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Atomized junior

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Before the election I read a short article a slight offhand piece which just didn't seem right. It was a link from twitter where despite my great effort to only follow the sensible, a riot of opinion reigns. When the election was over I re-read the piece: King Ludd is Still Dead - Kenneth Rogoff - Project Syndicate:. It still rankled like a mild affront.

The economist Kenneth Rogoff had become aware that the working class views automation of labor with degrees of anxiety and consternation. Even a fear of technological change. They, he is concerned, believe it will spawn mass unemployment and societal unrest.

Rogoff dismisses this as simple Luddism. Just so many excitable peasants with pitchforks and burning brands chasing a rattling Jacquard-card Frankenstein from our midst. Neoclassical economics, he states reassuringly, predicts this will not happen. People will eventually find jobs; albeit after a long painful period of adjustment. Further, history show us rising living standards and no trend of rising unemployment. This must be true I reflect. Neither Charles III or the Kaiser had an iPad or a galaxy iii whereas today some commoners have two. Unemployment generally when well behaved keeps itself within a standard deviation of the seven or eight percent point that keeps the rest of the workforce in line.

The current days are a period of accelerated technological change, Rogoff admits. Robots (automation) replacing labor. Not just manual labor mind you but the labors of the mind. Chess playing soft machines, he points out, have established themselves as masters of chess efficiency able to play more games faster than ordinary workers. Yet, more people are making a living playing chess than ever before. This is Rogoff's primary and puzzling pivot of the article. To throw this chess metaphor in and hang his hat on it. Even after Deep Blue proved machines (A/I) could play chess better than people, people still play. So clearly the robots haven't ruined chess. Ergo there is no pace of technological change humans can't adjust to.

So King Ludd is dead. Long live King Globalism. Born of the perfect storm of rapid technological change, the relentless search for low wage populations, and the financial sectors il-tamed capture of the world economy. In this world the individual worker is not player as much as piece. Mere rank and file, not even passed pawns with some road clear to a promotion ahead, but hemmed in by circumstance, totally pwned. For the worker modern capitalism is a system of low end adjustments carried on their collective backs. Queens Rooks and Bishops rush by on their dramatic runs. The equestrian class leap over their heads like so many prize show horses.

Rogoff's major take on this adjustment gap is a macro look at it. It is at end a minor problem, and a self sorting one at that -- the adjustment is always made. It is not a threat to theory and thats what counts. Somewhere a gear tugs free of the friction and viscosity of lives. The lines of a graph groan and heave themselves into position. A new equilibrium is reached. All is order and calm.

Technological change may be inevitable, but it is not the workingmans friend. At the micro level of the economy a certain dislocation has occurred. More than that a Tempo lost. The rich grow richer and more distant from laboring servicing America. In any culture at any point in mankind's history it is not some incoherent notion of absolute wealth read obscurely as well-being, but relative wealth and the power this disparity gives the few over the lives of the many.

With just two or three years lost wages from a minor period of structural unemployment in a typical family, a generation's goals are defined down. College plans, property renovations abandoned. For those trying to move out of poverty and into the middle class, it is a life-time postponement of the American Dream.

As a postscript of sorts to this, I offer another link. An article that appeared in the Washington Post after I wrote this Ray Kurzweil on the future workforce : Washington Post. Particularly I note Kurzweil's comments on the ability of dispossessed workers to retrain and adapt directly relating the resources the powerful allow them:

The robber barons of yesteryear hogged the resources and prosperity for themselves. Today, investment banks, special interest groups, and governments divert key resources. I don't see human nature evolving as rapidly as technology will.

10:34:48 PM    ;;

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Against Hope

I watched all three of the Presidential debates. The Vice Presidential debate too. I was operating under the idea that things like this are my civic duty. A strange prospect for debates as un-civilized as these.

The first debate was a curious debacle for the president. Curious because he listened, carefully, and gave reasonable and measured answers. If you had caught this on radio or read a transcript you might have the impression he did well. If you watched it, you knew he did not. You knew he he didn't want to be there, being treated like he had to give account. Big dog Syndrome I call it. After four years of being President you grow accustomed quashing the temerity of criticism with directions to the door.

Some pointed out more concretely that President Obama was not given to frequent press conferences and hadn't held one in in half a year or so. He had gotten out of the game of answering questions.

Beyond his undisguised irritability was a subdued aspect, and body language that suggested discomfort Over the next week and days this appearance of unease and personal ennui coupled with an inability to effectively articulate his vision for a second term began to equal an enthusiasm gap among some followers and potential voters The New Obama by Jonathan Schell - Project Syndicate.

Candidate Romney on the other had his strategic goals covered by simply not being the character the overly long campaign season had left him as, while leaving little else to go on The Undisclosed Mitt Romney - Much of which was of his own doing. He demonstrated (in all three debates) an impressive command of facts and factites. Factites a word I've invented to refer to nice handsome explanatory phrasing and integer-level date which however corresponds with nothing in the real world. Romney does too much of that. The gaps between his facts and factites is the difference between policy and failed policy. Too much of his myriad grand plans are simply in-actionable or rely on magical thinking about tax reduction.

The debates were of polarizing style. The candidate shedding signifiers the way cats shed fur to shape and hearten their respective base. They were contentious to a fault. Striking many as rude and obnoxious if not angry, bordering on a rage scarcely hidden behind forced uncanny smiles and hollow laughs that hinted at brittle personalities.

The substance of the debates - the part you got when you turned the sound up - was mostly uninformative. Both candidates dodged questions to deliver encapsulated versions of existing talking points. I watched the debates in different ways: sound on, sound off for brief segment, and off but with close-captioning on the best to see if they were saying anything.

At the same time with various second screens up; twitter, fact checkers, snark purveyors, I could see that there was little point on dwelling on the factually challenged pas-de-deux It was a boxing match. It was about landing punches

The debates; though, were just a hobbyists reduction, a model, for reporters and players of the entire 2012 campaign. If you had read a newspaper (but who does that anymore) at any point in the last year; you didn't learn anything new from the debates.

The other notable feature about this campaign is the stunning amount of money raised and spent The New Price of American Politics - James Bennet - The Atlantic:. Both candidates in recent reporting have raised over a billion dollars. By refusing federal matching funds they can raise on their own in unlimited fashion. So much for that segment of campaign finance reform. Thanks to the Supreme Courts ruling in Citizens United Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission - Wikipedia there really isn't much left to McCain-Feingold. Citizens United did leave in place some rules for public disclosure, and the new unlimited funding allowance goes to PACs not to be strictly identical with the campaigns of federal races. The coordination must occur at a distance of at least five feet or involve more than two cell phones.

The signal feature of all this is the degree to which much of this big money is masked from public awareness Campaign finance in the United States - Wikipedia . We have a sense that individuals like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers are putting fortunes into this campaigns. Promising a better ROI than anything else that money could conceivably do. Beyond that we have no idea where Crossroads GPS or Americans for Prosperity get their money from and won't for months or years if ever. Dependent on some investigative reporter working in the dying field of journalism chipping the story out of stonewalls.

Billionaire is a genteel world associated with such men and women when their names become known and they travel down the philanthropical side of their lives. But lets call the such by what they are the Ultra-wealthy and look at whether we want our country and our lives to be ruled by their sensibilities Plutocrats : the rise of the new global super-rich and the fall of everyone else (Book, 2012).

This big money routinely lines itself up with small government, But that's small for them and not for you. Government or not, nature abhors a vacuum. A ruling elite will form and if left to itself will work only for itself. In the absence of a strong government - whose primary mission is advocacy for the people what you get is the privatization of America

The other thing about this election, my own candidate for elephant in the room, is the disappearing discourse associated with such stark rhetoric. When politicians speak from their obsessions, often those of most garrulous part their base the conversations seem unreal and not germane. They insist on sticking to linguistic frames, not engaging. Democrats and Republicans speak right past each other on such significant issue as: 1) Servicing the Debt (more than the mere fact of debt itself), 2) keeping social security solvent, 3) decoupling medicare and pensions from employment, 4) keeping K-12 education uniform universal and reasonably efficient. Its not just that each has their own thoughts on these matters. It's that these problems are treated as rhetorical devices and not actual problems at all.

Those that these messages are aimed at often never notice. The Internet as an external information delivery medium is easy to program to only view-points that reinforce those that are already held. These are further filtered by a myriad of search engine algorithms and the like to hermetically seal a person in their opinions. From there cognitive bias takes over and internally reduce any contravening idea that some how manages to get through. Twitter, apparently, is especially good at amplifying misinformation Social Media Sway | Science & Society | Science News among the predisposed. The idealism of the informed Netizen vs belief communities listening only to themselves.

There is a short story I remember from when I was a kid, a baseball story probably old even then. A rookie decides to slide on, and spike an infielder, A third baseman if I remember, to break up a double play. He does so, cuts him makes him bleed. I don't even recall whether he was safe or thrown out on the play. That wasn't the point. The point was that after the play the infielder casually pulls down his sock for a brief moment and shows the rookie an ankle scared by years of spikings. His jejune rule-breaking made no difference on the play. Calculated cruel unnecessary ineffectual. I give this as a metaphor for the low arrogance of the "So Fact-Check me" camp. Public boundary's lie trampled and torn beneath the feet of, primarily, the Republican challenger in this campaign. Nothing will be gained by this. Some may vote for him for this gambit, but all will add this to their apprehension of the man. In the end it will not move him forward.

For these reason and more; delineated in this article: Six Reasons American Political Polarization Will Only Get Worse by Steven Strauss - Project Syndicate:, the partisan polarization will get worse, perhaps far worse before it gets better. Fundamental race relations lie unresolved in this country. It will be ten years to a generation before the current political acrimony fades to something else.

I support President Obama, and intend to vote for him. Why Obama Now? The long answer involves what nation we want to be. There are many paths. The short answer is that I never expected him to change everything instantly cataclysmically. To bring about a utopian post racial America through charm alone. I took him to be a intelligent thoughtful hardworking honest and pragmatic man. He was the better man four years ago. He is the better man today. That's it, it's that simple.

The Future; it's not just a Miranda July movie. Our future as a democratic nation is at risk. In a sense it always is. The greatest mistake is to suppose there is some untroubled momentum to democracy that keeps it on its path from some great and extraordinary beginning, with little or no active effort on our part. Nor is it a matter only of who gets elected in two weeks. Though, it is about the judges they will appoint who will decide and increasing make law for a generation The Hidden Stakes of the Election by Cass R. Sunstein | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. It is about the environment, While I recognize that only moderate progress has been made on this front and climate change has submerged as an issue. A Romney administration would treat the environment as a corporate impediment and dismiss its reality and all attendant concern. It is about jobs, and not just jobs, water-treading jobs but good jobs Our Crisis of Bad Jobs by Jeff Madrick NYRblog The New York Review of Books. It is striking against the American dream becoming the American myth Joseph Stiglitz 'The American Dream Has Become a Myth'. It is an accumulating effect of letting little things slide, and what you are willing to let go to gain some comfort and perceived security.

It is about the (Per)cents of it all: the One percent, the Forty-seven percent, and the Ninety-nine percent. Some years ago in the last quarter of the previous century the forged links that held the centripetal forces in this nation in check slipped Principally wealth has massed in just a handful of sectors and begun to accelerate from the mean. Inescapably in its opinions and desires wealth becomes a separate population from the vast remainder. The vast power of that wealth controls and captures the remainder. Makes a servant of it - citizen as consumer or service only. The over-riding facet of this new relationship is wealths dismissive and imperious exasperation with those below the mean, the Forty-seven percent. This nation as it was originated and constituted cannot continue with such concentration of wealth EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor - The Myth that Growing Consumption Inequality is a Myth.. one by one its institutions will hollow out and cease to function and wealth will slip away Race for President Leaves Income Slump in Shadows -

To see how poorly the mainstream media covers this is to realize the mainstream media is just that: corporate and middle class. Representative of the mean, dis-inclined generally to shift in their seats let alone rock the boat.

What world we want to live in, what world we think we live in. Conditions have returned us to a multipolar world after a brief unipolar interval. While still the remaining superpower, our simple will, our petite take on American Exceptionalism, no longer decides the worlds direction Commentary: How American Exceptionalism Dooms U.S. Foreign Policy | The National Interest. We can not sort the world out as out ten year war in the middle east demonstrates, nor shut the world out. Europe's economic chaos has the capacity to become our own. Chinese factories make a critical portion of our material goods.

The economy of the world will gradually emerge from the dualism of Bretton Woods to a bricolage of regional strengths; in markets and resources - in both material and human capital. The economies of China India Brazil, and others. Though this process will not be an even or straightforward rise, they will matter.

The epitome of our shrinking world view was occurred in the third debate 20+ mentions of Israel, 30 or of Iran, one or two for rest of world House essay: The Obama-Romney map of the world - Politics - CBC News. Semi-conscious acknowledgement of weakened status. We have only our own problems the rest of the world is on its own. All we have is domestic politics masquerading as foreign policy. The genuine details of which are rapidly becoming obtuse.

Fundamentally for the future of this country what is out to confront is a our growing nature as a National Security State, the existence Use and Abuse of these powers. Out there lie assassin drones, ubiquitous surveillance, and a new jurisprudence of secrets, special need and not rights.

Against hope, there is only despair.

11:46:50 PM    ;;

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Last update: 11/27/12; 11:22:39 PM.