cannot be both right! Not at the same time, anyway… Not in the same world!

OK. I gather you have heard about Solomon?

The wise king of Israel? Yes, I have.

And about the ‘split baby‘?

Yes, of course! What do you think I am? A savage?

What I think of you and what you are in reality are two different things.
But this is another kettle of fish.

A ‘different’ kettle of fish, you mean.

Have it your way. But you have to take into consideration that the kettle itself remains the same. Only the fish inside are different, one catch at a time. Even when the fish belong to the same species, are of the same size and you take the pain to add the same number of fish to the kettle.
Let’s go back to Solomon splitting babies.
The ‘official’ story, the one presently belonging to the “Hebrew lore” and “recorded at 1 Kings 3:16-18“, had been redacted. From what had actually happened:

As we all know, Solomon had many wives. An a few concubines. 700 and 300, respectively. In these circumstances, he rarely had a full night’s sleep. No wonder that whenever he had to make a judgment, specially early in the morning, he used to send for his trusted personal advisor.
When the two women, both pretending to be the mother of the disputed child, had come to seek justice before king Solomon, he was rather sleepy. But the faithful – and very discreet, ‘coach’ was there. As always.
The first woman was asked to tell her side of the story.
Solomon, at some point, waived his hand. ‘Enough, you seem convincing enough. Take your baby and scram’.
‘But sir, shouldn’t you also listen what the other woman has to say? Before deciding the fate of the poor baby?’ whispered the adviser in Solomon’s ear?
‘Wait. Come back, both of you! Now, the other one, what’s your story?’
‘….’
‘You’re also very convincing… you have the child…’
‘But sir, they cannot both be right! At the same time… There’s only one child…’
Solomon, suddenly awaken, turns back to face the counselor: ‘You are absolutely right too!’
And only then, after realizing that sometimes – when there’s only one child to be had, for example – two people cannot entertain two different opinions and be right at the same time, Solomon did put his mind to work. In earnest. And came up with his famous solution.
“Split the child!”

Same thing here. Both J.P. Morgan and Friedrich Nietzsche had been partially right.
There is a difference between ‘real’ – a.k.a. ‘golden’, and fiat money but the difference is made by us!

See, no need to split the child. Not this time, anyway.
But we have to keep in mind that, no matter what any of us thinks, for money to retain their value – no matter whether those money are ‘real’ or ‘fiat’, we need to be able to make good use of those money.

A heap of gold and a suitcase of dollars are equally useless if there’s nothing to be bought!

When will the internet make up its mind?!?

For reasons outside the scope of this post, some Japanese whiskys command ‘impressive’ sums of money.
This is a fact.

Another fact is that “Federal employees are not allowed to keep gifts from foreign governments as souvenirs or for their own personal use, unless their value is under $415. When foreign gifts exceed that threshold, staffers can accept them if their refusal “would likely cause offense or embarrassment or otherwise adversely affect the foreign relations of the United States,” but they’re considered the property of the federal government unless the State Department allows them to be sold, according to federal law.

Then why on Earth would anybody make such a gift to a ‘federal employee’?
Oh, to give something ‘trivial’ to such an ‘honorable character’ would diminish the stature of the giver…
Not to mention another fact! That it’s the receiver’s job to obey ‘their’ rules… the giver has nothing to do with what happens after the gift has changed hands…

And what else might become lost in the American bureaucratic maze?

Why do I waste my time with things like these?
Why do I waste your time with things like these?
Why does the US State Department waste its time reporting on things like these?

As former President Donald Trump wades into contested primaries across the country, he’s trying to exact revenge and remake the Republican Party in his image. In doing so, he has endorsed a series of candidates involved in allegations of wrongdoing, especially concerning their treatment of women.

That’s contributing to anxiety among some Republicans who worry that Trump is lending his powerful political backing only to those who flatter his ego. Such candidates may be able to win GOP primaries in which the party’s Trump-supporting base dominates, only to struggle in the general election.

And with control of Congress hinging on just a few seats, such missteps could be costly.

“There is no vetting process — at least not on policy and electability,” said Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor and Trump supporter who said the concerns extend to many corners of the party. “The endorsement process comes down to how much a candidate supports the former president and is willing to have the Trump machine run their campaign and fundraising. … Whether they are the most viable candidate in a given race is secondary.”

What are some of the Republicans concerned about? Whether the candidates backed by Trump will be elected?!?

Is anybody concerned whether they will be able to do something, anything, for the United States?
As a whole?

Whether they, any of them, will be a true asset?
Rather than make expensive bottles of alien whisky ‘disappear’?

https://www.gearpatrol.com/food/drinks/a33806261/yamazaki-55-year-old-most-expensive-japanese-whisky-auction/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/08/04/missing-5800-bottle-of-japanese-whiskey-given-to-trump-administration-has-state-dept-on-the-rocks/
https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-entertainment-congress-senate-elections-general-elections-ea0839430fc28a6b08227223c0b4e045

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