Barnett has details.
Barnett has details.
James Fierce added me to his G+ circles yesterday. I kind of went on a rant about the latest outcropping of a diversity jones. Apparently some folks in Silicon Valley have got the fever for the flavor. Like CNN, they are running a special series on something to do with race.
In 2008 I won the Aaron Hawkins Award for best black blog. I am proud of that achievement. It was a recognition I didn't seek, and I got it for doing what it is I do without any conscious effort other than the standing commitment I have to be the best writer I can be, engaging subjects of interest to me here in the blogosphere.
I have been writing online since before the invention of the 'digital divide'. There are only a few black writers who have been as many places as I, for as long as I have been. Back in the 80s I was on bnet, the XeroxBlackNetwork, the Drum, SCAA (for whom I wrote the FAQ), SCAA-M. I have been at Compuserve, Prodigy, The Well, Meanderings, Electric Minds, cafelosnegroes, Salon, Cafe Utne (for whom I served as a Society proctor), Slate's Fray and the Mote, Brainstorms, and finally to Cobb, this blog now going on eight years. I have seen every flavor of race discussion and written about all the major controversies to the points of fulfillment, exasperation, and tedium. Furthermore, I have been featured on TV and radio. The only way you get to be better known than me as a black writer is to pursue that distinction with a vengeance as a livelihood. I would like to believe that I am as well known as I am, for what that's worth, because of quality, not because of marketing. I can't explain it more simply that this, I am a black American writer who is famous, not by design or effort, nor by accident or random chance. I am organic. It's all about the content.
I have resisted publicity and marketing for several reasons, the most important of which is that I cannot imagine a situation in which I could be positioned properly. That means I cannot imagine someone walking up to me, recognizing my work for what it is and giving me the >100k reasons per year my technical work gets for my attention. But even if that problem were solved, I think I already know the size and shape of the market that finds 'black American writer' appealing, and I'm convinced that it cannot afford me the sort of respect I would consider appropriate. Maybe Trey Ellis is doing OK. Maybe Ferai Chedeya is getting paid. I hear Zadie Smith is making out nicely and I can't imagine that Colson Whitehead is in exile anywhere outside of his own mind. Let them represent, and give a shout out to my boy Jimi Izrael.
Still, none of them does the tech hustle as I have done for the past 20 years, and I think only Farai among them understands online the way I do. I am a fairly serious online writer, and I have been invited on many occasions to interview with major newspapers. But I think inevitably, what I say and what I write is best done here on the blog, and unfortunately I have solved my curiosity around the racial subjects. So what I have to say, at the length I have to say it, in the long now's context about race is not going to sell a lot of soap. The market for solutions is small in comparison to the market for 'dialog'.
Nevertheless, like Black History Month or a bad penny, somebody's searchlight comes sweeping around periodically. The existentials of black this or that is always somewhat interesting. But it's interesting in a very predictable way. It's like Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. There's really only one thing that is compelling about sharks, that they are viscious, monomaniacal man-eaters. All the rest of the scientifically interesting knowledge about sharks is only compelling to the sort of geek who would apply to work at an aquarium. That doesn't bring out the Red One high definition cameras, the ad campaign or the masses. Yes, sharks eat people, but.. as soon as you say 'but', who cares?
So it is with the blackness thing. There are only a few compelling subjects within that oevre and the dudes at The Root are exploiting that to the fullest, as Ntozake Shange's character would say, assiduously without any further assistance from me. You could visit there if you like. The Root is today's black mass thing. Me, on the other hand, I'm a goddamned individual, and your preconceived notions about what growing up black in America must entail would suffer something of a bashing if you tried to apply them too closely. After all, even 'diversity' is a bucket. Sure you want to see Great Whites, Hammerheads, Threshers, Nurses, Tigers, and the occasional Whale Shark, but you still want to see them bite.
I have not figured out a way to get that Google Plus to be a target in my 'Share This Post' widget in Typepad. I would love to share what I write here at Cobb to specific circles. It would be a technical coup. And then people who add me to their circles would be able to read what I write. So there's my suggestion about how to get an award winning blogger of note into the orbit of people who don't know. Or are blogs just too ancient a technology to matter, because, you know I kinda started this thing called The Conservative Brotherhood, and...
Hey. Look me over. Tell me do you like what you see?
The difference between me, Prince and Steve Jobs is that those two care and I don't. I wouldn't write a song with a chorus 'Baby I'm A Star'. And I wouldn't pitch a hissy fit if somebody took my image out of my control. It turns out that there's a great line from De La Soul's 'Bitties in the BK Lounge' that says "I've got too much family to heed your threats". That says it all.
So when my existential partner Y asked me to write a few hundred on the subject in the Title field, I had to determine that I was going to do it as a favor and also because the chances of getting somebody like me to write is very slim - and people are going to assume too much about what I assume the others are going to write. But it's not because I particularly care about black images or what people are or are not doing to insure that there is some minimum level of black participation in this or that activity. That's so Bicentennial.
From where I sit, there are people who get it and there are those who don't. The 'it' to which I refer is the arc of computing and the imperatives of changing the way humanity communicates, creates and thinks digitally. That's what this revolution is about. I'm one of the people who get it, and that is because I have a great deal in common with hackers like Steve Wozniak. But it takes zillions of dollars to implement visions of what's been in the air since Vannevar Bush. Which is to say the 'it' is as easy to understand as 'Put a man on Mars' or 'Put a babelfish in my ear'. I think there are at least a million people like me in America (which I suppose would put me in the 1/3 of 1%), and on the whole we get paid very well to do honest work engineering the digital future step by incremental step. But we don't get the zillions. Then there are 'great men' as in 'great man theory' who by a combination of extraordinary circumstances (I'm thinking very much of Outliers) get to make a fortune or two along the way to that future, stacking up dollars from very pedestrian projects, like licensing email servers, or building yet another app to 'connect' you with your 'friends'. Some days I wish I was one of those who get paid to get it, but I threw my lot in with Xerox, and you know that story. Inevitably, somebody starts counting noses and bank accounts by race in order to confirm or dispute the orthodoxy about racial progress in America. Yes there is a digital divide. I just described it.
Maybe I should have said that I have more in common with Cliff Stoll or Dick Feynman. Or maybe like Tim Berners Lee or Torvalds in building Git, I'm trying not to bask in glory. Either way, I'm like the many more millions of Americans who dreamed about being an astronaut back in the days when nobody made snarky jokes about the Marlboro Man, and when Buddy Baker drove 200 miles per hour without an airbag. Like them, I find great satisfaction, in a job well done. I'm a builder and I like getting the details right.
When I started programming my version of Eliza in Basic, automated the high school elections and wrote a CB/Smokey & The Bandit Trucking simulator in Fortran IV all before my 17th birthday, nobody knew you could make money programming computers. There was no such thing as an undergraduate degree in computer science, and nobody was encouraged to play unless you were one of the kids in Seymour Papert's kindergarten. I was odd then; I also 'got it' the same way many of us 'got it'. But I didn't stand up and cheer for Giordi LaForge, and I never called Benjamin Cisko a role-model. All us computer geeks had an image problem, but there is no way to communicate through any sort of mass media what it is like to finally get that program to compile, or to get that database query running in 1/20th the time. You know what just happened a few weeks ago? I got the creator of Fortran Man to comment on my blog. That's exciting. I've been watching Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel for years. Nobody has ever done one on tape apes.
When you decide that you are who you are, it's nice to have a few people recognize you in truth. Even though none of us have been to Mars, I have no doubts in my mind that I am the man I was raised to be, and most of my modest ambitions have been fulfilled. In short, I don't see how I could possibly be angry that I am not some man that I am not - which is inevitably the kind of benchmark these racial nose counts end up counting. If racial equality means I have to be Larry Ellison, well you need to ask that question to Chuck Phillips, who - as black as he is, hasn't reached out to me or anybody I know.
I happen to think of the social web as an enforced ignorance of Dunbar's Number - except that it's monetized. Every day somebody is adding me on Google Plus or Twitter because I'm one degree of separation from certain individuals who have thousands of 'friends'. Hip hooray for those who have figured out how to monetize friendships - you will get the audience you deserve. As for me. Well, I actually do like to spend time with my family. And now I'm going to do just that. Here's the picture. Tell me that I'm wrong.
Yeah, I got root. But more importantly, I got roots.
Now I'm going to try to deal with the counterfactual which I would describe in the form of the following challenge. If someone were to offer me 2 million dollars to do a black startup, would I take the money? The answer is hell no, and the reason can be described in one word, Solyndra. I know how race works in this country, and I understand the presumptions about accepting money for trading in on you position in the race. You now have 2 million reasons to represent, and for me, that would become the biggest payday in my life. Eddie Murphy can afford to do that kind of clown movie, I cannot. I could never face my family saying I got paid for my looks and that's how I'm feeding you. Are you kidding me? And I know all the appropriate qualifications, but I couldn't stand the association or whiff of impropriety. To tell the truth, I couldn't even do it for black politics - and I was there.
Years ago, long before and during the great academic battle known to insiders as Bernal vs Lefkowitz, black American academics were rather open in their admission that there was a great project afoot. The project was historical revisionism, and as I gather its intent, the idea was to occupy higher chairs of academic authority much the way that a prior (actually the same) generation occupied campuses during the 60s.
The slogan of the movement was "Only when lions have historians - will hunters cease being heroes." And so the project to turn 'Eurocentrism' on its head with some Afrocentrism began in earnest. This occurred somewhere around the mid-80s when it was no longer seen as particularly novel for there to be any black American college professors. It was just before the start of the Cosby Era when I, and thousands like me made our ethnic presence known, welcomed or not, into and beyond the mainstream of American culture. No longer was it just John Landis producing Michael Jackson, millions of Americans were recognizing black talent in just about every walk of life. I took all that for granted, never doubted that this was the proper America. It was progress, to be sure, but I was as convinced that such progress was inevitable as I was about the computer's growing role in society.
I paid close attention to the leonine historians, the growing acceptance of Multiculturalism and the extent to which black culture was indeed something unique or just a rhetorical figleaf for raw racial interests. There was a lot to sort out. Splitting the difference between race and culture for me was like the debate between nature and nurture in the realms of describing intelligence. And much of that went by the key term of essentialism. There was and remains a fundamental difficulty with Americans navigating these roads for any transcendant reason, and that is basically the answer to the question 'who do you think you're talking to?'. The leonine historians considered themselves speaking truth to power and often purposefully went into dialect to make their points. You could call them dog whistles or crypto. but usually the message fell into the old rhythms of race raising rhetoric - for, of and by black Americans. So long as there was more than one group supporting such matters, as eventually became the status quo for American Studies, nobody would look too closely at the essentialist contradiction at the heart of the matter.
There is no literature for me, there is only literature. There is the stuff that inspires and that which transcends, or maybe it's all just a bunch of words. No matter what the truth of humanity is, it cannot be easily reconciled to specific literature. Today, the matter is too dispersed. You cannot tell with any objective accuracy what literature people are using in their heads to get along in life. So what the purposes of literature are, is subjective, as is most critical evaluation of it. You know good literature when you see it, and so too you know what stinks. Is it just a matter of taste? I tend to believe so. Just as I don't believe that in history, the 'great man theory' applies. I don't believe that particular artifacts of literature make or break a cultural center of gravity. The allies won WW2, but it might have easily have been Patton, or Montgomery who carved up Italy from North Africa. It doesn't much matter which.
So when I think about what literature is 'necessary' for the advancement of ideas in support of a culture angled towards the politics of anti-discrimination, it doesn't much matter to me whether that literature is produced for a white American audience or a black American audience. From where I stand, it doesn't much matter if it's directed at Americans at all, living or dead. There is some essential truth that the literature must present and as far as I'm concerned it is either good literature or it is not.
It brings me to question the surviving purpose of the leonine historians. And that is because now I am a crafty older man, I'm interested in finding out how wars are survived. When human beings survive war, then that is a good thing. Does it matter if it's Patton or Montgomery who wins? Only symbolically for those of us who are merely instructed in the history, long after memory no longer serves.
Where I grew up, it didn't matter which side of the tracks you lived on, all the trains that passed through were slow. I never saw any train go more than 20 mph. I understood that they had fast ones in Japan and Europe, but I believed that perhaps the fastest train ever in America went maybe 50 or at best 60 miles per hour.
One day at lunch in 1989, I was working in the San Fernando Valley at Rockwell. Just like in 'Office Space', we went to one of those cheesy fern burger joints. This one was called Fuddruckers. Just as we were leaving to go back to the office, a freight train sped by. It made a horrific sound, louder than I'd ever heard any train, and it was going 70 miles an hour, for sure. I could not believe my ears or eyes. I was sure that it was just about to wreck. But it passed by without incident. For me it was a Black Swan moment.
Looking at the Union Pacific 844 rolling as fast as it does is only half as exciting as seeing the machinery pushing the drive wheels. These are called valve gear, and it turns out that there are more than a dozen designs of them.
I find it very difficult to believe that there are any kids in highschool today who will learn how to design, build, maintain or repair valve gear. The knowledge is being destroyed through neglect. More likely, they will grow up believing as I did, that steam technology was primitive and incapable of doing what is currently the engineering fashion.
But there it is. Coal fired speed and power. I understand the romance now - the connection to Jazz music. The inspiration of my grandfather's generation. I look back the Steam Age with awe and respect.
About four years ago, I had a belly laugh. It was the first time a candidate for president made me crack up. The moment belonged to Fred Thompson on the occasion of him putting his foot in the butt of Michael Moore on health care. It was practically Churchillian in flavor. Unfortunately Thompson had none of Churchill's luck or longevity and fell over.
It was not the first time I had marked my sentiments for the time when America would tire of slick politicians and think about somebody with a moustache. As sick as I get of dainty utopians and their manicured dreams, I knew some kind of catastrophe would be necessary for Americans to finally elect somebody with real working class credentials. When they elected Obama, I could only hope his disaster would show Americans finally to get rid of slick, fast-talking, Ivy League, pontificators. I want an America confident enough in itself to vote for a Mike Ditka instead of some Armani role-model. I want an American president who drinks Jack Daniels.
This is an advertisement that I thought I'd never see in my lifetime. Non-slick. Non-corny. Maybe America has learned its lesson. This will be a lightning strike across the land. I think it could very well make Herman Cain the inheritor of Sarah Palin's mob, and another little bit of my heart.
David Brooks. Him say
Obama faced a choice. Double down on conciliator mode or become a fighter. Think of the latter as the Bibi Netanyahu strategy: since I have no negotiating partner I’m going to come out swinging in a way that pleases my base.
If Obama were a Republican, he could win with this sort of strategy: Repeat your party’s most orthodox positions and then rip your opponent to shreds. Republicans can win a contest between an orthodox Republican and an orthodox Democrat because they have the trust in government issue on their side.
Democrats do not have that luxury. The party of government cannot win an orthodox vs. orthodox campaign when 15 percent of Americans trust government. It certainly can’t do it presiding over 9 percent unemployment. It’s suicide.
Yet this is the course the Obama campaign has chosen. He’s campaigning these days as the populist fighter, the scourge of the privileged class.
That makes him easy to beat, actually. Obama cannot win a second term on his record, and he can't win by promising to be a healer again. He needs a miracle, which could only be delivered by the continued abject poverty of spirit in the Republican candidates.
I think most people hate tax loopholes because companies figure out how to use them. But when it comes to tax loopholes for themselves... well.
The entire financial crisis can be considered as part of the result of giving one massive tax loophole to Americans. That would be the mortgage credit. Everybody knows that the financial crisis was initiated because of the failure of housing prices and the increased default rate among mortgage holders. But what got all of those people into the mortgage game in the first place. Well, we always talk about how greedy banks approved ninja loans and burdensome ARM rates. But part of that equation was the fact that all of the families in that game knows they get a huge income tax deduction on their house payment. It is the single largest income tax deduction American families get. Bigger than earned income, bigger than child deductions, and it is especially the case for those sub-prime lendees who spend more than the recommended 30% of their income on their mortgage (and mortgage insurance and all that).
People going out and getting mortgages is what the government is trying to make you do. That's why they give a tax break for you doing it.
Corporations who pay no tax are doing exactly what the government wants them to do. If you believe that what the government wants is good for society, then you should be happiest with those corporations that comply the most with government incentives.
When I think about Argument #2 it makes me think about why a flat tax would be very difficult to achieve. First of all, closing loopholes would remove the incentives that companies now have for their behavior. Secondly, it would cost the government power.
You see, when considering the difference between regulation and tax incentives, it is clear to me that tax incentives are easier to do. If you want a company to give public transportation discounts to their employees, you (the Governnment) could do it three ways.
If you did #3 that means you would have to setup a new agency or new function at a current agency, everywhere. You'd have to hire and train people, buy property or expand current facilities and run all that it takes to get new bus and train passes to millions of Americans.
Or you could have America's companies do it for you.
If you go with #2, you'd have to provide some kind of enforcement and that means inspections and fines and bringing cases to court for violators. You'd get higher compliance for sure, but..
#3 is a win-win. Just change the tax code and let the facts be known. Already H&R Block and a boat load of tax attorneys everywhere are on retainer by companies everywhere to let them know all of the tax breaks they can get. The effect is that government subsidizes public transportation all the same just by giving up some tax revenues. Compliance is volunatary and the company bears the cost of training and distribution of all those free passes.
Now think of all of the government work in this vein that would get destroyed if you simplified the tax code in the way Herman Cain proposed. Who on Congress is going to give up the win-win way of getting what the government wants out of American business?
Adam Serwer is pulling a fast one. Beware.
Him say that Bork be opposing Civil Rights. Why? Because, according to Sewer, Bork says the Civil Rights law was 'unsurpassed ugliness'.
Here's what Bork actually said almost fifty years ago. Read it slowly.
“The principle of such legislation is that if I find your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about adopting my view of the situation, I am justified in having the state coerce you into more righteous paths. That is itself a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”
If you are any part of the American Right, then you know that the government is not the sole and ultimate guarantor of social justice. It is in fact, the people. Or as the Left likes to say, 'the community'. aka 'the 99%'. Why do the 99% need the state to coerce *themselves* into more righteous paths? It's a kind of throwaway assumption that everything, including the people, needs to be regulated.
Axiomatically, according to the old tired stale wrong Political Correctness, the people need to be regulated because they are White. But more importantly, if this statement by Bork is to be properly interpreted as Serwer does, then the implication is that Civil Rights legislation as it went to Congress was not about a true defense of the only rights we have, as Russell Kirk would inform us, but rather the legalized enforcement of a popular opinion of some moral dimension. That truly is ugly.
Joe Nocera adds balance.Why? Because Romney likes Bork. And for the record, I believed that Bork was railroaded as I saw it happen back in the day.
My cousin Star lives in a high rise apartment building in Manhattan. She's a commercial real estate broker, five foot ten and stunning. The first thing you notice when you walk into her pad is the large painting she made in the style of Basquiat, and secondly if the blinds aren't drawn, the New York skyline. I hung out with her for a week and learned a lot about her, and our family that I never knew. What I appreciate about her is that she is excruciatingly honest and not shy about anything. Of course she has a marvelous sense of taste and an engaging personality, but there are many things about us that are radically different. What I love about her is hard to define, but it's stronger than ever.
This essay is about identity and some of the ideas I will take when I start looking at the right way to implement identity management. So the first reference you might want to consider is The Last ID.
It took Star all of three days to get to the point at which she was comfortable enough with me to perform two very annoying acts. The first was to force me to watch Loose Change, the hiphop video / obiter dicta comspiracy tape about who was actually behind the 9/11 attacks on America. I didn't realize that my cousin was a Truther and it took many hours for me to discover this, as close as we are. All the while we were watching this video that she had obviously not watched herself in many years, she kept voicing impatient concern that this might not be the proper version of the documentary. So while she is fundamentally on the Truther side of the equation, perhaps what she recalls being more convinced by something other than the exhibit in question. The second annoying act was for her to read, given my birthdate, my full horoscope and assert with confidence that it was quite accurate. In fact it was.
I could go on about other evidence I have to support my prejudicial notions about the practicality of Star which is hindered by such poisonous superstition, but she's more than good people, she's family. And today, all of that evidence is none of your gluten-free business. In a town where advertisements for Moving & Storage have taglines (I am not making this up) "Rick Perry: That voice in your head is not God", she fits right in.
I don't fit right in anywhere. So when I think of social media, as I often do, and in response to many such questions I reply "I don't have any friends." So when I consider what's missing from social media and identity management it is the extent to which it does not identify the importance of certain of your traits with any bidirectional weight.
If I cared as much about 9/11 today as I did when I was reading 'The Man Who Warned America' or 'The Looming Tower', I would have found my sojourn in NYC unbearable. As it stood, as I was referencing my iPad during the movie, I had a hard time recalling the name of that first book. If I had known somebody who died there that day, as Star did, the significance of the 'Truth' would be greater to me. So how could I adjust my affinity to such a 'friend' and still actually love her? It's easy to do in real life, but not done at all online. Star didn't even know what a Truther is, so it would not be something she would put in her profile for me to accept or reject in the first place.
The context for what I'm attempting to describe as an affinity system goes under the label 'WWID' for What Would I Do? And the first thing that I say about it is that it is a self-generated 'purity test' whose results you own and then selectively publish.
As oldheads on the internet know, one of the first viral documents was the Armory Purity Test. I took it about 22 years ago - that's an old document by internet standards. Well, it actually precedes the WWW; it was on USENET. (USENET seemed so huge back in the day). So if you bother to take the test, you will recognize peculiarities about the set of questions. But what if everybody were the author and everybody were the test takers and all of the results could be stored in a document under your control? This would be the beginning of WWID, except of course that there would be literally hundreds of such tests and many thousands of questions brought to bear. One could imagine, based upon the matter of 9/11 one such test with 500 questions.
I propose a system of such generalizable tests with each individual question indexed and tagged and then correlated into bunches. These bunches over time may vary but the more popular questions will tend to be central in them. People will then take these bunches of tests at their leisure, answering one or some fraction of all of the questions and have their answers under their secure control. Then for the purposes of affinity, the user of the system may publish results under an anonymous avatar linked to their Last ID in order to make matches.
Tests may be generated for any purpose. They may be job appliations, consumer preference surveys, political push tests, religious fidelity tests, entrance exams, special knowledge competency tests, psychological profiles, intelligence tests or medical diagnostics. Anywhere there is a question with an answer that in some way can be used to identify some personal trait of an individual, this system can be employed.
I am not your friend. But there is probably some subject upon which we could communicate a great deal for a couple of hours. I am trying to avoid short painful conversations, and engage long fruitful discussions. This tool would help a great deal more than Meetup + Facebook.
I have been thinking about how awful I would be to the hippies of OWS. But then I would only be throwing rotten tomatoes. They like vegetables, right?
Of course everybody who is 'occupied' is not a hippy. But I cannot seem to get out of a particular bubble. I think my G+ account has been spammed to that crowd. I know, unsubscribe. But I need to know what everybody thinks. Nevertheless, I've been thinking about the nature of this protest and comparing it to the LA Riots, where people were ready to burn down buildings. Well, actually they did burn down buildings. That's the level of street action that gets results. Militancy.
So now the Kadaffi is dead, it's probably a good time to take inventory and compare America to the Middle East.
Iraq: Saddam: Dead
Libya: Kadaffi: Dead
Egypt: Mubarak: Deposed
Yemen: Saleh: On the ropes.
Pakistan: lots of dead ex-leaders
In good old Washington DC, Barney Frank is still chilling, and journalists like Wolf Blitzer are looking mighty fine in their silk suits.
The Tea Party has been shown up a little bit. But their ruckus has been a bit more long in the tooth than the new OWS peasants. My favorite stories from OWS ground zeroes reveals that my cynicism has gotten the better of my skepticism. In one, some dude with felony warrants was hanging out in a tent at Z. Park because he knew he could score drugs and get free food. In another, some poor fool woman who thought she could just go out and sleep in the same tent with a stranger was sexually assaulted.
Tangentially, there's a big CNN story about how many Americans end up behind bars in the Prison Industrial Complex. There's a reason for that: we have lower tolerance for people who have felony warrants and sexual assault. In other countries, those people are free to roam the streets.
So I continue to compare OWS to football. Football is still producing more concussions and injuries. Football is still getting more people to yell and shout in a community. Football is still producing more concrete winners and losers that people can objectively track on a weekly basis.
I hear that the movement is planning a bank run on BAC. That is really interesting. I wanna see how well they do. I heard from Rick Santelli recently because I was on East Coast time. But I don't have time for his pith. That's a long show - too long to record and watch.
Now, let's use one more simple analogy. This from Lingales. All of the dicey CDOs, swaps etc were all hedged risk. In short, they were nothing more or less than insurance policies against mortgage defaults. The net effect was some four fools bought four separate insurance policies on the same house. When the 6% f America's houses burned down (against all the odds and anybody's best guess) all of those policies could not possibly pay off. So the all of the insurers were headed for certain failure. Except that 'we' wouldn't let them fail, because, analogously speaking, we would have no more such thing as fire insurance. And we couldn't have that, now could we?
What we have essentially done now, is to use the 'full faith and credit of the USA' aka Treasury Bonds to use instead of fire insurance, and given the all those insurers a bailout via low interest rates and cash until they get on their feet. But the cost of all those insurance payouts have now been transferred from Wall Street to the US Treasury (meaning you Mr. Taxpayer) - mind you without much work being really done on making any houses more fireproof.
So all of these corruptions the OWS crowd will inevitably find are just kids playing with matches. The larger problem remains unsolved. Which is how do you stop from over-insuring against 'fire' i.e. financial failure?The problem isn't that capitalism is broken. The problem is psychologically, we don't like the consequences of losing the wealth it produces. We like playing with fire. We just don't like getting burned. Nobody does. So we keep insuring against getting burned.
The problem is that you can't. Because this is America, and most Americans believe they can guarantee anything. That's why Obama was elected because he promised he could guarantee healthcare insurance for everyone. And this is the fundamental problem.
Everybody in OWS is suffering from the exact same illusion that caused the problem in the first place. They believe in guarantees. They believe that all you have to do is find the right sucker (or class of taxpayers, or government agency, or Wall Street company, or Buffet-like billionaire) who will pay a little bit more for the guarantee.
It is not the desire for security that causes our ruin, it is the implacable demand for it.
Listen to the rhetoric and you will see the fragile state of the American soul. We demand infinite recourse against all slights and offenses. Against fat in the food at McDonalds. Against incompetence in the teachers in free public schools. Against offensive remarks and jokes. Against the very presence of unwanted people from undesireable countries. Against unbelievers. Against believers. Against the possibility of dying of cancer. Against the belly fat you get from AIDS medication. We have become a nation of infants with zero tolerance for pain. So somebody has got to pay.
Today is a good day to be a grifter. That is because all the yellers and screamers want to hear is how somebody screwed up and made their life miserable. All a grifter has to do is agree and sell them an insurance policy against that somebody, write up some legal fine print that says 'you take your chances' and voila - there's an app for that.
I have discovered something about myself. I have a great deal more patience with controversy than the average bear. And what I've been finding, which might not be such a good thing, is that most people's conversations don't go on long enough for me.
When I had dinner with my cousin several weeks ago, it was the first time in quite a while that I'd been around people talking at length about something other than the computer industry. That's because most of the people there were educators talking about the education industry. But something annoyed me about the brevity of the other subjects discussed that I largely attributed to the relative youth of the folks in attendence. But now I have come to believe that it is nothing of the sort. I just am not satisfied with the amount of detail...
This evening, hanging out with another cousin rather confirmed it for me, as well as hanging out with my boss. I am an utter and total bore. I retain the capacity to discuss a topic into the ground, abstracting from stuff I read too much of.
It's a rather surprising discovery because it means I'm much more like my own father than I'm willing to admit.
I'm right here in New York and I hear the noise at about.. hmm 6:30pm or thereabouts. The rest of the day, there was no distraction. I fact, when I went out around 3pm for my Red Bull, I was expecting something completely different than what I actually saw, which was a farmer's market.
So there were two Wall Streets today. I'm confident that the bright sunny day was enjoyed by more folks than bothered to 'Occupy'. But, you can't deny the noise.
All my life until this moment, I thought this song was first and only recorded by Earth Wind and Fire.
#NowPlaying Milton Nascimento – Ponta De Areia on @Spotify
#NowPlaying Wayne Shorter – Ponta De Areia on @Spotify
#NowPlaying The Whiffenpoofs – Ponta de Areia on @Spotify
Since 1991, I've had a policy for dealing with the dead. It is simple and effective. It is to carry on the legacy of the dead by incorporating aspects of their lives into one's own. It has always worked for me, and it has always seemed appropriate advice for others. Today I have many dead to think about some whom I knew, others whom I mostly did not. These deaths remind me, not of my own mortality, but of my own responsibility to live.
Steve Jobs came close to being my boss, and I came close to being someone a lot wealthier. You see, I received the news second hand when Jobs cursed out my actual boss, telling him that he would bury him. The controversy was about the fate of the Xerox Systems Group and my boss was Bob Adams. I was the sysadmin for what used to be the largest LAN in the world at the company that invented Ethernet. I didn't beleive that Jobs could do it. I was wrong.
Fred Shuttlesworth stood for his rights and suffered for it, but survived to have them all. He was a small man with a big mouth.
Black Cherry was the closest my family had to having a dog. It was a female who thought it was a male. We watched her put down at the end of suffering from cancer in the dusty basement of dear friends. Four score things were said about the life of a dog and you probably know them all.
I just had a bit of genius idea. I'll share it.
(I keep writing stuff on Google+ which swallows up my comments and gives me no way to search for them). I've been considering the similarities and differences between the Tea Partiers and the 99ers. I have less sympathy for the 99ers because they don't know their enemies and are even more incoherent than the Tea Party rabble. But within their ridiculously large scope of concerns are some legitimate ones about public bailouts.
In one of those discussions on G+, somebody mentioned the pain problem of golden parachutes, with which I actually have no beef. No corporation dispenses with all that moolah if it needs it. In other words, no board of directors worth beans would allow for a CEO or other exec to take shareholder money out of the corporation. But then you have to ask questions about shares...
What if corporations, in order to receive a lower tax bracket, were required to issue a certain fraction of their shares as voting shares? And what if these voting shares could not be proxied? That would mean that such corporations, in putting significant questions before the shareholders would have to hold the sort of elections that probably have not been possible. But we can certainly do that with our new technologies.
This would bridge the gap between the foolishness of these populist movements and the recklessness of the boards of directors by empowering shareholders.
I'm not sure that world needs more ballet dancers, but I'm more convinced that we don't need the sort we would get out of public schools. It is absolutely true that the architecture of public education is industrial but so are most of the jobs as 'jobs'. I mean if you want to get 'a job' then public education will get you that.
I'm not sure where he's going with all that. I mean lolcat pictures are creative and enormously popular. We're not missing out. Has there ever been a kind of music you wish you could hear but nobody was making and you couldn't get? Has there ever been a kind of recipe that you wished you could eat but nobody knew? Was there ever a sort of dance move you needed to see but nobody could perform? Exactly what kind of creativity are we lacking for? We obviously have the sort that imagines a planet without humans flourishing in 50 years. Do we need that sort?
I think that the lecturer imagines that human beings are infinite. We are not. Food still tastes good. Sex still feels good. Music still sounds good. Football is still good fun to watch. You don't have to experiment with all that - unless you're a wealthy jaded old fart bouncing around to international conferences telling jokes (about 7 year olds) to a bunch of other wealthy jaded old farts, and their bohemian spoiled children in their obscure fashions. Creativity is natural human expression. We get enough and don't need to be educated about how to be creative.
Art, on the other hand… well that's a different matter.
I've been annoyed by the flock of uninteresting people who have added me to their Google+ circles (probably under the caption of 'asshole') as I have made my snarky comments about 'OccupyWallStreet'. I have a message for them. The map is not the territory.
There may very well come a day this year when more people find a reason to get up, paint a sign, show up and yell in unison to the tune of marxist demonstration than to football games. I'm not particularly annoyed about the fascinating stupidity of football and the vast amounts of time and money the media spend covering it. So it follows that I shouldn't be annoyed by the much smaller crowds who are nowhere near as loud making their noise all over America. But there is something about the significance of people on the streets that cannot very well be ignored, despite the simple math and the apt comparison.
What one hopes, as one always should, is that these vagrant outraged citizens can find some way to organize their passions constructively and integrate that into the proper channels of power and influence. After all, getting rid of the Federal Reserve is not something anyone possesed of wit attempts at those buildings. They do have bollards and armed guards because that's where the money is. But I suspect there will be many foolish attempts which will make for a good highlight reel.
My liberal colleagues are always searching for 'teachable moments'. But why Ron Paul has come to hog some center of this attention demonstrates a defective syllabus. And I'm not too sanguine, given the sort of verbiage attaching itself in sympathy with this movement, that economic education is underway. But, that's what frenetic energy does. Maybe they will get some new and coherent candidates to pipe up.
In the meantime, they're just stinking up the joint, but that's what peasants do.
For reference from the Army Manual on Civil Disturbances:
1-32. A riot is one or more groups or individuals who are part of a larger crowd that involves threats of violence against persons or property. In some cases, a crowd will continue to gather until it evolves into a riot.
1-33. Riots vary considerably in both targets and players. A communal riot, for instance, deals with deep-seated ethnic, religious, and language differences. Commodity riots involve an attack on property by acts of vandalism, looting, and arson. Protest riots, such as the riot around the World Trade Organization (WTO) Assembly in Seattle, Washington (30 November 1999), illustrated individuals and groups aggressively and sometimes violently acting out or voicing their opposition to the assembly. The Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968 reflects a riot that directly targeted police and authority in general. Celebration riots occur across the US as a result of home team victories in sporting events, among other reasons. Celebrating crowds look to make the moment more memorable through raucous acts that demonstrate their joy or happiness, for example, the riots that took place in Chicago in 1992 as a result of the Chicago Bulls winning the National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship.
1-34. Commanders and leaders must be aware that highly organized groups of protesters and/or demonstrators have developed tactics to disrupt the control force. These crowd tactics were published in handbooks for communist organizers during the Cold War, and today the Internet contains sites that are devoted to sharing these tactics with the general public and various protest groups. Although these tactics are somewhat outdated, commanders and leaders must be aware of them and their potential consequences. Many of these groups, such as anarchists, often mock the tactics employed against large crowds; for example, they may identify the police as “Darth Vader Cops” when the control force response is in full riot control gear. Commanders must be aware that well-organized crowds may attempt to engage the control force, surround it, and overpower it by sheer numbers. To avoid this, commanders must do a detailed terrain analysis (intelligence preparation of the battlefield [IPB]) of the area to include all approach and exit routes in the area. The control force flanks have to be protected to avoid being enveloped by the mob. To avoid being enveloped, the on-site commander should keep the crowd at a comfortable distance from the control force formation, which is usually the lethal zone of his NL munitions. Establishing predetermined rally points for the control force is critical in the event that this type of tactic is used by the crowd.
After reading your Op-Ed column on Dr. Martin Luther King in the New York Times, I felt compelled to sit down and write you a letter. Since the conversation that I want to have with you is about public matters i.e. the fate of our nation and the Presidency of Barack Obama, I decided to make it an open letter and put it on the internet so everyone can see it. I feel it is my duty to respond to your column because you are such an influential public intellectual and moral scold people listen when you speak. Like E. F. Hutton on finance, you da man with many people on matters of morality and politics. Since I have publicly pledged to praise saints, celebrate heroes, unmask charlatans and chastise scoundrels I could not remain silent. You have all the trappings of intellectual and moral authority – Harvard education, PhD, author of influential texts, able orator, Princeton Professor of Religion – but the more I watch what you are doing with these powerful assets…I fear you are squandering them my brother, and you are in danger of hurting us all with your folly.
Apparently a black man was killed.
There was some purpose in his killing, and some people felt it was the right thing to do, and some other people felt it was a waste of a human life. I have no opinion on the matter because I haven't bothered to look. Nevertheless, the head of the NAACP as well as the editors at The Root felt that it was important to put themselves in his shoes - this dead black man named Troy Davis.
On the surface, which I'm fairly certain that some Cobblers will point out, this is nothing more than a lack of respect and attention paid to the fate of a fellow black American - a particular type of antipathy. Yes, it is. Everyone should know as a prima fascia matter that I have no instant nor global sympathy for people who share my phenotype. Rather, I have sympathy for people with whom I share values. I have no place for the use of race to indicate value, nor for calls for victimhood as a virtue.
So there's the deeper (but only one level) matter. Why should there be any coordinated effort to say "I am Troy Davis". The voice from The Root pretend to represent the voices of the black masses:
Our uneasiness about fairness in America helps explain why Troy Davis became such an obsession in the African-American community, to the bewilderment, if not outright annoyance, of some of our nonblack neighbors. As the hours ticked down, it seemed that all of black America was glued to their televisions, computers, mobile phones and iPads, as if watching a perverse 2011 version of a Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling bout.
I suspect that one of these days black Americans are going to treat Herman Cain the way they used to treat him before he became prominently known as a Republican, which is to say, a man of great accomplishments. That day may come soon. Witness the following from the Kwaku Network:
So while I'm on the subject, I should say that I like his Triple Nine tax plan.
Herman Cain is running for president. He’s not a career politician (in fact he has never held political office). He is known as a pizza guy, but there’s a lot more to him. He’s also a computer guy, a banker guy, radio guy, and a rocket scientist guy.
Here’s his bio:
• Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.
• Master’s degree in Computer Science.
• Mathematician for the Navy, where he worked on missile ballistics (making him a rocket scientist).
• Computer systems analyst for Coca-Cola.
• VP of Corporate Data Systems and Services for Pillsbury (this is the top of the ladder in the computer world, being in charge of information systems for a major corporation).
All achieved before reaching the age of 35. Since he reached the top of the information systems world, he changed careers!
• Business Manager. Took charge of Pillsbury’s 400 Burger King restaurants in the Philadelphia area, which were the company’s poorest performers in the country. Spent the first nine months learning the business from the ground up, cooking hamburger and yes, cleaning toilets. After three years he had turned them into the company’s best performers.
• Godfather’s Pizza CEO. Was asked by Pillsbury to take charge of their Godfather’s Pizza chain (which was on the verge of bankruptcy). He made it profitable in 14 months.
• In 1988 he led a buyout of the Godfather’s Pizza chain from Pillsbury. He was now the owner of a restaurant chain. Again he reached the top of the ladder of another industry.
• He was also chairman of the National Restaurant Association during this time. This is a group that interacts with government on behalf of the restaurant industry, and it gave him political experience from the non-politician side.
Having reached the top of a second industry, he changed careers again
• Adviser to the Federal Reserve System. Herman Cain went to work for the Federal Reserve Banking System advising them on how monetary policy changes would affect American businesses.
• Chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. He worked his way up to the chairmanship of a regional Federal Reserve bank. This is only one step below the chairmanship of the entire Federal Reserve System (the top banking position in the country). This position allowed him to see how monetary policy is made from the inside, and understand the political forces that impact the monetary system.
After reaching the top of the banking industry, he changed careers for a fourth time!
• Writer and public speaker. He then started to write and speak on leadership. His books include Speak as a Leader , CEO of Self , Leadership is Common Sense , and They Think You’re Stupid .
• Radio Host. Around 2007—after a remarkable 40 year career—he started hosting a radio show on WSB in Atlanta (the largest talk radio station in the country).
He did all this starting from rock bottom (his father was a chauffeur and his mother was a maid). When you add up his accomplishments in his life—including reaching the top of three unrelated industries: information systems, business management, and banking—Herman Cain may have the most impressive resume of anyone that has run for the presidency in the last half century.