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Comment: Past US history has problematical parts & prog (Score 1) 103

by Paul Fernhout (#48932071) Attached to: Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

Yes, bad things are happening. But unless we remember and celebrate the past successes, we may more easily give way to despair.

Examples of problematical episodes from US history: The McCarthy era in the 1950s, the internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, the US Eugenics movement in the 1930s and before -- where the Nazis got the idea, the lynching of black citizens in the South along with a US white supremacy movement (again, long before "Arianism" took hold in Germany), the tragic Civil War of the 1870s, and many more such things... Plus so much problematical foreign policy, including grabbing big parts of Mexico and invading Canada multiple times, not to mention the systematic genocide committed against the Native Americans to steal their land (the US Army's primary function in early years was taking part in all that). The USA may criticize China's "human rights" record, but the US past is filled with many horrors that may be far worse than things China is doing now (even in Tibet etc.).

Governments always demand to be respected in various ways. Those ways may change over time. Yes, there are bad trends, and bad episodes, some still ongoing and growing like you and others including me point to, but the USA has muddled through them in the past. Some wrongs have been righted decades later (even as "justice delayed is justice denied"); others have yet to be resolved. Generally, the successes are helped along by efforts from citizens, as in: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead)".

I can urge you to read "A People's History of the United States" to get a broader perspective on all this regarding the USA. It is a perspective not taught in the past in most US classrooms or probably still in most civics classes for immigrants. It is the history of US citizens struggling repeatedly to control a government and industry (the two being intertwined), to keep them accountable to human needs. It is full of examples both of successes and failures. Here is an online version, but it is probably available in any major book store:
http://www.historyisaweapon.co...

Another good book is John Gardner's 1971 book "Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society". Here I quote what he says and comment on it:
http://p2pfoundation.net/backu...
""As I was browsing in a university bookstore recently, I heard an apple-cheeked girl say to her companion, "The truth is that our society and everything in it is in a state of decay." I studied her carefully and I must report that she did not seem even slightly decayed. But what of the society as a whole? Decay is hardly the word for what is happening to us. We are witnessing changes so profound and far-reaching that the mind can hardly grasp all the implications. ... Only the blind and complacent could fail to recognize the great tasks of renewal facing us -- in government, in education, ..."
    John Gardner goes on to say that every generation faces the problem of renewing itself to meet new challenges emerging from the very success of the old ways of doing things. And he suggests that social values are not some drying up old reservoir, but rather a reservoir of variable capacity that must be recharged anew in every generation. [He also suggests every generation must re-learn for itself what the words carved on the stone monuments really mean.]
    Democracy -- use it or lose it.
    Free speech on the internet -- use it or lose it.
    Social capital -- use it or lose it?
    P2P -- use it or lose it? :-)
    Again, Gardner's book was written in 1971, so, about forty years ago. Although it's true the last thirty years in the USA has pretty much been a disaster socially ("greed is good"), even if technically we have advanced, and there has at least also been a growing environmental consciousness."

This history of bad episodes (or government overreach) is not unique to the USA also. Even in the USSR and China and Germany in the past, things changed for the better after a period of tighter government controls (and yet may cycle again). And before those improvements, people learn the limits of the system and how to work creatively within them.

That does not mean a lot of people don't suffer in the meanwhile though... Or that such tight controls may not weaken a country to the point of internal collapse or incapacity to deal with an external threat. As in someone's sig on Slashdot, "if your country doesn't fight for you, why should you fight for it?" Other than through ignorance or misinformation or propaganda... A video game that explores that theme, btw:
"Beyond Good & Evil (video game)"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

Still, given the USA has a lot of nukes (and maybe plagues and such), that does not mean this time it won't be different and the USA won't take the whole world with if if it descends further into fearful selfish self-destructive madness. That's in part what worries me most -- that the elite is essentially playing a game of "chicken" in that sense with the rest of the US population and the world. As in, "Give us everything we want (which is indeed everything) or the world will be destroyed as it plunges into chaos we created by our previous selfishness and paranoia".

There is also an aspect that when bureaucracy becomes enshrined in automated systems backed by police robots (e.g. Elysium), there may be no end to institutionalized cruelty. That can be true even though history has shown us enough of such cruelty when bureaucracies are just staffed by humans. (like the Nazi Holocaust powered by punched cards and patriotism and fear). But once all humans are purged from such bureaucracies, there is less room for "humanity" in at least some of the decisions at the edges. One can see that in, say, John Taylor Gatto's accomplishments as a school teacher in NYC helping kids to learn anyway (like helping them find apprenticeships), even when it was against the rules.

I agree a lot of bad things are happening (another example is "border checkpoints" 100 miles inland), just as a lot of bad things have happened. I'm just saying, we don't really know what will happen this time, even with intense surveillance. Probably, as another reply suggests, it will get worse in many ways before it become better. As I suggest elsewhere, intense surveillance is also an opportunity to set a good example and educate the watchers...
"On dealing with social hurricanes (like the US CIA) "
http://www.pdfernhout.net/on-d...

But at the same time there is much positive change going on. To take just one positive example (in part by researchers and some free market dynamics and limited government support), just look at how power from solar panels is now (or soon) about a cheap as power from coal. When I was a boy in the 1970s in the USA, everyone was afraid of social collapse from running out of oil. While some still fear that, anyone who looks at the falling prices of solar PV since the 1970s knows that "Peak Oil" is not going to be a civilization destroying event like we feared back then.

As another example of positive change (in part by some government regulation, especially at the state level), back then, rivers in the USA would catch fire! That does not happen in the USA now due to decades of progress from the environmental movement (even if China now has a similar environmental problems).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Before that, in the 1930s, Pittsburgh had air so choked with coal smog that the buildings were blackened and people suffered and died from the bad air, which is such a change from the Pittsburgh of today (even if China is repeating some of the same mistakes, but also now working to correct them). Some pictures are here:
http://www.treehugger.com/slid...

This one shows a Pittsburgh building being cleaned, and you can see how dirty they were:
http://www.treehugger.com/slid...

Or as another example, when I was a boy, the "Russians" were the enemy. They were evil. The Russian people were trapped and unable to communicate with the outside world. It is hard to explain how much the USSR was feared and hated and despised and pitied in the USA decades ago. We were all ready to blow up the world with nuclear weapons rather than have any Russian influence spread ("Better dead than Red"). Decades later a Russian emigre graduate professor taught me advanced math (a person who had learned math helping his father design missile guidance systems to target the USA). Americans are learning from Russian medical breakthroughs like with phage therapy for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We have an international space station together and Russian rockets put Americans into space. My own kid now plays "World of Tanks" alongside Russian citizens on the WOT test server, working together with Russians and communicating as allies (granted, against another team of mixed-nationality players). Star Trek presaged this in the 1960s, with Chekov on the bridge of the Enterprise. We even now have instant translators of languages (to some degree), something that was just sci-fi back in the 1960s
https://translate.google.com/

Of course, sadly, now and then people beat the war drums that China is the implacable "enemy". That was ramping up just before 9/11/2001, but then suddenly went quiet for a time after 9/11. Or now its essentially the whole Muslim world or maybe Afghanis or Iraqis that is the "enemy" (ignoring how most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, our supposed ally, who the US president just visited with the change in king).

Another example is a bi-racial person becoming President of the USA. Granted, his politics are mostly just more of the same old corporatism, but such an election result would have been unthinkable to most US Americans in the 1950s (let alone his parent's marriage being illegal in the USA in some places and times).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...
"Anti-miscegenation laws or miscegenation laws were laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races. Such laws were first introduced in North America from the late seventeenth century onwards by several of the Thirteen Colonies, and subsequently by many US states and US territories and remained in force in many US states until 1967."

So, even as since the 1970s (or before) the USA has gotten worse in some ways, it has gotten better in others. And we still have a long way to go, including an unending struggle as previous hard-won rights like "overtime pay" are chipped away until they (hopefully) get restored.
"Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?"
http://it.slashdot.org/story/1...

Here is a book with more optimism:
"Blessed Unrest"
http://www.blessedunrest.com/
"A leading environmentalist and social activist's examination of the worldwide movement for social and environmental change
    Paul Hawken has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice.
From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture. and is emerging to be an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide.
    Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of the movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and hidden history, which date back many centuries. A culmination of Hawken's many years of leadership in the environmental and social justice fields, it will inspire and delight any and all who despair of the world's fate, and its conclusions will surprise even those within the movement itself. Fundamentally, it is a description of humanity's collective genius, and the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another."

Comment: Thanks for the first-hand perspective on old China (Score 2) 103

by Paul Fernhout (#48929735) Attached to: Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

See also, for an old German example: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/...
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. ..This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ... To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measure"â(TM) that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. ..."

That said, every country is different, with different strengths and weaknesses in different situations. It is not clear how it all will play out in the USA. Like Howard Zinn wrote in 2004, on "The Optimism of Uncertainty":
http://www.commondreams.org/vi...
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning.
    To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible. What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. This confounds us, because we are talking about exactly the period when human beings became so ingenious technologically that they could plan and predict the exact time of someone landing on the moon, or walk down the street talking to someone halfway around the earth.
    Let's go back a hundred years. A revolution to overthrow the tsar of Russia, in that most sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial powers, but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to Petrograd. Given the Russian Revolution, who could have predicted Stalin's deformation of it, or Khrushchev's astounding exposure of Stalin, or Gorbachev's succession of surprises? Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II-the Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov shaking hands), and the German army rolling through Russia, apparently invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin bunker, waiting to die?
    And then the post-war world, taking a shape no one could have drawn in advance: The Chinese Communist revolution, which Stalin himself had given little chance. And then the break with the Soviet Union, the tumultuous and violent Cultural Revolution, and then another turnabout, with post-Mao China renouncing its most fervently held ideas and institutions, making overtures to the West, cuddling up to capitalist enterprise, perplexing everyone. No one foresaw the disintegration of the old Western empires happening so quickly after the war, or the odd array of societies that would be created in the newly independent nations, from the benign village socialism of Nyerere's Tanzania to the madness of Idi Amin's adjacent Uganda.
    Spain became an astonishment. A million died in the civil war, which ended in victory for the Fascist Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini. I recall a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade telling me that he could not imagine Spanish Fascism being overthrown without another bloody war. But after Franco was gone, a parliamentary democracy came into being, open to Socialists, Communists, anarchists, everyone. In other places too, deeply entrenched dictatorships seemed suddenly to disintegrate-in Portugal, Argentina, the Philippines, Iran. ...
  Consider the remarkable transformation, in just a few decades, in people's consciousness of racism, in the bold presence of women demanding their rightful place, in a growing public awareness that gays are not curiosities but sensate human beings, in the long-term growing skepticism about military intervention despite brief surges of military madness. It is that long-term change that I think we must see if we are not to lose hope. Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act. Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.
    We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places-and there are so many-where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. "

Comment: Re:Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (Score 1) 327

Many economic models are possible (including subsistence, gift, exchange, and planned, or a mix). The choice depends what sort of society you want and what your priorities are and what your cultural history is. For example, "Palace Economies" and "Water Empires" have lasted for centuries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H...

I'm not holding central planning as an ideal though. What I write was that at one extreme, one can imagine a reasonable well-planned society that supplies the necessities of life to everyone for essentially no labor needed, leaving everyone lots of free time to do other stuff (including make more things for themselves, raise children, hang out with friends, participate in politics, whatever). There are societies like the ancient Incas that were modeled around this for centuries (explained in the Palace Economy Wikipedia article). It worked for many people for lots of time.

Even the USSR economy "worked", but with lots of problems, including the USA trying to undermine it. If the USSR had not "worked" for decades, why was the USA so afraid of it?

One question to ask is, for most people, is what we have now as a "free market" (although we don't; it is more corporatism and oligarchy), especially in a place like Greece suffering from economic turmoil, better than this planned model, especially given today's materials and automation and so on?

The fact is, so much of our economy is "planned" in so many ways in advance. How many people are involved in deciding what the next iPhone looks like, for example? Granted, it Apple guesses wrong, it may make less profits -- although Apple is a bit of a monopoly in a sense at this point as a close system of apps and such, so almost anything not terrible will sell to the Apple faithful.

However, there are other models people may like better for various reasons.

Imagine, for example, an economy where everyone used the "like" button on Facebook to control what goods would be produced. Limit the number of "likes" per person and you essentially have an economy directed by individuals with a "basic income".

I also wrote there that at another extreme, "... we could have a freewheeling diverse gift economy of local open manufacturing...".

The internet has many aspects of a gift economy. Coupled with improved 3D printing for local on-demand production, this may totally transform our economy, since even if it is hard for a planned economy to get right how many blue shoes people, it is much easier to plan to ensure everyone has a certain amount of raw materials for their 3D printers and enough electricity to run them (or 3D print solar panels or maybe someday cold fusion devices).

What would you object about, say, a plan to create a FOSS commons of free designs and to put a (futuristic, multi-material) 3D printer in every home with enough material and power to use it to print a wide range of consumer goods from shoes to car parts to solar panels? With food supplied from mostly automated indoor agriculture? What is wrong about that as a a baseline from which people could build from in a troubled Greece? Or, what is wrong with the idea, except, of course, that it might put a lot of current industries out of business and change the balance of power in Greek society (and Europe) back to the average citizen?

The Debian project is a bit like an economy controlled by email and IRC chat messages. :-) Mixed with a gift economy. And also exchange with paid workers like at RedHat working on init stuff -- unfortunately pushing stuff like systemd perhaps so RedHat can take over Linux and profit from that as suggested by someone else in such discussions on Slashdot?

There can be many virtues to the market in delivering goods people think feel want. I say "feel" because of advertising. Some people also get addicted to drugs after a drug pusher gets them to try "free" samples; it's not clear how "free" that is.

Also, a "free market" in practice needs to have regulation and transfer payments. For more ideas on that, see:
http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesa...
"Most importantly for our purposes, markets can be reconstructed to make it possible to plan for a more egalitarian economic future. It turns out it is possible for strong governments to use the market system for planning. Once it is realized that markets can be viewed from a governmental point of view as administrative instruments for planning, it can be seen that with a little reconfiguring they can serve collective purposes as well as the individual consumer preferences trumpeted by conservative free market economists. In this form of planning, the information is supplied by the price system that is so central to the considerable, but far from perfect, efficiency brought about by markets. ... There is thus no need for one big planning apparatus. Instead, the planning tools within a reconstructed market system are simply taxes, subsidies, government purchases, and regulation."

It's true planned economies could be done badly. But the same is true of free markets in practice, given monopolies, wealth centralization, regulatory capture, lobbying and (legal) vote buying by the wealthiest, and a host of other potential problems.

When a country runs out of tear gas, isn't that a hint that it is possible for something to go wrong seriously with a market leaving many people unhappy? What went wrong (in a deep way)? How can it be fixed? There are lots of options...

Comment: And it got started with the Flexner Report in 1910 (Score 1) 140

by Paul Fernhout (#48920317) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...
"The Flexner Report[1] is a book-length study of medical education in the United States and Canada, written by Abraham Flexner and published in 1910 under the aegis of the Carnegie Foundation. Many aspects of the present-day American medical profession stem from the Flexner Report and its aftermath.
    The Report (also called Carnegie Foundation Bulletin Number Four) called on American medical schools to enact higher admission and graduation standards, and to adhere strictly to the protocols of mainstream science in their teaching and research. Many American medical schools fell short of the standard advocated in the Flexner Report, and subsequent to its publication, nearly half of such schools merged or were closed outright. Colleges in electrotherapy were closed. The Report also concluded that there were too many medical schools in the USA, and that too many doctors were being trained. A repercussion of the Flexner Report, resulting from the closure or consolidation of university training, was reversion of American universities to male-only admittance programs to accommodate a smaller admission pool. Universities had begun opening and expanding female admissions as part of women's and co-educational facilities only in the mid-to-latter part of the 19th century with the founding of co-educational Oberlin College in 1833 and private colleges such as Vassar College and Pembroke College. ...
    Flexner viewed blacks as inferior and advocated closing all but 2 of the historically black medical schools. His opinions were followed and only Howard and Meharry were left open, while 5 other schools were closed. His perspective was that black doctors should only treat black patients and should serve roles subservient to white physicians. The closure of these schools and the fact that black students were not admitted to many medical schools in the USA for 50 years after Flexner has contributed to the low numbers of American born physicians of color and the ramifications are still felt more than a 100 years later. ..."

What has happened recently though to address the shortage of doctors in the USA is that Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are doing more of the hands-on work, and new careers like health coaches are showing up, knowledge about nutrition (the basis of health) is spreading through a variety of sources and practitioners from chefs to nutritionists to writers and movie makers, and we are all turning to the internet more for health care advice...

Doctors are becoming more and more like technicians controlling a prescription pad in the process -- which is sad for a bunch of reasons. As Dr. Fuhrman says, many prescriptions are just "permission slips" for continuing bad behavior including eating poorly.

And some specific specialties like oncology and cardiology are being called scams...
"Scientific Studies Show Angioplasty and Stent Placement are Essentially Worthless"
  https://www.drfuhrman.com/libr...
"Exposing the fraud and mythology of conventional cancer treatments"
http://www.naturalnews.com/033...

Meanwhile: http://www.pdfernhout.net/to-j...
"From Marcia Angell:
        http://www.nybooks.com/article...
        "The problems I've discussed are not limited to psychiatry, although they reach their most florid form there. Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.""

Comment: Jane Jacobs suggested you want more currencies (Score 1) 327

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J...

That is what is deeply wrong with the Euro (although the European Union was probably otherwise a good idea). The Euro went the wrong way. A solid currency needs to be backed by a community, city, state, or nation that has a well-defined common constitution governing the issuance of the currency according to the community's needs. The Euro never had that. Also, Jane Jacobs said currencies need to fluctuate based on the management of those communities -- so the more currencies you have, the finer grained-signals can be sent about people's confidence which helps communities self-correct their policies and manufacturing base and similar factors underlying their overall wealth production (including from "import replacement" as their currency becomes low valued relative to others and imports become expensive). Jane Jacobs outlines how the economic life of cities can be self-correcting if they have their own currencies, but if you have only one currency for many cities, then this only applies to the most powerful capital city and the rest of them tend to suffer relatively. So, the Euro was a dumb idea. Especially dumb in an age of computers and digital currencies that can be instantly converted. And now many countries in Europe (including Greece) are paying for it in human suffering.

Comment: Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (Score 2) 327

My suggestion from 2008 when Greece ran out of tear gas: https://groups.google.com/foru...
"Now, does this make any sense if you understand the possibilities of open manufacturing or an open society? In Greece you have a warm climate, access to oceans, lots of sun and wind, an educated populace with a 2000+ year history of democracy (on and off :-), no obvious external enemies declaring war, and so on. And they are so worried about their future ability to make and use things (which is how I translate "fears for Greece's economic future") that they are running out of tear gas? This all makes no *physical* sense. The place should be a paradise. Instead it is in "self-destruct mode" according to one editor. It must be *ideology*. Or, more correctly, ideology *embodied* in a certain type of productive infrastructure. ...
    So, ironically, we have the worst of both systems. We could have a really centralized system run efficiently with a tiny fraction of the workforce now, with a lot less variety perhaps (that is, all the old Soviet Central Planning stuff would work now that we have the internet and great software and great designs and great computers if we accept some voluntary simplicity), but with everything very cheap (essentially, just given away) and 99% of the population doing whatever they wanted with their time. Or, we could have a freewheeling diverse gift economy of local open manufacturing where people just make whatever they want in an open way, with all sorts of useful and useless items. (Aspects of the two extremes may even converge, since what are the 99% of people going to do with the generic stuff but customize it? :-) Instead, we have a system in the middle that produces some variety at a huge expense of human effort taken away from family and civic duties, and it is a system now with so many questions about its uncertain future (including that anyone who is young will have a dignified place in the economic scheme of things) that an entire country has just run out of tear gas. This makes no sense (except of course, that some people do benefit from this, like tear gas manufacturers, school teachers who get paid to keep kids off the streets preparing them for non-existent jobs, people who are near the top of the economic hierarchy already and feel secure, etc.).
    Anyway, this suggests one target of open manufacturing could be a community of size ranging from Iceland (about 300,000 people) to Greece (about 11,000,000 people). That's certainly an interesting size range. I would think 99% closure of those economies by mass should be easily doable. Computer chips, some medicines, and maybe some other specialized components might be the major imports after the system was set up. Note that while one may not expect Greece or Iceland to "self-replicate" any time soon, the ability do do so ensures it can be self-repairing.
    Anyway, it kind of comes down to how much economic security is worth to a country compared to minimum effort. Given the massive youth unemployment in Greece, and the economic fears of depending on a global economy, it would seem like maximizing productive efficiency through participating in global production would not be at the top of their priority list now that they are out of tear gas. Unfortunately, they did not invest in this research ten years ago. So, this is only theoretical at this point. It might take a very expensive crash program to bring together thousands of researchers for a year to make headway in any time that might make a difference. Still, politically, that is an out for Greece. We could all move there, recruit all the educated youths off the streets, and spend a year figuring out how to make Greece work for everybody and be 99% self-sufficient by mass. :-) But, no need to move with the internet really. Maybe somebody on the list could coordinate moving the rioters off the streets and into internet cafes and start them programming and tagging designs with metadata? Anyway, with the right kind of enthusiasm, I bet someone who was in Greece could turn this whole thing around, recasting the Greek rioters as the potential people who would save the planet by implementing open manufacturing and cradle-to-cradle design."

Comment: Obesity is a sign of malnutrition and stress (Score 1) 338

From: http://frac.org/initiatives/hu...
===
Due to the additional risk factors associated with poverty, food insecure and low-income people are especially vulnerable to obesity (see the section on the Relationship Between Hunger and Overweight or Obesity and the section on the Relationship Between Poverty and Overweight or Obesity). More specifically, obesity among food insecure people -- as well as among low-income people -- occurs in part because they are subject to the same influences as other Americans (e.g., more sedentary lifestyles, increased portion sizes), but also because they face unique challenges in adopting healthful behaviors, as described below. (For more information on the influences all Americans face, see the section on Factors Contributing to Overweight and Obesity.)

Key Factors
        Limited resources
        Lack of access to healthy, affordable foods
        Fewer opportunities for physical activity
        Cycles of food deprivation and overeating
        High levels of stress
        Greater exposure to marketing of obesity-promoting products
        Limited access to health care ...

Comment: Re:what a charade (Score 1) 338

You might have a typo in the last sentence that changed your intended meaning?

That said, trust is a complex topic, so it is hard to generalize. The story of Jesus said he hung out a lot with tax collectors, harlots, and sinners... Not because he wanted to be one, but because that is where he felt he was needed.

Comment: Overpopulation is a myth (Score 1) 338

http://overpopulationisamyth.c...

I agree some technoligies should be banned or heavily taxed because they create unpaid for externalities like pollution. However, in general, what we need are more efficient technologies, technologies that create new resources out of abundant materials (like fusion of hydrogen), and also technologies that let us expand out into space (or responsibly in the ocean or desert or Antarctic, or underground).

The human imagination is the ultimate resource, The more (educated, well-fed) people you have, the more imagination.
"The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment"
http://www.juliansimon.com/wri...

If I told you that someone had (really) just invented fusion energy (or dirt cheap solar), and someone else had invented automated indoor agriculture, and someone else had invented 3D printers that can recycle 100% of everything they print in a non-polluting way -- even electronics and houses, and together these technologies could feed a trillion people on the planet and house them and clothe them and so on, would your feelings change about "over population"? BTW, we are not very far from all three of these technologies or equivalents.

Even if for aesthetic or environmental reasons we might want to limit the population of humans on the Earth at any one time, the carrying capacity of the solar system, even just with essentially known technologies discussed in 1980, is probably in the quadrillions of humans (plus much more of everything else in supporting ecosystems).
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/...

In any case, the bigger issue is that populations of industrialized countries are peaking already with non-immigrant female citizens in most generally having less than two or so kids each, so less than replacement.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

As I wrote here:
http://p2pfoundation.net/backu...
"As with the comment on Ireland, that is why the industrialized globe is facing a "Peak Population" crisis, not a "Peak Oil" crisis, even though people are confusing the two, which is odd given solar is now (or soon will be) cheaper than coal. :-)
    But, think about it, how many of the industrialized world's current problems are better explained by "Peak Population" rather than "Peak Oil"?
    And how much has the "Peak Energy" misrepresentation of the "Peak Oil" fact by people like Catton led to smaller families and made worse the "Peak Population" crisis? Gloomsters and Doomsters are in that sense creating the terrible problems we are facing right now. In Voyage from Yesteryear, James P. Hogan talks about despair versus optimist in a culture, in part based on appreciation of the potential abundance energy in the universe.
    The less peers that are around, the less peers can help each other and contribute to a free commons. Maybe there are laws of diminishing returns, but are we anywhere near them? What would Wikipedia be like with only 100 contributors instead of 100 thousand? Especially in a digital age, it is easy for a peer to add more to the free commons than they take away. What do you take away from Wikipedia by reading a page? A little electricity power perhaps, but Wikipedia shows us how to get all the power we need from the sun.So, even in a physical sense, Wikipedia is helping peers physically power it by giving away such knowledge.
    We can support quadrillions of humans in the solar system (see my previous references to Dyson, Bernal, Savage, O'Neill, and there are many others), or about a million times our current population on Earth. We essentially had the specific technological ideas in the 1970s we needed to do that, even given refinements since then. So, a focus on zero or negative population growth for the human race as a whole right now, as opposed to just limiting the population currently on Earth (which might be sensible, even though I think we could easily grow 10X on Earth), has created a "Peak Population" crisis that we didn't need to have for 1000 years when we filled up the solar system (and by then, we would have better technology and better social ideology to deal with changing demographics of moving from a triangle to a square of population by age)."

Comment: Re:USA invading Canada? (Score 1) 308

Thanks, AC. Yes, that is a typo, sorry, and should be "1775", not "1175".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...
"The Invasion of Canada in 1775 was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The objective of the campaign was to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec, and convince the French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies. ... The British sent several thousand troops, including General John Burgoyne and Hessian mercenaries, to reinforce those in the province in May 1776. General Carleton then launched a counter-offensive, ultimately driving the smallpox-weakened and disorganized American forces back to Fort Ticonderoga. ..."

Comment: Personal lifeboats vs. better ships for all (Score 1) 338

We could have both perhaps. But in general, this is sad, since with a few trillion invested in R&D, we could have fusion energy (or dirt cheap solar, coming anyway, but more slowly) and automated indoor agriculture and near 100% emissions-free recycling of all consumer goods, and so on. And many actions of the wealthy (especially those invested in oil) have essentially blocked these sorts of efforts politically. As Bucky Fuller says, whether it will be utopia or oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. Whatever the legality, for those in charge of much of the world's wealth for whatever reason to cut-and-run from the very problems they have helped create is morally irresponsible and very selfish.

And it probably won't end well -- even for them. A private airstrip in New Zealand (or "Elysium" for that matter, even backed by a large force of security robots), will not protect you against nuclear fallout or rogue nano-tech or air-born plagues or a bunch of other things -- including just "drone" cruise missiles with conventional warheads we have had for decades. Those missiles are getting cheaper and easier to make; there way a Slashdot article years ago about a DIY cruise missile for about US$5K. The damage from such things will of course fall mostly on the poor as with all disasters, but cheap drones will be another destabilizing force if we have a social meltdown (which history shows, happens again and again, see Daniel Quinn's book "Beyond Civilization" for example). A better approach is to work to prevent the meltdown in the first place (like Bucky Fuller worked towards), or at least protect everyone you can (Schindler's list).

That is why I have invested all my (potential, mostly never realized) wealth (as far as primarily time) into trying to make the world work for everyone, and also trying to make it possible for everyone to build any scale lifeboats/ships they want.

After all, I did graduate from Princeton with Michelle Obama, and in the next year were Jeff Bezos, the late Phil Goldman, and many others. I could have picked a different path. I also worked for a short time as an undergrad with someone investing the Princeton endowment, who told me the reason a big investor does better than the typical small investor was more information, cheaper trades, and faster trades (enough to discourage me from trying to be an individual investor).

But more than that, I read the book, "The Seven Laws of Money" by Michael Phillips when I was a teenager. I had gone to the library to read around books on how to become a millionaire. Of about six or seven there on the topic, all but one told me how to do it (the first million is the hardest; start a small business, work hard, be responsive to customers, hope you get lucky -- most small businesses fail in a few years, but keep trying and maybe you'll get lucky when you have enough experience from your failures). But the last book asked me, "Why do you want to be a millionaire?" And that is a very good question to ask yourself...

The basic concepts from that book :
http://www.goodreads.com/book/...
http://seeingmoney.org/SevenLa...
http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Comm...
"THE SEVEN LAWS OF MONEY
The following laws were published in 1977 in 'Seven laws of Money' by Mike Phillips. Mike, a Bank of America banker, was instrumental in developing Master Charge.
1. Do it! Money will come when you are doing the right thing. The first law is the hardest for most people to accept and is the source of the most distress. The clearest translation of this in terms of personal advice is "go ahead and do what you want to do." Worry about your ability to do it and competence to do it, but certainly do not worry about the money.
2. Money has its own rules: records, budgets, savings, borrowing. The rules of money are probably Ben Franklin-type rules, such as never squander it, don't be a spendthrift, be very careful, you have to account for what you're doing, you must keep track of it, and you can never ignore what happens to money.
3. Money is a dream - a fantasy as alluring as the Pied Piper. Money is very much a state of mind. It's much like the states of consciousness that you see on an acid trip... It is fantasy in itself, purely a dream. People who go after it as though it were real and tangible, say a person who is trying to earn a hundred- thousand dollars, orient their lives and end up in such a way as to have been significantly changed simply to have reached that goal. They become part of that object and since the object is a dream ( a mirage) they become quite different from what they set out to be.
4. Money is a nightmare - in jail, robbery, fears of poverty. I am not expressing a moral judgment. I am making very clear something that many people aren't conscious of: among the people we punish, the people we have to take out of society, 80% or more are people who are unable to deal with money. Money is also a nightmare when looked at from the opposite perspective - from the point of view of people who have inherited a lot of money. The western dream is to have a lot of money, and then you can lead a life of leisure and happiness. Nothing in my experience could be further from the truth.
5. You can never give money away. Looked at over a period of time, money flows in certain channels, like electricity through wires. The wires define the relationship, and the flow is the significant thing to look at. The fifth law of money suggests that by looking at the gift in a larger or longer-term perspective, we will see that it is part of a two-way flow.
6. You can never really receive money as a gift. Money is either borrowed or lent or possibly invested. It is never given or received without those concepts implicit in it. Giving money requires some payment; if it's not repaid the nightmare elements enter into it. A gift of money is really a contract; it's really a repayable loan, and it requires performance and an accounting of performance that is satisfactory to the giver.
7. There are worlds without money. They are the worlds of art, poetry, music, dance, sex, etc. the essentials of human life. The seventh law is like a star that is your guide. You know that you cannot live on the star; it is not physically a part of your life, but rather an aid to orientation. You are not going to reach this star, but in some sense neither are you going to reach your destination without it to guide you."

Between that book plus many other shaping influences including years of Sunday school, :-) as well as a love for the craft of technology itself, I made a choice as to what route in life to pursue instead of "finance". That choice included co-creating a garden simulator to help everyone learn to grow their own food; the idea of OSCOMAK/Stella as a FOSS technology library accessible by all; ideas for self-replicating habitats in pace, the ocean, and on land; the Pointrel system as explorations towards better ways of storing and retrieving distributed information; writing related essays; and other things including my sig ("The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies of abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity."). Granted, I have not succeeded that much at any of these efforts (including because of working in too much isolation and maybe being too ambitious at the start, and also alternating work on those with a need to earn a living doing mostly unrelated things). However, I still feel it was the right choice to make -- if I could do it all again, I would -- just hopefully better and more effectively. I hope, even as failed examples, those projects can help inspire others with more resources or skills or connections to do a better job of implementing those ideas in a big successful way.

The bottom line: it takes a skillful healthy community to survive in this world. You can't do it alone. Even one rich person (or one rich family) trying to live isolated in comfort needs essentially a community of robots around him or her to survive, and what do you do when the community of robots go wrong or turns on you or just leaves you behind? And more so, what kind of life is that really? How much fun is it to live that way? What kind of life is that for your kids and grandkids and great grandkids? A funny take on that is the outcome of the first wish in the movie "Bedazzled" where the tech nerd protagonist asks the Devil for "wealth". :-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

Contrast planning to run away with with, say, advocating for a basic income for all, given the research that shows countries with less wealth inequality are overall much happier places to live -- even for the wealthiest. A related essay I wrote after talking to a wealthy neighbor (unconvincingly) about a basic income:
"Basic income from a millionaire's perspective?"
http://www.pdfernhout.net/basi...

See also a video parable I co-created a few years ago:
"The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income "
https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

And also, on the problems of trying to cut-and-run, by Michael Ruppert, from his experience of running to Venezuela and then going back to the USA (even if I don't agree with the Peak Oil theory as far as necessary consequences given cheaper solar power and electric cars and recycling and such):
"Evolution"
http://www.fromthewilderness.c...
"... The important distinctions about adaptivity are not racial at all. US citizens come in all colors. American culture is the water they have swum in since birth. A native US citizen of Latin descent who did not (or even did) speak Spanish would probably feel almost as out of place here as I do. They would look the same but not feel the same. And when it came time to deal collectively with a rapidly changing world, a world in turmoil, a native-born American's inbred decades of "instinctive" survival skills might not harmonize with the skills used by those around him.
    Another one of my trademarked lines is that Post Peak survival is not a matter of individual survival or national survival. It is a matter of cooperative, community survival. If one is not a fully integrated member of a community when the challenges come, one might hinder the effectiveness of the entire community which has unspoken and often consciously unrecognized ways of adapting. As stresses increase, the gauntlets required to gain acceptance in strange places will only get tougher. Diversity will become more, rather than less, rigid and enforced.
  As energy shortages and blackouts arrive; as food shortages grow worse; as droughts expand and proliferate; as icecaps melt, as restless, cold and hungry populations start looking for other places to go; minute cultural and racial differences will trigger progressively more abrupt reactions, not unlike a stressed out and ill human body will react more violently to things that otherwise would never reach conscious thought.
    Start building your lifeboats where you are now. I can see that the lessons I have learned here are important whether you are thinking of moving from city to countryside, state to state, or nation to nation. Whatever shortcomings you may think exist where you live are far outnumbered by the advantages you have where you are a part of an existing ecosystem that you know and which knows you.
    If the time comes when it is necessary to leave that community you will be better off moving with your tribe rather than moving alone.
    Evolution is guaranteed. Useful knowledge gained by ancestors is incorporated into succeeding generations. It may not be used in the same way that it was when acquired. It may lie dormant for years or decades, safely stored in DNA or the collective unconscious. But it is there, and it will always be available should the day come when it is needed."

"The algorithm to do that is extremely nasty. You might want to mug someone with it." -- M. Devine, Computer Science 340

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