Category Archives: Society

Burn one with Elon

Ran across this:

https://www.space.com/41749-elon-musk-living-in-simulation-rogan-podcast.html

And had to chuckle. Elon Musk describes cannabis as “coffee in reverse,” which I thought insightful. I haven’t watched the 2.5 hour long video, but who would blame me? Sheesh, even with the 2x speed increase (I watch almost all youtube videos at at least 1.5x), this is too much. Ten, maybe twenty minutes to waste (spend) on entertainment like this. Hours? Hell no.

Anyway, Musk pontificates the notion that 1) we’re in a sim or 2) civilization will die. And I get his logic and it makes perfect sense. However, there is a third option 3) we are the first species to have gotten this far. We will be the ones to create the sims. [Sure there may be a 3.a) VERY few species get as far as we have.]

Would be a gas to sit around chatting, sipping whiskey and smokin’ a doobie with Elon.


Anti-trust: Bust ’em up, or?

Clearly Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and a few others are too big, too market expansive, too monopolistic. Apple less so, but the argument would still hold for them.

Those first three are market behemoths with the power and capital to quash any competition — primarily through acquisition. Don’t like that company competing with your searches, online shopping or online ad market? Buy them up.

That’s how monopolies become monopolies. Price fixing (like Apple and Uber) or price gouging, (like Amazon and Microsoft) which drives out competition (or shrinks the competition down so that they become easy acquisition targets), are all tactics to build monopolies.

The Big Three will get disassembled here in the next few years, no doubt about it. The DOJ, once the IBI* in Chief is out of the picture, will get back on track working for the U.S. Citizens.

But what about eliminating the problem created by such companies in the first place?

The below linked Senate Bill tries to do just that. But I wonder if there’s a simple rule that could be put in place that would kill the M&A practice like the evil corporate consolidation game that it is.

What if we use the market capitalization of any company as a filter to determine which companies can buy other companies?

Surely a $Trillion dollar company like Apple has so much cash they could buy nearly any other company they coveted. Apple Buys Uber and then becomes a massive captive distributed transportation monster. Obviously, we’d want to stop that.

So, at what size does a company become too big to allow it to swallow up competition (or expand sideways like Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods)?

Here’s a simple concept to limit monopolies:
A company that sits at the 90th percentile or higher of market capitalization as ranked on the S&P500 — is banned from ANY and ALL acquisitions.

Right now that would take the top 50 companies out of the possibility of buying other companies. Right now that’s a market cap of about $100B. As this is a percentage, it wouldn’t matter how big or small the actual market cap would be. A simple rule that would severely limit monopoly creation (It might be that the 80th percentile would be better, but you get the point.)

Here’s that senate bill:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1812/text?r=22

And here’s the list of FINDINGS that were listed in that bill:

(1) competitive markets are critical to ensuring opportunity for all people in the United States;

(2) when companies compete, businesses offer the highest quality and choice of goods for the lowest possible prices to consumers and other businesses;

(3) competition fosters small business growth, reduces economic inequality, and spurs innovation;

(4) concentration that leads to market power and anticompetitive conduct makes it more difficult for people in the United States to start their own businesses, depresses wages, and increases economic inequality;

(5) undue market concentration also contributes to the consolidation of political power, undermining the health of democracy in the United States;

(6) the anticompetitive effects of market power created by concentration include higher prices, lower quality, significantly less choice, reduced innovation, foreclosure of competitors, increased entry barriers, and monopsony power;

(7) monopsony power— (monopsony means only a single BUYER is available)

(A) allows a firm to force suppliers of goods or services to cut their prices to unreasonably low levels, resulting in reduced business opportunities for suppliers and reduced availability and quality of products and services for consumers; and

(B) can result in workers being forced to accept unreasonably low wages;

(8) horizontal consolidation, vertical consolidation, and conglomerate mergers all have potential to cause anticompetitive harm;

(9) unprecedented consolidation is reducing competition and threatens to place the American dream further out of reach for many consumers in the United States;

(10) since 2008, firms in the United States have engaged in over $10,000,000,000,000 in mergers and acquisitions;

(11) between 2010 and 2015, there was a 50-percent increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice;

* Incoherent Bloviating Imbecile

 


MTBF: Life

* Fermi Paradox topic alert

MTBF is a manufacturing term meaning Mean Time Between Failure. On average, what is the amount of time a product operates without failure.

In our analysis of the paucity of life in the universe, this concept — as applied to life — is less frequently addressed. But it’s critical to understanding why humanity is “probably” alone in the universe.

If you were an abiogenesis researcher trying to create life in the lab and one day you astound yourself and world by creating replicating, mutating life in a petri dish. You run out of the lab, shouting to your peers and head to the bar to celebrate. Meanwhile, Billy-the-janitor, runs across your ugly-smear of creation you left on the counter and tosses it in the trash headed to the incinerator. Poof. MTBF of your abiogenetically created life? About 24 hours.

As we investigate the probabilities of life in the universe, we must not only imagine the conditions that we believe are required for life to spawn spontaneously in the strange seas or tide pools of exotic planets, but we must include the MTBF of that life. If a comet smacks such a life-foundational planet every few months, wiping out Darwin’s crucible — over and over — that must be a part of our calculations.

If life gets started but the periods of prosperity are so short lived, despite the initial conditions that engendered such life, it doesn’t matter that such a place is ‘perfect’ to harbor life. A short MTBF will exclude it from our tally.

And it’s not just microbial life that we’re considering. MTBF of a society killing asteroid: 50 million years? MTBF of a super volcanoes: every 100,000 years? And my favorite the MTBF of a technologically advanced society, reliant on electricity coursing through wires, due to coronal mass ejection (CME): About 200 years.

There are dozens of other types of life erasers, each with its MTBF. Pockets of life must not only navigate such continuous disasters, but it must grow large enough so that as these calamities occur, the likelihood that any one catastrophe kills the entire genome of the planet (or the species) is reduced.

We look for the exo-conditions that we think are favorable to life. But we must remember to include the windows of opportunity life has, interstitially inserted between extinction events. What is humanity’s real MTBF?


Obesity: stocking up for the End

What if the current trend of obesity was preparation for the coming apocalypse?

When Anak Krakatoa blows its lid, kicking off another super volcano somewhere (there are a number of them). Or when the CME finally arrives (I’ve been waiting for years). Maybe it will be that elusive rogue asteroid that sneaks past observation (I’d mention alien invasion here, but aliens don’t exist). Whatever it might be, when the world system shuts down and collapses, people with a few extra pounds (or tens of pounds) may be fixed to survive longer than the fit-n-trim bunch.

That is the way humanity’s physiology is built — gorge in the late summer and fall, eat and gain weight for the coming winter and starvation period of spring. This epidemic of obesity spreading around the would, maybe it’s just preparation? A collective subconsciousness aware that the End is nigh. So pass the pizza and beer, I’m loading up for the Apocalypse.

(Of course, there’s the complication of Insulin being a short shelf-life drug that would cease production during the collapse… See: https://anonymole.com/2017/04/06/diabetics-and-the-apocalypse/)


Panem et circenses: 21st century style

Panem et circenses — bread and circuses — that’s what kind of world we live in today.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Apple, Amazon, Google, Alibaba, Tencent, and all the rest of the social/consumer apps and companies dedicated to feeding and filling the populace with useless, nutritionally empty, profoundly vacant nonsense — we deserve such inane creations.

We have returned to an era of bread and circuses.

While the planet’s ecosystems literally melt, burn, boil and die, we get fed a constant stream of vapid, utterly empty crap. CRAP! A billion+ humans creating media crap everyday to feed to each other, hoping their crap is better than his crap, than her drivel, than their banal, vomitous effluent.

That is our legacy. That is our heritage. Instead of lifting humanity into the transcendent elevations of kindness, forbearance, forgiveness and understanding we voted in a cadre of capitalistic masters. Today’s “corporations” gorge themselves on the monetary leakage of humanity’s insipid predilection for self-indulgence.

We deserve what we get. Which, in the end, will be destruction.

*** Peanuts, popcorn $15.00 a bag. Bagels $10. There’s an app for that! ***


Butterflies and SUVs

Feedback.

Chain reaction.

The Cascade Effect.

In all likelihood, humanity has triggered calamitous climate change. Calamitous for us and millions of species that enjoyed the Holocene as much as we did.

The concept that chemical, physical, environmental changes, seemingly small and isolated that may provide self-propagating feedback resulting in runaway change in systems attached to or surrounding the original event — has been known for decades if not centuries. Remove a single log from a beaver’s dam and watch the water boil through the gap, weakening the dam, flooding the downstream dams which in turn overrun their capacity causing them to weaken and the cascade begins and doesn’t end until all the dams are busted and the entire valley is flooded.

The flooding of our valley, our atmosphere, with greenhouse gasses has no doubt started and the feedback loop is swinging into full volume.

Drive your SUV, and like the butterfly’s wings across the ocean, you start the trend, you trip the wire, you trigger the unstoppable. And once begun, the storm will rage until exhausted. In the case of global warming and catastrophic climate change — that storm will rage for centuries.

The chain reaction of increased CO2 causing massive heat, releasing methane from clathrates in the worlds cold oceans, which add even more heat trapping that then melts the Greenland ice cap which floods the North Atlantic with fresh water choking the Atlantic Meridonial Overturning Circulation killing the Gulf Stream freezing Europe, which then triggers an exodus to the south, overwhelming the Middle East and North Africa, and so on and so forth.

These feedback loops are everywhere and entangled beyond comprehension. Increased rain fall in some places leeches nutrients and degrades CH4 uptake, reducing a forest’s ability to fix greenhouse gases. The death of coral reefs around the world caused by heat bleaching sterilizing the area starving the fish in the area forcing local fishermen out to hunt other species depleting those, which then triggers yet more feedback regarding ecosystem disruption. And yada yada yada.

Soon though, today perhaps (or maybe it was yesterday), the camel’s back will snap. When it does we won’t immediately know it. There may be a year or three before scientists collect the data and point their finger back into history and say that right there, August seventh, 2018 was the day the threshold was tipped and we reached the point of no return.

The wealthy know this. That’s why many of them enjoin experts to locate the most stable locales, least likely to experience social collapse caused by the fallout of the systematic alteration of climate. Fire, flood, drought, famine, storms, bitter cold, broiling heat — take them all and amplify each by 100%. Or maybe by 200% or more. If you want to survive the next 20-50 years (or have your children survive) the wealthy know that you must have a bug-out plan.

Where are you going to head when you know, in your heart of hearts, collapse is coming?

I’ve been watching this site for years: https://neptune.gsfc.nasa.gov/csb/index.php?section=234

ArcticIceExtent

And of course the Scripps CO2 site: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/

ScrippsC02Full

Such charts point to one and only one conclusion: catastrophic climate change is coming.

REF:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/06/domino-effect-of-climate-events-could-push-earth-into-a-hothouse-state


Complex entertainment

Consider the entertainment industry 100 years ago. Or 200. Or 2000.

Could you ever believe you might be satisfied with shadow puppets, Punch n’ Judy, traveling minstrels, oral stories in an amphitheater or around a campfire and maybe, if you’re lucky, a play or a view of the art of a city, the wealthy or a religious edifice?

Throw your 21st Century self back into antiquity and imagine how bored your mind would be after about a month of getting used to life then. Sure, your time would be taken up with ten times the survival activity you practice today. But if you were one of the leisure crowd, try and picture the limited mental stimulation you’d be exposed to.

Today that would be worth a few hours of “Oh, this looks interesting…” (Now, what’s next? Because — I’m bored to tears.)

In our era, we’ve got so much entertainment, arts, media, sociality that we have a hard time turning it off. The common mantra “unplug, disconnect, go outside and live a little” is to return to a time when humans had little to fill their intellectual minds. “Ah, no jingles, beeps and buzzes, aside from the insects. Tranquility.”

I wonder at this progression.

From the simplistic, 300 baud data input stream of the natural world to the flood of terabytes saturating our brain cells  — we adapt; humanity’s every growing capacity to embrace the complex.

In 100 years we’ve gone from, what today’s media moguls would call pathetic information and entertainment input streams to what can only be called total-sensory-overload. Yet we condition ourselves, brace for the onslaught and beg for more.

In 100 years from now, imagine the exabytes that will blanket our minds and drive our desire for more, faster, now — even higher.