Radically Inept
Friday, August 13, 2004
  What we CAN LEARN from the Animal Welfare Advocates' Tactics

I posted this piece yesterday, "Can the anti-war movement learn from Animal Welfare Advocates", and then in the shower it dawned on me what we can learn from them. Really it's nothing new, but attacking a corporations logistics base to force change, does strike me as a brilliant application of war fighting tactics to social change movements. But as I stated in yesterday's post, I am against the use of violence in pursuing social change. I think you wind up with the same attitudes as those currently in charge if you use their tactics.

On the other hand, we can combine the old boycott tactic with the 'attack the logistics base' tactic, and possibly have a very effective tool at our disposal. In the past, we have used boycotts to affect change, but we've attacked the corporations directly. What I now suggest, is to combine these tactics to affect change at Halliburton, The Carlyle Group and Rush Limp-bowel's EIB (Ethically Inept Bullshit) Network.

Note, I say we, but really it means those of you economically involved in the communities where these companies are headquartered and operate.

NOTE: As I posted in "Follow the Money", The Carlyle Group no longer boasts it's association with Papa Bush. I guess they are embarrassed to have him now. When I first started hitting the site, back in October 2001, he was prominently displayed. I made a point of putting their entire personnel roster on disk, cause you never know when they are going to have to distance themselves from a scandal involving one of their own, and I thought it would be neat to be the source should that occur. I'm so anal, I also maintain a complete list of all the companies that were located in the WTC, and many of the employee rosters. Probably just a waste of filing space, but...

Back on topic - if all of you that work in San Francisco, especially those of you that either run companies or have a say in procurement of goods and services, would refuse to hire the same security firms, cleaning services, coffee services, office supply companies, copier companies, etc. That The Carlyle Group uses, I wonder if it wouldn't put a crimp into their style. If you are in the position to do so, maybe quit using the companies that support their corporate fleet of jets. Make them have sole provider contracts for everything they do. Further, refuse to use a taxi or limo service that delivers or picks up their customers. Take it as far as you can.

If those of in Houston would do the same concerning Halliburton, and those of you in Palm Beach or (according to http://www.conspiracyworld.com/index0068.htm) in New York:
Rush Limbaugh now lives in New York City—"Little Israel"—where more Jews reside than in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Rush Limbaugh also has a luxurious condo down in Palm Beach, Florida—where Jewish multimillionaires are in abundance. New York and Palm Beach are both exclusive Jewish/Israeli enclaves in America.
Rush Limp-bowel would do the same, it would be interesting to see if it could eventually have an economic impact on the companies.

I mean it would have to go further than just the main headquarters, you'd want to get all of their satellite locations and their subsidiary companies as well, but think of the fun. Think of the pride on making life difficult for these whores. Besides, it's an easy way to agitate, and what else are you doing for the cause? Just let their suppliers and vendors know that you won't be using their services, because they provide 'x' support to these companies.

NOTE II: It dawns on me, that socially, dropping out of the churches/country clubs where these guys are members, might do some good. Certainly in places down here in the South (like Houston), it would cause a pretty good stir if people quit going to the churches these guys attend. I know church is all about forgiveness, and as soon as they quit screwing people and getting people killed, well then it wuld make sense to forgive them; not while they are still committing evil. Just a thought.

NOTE III: If you own a restaurant where the employees of these companies work, refuse to serve them. If you are a server at one of there happy hour watering holes refuse to serve them Do it loudly. Let everyone know why you are not serving them. If you see the UPS driver coming from delivering to them, refuse to serve him and tell him why. Protest outside the establishments that their employees frequent. Make it hard on the employees socially when ever you can. Keep carrying this further. If one of the employees of one of these companies lives next door, refuse to use the same lawn or pool service they do, and tell the service providers why. Make life hell for everyone involved with these companies, even tangentially. I think we'll have to go to extremes to make this work, but if we can defeat them, we can add to our list of companies we target, and again, if we succeed, we will be making the world a better place.

Tell your congress man that he will not get your vote if he accepts money from these companies.

Sorry, the ideas just keep coming. If you come back, you may see a NOTE IV or even V.
  Simultaneously INCREASING Security and SCREWING the Cheneys of the world

Okay, while I'm still slacking on the blogging, I did remember this piece that I wrote, oh, probably about five years ago. Shortly after the last major hurricane hit Florida at Homestead Air Force Base. I think the style is a little chintzy, but I think some of the ideas are good, and probably get more worthwhile each year. If you really wanted to do something to protect the citizens, I think this would do a hell of a lot more than what I hear coming out of our government. Especially the Department of The Fatherland+The Motherland Security, which seems to be doing little to nothing of real consequence, but trying to scare people into re-electing the Fuhrer.

I wrote it for Georgia to consider, and was naturally ignored, but I think it's applicable world wide.

Anyway, I offer it up as a sacrificial offering to the gods of disaster (and maybe your reading enjoyment).

Solar Power for Security; for Disaster Relief; for the MONEY

This proposal is for the creation of a Dispersed Independent Multi-Nodal Emergency Energy Grid (DIMNEEG) by outfitting public schools with solar power and storage capacity.

The DIMNEEG’s purpose is to:
1) Improve the Security of the National Energy Supply (and, due to its energy requirements –the communication system)
2) Increase the functional capacity and utility of public school buildings in their traditional role in Emergency and/or Disaster Relief Operations
3) Reap the economic benefits of positioning Georgia as the “Silicon Valley” of an Emerging Technological Industry in the Global Marketplace.

DIMNEEG would primarily be controlled at the local (school district or possibly neighborhood level), and through a “smart” matrix positively impact state and national energy security, as well as disaster relief capability. Additionally, it focuses on exporting solar technology to the global market place, and profit as economical incentives for solar power.

Several arguments support schools as the repository for solar power capacity (though solid arguments can be made for many public buildings i.e., libraries, hospitals, fire and police stations). Public schools are by design allocated in proportion (by size and number) to the local population they support. In general, public school roofs are relatively large expanses of structurally sound, flat or otherwise usable surface areas that shield users from the elements. However, envision a vast underutilized source of energy that could be controlled and distributed on a community/neighborhood level. A portion of this energy could be used to provide ‘free’ energy to other local institutions or concerns, and would be less vulnerable to interruptions in times of emergency. Public schools are 'locally controlled' which could be used to build broad local support. Politically - opposition lobbies must convince the families of Georgia that costs to implement the system out weigh the increased security, safety, and utility of the very schools where their children spend so much of their time. The number of federal emergencies and federal and state declared ‘disaster areas’ has risen in recent years. Regardless of whether this is actually an increase in disasters, or just politically motivated stances, they have done the marketing for the issue.

Moreover, there is in recent years a tradition of solar power in public schools. Form Vermont and New Hampshire to Florida and Texas, Chicago and California to Hawaii and England, successful programs to put solar power in the schools are up and running. Florida’s SolMates Foundation cite studies showing “informed electric utility customers would give $17 a year (1991 study) or $21 a year (1994 study” to the program to found solar power for schools. The foundation also cites financial success in two case studies. Utilities would inherently receive the benefits during summer peak energy draws of the primarily vacant schools of ready electricity to distribute to customers, Roy Johannesen and Sia Kanelloppoulos, “Solar for Schools: An Inherently Cost-Effective Demand Side Management Strategy”.

Local communities could fund part or all of the system if necessary, through locally enacted taxes. However, Department of Energy’s Smart Schools Program already is already source set up precisely to fund this type of initiative. Georgia LOTTO monies already earmarked for school construction should include provisions to provide for solar power capacity in all new public school construction, and existing schools to be outfitted with solar energy capacity at times of renovation. Education is a topical issue at present and federal funding programs for public school construction, including Internet capacity already exist. The high roads of state security and public safety have historically been politically safe policy positions and wonderful sources of funding. The national highway system is an excellent example of defense funds supporting infrastructure improvements, with positive social and economic consequences. In addition, it would save money in case of natural disaster and funding through FEMA relief programs could be explored.

Security of the State and Federal Energy Supply:
The power supply and the energy dependent communication system are vital to the state/federal government’s ability to meet its responsibility its constituents. The people’s safety and security, as well as a viable and stable economy depend on the reliability of these systems. An extended power outage, whether natural or manmade, would have a huge impact on the national economy, the global market, and the Georgia's ability to maintain the health and welfare of its citizens. Currently, Georgia’s and the nation’s energy supply is dependent for energy on a very limited and highly vulnerable delivery system. This ability to disrupt the energy supply with a few well-placed strikes, is dangerously public knowledge. With Georgia’s growing international reputation, and our nation’s international entanglements, our power supply becomes an obvious target for terrorists, domestic and international, as well as by the ‘severely disgruntled’. Solar power has its limits. Solar energy is not able to generate the kilowatts at this time to replace coal, hydro or nuclear power for total usage. The technology is just beginning to achieve the efficiency on a cost basis to compete in the open market place. Solar power is, however, a viable power source to maintain the functions of government, and limited economic/communication needs of the market place for interim periods until reparation can be made to our standard delivery systems.
State and Federal Emergency and/or Disaster Relief Operations:
Schools, traditionally a first choice for sheltering disaster victims, are used more and more in this capacity. By building the DIMNEEG utilizing public schools, the contribution, the utility, and capacity of the public school to provide vital shelter to citizens dislocated during extended emergencies. Solar power could be used to better provide basic life saving necessities until relief operations can be completed or the emergency abates including:
• sanitation facilities
• warmth during winter storms or air conditioning during summer heat waves
• purify drinking water
• maintain critical communications with the outside world

Future State and National Economic Growth through Emerging Technological Industry:
The opportunity to sell high-tech solar capacity will go to those, that ‘do it firstest, with the mostest’. Georgia could position it self to be the leader in solar energy technology exporting, if we take an aggressive approach now! By creating a domestic market place for solar power, this technology would receive the capital needed for further research to improve efficiency in solar power conversion and storage capacity. The potential economic fallout could well rival the information industry. China, Russia, and much of the Third World must build an energy infrastructure to vast and often remote regions. Solar energy, provided (controlled) by government buildings using a “smart grid”, could well be an economical (political) way to sell our technology. In China, tests using solar energy in remote areas are already on going. China, is the market of the future; the rest of the Second and Third world are a close rival. It could also lessen the competition with these emerging nations for limited non-renewable resources. Moreover, if we provide the technology, it could help maintain our leadership in the global marketplace.

Global Impact:
As the Second and Third World countries develop their infrastructures, solar power can reduce their need for and dependency on non-renewable, and often environmentally damaging energy sources. As the majority of the world’s population comes of age in this century, a smarter ‘greener’ development based on solar power could save much of the unique ecological communities that reside within their borders.
Political Strategy:

National Security and Disaster Relief are two solid political positions at anytime, but oil prices are up now. The presidential campaign, with its extensive press coverage is now. The coalition possibilities are staggering: environmental NGO’s, neighborhood organizations, the military (already in active research on solar energy uses), the solar energy industry (just coming out of infancy), Disaster relief agencies (FEMA, the Red Cross, etc.), and a large population who would love free energy, and a technological revolution that will demand it.
This solar power policy complies with the basic tenets of adaptive management of ecological systems. It is the kind of policy that will look good for Georgia (think re-election) at the next meeting of the National Governors Association. It is scalar over time and geographically, starting with the neighborhood/ village levels (grass roots politics) grow into an *integrated, multi-nodal renewable energy grid at the regional, state, onto national and global scales. Further, the impact of clean renewable point energy sources on very diverse local ecologies can be monitored, studied, and adjusted as it grows to have regional and global influence (market growth). At the global scale, it would minimize the need to harm/destroy local ecological systems to support a modern technological society. Moreover, DIMNEEG may actually reduce the damage we have already done. Further, it is community based, possibly down to the neighborhood/village level. It is democratic in trying to unite diverse interests in common cause (self-preservation) and avoiding the existing economic and environmental conflicts that has prevented large-scale implementation of solar power. It requires local involvement on issues such as the distribution of energy not used in the operation of the schools i.e., how much energy to allocate to emergency storage vs. operations of other public interests/buildings. Since the system will be studied as it grows, its ecological impact can be monitored, and adjustments made as it progresses to regional and then global implementation. It provides the ideal “safe- fail system” (cite) experiment.
Actually, I read something somewhere a while back (you truly can't give a more vague cite than that one), that controlling a town's, city's, state's or nation's energy supply is the ultimate source of power (pun intended). So that if communities would come together and invest in community controlled renewable energy production, the major energy companies would no longer be able to control us. They screw us, the taxpayers, utility payers and vehicle drivers daily, and with vigor. Why else are the profits for all the energy companies at record highs, while our pay checks remain stagnant or worse, dropping. I would advocate that each community come together and invest in their own wind farm, solar, if lucky enough - geo-thermal, whatever. Why let the major corporations come in and do this? All they do is charge youfor energy that they get for relatively free after their initial investment. You could argue that your community can't afford the initial investment, and in many cases that's probably true. But you could pressure congress into scrapping the current energy corporate welfare bill (written by Cheney and cronies, and direct those same federal (yours) dollars to your community, so that you could save billions over the coming years, and quit being at the mercy of the criminals like Cheney and cronies. Fuck 'em where it counts - their purses. Their pussies and assholes are for sale, you have to go for the purse.

Thursday, August 12, 2004
  Re-start slack mode

Well, it's almost 1030 hrs. Time to get back to the books ( book list here), if I ever want to make any progress on this. I learned (and re-learned - undergrad world history was sooo long ago) a great deal about the development of European towns and cities, the importance of trade, and how these towns and cities because of their economic importance, were eventually able to succeed in becoming largely autonomous political powers. Though as soon as the merchants could, they often closed the ladder to success and power to any would be followers.

But, wow, is it really slow reading. I haven't read much written in the academic style of early Twentieth Century English academics in probably ten years. Their use of all the different European languages/terms, with the knowledge that the reader surely is familiar with them, especially Latin, reduces my reading speed to 'plodding' along.

The information itself, is excellent though, and I am enjoying the 'learning', I just wish it would go a little faster.

Downloaded FireFox yesterday, per several people's suggestion and our government's, to use something other than IE. So does anyone have any suggestions on settings to make blogging easier? As it is now, I can't blog multiple pages simultaneously, and I have to re-sign in each time. I'd play with the various settings, but if you know what works well, I'd like to save my self the frustration.

Anyway, back to the books... 
  Can the anti-war movement learn from Animal Welfare Advocates

I certainly don't advocate violence and intimidation tactics, but I do wonder if there is something the anti-war movement could learn from the animal rights people, The New York Times, "Animal Welfare Advocates Win Victories in Britain With Violence and Intimidation"
"But the advocates working outside the law and going after anyone even tangentially linked to the research centers have garnered the most success, particularly at Huntingdon Life Sciences. Everyone associated with the lab, including cabdrivers, caterers, delivery workers and bank executives, has become a target.

Since the intimidation campaign began in 1999, the company has lost its insurers, its bank and its largest shareholders. It has moved from the British stock exchange to the NASDAQ exchange in the United States, where privacy rights are stronger.

At the company's lowest point, the British government stepped in to provide insurance and set up an account with the Bank of England to keep it afloat. Taxi drivers sometimes refuse to pick up customers there, and the drivers of fuel trucks will not deliver oil.

This year, 51 suppliers cut off business relations with Huntingdon, a number that is tallied by the animal welfare groups. The attacks can also be personal. The managing director of the lab, Brian Cass, was beaten by men with baseball bats, and the cars and homes of Huntingdon employees have been vandalized in attacks linked to animal welfare advocates. 'Sometimes they target the supplier of the supplier,' said Matthew Worrall, a spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, adding that its member companies spend a combined $54 million to $127 million a year for protection."
I mean, apparently they are achieving success.

Now, I am a big animal lover, and I don't particularly like what I've seen when it comes to animal testing; especially non-essentials, like cosmetics. In fact, my choice of experimental test subjects would be the wealthy teenagers who's parents can afford health care, cosmetics and elective surgery. Why not test on the people who are going to be the end users of the products/procedures?

It's not like the poor college kid who's having to sell his plasma, or subject himself to ridicules psych and bio experiments is likely to benefit from the results. Let's use the kids in the exclusive private schools as test subjects, and leave the poor, the animals, and the incarcerated prisoners in peace. Again, they can't afford the treatments that are found anyway, so the test results aren't going to be all that accurate. Surely no one believes that the poor will have the same types of genetic diseases as the inbred royalty of Europe and theequally inbred 'Blue Bloods of the US'(See Harriman/Bush family line). What better purpose for the Daughters of the American Revolution, than sacrificing themselves for their own good?

But my real point is, I wonder what would happen if the Carlyle Group could no longer get coffee and paper and toner and printing cartridges and office furniture and catered meals and....Could they be driven into bankruptcy? Is this a viable way to destroy the global merchants of death?

No. It's not. Besides whatever ethical and legal issues that would be involved, there's the fact that as soon as it was tried, these war merchants would be protected under some sort of 'SUPER National Security' laws - remember, never use "homeland", it's a fascist meme - vital to our country (though these merchants of death can sell weapons to our enemies with impugnity through shell companies), and the enforcement of the Patriot Act would look like a grade school paddling in comparison to what protections they would buy from the congress if they felt threatened.

Still, it's fun to fantasize. 
  Ordering Pizza in 2008

The Wife got this via a good friend of ours. It was forwarded through several mailings, and I can't determine who the author is to provide them with the proper credit. Further, I generally don't like to post from these types of mailings because authorship is often difficult to determine, and it may well have made extensive rounds before I see it. I hate posting the passe`, but this piece of satire has the element of truth to it, that deserves to posted here at Radically Inept. So, with all caveats and apologies out of the way, here it is:

Ordering Pizza in 2008

Operator: "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I have
your national ID number?"

Customer: "Hi, I'd like to place an order."

Operator: "I must have your NIDN first, sir?"

Customer: "My National ID Number, yeah, hold on, eh, it's

Operator: "Thank you, Mr.. Sheehan. I see you live at
1742 Meadowland Drive, and the phone number is
494-2366. Your office number over at Lincoln Insurance
is 745-2302 and your cell number's 266-2566. Email
address is sheehan@ home.net Which number are you
calling from, sir?"

Customer: "Huh? I'm at home. Where d'ya get all this

Operator: "We're wired into the HSS, sir."

Customer: "The HSS, what is that?"

Operator: "We're wired into the Homeland Security System,
sir. This will add only 15 seconds to your ordering time."

Customer: (Sighs) "Oh, well, I'd like to order a couple of
your All-Meat Special pizzas."

Operator: "I don't think that's a good idea, sir."

Customer: "What do you mean?"

Operator: "Sir, your medical records and commode
sensors indicate that you've got very high blood pressure
and extremely high cholesterol. Your National Health Care
provider won't allow such an unhealthy choice."

Customer: "What?!?! What do you recommend, then?"

Operator: "You might try our low-fat Soybean Pizza. I'm
sure you'll like it."

Customer: "What makes you think I'd like something like

Operator: "Well, you checked out 'Gourmet Soybean
Recipes' from your local library last week, sir. That's why
I made the suggestion."

Customer: "All right, all right. Give me two family-sized
ones, then."

Operator: "That should be plenty for you, your wife and
your four kids, and your 2 dogs can finish the crusts, sir.
Your total is $49.99."

Customer: "Let me give you my credit card number."

Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid you'll have to pay
in cash. Your credit card balance is over its limit."

Customer: "I'll run over to the ATM and get some cash
before your driver gets here."

Operator: "That won't work either, sir. Your checking
account is overdrawn also."

Customer: "Never mind! Just send the pizzas. I'll have
the cash ready. How long will it take?"

Operator: "We're running a little behind, sir. It'll be
about 45 minutes,sir. If you're in a hurry you might want
to pick 'em up while you're out getting the cash, but then,
carrying pizzas on a motorcycle can be a little awkward."

Customer: "Wait! How do you know I ride a scooter?"

Operator: "It says here you're in arrears on your car
payments, so your car got repossessed. But your Harley's
paid for and you just filled the tank yesterday."

Customer: Well I'll be a "@#%/$@&?#!"

Operator: "I'd advise watching your language, sir. You've
already got a July 4th conviction for cussing out a cop
and another one I see here in September for contempt
at your hearing for cussing at a judge. Oh yes, I see here
that you just got out from a 90 day stay in the State
Correctional Facility. Is this your first pizza since your
return to open society?

Customer: (Speechless)

Operator: "Will there be anything else, sir?"

Customer: "Yes, I have a coupon for a free 2 liter of Coke."

Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but our ad's exclusionary clause
prevents us from offering free soda to any diabetics. The
New Constitution prohibits this. Thank you for calling
Pizza Hut!"
  Well the elections may still be fixed, but...

Via dr. menlofrom over at American Samizdat comes this link: CNN.com - International team to monitor presidential election - Aug 8, 2004.

I find it interesting, because I have been calling for international oversight of our elections since 2000. Also, it was the state department that made the request. I wonder if Baby Bush knew? Surely Karl Rove would have stopped it, had he known. How un-American. How far we have fallen as the premier democracy, when we need, and I'll submit that we do indeed need, international oversight to ensure that our elections are actually elections.

How sad...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
  Temporarily slacking on blogging and new editorial policy

Yes, I have decided to temporarily slack off from blogging. Not cease mind you, but I am doing research for what I think will be a fairly indepth post. I have finished reading The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers, and whole heartedly agree with this reviewer from over at Amazon:
"The author takes a subject (economics) that is often beyond dry and makes it both entertaining and educational, with lots of surprises thrown in. Every time I thought I had caught the author in a mistake or an oversight (Ah ha! Now I've got you!) he'd cover my questions or thoughts within the next couple of pages or so. The author earned my confidence again and again. I found him to be a reliable guide through treacherous waters.

There's a lot of good history in this book. He tackles each major economic philosopher (and others), makes the man come alive in the context of his times, and relates his thinking to our own time by putting their ideas to the test of subsequent history. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Smith and Keynes."
Now I've had undergrad, and grad courses on economics, and find the subject fascinating, even though I think economists themselves, suck when it comes to predicting markets. When they stick to history, and theory they do well, but everytime I see one on a news program making predictions...Well, you might as well flip a coin or roll a couple of ten sided die. The later might be the most accurate.

Anyway, there was one particular point that I've decided to follow up on. That was the idea that the industrial revolution was actively resisted by the powers of the time. The church and monarchies did not want to share power with merchants, and in fact feared losing their power. And in the end, that is largely what did happen. While there are a few monarchies still around, none retain the 'divine right of kings', and the life and death powers that existed prior to the industrial revolution. The church is still a powerful player, but not nearly so, and much of the power they have retained is due to their adapting and becoming adept at playing in the market place.

Okay, the point here is that I've picked up The Cambridge Economic History of Europe from the Decline of the Roman Empire, volumes III through VI, which deal with the transition to capitalism and free markets, and the affects of the industrial revolution; "Money: A History", by Jonathan Williams, Joe Cribb, Elizabeth Errington, and "The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War", by William Manchester with the idea that I might find some decent parallels to apply to our current information revolution. Basically, are national governments and global corporations resisting the transition to what ever comes next, much as the old European powers resisted the industrial revolution? If so, is it possible to project these parallels and derive some idea of where it's heading, and perhaps more importantly, gain some insights in how to better manage the transition. By better, I think I'll use less bloodshed, less starvation, greater individual rights, etc. as some of my metrics. Oh, and most importantly, how do I come out on top

So I suspect that these readings, and hopefully the resulting theorizing, will detract from the time that I will actually spend in front of the computer blogging, but hopefully I when I'm done, I will have something worthwhile to post. Besides, ya'll are doing such a fine job of keeping up with current events and politics, that I suspect that my reduction in posts to one or two smaller items per day, will not disrupt the fabric of the bloggosphere. In fact, ya'll were doing fine before I started. So, I do plan to spend sometime blogging daily, but I probably won't hit everybody's site on a daily basis, nor contribute as much in the form of comments for a few weeks.

Now for the new Radically Inept editorial policy. I was explaining 'blogs' last night to Tom Walker of the AJC, a good guy, but not up on current trends in technology, and not likely to put much time into it. I told him that he could look at blogs, and the whole bloggosphere, like a massively large and bizarre newspaper. One with thousands of editorial, sports, comic, business, etc. pages. And the reader chooses which sections of which 'publication' he's interested in reading. When he asked about the 'comment' ability, and whether that was the distinction between a blog and a web page, I had to say that it really isn't, but again, like a newspaper, the blog 'editor' decides on policies such as whether to have a 'letter to the editor' section. So after that Radically Inept explanation of blogging and in light of some of the comments I've received in the past, I've decided to establish my own policy.

While I enjoy replying to comments, and take all criticisms seriously, I do not want to spend to much time arguing points back and forth. It is not that I don't like a good, vigorous argument, or that I don't think the majority of my positions are defensible, but rather it takes time away from developing new ideas and new posts. So, I think my policy will be that if I think you have 'scored a point', to acknowledge it. If you are offering advice, or alternative sources of information, suggesting new readings and the like, I will always take the time to say thank you. But, if I don't feel that your argument against one of the positions I have taken in a post is worthwhile, I'm just not going to spend much time pursuing a degeneratively spiraling argument.

So to Ben of commonSci, I promised you a rebuttal to your rebuttal of "Economic Efficiency>Vulnerability>Revolution", and I'll spend a little time on it, but in general, I think this will be an area that I really let slide.

First, I presented what I think was a fairly substantive argument for my position on job losses in "Jobs will continue to vanish". If you think my position is too silly for words, well that doesn't give me much information to debate. If you think twenty or thirty years of muddling through economic depression is a fair way for the United States to deal with the pressures of globalization and job loss's, either from outsourcing or technology, again, I just don't know how to rebut it. If you would tell me where you think new jobs will come from, or how government or big business is going to make the transition easier on our population. Well then we would have something to debate.

The military and it's lean logistics line, is a recognized problem in military circles. I'm sorry you don't feel that it is a problem. But while I used tank track of the M-1 as an example, the same holds true for many of our weapons systems. Part of this is that we have, in my opinion stupidly, allowed companies to retain a proprietary interest in the military hardware they develop and field. Many of our systems that are still in use, have limited spare parts on shelves, and the plants that originally made them are closed, or re-tooled to make other products. You can do the research yourself, but it won't be hard to find an extensive list of similar problems.

You should also look past the garbage you hear on TV from the talking heads. For instance, the B-1 bomber is not the unmitigated success they will have you believe. It is a white elephant, that requires a temperature controlled hanger and a 100+ hours of maintenance for each hour of flight. Just think of the costs of training pilots. The new F-35, for all it's build up, can't be forward deployed, because it to is a virtual hanger queen and can't operate without fixed runways. And believe me, the Predator Drone, is also not the success that the Pentagon wants you to think it is. Uh, I hate to break this to you, I mean it feels like I'm telling you there is no Santa, but, um, the Pentagon LIES. Regularily. To you, to congress, to the people. And the corporations that make up the military-industrial complex? Um, well, Ben, they LIE, CHEAT and STEAL. Daily. I'm sorry, but I think your old enough for the truth now. Ask the soldiers that try floating a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Ask why so many soldiers prefer the AK-47 to the M-16. Ask how many people soldiers die each year directly from the corruption that is imbedded in the military procurement system. Anyway, read "John Boyd - USAF, The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of Air Warfare" for a some excellent insight into how military procurement actually works.

Your point that we can whip anybody though, rings a little hollow. Superior technology does not win wars. Nuking a country to glass, also does not count in most military circles as a win. It's an act of desperation. Further, winning battles does not win wars, see Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Korea, Malaysia, China, etc. Also, I'd suggest reading Sun Tzu.

You don't like my water-beaker-pan analogy, that's fine. On that one, I think I will allow the next five to ten yearsto prove me right or wrong. But there is no reason, without government intervention, that any job will remain here, if it can be done at close to the same quality, and at far lower cost somewhere else. And if technology can econoically replace labor it will. I will not be surprised to see us become a nation of car detailers, landscapers, bartenders and the like. Some high paying jobs will stay here, but I think the operative word will be 'some'.

Again, if you could tell me where you think the jobs will come from, we might have something to debate. But truly transformative technologies, like electricity and computers, and transformative business methodologies like mass production, do not happen frequently, and haven't been predictable in the past. If you have some insight on what the next big thing is, that will actually result in increased high wage employment, please share.

I will throw one thing your way, that you may develop an argument around that could help support your position. Look at security jobs. The more scared we are; the more we realize how vulnerable we are, the greater the demand will be for security guards. So that may be the growth profession of the future, just that it often doesn't pay a living wage.

Anyway, that's it. If you are not converted to my point of view and/or are still not satisfied with my argument, I will be happy to read your counter, but I am moving on to other things. These books are tombs, and the reading is no where close to light. So, I'll be back later tonight, or it might be tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 09, 2004
  Economic Efficiency>Vulnerability>Revolution

I apoligize for the length of this screed, but it's something I wanted to get out. It probably needs a re-edit, and I'll try to get to it in the morning.

I will break this post into two general parts: How and Why. The first is how economic efficiency increases our vulnerability to acts of terrorism and revolution. The second part will deal with why I believe America faces a greater threat from internal forces of revolution, than anytime since the Great Depression.

The US economy has achieved extreme economic efficiencies in energy production and distribution; fuel production and distribution, healthcare, military logistical support, manufacturing and transportation among others. The result is increased vulnerability to intentional and unintentional disruptions that can successfully cripple our economy. In fact, the more efficient a system is, the more vulnerable it is to disruption.

A good example may be the M-16. It is a precisely milled weapon, with very close tolerances; tolerances so fine, that a little bit of dirt makes it inoperable.

Modern western economies, especially the US economy operate at efficiencies with the same tight tolerances, but also have the disadvantage that they are not just one system, but multiple, highly interdependent systems. A little 'dirt' in one system does not just prevent the operation of that system, but may well cause a domino effect across systems. Just-In-Time manufacturing and distribution is representative of these efficiencies.
JIT or Just-In-Time Manufacturing, What is it? by Inventory Solutions:
"JIT is not about automation. JIT eliminates waste by providing the environment to perfect and simplify the processes. JIT is a collection of techniques used to improve operations It can also be a new production system that is used to produce goods or services.

The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) has the following definition of JIT:

'a philosophy of manufacturing based on planned elimination of all waste and continuous improvement of productivity. It encompasses the successful execution of all manufacturing activities required to produce a final product, from design engineering to delivery and including all stages of conversion from raw material onward. The primary elements include having only the required inventory when needed; to improve quality to zero defects; to reduce lead time by reducing setup times, queue lengths and lot sizes; to incrementally revise the operations themselves; and to accomplish these things at minimum cost.'

When the JIT principles are implemented successfully, significant competitive advantages are realized. JIT principles can be applied to all parts of an organization: order taking, purchasing, operations, distribution, sales, accounting, design, etc."
The JIT systems is in wide use in this country, and is highly efficient when it is in good order. But if a transportation problem arises anywhere in the system, for instance a prolonged winter storm, it can cause production to come to a complete halt at multiple manufacturing and production facilities.

Part of the problem, is that there is no redundancy; no fall back system. That would increase overhead, and defeat the design of the system.

Similarly, this system and others like it, are used throughout our economy. For instance, the number of healthcare facilities in large metropolitan and smaller cities, have through consolidation and cost cutting, been reduced to efficiently handling 'normal' loads. And there is no capacity to 'ramp up' in the case of an emergency. Here in Atlanta, the primary acute care facility operates consistently at 100% or above capacity. Should a natural disaster or other emergency occur, they will have to either turn away the disaster victims, or turn out their patients to make room.

Add to this, there is very little production capacity on-line to produce many needed vaccines. Well they are not needed now; they are only needed if something happens. Too bad if something happens though, it will probably take too long for the production lines to switch over; if any of the employees even remember how. There is some material stock piled, just hope we don't have multiple outbreaks and we'll be alright. Maybe the terrorists will be considerate and just bio attack one major city at a time, you know, be good sports. In that case we won't have a problem.

In the area of energy distribution, one has only to remember the 55 million who were without power last year due to a...actually, I think it must of been an act of god, because I never heard anyone take the blame or the liability. Worse, there has been virtually nothing done to improve that infrastructure. Certainly, no corporation will invest in redundant systems except under duress, and congress won't take a chance on taking a pay cut. Hence, the country is just a vulnerable to energy outages today, as it was a year ago, and no improvements are in sight. Oh, relatedly, remember that maintenance is overhead, which is why 20 million people lost power during a winter storm last year, though the companies had been told the maintenance was needed. It was not 'statistically' economically viable.

Energy production has not improved. True alternative energy systems, which would lessen our risks, are also not economically viable. Did I mention viable is a corporate PC word for profitable?

Oil refinery capacity is the lowest since...I don't know, but last I heard, we only have twelve refineries left, and many of those are geographically co-located. One natural disaster, and we all suffer.

Fuel distribution? Just recall what happened to Arizona and California when a pipeline burst in Texas (Amazing. I don't even have to stretch my memory for examples in any of these areas.). Redundant pipeline capacity is not economically viable, but disruption in service are, because the corporations make huge profits when they raise the prices.

All the systems above are also highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks, or even just cranky Americans, or just plain accidents.

In the popular drive to make our military more economically efficient (there has never been an economically effective military, it's a ridicules premise, the military is overhead), we have sole sourced the production and support of many of our weapons, communications, logistical, training and support capabilities. There is no fat. This is fine in normal peace time operations, but as we've seen recently, we now lack the capability to manufacture enough protective vests, armored HUMM-Vs, parts, etc in a timely fashion. And should the contractors decide a war is too dangerous (who's willing to insure the contractors?), and they don't show, the military no longer has the organizational ability to provide these services themselves. There are no cooks. And the high tech weapon systems are far too complicated for high school grads. Besides, the warranty on systems becomes null and void unless serviced by 'trained' (read serious billable hours) system technicians. Our military is lean, mean, and now lacks a true war fighting ability.

Oh, and in almost all cases, there is only one plant producing our weapons systems and platforms. Once they start running a third shift, you've maxed our production capabilities. For instance, there's only one plant in the country that makes tank tracks for the M-1. Hope it's enough.

Most cities have only one water treatment and waste treatment plant. Use your imagination.

Even our agricultural system has grown highly vulnerable in the name of economic efficiency. An intentional or unintentional outbreak in the meat packing plants (they are not many left), and you will stop beef. Let the new bird flu get just a little out of control in this country, and what do expect to happen? Perhaps a little ecoli in the fresh produce packing plants, what then? We don't have a distributed farm system anymore. Few of us live anywhere close to a local farmer. And if we do, how much food can he produce?

Oh, hell. I could go on, but I'm getting bored myself. So, just this final point. The economic ramifications of the failure of one system can in itself be huge, and consider how interrelated all of this is. If the power or fuel distribution systems go down, forget about production capacity. If bio attacks take out a plant's work force, JIT doesn't matter. The systems are all so interdependent, are economy is effectively one huge Achilles Heel. Just recall what the UPS strike cost the US economy.

Redundancy would go along way toward securing us, and it would be a great jobs creator right now. We could do it all in the name of nationally security (I hate the term 'homeland'. It reminds me of Fatherland and Motherland. Makes me think I live in a fascist state).

I won't go into how easy it would be for a terrorist to attack the individual systems, but I will now turn to why I think it's is growing much more probable for a revolution to occur in this country.

Actually I think it pretty obvious. It's because Jobs will continue to vanish.I think I explain it well enough there, but let me say this. Productivity increases due to ever increasing technology is the single largest cause. I guess we are still discussing economic efficiency in this regard. Each new technology builds the next one, and each step reduces the requirement for human labor. Think how many people it takes to manufacture a car today, compared to even 40 years ago. Start from the gathering of the raw resources and work your way up to the vehicle and the difference in numbers will amaze you.

And, if nanotechnology comes anywhere close to it's billing, who will need to work? Of course, who will make any money? Only those that own the nano-machines, and a few people to program them. But even if this does not come to pass, labor is still on the way out. And the computer power that is coming on line will reduce the need for the number of people employed on the thinking side of production. Middle management has already seen their hey day (I am waiting for us to outsource CEOs).

Add to all this, outsourcing for what cheap labor is needed, and I see a crisis on the way. All arguments that outsourcing is not a problem, are completely bogus. Consider a tall beaker of water connected to a large shallow pan through a pipette. Open the spigot on the pipette, and the water in the tall beaker will fall drastically, raising the pan of water only marginally. And that's what we have. The west is a tall beaker, and the rest of the world is a large flat pan. Our wages will drop drastically, and the rest of the world's will rise marginally. And discontent will rule on both sides. Americans will not willingly take the loss in wages, and the rest of the world will be extremely upset that theirs did not rise higher. Eventually, long after the balance is reached, it is possible that all will benefit in the long run. But it will be a very long run.

So, I foresee that soon we will have a very dissatisfied populace. Worse, it is a very ignorant populace, which has been proven to be easily misled and manipulated. Major media has failed on their end of the bargain, the one were they got FREE use of the PUBLIC's airwaves and in return, were supposed to return something back to the community. Instead, they have accelerated the dumbing down of America. I say accelerated, because the American public school system has failed in its duty also. The students turned out of high school today, are almost unable to think. This does make them easily manipulated, but they are also disillusioned and disaffected, especially the young generation.

It's no wonder really. With the exception of a few, a very few shows (Like Roseanne), this generation has been inundated with the message that they will not be happy, can not be truly happy, unless they own nice cars, live in huge spacious homes, have six figure incomes and plenty of leisure time. If they don't achieve these 'basics', they are failures. So we have in affect, produced a country of failures. This is a population that is ripe for a populist or two.

I'm not all suggesting a single revolutionary group. Rather, I expect to see enrollment of white supremacist groups grow. Various theocracy movements may take hold. Even various seperatist groups under whatever strange banner, will find easy pickings in a populace of ignorant, poor, dissatisfied people.

You say, "It can't happen? Not in America?"

Let someone take out the power grid, and do it in such a manner that it takes months to repair. The meat packing plants stop, the hog waste runs into the river, commerce comes to a halt, etc. Etc. Etc.

What happens in major cities when the canned goods run out? Who eats what? Or does it get to 'whom'?

People would become desperate for any hope. Anyone who can provide them some answers. And since they are by and large an ignorant population, the answers don't even have to make sense. Just tell the people that this or that group is responsible, and watch the mob go in that direction.

If it didn't have the potential to be so deadly and indiscriminant, one could take a certain schadenfreude when the owners of the mass media, government representatives, and corporate board members are lynched. But there in lies the problem. The targets of the population's rage will not be limited to the leaders who have failed us. It could easily turn racial, religious, regional or some other variant.

It could be prevented. It doesn't have to happen. But I do not see anyone, especially in leadership, giving serious consideration to the problems we face in the near future. We are going deeper and deeper into debt fighting a pointless war. One, which at best, will continue to suck the country's coffers dry, and send our capital out of the country while it puts our entire the social safety net at risk.

Corporations are not investing, and more importantly for us, they are not hiring. The new jobs that are being created to not pay a living wage. Educated people can not find work. Worse, our youth, even if they can get into college, have no idea what to study. Which area will be vibrant when they complete their four years of often expensive education?

Everyone seems to think that we will somehow just muddle through. And that is exactly what we did during the Great Depression. But at huge costs. And, we were at risk. Populists did rise up. The Marxist movement of the period swelled with new members. Others looked to fascism. The capitalist system was truly at risk. And we got lucky. A major war broke out. Maybe another major war will break out.

Maybe that is this administration's plan. Universal service, universal employment in the defense industries, and lots of dead Americans (lots of dead people, period) may be the cost they have decided we'll pay to get out of the coming economic problems. It sure seems like they want a world war. I just don't know if Americans want it, and if not, how will you get them to go. This group, this generation, is far more cynical than those of the past. I don't see my son volunteering. Hell, I don't see the Bush children or any of the children of our leaders volunteering. If that's the plan, I don't think it's good one.

I would hope that we could come up with a better idea, but I do not see anyone presenting one. I certainly don't hear anything like a plan from the two major parties, though we did hear some of the "non-electable" candidates at least bring up the issues.

But, as I said, Americans are a largely ignorant bunch. You can't pull them away from their entertainment and give them anything more than different entertainment. They may be feeling the pain, but they don't want to hear the prognosis. They certainly don't want to hear a cure that does not include them getting nice cars, huge spacious homes, six figure incomes and plenty of leisure time.

We've made sure they haven't paid attention to reality for a long time. In fact, we've hidden reality from them, in the form of 'reality tv' and the like. To once again paraphrase Nicholson in "A Few Good Men", 'They don't want the truth. They can't handle the truth'.

But eventually, we'll all have to face the truth. But we could make it alot easier if we'd face it now, and come up with a plan. 'Cause in spite of the pollyanna's running the show, the threat of a revolution is real, and becoming 'realer' with each passing day that we don't act to head it off.

Oh, and don't think our government can do much about it if it starts, we are vulnerable.
  The Baby Bush' of the future won't be inconvienced by the NGB to avoid the Draft

This post, and the two below, are part of my Radically Inept attempt to maintain a Monday science emphasis, and all the sources were found via the KurzweilAI.net Newsletter.
Okay, I think it's crap, but I'm sure wealthy children in America will hope this becomes US military draft policy if we do pretend to re-instate "Universal" Conscription. No more having to pull strings to get into the Guard. No more having to get a woman pregnant. No more having to take drugs that temporarily imbalance you bio-system.

No. Just play alot of computer games. That's right. Most of America would be exempt anyway, Yahoo! News - Web Addiction Gets Conscripts Out of Army:
"HELSINKI (Reuters) - A number of Finnish conscripts have been excused their full term of military service because they are addicted to the Internet, the Finnish Defense Forces said Tuesday.

Doctors have found the young men miss their computers too much to cope with their compulsory six months in the forces.
'For people who play (Internet) games all night and don't have any friends, don't have any hobbies, to come into the army is a very big shock,' said Commander-Captain Jyrki Kivela at the military conscription unit.
'Some of (the conscripts) go to the doctor and say they can't stay. Sometimes, the doctors have said they have an Internet addiction,' Kivela said."
I wonder if they'll count Solitaire? 
  The president and his sick bitch

Wired 12.08: VIEW:
"Though Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has grabbed the headlines, another documentary is at the center of this debate. In August, Robert Greenwald will release an updated version of his award-winning film, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. Greenwald has added a clip of President George W. Bush's February interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, NBC's Sunday morning talk show. In the clip, the president defends his decision to go to war - astonishingly unconvincingly.

Greenwald asked NBC for permission to run the one-minute clip - offering to pay for the right, as he had done for every other clip that appears in the film. NBC said no. The network explained to his agent that the clip is 'not very flattering to the president.' Greenwald included it anyway.

Greenwald asked NBC for permission to run the one-minute clip - offering to pay for the right, as he had done for every other clip that appears in the film. NBC said no. The network explained to his agent that the clip is "not very flattering to the president." Greenwald included it anyway."
Good for Greenwald, right? Well, if the point was just what was intimated above, we'd be limiting ourselves to a straight argument on copyright laws, and their possible abuse by major media corporations, but Lawrence Lessig goes on to point to an even more interesting point:
NBC insists it is remaining "neutral" by denying others use of the interview. But there's nothing neutral about restricting either critics or supporters from repeating the president's words. But the issue here isn't really NBC's motive. It is the president's. Why would any president allow a network to copyright his message? No self-respecting president would speak at a club that excluded women: Whatever rights a private organization may enjoy, a president stands for equality. So why did the current leader of the free world, who rarely holds press conferences, agree to speak on a talk show that refuses to license on a neutral basis the content he contributed? Is vigorous debate over matters as important as going to war less important than protecting his image?
In fact, this point is far more interesting, and I will argue important to what it really means to live in a representative democracy. My president, while in office, can in affect sell his speech? It never occurred to me, though I guess I should have expected it. This is an administration that does nothing, if not try to hide behind a veil of secrecy, and prevent itself from being held accountable to the people.

So, I haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11, and don't have much interest in it (I've been following this presidency from the beginning, there won't be much new), but I will make a point of seeing "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War", so that I make my financial contribution to Greenwald's court costs arising from defending his right to use MY president's own statements, which were originally broadcast to the public.

NBC is one sick bitch, and they have steadily lost me as a viewer, anyway. I doubt I watch more than five or six hours of non-sports broadcasting on NBC, and I doubt my sports viewing runs higher than three or four additional hours.

Here that advertisers? I'm not watching NBC. I think it would be interesting to invert the Nielson Ratings. Rather than measuring how many people are watching the broadcast schlock, let's concentrate on how many viewers they have lost. I know it's an issue, but it's look at it closer. At some point, the lowest common denominator, may not have the purchasing power to make up for the losses resulting from the not so low, not so common, going elsewhere for their entertainment.

But further, these practices by major media to protect a Radically Inept president, may alienate an ever growing percentage of the populace.

Note: The NBC viewing hours I listed above are not a weekly or even a monthly viewing average. The numbers, especially the sports viewing, are probably closer to my annual viewing habits, and no more than quarterly. It dawned on me that some you readers might think I was watching that much broadcast TV on a weekly basis. No way. 
  The electric blanket?

A Limber Future, “Smart skin” holds promise for morphing wings and wearable computers, by Laura Allen:
Terrible, horrible things can be done to this millimeters-thick patch of shimmering material crafted by chemists at NanoSonic in Blacksburg, Virginia. Twist it, stretch it double, fry it to 200°C, douse it with jet fuel—the stuff survives. After the torment, it snaps like rubber back to its original shape, all the while conducting electricity like solid metal. “Any other material would lose its conductivity,” says Jennifer Hoyt Lalli, NanoSonic’s director of nanocomposites.

The abused substance is called Metal Rubber, and, according to NanoSonic, its particular properties make it unique in the world of material chemistry. As a result, the company’s small office has been flooded with calls from Fortune 500 companies and government agencies eager to test Metal Rubber’s use in everything from artificial muscles to smart clothes to shape-shifting airplane wings.
I can't even think of a good smart-alecky comment, but I think I'd like to invest in it.
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