Thursday, August 17, 2017

Are you ready for President Pence?

With White House staffers being either fired or quitting, with CEOs of major American manufacturing turning their backs on the Businessman in Chief and with Trump himself repeatedly opening his mouth to spout his insane ideas, it seems that there is now an effort to remove the President from office, in the name of ability, if not reputation.

However, what everyone is forgetting about is that this won't necessarily fix the problem. Trump is a narcissistic bigot, apparently a liar and unlikable, but he's also a mouthpiece. Because of his volume, at least with Trump you know what you get. Once the blowhard is exorcised, the White House will place Pence POTUS and the stream of ludicrous information will stop. However this doesn't mean that the insanity will stop. Trump and his gaggle of gargoyles have "drained the swamp" as they set out to, replacing every chicken in the hen house with a fox. Getting rid of the King Fox, does not rid us of every other fox, it just boards up the windows, locks the door and creates an information vacuum. Evil nutjobs will still be running the country, they'll just be doing it in secret.

So let's take a look at the Vice President. Michael Pence is an extreme right wing, Christian conservative. He wasn't always, he was a democratic Catholic until the Reagan years, when he was born again, literally, to the dismay of his family. It has been said that "Pence doesn't just wear his religion on his sleeve, he's wearing the whole Jesus jersey." So with ancient legends steering his moral compass, he believes things like: abortion is murder, gays can be cured, immigrants had better beware and refugees had better turn around, healthcare is Socialism, global warming is a myth, drugs, sex and gambling are "bad," ignorance is better than knowledge, sheep are better than wolves, etc. He carries with him the same deck of cards as Trump and his cronies, he's playing the same game, only Pence has a much more developed poker face. 

If he replaces Donald Trump as President, the song will remain the same, we just won't get to hear it anymore. This is scarier than the evil you know.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Being Machines

I'm in a blackout. I have electricity, I'm fine. Fridge is cold, I even have the air conditioning on, it's July 5, 2017 3:45 pm pacific time, Planet Earth. It's hot, 34 degrees Celsius. (Figure it out, America.) I'm in a blackout because I have no internet. A few years ago, count them on one hand, being without the internet would have been a minor inconvenience, now it's a fucking catastrophe.

I can't access my cloud, Alexa and My Google have become useless. There goes all my entertainment, information access, past, present and future. I can't invoice for my writing, I can't submit this essay. I can't trade the markets. (Yes, I trade, two hours a day every morning. No I'm not rich. I have no secret trick to sell you. I write, trade and work a day job.) Oh, I can't access the emails I require to do that day job, so no day job either.

Except, that's not really true because I can get email, the internet and therefore access to everything with my cell phone. But not without using up precious, expensive data. My wife and I eek out our meagre mobile cyber experience with only two gigs of data shared between us, per month. This is enough, with our Pixels plugged into Mother Google, for them to still constantly be surprising us. "So," asks the phone, "what did you think of that Hamburger you just ate?"

Granted, I have invited all this into my life. I am a technophile of sorts. I don't go to extremes, I'm not rich by Western standards, so I don't have everything that's out there. But I speak to machines who talk back to me everyday. I go to McDonalds, eat that hamburger and allow Google to know exactly where I am, what I am doing. Wifi, internet, satellites, GPS, these things, at least plus me plus phone equals my datasphere.

Even ordering that hamburger involves interacting with a machine now, but don't worry because my phones also gonna say, (you have to imagine my phone with a Californian accent,) "Hey Dumbass, you only took 987 steps today, you better get walking, cuz you just ate, like a thousand calories." I don't mind, but maybe you do? Maybe you think it's intrusive. You can turn it off, as I originally had. "I don't need Google organizing all my shit for me!" This if fine, but I found, as you may too, that if you want to use certain features, it's a lot easier to just turn them all on.

Your permissions don't much matter, because it's not going to be very long before such technologies, or rather the use of such technologies becomes obligatory. The world of the future, provided things proceed unhindered by needless damages, will be one of increased time getting up close and personal with technology. This does not bother me. Put me in a cyborg, as soon as they're ready. Plug me into the Matrix, I'll be a head in a jar, whatever. (Maybe not the Beta versions.) My wife, not so much. She's afeared that the non-flesh is unnatural, perhaps faulty. Maybe she's right, certainly at first...Perhaps you side one way or the other.

This too, isn't going to matter in the end. That future, always ahead of us, a dream until we make it a reality, will continue to be obligated to grow, working toward increased time spent becoming technology. I for one will welcome our new Robot paradigm, it is the opportunity for the continued potential of consciousness, namely mine, but also on a grander scale. Even if I didn't, we're all going to turn around and cars will be driving us, we'll all blink and be out of a manufacturing job, we'll all take a breath to discover there's no longer a need.

It's just a question of time. I think it more likely that Artificial Intelligence will be a transferred person before a created person. Once we can do that, put a person, a real consciousness inside a machine, any machine can be anybody, nobody, everybody. We can copy, paste, edit. All bets are off. 

Then it becomes a question of who is keeping the power on?

If you're reading this I've escaped my blackout.

Monday, May 22, 2017

U2 Joshua Tree tour proves the world is a better place.

In 1987, when I was fifteen, my friends and I took the train from Salmon Arm to Vancouver to see U2 in concert at BC Place. 

This last weekend my friends and I did it again, except we drove ourselves. That wasn't the only difference in the experience. 
In 1987 we had to get our tickets the old fashioned way, standing in line at the ticket kiosk at the Village Green Mall. Some, more adventurous types had even camped out, we didn't but we were still able to get tickets, because ticket resellers didn't exist yet except in the form of scalpers, who had to stand in line as well. Today, companies like Stub Hub buy up tickets online so they can resell them to you at ridiculous markup. Often, modern would-be concert goers can't get a tickets. Luckily, my friend is a big U2 fan and was able to get a bunch of great tickets via his U2 fan club membership. 

In 1987 we were seated way up on the second tier, but every time the lights went down, before the Bodeans, before Los Lobos and finally before U2, waves of hundreds, if not thousands of people jumped over walls and barricades to get onto the floor. My friends and I were part of those waves. In the process I cut my hand on a barricade, I didn't even notice until someone pointed out the blood. A sweaty teen, freshly freed from the front of the crowd, handed me a dirty tissue to stop the blood. "Don't go up there. It's crazy," he said. I still can see the scar on my hand, I call it my U2 scar. My friends and I, after being separated in the waves, were reunited on the floor (somehow) and we enjoyed U2 together. Aside from the great show, which was ultimately captured in the concert film Rattle & Hum, we also shared some memorable events: the men in suits smoking marijuana, (hadn't seen that before,) security wrenching teenager's arms out of sockets in an effort to remove them from the premises, the crowd part because a naked man was swirling around dancing. (Security was less willing to grab him.) The performance itself was made of iconic gestures and sounds that would come to define U2. 

Last weekend, we had floor tickets, so no blood was let. Thank goodness, I'm too old now. So was everyone else. Where BC Place was filled with teenagers in 1987, it was now filled with those same teenagers, middle aged. I didn't see security hurt anyone, only help people in distress. No naked people swirling, just polite, happy Canadians sharing an amazing experience with some professional entertainers. U2, although obviously older and less energetic was still able to captivate. Bono can win anyone over with a wave of his hand. The Edge still looked and played the same. Adam Clayton still just stood there doing the funky chicken with an ambiguous grin on his face and Larry, well Larry never changes. 

To be honest, I didn't want to go when I first heard that U2 was doing a thirty year anniversary tour of the Joshua Tree. I thought, "How is that going to be anything but worse than it was originally?" I was particularly worried about Bono's voice. He does a lot of yelling and he gets tired. I'm really glad that I did go, because Bono was fine, everything was impressive and the concert was more than just fun, it was an experience. Music is something that can well up inside you and explode out, both as creator and creation. It's as close to spiritual as I've ever come, I think. Time, technology and prevailing social attitudes have put us all in a situation that is better than it was in the past (as hard as that is to believe.) Whenever you collect over fifty thousand people in one space and have them emote, be happy we are Canadian, be proud of our ability to get along swimmingly, celebrate our ability to do amazing things together, even if it is just to be part of an audience. Thank you U2 and thank you to my friend Ryan for insisting we go. 

The world is a different place because all things change, even the things that we call unchanging. This continued change will go on unabated. It might seem like the world in 2017 is rife with ignorant and dangerous people, full of fear and/or hate. This, I suppose is true, but there has been and there likely will continue to be these people, always. It's not anything newer, it's just louder. Not because they are louder, (although this is usually the case,) but because we are better listeners. Furthermore, it doesn't change the fact that there are also decent, reasonable people, full of love and joy, there always has been, also always will be. I'm not saying everything is sunshine and lollipops, I'm saying we are better off than we were thirty years ago, because we are thirty years smarter than we were. They haven't changed at all. Kudos to us for becoming enlightened, shame on us for not sharing our enlightenment with the reluctant. 

At one point, near the beginning of U2's set, Bono was talking to the audience, having us sing to Pride in the name of love, explaining: "Sing loud so others may hear you, where others close their doors yours remain open." It's a simple statement, expressing a broad liberal stance on the treatment of other humans being, or sometimes not being. It suggests we have a duty to do something in the service of one another rather than in punishment of one another. It's not lost on a U2 audience, be it here or in America, or anywhere else. But then again, we are not the problem, are we?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trump and Putin in Syria

Putin is a Neo-czar, or psuedo Czar. He basically changed the rules so he could remain in power and the fact that he's now voted in is almost gestural. Our distrust of Russian elections, politics and business in general, while not unfounded, shouldn't excuse our own institutions for being proven to act similarly. Putin is a businessman/gangster who was powerful before he came into power, before he was a spook. From the start Putin has been a person of designs. Therefore we can safely assume these designs, whatever they might be, continue.

Trump is not dissimilar, except that his designs are not about political power as much as they are about making money. Trump's political career is a desperate last grasp at greatness. Trump used the money he made to get into office, Putin used the office he kept to get the money he made. Trump is not nearly as intelligent as Putin, however intelligence is not necessarily prerequisite to political success. I think both men earnestly have, as part of their design, a desire to do right by their citizens while cashing in themselves. The difference is Putin is playing chess where Trump is playing checkers.

The game will take place in Syria, where ultimately boys and girls will be sent to die as two businessmen cash in on the commerce of making war, two governments spin their wheels to justify their actions and two societies suffer the consequences. War is good business and it must not only continue, but it must expand and grow, like any other business. The soldiers being sent to kill and die are commodified, turned into currency, won or lost, red or black, numbers in a ledger. The fact that they do so willingly excuses them from being heroes or villains, as part of the machine, they are not what matters. They do, however, hold a lot of power. If every soldier put down his arms, or didn't soldier in the first place, they would have to come up with a different solution. However, we live in a world where people believe terrible things are good and proper, where those beliefs can be acted upon justly. We don't think about how it is we define all these things, how are wounds are self-inflicted, how truth is arbitrary. We simply feel, programmed to feel that way, then we act, programmed to act that way believing it was our own, good idea. It's social engineering.

If it comes to pass that there are American and Russian boots on the ground in Syria, they had better be marching in the same direction, together. If Americans are fighting a despotic terrorist regime in the name of its own failed political ideology, while Russians are fighting another despotic terrorist regime in the name of its different but also failed political ideology, it is very likely that in the heat of many moments, somebody will kill the wrong person, starting World War 3, if only by accident. If it comes to pass that American and Russian youngsters are sent to fight each other in Syria, it will only prove that the social engineering continues and we continue to succumb to it.

It's not really fair to the rest of us, the non-murderous. We're going to spend our last gasping breaths thinking about how humanity wasted a lot of time and energy on such enterprises, rather than something productive. If there is to be a war of any kind it should be a war against warring. Imagine where we'd be now if only half of all military spending went to helping humanity live well.

Трамп и Путин в Сирии:

Путин - нео-царь, или псевдо-царь. Он принципиально изменил правила, чтобы остаться у власти, и тот факт, что он сейчас проголосовал, почти жесток. Наше недоверие к российским выборам, политике и бизнесу в целом, хотя и не является необоснованным, не должно оправдывать наши собственные институты за то, что они доказали, что они действуют аналогичным образом. Путин - бизнесмен / гангстер, который был силен еще до прихода к власти, пока он не был призраком. С самого начала Путин был человеком проектов. Поэтому мы можем смело предположить, что эти проекты, какими бы они ни были, продолжаются.

Трамп не отличается, за исключением того, что его проекты не о политической власти, как они зарабатывают деньги. Политическая карьера Трампа - последнее отчаянное стремление к величию. Трамп использовал деньги, которые он сделал, чтобы войти в офис, Путин использовал офис, который он держал, чтобы получить деньги, которые он сделал. Трамп не так умен, как Путин, однако интеллект не обязательно является предпосылкой политического успеха. Я думаю, что оба мужчины искренне имеют, как часть их дизайна, желание поступать правильно со стороны своих граждан, в то время как они получают деньги сами по себе. Разница в том, что Путин играет в шахматы, где Трамп играет в шашки.

Игра будет проходить в Сирии, где, в конечном счете, мальчики и девочки будут отправлены умирать, поскольку два бизнесмена зарабатывают на торговле, ведущей к войне, два правительства крутят свои колеса, чтобы оправдать свои действия, и два общества страдают от последствий. Война - хороший бизнес, и она должна не просто продолжаться, но должна расширяться и расти, как и любой другой бизнес. Солдаты, которых посылают убивать и умирать, превращаются в валюту, выиграли или проиграли, красные или черные, цифры в книге. Тот факт, что они так охотно оправдывает их из героев или злодеев, как часть машины, не имеет значения. Однако они обладают большой властью. Если каждый солдат сложит оружие или, во-первых, не станет солдатом, ему придется придумать другое решение. Тем не менее, мы живем в мире, где люди верят, что ужасные вещи хороши и правильны, где на эти убеждения можно справедливо влиять. Мы не думаем о том, как мы определяем все эти вещи, как раны подвергаются самому себе, как истина произвольна. Мы просто чувствуем, запрограммированы так себя чувствовать, тогда мы действуем, запрограммированы действовать таким образом, полагая, что это была наша собственная, хорошая идея. Это социальная инженерия.

Если дело дойдет до того, что в Сирии на земле будут американские и российские сапоги, им лучше идти вместе в том же направлении. Если американцы борются с деспотическим террористическим режимом во имя собственной провалившейся политической идеологии, а русские борются с другим деспотическим террористическим режимом во имя своей иной, но и неэффективной политической идеологии, то весьма вероятно, что в разгар многих моментов, Кто-то убьет не того человека, начиная Третью мировую войну, хотя бы случайно. Если дело дойдет до того, что американская и русская молодежь будут отправлены сражаться друг с другом в Сирии, это только докажет, что социальная инженерия продолжается, и мы продолжаем поддаваться ей.

Это не очень справедливо по отношению к остальным, не убийственным. Мы собираемся провести последние дыхание, думая о том, как человечество тратит много времени и энергии на такие предприятия, а не на что-то производительное. Если будет война любого рода, это должна быть война против воюющих. Представьте себе, где мы были бы сейчас, если бы только половина всех военных расходов пошла на то, чтобы помочь человечеству жить хорошо

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Where are my Russian friends?

For years now, I've been writing philosophical social criticism on this blog and in my books.
For years now my writing has proven most popular in Russia. Also, the Ukraine, Poland, Germany.
But by a large margin, Russians are seeing, perhaps not reading, my work.

So my question is: Where are my Russian friends?
Is there not one of you that can understand my words, appreciate what is being said and make a comment upon it?

I would very much like to open a dialogue with a like minded Russian counterpart.
Any ordinary Russian will do, provided you can speak and write English.
I would like to have an open discussion with you, on this blog.

We can write back and forth like pen pals. You could publish my thoughts on your blog, if you like.

Mostly, I just want to get to know a Russian, in Russian, dealing with Russian life, who has something to say in the way of philosophical social criticism.

I think that Russians are no less effected by the decisions of the west than Canadians, or anyone else for that matter. I think that Russians are no more or less victims of unnatural governance in the same way as Americans. The problems are global, systemic and serious.

Are there people in Russia who want to make the world a better place via reason?

Please write me at or comment below.