Monday, November 29, 2010

The Music Business is in Really Sad Shape

I must admit that I am not the first to follow trends (gee...what would have been your first clue?), but I can now see what sorry shape the music industry is in. I just had my first experience of Taylor Swift...HOW BLOODY PATHETIC! A skinny, ordinary looking teenager with a thin, nasal voice who can't carry a tune. Unbelievable!

It certainly points to the power of marketing. Perhaps the marketeers could make me the new sex symbol. Yeah, right!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Economic Normality

This morning Dr. Alan Bollard, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand was addressing a conference of business executives on the state of the economy. About the recent past he commented, "...we learnt that recovery to economic normality can be a slow, fragile and uncertain process, with temporary set-backs and aftershocks."

Throughout the world economic forecasters and politicians are anticipating and jaw-boning a return to "business as usual." THERE WILL BE NO RETURN TO THE ECONOMIC NORMALITY OF THE PAST! NEVER! There will intead be the development of a rather radically different new normality, with reduced growth rates, no real estate boom and significant shifting of economic power. John Maynard Keynes is long since dead, god rest his soul. The growth-at-any-cost policies engendered by his theories have brought us to where we are today. The ride up was good for quite a few, but the law of economic gravity...

What goes up can (and probably will) come down."

has come into effect. I commented in 2000 that we would have a major economic crash before George W. Bush left office. I described the US economy as a bit like the coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons. In an attempt to catch the roadrunner, coyote runs out off a cliff. He keeps going until he looks down and then.... Yep, you got it. In 2007 someone looked down and we haven't seen the bottom yet.

Almost 50 years ago I tried to introduce the concept of two kinds of wealth - real wealth and paper or fiat wealth. Real wealth is where the activity adds real value to the economy - mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. Fiat wealth is derived from services like accounting and legal as well as the speculative profits of money marketeers. The entire financial system has become a gigantic slot machine with a major exception - the biggest players can alter the odds, just like at the horse races with, however, the opposite effect - they can alter them in their favour. In the long run fiat wealth can only exist on top of a foundation of real wealth. In the last 50 years the USA and western Europe have allowed their real wealth to atrophy and decline so that fiat wealth is all that remains. The result of that has been observed over the past 3 years. Amazing how fast fiat wealth disappears. The ongoing effects are yet to be seen and it won't be pretty!

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Motivation is a combination of neurosis and obsession."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Fundamental Cause of Global Warming

IF (and I say this with consideration) in fact there is global warming and IF it is caused by human activities, then it is absolutely clear that the fundamental cause is...


and nothing, absolutely nothing, that is done will make even the slightest dent without a significant reduction in both world population AND the amount of consumption per capita. All the machininations and hoop-jumping currently in process or being proposed have NO possibility of being effective in the face of an absolute tsunami of growing world consumption.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Entitlement is arrogance, the opposite of gratitude."

Monday, June 7, 2010

ADD is normal

Attention Deficit Disorder is absolutely endemic in the human population. Virtually no one seems to have the capacity to attend (that is what attention means) to any single thought for longer than about 3/5 of a second. And if one observes carefully it is apparent that the cause of the vast majority of "accidents" is split attention.

There is no such thing as multi-tasking, but rather rapid, sequential, partial single tasking. The attempt to multi-task results in attention first here then there then elsewhere and back to here, etc. While attention is elsewhere habit can function effectively in the interim provided the habit is strong enough. When the habit is not firmly established for the situation there is always the possibility of a lapse. In that lapse is where "accidents" happen - in the thoughtless void provided by lack of attention.

This is particularly true because the typical human tendency is to act before thinking based on habit and reaction. And if the habit is underdeveloped, the reaction will be at best ineffective, at worst dangerous. As children we were taught to STOP - LOOK - LISTEN before crossing the street. It seems that this is a habit that would be valuable to develop in every action - to live deliberately and thoughtfully as opposed to reactively and habitually.

Mind training, not drugs, is the only solution to ADD.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We must get rid of God!

The single biggest source of conflict in the world today is God. Throughout history more people have been killed in the name of God than in all other wars put together. Perhaps if we get rid of God we would have less to fight about...NOT!

Before you jump to conclusions, I am NOT an atheist. I don't believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and I don't believe in the same God they don't believe in, but there is a major difference: the true atheist is certain there is no God. I am not so sure and I do not know how they arrive at such certainty. Voltaire once said, "If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated." Rousseau also is quoted as saying, “God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” It is this man-created, geopolitical god that is the troublesome one. As far back as written history goes, and likely before, the ancients believed in a god that would give them an advantage over their enemies and look after their crops. Each city-state of the ancient Middle East had its own god and the most powerful city-state must then have the most powerful god. When the ancient Israelites brought the concept of one god, the people from Egypt in trying to envisage and conceptualize this god, only had the image of Pharaoh to go by. Therefore the Judeo-Christian concept of God is Pharaoh elevated to a cloud. This is the god worshipped by the vast majority of so-called Christians today. The deeply ingrained habit of thinking of God as someone to slay one's enemies and protect one's crops continues to this day.

Perhaps most atheists are not truly atheists at all but anti-religionists. This I could share. Karl Marx observed that "religion is the opiate of the masses." Religion offers a mythical certainty in a life filled with uncertainty...BUT is it real? Or is it merely a mind-numbing analgesic for the pain and uncertainty of this life?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Democracy is not for Stone Age people

I would venture a guess that around 80-90% of the world's population is less than 200 years out of the Stone Age, culturally speaking. Whether we are talking about the native peoples of Asia, Africa, South America, Australia or New Zealand, the culture has been operating on a strictly tribal basis until very, very recently with no interface whatsoever with any other form of government or social organization. There has existed no concept of nation, race or anything larger than the village/tribe. To attempt to externally impose the structure of Western European democracy on these people is folly at best and a serious crime at worst.

The entire concept of democracy grew from a relatively educated and urban culture which had outgrown the complex form of tribalism called monarchy. Monarchy is the first step beyond the attempt to organize a geographically contiguous society in order to extend the rule of the "chief" over several closely located villages/tribes. Ultimately monarchy grew even further in terms of geographical rule and that extension led ultimately to its undoing as a viable form of government. Monarchy requires a certain social cohesion and shared values absent when extended beyond a local sphere. When that geographic and social cohesion is present monarchy is a very acceptable form of government. Take Bhutan for example. Although now a constitutional monarchy, the people prefer the king to elected officials and really don't want or care much about democracy.

Democracy, externally imposed on this type of society, is doomed to failure and will only result in the chief finding a way (corrupt or not) to be elected and to continue his reign. The entire concept of democracy is foreign to these people. Their culture will need a very long time to evolve to a point where real democracy is meaningful. At that point it will be born from within not without. Just as communism was a total failure in backward agrarian societies, so is so-called democracy.

It is the nastiest of arrogance for Westerners to think that they have any right or calling to impose Western values and institutions on these people. Or that they can make acceptable imitations of white Westerners from people so recently removed (often abruptly and violently) from Stone Age culture.


The further one progresses away from the activity of pure survival, the more trivial his life and concerns become.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Global Warming and Sustainability

Without getting into the argument about the correlation between human-caused CO2 emissions and global warming (a theory that is at best questionable), I would like to take a look at the elephant in the room. The fundamental causes of human pollution which threaten life on this planet are two deeply interrelated factors - population and consumption (a.k.a. "standard of living"). As long as we persist in promoting population and economic growth, all other measures attempting to engender ecological sustainability are band aids on a virulent, malignant cancer. The only way to prolong sustainabilty for human life is to reduce both population and consumption ("standard of living") significantly - say 30% or more within the next 20 years. Short of this I fear that the trend toward self-destruction may be irreversible. There is no way to continue to encourage economic growth (growth in consumption) while reducing pollution. This is particularly true in so-called developing nations wherein economic growth ("prosperity") will concurrently result in further increases in population. Who or what is going to interrupt this self-destructive cycle?

As it currently stands there is no solution for this problem of growth versus sustainability. Sooner or later we must see that they are diametrically opposed goals. One denies the other. Only one is possible. Somehow we must break the seeming cast iron bond between GDP and quality of life. Haven't we learned that these two are nowhere near correlated? Perhaps we need to adopt the Bhutanese standard of Gross National Happiness, which requires little of Twenty First Century madness.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Science is just another religion

It seems these days that everywhere I turn there is another "scientist" denigrating religion. For the most part I agree with them. I also agree with Karl Marx who said, "Religion is the opium of the masses.” and also noted, "Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.” What the "scientist" refuses to see is that so-called science fits both of Marx's criteria. Modern science differs from what is specifically called religion in only two ways: (1) Science does demonstrate a certain practical accuracy. It is capable of measuring and predicting a wide range of physical phenomena and applying that knowledge to practical, demonstrable functions within the mundane world. (2) On the face of it, that science which is known to most seems to be rational and logical. Most of so-called scientific principles seem plausible. However, plausible is not the same as true. Religion, on the other hand, relies on faith, belief and mythology which in virtually every case cannot be substantiated. It merely attributes anything it cannot understand to "the work of God."

Both of these seeming opposites nevertheless fail to answer the most basic of eternal human questions - "Who am I?" and "What am I doing here?" or even more basic "Why?"

While science seems to adequately explain and even predict some of the details of mundane phenomena, it begins to collapse at the fundamental questions. For example, the Big Bang THEORY, wherein science can tell us what happened just a micro instant after the theoretical Big Bang, cannot with certainty say what happened EXACTLY at the moment or before it or what caused it. And, within the believers in the Religion of Science, there have been those who have discovered all sorts of unexplained phenomena which do not fit commonly accepted scientific principles. One of these which is quite stunning to me is the question of whether light is a particle or a wave. The double slit experiment has demonstrated that light appears as either a particle or a wave depending on how the experiment is set up. In fact most of quantum physics challenges the "certainties" to which the believers in Science so strongly cling.

And we all know that, for most of human history, scientists asserted that the earth was flat. Has 21st century science suddenly arrived at the final, ultimate truth when all those that went before are now discredited? Is it not possible that we have merely come to a more plausible explanation with a greater degree of justification? But who is to say that there is nothing more to learn?

During my lifetime so-called science has changed its assertion on the age of the earth from a few million to several billion years. Science it seems is ever changing. So, how can we ever be sure that we have found the Truth?

Medical "science" provides the strongest example of historical self-contradiction. Blood sucking leeches were once thought to be a medical cure. How can we be sure that the currently fashionable "cure" is any more effective? And how does science explain the placebo effect which occurs in most drug trials? Most of modern scientific research is aimed at finding viable commercial products and services. There is precious little research for the sake of knowledge alone.

Science addresses the HOW, but does not address the WHY. Who is going to answer the WHY?

So, what is the necessity to believe in any of these religions, plausible or not? Is it not our unwillingness to admit that we DO NOT KNOW, that we live in an ocean of cosmic uncertainty? Do we not prefer a false certainty to actual uncertainty?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Economic Instability

One wonders if anyone else is aware that major international financial speculators have a vested interest in keeping the world economy unstable. The investment banks and hedge funds make money equally in a falling or rising market. The only condition under which they do not make money is when there is NO CHANGE. It may even be possible that the recent major recession was in fact consciously engineered and precipitated by some of them. They knew that markets could not go up forever and decided that it was time to bring them down a bit. Those on the inside (e.g., Goldman Sachs) have done well. Some who were not passed away, making the share of the pie larger for those who survived. If you noticed, some of these financial institutions have made unbelievable profits almost immediately as a result.