We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This "miracle material" is simply a one atom thick flake of graphite, but at this nanoscale, graphite takes on exciting properties. Graphene is the strongest material, 200 times stronger than steel, and it is incredibly conductive. It is also very thin. Three million sheets of graphene stacked is just one millimeter high. These properties make graphene highly suited for use in the manufacture of electronic devices
We used to think that information is power and that the personal computer enabled lives. But, according to Jaron Lanier, things changed about ten years ago. He cites Apple, Google, and Walmart as some of the reasons….
... "The Apple idea is that instead of the personal computer model where people own their own information, and everybody can be a creator as well as a consumer, we're moving towards this iPad, iPhone model where it's not as adequate for media creation as the real media creation tools, and even though you can become a seller over the network, you have to pass through Apple's gate to accept what you do, and your chances of doing well are very small, and it's not a person to person thing, it's a business through a hub, through Apple to others, and it doesn't create a middle class, it creates a new kind of upper class. ... Google has done something that might even be more destructive of the middle class, which is they've said, "Well, since Moore's law makes computation really cheap, let's just give away the computation, but keep the data." And that's a disaster….
... What Wal-Mart recognized is that information is power, and by using network information, you could consolidate extraordinary power, and so have information about what could be made where, when, what could be moved where, when, who would buy what, when for how much? By coalescing all of that, and reducing the unknowns, they were able to globalize their point of view so they were no longer a local player, but they essentially became their own market, and that's what information can do. The use of networks can turn you from a local player in a larger system into your own global system.
... It can become such a bizarre system. What you have now is a system in which the Internet user becomes the product that is being sold to others, and what the product is, is the ability to be manipulated. It's an anti-liberty system, and I know that the rhetoric around it is very contrary to that.
How will parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers' compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated.
Assembly Bill 889 (authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers.
The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature – and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor's desk.
Under AB 889, household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers' compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck….
Unfortunately, the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes. I can't help but wonder if that is the goal of AB 889 – a terrible bill that needs to be stopped.
If the President’s intention was to win veterans’ votes today in his speech to the American Legion Convention, he failed miserably if the opinions I asked for from attendees are at all representative of veterans who heard the speech. The most common response when I asked folks gathered around the ashtrays and in the hallways after the speech what they thought of it was “He said everything we wanted to hear” but they aren’t convinced that the rhetoric matches the President’s intent.
Local-Global flip - Now, who can argue with that? I think we're all indebted to Gabby Johnson, for clearly stating what needed to be said. I'm particularly glad that these lovely children are here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic late-modern gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.
Jaron Lanier: I find it interesting that high power intellects (and make no mistake, he is very smart) like Lanier seem to always dance around the problem they are trying to describe or work on. He sort of touches on the issue, but misses the mark because the real answer does not work within his world view.
What he's dancing around is the simple dynamic of complex systems. Lanier is looking at them as being discrete - meaning that these separate systems working within an over arching framework - think .dll in the Microsoft world.
What he fails to recognize is the simple premise that the more complex the system, the more prone it is to be manipulated at the component level thus producing random and completely unexpected results. He should recognize that aspect because that's exactly how computers and systems are "hacked" - they aren't attacking the overall system, but the component parts of the system.
With respect to the disappearing middle class he makes the same mistake that most left leaning futurist intellectuals make and that is the false (or negative) idea of empowerment. The concept that somehow the middle class can be saved by the trading of information as goods is as ridiculous as a talking fish. The whole point of having information is not to trade the information, but to hoard and use that information to manipulate the system such that you win (and those of your tribe you wish to win) and others lose - in short competition which those who lean left despise - or don't understand at the very human base level.
He does make one good point though and it describes the very core of the human being - the ability of the tribe to force conformity. His example of Burning Man is a perfect one - the very event that is supposedly about freedom of expession (art, language, material invention) is really more about conforming to the ideal of freedom of expression than the actual practice of it.
Lastely, and this is unusual for somebody like him, I don't think he places a lot of faith in the value of chaos or game/set theory. I've never met him, but I've always wanted to ask him that.
I've been waiting since 2004 for so-called "moderate Muslims" to emerge. Here in the West, Christians of various stripes feel free to criticize their Christian brethren at various times for their interpretation of Christianity. It's one of the ways we regulate ourselves in our views of Christianity. By that definition, I haven't seen any "Moderate Muslims" so far. Of course, maybe the 'moderate Muslims' fear, justifiably, that if they do speak up, the next time an extremist Muslim has a bad hair day, he'll try to get back in good with the strict interpretationists by offing a few lapsed Muslims. Even including his own female relatives. That seems to happen with fair frequency, here in Texas for instance. The Koran, after all, recognizes only two kinds of people, the Faithful, and the infidels, and adjures the Faithful, to kill the infidels whenever necessary.
This leads to a certain uneasiness among those of us who profess other religions, particularly if we are female infidels, who are viewed as utterly of no use to anyone.